Executive Team and Young Leaders

The Washington Institute has a robust staff with members representing a variety of global backgrounds. It also supports young people with promise as tomorrow’s leaders around the world through scholarships and opportunities to get involved in conversations covering international business, government, and society. To that end, it counts several outstanding young leaders as members of its staff. More about their backgrounds and contributions to the Institute can be found below:


Hakan Ozsancak – Executive Vice President

Hakan oversees the operations, finance and communications of the Washington Institute, providing support to the CEO and Founder. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, he is the son of a diplomat and by the age of ten had lived in Switzerland, Egypt, Germany, and Turkey. He speaks five languages. Having served as Chief Operating Officer of a technology company and executive producer for a major media conglomerate, Hakan has spent 19 years in the communications industry. He has led diverse teams of professionals in a series of news projects around the world and has received several awards for his work. Hakan excels in strategic communications, business development, finance, and strategy. He received his bachelor’s degree in international relations from American University and his executive MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.


Maati Bouabid- Special Projects Associate

Hometown: Casablanca, Morocco

Born and raised in Morocco, Maati is a recent graduate of The George Washington University. Double majoring in international affairs and economics, Maati chose to work at the Washington Institute for Business, Government, and Society as he was fascinated by the projects the Institute is undertaking and also believed it was a great fit with his fields of study. He has supported the Institute’s Coronavirus Initiative, Global Sports Program, and its Embassy Series, in addition to other initiatives.




Katherine “Kat” Manouchehri – Strategic Communications Specialist

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

A recent graduate of American University, Kat is working as a strategic communications specialist for the Washington Institute. In 2018, Kat packed her bags and moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Washington, D.C. to pursue a Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, concentrating in Crisis Management and International Negotiation, at American. Prior to AU, Kat graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Political Science. She currently resides in the heart of D.C. with her pup, Bee.



Grace Chen – Research Policy Associate

Hometown: Sugarland, Texas

Grace Chen is a junior at The University of Texas at San Antonio pursuing a double major in psychology and politics and law. On campus, Chen works as a Dean’s Ambassador for the Honors College, vice president of the women’s rugby team, and as a member of Model United Nations. Through her participation in the Philosophy and Literature circle at Dominguez State Jail and an English teaching program overseas, she works to advocate for the rights of marginalized communities by increasing opportunities for their engagement in higher education. Upon graduation, Chen plans on getting an MBA and working in international development.



Katie Rodger – Business Development Associate

Hometown: Marblehead, Massachusetts 

Katie Rodger is a recent graduate of Connecticut College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government with a focus on international politics, and a double minor in Economics and Anthropology. In addition to academics, she was an active member of the Varsity Sailing Team. Katie chose to work at the Washington Institute because she is very passionate about the work and projects the Institute does, and it ties together all of her undergraduate fields of study. At the Washington Institute, she is helping with business development activities including research, fundraising and grants.



Yagiz Sullu – Technology Research Associate

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

Yagiz Sullu is a recent graduate of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a focus on international development, law, and organizations. He completed his undergraduate education at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies majoring in International Relations with a focus on Foreign Policy, Security Studies, and Europe. At the Washington Institute, he is researching the latest technology trends as well as managing the Institute’s podcasts, videos, and other social media engagements.