Posts Tagged with
Batten Alumni Advisory Board

James Villarrubia is currently serving as a Presidential Innovation Fellow for NASA.  Prior to this, he was the VP of Software Engineering for CipherHealth, enabling better patient outcomes through healthcare automation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Before that, as the CTO of Werk, he used A.I. to help Fortune 1000 companies improve productivity and equity through flexible work policies.  James has also led startups focused on cybersecurity, cryptography, and educational technology.  His educational A.I. research project was a top-ranked competitor for the global IBM A.I. XPrize.  Before his startup journey, he spent 6 years in DC serving in policy and portfolio management roles at the White House, DOJ, and DOD. James earned a Master's of Public Policy and BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.  He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  When he is able, James volunteers his time with non-profit arts organizations in his community.

Alexander Gregorio is a current Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in the General Practice group looking to serve and advance his client's interests. He formerly was enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Law and the Darden School of Business where he combined thorough legal reasoning with both quantitative and normative analysis to solve problems. Prior to entering law school he worked for the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division where his economic and legal reasoning skills were put to good use on complex and important issues related to antitrust enforcement, intellectual property, and healthcare. He also holds a Master's of Public Policy from the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy giving him a solid foundation for analyzing client needs and developing effective solutions from a legal, business, and regulatory viewpoint.

Saajid Hasan (M.P.P 2020) graduated from Batten’s accelerated program after earning his bachelor’s in government and economics in 2019. Throughout his time at UVa, Saajid also took great interest in studying Arabic language and culture, both in Charlottesville and abroad. He now works at the U.S Department of Commerce International Trade Administration as a Desk Officer in the Office of Middle East. In this position, he helps US companies navigate trade barriers exporting to the Middle East. He is excited to advise and connect with future Batten leaders interested in trade policy, middle east affairs, global development, and diplomacy. Outside of work, he enjoys going to the gym and learning how to make different dishes in the air fryer.

Sofya Olenicheva currently serves as a Policy Advisor at the Zero Emission Transportation Association, a federal coalition advocating for transportation electrification, and Pioneer Public Affairs, a climate- and renewable energy-focused lobbying firm. Sofya’s professional policy experience began at Batten with an assignment to conduct research for the Virginia gubernatorial transition team. Later, she worked as a Program Assistant at the Community Climate Collaborative, a nonprofit committed to facilitating environmental policy development in local government and encouraging residents to integrate sustainable solutions into their lifestyle. At UVA, Sofya earned a Bachelor of Arts with Highest Distinction in Public Policy and Global Environments & Sustainability.

Matt Gillam is from Long Island, NY and a 2021 graduate of the BA program. He has since joined Teach For America and is teaching first grade at Miner Elementary School in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC. While teaching, he is pursuing a MSEd from Johns Hopkins University. While at UVA, he served as Batten Undergraduate Council President, co-Director of UVA's Camp Kesem chapter and Chair of UVA's Hillel Jewish Leadership Council.

Hannah Semmes is a consultant at Guidehouse State & Local Government. Prior to that, she was a consultant in the private sector for Salt Flats (née Optimity Advisors). She is an alumna of the State Department’s Critical Language Scholar in Indonesian, and previously worked as intern at the World Wildlife Fund, in the Office of Congressman Beyer (VA-08), and various political campaigns. At UVA, she served as Co-Captain of Women's Club Soccer. As a BAAB member, it is her goal to support and grow Batten’s entrepreneurial community.

Donald Fryar was born in San Diego, California and raised in Fredericksburg, VA. He attended the University of Virginia, where he majored in Public Policy and Leadership. While at the University of Virginia, Donald was a part of the Army ROTC program. Upon graduation, Donald commissioned into the Army reserves as a Combat Engineer. Recently, Donald graduated from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. After graduation, Donald plans to move to Charlotte, North Carolina where he will work as a Corporate Attorney. Outside of school, Donald is heavily involved in the Washington, D.C. Community. He serves as a Program Director for MindsMatterDC, a non-profit that is aimed at providing SAT preparatory and mentoring high school students.

Dana Laurens serves as National Deputy Director for Advocacy, Policy Engagement & Partnerships for Education Reform Now, a K-12 and higher education think tank in Washington, DC. In this role, Dana works with federal and elected officials to advance education policies to improve opportunities for all students.

Brian Zuluaga is an Associate supporting the Center for Public Impact's Government Legitimacy team. In this role, Brian has worked with local governments across the United States to build trust in government, embed design-thinking and innovation techniques into government processes, and to foster more inclusive economies. Previously, Brian was a Legislative Fellow for Senator Jeremy S. McPike of Virginia’s 29th District. He has also worked at the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, a non-profit organization, representing over 300 elected Hispanic State legislators throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  Brian holds a BA in Public Policy and Leadership from the University of Virginia. He currently serves on the National Advisory Council for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, the Batten Alumni Advisory Board, and the UVA Hispanic/Latinx Bolivar Network. Brian is also the proud founder of the Batten Latinx Network at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.


Katherine Pajewski is currently a Healthcare Analyst for Huron Consulting Group in the Care Transformation area, working to improve patient throughput and advance hospitals’ abilities to better serve their communities. She formerly worked for a small healthcare lobbying shop out of DC, working on behalf of healthcare plans, drug manufacturers, and hospital systems. She holds a Master's of Public Policy from the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy where she pursued healthcare policy and research and developed analytical skills that help her work through client’s complex problems. Katie is a Charlottesville native and double Hoo’.