Observer’s Global Team

With three campuses spread over three continents, The SAIS Observers prides itself on its international team. The team wants to bring current, interesting, and stimulating articles to its readers, not only in the countries that have SAIS campuses, but from around the world.



Kaj Malden


Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Kaj Malden is a first year M.A. student at the SAIS DC campus, where he concentrates on China Studies with a specialization in the International Relations of Asia. Kaj graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2012 with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. Prior to coming to SAIS, Kaj lived in Beijing for three years where he worked as a university instructor, research assistant to Chinese and international think tanks, and consultant to a microfinance advisory NGO. When not grappling with SAIS economics courses or reading up on Asia-Pacific affairs, Kaj can be found exploring D.C.’s local music scene.


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Patrick Kelley

Executive Editor

Patrick Kelley is an M.A. candidate concentrating in American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., where he is the executive editor of The SAIS Observer student newspaper. Patrick recently completed an editorial internship at commodities newswire Argus Media in Houston, Texas, where he wrote news stories, market commentaries and analysis pieces on global commodities markets for Argus’s subscription-based publications.

Patrick spent his first year of graduate school at SAIS’s Bologna, Italy campus, where he served as the Italy bureau chief for the SAIS Observer.
Originally from central Illinois, Patrick has experience in government, think tanks, nonprofits and media. Prior to pursuing graduate education, Patrick was the managing editor of American Outlook and a research fellow at the Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based think tank. In 2013, Patrick graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, where he covered sports for the Daily Illini.

Patrick’s writing includes analysis, features and news stories and has appeared in Politico’s Brussels Playbook, The Indianapolis Star, and He is


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Andrew Kovtun

Finance Executive

Andrew is currently an International Development student at Johns Hopkins University SAIS in Washington, D.C. Andrew’s academic interests center around multinational corporate governance and the role of global trade and foreign direct investment in the development of liberal economic and political institutions in a ‘developing’ region. Andrew’s regional focus is primarily on East Europe and West Africa, where Andrew hopes to lead projects that use innovative financing structures to partner American investors with local industries to generate economic growth and environmental recovery. Andrew looks forward to engaging the SAIS community by “Continuing the Discussion” on hotly-debated or poorly-covered issues in international affairs.


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Evan Revak

Technology Editor

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, Evan is a first year M.A. student at the Bologna Campus concentrating in International Relations and Eastern & Eurasian Studies. Prior to SAIS, Evan graduated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick Canada with a B.A. in International Relations. After graduating, he spent time interning in Washington, D.C., and back in California for congressional members as well as an HIV/AIDS nonprofit. Beyond academics, Evan is a news-junkie, world traveler, unapologetic foodie, and shameless Netflix/HBO binger.





Lisa Martine Jenkins

Bureau Chief

 Lisa is a Bologna-based MA student focusing on Energy, Resources, and the Environment. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015, and subsequently worked for journalism non-profit The Chronicle of Social Change and radio program the Marketplace Morning Report. She ultimately hopes to evolve into a journalist-hybrid of Audie Cornish, Ezra Klein, and Samantha Power, with a particular focus on international environmental reporting. When Lisa is not in the SAIS library, she spends her time cooking pasta, reading 19th century British literature, and listening to Bob Dylan or Frank Ocean. Find her work at


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Calin Brown


Editor, Opinion

Calin Brown is concentrating in Southeast Asian Studies at SAIS. She’s also currently an editor at Ketagalan Media, an online publication covering Taiwan’s political, social and cultural scene. Calin previously reported from the United States and has written, as well as edited, for the Wellesley News, Boston Magazine, Mic and WNYC Radio. Prior to joining the current SAIS cohort in Bologna, Calin worked at a news animation company in Taipei, Taiwan. There, she produced animations used by Reuters, Fox5 and CNN – for whom she covered everything from plane crashes to SpaceX’s latest mission.


Garrett Sweitzer

Editor, Continuing the Discussion

Garrett enters SAIS Bologna by way of Connecticut, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Virginia and Russia. Each place has helped shape his views on the world through his interaction with people from a variety of backgrounds. Catchy slogans are too often confused with reasonable solutions, and it’s often difficult to detect the “signal from the noise.” Garrett believes the SAIS Observer can serve as an outlet for thoughtful discussion on various topics that are often clouded by noise.




Grace Shin

Editor, Around the Town

Born in an undisclosed U.S. city, Grace Shin considers herself a nomad whose home is wherever she currently is. She is currently a first-year Master’s candidate at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, where she studies Conflict Management with a regional focus on the Middle East. She completed her undergraduate degree at Emory University, her second choice to visual arts school, for which her her parents vehemently refused to pay. At Emory, she majored in English and Political Science. In her spare time, Grace roams Bologna looking for windows to sketch (while wondering wistfully what might have come from her lost career as a starving artist), photographing clouds for a secret Facebook album creatively titled “Clouds”, and actively avoiding owls, which terrify her.



Julia Wargo

Editor, Continuing the Discussion

Born in Minnesota, but most recently from slightly warmer Connecticut, Julia is earning her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Writing Seminars at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University. She is spending her Junior Year Abroad masquerading as a graduate student at SAIS Europe, and earning a Diploma in International Affairs, before returning to her senior year in the fall. She has previously served as an editor for various organizations within Hopkins, such as a literary journal and a scholarly journal on Latin American affairs. Julia has a deep passion for American foreign policy, and US-Asian relations in particular, though she is looking forward to gaining a European perspective during this year. When not reading or writing in an official capacity, she enjoys reading for pleasure, making jewelry (with soldering torches, not beads), playing violin, and running.


Toni Mikec

Editor, News

Toni Mikec has lived in Croatia, where he was born, and the United States. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of California, Davis, USA, in 2015. His academic interests focus on American and EU security and on the history of the United States and many European countries. Over the course of his studies, Toni has acquired a strong grounding in these fields and he has been able to expand on them through the opportunities provided by his jobs, study abroad opportunities and internships. From 2015-2016, Toni worked for Your Voter Guide, an organization which provided online voter guides for various unions and special interest groups. There, he helped build a database of all school board elections in the state of California for the California Teachers’ Association. In 2014, he attended Science Po, in Paris as an exchange student where he continued to expand his knowledge of international relations, history, economics, French and political science. At SAIS, he would like to concentrate in Strategic Studies to prepare for a career in the field of public policy or in the private sector. In particular, he would like to work for the Foreign Service of the United States, dealing with issues concerning national security. Toni speaks English, Serbian and Croatian fluently and has an excellent command of French.


Utpala Menon

Editor, Student Life

Born in India, but raised in Dubai, Utpala Menon is a first-year MA student at SAIS Europe. Prior to SAIS, she studied Economics at New York University. In New York, she interned for the Development team of the Metropolitan Museum and wrote for NYU’s Washington Square News. She also spent one year studying at NYU Florence while doing stolen-art work and cultural diplomacy research at a civil law firm. Her year in Italy was spent learning to speak Italian (without an Indian accent) and enjoying Italian food with an extra-dash of pepperoncino. Thus, beginning her MA at SAIS Europe seemed like a natural transition. At SAIS Europe, she hopes to concentrate in International Law, explore the Italian art scene and finally learn French (without an Italian accent).


Viviana Specioso

Editor, Faculty & Experts


Hailing from Italy, Viviana is a first year MA student at the Bologna campus where she concentrates in Energy, Resources and Environment with a minor in International Development. While in undergrad, she volunteered abroad for community development projects in Middle East and India. After her graduation in International Relations, Viviana worked for a European NGO advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Voracious reader, Viviana is always open to any suggestions about what books to add to her wish-list. Finally, Viviana is probably the only Italian alive who has no clue about how to cook lasagna, or how to cook in general.


Savannah Blalock

Media & Marketing Coordinator

Born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, Savannah Blalock is a first-year M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy. She holds undergraduate degrees in International Affairs and Political Science from the University of Georgia, where she also studied Portuguese and worked at the Center for International Trade and Security. During her time at UGA, Savannah studied abroad in Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand, and spent two summers working as a coordinator for a children’s camp in Brasilia, Brazil. In addition to traveling, Savannah likes to spend her time eating gelato, meeting friends, and cheering on Georgia’s football team from 4,838 miles away.


Sharad Sharma

Photo Editor

Sharad comes to SAIS with close to nine years of work experience and has a keen interest in the impact investment space and issues relevant to emerging markets. He spent the last few years working as a Program Manager with the Centre for Emerging Markets Solutions and the Office of the Dy.Dean – both at the Indian School of Business (ISB).





Pierson Racanelli

Staff Writer

Pierson’s origins are relatively obscure; his birth certificate says he is from Monterey in Northern California, but he has lived on the East Coast (Baltimore/DC area) for the past few years and claims (erroneously) to be “from there”. He has a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude from Cornell University in history, and he is currently a first year M.A. student at SAIS Europe concentrating on Middle East Studies and looking to minor in Emerging Markets and/or Conflict Management. After graduating from Cornell in 2014, he worked in the DC area for a year and a half for a translation company catering to government clients before heading to Amman, Jordan to research the Syrian conflict and study colloquial Arabic. Along with relative fluency in English, he speaks Spanish, Arabic, conversational Italian, and a bit of Persian (Farsi). Raw oysters are among his top 3 favorite foods, and he finds solace in watching the perennial failures of Arsenal F.C.; indeed, he is a zealous supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. He misses Buddy Holly and Jon Stewart (Trevor Noah is good though).


Raphaël Bousquet

Staff Writer

Raphaël Bousquet is currently an IDEV concentrator at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Previously, Raphaël read International Relations and History at the London School of Economics. He then moved to Beijing, where he lived with a Chinese family for a year and achieved proficiency in Mandarin. Raphaël explored different spheres of International Relations: he interned at a think-tank in Paris, at the French Embassy in China, and at a development bank in London. At SAIS, he plans to focus on economic development in post-conflict societies. After receiving his offer of admission from SAIS in March 2016, Raphaël devoted his time to his two passions: travels and literature. He walked an overland journey across Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran, and then joined Northern Greece to volunteer at the Idomeni refugee camp. In July, Raphaël walked the 900km pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. He is currently working on transcribing his experiences in Iran, in Idomeni and on the Camino into words.He writes mostly in French but is eager to improve his English writing skills.


Theophile de Saint Sernin

Staff Writer

Theo is a first year MA student at SAIS Bologna, concentrating in Strategic Studies. He graduated in 2016 from the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, with a BA in International Studies and a focus on East Asian Studies. As part of his curriculum, Theo spent a semester in China, working for a banking technologies corporation. His main area of interest is security issues in East Asia. Theo is French and Greek, and was born in Belgium. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to and producing music, as well as discovering Bologna and its surroundings.



Ramona Viglianisi

Staff Writer

Ramona Viglianisi is currently an M.A. candidate at Johns Hopkins University, concentrating in Global Risk. She holds a degree in Economics from the University of Bologna. Her research interests include Risk in International Political Economy, Instability in Democratic Societies, Security and Disaster Risk for World Heritage.




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Jacob Ross

Staff Writer

Jacob, a 25-year-old student from Germany, is currently majoring in the MAIA program. Prior to enrolling in a French-German bi-national BA-program in International Relations, he studied political journalism. However, early on he realized that he wanted to gain a deeper view of politics, before commenting on political issues. Jacob is focusing on defense and security-policies, a field where he expects there to be increased European cooperation in the near future.



Elizabeth Goffi

Copy Editor

Elizabeth is a first-year MA student at SAIS Europe, concentrating in Conflict Management with a minor in International Development. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, she moved to Sweden after receiving the Lund University Global Scholarship for Development Studies. At Lund University, she held various positions within student government and worked as a copy editor for the student web-zine of the Association of Foreign Affairs. Her academic interests include political development, climate change, and human rights advocacy. Outside of class, Elizabeth volunteers for a Stockholm-based nonprofit organization working to reintegrate former child soldiers in Liberia. She also enjoys cooking, playing piano and almost any other activity that keeps her out of the Italian sun.




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Eli Birge

Copy Editor

Born and bred in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Eli Birge holds a degree in linguistic anthropology from Fordham University in NYC, where he edited the news section of the student paper. An aspiring Latin Americanist, Eli travelled extensively in the Andean region before coming to SAIS as a LASP concentrator. After college, Eli worked in NYC’s ‘Silicon Alley,’ conducting business development and project management for several technology companies in the e-commerce, e-publishing and development sectors. When he’s not reviewing the slopes from his economics lectures, he’s on his bike, exploring the slopes of the nearby Appenine massifs. After college, Eli worked in NYC’s ‘Silicon Alley,’ conducting business development and project management for several technology companies in the e-commerce, e-publishing and development sectors. When he’s not reviewing the slopes from his economics lectures, he’s on his bike, exploring the slopes of the nearby Appenine massifs.




Logan Pauley

Bureau Chief

Logan is a second-year at the Nanjing campus concentrating in International Politics. A native of the egregiously pronounced Versailles, Kentucky, he graduated from Centre College with a degree in Asian Studies in 2015, and has lived in Taipei, Shanghai, and Hangzhou before moving to Nanjing. He spends the lion’s share of his free time running, having finished 17 marathons to date, and plans to run a few races in mainland China if the weather permits. A close follower of all music hipster and rap, he is excited by the recent growth of Chinese hip-hop and is translating a recently released album from Mandarin to English for the American market. When not running or listening to music, Logan can be found playing Settlers of Catan or eating pizza.


Caroline Yarber

Section Editor, Career/Alumni

Caroline Yarber is a first-year M.A. candidate at the Nanjing campus concentrating in International Politics and Chinese Studies. Caroline’s primary interest is Northeast Asian relations, and has spent significant time studying and visiting South Korea in addition to her focus on China. Before coming to Nanjing, Caroline graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Chinese. During her time in D.C., Caroline interned for Congress and was involved with Georgetown’s global education office. When she’s not studying, Caroline enjoys drinking coffee, learning to play the erhu, watching procedural dramas, and singing badly to Korean ballads.


Nathan Bradley

Section Editor, Opinions

Hailing from the best state in the Union (Colorado), Nathan is a first year MAIS student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center concentrating in International Politics and China Studies. For his undergraduate career, he decided to trade mountains for the majesty of the Pacific Northwest. While attending the University of Puget Sound, Nathan double majored in Economics and Chinese with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Asian Studies. He decided to make Asia his career focus after spending his junior studying abroad in Shanghai and extensively traveling around the continent. Passionate about public service, Nathan hopes to work in the US government promoting greater US-China exchange and mutual understanding. His hobbies include traveling, watching copious amounts of television, listening to indie music, discussing power structures, and riding the Korean wave. When Nathan is not studying or eating Asian cuisine, you can often find him practicing his Mandarin with a glass of wine in hand.


Brennan Leong

Section Editor, Finance & Economics

A 2013 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brennan earned his undergraduate degree in Biology and Chinese. After graduating from Wisconsin, Brennan began his professional life in behavior therapy, working with children with special needs. Though, these were illuminating experiences for him, he became focused on re-immersing himself in the Chinese culture. Thus, he returned to China by accepting a position as an ESL instructor at a kindergarten in Chongqing. After one year in Chongqing, Brennan was eager to return to academia, so he enrolled in the Masters of Arts in International Studies program focusing on international economics at the HNC.


Chelsea Toczauer

Section Editor, Experts & Professionals

Chelsea Toczauer is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she earned two bachelor degrees in International Relations and East Asian Languages and Cultures and a minor in Slavic Languages and Literatures. Her interest for Chinese domestic development and international politics developed during her experiences working and studying in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Russia and China. In 2016 Chelsea also became a licensed yoga instructor after obtaining her certification at Asram Yoga Pest in Budapest. Now continuing her second year of study at SAIS, Chelsea is working towards her M.A. in International Relations with a Concentration in International Politics.


Liz Witcher

Section Editor, Around Town

Liz Witcher moved to China two years ago after graduating from Michigan State University in May 2014. Before coming to Nanjing, she lived in Fuzhou and Xiamen, two prominent cities in Fujian province. In addition to writing for the SAIS Observer, she enjoys playing rugby and ultimate frisbee, both of which she learned in China. She’s currently trying to start a women’s rugby team in China.


Timothy Khang

Section Editor, Continuing the Discussion

Timothy Khang became a naturalized American citizen in 2009, and has worked in China since 2010 in international human resources management and development. Tim studies Sino-US relations as it relates to potential flashpoints in East Asia, and how geopolitics are affected by the language used by state governments. As a native of South Korea, he hopes to contribute to a meaningful diplomatic dialogue in the Korean Peninsula. When not thinking about global politics, Timothy likes to write music and play the drums.


Rona Vaseelar

Section Editor, Student Life

Rona is a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center, pursuing a Master’s degree in Chinese Studies and International Relations. Her hobbies include reading Chinese literature, writing horror stories, and watching horror movies. She is especially interested in Chinese culture and history. When not traveling in China, she lives in Southwestern Minnesota with her dog, Buck.



Ana Vasudevan

Bureau Chief

A southern girl at heart from Atlanta, Georgia, Ana is a first year International Law and Organizations concentrator and International Development Minor at the SAIS Europe Bologna Center. Her main area of interest is in issues concerning the human rights of migrants in Europe and worldwide refugee resettlement and integration programs. In 2015, Ana graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Economy and French. After graduating, she spent the summer in Paris, France interning at the U.S. Embassy. In her spare time, Ana enjoys playing tennis, singing, eating gelato, and watching stand-up comedy.


Fatima Nanavati

Editor, Campus News & Photographer

Indian born and Canadian bred, Fatima is a first year M.A. candidate concentrating in Conflict Management and minoring in International Development at the SAIS Europe Center. She has an avid background in International Relations after launching her own nonprofit organization, IndoCanKids in 2009, and later working at the NATO Council of Canada as their Director of Media and Crisis Communications. While previously attending at New York University, Fatima had the opportunity to study abroad for two years in Paris and Shanghai. She graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Politics and Global Liberal Studies, as well as minors in Poverty Studies and Policy Management.

Her growing bucket-list and passion for food have left Fatima in a constant state of wanderlust. She has managed to pick up Hindi, Urdu, French, and Mandarin, while still throwing in a few Canadian “Eh’s” every so often. When she is not being a closet nerd, Fatima enjoys dancing, cartooning, singing badly, and curating ridiculous photo shoots.


Joniel Cha

Editor, Opinion

Joniel, a first-year MA student in the DC campus, is unsure of his concentration (he is considering AFP, ILAW, CM, EES) but sure of his destination. Before entering SAIS, he lived in Ukraine for one year (2014-2015) during civil unrest and war, working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Donetsk on humanitarian aid projects for refugees, as well as with Transparency International in Kyiv on anti-corruption and constitutional reforms. Upon his return to the United States, he worked at Eurasia Foundation on the U.S.-Russia Social Expertise Exchange.

He graduated from the University of Virginia with a double-major in Leadership & Public Policy and Foreign Affairs concentration on Europe. Prior to attending university, he lived in Uzbekistan for 6 years and Kyrgyzstan for 4 years (2000-2010) where he learned Russian, Uzbek, and Tajik, and was heavily involved in community service and humanitarian aid projects. He was an eyewitness of the 2010 Revolution at Ala-Too Square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan resulting in over 100 deaths and subsequent ethnic conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, and he participated in citywide reconstruction and crisis response for victims of racial violence.

In regards to the future, he is interested in pursuing a career related to international relations, development, diplomacy, conflict resolution, and refugees resettlement.


Alec Ansusinha

Editor, Satire & Opinion

Alec Ansusinha is a first-year SAIS M.A. Candidate studying International Development. But parents of Alec Ansusinha’s friends say he’s mature for his year and acts like a second year.

The SAIS Observer hired Alec in Fall 2016 to cover hard-hitting campus gossip and offer his sage advice to fellow students. Before attending SAIS, Alec spent two years in Thailand working low-paying jobs in environmental conservation—even though he is worth much more, and doesn’t need anyone to reassure him of that fact.

Alec is a half-Thai American and spent most of his childhood conquering the Chicago suburbs and later the rural Sauk Valley before heading to Columbus to get his B.S. from The Ohio State University.


Zindzi Thompson

Editor, Graphic Designer & Cartoonist

Zindzi Thompson is a first-year M.A. candidate on the Washington, DC campus of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where she is pursuing her interest in private sector development. In addition, she currently serves as the in-house cartoonist for The SAIS Observer and also acts as an assistant editor for The SAIS Review of International Affairs, a bi-annual print journal by the Foreign Policy Institute.

Prior to SAIS, Zindzi grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and later attended, Howard University where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.B.A. in Finance. Upon graduating, Zindzi joined Ernst & Young as a management consultant where she worked with clients across the US, Latin America and Europe on large-scale business transformation projects and operational performance improvement initiatives.