The 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 around the world.



Danielle Thompson


Danielle is a second-year MA student focusing on European and Eurasian Studies. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Government and International Politics from George Mason University where she completed a semester abroad at the University of Leicester in the U.K. and spent her final semester interning with the Department of State at the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP). She graduated a semester early from her program in 2014 and shortly after accepted a role working for the Department of State at the Foreign Service Institute. She moved to the Bureau of Consular Affairs in early 2017 before leaving  for her first year of SAIS in Bologna, Italy.  Danielle grew up in Virginia and her hobbies include watching House Hunters and laughing at memes and bad Dad jokes.

Twitter: @TheDaniThompson

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Srijoni Banerjee

Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Srijoni is a second-year MA student concentrating in International Political Economy. She earned her undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, where she was a copy editor for UCLA’s campus newspaper The Daily Bruin. At SAIS, she was a copy editor for The SAIS Observer from 2017-2018 and an Assistant Editor for The SAIS Review of International Affairs. She’s interned at the National Defense University where she’s worked on maritime security in East Asia and at the Hudson Institute where she’s written articles on India-Pakistan relations and researched security dynamics between South Asia and China. She was born in New Delhi, India but spent most of her childhood in Singapore and considers both countries home. Her hobbies include correcting spelling mistakes and reading online menus.

Twitter: @sribanz


Rebecca Rashid

DC Bureau Chief

Rebecca Rashid is a first-year MA student at SAIS D.C. pursuing a concentration in Strategic Studies. She is a Bay Area native, and spent her undergraduate years in Manhattan pursuing a degree in Politics. Looking to break into the journalism world, she first started reporting as a freshman at her college radio station, failing to emulate Christiane Amanpour’s reporting style. She went on to spend two years in primetime cable news at MSNBC and covered the 2016 election before deciding to make the transition back to academics. She spent the last year working at an independent coffee shop in her hometown to reconnect with her community and learn the fundamentals of journalistic ethics: connection, community, and trust. She credits herself for loving yoga before it was trendy, and enjoys painting in her free time.


Cecilia Panella

Coordinator for Outreach and Pilot Program

Cecilia Panella is a second-year Master’s student at Johns Hopkins SAIS, where she is concentrating in International Economics and American Foreign Policy with a minor in Strategic Studies. She is serving as the Lead and Director for the Outreach and External Sourcing Pilot Program at the SAIS Observer for the 2018-2019 school year. She brings both undergraduate and graduate level publishing experience; she served as Editor-in-Chief for the SAIS Europe Journal of Global Affairs in Bologna and also as an Editor for the Drake University Undergraduate Social Science Journal. Cecilia’s position is new to the SAIS Observer this year, and she plans to draft, build, and execute a program for recruiting external sources and writers for the Observer to broaden the horizons of the publication and further benefit the readership of the SAIS community as well as build a network of contacts that will benefit future Editorial Staff generations and deepen the ties that the Observer has to the international relations academic and professional community.


Daniel Burke

Copy Editor

Hailing from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dan is a first-year grad student at SAIS studying China Studies and International Economics. While attending the Hopkins – Nanjing Center, Dan first joined the team back in 2017 as a staff writer. Amongst others, he has written pieces on Cambodia’s political parties, China’s Arctic policy, Japan’s militarization, and China’s new “Good Samaritan” law.  Dan first sparked his love for China in 2011 while taking a transformative Chinese history class. Despite being well past the drop/add period, he consulted the professor, found a private tutor, studied in his free time, took the final, and joined the Chinese Language class at the 102 level. Since then, he has lived in Shenzhen, Kunming, and Nanjing for a total of five years spent in the country. Besides China, Dan has traveled extensively in East Asia, visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, and Pakistan, amongst others. When not studying foreign policy and international relations, Dan enjoys playing funk/disco guitar, reading trashy sci-fi novels, and kicking around a jianzi (Chinese style hacky-sack).


Will Davis

Copy Editor

Will is a second-year MA student coming in from his first year at the SAIS Bologna Center. A native son of South Carolina, he graduated with his BA in Spanish from the College of Charleston with minor concentrations in Linguistics and Irish Studies. At SAIS, he specializes in Conflict Management, focusing on ethno-religious conflicts and nationalism, especially the complex legacy of the Northern Irish Troubles which he witnessed firsthand during a semester study abroad in Belfast. In Bologna, he was a Peer Editor for his ESL classmates, helping them with their English compositions, and the following summer, he interned in Romania, translating and editing political analysis briefs. He loves languages, cooking and traveling, and is always planning his next adventure. Someday, he’ll finish his novel.

Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @daviswillc

Mary Leah Milnes

Copy Editor


Bianca Idas

Digital Editor

Bianca is a first year MA student at SAIS Europe focusing on Europe and Eurasian studies. She spent the last two years teaching English in Novosibirsk, Russia, Astana, Kazakhstan, and cycle touring through Eastern Europe.  Prior to living in Russia, she worked on many different environmental initiatives/technological projects. Bianca was part of the computer/design club at Florida State University, worked as a web developer while living in Tallahassee, and was a coordinator for HackFSU, a hackathon with over 200 participants competing and building software and hardware hacks from scratch.  She chose to live in Russia and Kazakhstan for her thirst to learn more about different cultures, languages, and way of life. Her hobbies include creating with Adobe Suite, traveling, cycling, fresh veggies, and making the world a better place.

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Atif Jalal Ahmad

Social Media Editor

Atif is a first-year M.A. Student majoring in Strategic Studies with a minor in South Asia Studies. Atif completed his undergraduate studies from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. Atif has interned at the Wilson Center’s Asia Program and has authored articles on South Asian affairs in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest etc. He has managed social media accounts for his college Model United Nations team, think tank accounts and much more. Social media and all things South Asia are his passion and is always open to learning more about both.

An avid Real Madrid and Green Bay Packers fan, Atif enjoys watching sports, learning more about recent social media trends, trying new foods and travelling. Atif is very excited to be a part of the SAIS Observer Team and hopes to enrich every SAISers experience.

Follow him on Twitter @AtifJAhmad.



Jonathan Wilkinson

Bologna Bureau Chief

Jonathan is first-year MA student at SAIS Europe, concentrating in Conflict Management. He is from Vancouver, Canada and completed his undergraduate degree in International Relations at the University of Toronto. Prior to matriculating at SAIS he worked at a Canadian mission overseas and at a think-tank in Vancouver. At the University of Toronto he was a comment contributor at The Varsity, the university’s student newspaper.


Taylor Jackson

Bologna Opinion Editor

Taylor is a first-year MA student at SAIS Europe, focusing on International Political Economy and American Foreign Policy. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, he completed an undergraduate and masters degree in Political Science at Simon Fraser University. Taylor has spent the last four years working in Canadian public policy both at a leading Canadian think-tank and through his public policy consulting company. During this time, his research spanned a number of areas, including: Canadian-American relations; energy and resource development; taxation; demographic change; entrepreneurship; healthcare; and democratic reform. Taylor’s previous background in media includes appearances in broadcast, radio, and print. He has authored or coauthored almost 50 op-eds, that have appeared in The Washington Times, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and Maclean’s, and his research has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, as well as other international media outlets. In his spare time, Taylor enjoys travelling with his wife, reading, and of course being Canadian, watching a lot of hockey.


Olivia Magnanini

News Editor/Deputy Bureau Chief

Olivia Magnanini is a first year MA student at SAIS, concentrating in Latin American Studies and American Foreign Policy. Originally from New Jersey, USA, she has lived for the last three and a half years in New York City while working for CrossKnowledge, a digital learning company owned by the publisher John Wiley & Sons. Working as an international project manager in the Latin America and US markets, the last year she has worked as the pre-sales consultant for the US. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in History and Spanish literature, with a minor in European Studies. She spent her semester abroad the Universidad de Complutense in Madrid and worked two summers as a tour guide in Santoña, Spain. During her time as a Badger, she was Editor-in-Chief of the campus music magazine, Emmie, member of the Wisconsin Union Publications Board, and frequent contributor to other publications on campus. In her spare time, she loves reading & writing, seeing live music, traveling, and yoga.



Amy Bodner

Nanjing Bureau Chief

Amy Bodner is a first-year student at the SAIS Hopkins-Nanjing Center, pursuing a Master’s of International Studies with an emphasis in International Politics. She hails from Reno, Nevada and studied Chinese and Economics at the University of Puget Sound. As an study abroad student, she studied Chinese history in the home of the terracotta warriors, Xi’an, China, and later focused on finance in China’s economic epicenter, Shanghai. While there, Amy interned at the cloud computing company ChinaSoft International, where she learned that in China it is acceptable to nap on your desk after lunch. Upon graduation, Amy participated in the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in Dalian, China before heading to southern China to teach at the historic Hwa Nan Women’s College as University of Puget Sound’s cultural ambassador. Most recently, she completed a Fulbright grant in Taitung, Taiwan. Here she taught English and International Studies at an aboriginal school with just 17 students, where she learned cool party tricks like how to sing Amis language folksongs and spear-hunt fish from the ocean.

Her hobbies including hiking, reading philosophy, and arguing about politics with her right-wing family.

Instagram: amybo4444


Christine Wang

Managing Editor

Christine is a Chinese and American Studies Certificate student at HNC, focusing on studies in Environment, Resource, and Energy. She is originally from the Indianapolis area and attended Yale University, where she majored in History. As an undergraduate, she studied Mandarin abroad as a Light fellow at the Harbin Institute of Technology. She has previously served as senior editor for the Yale Historical Review, community outreach intern for the Nature Conservancy, and research intern for an upcoming book on the history of Yale and Minnesota. In her free time, Christine enjoys drawing (badly), singing and piano (less badly), playing video games, calligraphy, and birding.


Randall Telfer

Managing Editor

Randall Telfer is a first-year student in the Certificate/MA program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and JHU SAIS. Originally from Connecticut, Randall graduated from Hamilton College with concentrations in Chinese language and World Politics. Shortly after graduation, he interned at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Having studied abroad in Beijing, China during high school and college, he spent two years in Wuhan working as an education consultant. From there, he moved to Boston, MA, where he served as an editor at Cheng & Tsui Company, a publisher of Asian language learning textbooks, including the Integrated Chinese series. During his three-year tenure at Cheng & Tsui, Randall primarily focused on editing advanced Chinese textbooks, such as Reading Into a New China. In both Boston and Wuhan, he studied the basics of Wing Chun under first- and second-generation students of Bruce Lee’s beloved teacher, Master Ip Man. In his spare time, Randall works on his repertoire of obscure voice impressions.