2021 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Tonya McClendon, MPP '22

Tonya (Tone-yá) McClendon received her undergraduate degree in Business and in African American studies from California State University Northridge and received her masters degree in Public Policy from UCLA. She was awarded as the 2022 Public Policy Student of the Year, the 2022 Global Public Affairs fellowship for professional development, the 1st and 2nd year recipient of the Luskin Graduate Fellowship and was honored with the Excellence in Academic Scholarship and Mentorship at the Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference for Black Women in Economics and Related Fields from the Sadie Collective Organization in 2022. During her time at Luskin she served on the Luskin Summer Racial Justice Working Group, board member for the Luskin Black Caucus and as the Outreach and Recruitment Chair for Luskin Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity, while also working as graduate student researcher and publishing multiple research articles and op eds in educational and political journals. Tonya is a first generation college student from Inglewood, CA and is passionate about pursuing policy that centers liberation of Black and Brown communities- particularly through criminal justice reform and economic empowerment. She currently works in community centered non-profits where she focuses on workforce development and civil rights for formerly incarcerated folks but has plans to continue her education by obtaining her Juris Doctorate


Please see Tonya’s LinkedIn profile for more information.

2021 MPP Alumnus of the Year Isaac Bryan, MPP 2018

Isaac Bryan represents California’s 55th Assembly District, which consists of Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw district, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms, Pico-Robertson, Beverly Grove, Mid-Wilshire, and parts of South Los Angeles.

In the Assembly, Isaac serves as the Chair of the Elections Committee, fighting to protect the right to vote and to keep our elections free and fair. He also serves as the Chair of the Assembly’s first Select Committee on Poverty and Economic Inclusion. In 2022, he was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the California Legislative Black Caucus. He is Vice Chair and a founding member of the Renters Caucus.

In the Assembly, Isaac secured funding to found the Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy at UCLA School of Law; the first Climate Change Education Center in the California Community College system at West LA College; a stipend program for students in the trades to earn a living wage while studying for certificates, and millions of dollars for other projects across the 55th District. Isaac’s legislative accomplishments have included phasing out the Inglewood Oil Field and other oil drilling near homes and communities in California (SB-1137), ending prison gerrymandering (AB-1848), ending punishing fees for parents with children in foster care (AB-1686), protecting students from predatory insurance practices (AB-1823) and strengthening online campaign finance disclosure requirement (AB-1848).

Isaac is a community organizer, highly regarded policy expert, and a published academic. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Isaac led a ballot measure that brought millions of dollars a year to address racial injustice and strengthen communities in Los Angeles. He served as the founding Director of the UCLA Black Policy Project – a think tank dedicated to advancing racial equity through rigorous policy analysis – served as the first Director of Public Policy at the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center, as well as Director of Organizing for the nationally recognized Million Dollar Hoods project, a community-based participatory research project. He authored the first holistic report for the City of Los Angeles on the needs of the formerly incarcerated Angelenos, and exposed a gap in youth justice policy. For years, his academic and organizing work has been at the intersection of environmental, economic, education and housing justice.


Employment:  https://a55.asmdc.org/

Profile:   linkedin.com/in/isaacbryan

Twitter:   @isaacgbryan

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Bryan

2020 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Sam Lau, MPP & MPH '21

Sam Lau is a third year Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Health candidate at UCLA. He is passionate about improving the quality of public health services for communities of color and using research and data to drive policy change. As a graduate student researcher, Sam has conducted research on the impact of affordable housing investments on the health of  communities most impacted by pollution and has evaluated the quality of care received by Medicare cancer patients. He worked as a health policy intern this past summer at the California Health Benefits Review Program, providing evidence-based analysis to the state legislature on issues related to health insurance benefit mandates. He was also part of the team that won highest honors for their APP on ‘Delivering on California College Promise: Implementing Effective Interventions and Reforms to Ensure Access and Preparation for Community College’.

Prior to graduate school, Sam worked as a research programmer at the Center for Economic and Social Research’s program on Global Aging, Health, and Policy. He also has experience working in economic consulting. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and trying new desserts.

Please visit Sam’s LinkedIn to learn more about his professional experience.

2020 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Jason Ballou, MPP '21

Jason Ballou is a Master of Public Policy candidate at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs where he is an advocate for long term solutions for homelessness.  Prior to graduate school, Jason was a case manager with Lutheran Social Services helping individuals who were chronically homeless and disabled. In this role he helped people re-engage in physical and mental health care and gain a steady income, with the ultimate goal of securing good permanent housing. For his work with some of the community’s most challenging cases, the City of Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office recognized him with its annual Impact Award in 2019.

Believing that kindness and compassion are the best guides for policy making and social change, Jason is very active in volunteering and service.  Through his church, he has coordinated several Habitat for Humanity projects building housing for the working poor. He has assisted with the LA LGBT Center’s Community Action Network and was elected president of the Association of Master of Public Policy Students.  Jason recently completed the Los Angeles Marathon, his first marathon ever.  He also enjoys playing dodgeball, great LA hikes and trips to see his family in Ohio.

2020 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Courtney B. Taylor, MPP '21

Courtney B. Taylor is a proud Californian from Rialto (Go IE!). Courtney believes in the power of public service and public policy because she benefited from government programs, such as the
Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which is designed to increase the number of low-income students who attend and graduate from college. Experiencing first-hand the social and economic barriers that exist for black and brown communities, Courtney is committed to breaking down barriers in the pursuit of equity.

Prior to pursuing her master’s in public policy, Courtney worked in D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Courtney earned her bachelor of arts in law and society from American University in Washington, DC. In the spirit of being a life-long learner, Courtney has participated in the WeLead program at the Women in Politics Institute and the Leadership Institute at the Center for American Progress.

Please visit Courtney’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2003 MPP Alumnus of the Year Dylan Presman, MPP 1998

Dylan Presman is Budget Director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In this role, Dylan oversees NPPD’s $2 billion budget.

Dylan joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in May 2009, working initially in the Budget Division of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer before moving over to CISA in 2017.  Dylan served in a number of positions at DHS before joining CISA including as Assistant Director of Budget, overseeing the budgets of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as a congressional liaison for the Budget Division overseeing relations with the appropriations committees, and as the Budget Division Desk Officer for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Previously, Dylan worked for the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. At the U.S. Department of Education, Dylan worked in Budget Service on a variety of accounts in the Office of Postsecondary Education, with a particular focus on the issues of improving teacher quality and minority-serving institutions. Prior to that, Dylan served at the U.S. Department of Justice as national program director for a program designed to improve after-school programs in high-crime neighborhoods. While at the U.S. Department of Justice, Dylan also served as a grant manager, a financial analyst and a congressional liaison specialist. Dylan was also detailed to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

Prior to joining the federal government, Dylan served as Executive Director of the United Nations Association-USA, a nonprofit organization focused on education and advocacy on international issues. In that position, he led delegations to the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and the 2nd World Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul in 1996.

In June 2016, Dylan earned a Masters of Science in Government Leadership from the National Defense University. Dylan previously earned a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA and a B.A. in Middle Eastern Affairs from the University of Durham in England. Dylan also studied at Alexandria University in Egypt and Jerusalem University in Israel. Mr. Presman is married and has two children, Sarai, 23, and Henry, 20. Mr. Presman recently added DHS Chief Financial Officer “2019 Awards for Excellence”  and cancer survivor to his list of achievements.

2004 MPP Alumna of the Year Mary Kohav, MPP 1998

Mary Kohav is VP of Community Engagement Programs at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and oversees communications and programming of the department’s civic engagement portfolio. An experienced team leader providing strategic communications, community relations and public affairs services to clients in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, Mary has been at the forefront of leading change across numerous institutions.

Before joining the Federation, as BSC’s Director of PR and Marketing, Mary led and managed consumer-focused patient engagement, digital marketing and earned media campaigns for leading global health organizations. She ran branding and marketing campaigns on emerging and cutting-edge health trends working daily with world-renowned surgeons, medical industry innovators and other healthcare influencers.

Before joining BSC, Mary branched out on her own to run Mary Kohav PR, helping creative agencies compete for, win and implement public sector RFPs while also leading social media and digital marketing campaigns for social justice nonprofits including Breathe LA, First 5 LA and the Legal Aid Foundation of LA.

As Associate VP at the Lee Andrews Group, Mary managed strategic public affairs services for clients in the environmental, real estate, transportation and health-related industries and led one of the nation’s foremost clean energy campaigns as project manager for the Green LA programs of the LADWP.

Mary is a Board Member at the Speak Up Foundation and CivicCare and is an alum of The Jewish Federation’s Rautenberg New Leaders Project. Mary holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Michigan and a Master in Public Policy degree from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and has been awarded with the Luskin Public Policy program’s Alumna of the Year Award for excellence in community service, professional achievement, public service and university service.

Employer: Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
Profile: linkedin.com/in/marykohav
Twitter: @goodstuffpr
Media: HuffPost, Jewish Journal

2005 MPP Alumna of the Year Emily C. Williams, MPP 1998

Emily C. Williams works as a senior policy deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District. In her role, she shapes his policy agenda in the areas of Aging, Child Welfare, Early Childhood Development, Education, Fire & Emergency Response, Gender Equity, Intimate Partner & Domestic Violence, Public Social Services, Veteran & Military Affairs, and Workforce Development. One of her primary responsibilities is to articulate and implement the Supervisor’s multi-faceted approach to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).

Prior to joining the County, Emily worked for The Princeton Review, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and the City of Los Angeles. During her 14-year career with the City, she worked first as a policy advisor with the Human Relations Commission, then as a civilian commander overseeing non-tactical training for the Los Angeles Fire Department, and finally as deputy chief of staff to former City Councilmember (now U.S. Representative) Tony Cárdenas (CA-29).

Emily earned a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA and an M.P.P. from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she was recognized as Alumna of the Year in 2005 and currently serves as a Senior Fellow. She was also a 2017-18 Fellow with the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. She is entering her 17th year as an adjunct instructor at the Los Angeles Police Academy and is a former board member of the American Association of University Women – Beach Cities branch.

Employer: Hon. Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Profile: linkedin.com/in/emilypresents
Twitter: @emilypresents
Media: CityWatchLA, UCLA Luskin, UCLA Luskin, Los Angeles Sentinel