2017 SPI Participants [A-G]

2017 SPI Participants [A-G]

Alphabetical by last name. 

Go to: [A-G] [H-N] [O-Z] [2017 SPI Homepage]

 Sophia Babb

Twitter: @soulofthegarden

Sophia Babb is a journalist, songwriter, and student who weaves the stories of Oklahoma into her work. At the OCMA and SPJ contests, Sophia won “Student Journalist of the Year” and “Best Newspaper” during her year as editor at The Pioneer. Sophia graduated with an associate degree in broadcast journalism in May 2017, and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma City University in mass communications. When she’s not working or studying, she travels the country with her band, Annie Oakley.


Natalie Bergstrasser

Natalie Bergstrasser is the Independent Living Coordinator at Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care, serving women who have aged out of the foster care system. She also works as an independently contracted speaker on the topics of higher education and advocacy for current and former foster youth. Natalie is a proud alumni of the University of Central Oklahoma and is currently obtaining a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. Natalie and her husband, Michael, love exploring new cities, hosting events, and trying new restaurants as self-proclaimed, “foodies.”

Tyrance Billingsley

My name is Tyrance Billingsley. I am a Tulsa native currently serving as President of the Oklahoma Student Government Association as well as an intern at the Mayors Office. I recently graduated from Tulsa Community College with an associates in Political Science. My ambitions are to be both and entrepreneur as well as an elected official with intimate knowledge of policy and the mechanics of society. I recently served as Chairman of the Student Advisory board for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education which was my first real exposure to state policy and politics. I hope to expand on this experience here at the summer policy institute and learn as much as I can!





Ashley Billups

A junior at OSU, I am beginning my first semester in Political Science after switching from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I am a member of the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature, and have the honor of serving as the Speaker of the House this upcoming school year. I work at the State Senate as the soundboard operator and spent this past session as the receptionist for President Pro Tempore Schulz. I am actively involved in my local party, as vice chair of my voting precinct and secretary of House District 88! This summer I dedicated my time to a Senate Special Election and am excited to see what other opportunities await in the future! 


Emilee Bounds

Twitter: @EmileeBokc

Emilee Bounds is a doctoral student in Health, Leisure, and Human Performance at Oklahoma State University, where her primary research interests include exercise policy and health behavior and their impact on both society and the economy. In addition to her studies, Emilee is a Youth Director at Mayflower UCC and aspiring community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, currently serving as a leader with VOICE OKC. Emilee is a former collegiate athlete, and in her spare time she enjoys playing golf, exploring the outdoors, listening to live music, and drinking good coffee. Emilee lives with her wife, Haleigh and fur babies in rural Logan County.

Jordan Broiles

Twitter: @jbroiles_

Jordan Broiles is a 21-year-old Junior currently attending the University of Central Oklahoma, pursuing a degree in Strategic Communications with a minor in Philosophy. He is the President of the Diversity Round Table in UCO’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. He has held several leadership positions on his campus, such as the Director of Education for the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., University of Central Oklahoma Leadership Academy, and President of the Black Student Association. In the Fall of 2016, Jordan spearheaded a project to expand representations of black history across the UCO campus by renaming a room in the Nigh University Center after the great Civil Rights activist Clara Luper.


Mikael Bryant

Mikael Bryant, native of Enid, Oklahoma, received his Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2017. While in law school, Mikael worked as a law clerk in firms specializing in civil actions, civil rights, and for a District Judge. His work at the Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR – Oklahoma Chapter, led him to becoming active in the policy interests of the Oklahoma Muslim Community, and he joined the Board of CAIR Oklahoma in January of 2017. He married Rawan Al-Arab in Beirut, Lebanon in January of 2016. He is obsessed with Kendrick Lamar and speaks Arabic.



Sofia Carbone

I am an Argentine native with a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Psychology and Spanish. Conducting HIV research and working as a case manager in Tulsa after graduation motivated me to improve the sexual and reproductive health of vulnerable populations in Oklahoma and throughout the world. This drive led me to pursue a Master’s in Public Health at Brown University with an emphasis in global health. Through the Summer Policy Institute, I wish to fill my knowledge gap regarding policy and legislation to become better equipped to tackle the health disparities that exist throughout diverse communities. 


Ofelia Chavoya

Hello everyone!

My name is Ofelia Chavoya but everyone calls my Ofy. I am a senior at Rogers State University, majoring in Public Administration and double-minoring in Business Administration and Non-Profit Administration. My ultimate goal has always been to become an attorney for international non-profits that focus on women’s rights and children’s rights in third world countries; however, after our recent events in Oklahoma and seeing how poor our children are being mistreated through our lack of funds for their education and for their foster care systems, I want to see how I can help through the information I will obtain through SPI and the connections that I will be able to make!

Eugenia Chow

My name is Eugenia Chow. I am a west coast native, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. In 2014, I graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with dual degrees in economics and sociology. I relocated to Tulsa, OK shortly afterward and served two AmeriCorps terms with City Year and Reading Partners in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Currently, I am an MPA candidate at OU Tulsa and I work at A New Leaf in Broken Arrow. In my downtime, you can find me painting, reading, hiking or running.



Conner Coles

I was born in Oklahoma City, and I have resided there ever since. I attended Casady School, graduating in May of 2016. Upon graduation, I decided to join the Boston College class of 2020, majoring in political science. Outside of my studies, I work as an editor for the political science journal of Boston College, compete as a member of the policy debate team, and work within the College Democrats of Massachusetts. My favorite hobbies include playing golf, talking New England Patriots football and Thunder basketball, and conversing about policy.

Tyler Dang

My name is Tyler Dang. I am currently pursuing an accelerated Masters of Public Administration with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics at the University of Oklahoma. As a native Oklahoman, I aim to one day give back to my local community. In the future, I hope to either work for a nonprofit or think tank that advocates for responsible policy that benefits all. I am also an avid Sooner and Thunder fan, and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming season has in store! I’m looking forward to the Summer Policy Institute!



Kyle DeBoy

Kyle DeBoy is a former High School Math Teacher with Tulsa Public schools. He is now following his passion to pursue a career in medicine and is currently applying for medical school.  Kyle received his Bachelor’s in Biology from the University at Buffalo. As an Agroforestry Extension Agent with the US Peace Corps in West Africa, he planted over 6,000 local variety trees. At Policy Institute, Kyle plans to take part in discussion and become more involved in work in education, food security and healthcare here in Tulsa.





Jason Featherngill

Twitter: @Featherngill77

I have recently obtained my Bachelors of Social Work from Northeastern State University (NSU-BA). I am pursuing a Master of Public Administration at OU-TULSA and plan to concentrate on policy. I am very interested in research, policy, and program evaluation. I am currently working under Dr. Chan Hellman (as a GRA-OU Tulsa) under a grant from the Department of Justice, partnering with the Alliance for Hope and we are researching poly-victimization in the Family Justice Center Model. I am excited to continue studying Hope Theory with Dr. Hellman as we move from a micro (personal), to mezzo (inra-agency) and macro (inter-agency) research.



Elaina Fees


My name is Elaina Fees, I am a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. I am studying Women’s and Gender Studies and Nonprofit Administration. I am an active member in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature, this past spring I was elected to serve on the Executive Board as Secretary for the upcoming year. Further, I serve on the Student Government Association’s Executive Cabinet under the Department of Inclusivity. My policy interests are varied, but center on the people of the state of Oklahoma – I am deeply committed to engaging all Oklahomans in accessible policy work and solutions to benefit their communities.

Alisha Fletcher

Twitter: @alishemarie

Hey! My name is Alisha Fletcher. I am a senior studying Political Science at Northeastern State University. I am a member of Alpha Omicron Pi and the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society. I was also chosen as the 2017 Outstanding Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts at NSU. After I graduate next May, I plan to go on to complete a Master’s in Public Policy, probably with a concentration in social policy. Afterwards, I hope to find work in policy analysis and work towards progression on social policies in the US.

Lexi Freeman

Hello! My name is Lexi Freeman and I’m a Master’s of Science student in the Environmental Science Graduate Program at Oklahoma State University. Currently, I’m studying the American burying beetle, the only endangered insect in Oklahoma, to determine their habitat variable across the season. I’m originally from Shawnee, OK and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Ultimately, my goal after graduation is to work for my tribe, or another sovereign nation, to help facilitate environmental conscious practices. I love to read, am slightly addicted to tea, and completely obsessed with my dog.


KatieBeth Gardner

KatieBeth Gardner is a third-year law student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she is an Editor of the Oklahoma Law Review and defends low income clients facing criminal charges as a member of the OU Legal Clinic. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, KatieBeth has spent over 3,300 hours volunteering in her community with worthy organizations such as Oklahoma Lawyers for Children and Aspiring Americans. While in law school, KatieBeth has interned with both the Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. In 2014, KatieBeth graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Nonprofit Studies. KatieBeth’s specific policy interests include criminal justice, poverty, and immigration. 

Katlyn Gembacz

I am a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. I enjoy studying government, legislation, and the way it affects individuals in society. I relish being informed and aware of the governmental decisions made by representatives and other officials that consequentially benefit some by placing the burden on others. During high school, my concentration went towards a criminal justice course which resulted in a changing my career path from a Law Enforcement officer to passionately studying government and the injustices in different institutions. Learning to fix the state of Oklahoma.



Jorden Gonzalez Richard

I have Intern and experience in the strategic development and project management for political campaigns. Which I gained on the Cyndi Munson campaign district 85, Paula Louis OKC school board and Chris Harrison district 97 campaign! Excellent leadership, interpersonal communication and presentation skills. With proven ability to develop and execute training programs and coordinate projects. Which I help enhance while being organized and Direct in my objectives which I get to use in my current position as Vice President of the Windsor Lakes Association!



Ember Graziano

My name is Ember Graziano. I graduated from Northeastern State University with my Bachelors in Social Work in May 2017. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Public Administration at the University of Oklahoma. I am very interested in learning more about policy, and look forward to one day running for office. The area of policy I am most interested in is Criminal Justice Reform and Education. I was able to participate in one Let’s Fix This Capital Crawl this year and it really made an impact. I look forward to continuing my participation and hope to become more involved.





Shannon Guss

Twitter: @mrs_guss

As research staff at the ECEI, Shannon analyzes data collected from ongoing projects, works with project partners to ensure they have their informational needs met, and supervises staff to ensure data collection and management meets protocols of the IRB. As university staff, she pursues knowledge through her research and the research of others, and works to disseminate knowledge through publications and presentations.

As a doctoral student studying Research, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics, she is adding to her research skill set with a strong interest in designing useful evaluations and improving measures by applying psychometric theory and practice.


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