2021 Alumni Board candidate statements

Graduate Candidates

Yahya Bajwa, MPP ‘18
Islamabad, Pakistan
The World Bank, Policy and Data Analyst Consultant

My focus will be on international students. I can guide them about opportunities and how to navigate them. More importantly I can guide them earlier on what to expect and how to prepare themselves after graduation.

Edward Chu, MPP ‘87
Lenexa, KS
Environmental Protection Agency, Acting Regional Administrator and Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7 in Kansas City

I have over 30 years of experience in environmental policy development and implementation as well as extensive experience in organizational development and management. I have served as a senior executive in the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Seattle implementing over 20 environmental statutes with 27 states and over 300 tribes. I am recognized for creating high performing organizations with positive work cultures that employees rate as great places to work. My passion? Public service and sustainability. The Ford School (IPPS back then) and the Alfred P. Sloan program (now PPIA) gave me the foundation and changed the arc of my life - I have dedicated my career to best public policy-making and to expanding the voice of people of color in public policy. I would like to share my career lessons and challenges to help the Ford School continue to advance DEI in policy policy. I would like to help the Ford School recruit and prepare students of color into public service, particularly into environmental policy.

Jessica Clauser, MPP ‘13
Detroit, MI
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Strategy and Innovation, Director

I’ve had a successful career in health policy at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. I started as a policy analyst focused on the Affordable Care Act. I was promoted to manager as a strategic advisor on government programs and drug policy. I brought leaders together to discuss policy impacts and align on advocacy strategies. I wrote policy papers for executives to use with policymakers, national coalitions, and other stakeholders. Currently, I’m a director dedicated to our largest customer where I continue to work on policy issues and advocacy. The value I add is my health policy expertise and excitement to get involved. I’m an enthusiastic leader eager to advise students, support activities, and be an ambassador. I believe my “can do” attitude and work ethic make me an outstanding candidate! I also serve on a PTA board. This experience has given me a deep understanding for the impact organizations, like the Alumni Board, have on the school, its students, and the larger community. I loved my time at Michigan and want to give back!

Tosha Downey, MPP ‘96
Washington, DC
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Senior Program Officer

I'm currently the Senior Program Officer for State and Local Government Relations for Tennessee at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining Gates, I was Vice President of Advocacy for the Memphis Education Fund (MEF), a partner organization in Memphis’ effort to transform chronically underperforming schools. Before coming to MEF, I served as Director of Government Affairs at the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago, IL.

My prior life in education policy, talent acquisition, community engagement, and government relations allows me to bring valuable expertise and perspective to the Alumni Board. I also have spent many years in philanthropy and have a strong working knowledge of development and fundraising. I'm committed to bringing a diverse cultural lens to my service on the board as a black woman working in public policy in the south.

My recent experience hosting students for office hours signaled a need for me to find real ways to give back to the students and school that has given so much to me.

Peter Fritz, MPP/MBA ‘10
Philadelphia, PA
Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Principal

As a former two-term board member, I would be honored to serve the Ford School again. Since graduating, I have spent my career in higher education consulting, working with universities across the US to solve their most pressing challenges and better serve their mission. As Deloitte’s national leader for Higher Education Analytics, I help institutions develop “Fordie-esque cultures” centered on data-informed insights and decision making. My work focuses on improving the student experience related to access, affordability, equity, success, and career outcomes; I would greatly enjoy bringing my professional experience to bear for the benefit of the Ford School.

I’ve been happy to see the Ford School community’s increased interest in consulting careers. I’m very proud of my efforts to establish new recruiting pipelines and to counsel UM students, undergraduate and graduate alike, who are interested in consulting. I would love to expand those efforts as a board member.

Finally, the pandemic has helped me realize how much I miss the Ford School! I’m looking forward to engaging virtually and, one day, walking into Weill again.

Sam Geller, MPP ‘17
Jackson, MI
Consumers Energy, Senior Rate and Business Support Analyst

I’m Sam Geller and I’m running for a second term on the Alumni Board to continue serving as a resource for students to maximize their policy school experience and find their purpose.

For the past three years as a Board Member I’ve loved getting to meet the next generation of policy students, strategize with them to meet their professional goals and learn from them how Ford can better embody the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in our community and curriculum.

My diverse background spans 10 years in the nonprofit sector as a community organizer, a political operative responsible for raising over $1 million for Democratic candidates and a Budget Analyst for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. I have made it my mission to recruit as many Ford students to Detroit as possible and have personally met with over 75 graduate and bachelor's students for informational interviews and alumni panels.

I humbly ask for your vote for Ford School Alumni Board to continue to serve our students and the entire Ford School community.

Olga Ioffe Kasher, MPP/MA ‘99
Washington, DC
International Finance Corporation, Results Management Consultant

I am an international development professional with over 22 years of experience in results measurement, design and implementation of the monitoring and evaluation systems, donor and investor relations, fundraising and communications. In my current capacity as a Results Measurement Consultant at the International Financial Corporation (part of the World Bank Group), I am providing technical results management advice to over 35 international development projects in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe that focus on inclusive economic growth and financial inclusion of unserved and underserved populations. Before joining IFC in 2011, I worked with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program. Ford School’s career services staff as well as alumni played a key role in my job search upon my graduation. I would love to give back to the Ford School’s community by helping the Ford students formulate and pursue their career goals in the international development field.

Charis Kaskiris, MPP ‘96
San Francisco, CA
Autodesk, Data Science, Senior Manager 

The Ford School is a special program at a special time. Advancement artificial intelligence technologies and the abundance of personal data are redefining the future of work; the future of medicine; the future of participation in democracies. How will policy development be impacted by these technologies and their ethics? Can the Ford School lead?

In my career I have developed artificial intelligence of solutions across a diverse set of applications. From space operations for NASA, to financial services; from risk in construction to medical adherence programs for cancer patients. In my roles I have built up and developed the careers of multiple diverse teams of data scientists, economists, and engineers.

I would be delighted to serve on the Alumni Board by sharing my expertise in data science across multiple industries, within large and small companies as well as startups to supplement the policy skillsets of the board. Personally, I am motivated to contribute in the development of the next generation of data science policy thought leaders who will drive ethical, equitable, and fair policies. Go Blue!

Latesha Love, MPP ‘02
Washington, DC
Government Accountability Office, International Affairs and Trade, Director

I am a Senior Executive in GAO’s International Affairs and Trade team, who has nineteen years of experience leading evaluations of a range of domestic and international federal programs and policies. My work has led to millions of dollars in savings to federal programs as well as significant changes to federal programs, policies, and legislation that have improved their performance. I bring a unique perspective to the board as a federal executive who works directly with Congress to examine emerging policy issues, and who understands the skill sets that new hires will need to address them. As a person of color who examines DEIA issues in my agency and in federal policies, I also bring an important perspective to Alumni Board discussions. I am passionate about equipping and hiring Ford School students for policy careers and have been doing so as a member of the Alumni Board from 2018-2021, and as a GAO recruiter who created a consistent pipeline for Fordies to have internships and permanent positions in government. I remain committed and ready to do more.

Nathan Love, MPP/MPH ‘18
Augusta, ME
State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Program Manager

Since graduating with the University of Michigan degrees in public health and public policy, I’ve worked as an independent consultant and healthcare administrator to advance health equity and population health initiatives in government and nonprofits. As a program manager for the Office of MaineCare Services I manage Maine’s Medicaid ACO. Each day I wake up and ensure over 100,000 Medicaid members receive high-quality and low-cost healthcare during a time when they critically need it. As an Alumni Board member, I would bring my expertise in strategically developing public health programs and understanding the nuances of value-based contracts to help students and alumni achieve their long-term goals; as an active alumni, I have already started doing so. I have made time to build community around health policy by participating in Ford School office hours, establishing internships, and collaborating with alumni across New England. My Ford School degree has empowered me to live my passions, and I would love to help other members of the Ford School community do the same.

Justin Marsico, MPP/MA ‘10
Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Treasury, Fiscal Service, Chief Data Officer

Hi, I’m Justin Marsico, and I am running for the Alumni Board to help the Ford School prepare students for data science and analytics leadership positions in the policy world. I currently serve as the Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Fiscal Service and was recently named as one of the top government data leaders in North America. If elected, I will use my position to advise the school on what I’ve learned from supervising hundreds of people and leading large initiatives in the data and technology space.

I’ve enjoyed supporting the Ford School over the years since I graduated, which has included coaching nervous students about the PMF assessment and speaking with admitted applicants about how becoming a Fordie will ignite their careers. I want to serve on the Alumni Board because I loved being a student and want to make sure that future students are well-positioned with data skills to lead exciting, fulfilling careers.

Vishaal Rana, MPP/MBA ‘07
New York, New York
Goldman Sachs, Managing Director

1. I’m a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs in the Consumer / Retail investment banking practice. The areas of policy that most directly impact my business are trade policy and tax policy.

2. The important relationship between the public and private sector has never been more acute. This is my 15th year at Goldman and I believe the perspectives of public policy are critical to my job. So negotiation, cost / benefit analysis and understanding the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders. I believe my Wall Street background can add value to the Board through helping on fundraising and helping Ford School students to get policy jobs in the private sector.

3. I want to serve on the Board because I can make valuable time and financial commitments. At Goldman, I have been investing time in mentorship and development of our junior staff and now want to give back to the Ford School because of how valuable it has been. Financially, I’d like to identify new pockets of potential donors to the Ford School programs.

Jackson Voss, MPP/STPP ‘18
Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana Budget Project, Policy Analyst

Hey Ford Fam -

I first came to the Ford School in 2013 as a Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow, spending a summer studying everything from statistics to international arms treaties - and realizing that, for me, public policy was more a vocation than a career interest.

My experience led me back to Ford in 2016, and since graduating with my MPP, I've been honored to serve as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, to help launch the Kathleen Blanco Public Policy Center, and now, advocate for low- and moderate-income families here in my home state of Louisiana.

None of this would have been possible if not for the Ford School. As a member of the Alumni Board, I would seek to expand accessibility to the education we received by fighting for increased financial aid, the creation of a Ford Alumni Loan Repayment Program, and increasing support for programs like PPIA, which are essential for making the Ford School a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place.

Later Ford Fam - Geaux Blue!


Undergraduate Candidate

Kevin Sweitzer, BA ‘19
Washington, DC
Guidehouse, Consultant

Kevin Sweitzer is a DC based State and Local Government consultant with Guidehouse, where he supports clients managing large government programs and with policy implementation initiatives. His career achievements include the managing of community engagement and communications efforts for a $250M State Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and the successful implementation and management of a $65M small and minority-owned business relief grant program. His policy areas of expertise are in state and local government and program management and is interested in transportation and urban policy on a local level. As a proud 2019 alumnus of the Ford School BA program, Kevin hopes to bring the perspective of a recent BA graduate to the Alumni Board. His goals for the board include bridging the gaps in alumni engagement and career services that exist between BA and MPP/MPA programs and supporting development efforts benefitting BA students – especially in the post-COVID world. Kevin is passionate about supporting fellow Asian-American and other BIPOC Public Policy students and practitioners and will support efforts to increase career opportunities for BIPOC Ford students.