About Us

Olivia Zitkus

Director of Staff Recruitment

Olivia Zitkus is a senior from Pottstown, Pennsylvania studying Economics and Classical Languages. She has been involved with the IOP since 2017 and has contributed to long term strategy, development and fundraising, and most recently, staff recruitment. Olivia is passionate about building constructive spaces and opportunities for learning and growth, especially in areas as complex and nuanced as today's politics and public service.

She has worked with organizations and companies such as Breakthrough Collaborative New Orleans, the World Bank, and Christie’s Auction House, and is interested in how antiquities trafficking impacts economic security.


Matt Penner

Director of University Relations

A senior from Charlotte, Matt studies Public Policy and Media & Journalism. Matt is a member of the Summit College Ministry and works for UNC Athletic Communications, but he always has enough time to play pickup basketball. He was drawn to the Institute of Politics his sophomore year by the diverse array of speakers and political ideas.

After graduation, he hopes to work on Capitol Hill. He's always willing to talk anything sports, politics, faith, food, or where any of those collide.

Anamay Viswanathan

Senior Advisor

Anamay is a senior studying Political Science and Neuroscience. Naturally, his interests lie at the intersection of Politics and Psychology – the way in which voters make decisions, the influence of journalism in shaping narratives and the impact of social networking on political engagement. He interned at Matter.vc in San Francisco last summer and recently returned to Chapel Hill after studying abroad last semester at Oxford University. 

He’s known for his questionable one-liners, love for cooking and British accent.

Nathan Eskender

Chair of Admin

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Parker Barth

Director of Carolina Political Review

Parker is a senior economics and political science double major from Richmond, Virginia. Parker recently returned from a semester in London, where he took classes and worked at a market research firm providing insights on British politics.

Aside from running the Carolina Political Review, Parker is also on the Editorial Board of The Daily Tar Heel. He hopes to pursue a career in political consulting after graduating this spring.


Patrick Bradey

Director of the Fellows Program

Patrick is a junior double majoring in Political Science and Spanish Linguistics with an interest in urban development and municipal administration. He has found the Fellows program to be an exciting opportunity to facilitate productive conversations between students and public officials as a way to establish a connection to and investment in politics and government.

Patrick is always ready to discuss the latest Charlotte City Council meeting, your favorite airplane, or a recent bear sighting over a bottle of Perrier.


Mariah Harrelson

Chair of Programming

Mariah is a senior studying Public Policy and Political Science, with a minor in PPE. She is passionate about using public service as a space for making our communities better through the IOP, and her interests lie at the intersection of policymaking, law, and the justice system. She will be joining Deloitte’s Government and Public Services D.C. office as a business analyst in the fall and hopes to go to law school.

Mariah is always up for sitting in the quad catching up on life and bringing homemade baked treats to meetings.


Nikhil Vytla

Director of Tech Team

Nikhil is a sophomore Computer Science and Statistics and Analytics double major. He believes strongly in using technology for social good, hoping to surround himself with motivated individuals who share his desire to create positive change. Through Tech Team, he hopes to make technology and education accessible and available to all.

Over the past summer, Nikhil was an engineering intern at Fidelity Investments, and over the 2019-2020 school year he will be interning at the U.S. Department of Defense as well as researching the impacts of machine learning on neuroimaging analyses at the UNC School of Medicine.

In his free time, Nikhil enjoys directing hackathons, volunteering, and eating sushi.


Veda Patil

Chair of Programming

Veda is a junior studying Political Science and English with a minor in French. She is particularly interested in the judicial system, international political economy, and the intersection of labor and education policy. In summers past, she has interned with the Workers' Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center, where she assisted with advocacy and coalition building amongst various pro-labor organizations. She was also a 2019 Summer Fellow and is year-long Bonner intern at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, an organization dedicated to history preservation and advocacy in the historically black neighborhoods of Northside and Pine Knolls in Chapel Hill.

Veda is always happy to discuss equity in public schools, local civil rights history, and Toni Morrison’s collected works.

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Caroline Carpenter

NC Internship Coordinator

Caroline Carpenter is a sophomore Public Policy and Economics double major and PPE minor. Outside of the IOP, she is a Resident Advisor in the Manning West community for a group of awesome first year students and is a Tar Heel Beginnings Board Co-Chair, a position that allows her to create intentional programming for incoming students to ease their transition.

She is also an Undergraduate Fellow for the Parr Center for Ethics. She received her first public service internship through the IOP and is honored to facilitate that same experience for other students.


Hannah Rice

Director of Civics in the Triangle

Hannah is a senior majoring in Global Studies, with minors in Entrepreneurship and Public Policy. She is passionate about immigration policy and hopes to live in South America post-graduation, putting her Spanish skills to good use. Throughout her time at UNC, she has worked with a variety of initiatives aimed at empowering local youth, and is honored to continue this work with Civics.

Meagan Watson

Director of Speaker Series

Meagan is a senior studying Public Policy and Anthropology, with a minor in Social & Economic Justice. She is planning to go to law school after graduation and is passionate about criminal justice reform. She joined the IOP her junior year as a part of the Speaker Series Team and loves the vast array of topics the team can cover throughout the year.

In her free time, Meagan enjoys attending concerts and hanging out with her Delight Ministries girls!

Ella Icard

Director of Communications

Ella is a sophomore double majoring in Communications and Media and Journalism with a focus in Advertising/Public Relations from Charlotte, North Carolina. She has found the communications team to be a great way to engage with students and is excited to continue working to encourage public discourse across campus.

In her free time, Ella enjoys binge watching TV and reading memoirs of her favorite comedians.


Lauren Graham

Co-Director of Internships

Lauren is a junior from Durham double majoring in Business Administration and Political Science. She is particularly interested in political psychology as a way to explain the actions of both voters and politicians. Lauren has spent summers completing a Burch Fellowship in London and D.C. studying how activists and artists try to change the narratives around immigration and studying abroad in Hong Kong.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys traveling and has a long bucket list of places to visit.


Robert Andrews

Director of Development

Robert Andrews is a junior from Washington, D.C. His is chiefly responsible for spearheading the Institute's fundraising efforts. He is also the primary link between the Student Leadership Team and the Senior Advisory Board. Additionally, Robert sits on the IOP's admin team, helping craft the Institute’s long term strategy and its policy.

Robert’s passion for public service has been complemented by an internship on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). He is in School of Media and Journalism, where he studies Public Relations. Robert also minor’s in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.


Levi McCracken

Director of Membership

Levi McCracken is a junior from Clyde, North Carolina, majoring in Political Science and Southern Studies. Levi has been involved with the IOP since his first year at Carolina, and has served as its Financial Director and Chief of Staff prior to serving in his current role as Director of Membership. As the child of three generations of public school workers, Levi’s specific interests in politics and public service fall largely in education.

In his free time, Levi enjoys consuming unhealthy quantities of Southern food and binge watching Netflix dramas. To his friends, he is known for his extensive knowledge of both the North Carolina Community College System and the Real Housewives Franchise.