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Student Leaders

PDLI's Student Leaders are responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the organization, from on-campus events and recruitment to fundraising and Trip planning. 

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Calista Washburn


Calista Washburn is a first-semester senior at Yale studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics, with a concentration in Environmental Ethics and a certificate in Energy Studies. Originally from New York City, she has worked for Amy McGrath’s 2020 Senate campaign, the New Haven Mayor’s Office, and the Pesticide Action Network, doing research on farmworker protections and links between pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions. When she isn't leading Yale's first-year outdoor orientation trips in the New England wilderness, she can be found debating with the Yale Political Union, volunteering at the Yale Farm, and woodcarving.

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Daniel Posner


Daniel Posner is a first-semester senior from New York majoring in History. He spent two summers at Seeds of Peace International Camp where he engaged in dialogue with students from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt. Daniel has worked on a Congressional campaign in Dallas during the midterm election and studied Spanish abroad. At Yale, he has led TAMID and is a member of MoneyThink and S4CD.

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Yasmeen Abed

Director of Recruitment

Yasmeen Abed is a senior from California pursuing a double major in Political Science and Modern Middle Eastern Studies and working towards her Arabic language certification. She is the Program Development Coordinator at Elena’s Light, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering refugee women and children through ESL and health education. She interned at the Jordanian Embassy where she drafted media briefs and developed social media campaigns for the Jordanian Information Bureau. Last summer, she worked at the American Bar Association MENA Division where she researched sexual and gender-based violence in Jordan and Kuwait. This year, Yasmeen serves as a FroCo at Franklin College.

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Cormac Thorpe

Trip Director

Cormac is a sophomore Political Science and Modern Middle East Studies double major from New York City. On campus, he is the International Liaison for The Yale Review of International Studies, teaches international relations to high schoolers through Hemispheres, and is a volunteer translator and interpreter for Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS). He interned in the Executive Office of the President this past summer, and during two gap years, he worked as a Field Organizer on the Biden for President campaign for 13 months, traveled solo in Colombia for three months, and observed Ramadan with a family in Jordan while volunteering with a community-based refugee organization.

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Thalsa Mekaouche

Fellowship & Events Director

Thalsa-Thiziri Mekaouche is a first year in Branford College and a prospective Global Affairs major. Daughter of Algerian parents, she has always lived in Marseille, France. She is fond of cooking and is always up for anything outdoors! Her favorite author is Albert Camus, a French writer born in Algeria. Like him, her life has been inextricably linked to the Mediterranean. She loves its history, its landscapes, and the sun, which has nurtured both its fertile soil and countless communities over thousands of years. With PDLI, she hopes to understand how conflicts impact people and how we can imagine new ways to, collectively, reach peace.

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Cameron Janssens

Finance Director

Cameron is a junior in Branford College from New York City, pursuing a double major in History (Politics, Law, and Government Pathway) and Religious Studies, as well as an advanced language certificate in Mandarin. He is passionate about American foreign policy and national security, and has experience working in the United States Senate, House of Representatives, and multiple think tanks in the field. Cameron is particularly interested in understanding the implications of U.S.-China competition in the Middle East, and is excited to be part of the leadership team of such an impactful fellowship. Outside of the classroom, you can find Cameron on the court as the captain of Yale Club Tennis and in the studio recording his own radio show. 

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