WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced the appointment of the 2015-2016 class of White House Fellows. The Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, and varied professions, and have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service and leadership. The 2015-2016 class of Fellows and their biographies are included below.
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 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 their year in Washington, D.C.
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 of the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields, including government, business, law, media, medicine, education, diplomacy, and the military. Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at www.whitehouse.gov/fellows.
2015-2016 Class of White House Fellows:
- Spencer Abbot, Yorktown, VA, is a Commander in the United States Navy. He recently served as Commanding Officer of Strike-Fighter Squadron 27 in Atsugi, Japan. The squadron was recognized with the “Battle E” award as the top FA-18E/F squadron in the Pacific Fleet for 2014. He established the first afloat foreign language program for a carrier air wing, and organized a partnership with a Japanese elementary school. In 2001 and 2003, he flew combat missions at the outsets of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. He then studied Spanish at the Defense Language Institute, and worked as a volunteer diver at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He later served as an EF-18 Hornet exchange pilot with the Spanish Air Force. He received the 2008 Exceptional Pilot Award from among all Navy pilots after combat operations in Iraq. He worked in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and coordinated with the Japanese government from U.S. Embassy Tokyo following the 2011 tsunami. Author of a number of published articles, he served as Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy, holds a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School, and an Executive M.B.A., taken in Spanish, from Instituto de Empresa in Madrid.
Teeb Al-Samarrai, Oakland, CA, is a physician and epidemiologist who served as Deputy Health Officer and Tuberculosis Controller at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in California. Her work focused on immigrant and refugee health issues, particularly tuberculosis and hepatitis B. Prior to this, Teeb served as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She’s worked internationally in diverse settings and in 2010, participated in CDC’s emergency response to the Haiti earthquake. She completed her internal medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she partnered with a local NGO, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, to establish a multidisciplinary, patient-centered refugee clinic. For this work, she was recognized with the Fred L. Sachs Award and Chief Residents’ Service Award. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at national meetings, and cited in the New York Times. Teeb served on the California Tuberculosis Controllers Association Executive Committee and the TEDMED Editorial Advisory Board. She graduated as a Regents and Alumni Scholar from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She received her M.D. and an M.S. in Neuroscience from Yale University.
Andrew Anderson, Douglas, WY, is a Major in the U.S. Air Force. He recently served as the program director for a classified Department of Defense system that supported operations of highest national priority. Previously, Andrew was a Flight Test Engineer for the Air Force Test Center, where he led a team testing combat enhancements to Air Force bomber aircraft. In this role, Andrew was also the Chief Test Director for the recent X-51A hypersonic air vehicle program and led execution for this joint DoD-NASA effort that achieved a record-breaking final flight at Mach 5. In 2008, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and fielded specialized electronic jamming equipment to roadside bomb disposal teams throughout Northern Iraq, earning the Bronze Star. Andrew received a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy as a distinguished graduate, and earned M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. His volunteer work has included service with homeless outreach programs in the Washington, DC area, and as a mentor, math teacher and leadership seminar facilitator for inner-city middle school students with the Higher Achievement program.
Alexander Billioux, Simpsonville, SC, is an internist focused on primary care and improving health care delivery globally. He served as Assistant Chief of the Osler Medical Service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he trained and mentored more than 140 internal medicine residents while treating patients in East Baltimore. He served as Co-Chair of the Department of Medicine’s High Value Care Committee, through which he led system-wide interventions to promote high value medical care. This included developing an innovative behavior change intervention aimed at reducing wasteful and potentially harmful medical practices, which the Society of Hospital Medicine recently adopted. Alex’s prior work and research has focused internationally on diseases of poverty such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in India, Guatemala, Haiti, and South Africa. As an Afya Bora Fellow in Global Health Leadership, he spent a year developing a public-private partnership to improve tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment in rural Uganda, and ran a clinical trial to improve tuberculosis management at rural health centers. He is a Marshall and Goldwater Scholar who received an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University, a D.Phil. in clinical medicine from the University of Oxford, and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.
Sara Bleich, Baltimore, MD, worked as an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She was responsible for leading research teams, speaking nationally and internationally, teaching, and advising students. Sara has published more than 75 papers in top journals of public health and medicine and is widely known for her research on obesity prevention. Prior to Hopkins, Sara worked as a Research Associate at the RAND Corporation and The Measurement Group. Sara has received several awards: “most outstanding abstract” at the International Conference on Obesity, “best research manuscript” in the journal Obesity, and first prize for “excellence in public interest communication” from the Frank Public Interest Conference. Sara is the recipient of several competitive grant awards: a Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and multiple Healthy Eating Research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Sara is a Board Member at Garrison Forest School, an independent girls’ school. Sara volunteers for the Baltimore Education Scholarship Trust by speaking to donors to raise funds for low-income, minority students to attend independent school. Sara received a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University.
Naomi Dennis, Houston, TX, is a Major in the United States Air Force and most recently served as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate to the Commander of the Air Force Expeditionary Center. Having served as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, Naomi has frequently lectured on advanced trial advocacy and used her experience in sexual assault litigation to create an interactive training module for Air Force senior leaders on how to manage sexual assault allegations from trauma to trial. During her deployment to Baghdad, her work in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq led to the successful prosecution of several high value targets. In 2010, she was named the American Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Military Lawyer of the Year. Naomi also co-founded Pink Isn’t Always Pretty, a 501c(3) non-profit grassroots organization promoting breast health and awareness among young women of color. She served as PIAP’s Executive Director from 2009-2013. Naomi received her B.A. from Howard University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law where she was appointed to the National Order of Barristers. Prior to her appointment as a Fellow, Naomi was selected to serve as a judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.
Shereef Elnahal, Baltimore, MD, is taking a leave from residency in Radiation Oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has authored over a dozen publications on health care quality, operations management, and patient safety. Shereef co-developed a published methodology that doubled clinic efficiency in the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Multidisciplinary Clinic, cutting patient wait times by half. As an operations consultant for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Pittsburgh VA hospitals, he expanded on this work to improve care access for veterans and active duty servicemembers. He was a Fellow in the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and served as Chair of the House Staff Patient Safety and Quality Council at Hopkins. Shereef served on advisory boards for two firms focused on patient education and clinical operations. He also co-founded the Baltimore chapter of The Triple Helix, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that publishes an internationally-circulated journal on science in society. His civic contributions earned him the 2015 National Quality Scholar Award from the American College of Medical Quality. Shereef received a dual-degree M.D. and M.B.A. with Distinction from Harvard University, where he was President of the Harvard Longwood Muslim association. He also graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.
September Hargrove, New Orleans, LA, served as Chief Operating Officer of the PowerMoves. NOLA Initiative at the New Orleans Startup Fund, where she led a national effort to address the lack of racial diversity in tech entrepreneurship and provide access to venture capital for high-growth entrepreneurs of color. Her efforts have supported nearly 90 startups collectively raise over $17 million. In 2014, she was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in tech and entrepreneurship throughout Louisiana. Prior to this, September was the Economic Development Policy & Program Manager for Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, LA. Her work focused on creating an economic opportunity agenda and the development of the City’s Reentry Workforce Strategy for ex-offenders. September began her career as a gubernatorial appointee and legislative specialist in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Administration. She is an alumnus of the California Senate Fellowship and Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) programs. September has served on the boards of the Young Leadership Council, New Orleans Women’s Shelter, New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute, and the Sacramento County Children’s Coalition. She holds a Master in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Corey Harrison, Browns Mills, NJ, was the Corporate Strategy Executive at iCIMS, a leading talent acquisition software company. At iCIMS, Corey drove the development and execution of corporate strategy and evaluated merger and acquisition opportunities. Before joining iCIMS, Corey was an Associate Director at UBS Investment Bank where he advised private equity general partners on raising institutional capital. Corey began his career in information technology and operations, first as an Analyst in the Johnson & Johnson Information Management Leadership Development Program, in which he received the highest performance rating and finished at the top of his class worldwide, and later as a Six Sigma Black Belt for AIG and the Tata Group. Concurrent with his professional and academic endeavors, Corey has held several community leadership roles and has spent fifteen years mentoring and training thousands of young professionals on leadership and entrepreneurship. Corey received an M.B.A. from Yale University, where he was awarded the Mendillo-Earle Scholarship and fellowships from the Robert Toigo Foundation, Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management, and Goldman Sachs. Corey received a B.S. in Business and Economics from Lehigh University and an M.S. in Leadership and Information Technology from Duquesne University.
La’Shanda Holmes, Fayetteville, NC, is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard and is the Coast Guard’s first African-American female helicopter pilot. After growing up in the foster care system, she put herself through college, became a pilot, and amassed over 1,500 flight hours conducting search and rescue, counter drug, and law enforcement missions. She was previously stationed at Air Station Atlantic City as an Aircraft Commander and managed over 6,800 flight hours for the Coast Guard’s largest MH-65 helicopter unit. She deployed five times to Washington, DC, as a Rotary Wing Air Intercept pilot where she supervised an 18-member team and sustained two strip alert aircraft to defend the President and the Nation’s capital in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Her honors include the 2014 Blacks in Government award, selection as one of Grio’s Top 100 History Makers, and a nomination for an NAACP award for her work on The Smithsonian’s “Black Wings” documentary. She is a Bonner Scholar, graduated Spelman College with a degree in psychology, and is a graduate student at Oklahoma University. She sits on the board of directors of two non-profits that enrich youth through aviation: Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum and Girls Fly!
Rayden Llano, Miami, FL, was Program Director of Health Policy and Economics at LSE Enterprise, where he worked with public institutions on health policy issues and conducted healthcare research. Previously, he worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Rwanda and as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Asia, where he developed a tuberculosis and migration framework providing policy guidance to WHO member states. As a Luce Scholar at the University of Tokyo, he was the lead author of a study published in The Lancet and helped secure funding for the establishment of a global health committee within the Japanese parliament that has been chaired by two former prime ministers. Collectively, he has worked on healthcare issues in the U.S., Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. He is an advisor to the president of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and mentors Hispanic high school and college students. A Marshall Scholar, he received an M.P.P. from the University of Cambridge, an M.Sc. in International Health Policy and Health Economics from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University.
Jennifer Macdonald, St. Cloud, MN, is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a Family Medicine physician at UCLA. She served 11 years in the Minnesota Army National Guard and completed a tour abroad, during which she volunteered as a medical provider in addition to her primary duties as a musician. She completed morale missions to remote bases as a keyboardist and traveled as a solo vocalist to high profile international Transition of Authority ceremonies, performing the American and Iraqi national anthems as territories of Iraq were relinquished from American back to Iraqi authority. She participated in humanitarian aid missions to benefit disabled children of Basra, Iraq, and was awarded a U.S. Army Bronze Star for her collective efforts. She is committed to care of the underserved, and toward this end, co-led a humanitarian mission to East Africa and co-founded an NGO during her undergraduate years at the College of St. Benedict, served as a class representative and free clinic volunteer during her time at the University of Minnesota Medical School, engaged in multiple patient outreach and quality initiatives with the UCLA Family Medicine Residency Program, served on the California Academy of Family Physicians Resident Council, and established a lasting connection between her institution and the West Los Angeles VA Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team. A rich family life with her husband and two young children balances her professional aspirations.
Erik Malmstrom, West Hartford, CT, was a Business Development Manager for Cargill Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain Mideast and Africa at Cargill, Inc., a leading multinational agribusiness. He was responsible for sourcing, analyzing, and managing investment opportunities across Africa, including his business unit’s largest ever acquisition of an oilseed crush plant in Zambia. Prior to Cargill, he served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, graduating from Army Ranger and Airborne Schools and earning the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding combat service as a rifle platoon leader in northeastern Afghanistan. Subsequently, he worked as an impact investor, strategy consultant, and independent researcher in Afghanistan, Egypt, Haiti, and other transitional economies before co-founding CrossBoundary LLC, an investment advisory firm dedicated to unlocking the power of capital to make strong returns and lasting impact in frontier markets. He has been a contributing writer to the New York Times, term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, and co-president of Harvard Alumni for Agriculture. He received a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and a joint M.B.A. and M.P.P. from Harvard Business and Kennedy Schools, and was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Makerere University in Uganda.
Rei Onishi, Citrus Heights, CA, was a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. He was responsible for defending the constitutionality of California’s laws, and helped craft and implement the legal strategy to defend California’s 2012 public pension reforms. He also played a leading role in developing and implementing the Department’s agenda to fight transnational organized crime, and served as an adviser to the Department’s Bureau of Children’s Justice. Before joining the Department, Rei clerked on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, worked on justice sector reform in West Africa, taught in Japan through the JET Program, co-authored travel books, and was a California Senate Fellow. As President of the Buck Scholars Association, Rei co-founded the Buck Fellows Program, a mentoring and scholarship program for low-income high school students whose parents never graduated from college. He also served on the Board of Directors of Wu Yee Children’s Services and the American Constitution Society Bay Area Lawyer Chapter. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa/magna cum laude from Harvard and received his M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government and J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on the Harvard Law Review and a Chayes International Public Service Fellow.
Maxeme Tuchman, Miami, FL, served as the Executive Director of Teach For America Miami-Dade and was responsible for overseeing daily regional operations for 26 staff members and cultivating $6M of private and public support in service of over 500 current teachers and alums. Prior to that, she served in Mayor Bloomberg’s bullpen managing the NYC Waterfalls, a public art installation that generated $69 million in economic activity. She also co-created the NYC Civic Corps, an AmeriCorps VISTA program that in its first three years had 448 participants hosted by 97 organizations that then were able to utilize 1.7 million new volunteers. Her commitment to educational equity began as a Teach For America corps member, teaching 480 high school students in inner-city Miami, and has led to working on educational innovation projects with organizations such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, DC Public Schools, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is a graduate of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and the Miami Fellows Leadership Program. Maxeme received her B.A. from New College of Florida and holds an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
Kamillah Wood, Washington, DC, served as the Associate Medical Director of Mobile Health Programs at Children’s National Health System, providing comprehensive medical care to underserved children in the Anacostia region of Washington, DC. In addition to providing direct clinical and wraparound services, she created an educational program for parents and families called the Legislative Educational Advocacy Program (LEAP), which helped to inform local community members about current policy issues, the legislative process and the importance of civic engagement. Prior to this position, Kamillah completed a fellowship in health policy and health disparities as a Mongan Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy where she also obtained an M.P.H. from the Harvard University School of Public Health. In addition to her fellowship training, Kamillah completed her pediatrics residency at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was selected to be a Chief Resident. In this leadership role, she worked on several hospital-wide committees to address issues from emergency preparedness to implementation of an inpatient electronic health record. She received her M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, and graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Howard University.