Nine Jackson School students have been named Kerry Fellows for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The Jackson students are among 18 students selected this year.

Part of the Kerry Initiative founded by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change and the 68th US Secretary of State John Kerry YC ’66, the Fellows collaborate with U.S. policy-makers on leading-edge research and high-profile publications for a global audience touching on issues from the global environment to democracy and technology.

The Jackson School graduate students include:
Alexander Casendino, Joyce Guo, Didace Irafasha, Nia Kamau, Öznur Öztürk, María José Ramírez Rosaslanda, Juan Luis Salinas, Steve Scheffert (not pictured) and Khamza Sharifzoda.

Read more

Alexander Casendino photo
Alexander Casendino
Alex Casendino is a second year MPP student focusing on machine learning, mathematics, and policy to build safer communities. Prior to Jackson, he studied Arabic in the Middle East and later worked with emergency management teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex has five years of research and policy experience supporting clients in the national security space, including the U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of State. He currently supports a technology startup, Klarety, that assists relief organizations during humanitarian disasters.
Joyce Guo photo
Joyce Guo
Joyce Guo is an MPP student at the Jackson School of Global Affairs, specializing in two of the most pressing geopolitical topics of our time: climate change and artificial intelligence. Her primary focus centers on the pivotal roles that international negotiations and trade policy play in achieving climate sustainability and fostering responsible AI development. She completed an internship with the global affairs team at The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit technology start-up based in Netherlands, where she observed and participated in discussions related to the second round of negotiations for the UN Plastic Treaty.

At Yale, Joyce has held positions as a Teaching Fellow for two undergraduate statistics courses and a graduate ethics course. Additionally, she serves as a research lead at the Yale Foreign Policy Initiative, specifically concentrating on analyzing the impacts of U.S.-China AI competition on global energy consumption. Before joining Yale, Joyce spent over three years at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Australia and Canada, offering strategic advice to clients across various industries, including the public sector, consumer, energy, infrastructure, and financial services. Joyce graduated with first-class honors from The University of Melbourne in 2018, majoring in economics and finance.
Didace Irafasha photo
Didace Irafasha

Didace Bienvenu Irafasha is an MPP Candidate from Rwanda at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. Prior to joining Yale, Didace worked as a trainee in the United Nations system, namely the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations. He worked on a range of international development topics, including analyzing sustainable procurement policies at UNDP, researching the financing of youth employment and green-skills development in developing countries while at IFAD, as well as reporting on Rwanda’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and blended finance policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

In addition to his interest in international development, Didace also led the education and partnerships departments at an ed-tech startup in Tunisia to help students from the MENA region access world-class higher education opportunities. 

During his time at Yale, Didace is looking to focus on financing policies for sustainable development, regional economic integrations, and exploring the interlinkages between education and public policy. He earned a BA in economics and political science from Columbia University. Didace is a native Kinyarwanda speaker and is fluent in French.

Nia Kamau photo
Nia Kamau
Nia Kamau is a U.S. State Department Pickering Fellow and MPP candidate at the Jackson School, focusing on human rights and diplomacy. Nia's work has concentrated on international and U.S. children's issues and intercultural relations. Before coming to Yale, Nia worked for the SMU Human Rights Program, where she co-taught and co-developed a class on race, storytelling, and social change. Nia is a summa cum laude graduate of Southern Methodist University with a BA in human rights and international studies, with minors in Arabic, public policy and international affairs, and economics. Her undergraduate research analyzed the relationship between female policymakers and child marriage in Uganda. While her work primarily focuses on children's rights and racial reconciliation, Nia brings experience in spheres that include economic development (The Market Project), justice reform (Lone Star Justice Alliance), refugee support (Texas Muslim Women's Association), and anti-human trafficking (Traffick 911). After Yale, Nia will join the State Department as a foreign service officer through the Pickering Fellowship.
Öznur Öztürk photo
Öznur Öztürk
Öznur Öztürk is an MPP student at Yale and a Fulbrighter interested in clean energy transition and sustainable development, particularly in developing countries. At Yale, she wants to enhance her understanding of the relationship between energy policy and development in the face of the overarching challenge of climate change.

Prior to joining the Jackson School, Öznur gained valuable experience at UNICEF where she concentrated on humanitarian emergency response, showcasing her commitment to making a positive impact on vulnerable communities. She also served as an assistant policy advisor at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's embassy in Turkey, focusing on diplomacy and trade policy with a special emphasis on sustainability. Throughout her studies, Öznur actively engaged in various roles, including interning at the Turkish Parliament, where she contributed to parliamentary committees on trade and energy. As a research assistant, she participated in diverse projects and conducted independent research at the Center of Energy and Sustainable Development. Her research explored the public perception of geothermal power plants, culminating in the creation of a geothermal risk index that assessed the feasibility of installing geothermal plants using environmental, social, economic, and political indicators. Moreover, Öznur is the recipient of the Fulbright fellowship in the area of energy policy as a strong indicator of her dedication and passion to make positive contribution.
María José Ramírez Rosaslanda photo
María José Ramírez Rosaslanda
María José Ramírez Rosaslanda is an MPP candidate at the Jackson School of Global Affairs and a Fulbright scholar. Before coming to Yale, she was a public servant at the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretariat for more than three years. As an advisor to the Chief of Staff, she reported on migration trends in Central America and monitored the political situation in Latin America. She also helped to organize the Annual Meeting of Mexican Ambassadors and Consuls. Later, as director of Agreements for the Secretary, she directed a team to develop economic intelligence documents and built relationships with businesspeople and international organizations to open investment opportunities in Mexico. Previously, she interned at the Women’s International Affairs Division of the Foreign Affairs Secretariat and the Department of Protection for Mexicans in the General Consulate of Mexico in Atlanta. María José holds a BA in international relations from El Colegio de México. She was a visiting student at Harvard University and attended summer courses at FU Berlin, Tsukuba University in Japan, and the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. In 2019, while in the process of writing her undergraduate thesis on the concept of violence against women within the UN system, she represented the Mexican youth in the engagement group for the G20, negotiating policies on the Future of Work and Environment that included a gender perspective. At Yale, she works on deepening her quantitative skills to develop evidence-based and multistakeholder policies in her interest areas: development, gender justice, and migration.
Juan Luis Salinas photo
Juan Luis Salinas
Juan Luis Salinas is a young professional passionate about politics. He is pursuing an MPP at Yale to strengthen his skills and knowledge to work promoting progressive politics worldwide, especially in Latin America.

With a versatile background, Juan Luis boasts valuable experience in various fields and countries. In politics, he recently worked at the Liberal Party of Canada, coordinating the involvement of Federal Ministers in partisan political events and fundraisers. Before that, he established a political consultancy firm in Peru, where he directed and advised on political campaigns, leading to the election of a congresswoman.

In international development, Juan Luis worked as an economic development consultant for three years. During this time, he worked extensively with diverse groups of small and indigenous producers in Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. His projects focused on crafting commercial strategies to bolster their income, enhance livelihoods, and foster sustainable growth. Finally, in government, he worked for the Prime Minister's Office for Reconstructing the Peruvian North and for the Ministry of Industry.

Originally from Peru, he holds a bachelor's degree in business from Universidad del Pacífico and a master's degree in political science and international relations from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, where he earned the top position in his class.
Khamza Sharifzoda photo
Khamza Sharifzoda
Khamza Sharifzoda is a first-year MPP student at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. He is interested in international macroeconomics, public finance, capital markets, and sovereign debt. Before Yale, Khamza worked at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. At the IMF, he analyzed the macroeconomic landscape in emerging and developing economies facing balance-of-payment problems. He also worked on the design of new lending instruments, review of IMF conditionalities, the historic 2021 SDR allocation, and debt relief for the poorest members. At the World Bank, his work focused on fiscal policy and labor markets in emerging economies. 

Khamza was born in Tajikistan but later immigrated to the United States. He speaks Russian, Farsi, Spanish, and Turkish. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Nazarbayev University and a master’s degree in Eastern European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. 

After graduation from Yale, Khamza intends to continue his career with a focus on emerging/frontier markets and debt restructuring, leveraging his regional expertise and strong macroeconomics background.