MDP Students


 MDP class of 2019 (above)


    MDP class of 2020 (above)


 MDP class of 2019 (above)




Class of 2021


Heather Altherr

As a student in the MDP program Heather Altherr is focusing on natural resource conservation and GIS through a social justice lens. Heather has extensive experience working in sub-Saharan Africa on agriculture, conservation and technology projects. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia she worked with her community on agroforestry and gardening projects that resulted in the planting of over 3,500 trees, as well as working with women to improve gender equality through healthcare and education and even developed a radio program with other volunteers. She extended for a third year with the


Shannan Chapman

With a BS in Computer Science and an MBA, Shannan Chapman has spent the last two decades in the technology field, working for corporations that develop and sell software and hardware solutions. She had the opportunity to travel to and work alongside colleagues from China, Romania, India, Brazil and more. From this experience, a new passion was born and she knew that one day, she wanted to shift her work to international development.Currently, she serves on two non-profit boards that focus education as a way out of poverty: The Bo M Karlsson Foundation, which serves marginalized women in Nepal


Jack DeBoer

Drawn to the MDP program by its practical and comprehensive nature, Jack is building on his previous experiences and his BA in Global Security by gaining additional practical experience and analytical skills. As a first year student, he will focus on food security, livelihoods, monitoring and evaluation in East Africa and The Middle East. As a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow he will work with the UA cooperative extension’s Smartscape program to evaluate and assist with their irrigation and rainwater harvesting training series. After graduation, he will be eager to return to the field and


Sehdia Mansaray

Sehdia’s MDP focus lies in stakeholder and ethnic identity and its influence on decision making, particularly relating to conservation and international development. She takes an interest in Africans and the diaspora, alongside indigenous and marginalized peoples of the world.Sehdia saw in the MDP program a mutual value for approaching development with a critical and interdisciplinary lens. Having strong interests in the environment and culture, a degree drawing from anthropology and the natural sciences was a good fit. In her program, Sehdia wants to develop her skills in M&E,


Charles Meisch

Charles Meisch is a first-year MDP student, with particular interests in the issues of economic livelihoods of the poor and access to education and its impacts. Charles’s course of study will include anthropology, statistics, econometrics, and geographic information systems (GIS). His goal is to be able to conduct effective Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) with an international organization in the field of development.Charles’s interest in development was shaped by his experience of being from Iceland and growing up in both Reykjavik and Tucson. He has moved over ten times and


Isabella Moreno

Isabella’s area of focus in the MDP program is on improving health services for poor and marginalized communities, working within the broader field of global public health and development. She is particularly interested in studying the lack of health services available to marginalized communities. In addition, Isabella aims to understanding the connection between a country’s infrastructure and its health care system, with the primary goal of understanding how this affects the lives of their citizens, specifically their marginalized communities. Her regional interests are in Latin


Hiram Peña

Hiram is the Project Coordinator for the Agnese Nelms Haury Program. Prior to joining the Haury Program in January 2018, he worked on projects focusing on environmental research, ecosystem conservation education, promotion of sustainable regional development, and implementation of environmental sanitation regulations within the coastal and marine region of the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico.Hiram takes a multidisciplinary approach to meeting social and environmental challenges. He has collaborated on projects with educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and state government in


Robert Riley

Robert joins the MDP program after a successful 20-year career in the United States Navy participating in eight international deployments while traveling through 45 countries in support of humanitarian missions, combat operations, and multi-national cross training assignments. He has been a continuous advocate for marine conservation as a result of his Navy career, serving with institutions such as the Hanauma Bay Education Program and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary while living in Hawaii for nearly eight years.Currently, Robert is the proprietor of a small

Class of 2020


Avery Julian Baker
from Knoxville, Tennessee

Avery Julian Baker is a second-year MDP student. Prior to joining MDP, Avery served as a water, sanitation & health volunteer with Peace Corps in The Republic of Vanuatu from 2015 to 2017. He endured remote environments, facilitated a USAID grant and UNDP project, and was ceremonially bestowed with the honor of a chiefly title by village elders. This life-changing experience and cultural immersion introduced him to the climate change crisis and its effects, which he witnessed first-hand along with the poverty epidemic; it pushed him to contemplate a career in international development,


Natalia Ann Cachora

Natalia Cachora is an enrolled member of the Federally Recognized Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, which borders California and Arizona. Natalia is a second-year graduate student in the Master's in Development Practice (MDP) Program. Within the field of development, her focus is on health justice, including Native American health disparities, indigenous natural and cultural preservation, and the problem of exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides and byproducts of mining activites.Because of her dedication to Tribal Communities, Natalia has been awarded a Fort Yuma Quechan


Abbey Eversole Fluckiger
from Salt Lake City, Utah

Abbey developed an interest in food security while volunteering with Unity Gardens, in South Bend, Indiana.  Seeing the South Bend community come together to offer essential resources to its most vulnerable populations challenged her ideas about classical economic theory and strengthened her interest in alternative development strategies.  As an MDP student she has been able to explore the intersection of economics, food security and community-driven development.  Abbey has focused on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), believing that effective M&E is crucial for informed


Robert Hartwell
from Bedford,Massachusetts

A second-year MDP student, Robert Hartwell graduated from the University of New Hampshire with BA degrees in both Psychology and in Justice Studies, as well as a minor in Forensic Science. In 2016, he joined the Peace Corps as an Agriculture Extension Agent in the Adamawa region of Cameroon, where his primary project was the development and management of a 2.5-acre demonstration plot used as an outdoor classroom to teach farmers new, and more efficient, farming techniques and improved crop varieties. He also started a girls' group, in which he led weekly workshops that covered topics such


Amata R. Inshuti
From: Kigali,Rwanda

Amata graduated from University of Rwanda with focus in Agribusiness and Rural Development. Prior to joining the MDP, she was involved with the implementation of several different development projects in Rwanda before joining Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)/Rwanda Program.With WCS, Amata's main responsibilities have been to identify and assess viable income generating activities that could be promoted to address specific conservation threats and community needs around Nyungwe National Park. This includes leading a pilot project aimed at distributing over 11,000 energy efficient


Laura McCann

Laura McCann is interested in behavioral development economics, including the decision-making processes of natural resource managers. In particular, Laura’s focus is on the psychological and social means by which individuals manage scarcity and promote mindset changes towards climate change. She is studying the impact of decentralization of decision-making from the international or national level to the regional and local level.Prior to enrolling in the MDP, Laura studied environmental sciences, including soil and water science, and conducted small research projects on ecotourism and


Jake Meyers
from Richboro, Pennsylvania

A second-year MDP student, Jake Meyers graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. During his undergraduate studies, Jake conducted environmental research projects through a combination of semesters abroad, fellowships, and independently designed research projects in the Galapagos Islands (ecotourism and development), South Africa (great white shark conservation; semester abroad), China & Japan (sustainable practices in the auto industry), and across several Southeast Asian nations (researched how Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam shape


Mary Ngugi

Prior to entering the MDP program, Mary Ngugi worked for an international NGO based in northern Peru. As a program coordinator, she focused on implementing public health education programs and working with community stakeholders to improve local access to medical services. It was in this setting that Mary began to observe the confounding effects of ineffective economic policies, lack of access to and education about health care services, and poor environmental conditions on livelihoods.Mary had previously received her Bachelors of Science in Public Health from the University of Arizona, and


Abdul Sigal

Abdul Sigal is a second-year MDP student and a Coverdell Fellow, having served from 2013 to 2015 as a grassroots agriculture and small business volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ghana. Subsequently, still as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, he worked as part of the agriculture and livelihoods team of  the USAID - RING (Resiliency in Northern Ghana) project in Northern Ghana. He previously completed a bachelor's in managerial economics from the University of California-Davis.Abdul's primary areas of focus are food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and refugee issues in the context of


Samantha Jane Turner

Samantha Turner arrived as a first year MDP student with a background and passion for food security and community-driven food solutions across the state of Arizona. She currently works for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and is strongly invested in supporting her local community here in Tucson. The Community Food Bank addresses both the immediate needs of hunger, and the root causes of hunger by providing weekly farmers markets in low-income communities, garden education for community and youth members, and also runs the Las Milpitas Community Farm that provides a place for

Class of 2019


Deborah Dimmett (MDP May 2019)
from Tucson, Arizona

Deborah Dimmet is an MDP student and also an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. Her regional interests and work are in Caribbean/Latin American regions, with a particular focus on Haiti.  She has 10 years of experience in Cuba (1993-2003) and more than 15 years of experience in Haiti (2003-present).  Her interests in Cuba have emphasized culture and linguistic in Afro-Cuban religions, and a continuation of that research led her to Haiti in 2003.  Deborah is currently also the


Anna Jackson (MDP May 2019)

Anna was first interested in pursuing a Master’s in Development Practice because of her long-time passion for human rights and social justice. Her early exposure to migration and borderlands issues in Southern Arizona influenced her decision to work in the criminal justice, immigration defense, and non-profit sectors. Although she is still passionate about migration advocacy, her experience in MDP has opened up more areas of interest. Anna has also traveled extensively to developing countries, so coupled with her commitment for social justice, MDP was a perfect fit. Anna’s


Philana A Jeremiah (MDP May 2019)

Philana is an MDP student focused on environmental sustainability issues. She is particularly interested in using geographic information systems (GIS) to study the impact of plastic waste on beaches. She spent the summer of 2018 on her field practicum in Eleuthera, Bahamas promoting GIS as a tool for analysis and learning about environmental sustainability practices from the NGO perspective. Philana has a background in environmental sustainability and training in GIS. As a Teaching Assistant, she teaches an undergraduate GIS lab. Philana plans to enroll in a doctoral program in


Amel Lebatt (MDP May 2019)
from Nouakchott, Mauritania

Amel Lebatt is from Nouakchott, Mauritania and has focused her MDP work on the global refugee crisis. For her summer field practicum, she worked in the US with a resettlement program and in particular with refugees who had suffered from torture. Amel’s work consisted in helping refugees adjust culturally and, in the longer-term, to reach self-sufficiency. Her particular focus is on how mental health affects the pace at which refugees reach self-sufficiency.Amel’s experiences in different countries have allowed her to have a better understanding of diverse cultures. Coming from


Chris Mazzarella

Linking his strong interests in both social justice and food security, Chris Mazzarella is manager of the Gabrielle Giffords Resource Center at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The Resource Center serves 8,000 to 10,000 clients monthly, providing not healthy food but also assistance with connection to other services, opportunities for social connection, educational resources, and more.Previously at the Community Food Bank, Chris was the manager of the Farm to Child Program, which works with local, low-income schools to create experiential learning opportunities through school


Denisse Ortega Lorona (MDP May 2019)

Denisse Ortega Lorona works at The Garden Kitchen, a University of Arizona program combating food insecurity in Tucson and elsewhere in Pima County.  Her MDP Master's Project (submitted May 2019) was: "The Development Impacts of Fair Trade: Enpalme Valley, Sonora, Mexico."  Prior degrees: B.A., political science, University of Arizona  


Michelle Schatz (MDP May 2019)

Michelle came into the MDP after completing a bachelor’s in community planning from Northern Arizona University. Her interest in development practice stemmed from working with a grass-roots nonprofit in Indonesia that facilitated direct trade for poor coffee farmers. Seeing the complexities of poverty and inequality in development has fueled her passion to create sustainable, equitable and culturally-appropriate approaches to the challenges of development. Throughout her graduate studies, Michelle has become focused on the global refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement process


Joseph Stewart (MDP May 2019)
from Miami, Florida

Prior to enrolling in the MDP program, Joe spent ten years living and working in Asia, first in Japan as an English teacher, and later as a Peace Corps Education volunteer in East Java, Indonesia.  Joe’s Peace Corps’ experience led him to become interested in exploring a career in development.  That interest ultimately led Joe to the University of Arizona in order to study more about the myriad of challenges facing development today.During his time abroad, Joe picked up valuable language skills (Japanese and Bahasa Indonesia), as well as cross-cultural knowledge relevant


Kelli Williams (MDP May 2019)
from Phoenix, Arizona

Kelli’s research is focused on land rights claims and the impact of climate change on Indigenous communities. In summer 2018, for her field practicum, she collaborated on research in Maasailand, Kenya utilizing ethnographic decolonizing methodologies to initiate community-driven change. This research focused on the impacts of drought driven by climate change compounded with issues of land and grazing, which was an issue  identified by community members as the biggest threat to their community and livelihoods. By receiving her bachelor's degree from 

Class of 2018


Amanda Hixson (MDP December 2018)
Tucson, Arizona

For the past twelve years, Amanda’s focus has been directed toward the nexus of issues related to sustainable food systems:  people’s access to food, how the foods people consume affect their health, and how growing practices affect the environment. Before beginning the MDP, Amanda spent six years as a farm manager and value-added farm product entrepreneur,  immersed in a small-scale, localized agricultural production system in the food economy of the Palouse region of northern Idaho/eastern Washington. While completing a Master's of Education and student


Karina Martinez (MDP 2018)
Hermosillo, Sonora

Karina is interested in evaluating environmental problems or risks, as well as their social and cultural impacts. Her current research project focuses on identifying energy requirements and obstacles to meet the needs of vulnerable social groups located in Hermosillo, Sonora. Before joining the MDP Program, Karina completed her undergraduate studies in Environmental and Industrial Engineering at the Sonora State University, where she did two studies with her undergrad professors. The first one was a study of brackish and saline water through soil simulations, and the second was concerned


Sandra Wiebe (MDP 2018)
from Carman, Manitoba, Canada

Sandra’s focus on systems of oppression that work to marginalize communities is what led her to pursue a degree in development practice. During her time in the MDP program, Sandra extended her focus by applying a multi-paradigm lens and a trans-species approach, exploring the intersectionality and interconnections of oppression.In the summer of 2018, Sandra worked with the Humane Society of United States Farm Animal Protection Campaign as a Food and Nutrition Intern in Washington, DC. This internship focused on contact gathering, outreach and collaboration efforts for their Forward Food