Student Groups

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Fels Institute of Government students lead a variety of interest groups that focus on professional engagement and development and are open to all current Fels students. Along with broadening your perspective as a future public leader, our student-run organizations help you connect with peers in our close-knit academic community.

Fels Student Association


The Fels Student Association (FSA) works to build connection and community among all Fels graduate students, including both the full-time and executive programs. From engaging events to professional development, FSA serves as the central student group representing the interests of Fels students and working to provide the best graduate experience possible for the dedicated, passionate public servants that make up the Fels student body. Past FSA events have included bowling, mini-golf, community service, book club, and guest speaker panels.

Student leaders 2021-2022

Dylan Ward, President:

Dylan Ward is a proud lifelong Philadelphian. He graduated from Princeton University majoring in politics with a focus in international relations. For the past few years, Dylan has worked as an analyst at a software company in Philadelphia and was recently the finance director for a congressional campaign in Maryland. He is actively involved in volunteering on local issues related to affordable housing and community development policy, pressuring our local institutions and elected officials to support better funding for our public schools, and building worker power in the City of Brotherly Love. Dylan has a one-year-old puppy named Lulu who enjoys romping in the Wissahickon Creek, and sometimes you'll catch him riding his bike along Forbidden Drive or otherwise through Fairmount Park. Dylan loves playing all racket sports and hopes to organize a Fels racket sports outing with his classmates sometime soon.

Ambika Singh, Vice President

Ambika is originally from Central Jersey and is a Philadelphia transplant. She graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She is also a dual degree candidate in the Master in Law program alongside the EMPA program at Penn. Ambika works full-time as the director of Penn Home Ownership Services (PHOS) on campus. Her desire is to learn more about how she can improve PHOS services and learn more about policy/law in relation to fair housing, real estate, and higher education administration. Ambika enjoys being involved in many groups on campus including being Vice President for LPSGov, President/Founder of Penn Fencing Club, and recently joined Public Speaking Club. She loves music, traveling the world, going to her favorite teams’ stadiums to watch games, staying active, and most of all—her two cavapoodles, Yogi and Mini.

Justin Siegal, Treasurer 

Justin is a Philadelphia native currently living in Southern California following nearly a decade as an officer in the Marine Corps. He is a dual MPA/ML candidate and is interested primarily in issues related to social justice and inequality. He holds leadership and organizing positions in the San Diego chapters of the DSA, IWW, and several local grassroots efforts. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, reading, and working out

Sophia Zehler, Communications Director

Sophia Zehler is a proud native of New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree at Fordham University (Rose Hill) in political science and peace and justice in May 2021 (go Rams!). While at Fordham she interned at the local county jail and spent her free time as a varsity athlete or with her ROTC Battalion. Her focus for her MPA revolves around aspects of community service and federal law enforcement but is excited to learn more about any policy realms she can while here. As of now, Sophia has a commitment to the U.S. Navy after she completes her time at Fels. In her free time, she is a member of Penn’s Cheerleading team, loves to play piano, and explore Philly. 

International City/County Management Association (ICMA)


The Penn student chapter of the International City/County Management Association is based at Fels and chapter leadership is comprised of solely Fels students. For anyone interested in becoming a local management leader, this group offers access to ICMA content and programming, including the opportunity to attend national and regional conferences. Our student chapter also organizes both intimate and larger-scale events for Fels and other interested students to engage with local government leaders across various sectors of public service. Past events have included the ICMA Regional and National Conference; speaker events with Ted Dallas, Ted Gaebler, and a local government leader; and a “Conversation with 3 Mayoral Administrations.”

Student leaders 2021-2022

Jerell Blakeley, President

Jerell Blakeley hails from Trenton, NJ, and is a graduate student in the Fels Executive MPA program. A former middle school and high school public school educator, Jerell presently works for the New Jersey Education Association as an Associate Director of Government Relation and as a Part-Time Lecturer at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. Politically, he presently serves as a Trenton City Councilman-At-Large and as a Board Member of the Mercer County Board of Social Services. In 2010, Jerell earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Howard University. In 2014, he earned his Master of Education degree in the social and philosophical foundations of education at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Education as an Eagleton Institute of Politics Graduate Fellow. He is a 2016 New Leaders Council Fellow and a 2021 Lead NJ Fellow. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha and Prince Hall Freemason fraternities. 

Grant Holland, Vice President

Grant Holland is a full-time MPA student, part-time employee for the City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue, and lifelong Pennsylvanian. Prior to Fels, Grant received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Drexel University and spent several years in economic consulting for nonprofits. Grant has a strong passion for local government finance and has represented the City of Philadelphia at several revenue forecasting conferences.

Lydia Orr, Treasurer

Lydia Orr is pursuing her master’s degree in public administration through the Fels Institute of Government. She comes to Philadelphia by way of New York City, where she worked as a reading teacher and a Dean of Academics for the past five years, after graduating from Boston College with a degree in international studies and a dual-minor in ethics and social justice and Eastern European studies. Her time in schools, coupled with her personal experience growing up in South Texas, led her to realize that tackling inequality in the classroom, though an important part of the process, is too late. Upon graduation from Penn she hopes to further her studies on measures of inequality through a PhD program.

Edward H. Skipton III, Communications Lead

Edward H. Skipton III is currently a full-time MPA student at Fels. Edward has a JD from the University of Pennsylvania. A former federal clerk, Edward spent the last eleven years in private practice in Philadelphia before deciding to move to the public sphere, where he hopes to work in local government.


Women of Fels

Women of Fels

Women of Fels (WOF) aims to advocate for issues that women face in the public sector and beyond by hosting speaker panels, fundraisers, and more. Past WOF events have included a Myers Briggs Workshop on leadership styles, an End of the Year Celebration, and speaker series titled Intersectionality in Feminism, Women Who Don’t Normally Lecture, and Mistakes I’ve Made.

Student leaders 2021-2022

Carlyn Crawley, President 

Carlyn D. Crawley (Executive MPA Class of 2023) was raised an Army brat in Germany and four other states before settling in Maryland. After high school, Carlyn studied sociology at Hampton University where she was President of the Women’s Senate, Founder of the C.L.A.S.S. Mentoring program for girls, in student government, and the political connections chair for the Gamma Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She started her career as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton on the Air Force Civil Engineer account. After five years at Booz Allen, she took a position as the Program Manager for Appellate Statistics at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Later she worked on business process re-engineering efforts at the International Baccalaureate and is currently on an IRS cybersecurity project. She’s a dog mom to a poorly behaved Shih Tzu named Kingsley and resides in Washington, DC.

Montana Tamny, Vice President

Montana is part of the Full-time MPA Class of 2022. After earning her BSW and MSW, she spent two years in Costa Rica, serving in the U.S. Peace Corps. Upon returning, she moved to Philadelphia and taught special education for several years in Camden, NJ, before switching to the nonprofit sector. For the past two years, Montana has been focusing on targeting literacy needs in Philadelphia schools. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, and snuggle with her dog.

Elizabeth Burdett, Treasurer 

Elizabeth grew up in the DC metro area before relocating to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University, where she received her BA in history. Upon graduation, she worked as a community organizer for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party during the 2016 general election cycle. For the next four years, she worked at SteegeThomson Communications, a full-service marketing and development communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits, where she provided editorial, design, and production services for clients across sectors. In April 2020, she completed the WeLead Campaign Training Program at the American University Women & Politics Institute, which aims to close the gender gap in politics by preparing women to take on leadership positions in public service. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys exploring the Philly restaurant scene, winning at Quizzo, and spending time with her cat, Meatball.

Monica Ratnaraj, Communications Lead

Monica (Full-time MPA Class of 2022) is originally from South Jersey and attended Fordham University in New York City, graduating in 2019 with a degree in political science. During her undergraduate career, Monica worked in several politics and media roles including internships in political consulting and public relations, as well as in broadcast media programming. She has previously held roles working on MSNBC Live and CNN’s New Day and Early Start. Post-graduation, Monica worked in data analytics and public health PR as a media and policy consultant. Her policy interests include immigration reform, LGBTQ+ issues, environmental conservation, and structural inequalities. 

Fels Veterans Club

Fels Veterans Club is a new organization for 2021-22. Contact Justin Siegal at for more information.


Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326