UBC’s second Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs cohort represents a diverse range of academic backgrounds, origins, ambitions, and professional experiences.
Read insights from our MPPGA students on topics such as the impacts of climate change, democratic movements, and strategies for digital diplomacy in their global policy blog.
Learn from student Olivier Musafiri on how UBC’s MPPGA Program prepares global policymakers:
If you are an employer and wish to offer mentorship, internship opportunities, or employment to our MPPGA students, please contact mppga.partnerships (at) ubc.ca.
Learn more about them in their student profiles below.
Pablo Acosta Zamora
Originating from Mexico, Pablo finished his graduate studies in Economics, which he applied to his career as a lawyer working primarily in the public sector, in the areas of economic development and health. His responsibilities included planning, monitoring and policy reporting. He is interested in investigating how to organize and evaluate the public sector to render it more efficient and transparent to the people it serves. He hopes to expand upon these interests and investigate public policy as it relates to citizen capacity building and accountability in the exercise of public authority. Pablo’s goal in pursuing the MPPGA program is to acquire the tools and skills needed to objectively assess the quality of public sector decisions and to effectively communicate the outcomes to the public. By combining objective assessment with effective communication, he hopes to foster a culture of greater accountability on the part of the people responsible for making, implementing and operationalizing public decisions, and contributing to the construction of a more just, inclusive and equitable society in his country.
Graduating from UBC with a degree in International Relations in 2013, Claire has since worked in Canada in the education sector and in legal policy reform research with the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform. She spent last year working in rural Guatemala as an NGO program manager, focusing on early childhood nutrition and community education initiatives. Claire is passionate about sustainable development policy and environmental policy, and as a complement to her interests in the natural resource sector, Claire spent her last summer working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations in communications and as a researcher for policy and legislation compliance. She is thrilled to see where the MPPGA program will take her!
Spending his childhood in Alexandria, Egypt, Marc and his family eventually moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, giving him an international background and experience that allowed him to develop a natural global outlook. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Manchester, his interest in the intersection of science and policy was sparked, leading him towards undertaking an internship at the United Nations Environment Programme’s Convention on Biological Diversity (UNEP-CBD), which was eventually turned into a short-term contract position. Marc is looking forward to the MPPGA program’s potential in developing his skills and knowledge towards achieving his career goals of influencing change in environmental policy for sustainable development in the MENA region.
Elisha’s strong interest in environmental issues and conservation can be attributed to her time at Victoria University of Wellington where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Biodiversity. Following her studies, Elisha’s drive for international development was sparked when she obtained a position with New Zealand’s largest overseas volunteer sending agency, later gaining insight into social entrepreneurship and its potential in affecting international development when she worked for the London Business School. Prior to her studies at UBC, Elisha worked within the Aid Programme of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she had the opportunity to experience the dynamics of humanitarian assistance, the funding of international development projects, and gained insight into New Zealand’s successful campaign in securing a seat on the UN Security Council. Elisha is excited to deepen her appreciation of international affairs from another global perspective while extending her understanding of Asia, and is looking forward to develop strong analytical and technical policy skills that can be applied within an internationally-focused environment.
Amelia was born and raised in Vancouver, but has also spent time living abroad in London, UK, and is fluent in both of Canada’s official languages. Amelia graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science before pursuing her studies at UBC. Her academic pursuits as well as her extended experience as a volunteer at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre instilled in Amelia a strong desire to further examine the complex power structures that produce disproportionate levels of poverty, violence, disease and other threats to human security among vulnerable populations. In addition to the intrinsic value of tackling these policy issues locally, Amelia is interested in extrapolating their findings to address global policy issues of human rights, power asymmetries and migration. Amelia is excited to delve deeper into these issues during her time with the MPPGA program and further develop the higher training she seeks in order to launch her career in public policy and global affairs.
Visit her LinkedIn profile here.
Laurélène holds a Master of Science in Behaviour, Evolution, and Conservation from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She spent 1.5 years in research as a PhD student at SFU, where she assessed a phylogenomic method for the population triage of Atlantic salmon. She then felt a strong need of integrating social, political, and economic approaches to international sustainability goals. As a scientist passionate about the world’s complex interconnectivity, Laurélène envisions facilitation of dialogue above disciplines with a global and integrative understanding between different actors at the international level. Laurélène aims to make a difference in the fascinating and extremely important global public policy issues around food, from production to waste management. People relate to food passionately, from economic to spiritual perspectives; therefore, there is no better and more powerful way to connect people than through the universal, fundamental, and sometimes divine food.
Born and raised near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Joanna completed her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (with Honours), also majoring in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in 2013. Her Honours thesis examined the effectiveness of the United Nations Peacebuilding mission in Cambodia in the early 1990s. After graduating, Joanna worked as an English teacher in Thailand for 2 years and travelled extensively through Southeast Asia, India, and New Zealand, before embarking on UBC’s MPPGA program.
Having completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Manitoba, Sarah’s perspective in public policy and global affairs is evidenced through her undergraduate thesis, where she investigated intergroup interactions amidst conflict and competing interests. By minoring in Political Studies and participating in various international opportunities including service-learning and a semester abroad, Sarah has actively developed her interest in political structures and how increased mobility and interconnectedness impacts domestic environments. After gaining a passion for practical, well-designed research, her desire to contribute to the evaluation and design of effective and ethical policy has grown. She hopes the skills and understanding gained from interacting with her peers and faculty at UBC, as well as the opportunity for experiential learning offered through the MPPGA program will enable her to contribute to the wellbeing of those in her community both in Canada and internationally.
Yannick was born in the United States, grew up in Ethiopia, graduated from high school in France, and then moved to Canada to study. While completing his Bachelor’s in Communications at the University of Montreal, he studied Japanese out of passion, before seeking a graduate diploma in Game Design to add the power of gamification and digital engagement to strategic communications. Having worked for almost a decade in the field of communications and public relations, Yannick started his career as a Communication and Business Development Officer for a social enterprise devoted to sustainable urban transportation. Most recently, as a consultant, he became Account Director at a leading global public relations agency, providing counsel to a wide range of organizations in various industries, including business services, technology and healthcare. Through the MPPGA program, his goal is to be able to recommend approaches and frameworks that would help foster sustainable energy and development projects between Canada, Japan and several regions in Africa.
Graduating from UBC with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, Salman has gone on to work in Germany, Canada and the UK as an engineer. Additionally, he made the move to Pakistan in order to start a non-profit organization providing consultancy on the procurement of renewable energy resources for schools and health clinics. His passion for public policy developed during this time as he became sensitive to issues of governance and security in Pakistan, namely in the areas of judicial supremacy, right to information, the use of technology in elections, and standing against the use of UAV drones in warfare. With an aim in advancing these causes, Salman worked with civil society, local and international NGOs. Salman believes that the MPPGA program will instill the drive in its students towards creating public policy that can bring in transparency in governance and redefine emerging threat perspectives and maxims in light of academic and historical facts, leading towards shaping up a more secure world for our future generations.
View his LinkedIn profile here.
After graduating from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia with a combined Bachelor of Arts and Laws degree in Politics and International Relations, Lauren travelled throughout Asia and Europe, visiting China, Taiwan, and eventually settling in London, United Kingdom. She furthered her interest in policy whilst working at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. Lauren then returned to Australia where she qualified as a lawyer, but ultimately worked with the legal information company, LexisNexis, where she gained the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and experience some of the issues facing the developing world. Lauren is interested in further understanding how the commercial sector can work within the developing world, and from the MPPGA program, she hopes to broaden her skill set in policy development to contribute towards policy-making in these regions.
Visit her LinkedIn profile here.
After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs, Mitch worked for Cisco Systems, where he collaborated with an international team to design and implement telecommunication and connectivity strategies in emerging economies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central America. Mitch has previously served in public relations and communications positions for various non-profit organizations focused on economic development. Through these capacities, Mitch has had experience with running fundraising events, writing grants, and recruiting new members. To date, Mitch has conducted international development fieldwork in Singapore, Malaysia, Jordan, and Rwanda. Before beginning the MPPGA program, Mitch was a staff writer and editor at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.
Farah’s interest in public policy and international development stems from her upbringing in Egypt, where she witnessed the dire effects that poverty can have on communities. After graduating from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business and Marketing, Farah was eager to gain professional experience in the international development field, which she did by completing internships at the World Bank and the United Nations, followed by working at the United Nations Environment Programme as a Communications Consultant. Through the MPPGA program, Farah aims to gain further knowledge, experience, and the necessary tools to continue to work on development issues and affect real change in people’s lives.
Ju graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design. She has worked in the field of product and service design and social enterprise, and through her professional experiences and design background, Ju has discovered her passion for utilizing her unique assets to bringing positive change towards the marginalized while also generating social impact. In particular, prior to embarking on UBC’s MPPGA program, Ju participated in a policy research project with North Korean Refugees Foundation in South Korea, where Ju and her team analyzed North Korean refugees’ employment policies and found creative measures to enhance their employment. This experience contributed to her desire to pursue her study in public policy and global affairs. Through the MPPGA program, she is excited to be equipped as a future global leader and learn how to design proactive policies that can truly bring positive change to where it is most needed.
Visit her LinkedIn profile here.
Vice President, 2016-17 MPPGA Executive Council
Olivier was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and spent his early years in Rwanda and Uganda, where he earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Cavendish University Uganda and later headed to Turin, Italy, where he pursued a professional certificate in Project Management from the United Nations System Staff College. He has worked with the United Nations as Project Coordinator for Women’s Economic Empowerment in East African Countries, and in the past four years, he participated in the research on the status of women in informal cross-border trade in East African Countries, while also supporting the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Rwanda to establish a gender mainstreamed national cross-border trade strategy. Prior to his UN career, he worked as Assistant Lecturer at Africa Renewal University in Uganda. Possessing experience on policy analysis, economic development studies, project management, monitoring, and evaluation, he is hoping that through the MPPGA, he will gain a greater understanding of public policy and its relationship with social sector development at a higher level.
View his LinkedIn profile here.
Bridget Cynthia Tinashe Mutsonziwa
Tinashe has 8 years’ experience working in the field of reproductive health rights, gender and governance. Recently, she has worked for the African Union Commission under the women’s economic and political empowerment project as a Gender Consultant. Tinashe was also responsible for supporting the development of standardized gender mainstreaming equality monitoring practices within the African Union and Regional Economic Commissions, as well as having involvement in the formulation of policies and programs aiming to enhance the political participation of women in Africa. Additionally, she has worked as an advocate for the sexual and reproductive health rights of young people in Zimbabwe and has also served as the first young person on the Board of the National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe where she represented youth. Tinashe graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Gender Development Studies (with Honours) from the Women’s University in Africa, and with the experience from the MPPGA program, she aspires to be a public servant who will work towards the development of her country and the improvement of service delivery, especially within the health sector.
Oluwatoyin Christiana Onabola
Graduating from the University of Lagos, in Nigeria, with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology, Oluwatoyin has garnered over three years of remarkable track records in research, monitoring and evaluation of public health programs and possesses a portfolio of technical competencies in health systems strengthening with specialization in integrative health communication, health sector coordination, implementation and gap analysis. She is also adept at using media tools to drive social change. Her multidisciplinary professional experiences have brought to a realization that medicines are not an exclusive panacea for the health of the public; rather, health is a more complex whole comprising of many environmental and political determinants that dictate its outcomes in populations. She believes the MPPGA program will enable her to contribute towards overhauling research, interventions and policy machinery geared towards improving the effectiveness of social and health programs.
Visit her Linkedln profile here.
Keskine Owusu Poku
Director of Student Development, 2016-17 MPPGA Executive Council
After graduating from the University of Ghana with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Theatre Arts, Keskine embarked on a position as an Assistant Human Resource Manager by the Local Government Service, having been stationed at Offinso North District Assembly. In the short term, he is hoping the MPPGA program will sharpen his skills in policy formulation and implementation, while also preparing him for his long-term goals of following his ambitions towards becoming a Policy Analyst, an International Civil Servant, and a lecturer. Keskine’s ultimate aim is to complete his studies and use the knowledge acquired through the MPPGA program to enhance his work, while also preparing for PhD studies to eventually reach his career objective.
Maya Ramchandani recently completed her Bachelor of Science degree (with Honours) at the University of Toronto. Midway through her undergraduate career, she had taken on a heightened role in advocating for children and youth raised under the Canadian child welfare system, something she has experienced from the age of 7. As a result of her knowledge in this area, she holds a unique and enlightening perspective on the major flaws of the institution in preparing its young people for adulthood, and has gone on to become a known presence in the child welfare advocacy community in Toronto, having served as an ambassador, public speaker, advisory committee member and panel speaker for the Children’s Aid Foundation. Maya aims to pursue a career in policy writing to perpetuate a sustainable backbone transformation of Canada’s child welfare system which constitutes intentional practices of socializing, empowering and equipping young people with the appropriate character skills to lead successful adult lives in the context of their careers, housing, income and personal health.
Visit her LinkedIn profile here.
Prior to moving to Vancouver, Reagan worked as a policy analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), where he analyzed emerging policy issues in energy, water, broadband and transportation, and wrote white papers to inform and aid CPUC’s policymakers. Reagan aims to combine his strong interest in public policy and his background in economics to explore and tackle exciting global energy and sustainability policy issues while in the MPPGA program. Reagan obtained his Master of Arts degree in Applied Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Reagan’s passion for nature and the outdoors, and British Columbia’s beauty and vibrant culture inspired him to make Vancouver his new home.
Director of Communications, 2016-17 MPPGA Executive Council
Nathan’s interest in global policy stems from his academic pursuits, having earned a Master’s degree in International Criminology from the University of Sheffield where he specialized in transnational organized crime and the disposal of hazardous waste. His interests are wide-ranging as Nathan has spent time working in South Africa on human rights issues with local NGOs, and completing research projects on the harms associated with lootable resources in civil conflicts. He plans to work with key institutions and actors at all levels to address the negative impacts of mass production, and globalization. The puzzle that fascinates Nathan lies in the space between illegitimate and legitimate actors and harms perpetrated transnationally. During his time with the MPPGA program, he hopes to gain the practical and analytical skills needed to effectively approach policy problems and implement effective solutions.
In 2009, Adil received his Bachelor of Economics from the Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan. He started his career in the government department that participates in the implementation of strategic tasks in the area of public investment policy while also creating a favorable environment to attract national and foreign investors. Being in a policy-focused environment, Adil delved into economic and political processes, and after several years of working for Kazakhstan’s Ministry for Investments and Development, he decided to pursue UBC’s MPPGA program. Possessing experience as a civil employee with a strong educational background, Adilkhan is aiming to make positive changes for responsible, sustainable, and environmentally-sound economic growth, and he hopes his path towards a public policy degree will enable him to gain requisite skills in the area of policy analysis and prognosis.
Visit his LinkedIn profile here.
Graduating from the University of Toronto, Henry obtained his Bachelor of Commerce where he combined his degree with an emphasis on Economics. Motivated by his interest in cities and politics, he is currently seeking to understand the recent political events that have taken place in the U.S. from a political economy perspective, and the impact it will have on the future of decaying cities such as Cleveland and Detroit. Asking questions like “How does the rhetoric on free trade affect the political support for a candidate, especially in urban areas that used to be manufacturing hubs?” and “Taking rapidly transforming technology into account, what politically feasible policies can be enacted to inject a sustainable competitive advantage into decaying cities?” helps to understand the needs of regional voters and possibly shape policy to satisfy those needs.
Majoring with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Botswana, Candy had the privilege of taking part in the student exchange program at the University College of Maastricht in the Netherlands. For the majority of her professional life, her focus has been centered on private sector development, working with Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), business development service providers, and Business Botswana, the national chamber of commerce. Candy looks forward to completing her MPPGA program to possess the ability to conduct analysis on global issues, and contribute towards policy development in order to nurture and accelerate positive change, especially in relation to private sector development in unindustrialized and under-industrialized countries.
Visit her LinkedIn profile here.
Angelo (Bo) Wang
Director of Events, 2016-17 MPPGA Executive Council
Angelo joined the MPPGA 2016 cohort after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. His educational background and internship experience at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have motivated him to look for economically viable and financially incentivised solutions to our global challenges in energy, environment, and sustainability. During his study in the MPPGA program, Angelo aims to leverage his skill set with policy analysis insights and toolkits and to inspire himself to think globally and act locally. The program is also preparing him to start his career as a young policy professional, aspiring to bridge China-Canada collaborations on environmental issues.
Visit his LinkedIn profile here.