Policy Team

Research Department

Raydia Martin, JD/MSW

Lead Policy Advisor

Raydia joined the Drake Institute in May 2020 as a Drake Scholar and leads a team of scholars who research new developments related to issues impacting women and draft policy materials that directly influence state and federal legislative decision makers. She also partners with nonprofits and local stakeholders to form coalitions that advocate for effective state legislation in Drake’s target states. Her mission is to develop and support evidence-based public policy initiatives that improve the lives of women from all backgrounds.  

Raydia began her public policy career as a legislative researcher and analyst for several national advocacy organizations, including Shared Hope International and Polaris, where she tracked and monitored bills as they travelled through state legislatures, drafted bill summaries, conducted legislative analysis, and drafted educational resources for legislators and for the general public. Her research was the foundation of several successful initiatives to make human trafficking prevention, criminal justice reform, and child welfare reform legislative priorities in numerous states.

Raydia is a licensed attorney and obtained her law degree and a master’s in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She began her professional career as a family law attorney, assisting clients with finding closure to difficult legal battles. Her desire to address the systemic inequalities that impacted her clients, who were often from marginalized communities, led her to pursue a career in public policy.

Sarah Huffman

Lead Policy Advisor

Sarah Huffman graduated with a B.A. in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law, a B.A. in Psychology, and a Minor in Bioethics from the University of Virginia (UVA). In September 2020, she will commence a Forensic Mental Health Research MSc at King’s College, London. Sarah is extremely passionate about areas of policy related to mental health, reproductive healthcare, early childhood intervention, education, and criminal justice reform.

In her time at UVA she has collaborated with other members in the student organization, Legislators of Tomorrow, as their President, drafting bills for the Virginia General Assembly related to Mental Health First Aid Training for police officers, preventing police from using false evidence/lying during interrogations, and teaching consent in family life education. She and other student members are currently working with delegates in the Virginia General Assembly to have these bills introduced in the 2021 legislative session. She has also been an active member in organizations dedicated to women’s healthcare and sexual assault prevention such Hope on Grounds and PP Gen Action at UVA.

Her long-term goal is to become a delegate or senator in the Virginia General Assembly and then a senator for Virginia in Congress to help reform mental healthcare law and the criminal justice system at both the state and federal level.

Bethany Parker

Policy Advisor

Bethany graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in English. After graduation she was awarded a Fellowship from WorldTeach and taught English in rural China. This past year, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island working with Beat the Streets Providence. Since the fall, she has been studying towards a Master’s in Public Policy, earning her way towards a certification to teach yoga, and advising a women’s group at George Mason University.

Natalie Gomez

Policy Advisor

Natalie Gomez is a graduate from California State University of San Marcos (CSUSM) with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Global Studies. A prominent message she noted throughout her studies is the social consequences of inequality and discrimination. It is Natalie’s key goal to pursue social justice and reform structural discriminants. Her interests consist of natural law, policy making, prison reform, environmental health, and inclusion and diversity.

Natalie has been awarded for her commitment of community and civic engagement; Being acknowledged by CSUSM and UNESCO for her leadership skills, abilities to collaborate, and thrive in diversity. Her experiences, assisting professors with research dedicated to conflict resolutions, working with grass-root organizations and on-campus student groups has strengthened her beliefs in the power and potential of collective effort in social change and protest.

Her future endeavors consist of working in international policy by providing and conducting

prevalent case studies in the field of conflict resolution and peace building.

Abigail Dubon

Policy Advisor

Abigail grew up in the suburbs of Johnston County, North Carolina. She graduated cum laude from North Carolina State university with a BS in Political Science with a concentration in International Politics. She also received a minor degree in Nonprofit Studies. Abigail developed a strong sense of devotion to the nonprofit sector and community outreach programs while volunteering at a local pay-what-you-can-cafe, A Place at the Table. This experience gave her a deep appreciation for nonprofits that enrich the growth of the local community.

Chalyna Lazo

Policy Advisor

Chalyna is a graduate student at Mills College in the Master of Public Policy Program. She grew up and is from San Francisco, CA. She is a part of an alumni network with a non-partisan organization called, Ignite National, which encourages young women and girls to run for office and other political careers. She’s worked with high school and middle school youth on civics education; empowering them to become leaders of the future. She aspires to work in state government as a policy analyst. She is passionate about voting rights and elections, education, immigration, pay equity, housing and prison reform. 

Sierra Norton

Legislative Correspondent & Special Assistant to the CEO

Sierra is a rising senior at American University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in History. On campus, she works at the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative (CRGC) office where she assists with social media posts for events and other departmental matters.

Research Interns

Johana Earnhart

Policy Analyst

Johana is a senior at George Mason University studying Economics and International Governments. During her time at George Mason, she has participated in the Athletics Program where she played softball during her freshman year and participated in various clubs on campus. She served as the Secretary and Vice President of Virginia 21, a student-run and non-partisan organization that focuses on community outreach and advocacy on issues important to college students. She also served on the Executive Board for the Epsilon Pi chapter of Gamma Phi Beta as the Membership Vice President where she oversaw recruitment.

Also in Gamma Phi Beta, she has been a member of the academics committee and philanthropy committee. She is passionate about human trafficking. She interned with Street Grace, a non-profit in North Georgia, who focuses their efforts on domestic minor sex trafficking. The experience exposed her to the world of human trafficking and sparked her passion for advocating for migrant workers and victims of labor trafficking.

Emma Shokeir

Policy Analyst

Emma is a rising junior at Duke University majoring in Political Science with a minor in Classical Studies and a PPE certificate. She is originally from Bellingham, WA and grew up in Canada. On campus, she is a research assistant for a study on wage gaps and she is involved with Duke’s Association for Business Oriented Women (BOW), Duke Women’s Water Polo Club, and FORM magazine. Emma is also a Kenan School of Ethics Undergraduate Fellow, working on advocacy for health care workers in Alberta, Canada. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, pay equity, voting rights, housing, and economic policy. After graduation, she plans to attend law school.

Isabella Sabri

Policy Analyst

Isabella is a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She is passionate about the impact of politics and aspires to work in policy and government. She has worked on various campaigns over the past few years, including the Warren presidential campaign in 2019.

She was also a contributing writer for her school newspaper. She is currently learning a fifth language and hopes to incorporate her curiosity and passions into her career.

Communications Department

Keisha Jackson

Jr. Press Secretary

Contact: Keisha.Jackson@drakeinstitute.org

Keisha was born and raised in Washington, DC. and earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies from the University of the District of Columbia-Community College. She is a graduate of Trinity Washington University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication.

Aman Solanki

Marketing and Public Relations Assistant

Aman Solanki is a rising sophomore at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania studying Finance and Operations, Informations, and Decisions. On campus, he is a Senior Consultant in MUSE Consulting, one of the largest consulting groups at Wharton. Aman is part of Penn Masti (a South Asian fusion dance team) and is an incoming Wharton 101 Teaching Assistant. He previously worked as an intern at the U.S. Department of Education and served as a State Officer for Virginia DECA.

Kelly Harris

Marketing and Public Relations Assistant

Kelly Harris is a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Digital Marketing and Musical Theatre. On campus, she serves on the student council and was appointed as the head of Publicity and Marketing for the Class of 2023. Kelly is a member of the Glynn Family Honors program and the Building Bridges mentorship program. 

Prior to joining Drake, Kelly interned for the Florida State Attorney’s Office, the Donald Trump Presidential Campaign, the Marco Rubio Senate Campaign, and the Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign. She has built an influential social media presence with more than 140,000 followers and 2.7 million likes.

Katie Isaacson

Marketing and Public Relations Assistant

Katie is graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology and Geography with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Political Science in June 2020. Throughout her college career, she explored a range of topics from infant mortality rates in the United States to water scarcity in the Middle East. It is Katie’s goal to make the world a better place through effective policy making and education. Her interests consist of sustainability, cultural anthropology, and international affairs. 

Katie has excelled in her academic career, making Dean’s List eight quarters and participating in multiple organizations on campus. In her sorority Chi Omega, she was recognized for raising the most money for the local chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation. Her experiences include completing an internship at a public diplomacy organization in Herzliya, Israel and contributing to research projects with various professors.