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White House Appoints 2012-2013 Class Of White House Fellows

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced the appointment of the 2012-2013 Class of White House Fellows. The Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, varied professions, and have all shown a strong commitment to public service and leadership. The 2012-2013 Class of Fellows and their biographies are included in the following pages.

The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”  This unique opportunity to work within our nation’s government is designed to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service. The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs. Community service is another essential element of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout the year in the Washington, DC area.

Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of professional achievement, evidence of leadership potential, and a proven commitment to public service. Each Fellow must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully at senior levels in the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields, including leaders in government, business, media, medicine, education, diplomacy and the military. Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at

2012-2013 Class of White House Fellows

Elliot Ackerman, Washington, DC, is the Chief Operating Officer for Americans Elect, an initiative that offers a nonpartisan platform for individuals to run for elected office.  Prior to this, he served as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer and Special Operations Officer, and later as a Paramilitary Case Officer in the Central Intelligence Agency.  Over the course of eight years, he conducted multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.  He also participated in post-Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  As a Special Operations Officer, Elliot led a team of fourteen Marines who served as the primary combat advisors to a 700-man Afghan commando battalion.  As an Infantry Officer, Elliot led a 46-man rifle platoon during the November 2004 Battle of Fallujah.  Elliot holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School, and earned his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University.  He has served on the board of the Afghan Scholars Initiative and as an advisor to the No Greater Sacrifice Scholarship Fund.  His published works have appeared in Politico, Comparative Strategy Journal, and The Marine Corps Gazette among others. Elliot’s military awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. 

Archie Bates, Bessemer, AL, is a United States Army Major who most recently served as the Executive Officer to the Director of Army Human Resources Policy, responsible for strategy and policy development.  Previously, he served as Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy, where he was director of Leadership and Management courses, Academic Liaison between the dean and the head football coach, and Officer-in-charge of Special Olympics.  He has lectured internationally on leadership and co-authored a book chapter.  Archie deployed to Baghdad with the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and was responsible for the individual readiness of over 8,000 Soldiers.  Archie graduated from the United States Military Academy with a B.S. in Management and earned the Superintendent’s Award for Academic, Military and Physical Excellence.  He also earned a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of Maryland.  Archie’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Major General Newman Award for Leadership Excellence, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.  An avid athlete, Archie played collegiate and semi-professional football, ran a marathon to raise funds for cancer research, and participated in weightlifting competitions.  He enjoys supporting his wife’s teaching career and coaching his two sons’ football teams.  

Ariel Grace Batungbacal, Marietta, GA, is a Major in the U.S. Air Force; and served as the Joint Staff J2/Director of Intelligence’s Deputy Executive Assistant.  Prior to that, she was Branch Chief for Middle East Strategy, leading intelligence efforts for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's policy development.  She served over five years in overseas assignments, supporting military operations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including three deployments supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  She received the National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Award, and several military decorations to include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and two AF Meritorious Service Medals.  Ariel currently serves as a founding board member for The Doolittle Foundation.  She has committed approximately 3,000 hours over the last decade to community organizations that cultivate women leaders, such as Junior League, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc.  She is a Southern California Leadership Network Fellow, and a Junior League Board Fellow.  Ariel received an Executive Master’s in Leadership from Georgetown University where her research on women in leadership was showcased.  She earned a M.A. in Diplomacy from Norwich University, B.A. in Chinese and B.A. in Government/Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Dave Chokshi, Baton Rouge, LA, is a primary care physician with interests in public health and innovation in health care delivery.  He recently completed internal medicine residency at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  He practiced at the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, where he was a member of the Youth Health Equity Collaborative.  Dave's prior work experience spans the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including positions with the New York City Department of Health, the Louisiana Department of Health, a startup clinical software company, and with nonprofit organizations seeking to advance global health.  Dave helped grow the nonprofit Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), dedicated to improving access to medicines in developing countries; he was a founding member of UAEM's Board of Directors.  He has done clinical work in Guatemala, Peru, Botswana, Ghana, and India.  Dave has written extensively on medicine and public health in journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Health Affairs, and Nature.  He is a Rhodes Scholar, a Truman Scholar, a Soros Fellow, and a Gamble Scholar.  He received his M.D. with distinction from Penn, an M.Sc in global public health from Oxford, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke.

Chris Domencic, Export, PA, is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy and a U.S. Navy SEAL.  He began his fourteen-year career in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer stationed aboard the USS Carter Hall where he was named the TYCOM Junior Ship Handler of the Year for COMPHIBRON TWO. As a SEAL, he has deployed to Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East including four deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He graduated with honors from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. in Oceanography and received an M.P.P. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Mark Hanis, Plantation, FL, is the co-founder and board member of United to End Genocide which empowers all sectors (public, private, citizen) to prevent and stop mass atrocities. As the founding President for over six years, Mark transitioned UEG from a student group into a multimillion dollar non-profit whose impact included establishing over one thousand student chapters, playing key roles in passing state and federal legislation, and acquiring and merging other organizations in the same sector. He is currently co-founding an organization to address the unnecessary deaths due to a shortage of transplantable organs. Mark graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Public Policy.  In 2003, Mark worked for the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  He is the grandchild of four Holocaust survivors and was raised in Quito, Ecuador. Mark has been awarded several fellowships for social entrepreneurship, including Ashoka, Echoing Green, Draper Richards Kaplan, and Hunt Alternatives Prime Movers. Mark was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Mark serves on the Board of Stakeholders of the University of Pacific's Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and is an advisory board member of Generation Citizen.

Bethany Rubin Henderson, Baton Rouge, LA, is a social entrepreneur.  She founded and leads City Hall Fellows, a non-partisan service corps empowering the next generation to lead America’s cities. Over 5 years, Bethany grew City Hall Fellows from a one-page sketch to an impactful venture, raising over $4,000,000 in public and private funding. Seven cohorts of City Hall Fellows to date have saved city agencies over $10,000,000, piloted ground-breaking anti-obesity and renewable energy programs, project managed civil service and financial system modernization efforts, and much more.  Bethany has been awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship, and has been named to Next American City magazine’s 2010 list of 33 emerging urban leaders; New Leaders Council’s 40 Under 40 Progressive Political Entrepreneurs of 2011; and’s 2011 Mominee of the Year (Politics).  Prior to launching City Hall Fellows, Bethany was a litigator at Quinn Emanuel, where she won an award from the California State Bar Association for pro bono representation of special education students. Bethany previously was a New York City Urban Fellow during Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration.  She received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and both an M.A. and B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude) in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Bethany now lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband and two young daughters.

Candice Jones, Chicago, IL, is Executive Director of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.  She manages a state commission tasked with the distribution of Federal Title II block grant funds.  Prior to joining the Commission, Candice was a Juvenile Justice Program Officer in the MacArthur Foundation’s US Programs.  In that role she managed a grant portfolio in excess of $40 million including two intensive strategies: to improve racial and ethnic disparities; and to improve the quality of juvenile indigent defense.  Before joining the Foundation, she worked as a litigator at Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg, focusing on complex commercial litigation.  She identified and piloted a restorative justice program in an area high school that served pregnant and parenting young women, while at the firm.  Candice has provided criminal defense representation to youth and adults at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division and the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem, both in New York.  She has also worked in Japan as an English Language Instructor and in Chicago as a rape crisis advocate.  Her bachelor’s degree is in Political Science and African & African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. from New York University School of Law. 

Kermit Jones, South Haven, MI, recently finished his M.P.A., with a regional specialization in South Asia, at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).  There, he founded a chapter of Developments in Literacy (DIL), a non-profit that has educated over 16,000 elementary school students in Pakistan and led a team that advised on technology use and teacher training.  He also served on a team that worked with the NYC Office of Management and Budget to evaluate and to advise on ways to streamline the design process in their $ 8 billion annual capital infrastructure investment portfolio. Before SIPA he served in the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon for a Marine helicopter casualty evacuation squadron in Al Habbaniyah, Iraq, providing primary care for his squadron, HMM-364 (“Purple Foxes”), and emergency care for U.S. and Iraqi nationals.  Prior to military service, Kermit worked as a primary care physician with a rural health service at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India.  He studied the legal implications of trade and AIDS-related public health legislation at the World Health Organization in Geneva, and was a Mordecai scholar at Duke University, where he received his M.D. and J.D.  He is conversational in Urdu, Hindi, and Spanish.

Amen Ra Mashariki, Chicago, IL, is a computer scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL). As a senior bioinformatics researcher at JHU APL he develops and utilizes smart algorithms that explore biological data in search of complex associations and relationships in order to provide insight into common biological diagnostics and clinical trends. Prior to academia, Amen has spent 7 years in the technical industry as a senior software engineer for Motorola. He has authored 5 patent disclosures, and received the prestigious Chicago Museum of Science ‘Top Technology Innovators’ award. Over the last 8 years Amen has spent his summers teaching advanced computer science courses for 7th – 10th graders at the Johns Hopkins University Center For Talented Youth program. Amen earned his doctorate degree from Morgan State University, his Master’s degree in computer science from Howard University, and also his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Lincoln University.

Anne O’Connell, West Haven, CT, is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Coast Guard. She has commanded four Coast Guard ships, including one in the Middle East conducting international security missions as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Most recently, she commanded a ship in the Caribbean responsible for regional security priorities including counter-narcotic, anti-human trafficking, and other operations. She has also served as an aide-de-camp to the second-in-command of the Coast Guard. Anne’s accomplishments have been featured in the Coast Guard’s “Leaders of Today” panel at the Coast Guard Academy’s Women’s History Exhibit. Her volunteer work includes co-founding the Massachusetts chapter of the veterans’ support organization Team Red, White and Blue, and assisting animal rescue groups in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anne’s military decorations include four Coast Guard Commendation medals, the Iraqi Campaign medal and multiple unit awards. She received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where she was a member of the National Political Science Honor Society and a Second Team All-American in Rowing. Anne also holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Missy Ryan, Washington, DC, is a journalist who has been posted in the Middle East and Latin America. Prior to beginning the fellowship, Missy wrote about U.S. policy on Afghanistan/Pakistan and military affairs for Thomson Reuters, receiving along with two colleagues a 2012 New York Press Club award for political coverage. Missy was posted in Baghdad for 20 months, where she served as correspondent and deputy bureau chief for Reuters. She also served as Reuters’ acting bureau chief for Mexico and Central America. Missy spent about five years after college in Latin America, where she worked with an indigenous women’s business cooperative in southern Chile and worked as a journalist in Argentina and Peru. She was selected for a year-long fellowship from the Inter-American Press Association. Missy has also reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon and Libya, including covering the final days of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. In addition to Reuters, her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, World Policy Journal, and National Journal. Missy is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and speaks Arabic and Spanish. She obtained a BA from Georgetown University, taking part in the honors English program and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Carolyn Snyder, Bethesda, MD, is the Director of Delaware’s Division of Energy & Climate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.  She serves as Delaware’s chief policy expert on energy and climate issues and manages over $70 million in programs that help residents and businesses save money through clean energy and energy efficiency.  She also leads the development of Delaware’s first comprehensive climate change impacts and vulnerability assessment.  Prior to state government, Carolyn spent seven years working on climate science and energy policy at academic institutions around the world.  Her research seeks to better characterize important uncertainties in our understanding of future climate change to enable more effective decision-making.  She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Environment and Resources, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow.  Carolyn was awarded the Lieberman fellowship in recognition of her service and leadership on interdisciplinary education, student healthcare policy, and mentorship in the Stanford community.  She is a Marshall and a Goldwater Scholar who received an M.Sc. in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford, an M.Phil. in Quaternary Science from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in Biology and Geology from Amherst College.

Anand Veeravagu, Palo Alto, CA, is a Neurosurgeon in training at Stanford University SOM. He most recently served as Chief Neurosurgery Resident at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital caring for soldiers returning from Afghanistan with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Anand is focused on advancing minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical techniques for diseases of the central nervous system. In 2006, Anand developed a novel radiotherapeutic to treat Glioblastoma Multiforme, a malignant brain tumor. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and has written for the Huffington Post. In 2011 Anand staffed the CURE Neurosurgical Hospital in Uganda and organized medical relief missions for the Tsunami of 2004. Anand has received over 30 awards for his leadership, research and promotion of healthcare access to underserved populations. In 2012 Anand received the Gold Foundation's Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award for his commitment to mentorship. Anand’s research employs national databases to evaluate trends in health resource utilization to provide guidelines for policy reform. Anand has been accepted to the Stanford GSB MBA program, received his M.D. from Stanford University and graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a B.S in Biomedical Engineering and minor in Multicultural and Regional Studies.

Jason Washington, Texarkana, TX, is a Senior Policy Advisor for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Maryland.  He is a member of the Mayor’s Office of Government Relations where his responsibilities include developing and managing the City’s legislative portfolio including the education, finance and economic development legislative portfolio.  He currently chairs the Mayor’s School Construction Taskforce, a joint taskforce with Baltimore City Public Schools, created to develop a fiscally prudent plan to modernize City Schools’ infrastructure.  Prior to public service, Jason served as Baltimore City’s Get-Out-The-Vote Director for the Maryland Democratic Party, Deputy Campaign Director for State Senator Bill Ferguson, an associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and a 7th-Grade Teacher at John Marshall Middle School in Houston, Texas as part of Teach For America.  He serves as chair of the AnBryce Foundation Advisory Council, treasurer of the New York University School of Law Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific-Islander Alumni Association and a board member of the Way to Work.  Jason received a B.S. in Biology, cum Laude, from Morehouse College, an M.Ed. in General Education from the University of St. Thomas, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law where he was the recipient of the AnBryce Scholarship, Malcolm X Leadership Award and the Vanderbilt Medal.

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