Meet 2020-2021 APSA Congressional Fellow Mona Vakilifathi of New York University

Meet Mona Vakilifathi, PhD, New York University

Mona Vakilifathi is an Assistant Professor of Public Service in the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Her research and teaching interests include American political institutions, state politics, legislative delegation, K-12 education governance, and charter schools.

Mona’s research addresses the effect of legislative political institutions on K-12 student achievement by the degree of policy discretion elected officials grant in state statutes. The first category of her research addresses legislators’ electoral motivation to decrease statutory discretion and the effect of legislative political institutions on statutory discretion. The second category of her research creates new quantitative measures of statutory discretion using automated text analysis and evaluates the effect of statutory discretion on K-12 school and student achievement.

Mona received her Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. She worked as a Research Analyst at the Center for Education Policy Analysis and Policy Analysis for California Education at Stanford University. In addition, Mona worked as a consultant and a fellow for the California Assembly Committee on Education, New Jersey State Department of Education, New York City Department of Education, and San Diego Unified School District.


The American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellowship Program is a highly selective, nonpartisan program devoted to expanding knowledge and awareness of Congress. Since 1953, it has brought select political scientists, journalists, federal employees, health specialists, and other professionals to Capitol Hill to experience Congress at work through fellowship placements on congressional staffs.

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