Miller Center/Democracy Initiative
Kathon Betterton is a fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is double majoring in government and foreign affairs in the honors program, along with a minor in history. Academically, she is interested in the politics of rural areas and American pluralism. In her free time, she enjoys playing rugby on the Virginia Women’s Rugby team.
Alexi Comella is a rising fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is from Chicago, studying history and leadership and public policy. She is passionate about the historical context of policymaking and she hopes to go to law school one day. Outside of her academic interests, Comella is involved in the University Guide Service, her sorority, and a dance organization on Grounds.
Stella Connaughton is a rising third-year student from Queens, New York, double majoring in public policy and leadership and history in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She is interested in how historical research can improve policymaking and finding solutions for widespread societal issues. After college, she hopes to attend law school and work in the public sector.
Bennett Crow is a rising fourth-year student in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, double majoring in public policy and leadership and foreign affairs. He is on the servant leadership team with the Christian fellowship, Cru at UVA. He is also an editor for the Bearings Journal and is a member of the College Republicans. Following graduation, he hopes to work in or around government on issues of national security and civil liberties.
Caroline Lamb is a rising fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences from Silver Spring, Maryland. She is pursuing a major in foreign affairs and a minor in history. Last semester, Lamb studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where she was able to further her studies, focusing more on Spain and Europe and learning from a new perspective.
Kaylee Moore is a rising third-year student from Suffolk, Virginia, majoring in foreign affairs and history. She attended an international school in Copenhagen, Denmark, when she was young, sparking her interest in international relations. At UVA, she is involved with Reformed University Fellowship, Chi Omega, and volunteering as a language consultant with VISAS. She enjoys reading, running, and being outside in her free time.
Zoe Olbrys is a rising fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, from Oxford, Connecticut, studying political philosophy, policy, law, history, and religious studies. She serves on the Honor Committee, University Judiciary Committee, and Fourth Year Trustees; volunteers for Beyond the Bars, Pancakes for Parkinson’s, and Alternative Spring Break; and is a member of the Hellenic Society, Democracy Initiative Student Advisory Council, and Pi Beta Phi. Her interests include civil rights law, criminal justice reform, education reform, voter suppression, authoritarianism, the intersection of American religion and politics, and the relationship between social media and political polarization. In her free time, Olbrys loves to explore new coffee shops, read dystopian literature, watch documentaries, listen to country music, play volleyball, hike, and spend time with her friends and family.
From the Washington, D.C., area, Daniel Podratsky found himself drawn to American politics while attending high school only blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building. Now an economics and government double major in the College of Arts and Sciences, he is interested in economic development and global diplomacy. He is a research assistant in the economics department and an Honor Committee support officer.
Raised in Great Falls, Virginia, Nik Popli is a rising fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying media policy, government, and social entrepreneurship. He serves as editor-in-chief and president of The Cavalier Daily—the independent, student-run newspaper serving the UVA and Charlottesville communities since 1890—where he manages a staff of 400 student volunteers. He has written numerous articles about issues facing the University and is the recipient of the 2019 Virginia Press Association’s first-place award in investigative reporting. Popli is interested in law, journalism, and politics and has a passion for writing, leadership, and policy.
Stephanie Ricker is a rising second-year in the College of Arts and Sciences from Carmel, New York, and intends to double major in history and politics with the goal of becoming a lawyer. Ricker is a member of the UVA cheerleading team and loves cheering for the Hoos. She is the publicity chair for the acapella group the Flying Vs, is on the executive board of the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP), and is also a brother in the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta.
Kelly Rohe is an incoming fourth-year in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is pursuing a double major in political philosophy, policy, and law, and Spanish with a minor in psychology, all with a concentration in civil and human rights law. Woohoo pre-law! If she’s not in the stacks of Clark feverishly studying for a Comm Law exam, she’s probably drinking entirely too much coffee or doing Crossfit (but not at the same time). Outside of my involvement in the Washington Society and the UVA Community Food Pantry, I’m the senior research assistant of a social cognition lab that explores racial bias and the social ecology of privilege (she’s also a pretty killer member of a decidedly subpar IM innertube water-polo team). She loves philosophy, documentaries, and a good ol’ telenovela.
Mathiae Rowe is a history major with a public history concentration and a minor in government at the College at Wise. Working with the public sector as a historian is one of his favorite pastimes. He is hoping this internship continues to fuel his love for history and improve his ability to connect with the public sector.
Eleanor Thompson is a fourth-year 3+1 student in the McIntire School of Commerce. She is from Nashville, Tennessee, currently pursuing a master’s in commerce with a concentration in business analytics. As an undergraduate, she majored in economics with a minor in English. She hopes to attend law school and has an interest in comparative and international law. On Grounds, Thompson is involved with the University Judiciary Committee, the University Guide Service, and the Wilson Journal of International Affairs.
Alejandro (Alex) Williams
Alex Williams is a rising third-year in UVA’s College of Arts and Sciences from Fairfax, Virginia, studying government and foreign affairs in the politics honors program. He first became interested in the presidency in 2004, when on election day, his preschool teacher convinced him and his peers that they all wanted to see President Bush win re-election—a desire with which Williams’ father was quick to disagree. Williams has since been fascinated by the obsession, and polarization, of the American presidency. He also has a profound interest in social contract theory and constitutional law, and desires to further research how classical theories of the social contract exclude minoritized groups. He believes understanding how these exclusionary connotations of the social contract have been institutionalized within law and government is vastly important, as it provides a framework for aligning contemporary political theory with the inclusionary principles of justice we hold today.
Ellen Yates is a rising fourth-year in the College of Arts and Sciences from Charlottesville, Virginia, studying political and social thought with a minor in religious studies. Her academic interests center on nationalism and the intersection of religion and politics. She has served as a resident advisor, moderator for sustained dialogue, volunteer with the Charlottesville Debate League, and intern with the Religion, Politics and Conflict Initiative in the Religious Studies Department. She has also been heavily involved in UVA’s student council since her first year and is currently student council president. In her free time, Yates enjoys hiking, crossword puzzles, and spending time with family.
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
Alixandra Acker is a rising fourth-year from New York majoring in global security and justice, with a minor in public policy and leadership. Her interests in national security, nuclear proliferation, and antiterrorism converge with a passion for promoting human rights, as she spent last summer interning with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Sydney, Australia. She has worked with the Batten Global Policy Center, tracking patterns of migration stemming from Venezuela, and most recently with the National Security Policy Center, researching the U.S. Space Force. Upon graduation, Acker hopes to pursue a career in the Foreign Service.
Olivia Burke is a rising fourth-year student in the Curry School of Education, minoring in Batten. After graduation she hopes to spend her life working to promote education equity through policy reform. Outside of the education policy realm, she loves to cook, paint watercolors, and practice yoga.
Shelby Curry is a fourth-year student pursuing a double major in global environments and sustainability and Spanish. Previously, she interned with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in her hometown of Virginia Beach, and completed a semester-long language-immersion program in Valencia, Spain. She is passionate about the ways in which social equity and sustainable development intersect, and is excited to gain professional experience in the field of public policy.
Garrett Hicks is a third-year history major entering graduate studies at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. At the University of Virginia, Hicks is the editor-in-chief of the Bearings journal, teaches middle school debate as a member of the Charlottesville Debate League, and serves as a support officer for the honor system. Hicks is interested in the way history allows us to make more informed policy decisions, and he hopes that the study of public policy will enable him to ensure that government decisions best serve citizens.
Bobbi-Angelica Morris is a rising third-year student. She is African American, indigenous, and disabled (hard of hearing) and is majoring in urban and environmental planning and global development studies, with a minor in American Sign Language. Morris’s overall focus is to create a more inclusive and accessible society for disabled people.
Donovan Rolle is a rising fourth-year in the Batten School of Public Policy and Leadership. He is originally from Florida but now lives in the Delaware/Maryland/Virginia area. He is interested mostly in sports policy and education policy. As a former student athlete, Rolle is using his newfound time to be more involved in his community and to be the change he wants to see.
Alejandro Rush is a rising fourth-year majoring in public policy and leadership with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. His post-graduate goals include taking a gap year after graduation to work in a lobbying firm for civil rights reform (and also get on Survivor), before pursuing his J.D. and eventually a career in law. Rush’s hobbies include swimming, reading, watching Survivor, and drinking tea.
Center for Politics
Eleanor Elizabeth Bowen
Eleanor Bowen is from Charlottesville and has one younger brother who will be entering UVA in the fall and two parents who work for the University. She is majoring in environmental sustainability—a selective program within global studies—and minoring in English. She is interested in a couple of different career paths that all revolve around environmental sustainability, writing, and activism. She is interested in pursuing a career with environmental NGOs, in environmental journalism, or possibly in environmental law. Bowen has a passion for the outdoors, political activism, writing, and music.
Ann Ashley Daniel
Ann Ashley Daniel is a rising second-year from Rocky Mount, Virginia. She intends to study politics and public policy and pursue a minor in Spanish. Her interest in politics began when she served as a page in the Virginia House of Delegates. She is excited to explore it further with the Center for Politics.
Thomas James Dannenfelser
Tommy Dannenfelser is a rising second-year student intending to major in political philosophy, policy, and law (PPL) and minor in Spanish. In the spring, Dannenfelser interned at the Center for Politics, where he published in Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He is grateful to have taken the Center’s JFK course and Virginia politics course, and he looks forward to interning this summer.
Halinta Diallo is a rising third-year student majoring in global development studies, with a minor in public policy and leadership. On Grounds, Diallo is involved with the Undergraduate Black Law Students Association and Student Council, and is a volunteer for organizations such as Madison House. She plans to combine her interests in foreign policy, international affairs, and politics to pursue a law degree with a concentration on international human rights law.
Kristen Graves is a rising fourth-year student from Newport News, VA, studying government and history. In addition to her studies, Graves participates in various organizations and movements to better her community and the University. As a University Guide Service member and student advisor to the President’s Commission, she seeks to uncover and examine the untold stories of UVA’s past. She serves as a mentor to Black and Brown students through the Office of African-American Affairs’ Peer Advisor Program, while also assisting students in pursuit of legal careers through the Undergraduate Black Law Students Association. After receiving her degree, she plans to pursue a career in law and public policy where she hopes to focus on civil rights issues and healthcare. Graves is committed to constructing a better society, as she both values and aspires to work toward justice, equality, and equity.
Matthew Greason is an economics and Spanish major from Ashburn, Virginia. He is interested in the connections between politics and economics and how that link contributes to policy decisions. His father served in the Virginia House of Delegates for eight years, and he found that his interest in politics grew as he worked on his dad’s election campaigns. Outside of the classroom, he is a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, a Madison House volunteer, and an avid sports fan.
Jacob Green was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. Growing up in a house full of University of Tennessee Volunteers made the move to Charlottesville easy: His wardrobe was already full of orange. At UVA, he is pursuing an Echols Interdisciplinary Major in political communication, designed for the Echols Interdisciplinary Program. With it, he hopes to work in campaigns and make our democracy more accessible and welcoming for all Americans. Right now, though, he enjoys hiking in the Appalachians, reading terrible novels, and tending his vegetable garden. Finally, and perhaps most important, he’s a dog person.
Tanmay Gupta is a rising fourth-year in the college of Arts and Sciences. His major is government. He has been interested in politics for a very long time, recognizing the consequential impact it has on society and individuals. This internship interested Gupta because it would allow him to put his hobby of political analysis into practice. For fun besides politics, he likes to read and play the piano. He is from Yorktown, VA, and originally went to George Mason University for two years before transferring to UVA last fall.
Ben Gustafson is a rising third-year from Edina, Minnesota, studying government and foreign affairs in the politics honors program. He is a support officer for the Honor Committee, a tour guide for the University Guide Service, and a volunteer tutor at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail through Madison House. He hopes to someday work for the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, camping, and watching UVA sports.
Austin Houck was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, and lives with his parents, two siblings, a dog, three cats, and two ferrets (basically a zoo). He is a third-year computer science student and loves programming, playing soccer and basketball, and politics. Last year, he founded a 501(c)4 organization called Homoglobin, which advocates for LGBTQ equality in healthcare and education. He interned for the Center for Politics during the spring semester and is looking forward to more work there.
William Hampton Keen
William Keen is a rising second-year student from West Palm Beach, Florida. He plans to study politics, and deeply enjoys learning about the role of politics in history—particularly how the events, policies, and actions of the past evolve to shape today’s world. Wherever he goes, he enjoys forming new relationships with others. As an intern for the UVA Center for Politics this summer, he looks forward to working with other people at the Center to seek solutions to political issues facing the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation as a whole.
Grace Miller Kurcina
Grace Kurcina is a rising third-year student double majoring in global security and justice and English. At school she is part of RUF, a mentor through Madison House, and is president of the International Justice Mission chapter at UVA. She is an Echols scholar and serves on Echols Council as co-chair of the Mentorship Committee. She has been a UVA fan for years (her parents and grandfather attended) and UVA basketball season is her favorite time of year. After college, her goal is to attend law school with the hope of eventually working in the nonprofit sector. This goal is driven by her passion for human rights and her concern for those in poverty and vulnerable situations. In particular, she would like to work in India. She discovered a love for travel during her study abroad program in London last summer, and one day she hopes to visit every continent.
Joria Le is a rising third-year student from Oakton, Virginia, majoring in nursing. At UVA’s School of Nursing (SON), she has been class treasurer since her first year and has been involved with Nursing Student Council as its student council representative (’20) and university judiciary committee representative (’20–’21). She also serves as an SON ambassador and a peer tutor/teacher’s assistant for classes in microbiology, pathophysiology, and health assessment. After graduation, Le plans to work in the medical ICU before pursuing a career in medical law.
Evan Michael Luellen
Evan Luellen is a rising fourth-year student from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is double majoring in the program in political and social thought (PST) and religious studies, while minoring in history. He has worked extensively with the Center for Politics in the past as a student, intern, and independent researcher. He secured an internship at ColdSpark, a political consulting firm in Pittsburgh, this summer before the coronavirus pandemic interfered with his plans. He is grateful to professor Larry Sabato and the Center for Politics because the virtual summer internship program allows him to continue his involvement with the Center and participate in meaningful public sector work.
Joshua Ty McCray
Joshua McCray was born and raised in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in Wise, Virginia. Growing up, he was an active and engaged student who enjoyed learning on any given subject. As a first-generation college student, he is continuing his passion for learning. He is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, double-majoring in biochemistry and history. On-Grounds, he is an active member of several clubs and organizations, including the student government association, Circle K International, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. After graduating, he aspires to go to medical school and take his place in his community as a physician.
Denzel Caymen Mitchel
Denzel Mitchel is a rising third-year student from Northumberland County, Virginia, studying political and social thought and economics. Aside from keeping up with his studies, he is currently a residential advisor in the International Residential College, a Student Board member of the College of Arts and Sciences and Miller Center’s Democracy Initiative, the Outreach Chair for a community service organization, and volunteer with the Charlottesville High School cross-country team. He has served as a student member of the Northumberland County school board, a field organizer for the Francis Edwards for Delegate campaign, a deposit operations intern for Chesapeake Bank, and has also served through various community service initiatives and by doing yard work for his neighbors. In his free time, he enjoys running, cycling, and reading about and discussing history and politics.
Brian Pak is a rising fourth-year political philosophy, policy, and law (PPL) major. He is an aspiring public defender. As a child, he moved frequently to different countries and states. His hobbies include playing soccer and basketball, listening to music, and watching lots of movies.
Amanda Pallas is a rising third-year government major. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, with her Cuban mother and American father. Growing up bilingual in multicultural Miami, she was thrust into the cauldron of passionate Latin American politics. This exposure sparked an interest to study government at the university level. Inspired by her father, a lawyer, and also through an internship at a federal courthouse, her exposure has been with the judicial branch of government. She now looks forward to being exposed to the legislative and executive branches through this summer internship with the Center for Politics.
Aidan Thomas Parker
Aidan Parker was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a rising fourth-year student seeking a double major in government and history. Currently, he is entering my third year as an equipment manager for the UVA football program where he serves as one of four head managers. In the fall semester of 2018, he interned for professor Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball at the Center for Politics. His political experience includes interning for the 2018 Joe Donnelly Senate Campaign in Indiana and working as a page at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend law school and pursue a career as a civil rights attorney.
Abigail Marlow Quinn
Abigail Quinn is a rising second-year from Massachusetts intending to study foreign affairs and French. Around Grounds, she is involved on First and Second Year Council, the Global Inquirer Podcast, the Women's Leadership Development Program, and Blueprint Leadership. In her spare time, she enjoys drinking coffee at Grit with friends, trying a new bagel at Bodo’s, or exploring her hometown of Boston.
Micah Rucci is a rising third-year student from North Wildwood, New Jersey. Rucci is majoring in media studies and is considering writing his distinguished majors thesis on the changing media environment in the 2020 election year. Also pursuing a minor in Spanish, Rucci spends much of his free time teaching the language to middle and high school students. He is also volunteering this summer on the Amy Kennedy Congressional Campaign in South Jersey (NJ-2). At UVA, Rucci is involved in WUVA News, First Year Players, Broadway Talks Back, UVA Multiple Sclerosis Society, and he is an undergraduate fellow for the New College Curriculum.
Garrett Scocos is a rising fourth-year from Cleveland, Ohio, studying foreign affairs. At the University of Virginia, he is the vice president of operations for the College Republicans, a resident advisor for first-years, and a researcher for the Global Inquirer podcast. Aside from being a prolific reader of political memoirs, he enjoys long-distance running and working on local political campaigns.
Eva Marie Surovell
Eva Surovell is from Mount Vernon, Virginia. Given that she lives so close to D.C., politics has always been a huge part of her life. At the University of Virginia, she writes for both the news and sports sections of The Cavalier Daily, volunteers for Madison House’s Holiday Sharing program, and is involved with University Democrats and the Washington Literary and Debating Society. She plans to double-major in French and English and attend law school after graduation.
Katherine Asmara Timothy
Katherine Timothy is a rising fourth-year from Bristow, Virginia, studying global development and public policy. She has spent the majority of her time at the University of Virginia interning with the International Rescue Committee, volunteering with UVA's VISAS program, and playing the horn in the Cavalier Marching Band. Additionally, she has interned with both the Economic and Business Affairs and Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureaus at the U.S. Department of State. While there, she aided in developing new emergency telecommunications country profiles and cultural exchange programs. In her free time, Timothy enjoys being outside, either relaxing on the Lawn or hiking in the Shenandoah mountains.
Ella M. Tynch
Ella Tynch is a rising second-year student from Falls Church, Virginia. At the University of Virginia, she is involved with the comedy scene, student radio, and political organizing. Her current projects include campaigning for down-ballot progressive candidates across the East Coast, writing sketch comedy, and working with student groups to campaign for an equitable fall 2020 semester. Tynch plans to declare a government major with a minor in African American studies and is considering the Accelerated Master of Public Policy Program offered through the Frank Batten School. Through her work, she hopes to hold those in power accountable and work toward a more just future.
Eleanor Barret Williams
Barret Williams is a third-year student majoring in economics. Her affinity for math started in high school in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was further fueled by introductory economics courses during her first year at UVA, as well as her summer term abroad at the London School of Economics. Williams served as a volunteer at the Charlottesville public elementary schools through Madison House, exposing her to the public sector and sparking her interest in a summer of public policy work. With the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting her previous summer plans, she is excited to intern with the Center for Politics to work on solutions to alleviate problems created by the crisis.
Weldon Cooper Center/Sorensen Institute
Roark Carson is a rising third-year in the College of Arts and Sciences who is from Virginia Beach and majoring in political philosophy, policy, and law, and minoring in Chinese language. His academic interests include the American judiciary system, U.S.-Chinese relations, and linguistics. In his free time, he enjoys practicing Chinese and Spanish, swimming, and playing card games. He hopes to pursue a career in international or constitutional law.
Nidhi Desai is a rising third-year in the College of Arts and Sciences who is majoring in global studies with a concentration in the Middle East and South Asia, with a minor in psychology. On Grounds, Desai is the vice president of internal affairs for the Indian Student Association, is director-general of logistics for the VAMUN, is a dancer on HooRaas, and works at the Fine Arts Library. Desau is excited to be interning at the Sorensen Institute because the work aligns with her future endeavors of becoming a lawyer and eventually running for political office.
Thomas Driscoll is a rising third-year in the College of Arts and Sciences who is from Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is currently double majoring in history and foreign affairs and plans to attend law school following graduation. Aside from academics, Driscoll is an opinion editor for The Cavalier Daily, a resident advisor, and a member of both the University Guide Service and the Washington Literary Society and Debating Union.
Martha Keith Gallagher
Martha Gallagher is a rising fourth-year student at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. A lifelong resident of Alexandria, Virginia, and a product of Fairfax County public schools, Gallagher is pursuing a B.A. in public policy and leadership, as well as a minor in Spanish. Outside of the classroom, she is the chapter president of sorority Pi Beta Phi; leads Team One Love at UVA, which works to educate young people about the warning signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships; and has been a member of her two previous class councils. Over Gallagher’s past two spring breaks, she has used her Spanish-speaking skills on service trips to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she has seen the effects of immigration policy first-hand and has engaged in conversations about those policies with nonprofit leaders, Border Patrol agents, federal judges, public defenders, and immigrant families. Her summer internship in the U.S. Senate was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, so she is thrilled to be a virtual intern for the Sorensen Institute and focus her studies on policymaking in the Commonwealth, especially during an historic pandemic that necessitates effective leadership.
McClain Moran is a rising third-year from Midlothian, Virginia, in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and pursuing a minor in economics. At UVA, she volunteers as a sustainability advocate within the Office of Sustainability, leads philanthropic involvement within her Greek life organization, and studies as an undergraduate fellow within the College of Arts and Sciences. As a student in the Batten School, she is passionate about the public policy process and bridging the gaps between those who formulate policy and those who are affected by it in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
Alec Scicchitano is a rising fourth-year student from Fairfax, Virginia, in UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, majoring in public policy and leadership. He is heavily involved with the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank, and has had two policy briefs submitted to its journal. He also researches telemedicine policy in Virginia with a professor from the School of Nursing. Upon graduation, he hopes to work for an elected official or a think tank.
Christine Shan is a rising third-year in the McIntire School of Commerce, with a concentration in marketing and information technology and a minor in business Spanish. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi. At UVA, Shan serves as a volunteer income tax assistant for low-income families and individuals in Charlottesville. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, salsa dancing, fostering shelter animals, and supporting UVA athletics.
JaVori Warren is a rising fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences and is from Northern Virginia. She is pursuing a double major in studio art with a concentration in painting and government on the pre-law track. Warren is the current president of the Black Student Alliance, selections tri-chair for the Office of African-American Affairs Peer Advisor Program, and a member of the 2021 Cohort of the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership.
Maggie Wells is a rising senior from Danville, Virginia, studying Sociology and Education at the College of William and Mary. Upon graduation, she plans to join Teach for America before ultimately entering a career in education policy. She is actively involved in Student Assembly, Panhellenic Council, and the Office of Community Engagement, as well as student research at the School of Education.