Co-Founder and Director
Max Bergmann is the director of the Moscow Project and a senior fellow at American Progress, where he focuses on European security and U.S.-Russia policy. From 2011 to 2017, he served in the U.S. Department of State in a number of different positions, including as a member of the secretary of state’s policy planning staff, where he focused on political-military affairs and nonproliferation; special assistant to the undersecretary for arms control and international security; speechwriter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry; and senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. Prior to serving in the State Department, he worked at American Progress as a military and nonproliferation policy analyst and at the National Security Network as the deputy policy director. Bergmann received his master’s degree from the London School of Economics in comparative politics and his bachelor’s degree from Bates College.
Associate Director, Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance
Diana Pilipenko is the associate director for anti-corruption and illicit finance for the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Prior to joining American Progress in June 2017, she managed corporate investigations and analysis at Deloitte, a Big Four accounting firm. Specializing in anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, sanctions, and export controls compliance, she led numerous investigations and assessments on behalf of commercial, federal, and nonprofit organizations. Pilipenko received a master’s degree in regional studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA)—from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in Slavic literature from the University of Chicago. In keeping with the Slavic theme, her first job out of college was that of a researcher and translator of Soviet propaganda posters for the “Windows on the War” exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.
James is the managing director of the Moscow Project. He brings over a decade of experience in foreign policy research and analysis in both the private and non-profit sectors. James previously served as Director of Research and Policy at the National Security Network where he led a team of analysts examining a wide range of national security issues. Most recently, James worked at the Glover Park Group where advised Fortune 500 companies, major foundations, U.S. government and international agencies. He holds a master’s degree in global affairs from Rutgers University and bachelors in history from Rowan University.
Morgan Finkelstein is the press secretary for the Moscow Project. She previously ran rapid response communications for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in Pennsylvania and was a spokeswoman for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Prior to that, Finkelstein was press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia during the 2014 and 2015 election cycles and legislative sessions. Finkelstein also spent nearly two years on the road with former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden as a member of the White House’s advance team, coordinating press logistics and production elements all over the world. Finkelstein has a bachelor’s degree in communication and public service and American history from the University of Pennsylvania and is originally from sunny Sarasota, Florida
Talia Dessel is a research analyst with the Moscow Project. Prior to joining American Progress, she worked for a corporate investigations firm where she concentrated on Russia and Eastern Europe. She previously interned at Human Rights Watch in the Europe and Central Asia Division. Dessel holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies and international studies from the University of Chicago, and has conducted extensive research into the current state of propaganda in Russian media. She studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia from 2014-2015.
Jeremy Venook is a research analyst for the Center for American Progress’s Moscow Project. He has previously worked as an editorial fellow at The Atlantic, where he wrote extensively about President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest, and a City Year AmeriCorps Member in Boston. Originally from San Francisco, Venook received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard in 2015 with a secondary in film studies.
Siena Cicarelli is the special assistant for the Moscow Project. Prior to joining American Progress, she worked for the National Democratic Institute on their Central and Eastern Europe team, where she focused on strengthening political parties in the Western Balkans. She previously interned at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of European Affairs. Cicarelli holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from American University.