Close Up’s Program Instructors (PIs) are the lifeblood of our programs, and ensure that your students have a safe, rewarding and fun experience! Our PIs are not just contracted tour guides – they are college-educated instructors who are carefully selected for our programs and receive over 120 hours of training with our curriculum and methodology prior to working with students. Additionally, all PIs are trained in First Aid, CPR and have passed a criminal background check as part of Close Up’s hiring process. Our dynamic and engaging instructors come from some of the nation’s top universities as well as from distinguished programs such as the Peace Corps, Semester at Sea, and AmeriCorps. All Program Instructors are supported by Curriculum staff members and receive additional professional development every week in an effort to keep our curriculum relevant to current events, as well as to ensure our practice of providing cutting-edge experiential education.

Program Leaders

Kiara Battle: Bennett College for Women, BA Visual and Performing Arts

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

“The best part of working at Close Up is getting to meet with students from all over the country as they discover Washington DC and all it has to offer.”



Katie Chandler: St. Catherine’s University, BA-French & History; Jagiellonian University, MA-European Studies

Hometown: Platteville, WI

“The things I love best about Close Up are the diversity of students we work with and that all our instructors share a genuine passion for civic education.”

Julianne Forzano: West Virginia University, BA-Secondary Social Studies Education

Hometown: Wheeling, WV

“The best part of being a program instructor is working directly with the kids, helping them grow their democratic skills.”

Ayman N. Soliman: University of Alexandria (Egypt), Bachelor’s of Commerce

Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt

“I love working at Close Up because it is inspiring and empowering to feel that you can actually make a change and leave a long-lasting impact on students’ lives.”

Katie Whitmire: University of Virginia, BA-American Politics & History

Hometown: Yorktown, VA

“I love working with students from across the country and seeing them exposed to different viewpoints that they may not hear in their own communities.”

Freya Yskes: Aquinas College, BA-Political Science & International Studies; Marquette University, MA-International Affairs

Hometown: Grandville, MI

“My favorite part of Close Up is helping students find their voice and place in our democracy. As a two-time alumnus of the high school program, Close Up helped me find my passion for government and I haven’t looked back since!”

Senior Program Instructors

Ian Hendrie: Mount St. Mary’s University, BA-Political Science

Hometown: Potomac, MD

“The best part about being a PI is having the opportunity to meet young people from a broad range of geographic and community backgrounds and watch them come together and engage in democratic debate.”



Whitney Hughes: University of Florida, BA Political Science

Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL

“The most exciting part of being a program instructor is getting to hear the conversations amongst students as they challenge one another to speak up and share their opinions.”

Taylor Jobin: West Virginia University, BA Strategic Communications

Hometown: Fairfax, VA

“My favorite part of Close Up is mock Congress, which is where students get their first real, hands-on experience on the inner workings of Congress. Mock Congress sets the students up for their day on Capitol Hill, as well as a lifetime of political efficacy.”

Josh McDonnell: University of South Carolina Upstate, BA History

Hometown: Spartanburg, SC

“The most rewarding thing about being a program instructor is being able to help create empowered young citizens.”

Melissa Morgan: George Washington University, BA Geographic Information Systems and American Studies

Hometown: Garden Grove, CA

“It’s so exciting to meet new students and help teach them about government and civic engagement, all while showing them around the city that I love!”

Shawn Ralston: Binghamton University, BA English, Gen. Literature

Hometown: Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, NY

“The most exciting part of being a Close Up Instructor is interacting with students from a variety of backgrounds. It is always beneficial to understand the youth experience in different communities across the United States.”

Shelby Teets: James Madison University, BA History

Hometown: Winchester, VA

I love getting to inform young adults about their national government and its history.”

Program Instructors

Nick DeAngelis: University of Rhode Island, BA Social Studies and Secondary Education

Hometown: North Providence, RI

“The most exciting part of my job is being the educator that these students learn from throughout the week, bringing new knowledge and understanding of our nation’s capital.”



Daniel Hastings: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, BA History

Hometown: Geneva, NY

“I love working at Close Up because it uses the Washington D.C. as a classroom, which allows for hands-on learning.”

Bree Hersch: College of William and Mary, BA Latin American Studies

Hometown: Staunton, VA

“As a program instructor, I love being a part of a bridge for mutual understanding and friendships.”

David Leviev: West Virginia University, BA Political Science

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

“I enjoy working at Close Up because I’m able to have the opportunity to show young students history and civics from a creative and unique perspective. I think it’s a great honor to be able to educate the youth on civics and democracy.”

Teacher Program Specialists

John Cheeseman: George Mason University, BA History

Hometown: Alexandria, VA

“The best part of being a TPS is working with teachers from all across the country and overseas, imparting knowledge of our history and government, and learning from them in return.”




Michael Kofi Boateng: Brigham Young University (Hawaii), BA-Political Science; Norwich University, MA-Diplomacy

Hometown: Koforidua, Ghana

“My favorite part of Close Up is the unique non-partisan approach to teaching.”

Olivia Dumboski: University of Arkansas; BA- International Relations, Minors- European Studies and Political Science

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

“As a former educator, I enjoy working with Close Up teachers from all over the country as they continue to enrich their dedication to civic education in the classroom.”

Joe Geraghty: Le Moyne College, BA-Religious Studies

Hometown: Yorktown Heights, NY

“I love working at Close Up because I believe that our mission to inform, inspire, and empower the youth of America is vitally important for the future of our great country.”

MaryBeth Wagner: Catholic University, BA History & Secondary Education; Marist College (Italy), MA: Museum Studies

Hometown: Kane, PA

“The most exciting part of being a Teacher Program Specialist is seeing how teachers can use what they learn from Close Up to motivate their students to have their voices heard.”


"The great thing about Close Up is that every day is exciting! I constantly learn new things from my students and colleagues and I work with people who share the same passion for our democracy that I do!"

   – Madison K., Instructor
Educating for democracy since 1971