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Student Leaders

Student leaders perform many of the operational functions of PDLI. They plan and organize the capstone trip, bring speakers to campus, promote PDLI to other students and in the media, and help raise funds for the program.


Calista Washburn


Calista Washburn is a second-semester junior at Yale studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics.  Originally from New York City, she has worked for the Pesticide Action Network, Amy McGrath's 2020 Senate campaign, and the New Haven Mayor's Office. 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.

Calista Washburn

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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. 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.


Daniel Posner


Daniel Posner is a junior from New York City majoring in History. Daniel is passionate about both national and international politics. He worked on a Congressional campaign in Dallas during the 2018 and 2020 elections and interned at the Partnership for Public Service. At Yale, he leads TAMID, an investment and consulting club and participates in Moneythink, an organization that teaches financial literacy skills to students in New Haven.

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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 has interned in the Executive Office of the President, worked as a Field Organizer on the Biden for President campaign, and observed Ramadan with a family in Jordan while volunteering with a community-based refugee organization.

Calista Washburn

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Thalsa Mekaouche

Fellowship & Events Director

Thalsa-Thiziri Mekaouche is a sophomore 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! As part of PDLI, she is interested in the ways in which 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. He is pursuing a double major in History and Religious Studies, as well as an advanced language certificate in Mandarin, and is passionate about American foreign policy and national security. He has experience working in the United States Senate, House of Representatives, and multiple think tanks in the field.  Outside of the classroom, Cameron is the captain of Yale Club Tennis and records his own radio show. 

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Francesca Nyakora

Alumni Relations Director

Francesca is a senior from Nairobi, Kenya double-majoring in Global Affairs and African Studies and receiving a certificate in French.  As part of the Human Rights Program and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, she plans to conduct research on post-conflict reconstruction in transitional societies. At Yale, she is on the Board of Directors of the Yale International Relations Association and was the President of the Yale Model African Union. 

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