Past PhD Fellows

Former PostDoctoral Fellows


Chiara Cordelli

Chiara CordelliChiara Cordelli (PhD, Political Theory, University College London) specializes in contemporary political theory, with a particular interest in theories of justice, and the relation between the state and civil society associations. Her dissertation The Institutional Subject of Justice and the Duties of Private Agents explores the normative division of principles and responsibilities between political institutions and private associations in relation to social justice, and illustrates how this division shifts when political agency fragments and private associations come to act as state proxies or replacements in delivering basic goods and public services. A chapter, "The Institutional Division of Labor and the Egalitarian Obligations of Nonprofits," is forthcoming in the Journal of Political Philosophy. Chiara has been a policy researcher at the European Commission, has held research fellowships at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and through the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is an affiliated member of the Global Center of Governance for Civil Society based in Tokyo. Previously, Chiara received a MA in Human Rights from University College London and a BA from the University of Rome La Sapienza. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, Chiara revised her dissertation into a book manuscript, and continued to conduct research on the relationship between social justice, privatization, and civil society. She is currently a Lecturer at the University of Exeter.

Valeska Korff

Valeska KorffValeska Korff (PhD, Sociology, University of Groningen/ICS, The Netherlands) holds an MA in Development Sociology (University of Leiden) and has worked in various functions for both, cultural and economic development projects in Northern Thailand. Her experience with development theory and practice resulted in a particular interest in the organizations involved in international development cooperation, specifically non-profit/non-governmental organizations. She pursued this interest in the context of her dissertation research at the University of Groningen/ICS, which focused on the professionalization of management in an international humanitarian organization: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/ Doctors without Borders. Encompassing four studies, her dissertation titled “Between Cause and Control – Management in a Humanitarian Organization” constitutes a comprehensive examination of MSF’s relation to its employees and its environment. The former is addressed by two studies: firstly, an in depth assessment of MSF’s human resource management policies, and secondly, an analysis of the effects of MSF’s socialization program on new recruits’ perception and performance. External relations in turn are analyzed with regard to the challenge of retaining professionals with ample alternative employment opportunities outside the organization and the sector, and in terms of MSF’s reputation building and legitimation strategies. Following this in depth case study research, as a postdoctoral researcher at the PACS Valeska broadened her focus to the field level. Cooperating with Woody Powell, she was involved in a project on the dissemination of performance evaluation and monitoring systems in the nonprofit sector.


Former Ph.D. Fellows


Christine Exley

(PhD Candidate, Economics) studies prosocial behavior from the viewpoint of behavioral and experimental economics. Her research aims to (1) examine how reputations and incentives may impact individuals’ levels of service hours or charitable donations, and (2) develop and test matching mechanisms involving volunteers’ skills and preferences that may increase both volunteer retention and the effectiveness of volunteer services.  Funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Christine will precisely test these factors in laboratory studies.  She also seeks to implement complementary field studies by partnering with non-profit organizations, such as her partnership with the San Francisco SPCA to study their volunteer program.  Christine holds a B.S in Mathematics and Economics from University of Mary Washington, where she uncovered her interest in development economics (her second area of specialization) while working on microfinance and indoor air pollution projects in Honduras.  Someday soon, she hopes to help find more homeless pets homes by improving the pet-owner matching market in the United States.     


Ariel Mendez

(PhD Candidate, Political Science) studies democratic theory and theories of justice. His research interests include the epistemic dimension of decision-making, free speech and campaign finance regulations, and voluntary collaboration in the context of competitive interests. A focus of his work is whether unequal political influence in deliberation can be legitimate if it yields a public good. Ariel developed a nuanced appreciation for government bureaucracy while working at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He also has experience as a local nonprofit event planner. Ariel received a B.A. in Politics from UC Santa Cruz and an M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC and Bologna, Italy. He lives in Mountain View with his wife and two children.

Nik Sawe

(PhD Candidate, E-IPER) studies decision-making on environmental issues through the lens of neuroimaging. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as part of Brian Knutson's SPANlab, Nik aims to better understand the neural structures that motivate public response to and philanthropic support of environmental causes. His work spans across neural mechanisms of charitable giving, willingness-to-pay for environmental resources, consumer purchasing behavior with energy-efficient appliances, environmental risk perception, and implications of the sharing economy on pro-environmental behavior. Nik received his B.S. in biology from Stanford as well, studying neural mechanisms to mitigate damage from strokes, and worked for several years as a medical writer for Silicon Valley biotech companies. Feeling as if he was ranging further afield from what drew him to biology in the first place - he had originally published an ecological novel called Wolf Trails in high school - Nik decided to combine his background in neuroscience with his love of environmental issues, and returned to Stanford to study the neural mechanisms which underlie how we think about the environment. Obtaining a clear picture of how we evaluate long-term environmental decisions on a neural level is an important step in characterizing how and why we make unsustainable choices, and can help inform new approaches in environmental economics, policymaking, and nonprofit work.


Kenneth Shores

(PhD Candidate, Education Policy) studies patterns and trends of educational inequality and the political tools at our disposal for addressing these inequalities. His current work investigates the effects of court-ordered school finance reform. The first piece of his project is to estimate the effects of recent reforms on the distribution of resources and student achievement. Prior literature suggests that these reforms are likely to have only modest effects. But there is an equity component to these reforms as well, and when states decide to sever the tie between local property wealth and per-pupil spending, they signal their unwillingness to sanction public institutions from differentially advantaging one group over another. The second component of this project is to consider ways in which these reforms have affected the quality of civic life. Ken holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to coming to Stanford, he was a teacher for five years in Pueblo Pintado, a small Navajo community in the northwest region of New Mexico. He also taught for two years in Quito, Ecuador.



2011 – 2012

Christopher Chou

Christopher Chou (PhD Candidate, Law/Economics) studies land use and local government law in the United States as well as public goods theory. He aims to study the contribution of non-profit corporations and special districts to trend of the privatization of traditional local governance in California. Christopher received his B.A. from Northwestern University in mathematics and political science and is currently a J.D. Candidate at Stanford Law School. Christopher has interned at the San Francisco City Attorney and at the non-profit Public Advocates where he worked on affordable housing and inclusionary zoning issues. 

Brian Coyne

Brian Coyne (PhD Candidate, Political Science) studies philanthropy and civil society from the point of view of political theory. His dissertation explores the possibility that existing conceptions of autonomy and legitimacy, while valuable tools for understanding and critiquing state action, need to be rethought to better take account of the increasingly important role that political action by civil society plays in the modern world. Brian earned his B.A. in Government at Harvard University. As an undergraduate he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Mann Deshi Mahila, a women's microfinance bank in western India, and these experiences helped shape his interest in the role of civil society in political and economic development.

Karina Kloos

Karina Kloos (PhD Candidate, Sociology) studies the behaviors of nongovernmental/nonprofit organizations and their influence on social change. Prior to Stanford, she completed a Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy (2004-06) where her research was primarily dedicated to Kurdish minority populations. Her thesis: "Voice or Exit: Iraqi Kurdistan" and subsequent work with various nongovernmental organizations (2006-09) motivate her current research regarding NGO support for minority groups and indigenous populations. In 2011-12, Karina will develop her dissertation research by mapping the field of indigenous-issue NGOs to understand who they are trying to support, how their efforts affect policies protecting indigenous peoples and lands, and how else their work impacts indigenous communities and the right to 'self-determination.' Her research is grounded in the fields of social movements, organizations, and the social sector/civil society, and motivated by her broader interests in the behaviors and effects of social change organizations. Other research projects include the study of NGO collaboration in South Africa, and the creation and diffusion of nonprofit evaluation.

Carrie Oelberger

Carrie Oelberger (PhD Candidate, Education) studies the realm of prosocial work, specifically that which occurs in an international context. Theoretically, her research lies at the intersection of sociology of work, organizational sociology, and social movements. Her current research follows four main streams: (1) the influence of funding sources on the shape of prosocial work; (2) organizational accountability within the prosocial realm; (3) the increasing professionalization and the rise of metrics and evaluation in the nonprofit sector; and (4) the influence of individual motives on both individual lives and the shape of prosocial work. Following this last stream, her dissertation research asks what motivates people to perform prosocial work, how those motivations change over their life course, and what implications these motivations have on individual career trajectories and the broader shape of the field. Oelberger holds a B.A. in History with Honors from Haverford College, an M.A. in Indigenous Education from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University. Prior to coming to Stanford, she worked for seven years in rural Tanzania directing education development projects in collaboration with international donors and the national government. Upon her return from Tanzania she was recruited to assist in establishing the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship at Haverford College. She continues to provide assistance to philanthropic foundations wishing to better inform their international grantmaking.

Tomer Perry

Tomer Perry (PhD Candidate, Political Science) studies normative political theory; in particular democratic theory, global justice and anything in the intersection. He is currently interested in the various ways in which the global 'democratic deficit' could be bridged by, among other things, global civil society. The very feature which induces doubt regarding global democracy emphasizes the potential role of civil society: the absence of a state-like sovereignty leaves room for civil society organizations to exert influence and make decisions that impact the lives of millions. These cross-border entities are channels through which people around the world, seen as citizens of the world, influence and shape political reality. Tomer also pursues a Ph.D minor in Philosophy and holds a B.A. in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which is the city in which he was born and raised.



2010 – 2011

Elif Babul

(PhD Candidate, Anthropology) was born in Ankara, Turkey, received her BA in Political Science and International Relations at Ankara University. She then moved to Istanbul where she got her MA in Sociology from Bogazici University. For her MA thesis, she studied the effects of the assimilationist policies directed towards Imbros – an Aegean island under Turkish rule – due to the suspect status of its native Greek population for the Turkish nation state. Following her interests on how formal concepts such as democracy, sovereignty, citizenship and the rule of law operate at the everyday level and the production and performance of political subjectivities in contemporary Turkey, at Stanford she focused further on modern forms of governance – both national and transnational – such as human rights and humanitarianism, political legitimacy and state violence. Her research on human rights training programs for state officials and government workers in Turkey is grounded in anthropological studies of national and international forms of governance, transnational processes of standardization, global ethical regimes, and the local translations of universal human rights.

Rachel Lindenberg

(PhD Candidate, Sociology) will complete her Master's in Public Policy and her qualification for PhD candidacy in the Department of Sociology. Before commencing graduate work at Stanford in the fall of 2007, Rachel completed a two year Fellowship in nonprofit and community leadership at El Pomar, a $500 million private foundation serving the state of Colorado. In this capacity, she served as a staffer and director of the foundation's community stewardship programs and participated in specialized professional development curriculum. Before that, Rachel worked extensively in the nonprofit sector with locally and nationally prominent organizations including United Way, Hillel of Colorado, Red Cross, Young American's Center for Financial Education, and the YMCA. Her responsibilities included: executing educational and community programs, fundraising, grant-making, and research. She graduated from Colorado College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and a minor in Italian. In her free time Rachel enjoys mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters, cycling, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Trinidad Rico

(PhD Candidate, Anthropology) studies the process of cultural recovery in the aftermath of natural disasters, paying attention to the local and foreign interpretations of identity that construct cultural authenticity. Using post-tsunami Indonesia as a case study for her PhD, she is interested in cultural heritage as the vehicle that enables new identities and histories after the catastrophe. Her work questions the global construction of "heritage at risk" for defining cultural vulnerability in emergency disaster aid. Trinidad holds a B.A. in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge, and an M.A. in Conservation from University College London. Prior to coming to Stanford, she worked for the International Council for Monuments and Sites and the Getty Conservation Institute.

Patricia Seo

(PhD Candidate, Sociology) studies variation in community response to the growing presence of immigrant workers—specifically undocumented immigrants— participating in informal work. Her aim is to develop a contemporary model of understanding community conflict and response to immigrant day workers. Seo has earned a B.A. with honors in Political Science and Social Welfare from University of California, at Berkeley and a M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University. After serving as a Fulbright Fellow in South Korea in 2003, she spent the next two years working as a teacher in Seoul before coming to Stanford.

Yanbei Andrea Wang

(PhD Candidate, Law) studies global health governance and the formation and evolution of international legal regimes. She will be investigating how decentralized actors in civil society contributed to the revision of the 2005 International Health Regulations, an international treaty for controlling infectious disease. Andrea received a B.A. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and an M.Phil in International Relations from University of Oxford. She is currently also a D.Phil Candidate in International Relations at Oxford.


2009 – 2010

Mike Ananny

(PhD Candidate, Communication), studies contemporary relationships between the press and publics with an emphasis on understanding how increasing public's participation in the creation of news impacts traditional ideals of press autonomy, with an empirical focus on the work and products of "news technology" designers working within the mainstream media organizations and open-source communities. Annany has a M.A. in communication from Stanford, S.M. in media arts and sciences from MIT and B.Sc. in computer science and human biology from the University of Toronto.

Amanda R. Greene

(PhD Candidate, Philosophy) studies the political ethics of foreign aid. Greene's thesis concerns global justice and value pluralism, as she is particularly focused on ethics and political implications of value-based disagreement, political legitimacy in multi-faith societies, global justice, development aid and international law. Greene has been a visiting research fellow at Columbia Law School and holds a M.Phil. in philosophical theology from Oxford University and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Natalie A. Privett

(PhD Candidate, Management Science & Engineering) is conducting her dissertation research on operations management in the nonprofit sector, with a concentration on production and operations management. Her research is a manuscript-style dissertation that focuses on applying the theories and tools of operations and supply chain management in the nonprofit sector and humanitarian/disaster relief. Privett holds a M.S. in management science and engineering from Stanford and a B.S. in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.

Nandini Roy

(PhD Candidate, Sociology) researches the relationship between neighborhood collective action, collective efficacy and civic networks, in order to show how local-level variations in the levels of collective action are a joint function of existing levels of neighborhood collective efficacy and the pattern on inter-relationship between civic associations in those localities. Roy holds a M.A. in sociology from Stanford, as well as A.M. and A.B degrees from Brown University.


2008 – 2009

Tara Béteille

(PhD Candidate, Economics of Education) studies teacher accountability and local politics in India, focusing on the political and social structure in which teachers' positions as professionals conflict with the implicit rewards and sanctions of the educational accountability system. She also investigates teachers' responses to politicians' demands on them as community authority figures and potential political organizers. She came to Stanford from the Delhi School of Economics where she was among the first class of scholars to graduate from the program.

Béteille's interest in teacher labor markets dates to 2000, when she worked with ICICI Bank, India, managing their nonprofit funding in education. Her work involved interacting with governmental and non-governmental groups; project appraisal and development; and overseeing research and evaluation. Her experiences over this period made her acutely aware of the range of political and bureaucratic processes governing policy outcomes, and the need to study teacher accountability as a systemic issue in order to frame effective policies.

Chris Bryan

(PhD Candidate, Psychology) received his BA in psychology from McGill University in 2002 and began the PhD program in Social Psychology in the fall of 2003. He is currently in his fifth year of that program, working with Professors Lee Ross and Carol Dweck. He is interested in the study of social and political attitudes: specifically, in the ways in which such attitudes are often more dynamic and malleable than they are traditionally thought to be. In his fellowship year, he will focus on attitudes about poverty and test an experimental intervention designed to influence people's willingness to engage in charitable giving.

Roy Elis

(PhD, Political Science) studies the effects of political institutions on economic development. His research employs a comparative history of Argentina and the United States to tease out the effects of political institutions on land rights, taxation and public schooling as three important dimensions of economic development. Before coming to Stanford, Elis taught middle school mathematics for three years in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City – an experience that both sparked his interest in the politics of public education and led him to study political science in the first place. He currently works as senior data analyst for Teach for America

Paul Gowder

(PhD, Political Science) studies a variety of issues in normative political theory that can perhaps best be summarized as "reason, rationality, discourse and toleration in democracy." His reserach explored several different approaches to the general question of how citizens ought to reason about both their fundamental commitments and about practical political disputes. Before coming to Stanford, Gowder studied law (JD 2000) at Harvard and spent several years providing low-income legal services and doing grassroots community organizing in Oregon. He also spent two years practicing civil rights and civil liberties law in the Washington, D.C. area. Gowder is currently an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Iowa.

Kaisa Snellman

(PhD, Organizational Sociology) studies the relationship between neighborhood civic infrastructure and collective civic action. During the fellowship year, she will investigate the role of nonprofits and religious organizations as catalysts for civic action. She is interested in how the founding context of an organization influences its capacity to foster civic action. In particular, Snellman will examine the hypothesis that organizations founded during the civil rights era are more likely to have a larger impact on collective action in the neighborhood than organizations founded in more recent years. Snellman has earned a MA in Sociology from Stanford and a MSc in Economics from the Swedish School of Economics in Finland. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she was a research assistant in the department for investigative journalism for the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in Finland.

Megan Tompkins-Stange

(PhD, Education, and MA, Sociology) studies the role of philanthropy and private sector actors on public school reform, and is engaged in three primary research projects: one looking at the rise of the nonprofit charter school management organization; another on the diffusion of social entrepreneurship as a model for nonprofit sector practice; and a third analyzing the impact of philanthropic foundations on California public school finance policy. She is broadly interested in normative issues in civil society and the nonprofit sector, particularly the increasingly overlapping boundaries between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

Tompkins has a BA with honors from Stanford and an EdM from Harvard University. Prior to starting the PhD, she worked for four years in higher education administration at Stanford, including as Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. She is a Lecturer at University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy.



Rekha Balu

(PhD, Economics of Education) studies school access, quality and finance in developing countries. She is examining the resilience of schools in countries in conflict and is interested in how both local civil society and international donor agencies consider and support education as a resource during conflict.

Balu first began to explore the role of education during civil conflict while completing her Ed.M. at Harvard University (2003), and as a Fulbright Scholar in Guatemala studying the distribution of education programs after the country's peace accords. While working as Associate Director at the Center for Universal Education for two years in Washington, D.C., she monitored international donor financing and programs to support basic education in developing countries and fragile states.

Joon Nak Choi

(PhD, Economics/Organizational Sociology) studies policy networks in the United States and Asia. He is interested in how charitable foundations' financial contributions to nonprofit policy research organizations (think tanks) affect American politics. Choi became interested in policy networks while conducting research under Gi-Wook Shin (Director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center) and Mark Granovetter (Stanford University Department of Sociology). He has earned an MA in Sociology from Stanford University (2005) and an AB in International Relations, Economics and Urban Studies from Brown University (2000).

Hilary Schaffer

(PhD, Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources) researches the environmental and social impacts associated with energy development and public participation in environmental decision-making; in particular, the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals in California. Prior to joining the IPER PhD program, Schaffer worked for three years as a senior project engineer in the environment and regulatory group at the ExxonMobil Development Company. In this role, she supervised the research, writing and publication of the socioeconomic sections of environmental impact assessments submitted to the Russian government for the Sakhalin-1 Project and directed the associated public consultation program. In addition, she managed regulatory compliance issues related to the construction of a liquefied natural gas pipeline in Northern Italy and devised waste management and hydrogen sulfide plans for the Four Corners production field on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, Utah.



Ed Bruera

(Political Science) studies the distributional politics of AIDS drugs in Africa. He is interested in how the efforts of non-governmental organizations affect the delivery of AIDS-related services in South Africa. Bruera became interested in questions of AIDS and politics after doing a fellowship at the University of Cape Town in 2005. He studied political science and philosophy at Rice University, and worked for a year after college as a research intern at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Tricia Martin

(PhD Candidate, International & Comparative Education) studies the rise of information networks as a tool for organizing social change among civil society organizations. She is studying the changes in the role of expert knowledge in the field of international development through a cross-national, longitudinal analysis. Martin became interested in global civil society while completing a Master of Science in International Studies at Rutgers University (2001). There, she worked as a Research Assistant for the World Orders Model Project, a nonprofit that aims to stimulate research and dialogue promoting a just world order. In 2001, she moved to San Francisco to work in the Education Program of the World Affairs Council where she spent four years helping create programs about international issues for high school teachers and students.

Rand Quinn

(PhD, Education) studies the social justice nonprofit sector; in particular, the relationship between public schools and philanthropy and its impact on district accountability. He is interested in understanding how the introduction of philanthropic reform efforts affect school district accountability structures, norms, and practices. Before Stanford, Quinn was a community organizer and policy analyst working on welfare rights and public benefits issues. Among his prior positions, he was the Executive Director of Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) and the Public Policy Director of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NCCIR).

Nicholas Switanek

(Organizational Behavior, GSB) focuses on "new wave environmentalism," which reaches out to for-profit organizations with sustainable practices to collaborate with philanthropic organizations. He studies how changes in the composition of the field of organizations concerned with environmental issues affect how environmental problems and their potential solutions are perceived. In particular, he is exploring the interaction of environmental grantmaking and environmental social movement organizations. Before pursuing his doctorate, Switanek studied philosophy and mathematics at the University of Arizona, and worked in financial and Internet-based services in Beijing, China. His experiences in China impressed upon him the importance of influences across the boundaries between market, state and non-governmental, non-market actors.