Meet The Team

John Ferguson


John Ferguson is a senior at Harvard and will complete his BA and MA within four years. He leads the full Harvard Foreign Policy team. Earlier as Founding Director, he established what is now Harvard’s largest undergraduate-led research program. John aspires to pioneer techno-diplomacy between the United States and China to address global challenges through co-opetition. His BA and MA theses apply techno-diplomacy to U.S.-China climate negotiations, advised by Graham Allison and Ambassador Nicholas Burns. After being admitted to Harvard at 16 as a Junior, John completed his senior (gap) year in Beijing on scholarship from the State Department. He is half-Chinese and half-American (biracial and bilingual). To learn more, see

Sama Kubba

Vice President


Senior Director of Policy for U.S. Government

Sama Kubba is an Iraqi-American sophomore at Harvard concentrating in Government. She currently serves as the Vice President and the Senior Director of Policy for U.S. Government. She works to co-manage the organization at large in addition to establishing and overseeing projects with U.S. entities such as the Department of State, Cyber Command, and Space Force. She also initiated and helped to organize the group’s 2021 high school conference. Academically, Sama enjoys researching the intersection of technology and terrorism and is currently writing on the evolution of digital radicalization. In addition, she is an intern for the Twenty-Five Apprenticeship Project and the Modern American Diplomacy podcast. In these two groups, Sama works to capture the art of U.S. Diplomacy through interviews with senior State Department officials such as Ambassadors on statecraft.

Fawwaz Shoukfeh

Senior Director of Policy for Foreign Governments

Fawwaz Shoukfeh is a sophomore at Harvard from Lubbock, Texas. He plans to study History, Government, and Economics with a particular focus on American legal history. He has previously worked on a project assessing the relationship between membership in NATO and economic prosperity. Fawwaz hopes to pursue a career in law or national security.

Hamaad Mehal

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

Hamaad Mehal is a sophomore at Harvard College. He is a Pakistani-American from Fayetteville, Arkansas who plans on studying Social Studies and Islamic Studies. On-campus, he is involved with the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative, the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association, the Harvard Pakistan Forum, Harvard National Model UN, Harvard MUN India, and Ghungroo. In his free time, you can catch him snuggled up with a good book, dancing to South Asian music, or tossing a football around.

Gabrielle Pesantez

Senior Director of Relations


Senior Director of Conference

Gabrielle Pesantez is an Ecuadorian-American sophomore at Harvard from Queens, New York. She concentrates in History with language citations in French and Italian. She currently co-directs HUFPI’s major conference events and manages the organization’s social media presence. At HUFPI, she has previously led a Covid-19 women’s-centered economic recovery project with the Swedish government and worked on a diplomatic modernization research project with the Peruvian government. On-campus, she also helps direct Harvard’s Latina Empowerment & Development Conference and several conference events with Harvard’s IR Council. She is a Staff Writer for The Harvard Crimson’s Magazine and The Harvard College Economics Review. She plans to pursue a career in government practice law or international law.

Syed Ahmed

Senior Director of Operations

Syed Ahmed is the Senior Director of Operations and is a junior at Harvard concentrating in Government and Computer Science. He has focused his research on the role cyber security plays in foreign policy and within the intelligence community. He is a Certified Ethical Hacker and has completed his Network+ and Security+ certifications. Syed has also worked with U.S. diplomats on projects such as the Twenty-Five Year Apprenticeship and Modern American Diplomacy, where he has contributed to researching and interviewing ambassadors and foreign service officers. Syed is also fluent in Spanish, Urdu, Hindi, enjoys reading and writes about the impact cyber attacks have on third world countries.

Lexa Brenner

Senior Director of Community

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. 

Satoshi Yanaizu

Senior Director of Media Publications

Satoshi Yanaizu is a junior at Harvard, originally from Osaka, Japan. He studies international relations and political philosophy, and is also an Undergraduate Fellow in Edmond Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Satoshi is interested in the changing geopolitical order in the Indo-Pacific, international political economy, and nuclear disarmament. At HUFPI, he currently serves as a Senior Director of Media Publications and previously chaired a project with the United States Trade Representative on China’s industrial overcapacity.


Maddy Gavitt

Deputy 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.

Matt Kiley

Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government

Matt Kiley is a sophomore at Harvard studying computer science. He is from Long Island, New York. Last semester, he worked on a policy project with HUFPI analyzing tactics of hybrid warfare used by the Russian government against Ukraine. Matt is interested in the intersection of computer science and foreign policy in areas such as cybersecurity.

Luis Esteva Sueiro

Deputy Director of Policy for Foreign Governments

Luis Fernando Esteva Sueiro is a sophomore at Harvard College originally from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. He is planning on pursuing a Special Concentration in Leadership Studies, focusing on understanding how individuals influence groups of humans. He was policy chair for the NSC-EU project and, outside of HUFPI, is involved with the Institute of Politics, Army ROTC, and other political and Latine/Hispanic cultural clubs. Luis hopes to pursue a career in community organizing and public service.

George Whitford

Deputy 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.

Eleanor Wikstrom

Deputy Director of Policy for International Organizations, Think Tanks, & Businesses

Eleanor Wikstrom is a Filipina-American sophomore at Harvard College from Oakland, California. She plans to concentrate in Social Studies along with a secondary in Mind, Brain, Behavior (Cognitive Science/Psychology). She was previously the Policy Chair for a project with Facebook on the role of misinformation in human rights violations and incitement to ethnic violence and also worked on a project for the National Security Council regarding the genocide in Xinjiang. As a former youth poet laureate, Eleanor was also the official poet for the United Nations 75th Commemoration event. On-campus, when not working with HUFPI, Eleanor is a writer and executive on the Editorial Board of The Harvard Crimson student newspaper, a member of the Harvard Philippine Forum, and a long-distance runner. She hopes to pursue a career in human rights law, tech policy, and journalism.

Rohan Jakhete

Deputy Director of Policy for International Organizations, Think Tanks, & Businesses

Rohan Jakhete is a sophomore at Harvard from South Florida. He studies mechanical engineering with a secondary in government and plans to pursue law and business school after graduating. He previously was a Policy Chair for a project with the NSC dealing with US national security in space. Outside of HUFPI, he plays rugby at Harvard, is co-president of the Harvard Undergraduate Clean Energy Group, and manages a startup dealing with water quality robotics. He is interested in the intersection of finance, national security, and tech.

Erin Chen

Deputy Director of Finance

Erin Chen is a sophomore at Harvard from Queens, New York. She concentrates in Economics with a secondary in Molecular and Cellular Biology. At HUFPI, she serves as Treasurer and manages the organization's budget and finances. On campus, she is involved in several dance groups, including the Asian American Dance Troupe, and she also serves on the Board of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association. 

Aqib Zakaria

Deputy Director of Speakers

Aqib Zakaria is a sophomore at Harvard from New Orleans, Louisiana. He plans to pursue Government and East Asian Studies with a citation in Arabic. He previously served as the Policy Chair for a project on human rights commissioned by the U.S. Representative to the Organisation on Islamic Cooperation. Aqib is passionate about Chinese foreign policy, especially regarding Pakistan, Taiwan, and the Middle East. He intends to pursue a career in diplomacy at the State Department after graduation. 

Gregor Kossmann

Deputy Director of Speakers

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.

Noah Dasanaike

Deputy Director of Podcast

Noah Dasanaike is a senior at Harvard concentrating in Government with a focus in Data Science. He has conducted academic research on European integration and multi-level governance, Russian party politics, and ethnic conflict in Lebanon and Northern Ireland. In addition to HUFPI, Noah serves on the Crimson Editorial Board. He intends on pursuing graduate school in political science and statistics.

Gemma Schneider

Deputy Director of Podcast

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. 

Shelby Tzung

Deputy Director of Harvard Forum & Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

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. 

Simeon Sayer

Deputy Director of Harvard Forum & Deputy Director of Policy for U.S. Government

Simeon is a Junior at Harvard, and resides in Adams House. He is an international student from the United Kingdom, and is concentrating in Computer Science. He is particularly interested in the application of technology to complex real world issues, and hopes to explore this through HUFPI, as well as in his other positions with HCCG, HPR, IOP, and the UN.

Ahmed Alsheikh

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

(Middle East & North Africa)

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 Deputy Director of Foreign Summits in the Middle East and North Africa, working to launch a policy-focused summit alongside a university in the region.

Arjun Akwei

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

(South Asia)

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.

Sarah Deonarain

Deputy Director of Foreign Summits

(Latin America & The Caribbean)

Sarah Deonarain is a junior at Harvard concentrating in Economics. She currently serves as the Deputy Director of Foreign Summits for Latin America & the Caribbean. She works to organize and manage summits at foreign universities, where students will discuss urgent policy issues between our two countries. Sarah enjoys researching how international migration law can be improved to better meet the needs of refugees and immigrants around the world, and how building infrastructure and leveraging natural resources in developing nations can both foster economic development and reduce climate change. 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. Intending to become an attorney and legislator, Sarah recently served as a legal intern for the Immigration Center for Women and Children, where she provided affordable immigration services to underrepresented immigrants, specifically children who are abused, abandoned or neglected and immigrants who are victims of violent crimes.


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.

Andrew Lu

Deputy Director of Recruitment

Andrew Lu is a freshman at Harvard planning to study Government and Statistics. As Deputy Director of Recruitment, he works to extend HUFPI’s far-reaching network of members and alumni in helping to create the largest student-led foreign policy organization. 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.

Shay Li

Deputy Director of Media

Shay is a sophomore at Harvard from Solon, Ohio. She will concentrate in CS with a secondary in Sociology. On-campus, she is also in the Harvard College Consulting Club (HCCG) and in the break-dancing club (Harvard Breakers). In her free time, she enjoys digital painting and designing games. Shay is excited to create beautiful illustrations for HUFPI’s policy reports, outreach flyers, and more.

Joyce Chen

Deputy Director of Conference

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.