Kreisman Graduate Fellows: 2023-2024

Meet the 2023-2024 class of the Kreisman Graduate Fellows Program, a cohort of University of Chicago graduate students from across fields of study who are committed to pursuing careers in housing research or practice. During the academic year, Kreisman Graduate Fellows take part in a range of professional development activities, including meeting leaders in the housing field, professional development sessions, and an independent internship or research project in the housing field, supported by a stipend.

Hannah Bernick

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Hannah Bernick is a Master’s in Public Policy candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy. She has a deep passion for urban policy and is focused on making an impact in housing policy in cities after graduation.  She is pursuing certificates in municipal finance and policy analysis. In addition to the Kreisman fellowship this year, she serves on the board of the Urban Policy Student Association, and as a producer of the Public Money Podcast. Before starting at Harris, she graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with majors in economics and gender studies. After graduation, she interned in the Colorado Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting, which kickstarted an initial interest in public money. From there, she worked in the Colorado State Legislature for two sessions where she developed a strong passion for policy and the legislative process. Just prior to moving to Chicago, she worked as an aide to a Denver city councilperson, which solidified her interest in urban policy. Specifically, she saw how a lack of affordable housing touched every single corner of the city and knew her calling was in this area. She is excited to learn from her fellow Kreisman fellows as well as the Kreisman program this year.


Francesca Chicoine

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Francesca Chicoine is a public policy graduate student focused on housing, public health, and criminal justice policy reform. Prior to her time at the University of Chicago, she worked in the non-profit sector dedicated to improving systems and advocating for equitable policies. Her first notable role in the housing field was a policy internship at Destination: Home, where she analyzed state and local housing policy and advanced Santa Clara County’s Community Plan to End Homelessness. Additionally, she worked for the National Center for Youth Justice on their Juvenile Justice policy team advocating for California’s state legislature to decriminalize youth. After graduating with her bachelor of arts from the University of Portland, she joined Abode Services, where she facilitated housing placements for individuals experiencing homelessness while providing critical housing resources. Francesca’s experiences underscored the intersection between the housing crisis and drug criminalization, leading her to delve into the public health aspect of these challenges. In her current role, at the Public Health Institute’s Bridge Program, she supports hospitals in reaching accessible, evidence-based, and equitable 24/7 emergency care, specifically focusing on harm reduction for addiction treatment, reproductive health, and public health screening. 


Mercedes Garcia

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Mercedes Garcia is a public policy graduate student focused on the intersection of health policy and well-being outcomes for indigenous peoples, women, and youth when considering child welfare, juvenile justice, and homelessness laws and policies across all levels of government. She is a citizen of the Pascua Yaqui tribe and was raised by community and grassroots organizing, which continue to ground and drive her work and advocacy efforts today. She earned her Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in 2011 and 2012, respectively.  Following her time as a Deputy Prosecutor in her community, Mercedes served in the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of Interior, where she championed an Obama Initiative and created a holistic well-being model for indigenous populations, forming partnerships with and among 61 federally recognized American Indian & Alaska Native tribes. She formulated the Tiwahe (family) Initiative to enable tribes to self-determine the use of their federal funding to enhance the coordination of care for families among social services, tribal courts, housing, and workforce providers and enable services grounded in the languages and traditions of each community and which improved holistic well-being outcomes across all communities. She is a recent entrepreneur, formulating her own company to uplift and empower Native peoples, organizations, and partners. With these communities, she continues to lead the call for action to change laws and policies that leave Native peoples behind across every well-being aspect, from physical, social, and emotional well-being to economic mobility.  Mercedes was raised by a single mother in a multi-generational household to whom she credits her own tenacity, humor, grit, and unfettering belief that we can do anything to which we set our minds.  


Daniel Grinspan

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Daniel Grinspan is a graduate student focused on urban policy, with an interest in public-private partnerships, affordable housing, urban design, and economic development. Before starting his master of public policy, Daniel graduated with a bachelor’s in urban planning and development from Ball State University and worked at a private firm practicing urban design. His experiences growing up in various international cities such as Reykjavik, Iceland, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, have given him an interest in how different cities develop and how they can continue to be developed to provide housing for all income levels.

Toyan “TJ” Harper

PhD, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

TJ Harper is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, where he also earned a master’s degree in social policy in 2021. His research explores the reentry process, specifically focused on familial involvement and how formerly incarcerated people access housing post-prison and engage with health recommendations. He seeks to understand the experiences formerly incarcerated people encounter when they seek treatment in their communities. TJ’s research particularly focuses on reducing system inefficiencies — between prisons and other institutions such as hospitals — that interrupt the continuum of care formerly incarcerated people receive. Using a mixed-methods approach, TJ seeks to inform policy decisions and facilitate a smoother integration of care received in prisons and within communities post-release. Prior to graduate school, TJ worked at various nonprofit agencies and government entities which broadened his perspective to the possibilities of public service. He aspires to working toward a more just and humane society that prioritizes health equity for people and communities that have historically experienced marginalization and exclusion.

Arturo Sanchez Navarro

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Arturo Sanchez Navarro is an urban planner and public policy graduate student dedicated to exploring the impact of public spaces, housing, and transportation on dense conurbations, based on principles of legible, intuitive, and innovative design. Arturo graduated cum laude from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México with experience at Politecnico di Torino. His studies at the University of Chicago, with the support of a Fulbright scholarship, focus on how programs and regulations are complementary to public infrastructure, through data driven decision-making processes and statistical tools. Arturo has recently worked as a Mayoral Fellow with the City of Chicago, as a graduate intern with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and as a research assistant in the Cities in Protest course. Prior to that, he participated with the Ministry of Mobility of Mexico City as Head of the Infrastructure Studies Department, leading urban design, signage, iconography, and road safety strategies. Additionally, Arturo is passionate about languages, music, and graphic arts, developing independent editorial design, illustration works, and cartographic projects.

Danya Sherbini

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Danya Sherbini is a second-year public policy graduate student focused on the intersection of data science, technology, and urban policy. During her first year at The Harris School, Danya interned with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, where she analyzed mortgage and commercial real estate loan loss rates as part of the Fed’s annual quantitative capital stress testing. Prior to graduate school, Danya worked in the advertising technology sector, advocating for stronger focus on privacy-centric solutions for advertisers. Her earlier career experience includes growing a mentorship program to help close the gender and diversity gap in technology and developing tech-oriented tools for smallholder farmers in Kenya. A long-time proponent of digital equity, she has campaigned for expanded broadband internet access in New York City and has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce to synthesize national internet use data. She enjoys writing about public policy and has had her work published in Tech Policy Press and Chicago Policy Review, where she also serves as an executive editor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, playing volleyball, and walking her dog around Hyde Park. 


Elias van Emmerick

JD, The Law School

Elias van Emmerick is a second-year law student at the University of Chicago, focused on environmental law, sustainable urban development, and fair housing. Before starting law school, Elias received Bachelor’s of Arts degrees in Economics and Politics from Pomona College, and worked as a predoctoral research assistant at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In law school, he is president of the National Lawyer’s Guild chapter and works as a research assistant on energy policy. Hailing from Belgium, Elias is particularly aware of the importance of public housing, and is interested in shifting discourse from market-based vouchers to government-provided housing. In his free time, Elias can be found bouldering, hiking, or attempting to ensure his many plants survive the Chicago winter (they rarely do). 


Max Wagner

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy

Max Wagner is a public policy graduate student interested in climate resilience, transportation, and housing. At Harris, Max is the director of advocacy for the Urban Policy Student Association and serves as a copy editor on the Chicago Policy Review. Prior to attending the University of Chicago, he spent two years working in communications and data analysis at Sunwealth, a solar investment firm that builds community-based solar projects. Max graduated from Northeastern University and completed co-ops at Boston Consulting Group, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Sunwealth. In his free time, he enjoys running, biking, and exploring Chicago’s unique architecture. 


Alexander Weinberg

PhD, Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics

Alexander Weinberg is a PhD Student studying Economics at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on urban economics, public policy, and inequality in both historical and contemporary settings. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics with honors from the University of Chicago in 2019.