New Academic Year Features Five New Full-Time Faculty

New NYU Wagner Faculty
From left to right: Thom Blaylock, Atul Pokharel, Travis St. Clair, Martha Stark, and Mona Vakilifathi

As we welcome our students, faculty, and staff to the start of the 2017-18 academic year, NYU Wagner is thrilled to issue a special welcome to our five newest full-time faculty members: Thom Blaylock, Atul Pokharel, Travis St. Clair, Martha Stark, and Mona Vakilifathi.

Thom Blaylock is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Public Policy who teaches professional and public policy communications and is the Clinical Director of the Master of Science in Public Policy Program. Previously, he taught at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He has worked as a writer, editor, and consultant. He received his Bachelor’s from Rice University and an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Atul Pokharel is an Assistant Professor who studies the comparative political economy of infrastructure governance and the community maintenance of shared resources, both physical and digital. His areas of expertise include urban governance, international development planning, and political economy. His research interests also include free and open-source software, improving crowdsourced data collection for use by municipal agencies, and the “greening” of transportation systems in global cities. Most recently, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Thomas J. Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He holds a PhD in Urban Studies and Planning from MIT and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Princeton University.

Travis St. Clair is an Assistant Professor focusing on financial management in the public sector. His research examines the long-term budgetary challenges facing state and local governments in the US, and in particular how fiscal institutions, such as tax limitation or accounting rules, mediate governments’ responses to these challenges. Some of his recent projects examine contribution volatility in publicly defined benefit pension plans and the effect of new accounting standards on municipal debt issuance. He received a BA in chemistry from Harvard and a PhD in public policy from George Washington University. From 2012-2013, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research. Prior to joining NYU, he was an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

Martha Stark is a Clinical Professor who most recently served as a Distinguished Lecturer at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. In addition to teaching, Stark has served as a strategist, coach, facilitator, and management and leadership consultant for several nonprofit organizations including the Park Avenue Synagogue, Asphalt Green, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, the Ali Forney Center, and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Previously, she served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance, the 2,400-person tax agency responsible for collecting more than $22 billion in revenue to fund and support local services including education, police, fire, sanitation, and libraries. Ms. Stark, a lawyer, served as a White House Fellow at the US Department of State during President Bill Clinton’s Administration. She returns home to NYU where she earned her Juris Doctor and Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Mona Vakilifathi is an Assistant Professor whose research interests include US state politics, lawmaking, and charter schools. Her research connects the effect of politics in the statehouse to K-12 education outcomes by the degree of policy discretion state politicians grant to the bureaucracy. She has worked at the Center for Education Policy Analysis and Policy Analysis for California Education at Stanford University. In addition, Mona has worked as a consultant and a fellow for the San Diego Unified School District, the New Jersey State Department of Education, the New York City Department of Education, and the California Assembly Committee on Education. She received her PhD and her Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.