MDP Careers & Alumni


Since its inception in 2012, the Arizona MDP Program has produced more than 50 graduates who now are undertaking an array of development-related careers and other activities in the United States and internationally.  

Career Pathways

Graduates of the Arizona MDP are trained to advance transformative change in the lives of vulnerable people around the world in the public, private and non-profit/NGO sectors. Some graduates have also continued on to pursue Ph.D. degrees in fields including cultural anthropology, epidemiology, and geography. 

Here is a partial list of post-MDP employers of our graduates:

  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management    
  • TANGO International                          
  • Catholic Charities 
  • University of Arizona 
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
  • United Way 
  • Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children, Uganda 
  • Tetra Tech Management Systems International 
  • Johns Hopkins University     
  • Habitat for Humanity 
  • NeighborhoodWorks Alaska 
  • Perkins School for the Blind 
  • Partners in Health 
  • Innovation Law Lab 
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
  • Environment Office of Electricity, Laos 
  • Health and Wellness Foundation, Catholic Health Initiatives 
  • Flametree Initiative 
  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona 
  • Santa Barbara County Planning Development 
  • Good Shepherd Microfinance 
  • Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation 
  • Scratchpad Consulting 
  • JustHope, Nicaragua  
  • ChildFund International 


Alumni Profiles 

Bianca Comer (MDP 2018)

Bianca Comer is currently working in the Data and Evaluation department at UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix, Arizona. UMOM is a provider of shelter, housing, and services for people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Her MDP practicum experience working with pregnant women and families in rural Nicaragua (and her post-MDP role as a Community Health Worker for the Maricopa County Health Department) led her to follow her passion. In November of 2019, Bianca founded Our Mothers and Us (OMUS).  OMUS is a local not-for-profit organization in Phoenix that  strives to increase awareness and facilitate discussion surrounding disparities in maternal and child health, parenting, and social factors that influence health within Black and Brown communities. Through OMUS, her work has been highlighted in local blogs, was featured in VoyagePhoenix Magazine’s “Inspiring Stories” series, and received a monetary donation awarded by Phoenix clothing brand, Blxck Noise Apparel. 

Bianca Comer

"My experience in the MDP program has taught me that development work is not bound by geographical location — be it Mumbai, Port au Prince, or Tucson, the MDP program equips you with the knowledge and skills needed to improve the well-being of the under-resourced and socially excluded. Find your niche, pick a place, and do good work!"

Fardous Rahmani (MDP 2017)

Fardous Rahmani is a Strategic Planning and Communications Officer with the United Nations Department of Peace Operations (DPO). This department is dedicated to assisting the Member States and the Secretary-General in their efforts to maintain international peace and security through peacekeeping operations, implementation of Security Council mandates, and support of other efforts in peacebuilding. 


Fardous Rahmani in office


“The knowledge and skills that I learned from the University of Arizona MDP Program, not only as a student but also as a graduate assistant, have been the key to my recent achievements. The University of Arizona has a rich and diverse environment and is surrounded by many experienced professors, young professionals, and talented individuals.”  

Paige Klotzman

Paige Klotzman (MDP 2017)

Paige Klotzman is a Program Coordinator for India at Perkins International, a global organization for children with multiple disabilities and vision impairment based in Massachusetts. She is currently coordinating an initiative to partner with hospitals and state-level governments to develop more sustainable and scalable solutions in India. She recently led a program evaluation in Indonesia under her previous role as a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Officer.  

"Based on my experience in the MDP, I never stop dwelling on the multifaceted nature of development. While Perkins works primarily in the field of education, I am constantly seeing new ways of how education intersects with health, nutrition, governance, livelihoods, and poverty, and I strive to bring these ideas together in my work."  

Chantel Welch (MDP 2015)

Chantel Welch was Director of Community Development with NeighborWorks Alaska,  focusing on building community resilience through food access and on combatting chronic homelessness. Her work included engagement with people facing multiple challenges including poor health, physical and mental disabilities, and a lack of stable housing. She also recently concluded a two-year national endeavor with NeighborWorks America and Enterprise Community Partners to gather data on the health outcomes attributed to community development work. 

Chantel Welch

“I have incorporated my study of international development into local community development. Development is the same no matter where you’re practicing – it’s about working with and listening to your community. Finding local leaders, identifying community challenges and strengths, looking globally for proven solutions – all strategies that I learned in the MDP and in the Peace Corps proved to be invaluable for my work in rural and urban Alaska.” 

Albert Casella (MDP 2016)

Albert Casella is a Senior Research Manager at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. In this role, he oversees the operational, administrative, and scientific implementation of multi-year studies focused on HIV prevention done in collaboration with multiple public health stakeholders. Previously, Albert worked as a Senior Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he helped established one of the nation's first hospital-based healthy food pantries. His international work includes serving as a Monitoring & Evaluation Officer for the Rwanda Ministry of Health, where he led a national evaluation of Rwanda’s social protection programming. His work and research has primarily focused on youth populations and the organizations that serve youth in low-resource settings. 

Albert Casellas

"The Arizona MDP helped set me up to succeed by providing the technical skills needed to design, implement, and analyze development projects. However, while my daily work certainly utilizes these skills, I feel that the most valuable component of the program is that it combines a historical context of development and a problem-solving mentality -- students learn why pervasive issues such as poverty, inequality, and poor health exist, and then are provided the tools to go and do something about it".

Emma Barker-Perez (MDP 2016)

Emma Barker-Perez worked as a research coordinator and project manager at Good Shepherd Microfinance in Melbourne, Australia. This role had her designing and implementing mixed methods research to explore ways to boost people's financial capability and confidence. She also conducted ecosystem mapping to support entrepreneurial women in Australia and Malaysia. Barker-Perez then began work as a consultant for Think Impact, a Melbourne-based social impact consultancy that works across many sectors (including philanthropy, government, business, banks, nonprofit, university) and areas (such as  affordable housing, biodiversity, social cohesion, aged care, social enterprise) to help organisations understand, measure, communicate, and transform the social and environmental impact they seek to create.

Emma Barker-Perez

"I love my work as it gives me a snapshot into the myriad ways in which people of all stripes and backgrounds try to make positive change in their respective corners of society. I utilise my MDP-learned research skills and knowledge every day, and work with a lot of amazing people with backgrounds in international development." 

Daniel Kebede

Daniel Kebede (MDP 2016)

Daniel Kebede is a grant management specialist working with ChildFund International in Washington DC, managing projects funded by the US government (USAID and USDoL), foundations, and philanthropic organizations. Some of the projects include Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Kanya and Zambia; capacity building, advocacy and awareness-raising against child labor in the Philippines; community health program strengthening in Senegal; and prevention and control of human trafficking in three Central American countries. His work includes participating in developing winning project proposals, writing or reviewing project reports, and coordinating strategic development and consultative meetings with project staff, stakeholders, and donors located in different parts of the globe.

"The MDP program at the University of Arizona prepared me very well to have the multi-dimensional knowledge and skill that I apply daily to my work.  This is just the beginning of my long journey in development work. I owe it to the UA and my professors." 

Michelle Schatz (MDP 2019)

Michelle Schatz is a Case Manager for the Refugee Youth Mentorship Program (RYMP) at Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest in Tucson, Arizona. She helped create the first state-funded refugee youth mentorship program in Tucson and currently oversees youth participants in the program, tracking their progress towards social, educational and vocational goals. The RYMP is a program to help provide leadership, structure and healthy relationships for refugees between the ages of 15 and 24.  Her work with RYMP related directly to her MDP summer practicum working on refugee resettlement in Tucson with the International Rescue Committee.  

Michelle Schatz

"The skills and knowledge I gained in the MDP taught me how to look at social issues such as youth high school dropout rates as intersectional components of poverty, health and community integration. The most important skill I learned during the MDP was the idea of community participation -- not only serving the population intended, but actively involving them in the development of the program as it grows." 


Natalie Lucas in Paris

Natalie Lucas in Paris to attend United Nations Climate Change Conference

Natalie Lucas (MDP 2015)

Natalie Lucas founded the NGO Care About Climate during  her second year of of the Arizona MDP Program; the group works on  climate communication and youth capacity building to mitigate and adapt to climate change internationally.  Her environmental organizing work was extended through trainings provided through the Sierra Student Coalition, the youth branch of The Sierra Club. As she worked with that group, Lucas started to take on leadership positions including training others, developing curriculum, and finally leading their delegation to UN climate talks, including the delegation to the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris. In 2016, she was elected to the national Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. 

You can also read our Q&A interview with Natalie Lucas on the MDP Blog.

"I really valued that in the MDP we were able to have courses in public health, economics, research methods, and general historical frameworks for how the world has developed. I also appreciated how the program critiqued development, and really made us think about what that means so we interact with communities with compassion and from the bottom up.  I also grew in my ability to do research, write, develop project plans, and create participatory solutions development with communities. The skills you learn in this program can be utilized in many different fields, and it makes you a more well-rounded and thoughtful person."