Originally from Bowie, Maryland, Ayanna graduated from Colgate University in 2008 with degrees in geography and sociology. She has served as an Upstate Institute Fellow, residential advisor, and Manzi Fellow. She also studied social policy in the U.S., Australia, and Uganda and conducted geographic, biological, and public health research in Uganda.
Field placement: Hunger Task Force
Ayanna worked to make SNAP/food stamp benefits more accessible to low-income residents of Milwaukee County. She conducted research and identified best practices for improving the speed and quality of the application process, and assisted food pantries with SNAP/food stamp outreach activities.
Policy placement: Food Research & Action Center
Ayanna worked with state groups to monitor the effects of new policies and benefit increases in the food stamp/SNAP program enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. She assisted state advocates, studied the impact of the changes on state and local advocacy efforts, and tracked new outreach activities. She also analyzed SNAP participation and practices in 25 large cities in order to update the annual report Food Stamp Access in Urban America: A City by City Snapshot.