Meet The Team

Sama Kubba


Sama Kubba is an Iraqi-American junior at Harvard studying Government and Modern Middle Eastern Studies for her Bachelor’s and Concurrent Master’s Degrees, focusing on China’s influence in the Middle East. She is the President of the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative where she created the structure of, leads, and manages the organization's five branches, and executive committee. She comes into this role in her third year with the organization after establishing and running policy projects for a year; curating and coordinating the first high school foreign policy conference; building partnerships with government entities such as U.S. Cyber Command; and creating and supervising teams for initiatives such as foreign summits and the U.S.-China Initiative. Sama is a U.S. Foreign Service Intern at the U.S. Department of State.

Cosette Wu

Senior Director of Policy for U.S. Government and Businesses

Cosette Wu is a Taiwanese-American sophomore at Harvard planning to concentrate in Government and Economics. 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 serves as co-captain of the club tennis travel team and serves on the board of the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group.

Mihaela Esanu

Senior Director of Policy for Foreign Governments and Businesses

Mihaela Esanu is a senior living in Dunster and studying Government with a Secondary in Germanic Languages and Literatures. She was born and raised in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. During her three years at Harvard, she was involved in numerous organizations and clubs that allowed her to explore her different yet intersecting passions. For the past two years she has been writing for the Harvard Political Review's World Section about foreign affairs issues with a focus on Eastern Europe and is currently also acting as the organization's staff representative for the Commission on Gender and Sexuality. Additionally, she served as First-Year Representative for international freshmen, within the Woodbridge Society. In the spring of her junior year, she acted as the Social Chair of this organization. In spring and fall 2020, she was involved in the Institute of Politics, namely the Women in Leadership (WIL) program. In terms of her long-term plans and interests, she is passionate about international law and is considering a career in the sphere of human rights.

Saddat Nazir

Senior Director of HS Conference

Saddat Nazir is a sophomore 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.

Joyce Chen

Senior Director of Foreign Summits

Joyce is a sophomore at Harvard from Vancouver, Canada. She is pursuing a concentration in Government with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, & Rights. She has conducted research on democratic innovations and political participation at the Harvard Kennedy School and at the University of British Columbia; through HUFPI, she hopes to further explore those foci as they intersect with international development and cybersecurity. Post-graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in diplomacy or international law.

Desiree Rickett

Senior Director of Relations

Desiree Rickett is a junior at Harvard from Orlando, Florida. She plans to concentrate in Economics with a secondary in Government. Her interest in international relations and social justice led to her involvement in HUFPI. 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 Politics 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. Desiree plans to pursue a career in law.

Sarah Deonarain

Senior Director of Speakers

Sarah Deonarain is a senior at Harvard College concentrating in Economics, with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights, and a citation in Spanish. She is passionate about international development, notably in Latin America and the Caribbean. Sarah enjoys researching how international migration law can be improved to better meet the needs of refugees and immigrants around the world. Sarah also participates in public service and social impact work in the areas of women’s and children’s rights, especially regarding human trafficking and gender-based crimes. With aspirations to become an attorney and legislator, Sarah served in Summer 2021 as a legal intern at the Immigration Center for Women and Children, where she provided affordable immigration services to underrepresented immigrants, including children, who were abused, abandoned or neglected and immigrants who are victims of violent crimes. She is currently interning at the Executive Office of the United Nations Development Programme, where she has designed and debuted a new data platform that tracks political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and cultural changes in the developing world, an innovative tool that will transform the future of development at the United Nations.

Ryan Xia

Senior Director of U.S.-China Initiative

Ryan Xia is a sophomore 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.

Nicholas Brennan

Senior Director of Finance

Nicholas (Nick) Brennan, is a rising senior at Harvard College hailing from Saratoga, NY studying physics with a secondary in computer science. Having served as Deputy Director of Event Management last spring where he planned and coordinated HUFPI’s first ever major formal event at the luxurious Hyatt Seaport, Nick is excited to take on managing HUFPI’s financial operations. Under Nicholas, the organization has pivoted to a more robust accounting and financial reconciliation program, already saving HUFPI thousands in taxes and general heat loss, in addition to developing marketing strategy to thrust the organization onto a path of long-term financial sustainability with the advent of corporate sponsorship research and package development. Outside HUFPI, Nick has been incredibly involved in his community at Harvard, serving two terms as Secretary of Harvard’s undergraduate student government and three terms as an elected representative of his first-year dorm and later upperclassman house (a proud Winthropian!). This year, in addition to finances, Nick is excited to be planning HUFPI’s largest event yet: the inaugural Fall Banquet.

Jamaal Willis

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government and Businesses

Jamaal (Jama) Willis is a junior originally from Kingston, Jamaica but lives in Southern California. Jama is pursuing a joint concentration in Government and Philosophy with a secondary in Arts, Film, and Visual Studies. Previously, he has chaired policy research for the Pentagon on democratic backsliding and conducted research for a New Zealand Member of Parliament. Outside of HUFPI, Jama is involved in the IOP, plays for the Harvard Men's Volleyball Team, and is on the board of many affinity groups on campus. Jama now serves as the Deputy Director of US Government and Businesses, where he helps to run the policy program for U.S. government entities and businesses.

Anna MacLennan

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government and Businesses

Anna MacLennan is a biracial Chinese-American sophomore at Harvard originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. At HUFPI, she has previously been a policy researcher for the fall 2021 US Space Force project and the spring 2022 EU Sanctions project. On campus, she is also involved with programs at the Institute of Politics, the Chinatown Big Sibling program at the PBHA. Outside of Harvard, Anna is a National Board member for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) where she runs a high school outreach program for Asian American youth. 

Carly Lehman

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government and Businesses

Carly Lehman is a sophomore at Harvard from Shaker Heights, Ohio. She intends to joint concentrate in History and Literature and Government while also pursuing a citation in Arabic. Carly’s interest in international affairs was sparked by learning about Kurdish nationalism for a school project and her continued interests revolve around the intersection between social issues and national security.  Outside of HUFPI, Carly plays on the women’s varsity rugby team, conducts research for the Air Force, and is a member of Army ROTC.

Shriya Yarlagadda

Deputy Director of Policy for Foreign Governments and Businesses

Shriya Yarlagadda is a sophomore 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, she enjoys sharpening her trivia skills, practicing martial arts, and eating Zinneken’s (unfortunately she isn’t sponsored…yet).

Carrie Hsu

Deputy Director of Policy for Foreign Governments and Businesses

Carrie Hsu is a junior studying Government, English, and Economics. She is deeply interested in the intersection between macroeconomic and foreign policy, as well as its impact on labor markets. She has worked on various policy papers commissioned by organizations including the European Court of Justice, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, and the National Resources Defense Council. Previously, she worked on the communications team for current Boston mayor Michelle Wu’s campaign. Outside of HUFPI, she serves as a co-director for PBHA’s Chinatown Afterschool Program and the fiction editor for BreakBread Magazine, and she is involved in several publications including The Crimson, The Advocate, and Harvard International Review. This summer, Carrie is a Young Global Professional intern at the Atlantic Council’s Geoeconomics Center.

Alice Ferguson

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Alice Ferguson is an undergraduate at Harvard College concentrating in History and Government. She is particularly interested in European history and politics and hopes to pursue a career in foreign or public policy. Alice has extensive experience in working on global health and policy projects including campaign work, multilateral cooperation and public health consulting. Apart from HUFPI, Alice is a board member of Harvard’s Global Health Forum, part of Harvard’s competitive Model UN team and she teaches IR and Civic education in Boston schools.

Hazel Koh

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Hazel Koh is a sophomore at Harvard from Irvine, California. She hopes to pursue a joint concentration in Government and French. In addition to being involved in HUFPI, she serves on the executive boards of the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Foreign Policy Group, the Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee, and the Harvard Pops Orchestra in which she plays the violin. She looks forward to having a future career in international law or diplomacy. This summer, Hazel will serve as an intern at the French Consulate in Boston to promote Franco-American relations and attend the Kissinger Summer Academy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Alicia Campbell

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Alicia Campbell is a sophomore at Harvard planning to study Government, History and Literature, and Arabic. She has a particular interest in the MENA region and plans to focus her studies on Middle East foreign policy and non-proliferation efforts. In the past, Alicia has worked as a policy researcher for multiple HUFPI projects, including a recent project with USCYBERCOM on Chinese Disinformation and propaganda, and has interned on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Outside of HUFPI, Alicia writes for the Harvard Political Review, and enjoys reading, gardening, and playing tennis. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C.

Irati Egorho Diez

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Irati Egorho Diez is a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Government with a secondary in Middle Eastern Studies. She was raised between Madrid, Paris, Bilbao, Beirut, and New York; her interest in international relations thus started early (she sometimes claims that the first text she bothered to read from cover to cover was the September 2008 issue of Le Monde Diplomatique) and has not since subsided. She has conducted extensive research in Middle Eastern politics and specializes in the early 20th century history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In her capacity as a HUFPI policy researcher, she worked on a project centered on the analysis and improvement of the State Department’s crisis management strategies. Her interests currently lie in currency, cyber, and sanction-based warfare as well as public and economic diplomacy. Egorho Diez hopes to work in negotiation, conflict resolution, or for an intergovernmental organization.

Emilie Kalkus

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Emilie is a sophomore at Harvard from Huntington Beach, California. She intends to concentrate in Government with an Economics secondary. On-campus, she also participates in Army ROTC, serves as an Economics and Social Council Director for Harvard Model United Nations, and is a researcher for the Harvard/MIT Military Strategy Initiative. Upon graduation, Emilie intends to branch as a Military Intelligence officer in the United States Army. In her free time, Emilie enjoys surfing, hiking, weight lifting, and trying new restaurants.

Umar Azad

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Umar Azad is a second-year British-Bengali student born and raised in London, UK. At Harvard, he studies Mechanical Engineering and Government. Umar has been involved in research on historic redlining and its current impact on social determinants of health in the Greater Boston Area and at HUFPI, Umar has conducted policy research into the European Union's sanctions policy which he then presented at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Umar has interests in environmental justice, energy security and human rights issues and looks forward to exploring these further at HUFPI. Outside of classes, Umar is involved with the Harvard Clean Energy Group, Woodbridge International Society and the Harvard Radio.

Teresa Lu-Romeo

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Teresa Lu-Romeo is a sophomore at Harvard from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is studying Government and Computer Science and is interested in pursuing a career in tech law or tech policy. She has previously served as a researcher for the Meta political entanglement project, as well as a policy chair for the State Department artificial intelligence project. Outside of HUFPI, Teresa is also involved with the Harvard Crimson, the Institute of Politics, Tech for Social Good, and Harvard Women in Computer Science. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and learning new languages.

Martin Bjelajac

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Martin Bjelajac is a sophomore at Harvard from Belgrade, Serbia. He intends to concentrate in computer science with a secondary in philosophy. Interested in technology, policy, and ethics, he pursued the cross-section of these fields at Harvard through HUFPI, where he worked on projects focusing on genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, and outside Harvard with the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) where he focused on the new developments in the energy sector. Besides HUFPI, he writes for Harvard International Review and plays futsal on campus. His hobbies include literature, cinema, and beekeeping.

Hanna Johnson

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Hanna Johnson is a junior at the college currently living in Quincy House but originally from a small town in North Dakota.  She is pursuing a joint concentration in Government and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality with a secondary concentration in Psychology.  She is passionate about politics, women's rights, and mental health.  On campus, she is also a Peer Advising Fellow, writes for the Harvard Undergraduate Law Review, and advocates for philanthropy with the Women in Business organization.  She is most interested in American foreign policy and international cooperation through diplomacy, international institutions, and alliances.

Joyce Zhou

Deputy Director of HS Conference

Joyce Zhou is a junior at Harvard from Chicago, Illinois. She studies Neuroscience and is interested in the intersection of policymaking, science, and development. On campus, she has served as the founder and president of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Medicine, president of Green Medicine Initiative, and researcher at Harvard Business School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, among other involvements.

Vivian Nguyen

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

Vivian Nguyen is a sophomore at Harvard potentially studying Government or Psychology. 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 MENA region for the Moroccan government. Outside of HUFPI, she is involved in Harvard Votes Challenge, Harvard Vietnamese Association, and Women in Foreign Policy. Post-graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in international law or diplomacy.

Damien Chang

Deputy Director of Relations and Media

Damien Chang is a junior at Harvard concentrating in Government with other interests in chemistry, history, and philosophy. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Damien was raised at the intersection of a multitude of cultures, and has a deep love for his island home. His interest in international relations is sparked by his heritage and appreciation for cross-cultural exchanges. On-campus he is involved with the Harvard International Review, Institute of Politics Fellows Program, the Center for Global Affairs, the Harvard College in Asia Program, the Harvard Association for US-China Relations, Harvard Model Congress, and the former Undergraduate Council. Hoping to pursue a career in diplomacy, Damien is interested in humanitarian relief, nation-building, open and vibrant civic discourse, and regime stability.

Talia Hanley

Deputy Director of Speakers

Talia Hanley is a sophomore from Austin, Texas. Some of her other activities include her role as Innovation Co-Director on the Career Development Committee of Harvard Women in Business and involvement in Harvard Ventures. She plans to concentrate in economics with a possible government secondary, believing that nothing exists in isolation. To her, the purpose of business is to connect the world, to help us realize that our lives are all better because of the resources and ideas we share. Her interests are driven by her core belief that economics is the field most adept at effecting change in the world.

Pranay Varada

Deputy Director of U.S.-China Initiative

Pranay Varada is a sophomore at Harvard from Irving, Texas. He plans to concentrate in Statistics. At HUFPI, he has presented research on Chinese media influence in Africa to the United States Africa Command and is currently a member of the Artificial Intelligence team in the U.S.-China dialogue. On campus, Pranay serves on the board of the Harvard International Review and the Harvard College Piano Society, and he holds strong interests in international relations, data science, and sports.

Michael Pecorara

Deputy Director of U.S.-China Initiative

Michael Pecorara is a Junior at Harvard University studying Economics with a Secondary in Government and a language citation in Mandarin Chinese. He is the Deputy Director of US-China Initiatives for the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative. Outside of HUFPI, Michael is the Chief of Staff for the Intercollegiate Model UN Team, the Director of the Harvard Summit for Young Leaders in China Conference, a member of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, and a member of the Harvard College China Forum. In his spare time, Michael enjoys listening to music and visiting museums. Michael plans to pursue a career in law, specializing in international law and constitutional law.

Daniella Berrospi-Urbina

Deputy Director of Finance

Daniella Berrospi-Urbina is a junior at Harvard studying Sociology with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights. She is the Deputy Director of Finances for the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative. When she isn’t working with HUFPI, Daniella serves as the Co-Chair of Harvard Concilio Latino, Finance Chair of Latinas Unidas de Harvard, and Director of Finance of Harvard National Model United Nations. When she has time to spare, Daniella likes to go on long walks, run a bagel page, travel to Miami, and learn new languages. She will spend her summer back home interning for a legal non-profit that supports immigrants in helping them prepare their documents.

Mary Cipperman

Deputy Director of Finance

Mary Cipperman is a sophomore studying Applied Mathematics. On HUFPI, Mary serves as the Deputy Director of Finance, leads the U.S.-China research team on global digital finance, and researched transatlantic foreign direct investment screening policies. Outside of HUFPI, Mary is the Director of Operations for the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association and an Executive Board member on the Harvard Independent. In the past, she has researched electoral policy with the Lilley Fellowship and cybersecurity with the Harvard Kennedy School. She’s worked on a variety advocacy issues, including gun violence prevention and voting rights, and has interned in both the legal and financial services industries.

Jorge Ruiz

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government and Businesses

Jorge Ruiz is a Junior at Harvard College from Caguas, Puerto Rico. Interested in the intersection between economics, democracy, and sustainable development, he is pursuing a double concentration in economics and government. As a member of the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative, he has conducted policy research on democratic backsliding in Peru, climate change policy in the United States and China, and international space policy. Jorge is also a Research Assistant for the Global Party Survey, a Senior Staff Writer for the Harvard Political Review, and Team Manager for the Harvard Lightweight Rowing Team. In the future, he is interested in joining economic development efforts across Latin America.