Meet The Team

Sama Kubba

President

Sama Kubba is an Iraqi-American sophomore at Harvard studying Modern Middle Eastern Studies and Government for her Bachelor's and Concurrent Master's Degrees. She is the President of the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative where she created the structure of and leads the organization's seven branches, and executive committee. She comes into this role in her second year with the organization after establishing and running policy projects with mentors at State, DoD, etc for a year; curating and coordinating the first high school foreign policy conference and women in foreign policy conference; building partnerships with government entities such as U.S. Cyber Command and UN HeForShe; and creating and supervising teams that built initiatives such as foreign summits, and a foreign policy debate. In her spare time, Sama works as a research assistant for Harvard Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative (MEI), competes on the Harvard Model United Nations team and works on conferences for the Institute of Politics (IOP). She will spend her summer as a U.S. Foreign Service Intern for the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

Maddy Gavitt

Senior Director of Policy for U.S. Government

Maddy Gavitt is a junior at Harvard from Central New York. She is majoring in Psychology, while obtaining citations in both Arabic and Chinese. On-campus, she also participates in Army ROTC and the Harvard Jiu-Jitsu Club, while working as a tour guide for the Harvard College Admissions Office. She is most interested in anything related to defense policy.

George Whitford

Senior Director of Policy for Foreign Governments

Geroge Whitford is an undergraduate at Harvard College concentrating in Government who is planning on pursuing a secondary in Middle Eastern affairs. He has extensive experience working at international NGOs filling positions ranging from teaching to financial auditing. He has taught research, debate, public speaking, and writing to ESL students at both non-profit and private educational institutions. He is interested in Middle Eastern geopolitics, particularly as it relates to sectarian divisions and conflicts, and hopes to work in the region.

Joyce Chen

Senior Director of Conferences

Joyce is a freshman at Harvard from Vancouver, Canada. She intends to concentrate in Government with an Economics secondary and French language citation. She has conducted research on democratic innovations and political participation at the University of British Columbia; through HUFPI, she hopes to further explore those foci as they intersect with economic development and equality. She currently writes for the Harvard Political Review and interns for several Liberal Party of Canada election candidates. Post-graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in United Nations diplomacy or Canadian federal politics.

Gregor Kossmann

Senior Director of Operations

Gregor Kossmann is a first-year student at Harvard looking to concentrate in Government with a secondary in Philosophy. Born in Austria, with parents from Germany and Slovenia, Gregor has lived in five countries across three continents, which initially sparked his interest in international affairs. On-campus he is also engaged with policy writing at the IOP and hopes to further pursue his passion for debate. Aspiring to a career in the State Department or an international organization, Gregor is interested in political polarization, nation-building, and supporting multilateral organizations to foster economic development.

Aqib Zakaria

Senior Director of U.S.-China Dialogue

Aqib Zakaria is a sophomore at Harvard from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is pursuing a concentration in Government with plans for a concurrent master's in Regional Studies — East Asia. At HUFPI, he has previously served multiple roles including Deputy Director of Speakers, Policy Chair for a project on China’s growing pull commissioned by the U.S. Representative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and moderator for the East Asia region at HUFPI’s annual high school conference. As Senior Director of the U.S.-China Dialogue, Aqib is passionate about U.S.-China relations, especially as they relate to global business, the digital economy, Taiwan, and Asia as a whole. Outside of HUFPI, Aqib works as research support for Professor William Kirby at Harvard Business School, where he helps research and write cases regarding business between the U.S. and China. After graduation, Aqib plans to pursue a career in national security and diplomacy. 

Ahmed Alsheikh

Senior Director of Foreign Summits

Ahmed Alsheikh is a sophomore at Harvard studying Government with a potential secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Having grown up in Syria and Saudi Arabia and moved to the United States as a teen, Ahmed is interested in learning more about cooperation between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Previously, he worked as a Policy Researcher on a project regarding U.S. engagement with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as a non-member. Ahmed currently serves as HUFPI’s Senior Director of Foreign Summits, working to launch a policy-focused summit alongside a university in the region.

Arjun Akwei

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government

Arjun Akwei is a sophomore at Harvard studying Social Studies and Astrophysics and pursuing a citation in Chinese. Born in Washington, D.C. to Indian and Ghanaian parents, Arjun spent his early childhood in India and the remainder in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Arjun worked with HUFPI on the South Korea military project, and has been engaged with student government, the Harvard College Consulting Group, and Army ROTC. Arjun has previously advised governments on their engagements with China, and aspires to bridge U.S. domestic and foreign policy strategies to promote democratic principles and inclusive economic growth around the world.

Desiree Ricket

Deputy Director of Finances

Desiree Rickett is sophomore at Harvard studying Economics with a secondary in Government. She is the Deputy Director of Finances for the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative. Outside of HUFPI, she is the Director of Finance for the Group for Undergraduates in Statistics at Harvard, Vice-Chair of Finance for the Harvard Undergraduate Council, Director of Tech and Multimedia for the Harvard Global Education Movement, Program Chair for the Institute of Politic’s Conference Committee, Social Chair for the Harvard College in Asia Program, Head Delegate for the Intercollegiate Model UN team, and Under-secretary General of the General Assembly for Harvard National Model United Nations. In her spare time, Desiree loves to dance, crochet, travel, and try new foods. She will spend her summer traveling as a director for various model UN competitions.

Ben Schroeder

Deputy Director of Speakers

Ben Schroeder is a sophomore at Harvard studying Mechanical Engineering and History. Ben grew up in Washington D.C. where he developed passions for aerospace, history, and global affairs. At Harvard Ben has been involved with the Harvard College Consulting Group, Air Force ROTC, and Harvard SEDS, within which he is the founder and president of the Harvard Rocket Propulsion Group. With HUFPI, Ben led a project team to develop policy recommendations for the Department of Defense regarding security and stability in the Gulf of Guinea region of West Africa. He hopes to pursue a career in space with an eye toward global cooperation and utilization of the space domain for peaceful endeavors.

Morgan Lee

Deputy Director of Conferences

Morgan Lee is a first-year student at Harvard from Annapolis, Maryland. She plans to concentrate in Government with a secondary in East Asian Studies. She is currently conducting research to better understand how to address the ramifications of the economic sanctions against North Korea. On campus, Morgan also continues to further her passion for public service and female empowerment, where she serves on the First-Year Council at the Phillips Brooks House Center and is a First-Year Representative of the Asian American Women’s Association. Morgan plans to pursue a career in law, specializing in international law and human rights. 

Saddat Nazir

Deputy Director of Conferences

Saddat Nazir is a freshman at Harvard College planning to concentrate in Biomedical Engineering, with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, he is passionate about community involvement, civic engagement, and public service. He is also fascinated by the future of biomedical applications in approaching global issues. Through HUFPI, he conducted research with the Council on Strategic Risks on potential policies to contain bioweapon proliferation and address U.S foreign policy shortcomings. He is also involved in the Phillip Brooks House as a First-Year Council member and a WNET Youth Council member, mentoring high school students on media literacy and engagement. He hopes to pursue a career in the realm of Health Policy in the future.

Kushal Chattopadhyay

Deputy Director of Relations

Kushal Chattopadhyay is a Bengali-American freshman at Harvard from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He is interested in concentrating in Applied Math and Economics with coursework in German and French. He was previously an exchange student in Aschaffenburg, Germany on a full scholarship from the German government, originally sparking his interest in foreign languages and policy. In the past, he has conducted research on the economic and sociopolitical viability of a universal speed limit on the German Autobahn with German officials. With HUFPI, he researched the Guatemalan-American diaspora in the United States with emphasis on coronavirus vaccine hesitancy, education, and housing conditions. Kushal is involved with the Harvard College Economics Review, the Harvard College Japan Initiative, and the Product Lab outside of HUFPI. He hopes to pursue either a graduate degree in economics or a career in international business or foreign policy.

Lexa Brenner

Senior Director of Relations

Lexa Brenner is a junior at Harvard and a proud native of Dallas, Texas. She studies national security and foreign affairs with a secondary in Middle Eastern Studies. She has worked on HUFPI policy projects concerning US-Iranian relations and ethnic violence in Africa. Outside of HUFPI, Lexa is Editor in Chief of the Harvard International Review where she manages the readership of a global audience. She loves working out and mentoring younger students and plans to study and work in D.C. in the future. 

Cosette Wu

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

Cosette Wu is a Taiwanese-American freshman at Harvard planning to concentrate in Government. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she spent her summers and winters in Taipei. Her Taiwanese-American heritage sparked her interest in international relations, and she is particularly passionate about U.S.-Taiwan, U.S.-China, and cross-strait relations. Her past experiences include working for the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank focusing on foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region, and serving as a Policy Chair on a HUFPI project researching Chinese disinformation in the U.S. On campus, she also plays for the club tennis travel team and serves on the board of the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group.

Kate Guerin

Deputy Director of Podcasts

Kate Guerin is an undergraduate at Harvard concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in Economics. She is excited to explore her research interests in foreign policy through HUFPI and expand the “Beyond the Headlines” podcast series with her background in journalism. On campus, she is also a Large Events Chair of the Winthrop House Committee, a voting member on the Honor Council, and a performing artist with the Harvard Ballet Company.

Gemma Schneider

Deputy Director of Podcasts

Gemma Schneider is a junior at Harvard College from Roslyn, NY. She is concentrating in Government, and her interests straddle the intersection of journalism and politics. She has conducted academic research on the unintended consequences of economic sanctions in North Korea, and her journalistic work has included exploring the lived experiences of those directly affected by the ethnic conflict in Xinjiang, examining the work of investors driving sustainable economic growth across the African continent, and exposing ongoing barriers to humanitarian aid efforts in developing nations. On-campus, she is also an Executive Editor at the Crimson and works at Harvard Radio Broadcasting, where she has served as News Department Director and as a podcast producer/host. She is incredibly excited to now join HUFPI’s board, where she hopes to continue amplifying issues of practical interest and importance to the global community. 

Ryan Xia

Deputy Director of U.S.-China Dialogue

Ryan Xia is a first-year at Harvard College from Brookline, Massachusetts. He plans to pursue a concentration in Statistics with a secondary in Economics. Ryan is fascinated by US-China relations, particularly in the realm of trade and technology. Previously, he worked on policy research examining the strategies and impact of online Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Outside HUFPI you can also find him performing with The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers, playing on the Quidditch team, or curled up in his dorm with a good book. 

Shelby Tzung

Senior Director of Policy for International Organizations, Think Tanks and Businesses

Shelby Tzung is a sophomore at Harvard from Los Angeles, California. She concentrates in Social Studies and plans to pursue a secondary in Environmental Science and Public Policy with a language citation in Chinese. She is a biracial Chinese-American interested in US-Sino relations and the intersection of diplomacy and environmentalism. Previously, she worked on a project with the Swedish government to incorporate women’s empowerment into Sweden’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. On-campus, she also writes for the Harvard Crimson’s “Fifteen Minutes” magazine and dances with the Harvard Ballet Company. 

Cosette Wu

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

Cosette Wu is a Taiwanese-American freshman at Harvard planning to concentrate in Government. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she spent her summers and winters in Taipei. Her Taiwanese-American heritage sparked her interest in international relations, and she is particularly passionate about U.S.-Taiwan, U.S.-China, and cross-strait relations. Her past experiences include working for the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank focusing on foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region, and serving as a Policy Chair on a HUFPI project researching Chinese disinformation in the U.S. On campus, she also plays for the club tennis travel team and serves on the board of the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group.

Vivian Nguyen

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

Vivian Nguyen is a first-year student at Harvard potentially studying Government with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights and a citation in Chinese. She is interested in US relations with Southeast Asian countries as it pertains to US-China diplomacy, as well as the intersection of global women equality and education access. Previously, she worked on a research project for HUFPI studying Transitional Justice in the Middle East and North Africa for the Moroccan government. Outside of HUFPI, she is a first-year representative for the Asian-American Women's Association, co-Political Education and Advocacy Chair for Harvard Vietnamese Association, Asst. Director for Women in Foreign Policy, and involved in numerous Institute of Politics programs.

Andrew Lu

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

Andrew Lu is a freshman at Harvard planning to study Government and Statistics. He has conducted extensive policy research into international relations focusing on Cold War Europe and Asia, analyzing the political-economic angles of watershed moments in world history. He is particularly interested in understanding the role of technology and the economy in modern policymaking and diplomacy. Outside of HUFPI, Andrew is an avid reader, enjoys a good hike, and looks forward to exploring Boston.

Amy Zhou

Deputy Director of Finance

Amy is a first-year student at Harvard studying Economics with a secondary in English. She is from San Francisco, California, and has also lived in Shanghai, China. Amy has deep interests in US-China relations and the intersections of diplomacy, technology, and healthcare. She has conducted extensive research on international policy issues and healthcare initiatives in various countries, published in historical research journals and recognized by the New York Times. Outside of HUFPI, Amy is involved in Harvard Financial Analysts Club, Crimson Business Board, Consulting for Business and the Environment, Harvard Undergraduate Capital Partners, Harvard College China Forum, Harvard Tech Review, and Alpha Phi.

Shriya Yarlagadda

Deputy Director of Podcast

Shriya Yarlagadda is a first-year studying Social Studies and Statistics. Her passion for foreign policy comes from a long-standing interest in geography and she enjoys reading and writing about issues related to human rights, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and development. At HUFPI, she has researched Chinese political propaganda and the intersection of environmental and developmental policy. Additionally, Shriya serves as the president of Harvard South Asian Americans in Public Service, writes for the Harvard International Review, and advocates at Harvard Undergraduate Women in Foreign Policy. In her free time, In her free time, she enjoys sharpening her trivia skills, practicing martial arts, and eating Zinneken’s (unfortunately she isn’t sponsored…yet)

Nicholas Brennan

Deputy Director of Event Management

Nicholas (Nick) Brennan is a junior studying physics with a secondary in computer science from Saratoga Springs, NY. At HUFPI, Nick specializes in event planning and management for HUFPI's major end of year formal.

Smoky

Ambassador of Love

Smoky is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from Ohio, born in June 2021. He currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his caretaker and Senior Director of Operations, Syed Ahmed. He serves as HUFPI’s Ambassador of Love. In his capacity, he provides love and support to the HUFPI team. He has previously conducted a policy project on animal rights activism. He is named after the dog that Dr. Henry Kissinger raised in his Harvard College dorm as a student in the fall of 1947.