Cohort 1 (2019-2020)
Amanda Aragon was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is a first-generation graduate of the University of Tulsa. Amanda began her career working as a supply chain coordinator and director of stakeholder relations for ConocoPhillips. She later pursued public service as the director of strategic outreach at the New Mexico Public Education Department. Amanda is now the executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN, New Mexico’s first statewide education advocacy organization.
Alex Armlovich is returning in September as a fellow in state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute after completing a master’s in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. His work is rooted in applied economics, specifically market-oriented housing and transportation policy and improving urban quality of life. His writing has appeared in New York Daily News, Los Angeles Daily News, The Atlantic, Politico, The New York Times and other publications. Armlovich has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Rochester.
Victor Evans serves as executive director of the Tennessee Campaign for Achievement Now (TennesseeCAN). He previously worked as a clerk at the Tennessee State Capitol, taught in both public charter and private schools, and served as the engagement director for the Tennessee Republican Party. Victor holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Rhodes College and a master’s in education with a concentration in educational leadership from Christian Brothers University.
Damon Gardenhire works with the Walton Family Foundation and the Walton Family Personal Philanthropy Group as a senior program officer, focusing on K-12 philanthropic investments in Oklahoma. He is a former television reporter and anchor who covered the Oklahoma City bombing and its aftermath. Damon has held a variety of strategic communications and public policy positions in the corporate, healthcare, legal and state government sectors. His reporting has been published in The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, National Journal and Oklahoma Today magazine. He has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Oklahoma.
emily anne gullickson
Emily Anne Gullickson is the chief executive officer at the Arizona Chamber Foundation and also serves as co-founder and executive director of A for Arizona. Prior to joining A for Arizona, Emily Anne was a policy fellow at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She formerly taught middle school social studies in the Isaac Elementary School District through Teach For America. Emily Anne holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and a master’s in elementary education from Arizona State University and earned her juris doctor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
John Hendrickson serves as policy director for TEF (Tax Education Foundation) Iowa, a public policy think tank. Prior to joining the TEF team, John served as policy director for Iowans for Tax Relief and as a research analyst with the Public Interest Institute. John also serves as an adjunct professor of history at Regent University. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of North Dakota.
Alexandra Hudson studied history and political philosophy at Trinity Western University and earned a master’s in international comparative social policy at the London School of Economics as a Rotary Scholar. Alexandra has held posts at the Federalist Society, the American Enterprise Institute, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and the U.S. Department of Education. She is writing her first book, investigating how civility is essential to American democracy. She is an educational consultant for the Liberty Fund and a fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). Her work as been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner, Commentary and Quillette. Alexandra lives with her husband in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Shaka Mitchell is the Tennessee director for the American Federation for Children and was formerly Rocketship Education’s regional director for the state of Tennessee. Shaka began his career in education as the associate director of policy and planning at the D.C.-based Center for Education Reform. He then led outreach efforts at the Institute for Justice, a constitutional law firm based in Arlington, Virginia. He is an alumnus of Belmont University, where he teaches American government and constitutional law as an adjunct faculty member. He earned his juris doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law, where he sits on the Board of Advisors for the Journal of Law and Policy. Shaka is vice-chair of the Tennessee State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Jessica Morffi is the senior director of policy and planning for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Jessica previously served as the director of advocacy at The College Board. Prior roles include policy development at the SEA level, policy advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, and special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Jessica also worked on the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida International University and a master’s in Public Policy from George Mason University. Jessica recently relocated to Washington, D.C. after living in Miami and New York.
Katie Poulos is the chief schools officer for the Tennessee Department of Education. Katie previously led the statewide charter school authorizing office at the New Mexico Public Education Department. She also served as the director of academic accountability at the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools after joining the office through a NACSA fellowship. Katie started her work in education as an eighth grade math teacher in Greenville, Mississippi with Teach for America. Prior to that, Katie was a litigation associate at Irell and Manella, LLP in Los Angeles, having graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School.
Chad Reese is a Kentucky native who’s worked in the D.C. public policy world since 2009. Currently the activism policy manager for the Institute for Justice, he previously worked in communications, policy and government affairs roles for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Alliance for School Choice. Chad received his bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Kentucky, and his master’s in public policy from George Mason. His policy work has primarily focused on regulatory issues, including federal financial regulations during his time with the Mercatus Center, and more recently on local and state regulations. Before moving to D.C., Chad worked for a Kentucky state senator and on various statewide campaigns.
Amy Sinclair serves as a state senator for Iowa’s 14th District. She is the Senate majority whip, chair of the Education and Government Oversight Committees, and serves as a member on the Commerce and Judiciary Committees. She worked for the Ad Express/Daily Iowegian newspaper and taught in the Central Decatur Community Schools and at Southwestern Community College. During two terms on the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, Amy held numerous leadership roles in county and local communities, chairing the Iowa County Engineers’ Service Bureau board of directors and the Wayne County R.E.A.P. Commission. Amy is a current member of the Wayne Optimists Club and chaired the Allerton Public Library Board from 2000-2004.
Miranda Strong is the associate general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer at Bering Straits Native Corporation in Anchorage, Alaska. Prior to Bering Straits, Miranda was an assistant attorney general for the State of Alaska. She holds a juris doctor from the University of Washington and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alaska. She is a Gates and Truman Scholar and a young leader at the Council for the United States and Italy.
Miranda is a first-generation college graduate and a third-generation Alaskan.
Jason A. Tyszko is vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation where he advances policies and programs that preserve America’s competitiveness and enhance the career readiness of youth and adult learners. In 2009, he served as a policy adviser to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. In addition, Tyszko was deputy chief of staff and senior policy adviser to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Tyszko received his master’s degree from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. He is a certified teacher in the state of Illinois.
alissa mccurley vogel
Alissa McCurley Vogel serves as the government affairs director for Empower Illinois, an education policy organization dedicated to expanding quality education options for low-income and working-class families in Illinois. Alissa also manages the political and advocacy arm of Empower Illinois, One Chance Illinois, which includes a C-4 advocacy shop, a PAC and an IE PAC. Before joining Empower Illinois, Alissa served as a legislative and communications staffer for several members of Congress. Most recently, Alissa managed U.S. Senator Mark Kirk’s state operation as his Illinois chief of staff. Alissa is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the DePaul College of Law and has a master’s degree in public and strategic communications from the American University.
Greg Wilson is a fifth-generation Idahoan serving as the senior policy advisor for education to Governor Brad Little. Before his current position, Wilson was chief of staff to then-Lieutenant Governor Little. He has also worked for U.S. Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District and for the Idaho Senate Majority Caucus. Wilson is a graduate of Gonzaga University and holds a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University. He was formerly an intelligence officer in the Idaho Army National Guard.