2016 SPI Participants [J-P]

2016 SPI Participants [J-P]

Alphabetical by last name.

 Go to: [A-H] [J-P] [R-W]


Debbie JohnsonDebbie Johnson

Twitter: @DrDebJohnson

My name is Debbie Johnson. I am a student in the Social Work program at OU-Tulsa, returning to school to relaunch a second career after raising children. My husband and I are psychologists, met during graduate school and have 3 children. In my previous career, I did consulting work with for-profit, non-profit and government agencies. I focused on workplace issues related to women such as women-friendly workplaces, diversity, and sexual harassment, in addition to traditional I/O psychology. As I am reentering the workplace, I am interested in focusing more on policy issues and mental health.


Samantha JohnsonSamantha Johnson

Twitter: sam_jam12

My name is Samantha Johnson and I grew up around Henryetta, Oklahoma. I earned my B.S. in Human Development and Family Science from Oklahoma State University in 2014. After taking a gap year to work and live in Washington, D.C., I decided to pursue a Masters in Human Development and Family Science from OSU and focus my interest on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the policies that impact their lives. I am currently working as a research assistant on the Oklahoma National Core Indicators project where we go into homes of people with disabilities and ask about the services and supports Oklahoma provides.


Melanie KodaseetMelanie Kodaseet

Hi, my name is Melanie Kodaseet. I am 20 years old and a current Junior at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.  I am an Economics Major with an emphasis in Business. I am from a small rural town in western Oklahoma named Geary. I am the youngest of four and my parents are Mike and Katie Kodaseet.  I am thrilled to be able to attend this year’s institute and am looking forward to meeting everyone.


Lorie Lashway-GrantLorie Lashway-Grant

Hi.  My name is Lorie Lashway-Grant.  I am a recent BASW graduate of the OU School of Social work, and I am currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree.  I am also United States Marine Corps veteran. I have great interest in policy, especially regarding the population of people without homes.  I feel it is extremely important to advocate for ourselves and others.  By attending the Summer Policy Institute, I feel I will be better equipped to do so. I am so excited to attend and I look forward to meeting others who are interested in policy and change!


Amanda LoweAmanda Lowe

Twitter: @stitchwitch918

Amanda Lowe is a Junior at Oklahoma State University’s Tulsa Campus majoring in Elementary Education. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she plans to move on to University of Oklahoma-Tulsa to complete a Masters in Library Sciences with a Women and Gender Studies Certificate. Amanda has always been involved in her community, serving as a Member of Catoosa Public Schools Board of Education in 2006, participating in Special Olympics, and volunteering at the Denis R. Neill Equality Center. She is also a birth doula and is an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood. When Amanda has spare time she enjoys spending time with her partner Molly and their 2 cats Nigel and Gertrude, talking about fancy cheese and working on her small hand embroidery business.


Megan LowryMegan Lowry

Twitter: @meglowry_USMC

Former Marine, Chef, Event Planner / Director, Producer, Advocate, and College Student. I have lead a well rounded life thus far and am just getting started. I love trying new things, learning, researching, and motivating others. I’m the President of the Student Veterans Association and Vice President of the Native American Student Alliance at TCC and will be start my bachelors program at TU in the fall. As a sociology major I plan on becoming an LCSW specializing in marriage and family and crisis intervention. Fun fact: while in the Marines I did security for President George W. Bush and traveled all over the world.


Cierra MaddoxCierra Maddox

My name is Cierra Maddox. I am from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I attained my A.A.S. degree from OSU-OKC in 2009. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Central Oklahoma with my B.A. in Political Science-Public Administration in 2012. I am a current Graduate Student at UCO and I will be attaining my Master of Public Administration degree with Honors this summer. I worked as a Graduate Student Teaching Assistant at UCO in the Political Science Department and taught American National Government courses. I look forward to attending the 2016 Summer Policy Institute and I am grateful for this opportunity.



Sinead MaguinaSinead Maguina

Twitter: @sineadsmaguina

Sinead was born in Huaraz, Peru, but was raised most of her life in Oklahoma. Since a young age, she had a passion for female leadership and aiding people whom could not help themselves. This led to her being involved in various organizations on campus and in the community, as she is very excited to soon become the President of the United Nations Association of Oklahoma City in August. She is currently a Junior at the University of Central Oklahoma pursuing two degrees in the fields of Criminal Justice and Political Science with two minors in Public Administration and Pre-Law Education. She plans to continue her studies after college at the Oklahoma City University School of law pursing a Juris Doctorate degree. With all of this knowledge and experience, she aims to be a Field Agent for the FBI working in either the Criminal Investigative Division or the Counter Terrorism Division. Her goal is to create a pathway for young girls to have a dominant role of leadership on a federal-governmental level, which is why she aspires to be the first female Director of the FBI.


Brigette MangrumBrigette Mangrum

Twitter: @Mrs_Mangrum.

My name is Brigette Mangrum and I am a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am a graduate of Tulsa Public Schools and went on to complete my Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Master of Education in Reading from Northeastern State University. I have worked with youth for many years through both Girl Scouts of Northeastern Oklahoma and my work as a teacher and then a Reading Interventionist with Tulsa Public Schools. I am passionate about literacy and using literacy instruction to empower students and their families.



Bárbara Marinho LacerdaBárbara Marinho Lacerda

Twitter: @BabiLacerda

My name is Bárbara Marinho Lacerda and I am originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I am (almost) 22 and I just graduated this May from the University of Central Oklahoma with a BA in Political Science and minors in Pre-Law, International Relations and Global Studies. As an international student, I moved to this country on my own and plan on going to Law School after my OPT year, with the ultimate goal of becoming and Environmental Lawyer. As weird as this sounds, I loved going to class and learning, and always made sure that was my main focus in the U.S., while also balancing my (indispensable) social life and campus involvement (ROLLCHOS!). 



Nitesh MathurNitesh Mathur

Hello, my name is Nitesh Mathur.  I was born in India and immigrated to United States at the age of 10.  I have lived here ever since, graduating from Union High School.  Currently, I am a sophomore at the University of Tulsa and am majoring in mathematics with a double minor in computer science and music.  In addition, I am in the Honors College, which has kept my philosophical and political side intact.  I am deeply interested in education and immigration policies and am looking forward to further understand the political processes at SPI.  Some of my other hobbies include reading, playing the violin, doing community service and leadership, gardening, and following sports.



Melanie McCallisterMelanie McCallister

Hello! My name is Melanie. I was born in Oklahoma and I am currently studying International Community Development at Oral Roberts University. I am a coordinator at an outreach program here in Tulsa. Hundreds serve the city of Tulsa every second Saturday of the month, and I love being a part of that. I am also the outreach coordinator for Christians United for Israel on ORU’s campus. I have a passion to help others, and want to do so on many levels. After I graduate in the Spring next year, I will be joining the Peace Corps for two years. Afterwards, I will be seeking my masters abroad in International Political Economy. I have always known I would get into the political realm at some point of my life, and I believe this is the first stepping stone. So thanks SPI for making that happen!


Deja MitchellDeja Mitchell

My name is Deja Mitchell and I am from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Pre-Law emphasis and Sociology minor, in addition to a Master of Public Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma. I recently worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and completed a Research Assistantship that analyzed the housing and employment concerns of homeless foster youth in Oklahoma. My interests related to public policy are criminal justice reform, public sector leadership, and diversity. My ultimate career goals are to attend law school and secure a position in criminal law field.


Steve NealSteve Neal

Twitter: @SeabeeSteve87

A junior at The University of Tulsa, he is pursuing a B.S.B.A in Management Information Systems with minors in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Healthcare Informatics. Steve is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Navy after spending almost 25 years on active duty. Throughout his career, he has consistently been recognized as an “exceptional mentor/team builder”, and “a real leader and a true professional.” His most recent employer describes him as a “rock solid performer and a highly effective and talented leader” and that he is “EXACTLY the kind of person you want on your team leading others and driving them to success,” closing with “I’d go out of my way to work with him again in the future!” Steve is a proud member of the TU chapters of Student Veterans of America, Information Technologists United (iTU), the TU NOVA Fellowship, and was elected the Parliamentarian for the TU chapter of the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (OIL) after serving one session as a member of the OIL House of Representatives. He is also pursuing certifications as a Certified Cisco Entry Network Technician (CCENT) and Security+ through extracurricular programs.


Courtnye NeiceCourtnye Neice

Twitter: @courtbayybayy

My name is Courtnye Michelle Neice and I am from Adair, Oklahoma. I am an only child and live with my parents, Ralph and Ella. I have an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education and I am currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Speech Language Pathology at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I plan on furthering my education to have a final result of a Doctorate of Audiology and a Clinical Research Doctorate of Speech Language Pathology. I currently serve as an officer for our student organization and I volunteer at a local elementary school frequently.


Erik NickelsErik Nickels

Twitter: @ErikNickels

My name is Erik Nickels, and I am from Newcastle, Oklahoma. Next fall I will begin my junior year at The University of Oklahoma, where I am majoring in Accounting. Last semester I discovered I have a passion for the law, so I added minors in Constitutional Studies and Political Science and plan to attend Law School after graduation. I’m very excited to attend the Summer Policy Institute because I believe Millennials have a crucial role to play in the political process, and the Institute is a great opportunity to learn how we can make a difference in our state.


Julie NolanJulie Nolan

I grew up in a small beach community just south of San Diego County, California.  I have a twin sister, Jennifer, who still lives in the area with my mother Laura.  My father, John, lives here in Oklahoma City with his wife, Rebecca.  My parents divorced when I was eleven, after a rough year of being homeless after our home was foreclosed.  We spent many months with friends of my parents until they were able to obtain an apartment for us.  Soon after that my father moved to Stillwater Oklahoma in an effort to get his life back on a healthy track.  He and my mother had developed not only an unhealthy relationship with each other, but with methamphetamines as well over the years and it took a toll on every other aspect of our lives.  When I got older I decided to move out of California and joined a friend of mine in Kansas City, Missouri for a change of scenery.  I lived there for several years before I decided to join my father in Oklahoma.  We had maintained a strong relationship through his physical absence, and I knew I wanted to go back to college.  Since I decided a college degree was in my future, I’ve wanted to work for people.  The will to serve is something I was born with and I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world.  When I found my way to the University of Oklahoma’s school of Social Work I was determined to be a change agent for the way we treat illegal substances and the people who use them.  The unjust use of prison as rehabilitation is more harmful to our communities than the presence of drugs and addictive substances themselves.  Non-violent offenders spending years, if not lifetimes, in prison cells for drug crimes, or being forced into non-evidence based recovery programs is a drain on our system and our people.  I hope to elicit a change in laws within Oklahoma and, one day, the entire country.


David OakleyDavid Oakley

I am a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, studying Political Science with an emphasis on political behavior and youth politics. My interest in politics stems mostly from my interest in studying how people think and how they pursue what they want. Policy is an integral part of the political process, so I’m always looking for opportunities to broaden my knowledge of policy. My eventual goal is to get my full PHD and go work in the political arena in polling, and then eventually get a job as a professor.


Kenneth PalmerKenneth Palmer 

Hello, all! My name is Kenneth Palmer, and I’m a rising sophomore at Harvard University. I’m a Kansas native, and I’m spending my summer in my hometown of Lawrence working for a non-profit called Kansas Appleseed. My focus at Appleseed is criminal and juvenile justice, and I’ve been doing community organizing and advocacy work toward improving the criminal justice system in my state! I’m undecided about my major, but I’ve considered fields like History, Government, Social Studies, History and Literature, and English. My policy interests are diverse, but I’m most drawn to work around international politics and diplomacy, hopefully doing work in or pertaining to Russia and Eurasia and navigating the complex relationship between politics and human rights in those parts of the world.


Lydia PearsonLydia Pearson

My name is Lydia Pearson and I am a Master of Social Work student at the University of Oklahoma. I was born and raised in East Africa, moved to Arkansas for university, and migrated to Oklahoma to work on my Masters. I worked in Child Protective Services in Arkansas for two years and have been running a community center at a public housing apartment complex for the past three years. I love my job as a social worker and would like to continue working with low-income families and advocate for positive change for them as well as in the criminal justice system.


Abigail PetersAbigail Peters

Hello, I am Abigail Peters from Adair Oklahoma and a Junior at Rogers State University. I am majoring in Public Administration with a minor in History. I am spending this Fall in Washington D.C. as a member of The Washington Center Internship Program. My ambitions are to attain a master’s in Public Administration and enter in the either the non-profit or public sector. I applied to the SPI because I know that I have much to learn to be the kind of leader I hope to be one day and SPI is another step to becoming that person. *mic drop*


Jourdan PittmanJourdan Pittman

Hello there, I will be starting graduate school for Public Administration Spring 2017. I was born and raised in Tulsa and recently moved to the Oklahoma City metro area after graduating with an associate’s degree in political science from Tulsa Community College. I transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. I’ve been passionate about politics, policy, and the horse race, since I was in the eighth grade. I have a feisty West Highland Terrier, Jax. I enjoy reading articles, binging anime, reading Tom Wolfe books and Japanese comics. I’m also a self-proclaimed Hip-Hop Historian who specializes in the 1990s.


Go to: [A-H] [J-P] [R-W]