Congratulations to - and Comments from - HKS Class of 2023

Spring 2023

The Belfer Center congratulates graduating Harvard Kennedy School students and Belfer Young Leader student fellows and joins Harvard Kennedy School in honoring several students for their excellent Policy Analysis Exercises (PAEs).

Congratulations and best wishes to these extraordinary Belfer Young Leaders as they move on to create a more secure and just world: Salina Abraham, Nicholas Anway, Mayu ArimotoGabe Armstrong-Scott, Justine Bailliart, Haegun Chung, Katarina de la Rosa, Kevin Diau, Sophie Faaborg-Andersen, Muska Fazilat, Gemma Holt, Korde Inniss, Poorva Kaushik, Renata Koch Alvarenga, Tarinee KucchalJenny LiTaiki MoritaGrace ParkPaul-Etienne Pini, Bethan Saunders, Hannah Scott, Ilya Sergeevich TimtchenkoTiaji Sio, and Jacqueline White Mechaca.

Several graduating student fellows shared reflections on their time at Harvard Kennedy School and the Belfer Center.

three students smile and pose next to a sign that says "Ask what you can do"

Mayu Arimoto

MPP Candidate; former junior diplomat in the North America Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“One highlight of my years at HKS was co-moderating a student discussion with Kurt Campbell, Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the NSC. My research at the Belfer Center has mostly focused on US security initiatives in the Indo-Pacific, and moderating the panel gave me a chance to engage in debate with one of the architects behind US strategy in the region. HKS and the Belfer Center truly bring learning and practice together for the students.”

Sophie Faaborg-Andersen

MPP Candidate; former technical intelligence analyst at the MITRE Corporation’s National Security Engineering Center

“Becoming a student fellow at the Belfer Center was the highlight of my Kennedy School experience. From writing a Cyber Project report that helped inform Congressional legislation to being a course assistant for Eric Rosenbach, joining this community has been incredible. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with so many motivated, talented, and kind people. These relationships that will last beyond graduation are what have brought me the most joy in these two formative years.”

Poorva Kaushik

MPP Candidate; chemical and nuclear engineer and former scientist with the Indian Government regulatory body

“My journey at the Kennedy School and Belfer has been truly transformative. Besides deepening my policy expertise, I could also forge lifelong friendships. As I delved into climate challenges, the key insight that emerged was the immense potential of cross-sector collaboration in shaping energy policies. Adaptive governance and cooperation across sectors are vital for establishing a resilient, equitable, and sustainable future for all. As I move forward, I'm excited to contribute to advancements in clean energy.” 

Jennifer Li

MPP Candidate; former consultant for Deloitte

“A highlight from my time at HKS was serving as Professor Rosenbach’s course assistant. I loved getting to know the first-year MPP students and getting to shape the skills and cases taught. It was also special because of our teaching team, which as Rosenbach says, is critical for any project. Other highlights included researching the origins of the Internet with Professor Waldo and organizing a cybersecurity symposium with the White House. Thank you, Belfer!”

Taiki Morita

Dual-degree Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy (MPP) Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford Graduate School of Business; former diplomat in Japanese Foreign Service

Ask what you can do ― through the intellectual rigor and valuable lived experience at HKS and the Belfer Center, my what has become clearer than ever before. After two years here, I'm ready to sail off to make impact.  Altiora Peto!” 

Grace Park

MPP Candidate; former United States Army captain

“Belfer is a place of possibility. When a group of fellows and I wanted to delve deeper into cyber policy, we pitched the idea of a study group and podcast that became the Cyber.RAR Podcast. Eric Rosenbach at Belfer supported us with content, connections, and funding that allowed us to create HKS's first podcast reading and research group. After two amazing seasons, we reached thousands of listeners including the CYBERCOM Commander and Director of the National Security Agency....When I applied to HKS, I wrote about working with Lauren Zabierek, Bruce Schneier, and Graham Allison. As a Graham Allison Fellow these past two years, I've had the surreal experience of not only meeting but also working alongside my heroes.”

Paul-Etienne Pini

MPP Candidate; formerly employed at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

“During my time at the Kennedy School and as a Belfer Center Young Leader Fellow, I gained invaluable insights in energy policy and infrastructure finance. Through coursework and research, notably on reforming policies for siting power transmission assets, deploying EV charging equipment, and attracting further private-sector investment into water and sanitation infrastructure, I deepened my understanding of finance and sustainable development. This transformative experience has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to drive meaningful change towards a green, decarbonized growth.” 

Bethan Saunders and Matthew Bunn

Bethan Saunders

MPP Candidate; former associate at Morgan Stanley

“Serving as the the co-chair of Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D) was an incredibly meaningful experience for me during my time at HKS. With the support of the Belfer Center, we hosted over 40 events this year, expanded our mentorship program, and continued to grow our community at HKS and beyond. Secretary Carter was an incredible advocate for W3D, and his commitment to empowering women in fields like national security has helped W3D grow since our founding five years ago. It’s been an honor to be part of W3D, and I can’t wait to see how the organization grows and elevates student voices as part of the Belfer Center.” 

Hannah Scott

MPP Candidate; former policy advisor for the UK government

“My time at the Belfer Center was especially meaningful because of the incredible mentoring I received. Working alongside people at the top of their field who are passionate about supporting you and your goals has made this such a formative time for me. The culture and ethos of the Center makes it a unique place to grow and explore.”

Ilya Sergeevich Timtchenko introduces Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

Ilya Sergeevich Timtchenko

MPA Candidate; journalist and former editor at Kyiv Post

“One of my top courses at the Kennedy School was “US Foreign Policy: Learning from Past Practice” with Professor Robert Zoellick. His class is an ideal example of what a foreign policy course should look like: the amalgamation of a leader’s practical experience, deep knowledge, and the subject-matter expertise of students – all shared within an hours-long weekly discussion. One of my most memorable experiences at the Belfer Center was organizing a forum discussion with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba under the Future of Diplomacy Project. Our team received incredible feedback and the Minister touched upon some of the most pressing topics that previously did not receive enough attention.”

Tiaji Sio

MPA Candidate; founder of “Diplomats of Color” and “DIVERSITRY”

“One of my highlights during my time at the Harvard Kennedy School was taking a class with Daniela Schwarzer on the future of the European Union. This course focused on the EU as an international actor facing Russia’s war in Ukraine and the shifting global security landscape. Engaging with my classmates from all over the world and discussing these complex geopolitical shifts, allowed me to expand my perspective and explore strategic options in regard to the ongoing conflict.”

Jacqueline White Menchaca

MPP Candidate; former Political/Economic Section intern for Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania

“I remember Secretary Ash Carter welcoming the BYL Fellows at our first orientation in the fall of '21. I knew immediately I needed to take his course. A semester later I would find myself in his national security enterprise class intimidated by what I didn’t know and nervous to share my thoughts on what I did. I left his class feeling more confident in my ability to make policy decisions in my future career as a diplomat and with some of the best advice I've received at HKS. Secretary Carter told us leaders don't shy away from hard decisions. They don’t pass the buck or avoid making a tough call. He advised us to stay in the room and do the hard work, even when the path forward is unclear, even if we are afraid to fail. After all, if not us then who?”

Kudos for Best Policy Analysis Exercises (PAEs) 

The Kennedy School’s International and Global Affairs (IGA) area presented awards to several graduating students for best Policy Analysis Exercise for 2023. These awards recognize and celebrate the work of the Kennedy School’s IGA concentrators and the partnerships they developed with their clients and faculty advisors. This year’s winners partnered with the Poderosas, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and the U.S. Department of Defense Emerging Capabilities Policy Office to tackle policy questions of utmost importance.  


Robert Belfer Award for Best PAE in IGA: Alejandra Davila, Alejandro Garcia Escobar Plascencia, Nesrine Mbarek, and Jamie Wu

Title: “Somos Poderosas: Scaling up Sexual and Reproductive Health Education in Columbia”

Client: Poderosas

Faculty Advisor Dara Cohen: “Their study design is ambitious and multi-faceted, and their final product is superb. In my ten years of advising PAEs (and serving for several years as the IGA PAC seminar leader), I have rarely seen such a supportive and generative group PAE experience.”


Best PAE in Environmental Policy: Chanel Diaz, Daniah Kheetan, Saif Salah, and Ely Sandler

Title: “Vision COP28: Unlocking Article 6 of the Paris Agreement”

Client: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

Faculty Advisor Dan Schrag: “Congratulations on completing a truly exceptional PAE….[I]t is…rare for a PAE to develop a strategy for the client to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, and perhaps be one of the centerpieces of a major international conference.  But that looks like what might happen.” 


Best PAE in Security Policy: Bethan Saunders

Title: “Lift Off: Scaling Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Autonomous Capabilities for the U.S. Department of Defense”

Client: U.S. Department of Defense Emerging Capabilities Policy Office

Faculty Advisor Eric Rosenbach: “Bethan’s PAE is outstanding in three particular ways: she completed an impressive number of interviews with experts in the field, she used those interviews to compile three illuminating, unique case studies, and she provides strong policy recommendations in an area that is notoriously difficult to understand.”

The Belfer Center congratulates graduating Harvard Kennedy School students and Belfer Young Leader student fellows and joins HKS in honoring several students for their excellent Policy Analysis Exercises (PAEs).

Several of the graduating Belfer Young Leader student fellows commented on their time at the Kennedy School and Belfer Center. 


For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Congratulations to - and Comments from - HKS Class of 2023 .” (Spring 2023).