Leigh recently graduated with an MA in Counter-terrorism & Homeland Security from The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel with a special certificate in Cyber-terrorism Studies. Previously, she completed both a BA in International Relations (with a minor in Global Communications) and a MA in Public Diplomacy within four years at the University of Southern California (USC) under a full-tuition merit Trustee Scholarship. During her time at USC, she also studied abroad for a semester at the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, with a USC Gold Family Fellowship, and did a Maymester abroad at Singapore Management University (SMU) with a USC SOAR grant.


Leigh is a dual U.S/Israeli citizen with a lifelong passion for physical security and public safety. In tandem with her most recent MA in Israel, Leigh worked as a Threat Analysis/Terror Simulations Intern at the Israeli think tank: The International Institute for Counter-terrorism (ICT). There, she actively collected and analyzed large amounts of open-source intelligence from across the web and social media in order to formulate threat assessments for potential Los Angeles terror targets, and her research was selected as the showcase Law Enforcement & Policing presentation/simulation for international law enforcement officials at the annual ICT World Summit on Counter-terrorism in September 2017. 


Ten years from now Leigh hopes to be working on physical threat assessments and public safety procedures for the 2028 Olympics to be held in Los Angeles.


Jinyi Zhu


Jinyi is currently working toward a Master of Public Administration at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. 


Jinyi comes from Shanghai, China. After earning her bachelor's degree of Finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University she decided to pursue a Master of Public Administration in the United States.

Her previous experiences have contributed toward a life-long passion of devoting herself to solving social problems, especially enhancing people's living conditions and their sense of security. As an undergraduate, Jinyi served as an intern at the Poverty Alleviation Office of the Chinese central government, as well as co-founded a charity which aimed to narrow the educational gap between rural and urban areas in China.

Jinyi believes that homeland security is one of the most pressing issues in Los Angeles and wants to be able to contribute to the field. 

Career Goals

Ten years from now Jinyi hopes to still be in the Greater Los Angeles region in a leadership role in local government, concentrating in either emergency management or preventing ideologically-motivated violence/terrorism.

Mara Burger


MPA Candidate, University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy; BA in Psychology and Legal Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz


Mara Burger is a Masters of Public Administration candidate and Dean's Merit Scholar in the 2018 cohort at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. Mara's academic and professional areas of interest primarily focus on issues of public safety and security. Currently, Mara serves as a Research Fellow for the City of Los Angeles in Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of Public Safety where she supports efforts to develop strategies against hate, bias, and violence caused by extremism. Previously, she has worked as a research intern for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission on matters concerning police training, implicit bias, and police-community relations. 

Prior to pursuing her Masters, Mara served as the Assistant Director and Program Manager for the Leadership Academy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy and national security think tank in Washington, DC. In her personal time, Mara serves as the Chief Operating Officer for I Am Your Protector (IAYP), a volunteer-run international non-profit organization that fights hate and xenophobia. 

Career Goals

Ten years from now Mara hopes to still be in the Greater Los Angeles region, entering a leadership role in local government, either in an emergency management office or in a role that works to respond to or prevent ideologically-motivated violence/terrorism. 



Haley received her BS in Political Science, and Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. She is currently a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Southern California (USC), entering her second year this coming fall. Haley is also working on a Certificate of Sustainable Policy and Planning during her time at USC.


Haley is originally from Chicago, IL, but grew up primarily in Phoenix, AZ. In the past, she has been an intern in Washington, D.C. for a local Congresswoman and spent six months living in Dublin, Ireland as an exchange student studying Irish law and politics. Her interests in homeland security and public safety emerged from growing technology and progress within the field, in combination with the ability it has to make significant, visible impacts on communities. 

Career Goals

As a current policy student, Haley hopes to be making a difference within the policy field within the next 10 years. Her interests lie in homeland security and sustainability, and she hopes to be working on solutions and progress within these areas throughout her career.