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

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.”



Jared Conn: Otterbein University, BA Political Science

Hometown: Wintersville, OH

“I enjoy helping students think about and express their own viewpoints about government and what it means to be an active citizen in the US.”

Mark Firmin: Tulane University, BA Political Science: International Relations; BS Psychology

Hometown: Prairieville, LA

“Close Up offers unrivaled programs in growing students' ability to recognize themselves as difference makers. Participants get to explore their political identity and practice both putting forward their ideas and listening to others, all in a civil manner.”

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.”

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!”

Senior Program Instructors

Tanya Bouillon: CUNY Hunter College, BA Political Science and Chinese Language & Literature

Hometown: Endicott, NY

“The best part about being a Program Instructor is watching young people interact with other students from across the country and share their thoughts and values with them."



Becca Brehm: Virginia Commonwealth University, BA Political Science

Hometown: Falls Church, VA

“The most exciting thing about using DC as a living classroom is allowing students to see real historical sites, and helping them to apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world."

Michael Covin: Rutgers University, BA Political Science and History

Hometown: Clifton, NJ

“The most exciting part of being a Close Up instructor is getting to work with different students from around the country and utilizing different learning environments in DC as a classroom to further expand ways to inform, inspire, and empower students.”

Brady Watson: State University of New York, BS Environmental Policy, Planning, and Law, MS Environmental and Outdoor Education

Hometown: Croning, NY

“Washington, DC is the perfect social studies classroom because there is an intersection of local, state, and national governments in a concentrated area.”

Meadow Wiggington: James Madison University, BA Political Science and Philosophy

Hometown: Falls Church, VA

“The Close Up Foundation offers immensely impactful programs for students all over the U.S. and I love getting to lead diverse workshops of students who are committed to being open, brave, and honest about their political opinions. I get the privilege of learning alongside my students every single week and I become more excited for the future of this country because of how empowered these students leave at the end of the program week.”

Program Instructors

Aleksandra Chernyak: Bay Path University, BA Liberal Studies

Hometown: Portland, ME

“I enjoy getting students to talk about current events and I love to learn new things from them.”



Teacher Program Specialists

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.”




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.”

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.”

Nora Hoffman-White: Fordham University, BA History

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

“I love this city and want to show teachers and students all the resources here.”


"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