YPFP would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the exceptional individuals who helped make this program a reality. These individuals will be serving as Lead Participants throughout the program and will shepherd the cohort through the program!
Click on each picture to learn more about each steering committee member.
Elsa Kania is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Her research focuses on Chinese military innovation and emerging technologies. At CNAS, she contributes to the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative and the "Securing Our 5G Future" program, while acting as a member of the Digital Freedom Forum and the research team for the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and National Security. Ms. Kania is also a Research Fellow with the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) at Georgetown University. She was a 2018 Fulbright Specialist and is a Non-Resident Fellow with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre. Ms. Kania works in support of the U.S. Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute through its Associates Program, serves as a Policy Advisor for the non-profit Technology for Global Security (T4GS), contributes to the Party Watch Initiative at the Center for Advanced China Research, and co-founded the China Cyber and Intelligence Studies Institute (CCISI), a non-profit research collaboration. Currently, Elsa is a PhD student in Harvard University's Department of Government, and she is also a graduate of Harvard College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). Her thesis was awarded the James Gordon Bennett Prize, and her dissertation will examine Chinese military learning and innovation in historical perspective. She was a Boren Scholar in Beijing, China, and she maintains professional proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.
Katherine Koleski is currently a Lead Business Analyst at JAB Innovation Solutions, where she provides analysis to the U.S. government on U.S. and Chinese innovation and high-technology development. She previously served as the Research Director for the Research Working Group and a Policy Analyst for the Economic & Trade team at the congressionally-created U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission (USCC). In these roles, she managed the Research Working Group’s contracted and staff research and regularly provided analysis to Congressional members and staff related to China-Latin American relations, China’s industrial policies, and China’s pursuit of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, and 5G. Prior to rejoining the USCC, she interned at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and served as a Research Assistant at the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), where she co-authored several publications on Chinese loans to Latin America. Ms. Koleski earned a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College and her Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. She has advanced proficiency in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Ms. Koleski has published several articles on China that include: The 13th Five-Year Plan, China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, The New Banks in Town: Chinese Finance in Latin America, USCC Backgrounder: China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, among others.
Dr. Alexander Titus
Dr. Alexander Titus was the Assistant Director (AD) for Biotechnology within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD(R&E)). As the AD for Biotechnology, Dr. Titus was the technical and oversight lead for all relevant research and engineering matters across the biotechnology portfolio, and is responsible for developing the department’s biotechnology roadmap. Prior to OUSD(R&E), Dr. Titus was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company focused on working with the defense & security communities on organizational priorities related to advanced analytics and digital modernization. Before consulting, Dr. Titus held a number of roles as a data scientist at In-Q-Tel, Amazon, and Dartmouth College, where his work focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) applications in biology, cyber security, and speech and audio processing. Dr. Titus was also a member of the 2018 cohort of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity (ELBI) Fellowship through the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr. Titus holds a Ph.D. in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences from the Guarini School of Graduate & Advanced Studies at Dartmouth College, where his work focused on computational epigenetics of cancer and AI/ML applications in biology. He also holds dual BS/BA in biochemistry and biology with an emphasis on quantitative analysis, from the University of Puget Sound.
Dr. Alexander Titus
Ali Wyne is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute.
Ali served as a junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 2008 to 2009 and as a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs from 2009 to 2012. He has also conducted research for Robert Blackwill, Derek Chollet, Henry Kissinger, Wendy Sherman, and Richard Stengel. In 2013 he worked on a team that prepared Samantha Power for her confirmation hearing to be ambassador to the United Nations. He was a member of the RAND Corporation’s adjunct staff from 2014 to 2015 and a policy analyst in its Defense and Political Sciences Department from 2017 to 2020.
Ali graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with dual degrees in Management Science and Political Science (2008) and received his Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School (2017), where he was a course assistant to Joseph Nye. While at the Kennedy School, he served on a Hillary for America working group on U.S. policy towards Asia.
Ali is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a David Rockefeller fellow with the Trilateral Commission, and a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project. He also serves as a member of Foreign Policy for America’s Leadership Circle and as a member of the American Pakistan Foundation’s Leadership Council.
Chenny Zhang is a program manager at In-Q-Tel, the strategic investor for U.S. national security agencies. Chenny works with startups to enhance their products for particular government use cases. Prior to In-Q-Tel, Chenny served as the China portfolio lead at the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board (DIB), an advisory committee charged with catalyzing innovation across the Department of Defense and providing recommendations to its senior leaders. She was responsible for research, analysis, coordination, and policy development on Chinese economic influence in the U.S. national security innovation base while also supporting the DIB’s AI principles project and other initiatives. Before the DIB, Chenny split time between Beijing and Silicon Valley at a software startup she co-founded. She was responsible for the product development and technical support teams, as well as raising the company’s seed round of financing. Prior to that, Chenny was a program manager at Cisco Systems. In total, Chenny has lived in China for seven years. Chenny holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) with a concentration in International Economics, Strategic Studies, and China Studies, and a BA from Boston College.