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Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellows announces the appointment of the 2017-2018 class of White House Fellows. The prestigious White House Fellows program provides professionals from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to engage in public service for one year by serving in various roles in Federal government.

Created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program was designed “to give the fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” The fellowship was created as a non-partisan program and has maintained this tradition throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations. The mission of the White House Fellows program is to encourage active citizenship and service to the Nation. Throughout the year, fellows actively participate in an education program that expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues. Community service also plays a vital role in the program, as fellows take part in service projects throughout the year.

The highly competitive selection process to become a White House Fellow is based on a record of remarkable professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth, and a commitment to public service. Selected individuals spend a year working as a full-time, paid fellow to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at

The 2017-2018 White House Fellows:

Ryan Bell is from Coppell, Texas and is placed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Ryan is a Major in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, he led soldiers throughout the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific, including three combat tours in Iraq and two combat tours in Afghanistan. During Ryan’s most recent assignment in Hawaii, he led 4,200 Soldiers as deputy Commander and Brigade executive officer of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Previously, Ryan served as deputy director for the Combating Terrorism Center and as an assistant professor of economics for the United States Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences. While in New York, Ryan led the West Point Parachute Team, winning a national championship in 2014, and co-founded the junior board for the Friends of the Children, a non-profit organization in New York City. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Ranger Tab and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Ryan received a B.S. in management and Asian studies from the United States Air Force Academy, where he graduated with athletic distinction. He earned a M.S. in international relations from Troy University and a M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, where he served as class president.

Joseph Da Silva is from Norwood, Massachusetts and is placed at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Joe is a Major in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, he served in both conventional and special operations units, spending 42 months deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout his career, Joe led and managed organizations that conducted counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and foreign military training missions. Most notably Joe commanded a company that secured the largest oil refinery in Iraq where his efforts helped build economic capacity and minimize insurgent financing from black market fuel. He last served at the U.S. Army Cyber Command where he helped lead the command’s talent management efforts. Joe also served as an assistant professor of international relations at the United States Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences, where he ran the department’s annual national security conference, co-edited a compendium on American grand strategy, and served as an active term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Joe earned a B.S. in American politics from the United States Military Academy, where he was the class president for the class of 2002. He also earned an M.A. with honors from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in international economics and strategic studies.

Rachel Gleischman is from Farmers Branch, Texas and is placed at the U.S. Department of Defense. Rachel was most recently a partner at TNTP, a non-profit organization supporting public school systems. She was responsible for business development and worked directly with districts on a variety of talent management initiatives. Previously, she managed the Arizona Teaching Fellows, a program placing teachers in high-need schools in Phoenix, Yuma, and the Navajo Nation communities in northeast Arizona. She also led the Oakland Practitioner Teacher Program, a special education certification program supporting Oakland Teaching Fellows and Teach for America corps members in the bay area. Prior to joining TNTP, Rachel served as a school administrator in San Francisco, a Teach for America recruitment director in the mid-Atlantic region, and a high school English teacher in Baltimore. She was the founding board chair for CASA Academy, a K-3 public charter school in Phoenix, and currently serves on the board for the Capital Pride Alliance in Washington, D.C. In her free time, she volunteers with the Girl Scouts and the Internal Rescue Committee. Rachel received a B.A. in English literature, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in teaching from the Johns Hopkins University.

Cristina Hernandez is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is placed at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Cristina is a U.S. Army veteran and has served in the national security sector for over fifteen years. Most recently, she served as senior policy advisor to the director of science and technology for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. As a soldier and as a defense contractor, Cristina has led teams, delivered policy recommendations, and deployed innovative technologies to ensure the safety of those protecting our nation. She has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has trained over 500 military members and intelligence analysts to support various missions all over the world. Cristina is also a Gold Star family member, having lost her brother while he served in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in Afghanistan in 2009. While in the Army, Cristina received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and she continues to volunteer and serve underprivileged communities today. Cristina was a next generation national security leaders fellow at the Center for a New American Security. She received a B.A. in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an M.P.A from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

Shahla Jilani is from Washington D.C. and is placed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Shahla is a physician who has worked to address the medical needs of underserved populations, most recently at Unity Health Care, a non-profit organization. She completed dual residency training in internal medicine – pediatrics at the OSU Wexner Medical Center/Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As a pediatrician, she cares for underserved children, focusing on socioeconomic determinants impacting their health. As an internist, she cares for homeless populations, bridging gaps between health care access and social determinants of disease. Together, as a dual pediatrician-internist, she specializes in transitioning special needs children from pediatric to adult medical care. Serving as assistant professor at George Washington and A.T. Still University Schools of Medicine/Wright Center, Shahla has taught medical students and physicians in-training at both classroom and clinical levels. Her teaching includes leading health literacy-education classes for lower-income communities, and academic mentorship programs for at-risk, inner-city youth. Similarly, she has led graduate-level medical education-service programs in developing communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Costa Rica. Before medicine, Shahla was a researcher studying tumor angiogenesis, resulting in scholarly publications; and, earning college honors, highest departmental honors, and joint M.A. – B.S. through the UCLA Scholars Program in molecular, cell, developmental biology. She received her M.D. from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Andy Ku is from Cupertino, California and is placed at the U.S. Department of Labor.Andy served as a director of product marketing at LinkedIn. He led marketing for the business unit that builds products to help people get jobs. He is proud that tens of millions of people use those products every week, with which millions of people get jobs every year. Prior to LinkedIn, he founded an internet company, which built a mobile app to help people find jobs they love by matching them to jobs that fit their strengths, skills, and interests. He also worked at Google, where he established how Google launched its most popular products, such as Google Maps, throughout Europe. His mission to help people discover and live out their vocation extends to community service. He co-founded the Mentoring Group of Silicon Valley, matching senior leaders with young professionals to help guide their careers. He recently served as a mentor and tutor at Year Up, which helps low-income youth gain skills to achieve their career potential. He has also served as a mentor at Lewisham Leaving Care in London, a program to help youths transition from juvenile detention and learn life skills. He received a B.S. in engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Jeffrey McLean is from Mequon, Wisconsin and is placed in the White House Office of American Innovation. Jeff is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. As an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, he completed three combat deployments on aircraft carriers, including 51 missions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan. As a Navy Test Pilot, Jeff served as project officer for the revolutionary X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System that made history as both the first unmanned aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier and the first to achieve autonomous aerial refueling. His writing has appeared in several publications and he served as vice chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute editorial board. Jeff previously served as president of the Truman Scholars Association, a next generation national security leader with the Center for a New American Security, and a millennium leadership fellow with the Atlantic Council. A lifelong community leader, he was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Outstanding Young Wisconsinite award for his impact through community service and through humanitarian projects in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Kampala, Uganda. He is a Fulbright and Truman Scholar and received an M.A. from Oxford University, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. with honors and distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Crystal Moore is from Meridian, Mississippi and is placed in the White House Office of Public Liaison. Crystal previously served as senior director of business development for Fullbridge, Inc., a venture-backed education technology company. While there, her efforts supported the creation of online and blended-learning programs on college campuses, ensuring over 12,000 students have exposure to career readiness skills. Prior to Fullbridge, Crystal was a consultant for Parthenon-EY, where she advised colleges and universities, national foundations, policy organizations, and private investment firms. Her commitment to the education sector began as a ProInspire fellow at D.C. public schools, and led her to interning for the White House Domestic Policy Council’s education policy team. Crystal has contributed through various organizations over 2,000 hours to mentoring underrepresented minority students and she is a previous participant in the Echoing Green Direct Impact Program. While at Xavier University of Louisiana, Crystal was elected to serve as student body president and was the recipient of the St. Katherine Drexel Award, Xavier’s highest student honor for service and leadership. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, she was a merit scholarship recipient. At Fuqua, she concentrated her studies in strategy and social entrepreneurship and studied education policy at the London School of Economics. Crystal graduated cum laude, with a B.S. in finance, from Xavier University of Louisiana. She also received her MBA from Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business.

Matthew Phillips is from Christiansburg, Virginia and is placed in the Office of the Vice President of the United States. Matt is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. As a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer, he has led hundreds of sailors at sea during four combat deployments. Most recently, he served as a reactor safety inspector and technical lead on the Navy’s nuclear propulsion examining board. As operations officer, he coordinated and executed a counter-narcotic deployment that interdicted over $500 million of cocaine traffic. Ashore, he led midshipmen as a company officer at the United States Naval Academy and taught courses in seamanship & navigation and leadership. His service has been recognized by numerous military decorations, including the Meritorious Service Medal. Following his fellowship, he will command one of the Navy’s most advanced warships. An active volunteer with churches, food banks, and homeless shelters, he and his wife, Amy, have sought to make a difference in their community throughout his naval career. He graduated with honors from the United States Naval Academy, receiving a B.S. in computer science, and participated on the men’s glee club. Selected for the immediate graduate education program, he graduated with honors from the Naval Postgraduate School and received a M.S. in computer science.

Kyle Sheetz is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is placed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Kyle is a surgeon interested in improving the access and quality of surgical services in the United States. He is currently a resident in general surgery at the University of Michigan. Through his work with the Michigan surgical quality collaborative, he is involved in the development and implementation of initiatives that reduce costs and complications for high-risk surgery. As a fellow at the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, Kyle’s research uses delivery system science to understand which treatments are most effective and how to institute large-scale practice changes. He holds degrees in medicine, clinical research design and biostatistics from the University of Michigan, where he was the recipient of the dean’s award for research excellence. Kyle was a founding member of the academic surgeon development program, which fosters mentorship and career development for students interested in academic medicine. Kyle received a B.S. in biochemistry from Denison University in Granville, Ohio where he met his wife.

Jake Steel is from Garden City, Kansas and is placed in the White House Office of the Domestic Policy Council. Jake was most recently a math teacher in inner Oklahoma City, where he served as the math department chair. His focus on closing the achievement gap through the use of one-to-one technology has increased state test scores by over 30 percentage points, which assisted in the school’s state report card being increased by two letter grades. Jake is a former Teach for America corps member and contributed to the organization on an alumni board. He served for two years as a full-time humanitarian volunteer in Ohio and volunteered as a community choir director and as an instructor for high school and college level seminary courses. After attending Johns Hopkins University, he was honored by the alumni council for the school of education for his commitment and leadership in his community. He studied in Jerusalem, Israel at Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem center, where his academic work focused on ancient and modern near eastern studies and ancient religious texts. Jake earned a B.S. in communications from Brigham Young University, Idaho and an M.S. in education from Johns Hopkins University.

Christopher Stolte is from Aurora, Colorado and is placed at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Chris recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) of government with a master in public administration. Prior to attending HKS, Chris acted as the business advisor to the executive vice president (EVP) of unconventionals for Shell, where he supported the EVP on day-to-day operations and long-term strategic matters. Before taking on the business advisor role, Chris was the completion engineering manager for Shell Appalachia, overseeing engineering activities across multiple appraisal and development areas in Appalachia. He has completed international assignments in Holland and China. Prior to his international assignments, he worked as a completion engineer supporting unconventional gas operations in the Pinedale Anticline and as a production engineer supporting multiple assets in the Gulf of Mexico. Chris has served on the boards of multiple non-profit and for-profit organizations. Most recently, he served on the board of advisors for Sourcewater, a water sharing platform for the energy industry. He holds a B.S. in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.B.A. from MIT, and an M.P.A. from Harvard.

Katelyn van Dam is from San Jose, California and is placed at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Katelyn is a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. An attack helicopter pilot by trade, Katelyn conducted combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and counter-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. She served over ten years on active duty. In her final active assignment, Katelyn instructed new Marine Corps officers in tactics and leadership as a staff platoon commander at The Basic School in Quantico. She most recently served as a civil affairs officer with 2D Civil Affair Group. In her personal capacity, Katelyn co-founded and served as director of strategy and policy for No Exceptions, a nonpartisan initiative that advocated for the military to fully integrate women into all combat arms specialties. The efforts of No Exceptions contributed to the successful implementation of this Department of Defense policy change in 2016. She is an alumna of the Center for New American Security’s 2014 next generation national security leaders program. Katelyn was selected as the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle distinguished woman warrior of the year in 2015. Katelyn has published articles in JHU SAIS’ Foreign Policy Institute, War on the Rocks, Just Security, Marine Corps Gazette, and US Naval Institute, and was a guest on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ smart women, smart power podcast and the Diane Rehm Show. She is married to her amazing husband David van Dam, who is also a Marine Corps veteran. She recently completed a master of arts degree in international economics and international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Katelyn is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Mathew Zulauf is from Muskegon, Michigan and is placed in the White House Office of the Staff Secretary. Mat is a Major in the United States Air Force and was a B-2 stealth bomber pilot. He served as the 509th Bomb Wing nuclear executive manager where he was responsible for the coordination, planning, and execution of the nuclear missions of the B-2. He deployed to the European and Pacific theaters on strategic assurance and deterrence missions. He has more than 2,000 flight hours including 1,100 hours as an instructor pilot in the B-2 and T-38. Previously, he served as a flight commander responsible for the military training and flight training of student pilots from the U.S. and numerous allied NATO countries. Other prior assignments included executive officer for the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, aide to the chief of staff, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and intern at NASA’s advanced space propulsion laboratory developing a plasma engine for deep space travel. Major Zulauf received his commission and was a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy where he was the top graduating cadet in physics. He also attended the U.S. Naval Academy on exchange. He received his masters of public policy in international security and economic policy from the University of Maryland.