Reilly Scholars & Interns

The William K. Reilly Fund for Environmental Governance & Leadership provides funding for the training and mentorship of our next generation of environmental leaders. We're proud to recognize our scholarship awardees and interns.

2016 Scholarship Winners | 2015 Scholarship Winners | 2014 Scholarship Winners | 2013 Scholarship Winners | Interns

2018 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Jake Assael, SPA/MPA '19

Jake Assael is a first year student in the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) Program in the School of the Public Affairs. He attended American University for undergrad where he received a bachelors degree in environmental studies. Jake currently serves as the Lead Researcher and an Advisory Board member for the Super PAC Vote Climate U.S. Prior to starting his MPA Jake worked as a Public Policy Advisor for Warwick Group Consultants, helping coastal municipalities garner federal funds for beach nourishment projects.

Samantha Pedreiro, SPA/MPA '19

Samantha Pedreiro has maintained a strong commitment throughout her career to advancing opportunity, equity, and justice for underserved groups in our society. Samantha participated in the selective City of New York Urban Fellows Program, where she served in the Commissioner’s Office of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. There she helped launch and manage the NYC Parks Fellowship and Conservation Corps, a public service program designed to engage Parks’ next generation of leaders. Since then, she has worked in a variety of settings, including government, academia, and social justice nonprofit organizations on issues such as environmental justice, gender equality, low-income housing, and workforce development. She is an experienced policy analyst, project manager, and strategic thinker. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, attending the theater, volunteering, and serving on non-profit boards. Samantha holds a B.A. in Government and College Scholars with a concentration in Human Rights from Cornell University. She is presently a Master of Public Administration student at American University's School of Public Affairs.

2017 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Lisa Flores, SPA/MPP '18

Lisa Flores is a first-year Masters of Public Policy (MPP) student in the School of Public Affairs. Before coming to American University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz and held multiple internships including at the National Education Association, the Office of Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez, the University College Access Network and others. She hopes to pursue a career that helps protect public health and the environment in low income communities.

Watch Lisa discuss the award »

Nick Nayak, SPA/MPA '18

Nick Nayak is a first-year student in the Masters of Public Affairs (MPA) program in the School of Public Affairs. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from George Washington University and currently serves as an intern in the office of Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Prior to entering graduate school, Nick worked for nine years in the private sector and in the future hopes to strengthen sustainability practices in the private sector.

Watch Nick discuss the award »

2016 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Maria Manuella Athayde, SPA/MPA '17

Maria Manuella Athayde is a first year MPA student with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and Methods. For her undergraduate education, she attended Mount Holyoke College and received her B.A. in International Relations. At Mount Holyoke College, Maria worked as a cultural assistant within the Multicultural Programs, where she advised and organized educational programs for cultural organizations as well as coordinating the Ortega House budget. Maria hopes to continue her passion for sustainable development far beyond the Masters level through locally implemented sustainability projects.

Read more about Maria Manuella Athayde »

Maggie McCarey, SPA/MPA '17

Maggie McCarey is a first year MPA student with a concentration in energy efficiency and climate mitigation policies. For her undergraduate education, she attended Northeastern University, receiving her B.A. in environmental geology and environmental studies. Maggie spent six years working in the Massachusetts state government, implementing clean energy policies and honing in on her stakeholder engagement and communication skills that she hopes to use in her career. Working for both the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and then for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Maggie was responsible for supporting developing a statewide greenhouse gas mitigation strategy and utility-run energy efficiency goals in the country. Looking to the future Maggie hopes to use the to advocate for common sense, innovative solutions for mitigating climate change.

2015 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Amy Purpura, SPA/MPP '16

Amy Purpura is a first year MPP student with a concentration in quantitative methods and environmental policy. For her undergraduate education, she attended West Virginia University and received her B.A. in political science and philosophy with summa cum laude honors. After graduation, she began working as an intern and reporter for the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia where she wrote about local and national issues and their policy implications for citizens in the state. Last semester she worked at the Children's Environmental Health Network as William K. Reilly intern. While working there, she examined the impact of environmental hazards on children's health and development in childcare settings and from a larger public health perspective.

Jennifer Hatch, SPA/MPA '16

Jennifer Hatch is a first year MPA student pursuing interests in local government and environmental management. After graduating summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary with a degree in government and environmental policy, she began her public interest career with the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group as a consumer advocate and grassroots campaign office director. Jennifer moved to Washington, DC to serve as the National Director of the PIRG Energy Service Corps where she managed a multi-state AmeriCorps program working with college student volunteers to promote energy efficiency. This work sparked her interest in working at the local level on environmental issues from transit to renewable energy. Currently Jennifer manages a network of nonprofit organizations at the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

2014 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Jennifer Fernandez, SPA/MPP '15

Jennifer Fernandez is a second year MPP student at American University and a 2014 William K. Reilly Scholar for Environmental Policy. A native of California, Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Francisco with a BA in Politics. Jennifer moved to Washington, DC to study at American University after working with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a non-profit affordable housing intermediary in San Francisco, CA. During her first year in DC, Jennifer was an AmeriCorps VISTA at NeighborWorks America, where she created toolkits and resources on best practices in sustainability and green affordable housing development. Currently, Jennifer is an analyst for the Housing Impact Program at AARP Foundation where she analyzes data, performs research, and builds partnerships regarding housing for the low-income 50+. She is committed to green development and focuses on walkability, transit-oriented development, and energy savings in homes.

"Being awarded a Reilly Scholarship has benefited my long-term career and education immensely. AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers sacrifice so much in their year of service - committing to full-time work with a modest living stipend can be difficult in Washington, DC. The Reilly Scholarship helped alleviate fears of returning to school and continuing the MPP program. Additionally, the scholarship has opened doors to events and talks that I would have previously never been to. Additionally, Mr. Reilly is a role model for bipartisanship and environmental stewardship. Listening to his inspiring words has had a strong impact on my career goals." - Jennifer Fernandez

Kavita Mak, SPA/MPP '15

Kavita Mak received her undergraduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. After, she moved to California to work for Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Kavita mainly worked on maintenance projects at major dams in Los Angeles County and spent many years trying to obtain project permits and completing environmental documents for the projects. This work made Kavita very interested in studying environmental policy, which is the reason why she enrolled in the MPP program at American University.

"Winning the Reilly award has been a great experience. I have had the opportunity to meet many prominent people in the environmental field, including William Reilly himself! I also believe that this award helped me get my current job as an environmental engineer at the U.S. EPA. Overall, I think it is an excellent opportunity for any students interested in environmental policy." - Kavita Mak

2013 William K. Reilly Scholarship Winners

Kristina Bell, SPA/MPA '14

Kristina Bell is a former Master of Public Administration student with a concentration in international management and a 2013 William K. Reilly Environmental Policy scholarship recipient. She was selected for the award on the basis of her interests in the intersections of the environmental and social aspects of sustainability. Kristina came to AU from Fordham University with a degree in business and an interest in international development. She now works at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service. Kristina is involved in high-priority policy work for the department about engaging youth and veterans in public lands conservation and stewardship. She executes outreach and communications with state, local, tribal, private, and non-profit partners to coordinate efforts in providing life-changing opportunities for minority and marginalized citizens.

"I am in my current position as a direct result of being a William K. Reilly award winner. At the awards dinner, I met a woman who runs a non-profit organization called MobilizeGreen, which helps place minorities and youth in internships with federal departments and agencies involved in environmental policy. She asked me to send her my resume, and within two weeks I had an internship offer with the U.S. Forest Service. I worked part-time for a year, before converting to full time employment after graduating last May. I also extended my service to work in the office of the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in USDA headquarters, which has been a really enlightening experience. I am extremely grateful for the recognition I received, and I continue to reap the benefits of the award today; not just because the financial award helped me to fund my education, but also because it helped position me to get a jump-start on my career." - Kristina Bell

Samuel Cramer, SPA/MPP '14

Samuel Cramer was a Master of Public Policy student with a concentration in science, technology, and environmental policy. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where he majored in atmospheric science. While at American University, he interned for Vela Environmental, The Solar Foundation, Third Way, and The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars which enhanced his experience in clean energy policy. Sam was selected as a Reilly Scholar for his commitment to understanding and promoting the role of renewable energy technologies and practices in the transition to an environmentally sustainable society. Currently, Sam works as a Regulatory Analyst at Advanced Energy Economy in Washington, DC.

"The William K. Reilly scholarship has helped me because it is a major talking point on my resume for interviewers. Having a name as respected as Mr. Reilly's on my resume was a big asset in my job hunt because it provided a powerful statement of my competency in the field of environmental and energy policy. Thanks in part to Mr. Reilly's scholarship, I am enjoying work at a clean energy company and helping to build a cleaner, greener economy." - Samuel Cramer

Zachary Rybarczyk, SPA/MPP '14

Zachary Rybarczyk is a former Master of Public Policy student and a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he majored in Political Science and French Studies. His concentration at AU was in environmental policy. Zach worked as an intern with the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Department of Congressional and Public Affairs. He was selected as a Reilly intern because of his wide-ranging interests in US and global environmental policy and his recognition of the need for the nation to play a more active role in international problem-solving. Zachary is currently studying water and sanitation policy and accessibility in Rabat, Morocco through the NSEP Boren Fellowship. The Fellowship also allows him to learn Moroccan-dialect Arabic while investigating the Kingdom's successes and enduring challenges of providing both urban and rural Moroccans adequate clean water and sanitation services. As a requirement of the Fellowship, Zachary will also seek out opportunities within the Federal government to apply what he has learned in a position of public service upon his return to DC this upcoming spring.

"The Reilly Scholarship and Center for Environmental Policy provided me with a network of gracious professionals who have encouraged me to pursue my interests in public and international environmental policy, as well as the funding necessary to incorporate unpaid yet highly valuable internships during the second half of my time in the School of Public Affairs." - Zachary Rybarczyk

William K. Reilly Interns

Emily Silence, SPA/CAS '18, MPP '19

Pisces Foundation, Intern

Emily is an intern at the Pisces Foundation, based in the Washington, D.C. office. She assists the Water Program by conducting research, assisting with grantmaking activities, and analyzing other materials to support water strategic plan implementation.

Emily is currently a Senior at American University. She is working towards a double major in Political Science and Economics. She is also enrolled in a combined Bachelors/Masters program in Public Policy, with a concentration in environmental policy.

Emily has interned for the Democratic Party of Virginia, assisting with grassroots organizing efforts for the Hilary Clinton campaign. She also serves as the Senior Outreach Coordinator for the Kennedy Political Union, the student-run, nonpartisan, student-funded lecture series on American University's campus. They have brought engaging speakers such as Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN, Jake Tapper, and Congresswoman Elizabeth Warren.

"Having the opportunity to work at the Pisces Foundation, and with all of the great staff who run this organization, has been immensely rewarding. I've been learning about sectors of environmental policy and philanthropy that I have never had a chance to work on before. Right now, I'm researching environmental philanthropic topics that will be presented to our board of trustees."


Jillian McClain, SPA/MPP '18

Pisces Foundation, Intern

Jillian McClain is a first year MPP student with a concentration in Advanced Policy Analysis. For her undergraduate degree, she attended the University of Massachusetts Boston and received her B.A. in economics with magna cum laude honors. During undergraduate school, she worked in the banking sector. Jillian is currently an intern with Nancy Stoner at the Pisces Foundation where she analyzes grant reports and proposals, conducts research on water management practices, and supports water implementation planning.

"Working with the Pisces Foundation has shown me how philanthropy and collaboration among the nonprofit sector confronts nationwide environmental issues. I was able to work with the water director in supporting the Pisces Foundation's water plan, performing grant analysis and water related research. I am currently performing research into which cities best use water management practices and how these plan may be duplicated in cities across America." - Jillian McClain

Maria Manuella Athayde, SPA/MPA '18

Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Intern

Maria Manuella Athayde is a first year MPA student with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and Methods, and one of the two 2016 William K. Reily Scholars. For her undergraduate education, she attended Mount Holyoke College and received her B.A. in International Relations. For the summer of 2016, Maria has worked as an a Permits and Policy Intern for the Montgomery County Government's Department of Environmental Protection.

"My internship experience at Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection provided me with an opportunity to supplement my coursework from American University in a practical setting. Throughout the internship I was responsible for three main projects that strengthened my skills as a researcher. Moreover, I was able to observe the day to day of how policy is made and implemented at the county level. The main learning objective of my internship was to understand how the policy process works at a county level. Additionally, I wanted to learn and describe the institutional context of environmental protection in Montgomery County and what procedures hinder or sustain reform. I spent the majority of my time developing a water quality protection charge matrix for different counties in Maryland. In this matrix, I researched the status of 10 different criteria and the policy mechanisms different counties are using to achieve them." - Maria Athayde

Morgan Lowder, SPA/MPA '17

American Water Works Association, Intern

Morgan Lowder is a first year MPA student with a concentration in international management. He received his undergraduate education at the University of South Carolina where he majored in political science. After graduation he worked as a regional field director for the Democratic candidate in the 2014 South Carolina Gubernatorial Election.

"Last semester, I interned with the faith based non governmental organization, Church World Service. In this capacity, I conducted research on how climate change was impacting and going to impact the humanitarian work Church World Service was conducting. I also researched the Paris Climate Conference. Currently, I am working with the American Water Works Association as a William K Reilly Intern. The bulk of the work I am doing is researching and writing a publication on climate change and the Paris Climate Agreement's impact on water. This will be published in AWWA's magazine, Journal-AWWA." - Morgan Lowder

Stacy Miller, SPA/MPA '17

Environmental Council of the States, Intern

Stacy Miller is a first year MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management. For her undergraduate education, she attended the University of Rochester and received her BA in Political Science and English. Post graduation, she has interned for environmental nonprofits including Resources for the Future and the Sierra Club. Her career goal is to work at the nonprofit level focusing on environmental justice and energy transitions to renewable energy sources. This semester, she is interning at the Environmental Council of the States as a William K. Reilly intern, working on facilitating state environmental agency compliance on a number of different EPA regulations.

Stephen Sweeney, SPA/MPP '16

Pisces Foundation, Intern

Stephen Sweeney is a second year MPP student concentrating in environmental policy and public financial management. Prior to coming to D.C., he received a degree in environmental studies and agriscience from Michigan State University. Stephen interned for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality where he analyzed climate change mitigation policies and preformed research. After graduating, he interned for the Michigan Senate where he analyzed bills and created policy briefs on proposed environmental legislation. Currently he is an intern with former Obama appointee Nancy Stoner at the Pisces Foundation where he analyzes grant reports and proposals, conducts outreach, and supports strategic water plan implementation. Stephen's areas of interest include water policy, renewable energy, and climate change.

"While working with the Pisces Foundation, I have learned how philanthropy confronts national environmental challenges, particularly in the water sector. I had the opportunity to support the water director in implementing the Pisces Foundation's strategic water plan and performed a number of grant analyses. Grant topics included sustainable stormwater, green infrastructure, integrated water management and water-related climate change mitigation strategies. Currently, I am performing research into cities with a potential for elevated levels of lead in water supplies due to lead leaching in light of the Flint water crisis." - Stephen Sweeney

Amy Purpura, SPA/MPP '16

Children's Environmental Health Network, Intern

Amy Purpura is from Wheeling, WV, and received her undergraduate education at West Virginia University (WVU) where she studied political science and philosophy. Growing up in West Virginia piqued Amy's interest in environmental policy, since the state is very dependent on energy industries, especially coal, yet at the same time, has a thriving tourist industry, due to the state's natural beauty. In Amy's free time, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time outdoors.

"My internship at the Children's Environmental Health Network has taught me a lot about the health aspects of environmental policy, particularly as applied to children. I have had the opportunity to write comments to the EPA about a proposed change to the Clean Water Act and how it would affect the environmental health of children. In this area of policy, prevention of toxic exposures is integral to maintaining children's health, and I'm currently working on a presentation about the use of risk assessments to provide this information to organizations like the EPA and the general public." - Amy Purpura

Christopher Maxwell, SPA/MPP '15

Chesapeake Conservancy, Intern

Christopher Maxwell is a first year Master of Public Policy student at the School of Public Affairs. Born in Washington, D.C., Chris has always had a special interest in public policy, particularly with issues involving environmental regulation, climate change and ocean and coastal resources. Prior to attending American University, he attended Texas A&M University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology, and has worked as an environmental consultant for the oil and gas industry in Houston, Texas. In his spare time he likes to travel and hopes to one day to visit every country on this big, beautiful planet.

"Working for the Chesapeake Conservancy, through the Reilly Internship, was a great opportunity to learn about large landscape conservation initiatives and how technology and innovation are providing solutions to some of the challenging issues the conservation community is facing. As part of my internship, I contributed to organizing the first ever National Workshop on Large Landscape Conservation. With over 600 attendees and over 70 concurrent sessions, spanning two days, the workshop provided a unique opportunity to showcase current and future landscape conservation efforts." - Christopher Maxwell

Katina Kempel, SPA/MPP '15

Global Environment and Technology Foundation, Intern

"Receiving this internship has allowed me an internship opportunity at Global Environment and Technology Foundation (GETF), a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable water and sanitation development through diverse partnerships and targeted action…In my internship I've been exposed to a wide range of pressing environmental issues-from access to clean water and sanitation, to clean energy and climate change, and sustainable development. I've had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects, including the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), Water and Development Alliance (WADA), Global Water Challenge (GWC) and the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP)… More recently, I helped coordinate for the U.S. Water Partnership's Partner Meeting at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In preparation, I helped design an interactive audience participation polling program to gauge the Partner's areas of interest. I'm looking forward to continuing my sustainability efforts through my internship at GETF." - Katina Kempel

Katherine Abib, SPA/MPP '15

National Environmental Education Foundation, Intern

Katherine Abib has spent the Spring 2014 semester working with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). In 2012, the organization embarked on a 10-year vision to advance environmental literacy in the United States. This bold vision states that by 2022, 300 million Americans will actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the wellbeing of the earth and its people. Katherine's work has involved identifying possible partnerships in the private and public sectors that will support this vision and to formulate a strategy for engaging and aligning these potential partners.

"This has been a terrific opportunity for me to expand on my knowledge of the environmental sector and to learn a lot more about the numerous stakeholders in the arena as I transition from the corporate banking world into environmental policy. A key take-away from this experience has been to understand that environmental education brings tremendous value to the field of environmental policy. I hope to focus on this message as I embark on a career in the environmental sector." - Katherine Abib

Simon Nicholson, SPA/MPP '14

National Environmental Education Foundation, Intern

"The William K. Reilly internship program gave me the opportunity to intern at the National Environmental Education Foundation. Throughout this internship, I researched the Environmental Protection Agencies website to find key strategic data points for NEEF's president…To conclude my internship, I presented my findings to an EPA contact and NEEF management. My research is currently being used in one of NEEF's environmental education campaigns. I appreciate the work experience that the William K. Reilly internship program has provided me and I plan to use the skills that have been cultivated through this internship in my future career in public service." - Simon Nicholson