Board of Directors

The Board of Directors ensures that Young Professionals in Foreign Policy fulfills its mission and endures. The Board achieves this objective by:

  • Establishing a vision and preserving institutional values
  • Setting strategy and objectives
  • Overseeing effective execution
  • Providing accountability, continuity, and stability of leadership
  • Ensuring legal compliance and fiduciary responsibility
  • Securing financial and other resources for the organization’s prosperity

To this end, the Board maintains a clear understanding of the organization's activities and budget, builds relationships with its staff, represents the organization to the external community, and communicates effectively to all YPFP staff and members.

YPFP Board of Directors, elected June 2014

Joshua J. Marcuse, Founder and Chairman

Joshua J. Marcuse is the founder and chairman of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to fostering the next generation of foreign policy leaders. He served as President until 2012. 

Josh serves as senior adviser for policy innovation in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, where he works on policy innovation, leadership development, and organizational change. He also established and leads the OSD Policy Design & Innovation Practice, and is a design thinking instructor and facilitator. Previously, he worked at the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Josh is an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and is in the 2015 Next Generation National Security Leaders Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He was an Aspen Scholar at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2009. 

Josh is a fellow of the Truman National Security Project, where he co-leads the DoD Expert Group and advises the Leadership Development program. He serves on advisory boards of Atlas Corps, the Franklin Project of the Aspen Institute, LearnServe, Luke's Wings, Millennium Action Project, the Next Generation of Government Summit, the Project for the Study of the 21st Century, and Young Government Leaders. He works with interfaith couples at Sixth&i Synagogue.

Josh graduated from Dartmouth College. He is certified in change management from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He is pursuing a Gallup certification in executive coaching and a LUMA Institute certification in Human-Centered Design. 

Josh is a New Yorker who lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Cathryn. Together they started The Charcuterie Club of DC.


Sarah Heck, Vice Chair

Sarah Heck currently works at the U.S. Department of State serving as the Chief of Staff for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Prior to this appointment Sarah was the Special Assistant to the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, traveling to over 35 countries focusing on building networks of youth and civil society and counterterrorism. She has also served in the Office of 21st Century Statecraft and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. 

Before joining the government, Sarah worked at Chevron Corporation in their international government affairs group and at Kissinger McLarty Associates in the Latin America practice, engaging multinational corporations across industries. Sarah has a significant experience in Latin America through her work with Amigos de las Americas, where she served as their Country Director in Paraguay, creating and managing rural community development projects with the Ministry of Health, Plan International, and the Fundación Paraguaya/Junior Achievement.

Sarah received a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she was Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's Research Associate. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland.


Sarah Platts, Executive Secretary

Sarah Platts is a Senior Consultant at Monitor Deloitte, the strategy unit of Deloitte Consulting, LLP. In this role, Sarah works in the firm’s newly created Social Impact Service Line where she serves clients in the private sector, public sector, and social/nonprofit sector. She also co-leads the firm’s global Agricultural Sciences Community of Practice. Sarah’s work focuses on strategy development, private sector investment and promotion in emerging markets, agricultural development, and economic growth. She has served clients in Afghanistan, India, Colombia, the Middle East, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa, as well as here in the United States.

In 2012 Sarah spent 15 months living and working in Ethiopia supporting an economic growth initiative spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA). The ATA is a high-performance unit reporting to the Prime Minister that works on strategy, policy, and implementation activities, and is touted as a new model for public-private partnerships and international development. As one of the first international staff members recruited to help stand up the ATA, Sarah’s work focused on strategy development, program management and core analytics to help accelerate Ethiopia’s economic growth by transforming the agriculture sector.

Prior to Ethiopia, Sarah launched her career at Deloitte Consulting, LLP as a Business Analyst and Consultant where she was a member of the firm’s Emerging Markets practice. She focused on helping clients build effective public sector institutions, with an emphasis on organizational and development strategies for institutions in post-conflict and developing countries.

Sarah holds a BA (Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, and with Honors) from the University of California, Irvine and a Masters (with Merit Honours) from the London School of Economics. She sits on the Board of Directors of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) where she serves as the Executive Secretary of the Board. In 2011, Sarah was named a “Top 99 under 33” foreign affairs leaders by Diplomatic Courier. In her spare time she enjoys distance running, scuba diving, and traveling the world.


Nathan Puffer, Treasurer

As a Senior Vice President at GLOBAL Integrated Security (GLOBAL), a leading national security firm based in northern Virginia, Nathan oversees the delivery of services and revenue for the company's large portfolio. Nathan brings management experience focused on large team dynamics, dedication to exceptional and ethical performance in support to U.S. national security interests, client engagement and a focus on technical innovation in his field and organizational growth to the YPFP mission.

Before coming to Washington, he served in the United States Marine Corps signals intelligence field and was an honor graduate of the Defense Language Institute – Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. He later worked as a Program Coordinator specializing in Russian and Eurasian studies at CSIS, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank. Mr. Puffer received his post-secondary education at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Upon joining GLOBAL in 2006, he deployed to the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia for a number of years and has since held senior management and executive positions in both the Middle East and the US.

Nathan served as YPFP’s first Vice President of Membership.

Eric Hoplin

Eric Hoplin is Executive Director of the Financial Services Roundtable. Hoplin’s tenure as Executive Director began in January 2014, and he previously served as FSR’s Vice President of Communications & Organizational Strategy.

Hoplin has more than a decade of experience leading teams to advance public policy and helping organizations succeed by leveraging his expertise in management consulting, strategic communication, change management, and public policy. Previously, Hoplin was a Lead Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, a Fortune 500 Consulting Firm. He has served in a variety of public policy and political leadership roles, including as deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. He is a prolific speaker, having delivered dozens of presentations across the country, including a speech the New York Times previewed as “one to watch.” The Baltimore Sun has called Hoplin a “bona fide rising star” and the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiled him as “one of tomorrow’s leaders.”

Hoplin volunteers his time as a member of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors and as a Board Member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, where he provides strategic advice and guidance to both organizations. Hoplin holds a Master of International Affairs degree with concentrations in management and international security policy from Columbia University, an M.B.A. from Augsburg College, a B.A. in political science and communications from St. Olaf College, and a Certificate in Change Management from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Hoplin and his wife Nicole live in Vienna, Virginia, with their two boys.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan is the Chief Operating Officer of Second Front Systems. He has more than a decade of experience in the security community, where he has focused on identifying and delivering innovative technology solutions to key defense organizations, intelligence agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. Before joining Second Front, Pat was Co-Founder and President of Praescient Analytics, a technology integration firm that implemented cutting-edge data analytics platforms across the federal market. He served as an Army intelligence officer, including two combat tours in Iraq, where he led a specialized team of intelligence analysts, interrogators, and technical specialists targeting Al Qaeda leadership. Pat was a Distinguished Graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown's Security Studies Program. He is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Board of Directors of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Pat was recently selected as a 'Next Generation National Security Leader' by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a 'Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leader' by the Diplomatic Courier.


JP Schnapper-Casteras

JP is an appellate litigator and commentator on public policy issues.  He currently serves as Special Counsel for Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  JP is also a national security crisis law fellow at Georgetown University Law Center and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project.  In 2013, he was named as one of the Top 99 Foreign Policy Leaders Under 33 by Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.  He has been published in the Washington Post, Politico, and a variety of other outlets. 

In 2004, JP founded the first student exchange program between Stanford University and postwar Iraq and presently serves as a Trustee of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.  Previously, he was selected to be a student member of Stanford University’s Board of Trustees and a predoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.  

Before joining the Legal Defense Fund, JP served as a law clerk to the Honorable Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and to the Honorable Scott W. Stucky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He received his J.D. with Pro Bono Distinction from Stanford Law School, an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and an M.A. in Sociology and B.A. with honors in Political Science from Stanford University.


David Simon

David Simon is a Senior Partner and executive at CSC. Today he leads CSC’s Big Data Sales team for North, South and Central America both commercially and CSC’s Federal business sectors. David is truly a strategist and entrepreneur who has successfully run his own company, consulted for organizations, and served as a business developer for three companies who went on to grow in the federal market space; where they were successfully acquired. He is a former Active Duty Officer in the United States Army with fifteen years of experience serving in the intelligence community. While an officer in the U.S. Army, David was selected as a senior leader to stand-up the 209th MI Company in support of the Army’s Transformation Brigade Initiative (now commonly referred to as a ‘Stryker Brigade’).

David has grown CSC’s Big Data practice by more than $80M in new business over the last year. CSC’s Big Data team is leading the DoDIIS Apps Engine as part of Intel Communities ICITE initiative.  Prior to joining CSC, David led MEP’s Business Development team from 2009 to 2012 where they grew from $300M in revenue to one of the largest contractors in Afghanistan with annual revenue estimated at $1.2 Billion and 8300 employees in 17 countries. He was sought after by the CEO to initiate and drive winning solutions for BD activities supporting the Intelligence Community with an emphasis on DoD Programs. David led the bid to win MEP’s first Multiple Award IDIQ and won more than $9B in contracts for MEP during his three year tenure.

Alexandra I. Toma

Alexandra I. Toma is the Executive Director of the Peace and Security Funders Group, a network of 55 foundations and philanthropists committed to collaboration around diverse peace and security issues. She has over 12 years’ experience at senior levels of politics, government, advocacy and philanthropic organizations, most recently as the Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a donors’ collaborative focused on incentivizing collaboration as a tool to meet today’s human rights, nuclear nonproliferation, and climate change challenges. While Director of the Ploughshares Fund’s “Peace and Security Initiative,” she launched the Fissile Materials Working Group, a non-governmental coalition of more than 75 U.S. and international organizations providing action-oriented policy solutions to keep the world safe from nuclear terrorism. Prior to her nonprofit experience, Alex served as a foreign policy advisor to Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA).  She enjoys teaching at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and speaking and writing extensively on national security, foreign policy, and philanthropy issues.  

In 2011, Alex was named a “Top 99 Under 33” foreign policy leader by Diplomat Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. She earned an M.S. in Foreign Policy and Security Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in International Affairs and Psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Virginia.

Suzanne Gershowitz

Suzanne Gershowitz is the Manager of Academic Programs at AEI, where she has worked since June 2014. She is responsible for building and managing AEI’s on-campus programs and executing its broader college and university outreach, including to college and university faculty and administrators.

Suzanne joined AEI after serving as Director of Business Development at BlueStar Global Investors, LLC, a New York-based start-up firm that develops investment products in the Israeli market. Suzanne worked in business development and marketing at BlueStar for three years, beginning at the company’s founding in 2011. From 2004 to 2006, Suzanne was a Research Assistant in AEI’s Foreign Policy and Defense Studies Department, where she worked for scholars specializing in Middle East foreign policy and published articles and op-eds on subjects related to the Middle East, the United Nations and terrorism. After leaving AEI, Suzanne spent a year working in the public affairs department of the international law firm Foley & Lardner LLP.

Suzanne earned her JD from The University of Chicago Law School and her BA from Harvard College. She is a member of the Business Advisory Board of BlueStar Global Investors, LLC, and was one of the original members of YPFP.