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Aneesa Patwary

Pearson Fellow Alum, MPP '19

Growing up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Aneesa Patwary was subjected to Islamophobic comments that were important in shaping her identity and the work she wants to do. The daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, she views public policy as a way to change narratives about marginalized communities and a way to return agency to the voiceless.

Patwary attended The George Washington University, where she studied international affairs and economics with a minor in history. She worked as a legislative intern in the office of US Senator Carl Levin, where she focused on bills pertaining to women’s issues, human rights, education, and health care. She also volunteered as an English teacher in Kırklareli, Turkey, with the Federation of Balkan American Associations, and spent three years as a corps member and later as a team leader for the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart in the Washington, DC, area.

Patwary also gained valuable experience at the US Department of State in the Office of International Religious Freedom, where she supported its ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. In addition to her time at the US Department of State, she also spent time with the Muslim Public Affairs Council on empowering Muslim Americans. She is interested in how religious conflicts shape identity, how they impact economic development and accessibility to resources around the world, and how they can be overcome.

Together these experiences have informed her studies at The Pearson Institute focused on economic development, public policy, and interdisciplinary affairs. While at Harris Public Policy and The Pearson Institute, Patwary worked as a research assistant for Professor Chris Blattman on a project regarding vote-buying in Uganda and has done work with Muslim Affairs and Public Policy bringing speakers to campus to discuss issues affecting Muslims across the globe. In summer 2018, she interned with the Cook County Board of Commissioners in Commissioner García’s office, focusing on legislation at the county level regarding immigration, criminal justice reform, and protecting the rights of underserved communities.

Baidoa, Somalia

Makeshift, temporary shelter made of plastic and clothing at a refugee center in Baidoa, Somalia.