About Us

Olivia Zitkus

Senior Advisor

Olivia Zitkus began with the IOP in a Vice Presidential role and now serves as a Senior Adviser. She is a junior at UNC from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania studying Economics and Classics. During her time with the IOP, Olivia has helped build the organization’s long term strategy and programming such as the IOP Speaker Series.

She is currently focused on staff recruitment planning and execution, student governance, and improving the IOP’s relationship with the Carolina campus and greater community. Olivia’s passion for public service has been complemented by internships involving hands-on work with education policy in New Orleans and social accountability at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

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Matt Penner

Director of Speakers Series

Matt is a junior from Charlotte studying Public Policy and Reporting in the School of Media and Journalism. He was drawn to the Institute of Politics in the fall of 2017 because of the bipartisan dialogue and interaction with public servants.

Matt has interned for Senator Burr and Congressman Budd, and takes great interest in health policy and religious liberty. On campus, Matt is involved with the Summit College Ministry and works for the UNC Athletic Communications team.

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.


Tai Huynh

Chair of Admin

Tai is a junior studying Computer Science and Business Administration. He aims to be a serial entrepreneur, specifically in the GovTech space. He is interested in discovering ways to implement emerging technologies to improve government.

He is currently working on a start-up that is focused on increasing participation in local government.

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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 sophomore 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.


Tasnia Sarwar

Director of Tech Team

Tasnia is a sophomore computer science major and studio art minor, with a strong interest in applicable intersections of the two areas. Through Tech Team, she hopes to make technology accessible and available to all.

For the past three summers, Tasnia was a technical intern at SAS Institute, and this upcoming summer she will be an engineering intern at Google. In her free time, Tasnia enjoys hanging around the Maker Spaces, doodling, and watching cooking shows.


Veda Patil

Director of Outreach

Veda is a sophomore studying Political Science and English with a minor in Education. She is particularly interested in the judicial system and education policy as it pertains to equality of educational opportunity and closing the achievement gap in public schools. Over the summer, she 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.

Veda is always happy to discuss diversity and inclusion initiatives, local civil rights history, and gush over her favorite author, Toni Morrison.

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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.

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Melissa Cavagnini

Director of Civics in the Triangle

Melissa is the Director of Civics in the Triangle. She is a junior Human Development and Family Studies and Hispanic Literature double major. She is studying to be a teacher, and enjoys being able to cross her passion for teaching with her passion for civic engagement!

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Emma Giusto

Director of Political Archives

Emma Giusto is a senior double majoring in political science and economics with a minor in public policy. She worked on the White House Transition Project for two years, helping to track the differing hierarchical organization schemes that each administration employs in the White House.

Aside from of the IOP, Emma volunteers with UNC’s HYPE, acting as both a tutor and a mentor for children in underserved community centers. She plans on attending law school after graduation, and is interested in civil and human rights.

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Hannah Cousins

Director of Communications

Hannah is a sophomore double majoring in Public Policy and Media and Journalism with a focus in Advertising/ Public Relations and a PPE minor. Through her experience as a researcher and communications professional in the political organization industry, she has discovered her passion for public service, politics, and law.

When she is not focused on politics, she is planning concert trips with friends and expanding her sneaker collection.


Lauren Graham

DC Internship Coordinator

Lauren is a sophomore 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. Last summer Lauren completed a Burch Fellowship in London and D.C. where she studied how activists and artists try and change the narratives around immigration.

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