Meet the Summer 2020 Virtual Writing Fellows Class
This week, we’re kicking off the Summer 2020 term of AFF’s Writing Fellows Program. We’re excited to welcome 42 aspiring writers to the program, 24 of whom will be participating from all across the country in our states-based segment of the program. Get to know more about them below!
Neetu Arnold is a researcher on student debt and administrative growth at the National Association of Scholars. She previously reported on education issues for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Neetu is a graduate of Cornell University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication. Neetu spends her free time playing the piano, binge-watching both The Office and Parks & Rec, and playing Catan.
Alesia Bani is a reporter and undergraduate journalism major with a concentration in international communications based in Philadelphia. She is interested in covering culture, identity, and politics with a global perspective. Alesia recently interned at The Japan Times newspaper in Tokyo during the COVID-19 outbreak and currently works as a digital marketing intern for Click Connect Media. She speaks Albanian, English, basic French and is learning Spanish and Japanese. When she’s not writing, you can find Alesia eating french fries and playing with her Chihuahua.
Bess Blackburn is a history graduate student at Liberty University. Prior to entering graduate studies, Bess earned a BS in documentary filmmaking, a BA in classical studies, and a minor in Koine Greek at Liberty. Her work focuses on the intersection of policy and academia, with a focus on natural law, liberty of conscience, and human flourishing. In addition to serving as an editor-in-chief of the Liberty University Journal of Statesmanship and Public Policy, media manager for Scala Foundation, and a LUO instructor, she has been a research assistant for Dr. Paul Miller of Georgetown, Dr. Ari Lamm of the B’nai Zion Foundation, and Patrina Mosley of Family Research Council, and has interned for Dr. Jennifer Bryson of the Hudson Institute. Bess and Dr. Bryson produced “Honour-Able,” a film that received international recognition at the Dare to Overcome Film Competition which took place at the Second State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Shaun Cammack is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, focusing on cultural psychology. He’s interested in how values, beliefs, and moral considerations inform individual action and social organization. He’s also a contributor with Young Voices, writing about culture, society, and politics. His work has been published in USA Today, The Federalist, Spiked Magazine, and The Washington Times, amongst others. You can find him on Twitter @shaunjcammack
John Cookson is a writer and researcher based in Chicago. He previously worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the National Interest, CNN, and the PBS NewsHour. He has written for The Hill, the Jerusalem Post, the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, and the National Interest. John received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from Columbia University. In 2019, he was a National Review Institute Regional Fellow in Chicago.
Tyler Corder is the global technology controls advisor at ExxonMobil in Baytown, TX, and is a CPA. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014 with a BBA in accounting (certificate in energy finance) and from the University of Houston in 2018 with a MS in accounting (certificate in taxation). After Texas A&M, he worked for a startup serving the energy industry, which was acquired in late 2015. He continued to work for the new company until 2018 when he went to work for ExxonMobil as an internal auditor. Tyler is involved as a precinct chair in the Houston Heights and is an emerging leader in energy with IPAA (Independent Petroleum Association of America). He also serves as the membership chair of Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Liberty Leadership Council in Houston and is a part of the Baker Institute’s Young Professional Round Table’s Energy Subcommittee.
James Czerniawski is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free-market think tank in Utah. he writes about consumer data privacy, cybersecurity, and technology and innovation issues. His work has been published in numerous national outlets such as RealClearFuture, The Morning Consult, Deseret News, The National Interest, The Washington Examiner, and The Salt Lake Tribune.
Joshua González Velásquez
Joshua is an incoming senior at Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) studying economics and public policy. He has previously interned for a Republican campaign in his home state of New Jersey and with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation through the Charles Koch Institute’s Koch Internship Program. This summer, he will be interning with Civismo, a classically liberal think tank based out of Madrid, Spain, through a fellowship with The Fund for American Studies. Coming in the fall, he plans to serve as an undergraduate fellow with the Eisenhower Institute (Gettysburg College’s public policy institute) studying American foreign policy and as a member of the Senior Opinions Board at his school newspaper, The Gettysburgian. His topics of interest include business journalism, European Union news, Spanish politics, and American politics.
Mikaela Harris lives in New York City and is a staff attorney at the New York office for Kids In Need of Defense (KIND). She represents children seeking humanitarian relief from deportation, advises pro bono attorneys, and provides trainings. Formerly, Mikaela worked in the Immigration Project at Sanctuary for Families in Brooklyn, New York, where she screened victims of sexual and gender-based violence for immigration relief, and Just Neighbors in Annandale, Virginia, where she assisted clients in obtaining immigration benefits. Mikaela has provided immigration law support to Al Otro Lado in Tijuana, Mexico, Advocates Abroad in Greece, and the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative in Albany, New York. She also volunteers with the New York Junior League and Sigma Kappa Sorority. Mikaela speaks both French and Spanish, and is a graduate of Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Florida, summa cum laude.
Alexis Huggins is from Falls Church, Virginia. She is a 2020 graduate of Wheaton College where she received her BA in economics and political science with a minor in English and a pre-law certificate. While she was a student at Wheaton College, Alexis participated in Mock Trial, was the president of the Wheaton Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha Honors Society, and was a member of the Student Voter Education Task Force. During the summer of 2019, she was an intern in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, where she published her first op-ed. She also interned in the Office of the Vice President during the summer of 2018. Additionally, Alexis has worked as an accounting and administrative intern at Sanders Commercial Real Estate. She enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and being outside in her free time.
Dan Johnson is a seasoned activist with nearly a decade of experience in grassroots organizing and strategy. He has founded three national nonprofit organizations, including an activist training center, written or co-written numerous pieces of legislation, and organized and trained thousands of grassroots activists from coast to coast. He has worked across the political spectrum, organizing numerous nonpartisan coalitions and working to find common ground in communities, states, and Washington. Dan works outside politics as well, with his nonprofit We Do Better, advocating for the role of voluntary organizations in meeting community needs. Dan is passionate about teaching and training to transform peoples’ lives and break barriers, and finding creative solutions to societal problems that can bring all people together.
Isadore Johnson is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut who is majoring in economics and political science. This summer, Isadore is working for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni as a communications intern through the Koch Internship Program. On campus, Isadore leads the Young Americans for Liberty chapter, writes extensively for the Daily Campus, reports for Campus Reform, runs the Journal of Unfashionable Ideas, and is the training director of the radio station on campus. Isadore cares strongly about personal and economic liberties and is startled at the willingness of his peers to accept censorship and downplay the coercion of government. Isadore hopes that his writing cultivates other students to think outside the box and question narratives that speak power to truth.
Steven Koskulitz is a conservative writer from northern Virginia. He has written for Accuracy in Academia and is currently writing for Rogue Review. Steven hopes to improve his writing through the Writing Fellows Program and prepare to work as a full-time political writer.
Mia Garza McCord is president of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI), previously serving as the organization’s vice-president and interim president. Mia’s appointment as president of TCCRI is notable as the organization’s first Hispanic and first woman to serve in this capacity. A south Texas native, Mia began her work in Texas government and politics after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. She’s worked in public policy and campaigns for the last 15 years. Mia serves on the board of directors for Red State Women and the advisory boards for the LBJ Women’s Campaign School and the Texas Federation of College Republicans. She’s a member of the Women’s Symphony League of Austin and was a 2018 Woman of the Year Candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mialives in Leander, Texas, with her husband John and their two children John Mark and Estela.
Nidhi Nair is an international student from India studying economics and statistics at the University of Connecticut. She is passionate about data science, poverty economics, race, culture shock, and civil and free discourse on college campuses. She tries to think deeply about global and local problems, and she actively exercises her right to discuss and write about her opinions and ideas. To that effect, Nidhi writes for the Daily Campus, volunteers as a local coordinator at Students for Liberty, hosts her own weekly radio show ‘Content is King’, works at the WHUS Radio station, and works on the executive board of the Undergraduate Economics Society of the University of Connecticut.
Timothy Nerozzi is a journalist and foreign correspondent from rural Pennsylvania. He writes on religion, international politics, and cultural issues with a focus on the Catholic Church and East Asia. He has appeared in the Japan Times, Catholic News Agency, the American Spectator, Courrier International, and more and has been published in multiple languages. He has served as the Tokyo editor of Zenger News and regularly writes about Japanese society.
Nicholas Perugini has over a year and a half experience working as a local reporter in western Connecticut. He has been able to cover a variety of stories from local politics, town events, student news, community achievements, and government meetings. During his time as a local reporter, he became integrated in the local community and was able to follow stories as they developed over time. While in school, Nicholas was a research intern at Lou Reda Productions, a documentary company in Pennsylvania. While there he helped research potential new documentaries and helped pitch them to various television networks.
Raymond Porter is based in Big Timber, Montana, and writes on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, economics, and philosophy. He has received several awards from the Montana Newspaper Association and is continuing the development of his communication skills through America’s Future Foundation.
Christian Sagers is the assistant voices and opinion editor for the Deseret News, where he lends a conservative millennial’s perspective on politics, faith, and culture. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in American studies.
Ketevan is from Tbilisi, Georgia, currently based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is currently an independent writer for the USbased media Zenger News. She graduated from Free University of Tbilisi, faculty of governance and social sciences. Ketevan has been involved in the liberty movement since 2016, started her career at Students For Liberty, which years after, brought her to the dual internship at the Charles Koch Institute and SFL in Washington, DC. Her wide interests cover digital communications, policy, democratic developments, and journalism. At this point, she is seeking a master’s degree in Europe while focusing on advancement of her writing and policy analysis skills.
Sean Stein Smith
Sean Stein Smith is assistant professor of business and economics at Lehman College, City University of New York. He serves on the advisory board of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance where he chairs the Accounting Work Group. Sean has published numerous articles and several books focusing on the intersection of accounting, financial services, and emerging technologies. He also is the chairperson of the NJCPA’s Emerging Technologies Interest Group (#NJCPATech). Sean is on the advisory board of Gilded, a TechStars ’19 company and AICPA-CPA.com Startup Accelerator participant. He was a visiting research fellow at the American Institute of Economic Research in 2019 continuing his research on blockchain, crypto assets, and financial services. He is a frequent guest on television, radio, and other multimedia discussing emerging technologies and financial services. He received a BS, MS, and MBA from Fairleigh Dickenson and a DBA from Capella University.
Sarah Weaver is a graduate student at Hillsdale college studying political philosophy and American government. She is a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and the Forge Leadership Network.
Kai Weiss is the research and outreach coordinator at the Austrian Economics Center and a board member of the Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institute, both organizations based in Vienna, Austria. His works have been published and cited by outlets such as The Financial Times, The Daily Express, National Review, and the Washington Examiner. Originally from Regensburg, Germany, Kai spends his free time as a hiker in the Bavarian Alps and the American West, reading up on Catholic theology, as well as watching American sports – particularly Chicago Bears football.
Clint Woods is the policy fellow for regulations at Americans for Prosperity. He previously served in positions with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, US House Science Committee, and the American Legislative Exchange Council. He holds an MA in international commerce and policy from George Mason University and a BA from the University of Mary Washington. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, he now resides in Delaware County, Ohio with his family.