Staff

David Axelrod, AB ’76

Institute Director

A University of Chicago alumnus, David Axelrod is a 35-year veteran of American politics and journalism. Prior to becoming a political consultant, Axelrod spent eight years as a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, including a stint as the City Hall bureau chief. As a political consultant, Axelrod has managed media and communications strategy for more than 150 local, state and national campaigns. Axelrod most recently served as Senior Strategist to President Obama's successful re-election campaign. He served in that same role in then-Senator Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, before going on to serve in the White House as Senior Advisor to the President. After the 2012 campaign, Axelrod turned his focus to the Institute of Politics to help inspire and train the next generation of leaders.

Steve Edwards

Executive Director

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For more than two decades, Steve Edwards has covered politics and public policy as a journalist and program host. His work has appeared on the BBC, Bloomberg News, PBS, and on numerous public radio stations around the United States. Most recently, he spent nearly 14 years at WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR member station, where he served as host of the acclaimed daily shows The Afternoon Shift and Eight Forty-Eight. Steve has moderated numerous candidate debates, hosted the weekly political show The Best Game in Town, and was the correspondent for a BBC documentary on Chicago’s political culture. A native of Kansas City, he was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan and earned his A.B. in political science from Amherst College.

Amin Cyntje

Director, Programming

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Prior to joining the Institute, Amin Cyntje was the director of National Journal Live, where he was responsible for building content and leading the execution of all of National Journal’s public policy programs. In this role, he worked closely with National Journal's editors, writers, and executives to build nonpartisan programs that engaged national thought leaders on issues of national import. Before joining National Journal, he served as a program manager at the Partnership for Public Service, where he developed strategy, messaging, and communications for a nationwide public education campaign to honor America’s public servants. Amin has also held positions at Global Impact, the Democratic National Committee, and in the congressional offices of Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Stephen Lynch. A native of St. Thomas, USVI, Cyntje is a graduate of the George Washington University and Bethune-Cookman College.

Matthew Jaffe

Director, Communications

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Prior to joining the Institute, Matthew Jaffe covered national politics as a reporter and producer for ABC Network News. Based in ABC's Washington, D.C. bureau, in 2008 he was an embedded reporter with the campaign of then vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden. After the campaign, he covered finance and the federal response to the economic crisis. In 2010, he was named ABC's digital reporter covering the U.S. Senate. The following year, Matthew covered the Republican presidential primary for both ABC News and Univision. Most recently, he was a reporter and producer based in ABC's Chicago bureau, covering stories such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston marathon bombing and the election of Pope Francis. A native of Philadelphia, he earned his B.A. from Georgetown University and has also studied in Spain, England, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Dillan Siegler, MBA ‘00

Director, Partnerships & Engagement

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Dillan Siegler is the Director of Partnerships and Engagement and a member of the IOP's founding team. In this role, she oversees close to 300 student engagement and internship opportunities for UChicago students, and helps manage the IOP's 100-plus on- and off-campus partnerships. Dillan has worked at the University for six years during which time she founded and managed the UChicago Careers in Public and Social Service (UCIPSS) program at Career Advancement; a program geared to helping students translate their UChicago educations into meaningful public service careers post-graduation. Prior to coming to the University, Dillan ran the Adult Training and Employment Program at a westside non-profit, which provided resources and services to individuals with criminal backgrounds, disabilities, and other significant barriers to employment. Dillan received an MBA in Managerial and Organizational Behavior from UChicago's Booth School of Business and a BA in Psychology from Yale University.

Karnika Iyengar, AB ‘11

Assistant Director, Internship Programs

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As a proud University of Chicago alumna, Karnika is thrilled to return to campus to serve the University community. Prior to joining the Institute, Karnika worked as a litigation paralegal at Covington & Burling LLP in New York City, focusing on intellectual property law, government, international affairs, and media. An Oklahoma native, she graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 with a BA in Political Science.

Mallory McClaire

Assistant Director, Events

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Prior to joining the Institute, Mallory McClaire worked at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture where she assisted the Executive Director for three years.  Before entering this role, she was a researcher on the Chicago Neighborhood Tourism Project, a groundbreaking assessment of tourism assets in Chicago’s neighborhoods. Her background in event management includes work in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and with Mayor’s Office of Special Events. Mallory is a Chicago native and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri.

Katrina Mertens

Assistant Director, Operations & Budget

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Since 2010, Katrina Mertens served as executive assistant to the general counsel and deputy superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education. Prior to assisting the general counsel, she served as an administrative assistant in the special education division for the Board. Katrina moved to Chicago in 2008 from Baltimore, where she worked in the narcotics unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. She has an MA in counseling from Roosevelt University and a BS in criminal justice and urban studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Christine Hurley

Associate Producer, Speaker Series

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Prior to joining the Institute of Politics team, Christine worked as an Associate Producer for Chicago Tonight on Chicago’s PBS. While at channel 11, Christine was nominated for three Midwest Emmy Awards. She is a native of Chicago’s southwest suburbs. She received her BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2009. Christine returned to Chicago after graduation and began work on her Master’s degree in Journalism at DePaul University, which she completed in 2011.

Lucy Little, AB ‘12

Outreach Specialist

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Prior to joining the Institute of Politics, Lucy served as the 2012 - 2013 Dr. Aizik Wolf Human Rights Post-Baccaleaureate Fellow, where she worked with Heartland Alliance for Human Rights & Human Needs developing and implementing trauma-sensitive creative arts activities and group curricula for undocumented immigrant youth living in short-term residential programs in Chicago. A New York City native, she graduated from the University of Chicago in 2012 with a BA in music.

Chenab Navalkha, AB ‘13

RISE Fellow, Student Civic Engagement Coordinator

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Chenab comes to the Institute of Politics through New Sector Alliance’s Residency in Social Enterprise fellowship, an 11-month program for individuals pursuing careers in nonprofit work. As a recent graduate, Chenab is excited to take on a new role within the University community. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013 with a BA in both Biology and Philosophy.