Washington, DC2019-09-04T01:04:16+00:00



In monthly sessions held at the Catholic Information Center, Leonine Fellows are led in discussion by Catholic thought leaders from around the country to grapple with some of the most important questions at the intersection of faith and public life.




In monthly sessions held at the Catholic Information Center, Leonine Fellows are led in discussion by Catholic thought leaders from around the country to grapple with some of the most important questions at the intersection of faith and public life.


Katherine Abbott
Folger Shakespeare Library

Kate Abbott manages the front of house operations for the Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world's largest Shakespeare collection and its award-winning theatre. Before joining the Folger, she was a fraud and corruption investigator at The World Bank, and has lived, worked, and studied abroad in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Kate is a Board Member of Waterfront Academy, a bilingual Montessori school in the Catholic tradition in Southwest DC, has served in nominated leadership roles with the Junior League of Washington, and along with her husband was awarded the Knights of Columbus District of Columbia Family of the Year. Originally from the Buffalo-Niagara region of New York, Kate earned a degree in Economics.
Mary Andrews
Uniformed Services University

Mary Andrews grew up in central Pennsylvania and attended the University of Notre Dame followed by Creighton University School of Medicine. Upon graduation from Creighton she was commissioned as an active duty Medical Corps officer in the US Navy. She completed residency in Internal Medicine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After serving as chief resident at Walter Reed, she completed a two year fellowship in General Internal Medicine which included earning a Masters in Public Health from Uniformed Services University as well as dedicated time for teaching and research. Following fellowship, she moved into her current role as Associate Clerkship Director at Uniformed Services University where she is active in teaching and research. Her scholarly interests include remediation of struggling learners, self-regulated learning theory, and meta-analysis research methods. Mary also serves as President of the Washington DC Guild of the Catholic Medical Association. She lives in Bethesda with her husband and five children and attends Our Lady of Lourdes parish.
Coby Ascunce
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

Coby is a lawyer at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, where he focuses his practice on government enforcement matters and complex commercial, securities, and white collar litigation. Coby served as a law clerk to Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. He graduated cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, where he served as Managing Senior Editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. Coby holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Virginia. In his free time, Coby enjoys going on adventures with his wife and two vivacious children, being outdoors, and watching soccer.
Rashad Badr
Hard Yards, LLC

Rashad is a Principal and Director of Federal Programs at The Hard Yards, a consulting firm dedicated to bringing innovative management practices to federal and commercial clients. Rashad is also Co-Founder of ImpactBeta, a data analytics and consulting firm dedicated to helping nonprofits and philanthropies increase their social impact. Prior to co-founding ImpactBeta, Rashad has held positions at the McChrystal Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, the U.S. special operations community, the Joint Staff’s Deputy Directorate for Special Operations and Counterterrorism, and the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism. Rashad received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Princeton, where he was the recipient of the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative Prize.
Mary Bathon
The Busch School of Business, CUA

Mary A. Bathon is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America, where she provides strategic support for multiple ongoing faculty projects in the Social Research group. Previously, she worked in the United States Senate on the policy team for Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), where she developed legislative initiatives related to the federal budget, tax, and trade policy. She graduated magna cum laude from Ave Maria University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She lives in Washington D.C. and is an avid hiker, enjoying the Shenandoahs and extensive portions of the Appalachian Trail whenever possible. She considers her completion of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago trail in Spain in 2013 as one of the most formative experiences in her life.
Ryan Bradel
Ward & Berry, PLLC

Ryan Bradel is a partner with the law firm of Ward & Berry, a litigation boutique focused on representing clients in the defense and national security space. Prior to joining Ward & Berry, Ryan practiced law with a large international law firm and served as counsel to the McCain 2008 and Romney 2012 presidential campaigns. Ryan is a proud graduate of Notre Dame Law School and spends much his free time watching or reading about Notre Dame football. Before law school, Ryan worked as a legislative aide to a Member of Congress following his graduation from UCLA. In his free time Ryan likes to cook, play all manner of sports, build custom furniture, and shoot and build stuff on the farm he just purchased.
Louis Brown

Cecilia Cervantes
Institute for Humane Studies

Cecilia Cervantes is the Sr. Manager of Intensive Student Education at the Institute for Humane Studies. She is interested in curriculum design, pedagogy, consistent life ethics, and the advancement of peace and human dignity. A native of southern California, she is an alumna of the University of Portland (Oregon) and American University where she studied political science, Spanish literature and law. She is a parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church where she is a catechist and a small community of faith leader. She leads the DC Chapter of Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA). In her free time she can be found searching for a London Fog, watching Criterion Collection films, and exchanging book recommendations.
Andrew Craig
Canyon Labs

Andy Craig is a lay Catholic missionary and entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder and CEO of Canyon Labs, a health care technology company focused on helping health care organizations achieve and maintain regulatory compliance. Andy is also a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University where he is studying Health Care Management and is actively involved in lay ministry. Previously, he was Programs Director for Family Missions Company, a lay Catholic missions organization, and Founding President of Young Catholic Professionals in Denver. He is passionate about virtuous leadership and evangelization through business.
Elise Crawford-Gallagher

Over the last four years, Elise Crawford Gallagher has worked with many businesses in the D.C. area to create stunning brands, digital marketing campaigns, websites and social media campaigns. In 2016, she founded RINGLET, a digital marketing agency in D.C. that serves women-owned businesses in the area. Ringlet is now a team of five women and their office is based in Georgetown, DC. Elise graduated with a Masters in Communication from Johns Hopkins University. Her concentrations were in Public + Media Relations and Digital Communications. She married her college sweetheart, Hunter, who is a full-time high-school theology teacher and part-time law-student, in August 2017.
Lara Crouch
U.S. Department of State

Lara D. Crouch is a Special Assistant on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State. Immediately prior, she was a Senior Associate at Beacon Global Strategies LLC. She previously served in research roles at the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, and also completed a summer fellowship at the Department of Defense. Lara earned a B.A. with distinction from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in Asian Studies from Georgetown University.
Kathleen Davern
U.S. Senate

Katie works as a speechwriter for Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Prior to working for Sen. Lee, she worked in the House of Representatives and interned for the Heritage Foundation. She received her bachelor's degree in History at the University of Dallas. A native of the DC area, Katie was also a founding student of Brookewood school, a classical Catholic girls school in Kensington, MD.
Kevin Dawson
American Principles Project

Kevin Dawson is the Director of Operations at American Principles Project. He is a graduate of the Catholic University of America, where he obtained a B.A. in Politics. Prior to joining APP, Kevin created and managed the External Helpdesk at the American Petroleum Institute, interned for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and interned in the Irish Parliament.
Peter Dixon
Hogan Lovells US LLP

Peter Dixon is a DC native, and an alumni of The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland. Peter attended the University of Notre Dame for college, majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (Notre Dame's Great Books program) and philosophy, where Peter studied under Alasdair MacIntyre. After college, Peter spent one year as a paralegal in Chicago, before returning to The Heights to teach history and coach lacrosse. After two years at The Heights, Peter enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law. Immediately following law school, Peter clerked for the Honorable Richard F. Suhrheinrich of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Peter is now an corporate associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, D.C., where his practice focuses on private and international mergers and acquisitions. Peter, his wife Claire, and their two sons (Leo and Gus) live in Herndon, Virginia.
Kellen Dwyer
U.S. Department of Justice

Kellen S. Dwyer is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he serves in the cybercrime unit. Kellen focuses on international computer hacking cases, having successfully obtained indictments, extraditions, and convictions against hackers and cybercriminals based in Russia, the Ukraine, and Latvia, among others countries. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Kellen was an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis LLP where he represented Facebook, Inc. in litigation and government inquires arising from its Initial Public Offering. Kellen served as a law clerk for the Honorable Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he served as Notes Editor for the Yale Law Journal.
Michael Fischer

Michael is a Senior Analyst with EAB, a best practice research firm supporting higher education and K-12 institutions. His research focuses on Facilities issues such as space utilization, deferred maintenance, and talent development. In his spare time he serves with the Knights of Malta as a mentor at Archbishop Carroll High School. Michael graduated from Georgetown University, and he and his wife now live in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Christie Fleming
St. Joseph School

Christie is a kindergarten teacher in Northern Virginia. She is a graduate of Franciscan University and was a missionary in Kenya after graduation. From there she was a youth minister in Cleveland, Ohio and worked with high school students. She eventually did graduate studies at the John Paul II institute in Melbourne, Australia and taught theology of the body before landing in kindergarten. All her experiences have given her a desire to combine her ministry with youth/families and reaching out to the community in need.
Mary Forr
Archdiocese of Washington

Mary Forr is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she majored in political science and philosophy. After graduation, Mary received her Masters in Education from Notre Dame through the Alliance for Catholic Education. Mary has taught high school and middle school and has founded a non-profit called Teaching Together that works to provide jobs for adults with special needs in Catholic schools. In 2016, Mary became the Director of Life Issues for the Archdiocese of Washington where she currently works to provide educational, public policy, and catechetical materials surrounding the life issues.
Christopher Galiardo
White House, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Chris Galiardo is a Latin American legal analyst at the White House, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He completed three years of seminary study with the Legionaries of Christ before starting college at Dartmouth, where he was a member of the Catholic Student Center’s pastoral council. He remained very active in Catholic student life and the prolife movement during graduate school at Harvard and law school at Yale, and he currently serves as a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus at his parish in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Despite hailing from the great city of Chicago, Chris’s work in Washington at the Pentagon, at the State Department, on Capitol Hill, and as a federal law clerk has made DC his adopted earthly home in all things except baseball. (Go, Cubs, Go!)
Martin Gaudinski
National Institutes of Health

Martin Gaudinski is a medical officer in the U.S. Public Health Service assigned to the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health. He is the Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Program and Principal Investigator of studies evaluating novel vaccines and treatments for emerging and re-emerging pathogens such as HIV, Ebola, and Zika viruses. He initially studied the Great Books Program at St. John's College. The deep themes of Western thought propelled him to further study medicine which appeared to him as the "most direct alliance between intellectual conquest and the social good.1" He attended Georgetown University School of Medicine where he also completed a residency in internal medicine before fellowship training in Allergy and Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is ceaselessly supported by his wife Kimberly and their children.
Christine Goss
Pixton Public Relations, Inc.

Christine Goss is founder and president of Pixton Public Relations, Inc. She has years of experience building and executing public relations programs for multi-national corporations, non-profit organizations, charitable foundations, trade associations, academic centers and scholars. Additionally, Christine teaches classes on op-ed writing, branding and media interview best practices at the Leadership Institute. She has published Opinion pieces in the Federalist, Independent Journal Review, American Thinker, the Daily Caller, and other outlets. In her free time, Christine volunteers with Institute of Catholic Culture and with her parish, St. Agnes in Arlington. Christine attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME.
Josh Holdenried
The Heritage Foundation

Josh Holdenried was born in Seoul, Korea, and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy Leadership from the University of Mississippi and a Certificate in Applied Religion in Public Policy from Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy. Before joining Heritage as its Associate Director of Coalition Relations, he was an inaugural member of the Public Interest Fellowship--a two-year program designed to equip and train young professionals for leadership in the conservative movement. He spent his fellowship as a policy analyst, a political analyst, and most recently as a program officer at a private grant-making foundation in New York City. Prior to the Public Interest Fellowship, he was a congressional staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives. Josh has also been affiliated with the Alexander Hamilton Society, the Claremont Institute, the Hertog Foundation, the Fund for American Studies, and the Antonin Scalia Fellowship. Beginning in January 2019, he will be joining the Napa Institute Legal Foundation as its Executive Director. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Mollie Kelly
International Republican Institute

Mollie Kelly is a Senior Program Associate at the International Republican Institute, a non-partisan international democracy-development organization. She currently works on the Nigeria programs in the Africa Division. Previously, she worked on programs in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. She attended George Mason University, where she received a B.A. in Global Affairs with a concentration on Africa and a minor in Business. A native of Washington, D.C. she enjoys time on her family's farm, running her cupcakes business, horseback riding, and reading.
Bruna Kesserwani
The Catholic University of America

Kyle Kinneberg
U.S. Department of Defense

Kyle Kinneberg works for the Department of Defense as a research mathematician. He grew up out west, in Washington state and Arizona, before moving to California for school. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from Claremont McKenna College and a Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA. Not yet wanting to leave the academic world, he worked as a postdoctoral instructor in the math department at Rice University until 2017. There, most of his research dealt with the geometry of groups acting on negatively-curved spaces. He also helped start the Houston Institute, a forum for Rice students to think about and discuss topics related to human flourishing. Kyle now lives in Silver Spring with his wife, Celine, and their two young children, Thomas and Anastasia.
William Lane
U.S. Court of Appeals for DC

William Lane lives in Arlington, Virginia and is an attorney at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., where he practices trial and appellate litigation. Previously, William served as a law clerk to both the Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Honorable Gregory G. Katsas of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as well as Special Counsel to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. William earned his B.A., magna cum laude, and M.A. in American Government from Georgetown University in 2008 and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2015. From 2008–2012, William served as a Cavalry officer with the 25th Infantry Division in Diyala Province, Iraq and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. William is originally from Easton, Connecticut. He currently serves on the board of the Federalist Society's DC Young Lawyers Chapter and is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the National Rifle Association.
Emily Lane
United States Navy

Emily Lane is an active duty Naval Officer serving in the Washington DC area. She received her BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Boston University in 2012. She served as a Surface Warfare Officer both at home and abroad for the last six years. She is now serving as a Medical Service Corps Officer and getting her MHA at USUHS in Bethesda, Maryland.
Shannon Last
Freelance Writer

Shannon Last served as a senior speechwriter for Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and various FBI executives. After more than 15 years of attempting to achieve work-life balance, she left the FBI to become a stay-at-home-mom to four lovely near occasions of sin—ages 10, 8, 5, and 2. When she is not referreeing fights, sweltering at Little League games, making meals nobody likes, or exiling small humans to their rooms, she also works as a freelance speechwriter, ghostwriter, and book editor for her business, Famous Last Words. A New Jersey native, she studied English Literature and Italian Literature at Smith College, where she made history as (possibly) the first student at the progressive all-women’s school to run to the nearest RCIA class within a week of her arrival on campus. She has continued to fail the Sisterhood ever since. She is a former cantor and member of the Schola Cantorum at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC, but currently lives in exurban Virginia, where guitar masses are a dismaying fact of life.
Brian Lichter
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation

Brian grew up in suburban Chicago and was raised Presbyterian, going to church pretty much every Sunday. He went to college at Washington University in St. Louis, where he double majored in Political Science and French but went to church infrequently. After college, Brian spent one year working for the State of Illinois, and then attended law school at Northwestern, where he went to church even less frequently. After graduating, Brian spent a year as a law clerk for Judge Diane Sykes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Milwaukee, and attended an evangelical church where the main feature was a very loud band. After finishing his clerkship, Brian moved to DC to start a job prosecuting fraud and corruption cases with the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department. Shortly after moving, Brian met his wife (who was part of the inaugural class of Fellows), who convinced him that he should give the Catholic Church a try. Brian initially agreed because he liked her, but after a few months he realized that the Catholics were on to something and decided to convert. Brian was received into the Church at the 2012 Easter Vigil, right before he and his wife were married. Not too long after learning that he and his wife were expecting their first child, Brian left the government for the law firm of Latham & Watkins. After a few years at Latham, Brian is now an in-house attorney at Cognizant Technology Solutions, where he handles internal investigations, cybersecurity, and other compliance-related issues. He and his wife live in Chevy Chase, MD with their two children--Brendan, who is 4, and Bridget, who is 2.
Nathan Loyd
U.S. Air Force

Nathan Loyd is a Technical Specialist at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP. He is also a Captain in the Air Force Reserve. Nathan is earning his J.D. at Georgetown Law. He has engineering degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a master's in theology and bioethics from Holy Apostles College & Seminary. While on Active Duty, Nathan performed nuclear treaty verification. Nathan's work has been published on The Federalist. He and his wife have five children.
Maggie Lyles
Kaiser Permanente

Maggie is a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician currently working for Kaiser Permanente. She completed her training through Michigan State University. Her faith has always been central to her life of serving and upholding the dignity of the human person. It has taken her on medical mission trips to places like Guatemala. It has lead her to help launch a middle school ministry in D.C. that engages students in the medical ethical dilemmas of our time. It has led her to prison ministry and StreetlightPHX ministry, which shelters victims of human trafficking. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor sports like skiing, mountain biking, beach volleyball and rowing crew. She also enjoys music: she was featured in gifted and talented showcases for piano, as well as taught piano, and has been in select choirs as a vocalist/soloist. She also values her time with family and friends.
Jennifer Mazzara
King's College London

Jennifer Mazzara is a military spouse and homeschooling mother of five children. She graduated from Christendom College in 2008, and has since undertaken graduate studies in military history (American Military University) and war studies (Kings College London). Her work in the field of professional education has taken her abroad as well as around the Mid-Atlantic, giving presentations and training facilitators on the use of history to teach decision making and critical thinking. While balancing family needs and multiple military relocations, she has served her parishes as a volunteer musician, catechist, and sacristan. On weekends, Jennifer coaches youth sports and reads old newspapers for fun.
Zoe O'Herin
U.S. Congress

Zoë O’Herin is the Director of Federal Affairs for the Texas Public Policy Foundation where she communicates the Foundation’s priorities and perspective to Congressional leaders, agency staff, and the administration. Prior to joining the Foundation, Zoë served as Legislative Director to Congress’ only economist, Congressman Dave Brat, where she assisted him with the reform of the tax code in 2016. Before her time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Zoë was a staffer on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Chuck Grassley, where she managed a portfolio that included executive and judicial nominations, constitutional issues, drug policy, and criminal justice. Zoë holds a BA with honors in Philosophy and Political Science from The University of Arizona. She received her JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and spent her third year as a visiting student at George Mason University School of Law
Natalie Peters

Natalie Z. Peters is an independent art scholar and general freelancer. She has worked as the Exhibition Coordinator and Registrar at Gold Leaf Studios, as Exhibitions Assistant at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and as the Events and Office Manager for uCampaign. She also has management and sales experience in the corporate and small business sector. In 2015, she earned her master’s degree in the History of Decorative Arts from George Mason University-Smithsonian Institution with a specialty in glass studies and design history. Her thesis focused on Louis C. Tiffany’s ecclesiastical figural mosaics. While in graduate school, Ms. Peters was an editorial fellow for the Archives of American Art Journal and intern at the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She contributed research to the exhibition catalog, Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion (2010) and was a contributing author to Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics (2017). She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband.
Trena Pilegaard
Case Western Reserve University

Trena Pilegaard is a 2nd Year Medical Student with Case Western Reserve University, persuing a Masters of Science in Anesthesia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. While she is a California native, she had been living in the DC area since 2009. Before she began her medical studies she held positions in the Diocese of Arlington in the Office of Catholic Schools and, later, served as a Director of Government Affairs for Tuttle, Taylor and Heron. Miss Pilegaard has served on the planning committees of various charitable organizations, included The Pledge of Future Glory Golf Tournament and Gala Dinner, the Laetare Benefit, and the Scalon Golf Tournament. Currently she represents her classmates as Class Representative to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. She also the Alumni Representatiave for her undergratuate class at Christendom College. Miss Pilegaard enjoys reading and traveling in her spare time. Favorite authors include, but, are not limited to, Walker Percy, C.S. Lewis, John Paul I, St. Francis De Sales, and Tolstoy.
Victoria Pryor
U.S. House of Representatives

Victoria is currently working in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Legislative Aide for Congressman Gary Palmer (R, AL). Previously, she was a fellow at the Mercatus Center while she completed her Master's in Economics at George Mason University. Before attending George Mason, she received a B.S. in Economics from Louisiana State University. Victoria is a native of Birmingham, Alabama.
Nicholas Reaves
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Christine Rousselle
Catholic News Agency

Christine Rousselle is a DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to this, she was the managing web editor at Townhall. She holds a B.A. in political science from Providence College, where she also minored in French. At Providence, she was the news editor of the school newspaper, The Cowl and hosted a weekly radio show on WDOM 91.3, the College's radio station. A native of Scarborough, Maine, she has lived in Northern Virginia for five years. Christine is a parishioner at St. Rita Catholic Church in Alexandria, a member of the DC Frassati Fellowship at the Dominican House of Studies, and an Irish dancer with the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance. In her spare time, Christine loves to bake, watch ice hockey, and travel.
Tom Shakely
Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

Tom Shakely serves as Executive Director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, whose Crisis Lifeline serves patients and families facing denial of basic care and which strives to awaken conscience on human dignity and bioethical issues, particularly euthanasia and assisted suicide. Tom is a member of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, serves the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia as a board member, and is a past member of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Penn State and a certificate from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in health care ethics. He has written for National Review Online, National Catholic Register, HuffPost, and others.
Robert Smith
Sidley Austin LLP

Robert Smith is an incoming associate at Sidley Austin LLP. He is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as president of the Federalist Society. Prior to law school, Robert worked as a legislative aide for U.S. Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. in government from Dartmouth College with minors in music and anthropology.
Maria Smith
Department of State

Maria Smith has served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the Department of State since 2014, focusing on U.S. relations with Europe and Eurasia. Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Smith served as a Nonproliferation Graduate Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Azerbaijan, taught English in Moscow, Russian Federation, and taught after-school reading, math and social studies classes for elementary school students in the District of Columbia. Ms. Smith graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2012 with an M.P.P. from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and an M.A. from the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. She earned her B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Notre Dame in 2005.
Steven Stafford
U.S. Department of Justice

Steven Stafford is chief speechwriter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He previously served as a speechwriter for Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and communications director for then-Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. He is a member of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish near Lincoln Park. He and his wife Rachel live on Capitol Hill.
Michael Turchetti
Booz Allen Hamilton

Michael F. Turchetti is an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton where he advises federal healthcare clients on payment reform and data analytics. Before Booz Allen, Michael evaluated Medicaid programs for state clients and measured quality improvement for psychiatric hospitals. Outside of work, Michael is Programming and Professional Development Director for the D.C. Society of Health Policy Young Professionals, an Officer with StreetWise Partners - an economic empowerment nonprofit, and a Precinct Chief for the Arlington County Electoral Board. A native of Newport, Rhode Island, Michael moved to D.C. to study psychology and political theory at American University. He received his M.P.P. from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. Michael enjoys social events, eucharistic adoration, fine dining, running, the arts, Benedictine spiritual retreats, and the Boston Bruins.
Jose Urquilla
International Republican Institute

José Urquilla currently works as a Program Officer for the Latin America Division at the International Republican Institute where he works on promoting democratic practices, good governance and citizen participation, in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. With over 7 years of work experience, José has served as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (KS) working in Latin American trade and immigration portfolios. He’s also held positions at the UN Departments of Economic and Social Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations in New York and the European Union’s Development and Cooperation Directorate in Brussels. In the humanitarian and development field, José has worked for Glasswing International in El Salvador, Saferworld International in Kenya/Somalia, and right before moving back to Washington, at the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). A 2-time malaria survivor, José holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Ave Maria University, an M.A. in International Affairs from the Catholic University of America, and a Masters of Public Policy & International Development from Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Central European University (Hungary). In his free time, Jose loves learning about languages and cultures. He currently speaks Spanish, French, English, German, and Italian fluently and some Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, and Swahili. He is hoping to add Arabic soon to the mix.



During the first semester of the program, Fellows engage with a curriculum that emphasizes primary Church documents, practical secondary analyses, and gain an intellectual foundation on topics including: Faith and Reason, Christian Anthropology, the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching, Charity and Truth, Justice and Mercy, and Catholicism and the American Experiment.


During the second semester, Fellows explore how core Social Teachings of the Church relate to their professional and civic lives, including topics such as entrepreneurship, business, finance, culture and the arts, poverty, economics, immigration, ecology, public policy and civic engagement, bioethics, health care, religious liberty, and more.

Spiritual Development

Fellows have the chance to supplement intellectual endeavors with regular opportunities for Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, confession and spiritual direction.

Community Service

Understanding that we are called to love our brothers and sisters, Leonine Fellows have the opportunity to participate in monthly service activities as a group with The Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, DC.

Alumni Events

Fellows join a community of over 300 Leonine Alumni, and will have the opportunity to participate in regular Alumni events — including happy hours, lectures, roundtable discussions and exclusive access to premier seminars, dinners, and more.



During the first semester of the program, Fellows engage with a curriculum that emphasizes primary Church documents, practical secondary analyses, and gain an intellectual foundation on topics including: Faith and Reason, Christian Anthropology, the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching, Charity and Truth, Justice and Mercy, and Catholicism and the American Experiment.


During the second semester, Fellows explore how core Social Teachings of the Church relate to their professional and civic lives, including topics such as entrepreneurship, business, finance, culture and the arts, poverty, economics, immigration, ecology, public policy and civic engagement, bioethics, health care, religious liberty, and more.

Spiritual Development

Fellows have the chance to supplement intellectual endeavors with regular opportunities for Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, confession and spiritual direction.

Community Service

Understanding that we are called to love our brothers and sisters, Leonine Fellows have the opportunity to participate in monthly service activities as a group with The Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, DC.

Alumni Events

Fellows join a community of over 300 Leonine Alumni, and will have the opportunity to participate in regular Alumni events — including happy hours, lectures, roundtable discussions and exclusive access to premier seminars, dinners, and more.


Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, there is no required cost to participate in the Leonine Forum. You will, however, have an opportunity to donate to help defray the substantial costs of the Forum.

No. The Leonine Forum exists to equip the emerging generation of leaders in the core tenets of the Catholic Church’s social teachings. While our curriculum is intentionally rooted in the Catholic faith and intellectual tradition, we open to Fellows of various faith backgrounds, interested in understanding the Catholic Church more deeply.

Washington, D.C. applicants require a minimum of 3 years of professional and/or graduate school experience. In previous years, most Washington Fellows have had five-nine years of work or graduate school experience before joining the Leonine Forum.

The ideal letter of recommendation comes from a respected source who can speak to your professional achievement and personal character.

No. Your recommender does not need to be Catholic, as long as he or she can speak well to your professional achievements and personal character.

There will typically be a Leonine Alumni event every month ranging from happy hours, lectures, and exclusive access to premier seminars, dinners, and more.

The Leonine application involves two stages: Stage 1- the online application/recommendation letters and Stage 2 – the video interview. After completing the online application, all Fellows will be contacted regarding an interview date and time to be completed via Zoom

First-Year Fellows will meet one evening per month during the academic year (October-June), usually on the first Wednesday of the month.

The basic format for each Session is as follows:

5:30pm — Mass/Adoration

6:00pm — Cocktails & Conversation

7:00pm — Lecture and Q&A

8:00pm — Dinner & Discussion

9:00pm — Evening ends

The DC Leonine Forum Sessions will take place at the Catholic Information Center, located at 1501 K Street NW.

Priority will be given to applicants who intend in good faith to make it to at least 80% of the events (missing no more than two). The Leonine Forum is built on the community of Fellows, and when one is missing, the whole group feels it.

Yes. In the month leading up to each Session, Fellows will be given a packet of reading material (40-80 pages) selected by the Faculty Leaders to read in advance. Tolle Lege!

Washington, DC applicants require a minimum of 3 years of professional and/or graduate school experience. In previous years, most Leonine Fellows have had five-nine years of work or graduate school experience before joining the Leonine Forum.

While there is no guarantee of acceptance, those who have shown continued interest in the Forum will receive additional consideration.

The frequency of events requires participants to live in the Washington, DC area. If you live in the New York City area, please click here, or the Los Angeles, CA area, please click here.


“The Leonine Forum was an incredible experience. We learned directly from the top leaders at the intersection faith, culture, and public policy. I not only learned more about the deep philosophical tenets of the Catholic faith, but how to apply these tenets to complex public policy issues of this age.”


“If there’s one thing this election has revealed, it’s that there’s a growing majority of Catholics, and young Catholics in particular, who are disaffected by the traditional tug-of-war of partisan politics and looking for new ways to reengage the world around them. The Leonine Forum is one intriguing option.”


“There’s no such thing as morally neutral law. Every piece of public policy embodies somebody’s values. If it’s going to embody true values, people need to know the truth. The Leonine Forum is teaching the next generation of leaders the truth about man and God, and the role of the state in respecting both.”