Posts by: Jessica Daniels

We’re almost at the end of the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2009, especially as they have nearly reached six years since graduating.  Today’s update comes from Ivette Tarrida-Soler, who was a favorite member of the student-intern team in Admissions during her two Fletcher years.  Let’s hear what she’s been up to.

Ivette participating on panel.  Photo credit: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Ivette participating on panel.
Photo credit: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Five years after Fletcher, I am now what you would call a “Eurocrat” – and proud of it!  I became an official of the European Union in 2011, two years after finishing my MALD at Fletcher.  Public service has always been my main objective, but I have been lucky to get experience in a variety of sectors.  So today I feel like I am only beginning what I hope will be a long career in the European institutions, serving European citizens and representing the EU on the global stage.

Before Fletcher

I grew up in Igualada, near Barcelona, but got my BA at Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college near Philadelphia.  There are so many aspects of this experience that opened my mind to the world, that the B.A. in Political Science seems only an afterthought.  My early professional experience at the end of university was in human rights law.  During my last summer of college, I conducted research for cases related to human rights violations in Nigeria, and afterwards I worked for two years at the law firm Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., in central Philadelphia, as a paralegal for cases related to the violation of human rights during the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, and to the international financing of terrorism.

This pre-Fletcher experience opened a path into a career in “something international.”  My understanding of what that was, exactly, was very immature, and probably still is — but let’s just call it a good dose of “curiosity.”  In any case, professional experience was key to understanding what I wanted from graduate school — which is why I gave up law school for Fletcher!

At Fletcher

Being at Fletcher felt like academic luxury, and yet put me so close to practitioners from around the world.  I was able to explore various disciplines: I focused on international security and designed my own focus on energy security, but also took courses on humanitarian aid and nutrition, economics, law, and in-depth studies into Iran and China.  During the summer, I traveled to Jordan with a group of civil-military students from Tufts University and the U.S. military academies, to do research into the impacts that the Iraq war was having on that country.  I wrote my thesis on nuclear proliferation while being a research associate with the nearby Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Both in 2007 and 2008, I participated in the SIMULEX crisis management exercises organized by the International Security Studies Program.  Some of my fondest memories, however, are of the wonderful staff at the Fletcher’s Admissions Office, where I worked part-time, and of the prospective students who visited the school or contacted us with questions.

After Fletcher

After graduating from Fletcher in 2009, I moved back to Europe to do a one-year traineeship at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy.  I was part of a project that looked into the link between the exploitation of natural resources and armed conflict through Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis.  I worked alongside engineers as the rare social scientist in the team, and learned a lot about the potential uses of mapping and geo-location analysis to study and respond to conflicts, forced migration, and humanitarian emergencies.

Then I went on to work as a political risk analyst at Maplecroft, a UK consultancy, where I carried out research and analysis of political, economic, regulatory and societal events worldwide, interpreting trends and evaluating the ensuing risks and implications for businesses operating internationally.

Explosive trace detection testing in the Brussels metro, April 2014

Explosive trace detection testing in the Brussels metro, April 2014

In 2011, I became a public official of the European Union.  I first worked at the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, which looks into possible breaches of EU law around Europe and which is the only committee that directly communicates with European residents, receiving their petitions and inviting them to attend committee meetings in order to present and to discuss issues with Members of the European Parliament.  Most petitions relate to infringements of environmental laws, the right to move freely around Europe, and to violations of other fundamental rights.

Since late 2013, I have been working at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, in the Terrorism and Crisis Management Unit.  I work mostly on the European policies that aim to increase protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, and in particular on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 98/2013, which restricts the public’s access to chemical substances that can be used towards the illicit manufacturing of home-made explosives.

Brussels is, believe it or not, a wonderful city.  And it is also home to many Flectherites, so I continue to enjoy the Fletcher spirit and dynamism after all these years.

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With fewer than ten days remaining until Commencement, the needed structures are starting to appear.  I took a walk through the heart of the University campus this morning and found the platform and tent that will be used for the main graduation ceremony that precedes Fletcher’s event for the conferring of diplomas.

Tent
All those fences will come down and chairs will be set up on the grass for the thousands of guests who attend.

We’ve enjoyed fantastic weather lately and the warm temperatures have coaxed into bloom the flowers and trees that are running a little behind schedule, due to our crazy winter.

Trees
And there’s a new statue of Jumbo, the Tufts mascot, to greet Commencement guests, too.

Jumbo
The Fletcher exam period ended yesterday, and the Hall of Flags is nearly deserted this morning.  Some students are still completing research papers and may also have exams at other schools where they have cross-registered for classes.  But most first-year students are off to internships and second-year students are starting their “Dis-Orientation” week today.  Dis-Orientation is the official/unofficial student-organized week of social events that is the closing bracket on the Fletcher experience that began with Orientation at the start of their studies.

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When Christine and I first talked about having her give us a run-down of April activities at Fletcher, as she had done in March, I had no idea that the list would run for five full pages.  I’m hardly afraid of a long blog post, but five pages is pushing anyone’s limits.  So we decided she would focus on fun events and those, such as conferences, that mark the culmination of a year’s work.  Here’s her carefully selected list of the many events that kept everyone engaged and exhausted last month.

April was a big month at Fletcher.  It is the last full month of the school year and also the most fun! There was plenty going on to keep student’s academic juices flowing as well as fun non-academic traditions as well. While you can view the full April calendar here, below is a quick recap:

April 1:The Ebola Crisis from Outbreak to Stamp Out — Lessons for the Future,” with Anthony Banbury, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response.

April 3: Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Vice President of IBM Research Africa, leads an intimate session on technology and inclusive innovation.

April 6: The International Business Club, Fletcher Veterans, and Global Women present, “Lead Where you Are: Perspectives from the Private, Public, and Non-Profit Sectors.”

April 7: Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Resident, spoke on “Diplomatic Tradecraft in Conflict Zones — Practical Skills for Serving in Countries in Crisis.”

April 9-10: Annual Inclusion Forum, presented by IBGC: Inclusion, Inc.

April 14:Shifting Sands in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. Policy,” with Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer.

April 15:Africa Rising: View from the African Union,” with Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety II, as part of the Charles Francis Adams Lecture series.

April 16: Feinstein Center researcher, and 2014 MALD graduate, Roxanne Krystalli: Integrating a Gender Perspective Into Research, presented by Global Women and Gender Initiative.

April 16:Solar 101: A Primer on Solar Energy Technology,” with Michael O’Dougherty, F87.

April 17: IMAGe and Gender Initiatives Speaker Series: Gary Barker, a leading voice on engaging men and boys in achieving gender equality and on ending violence against women globally.

April 18: Americana Night, part of the Fletcher Culture Night series, offering an appreciation of all things American.

April 20: Tufts Marathon Team runs the Boston Marathon!

April 21: The View from Washington: What is the U.S. Department of State Doing to Promote Democracy and Human Rights?” with Virginia Bennet, U.S. Department of State Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

April 27: Fletcher Follies, the annual culmination of another fantastic year at Fletcher, where we learn “where the hell” everyone went!

Underwater Flag

April 28: The Fletcher Ideas Exchange: First Annual Public Speaking Forum.  The event was modeled as a TED-type event and featured speeches by a select group of students, faculty, and alums.  The theme for the inaugural year was technology or media that connect or change the world.

April 28: Yoga in Ginn Library.  Nothing beats a long day of studying like some refreshing (and free) yoga!

April 30: Final Social Hour! Hosted by The Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and always one of the best of the year.

April 30: Therapy dogs in the library! Students got to meet Barkley and his friends and take a break from studying. Who could not love this face?

Barkley

 

GISFor some years now, many Fletcher students have been incorporating GIS (Geographic Information System) projects into their curricula.  They can access support and needed hardware/software through the GIS Center that is run by the Technology Services folks.  Tomorrow, over 30 of our students will be among the 130 Tufts students and faculty who present at a campus-wide GIS Poster Exposition.

For an idea of what this year’s posters will look like, check out the 2014 poster gallery.  Two of the runners up for the Best in Show prize, Evan Paradis and Andrea Bosneag were Fletcher students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I regret that I don’t have a way to capture all of the achievements of and honors received by our students and alumni, a few nice ones have recently passed by me.  First, Anna McCallie, second-year MALD (which, at this time of year, means soon to graduate and leave us), received the University’s Presidential Award for Citizenship.  In the type of supportive message I love to see, her friend and classmate Ali shared news of Anna’s award with the community, writing:

This award recognizes outstanding community service and leadership achievements.  This should come as no surprise to those of us who have benefited from her dedication in putting together this year’s Tufts Energy Conference, her virtuosity in making the Culture Nights what we’ve all enjoyed, and her beaming presence around campus.

Nice!  Over the weekend, I received a note from alumna Margot Shorey, informing me (and others included on the message) that she has recently published an article.

I would like to share this article Chad: a Precarious Counterterrorism Partner that I co-wrote with my colleague Dr. Benjamin Nickels, which has been published in the April edition of the CTC Sentinel.  I thought you might find the subject and our analysis interesting.

Although the title says most of it, here’s a teaser: Chad has been building a reputation as a strong and reliable counterterrorism partner in an increasingly difficult region of Africa.  International partners are funding Chad’s military to fight high profile non-state actors such as Boko Haram and AQIM, but there are multiple internal and external vulnerabilities that could render this regional power broker a broken power.  On the edge of your seat to find out what these vulnerabilities are…..? Read more here.

If you have comments, you can reach Margot via Twitter at @margots02.

And then, I learned that one of our first-year MALD students, Katherine Trujillo, is one of the 2015-16 recipients of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.  Others at Fletcher had already heard the news, but I’m not sorry that I first found out about it when I saw her smiling in the announcement in The New York Times.

 

Our next post from the Class of 2009 comes from Jelena Lukic.  While at Fletcher, Jelena served as a member of the Admissions Committee, and I remember well how much I enjoyed working with her.  I’m so pleased that she agreed to provide an update on her post-Fletcher life.

JelenaMy journey to Fletcher started while I was working on governance and youth programs in Iraq.  As a native of Serbia, prior to Iraq I had spent most of my early career working with civil society organizations in the Balkans on youth leadership and reconciliation issues.  Working in a complex environment such as Iraq helped me realize that I needed to augment my degree in psychology with graduate studies in international affairs.

I chose Fletcher because its multidisciplinary and flexible curriculum enabled me to design an educational experience that would strengthen my existing technical skills and, at the same time, build a new set of professional competencies that I needed to make a career change.  To marry my background in non-profit work and my growing interest in the role that the private sector can play in fragile environments, I decided to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues during my time at Fletcher.

I chose International Negotiations and Conflict Resolution and International Business Relations as my Fields of Study.  The diversity and flexibility of the Fletcher curriculum allowed me to explore a broad range of CSR issues, such as through Prof. Everett’s petroleum industry class and a clean energy course with Prof. Moomaw.  Knowing that the CSR efforts of many companies include health initiatives, I took a global health course.  I also benefited from the opportunity to take a CSR course at Harvard Business School.  In my work, I still use the analytical approaches I learned in the negotiations course with Prof. Babbitt.  Appreciating that two years at Fletcher was a precious time to explore personal interests, I took courses on Iran with Prof. Nasr and oceanic history with Prof. Perry.

At the end of the day, it’s not the classes that made my Fletcher experience so special, but the lifelong friendships I developed.  Step practice for the Africa Culture Night was a great getaway from number-crunching lessons.  Being a student member of the Admissions Committee was one of the best jobs I ever had, and memories of the weekend on Cape Cod during “Dis-Orientation” week still make me laugh.

My Fletcher experiences led me to develop a clear goal to work on community engagement issues in the oil, gas, and mining industries.  My thesis, which analyzed why the relationships with local communities are often tense, despite the many investments that oil, gas, and mining companies make in local development, helped me land a job with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group that is devoted to the private sector in developing countries.

At IFC I worked for more than three years as a Social Investment Specialist, helping oil, gas, and mining companies develop strategic community investments to enhance benefits to local communities.  I was a member of the team that developed the Financial Valuation Tool for Sustainability Investments, an innovative tool that quantifies the financial return back to the company from community investments, and helps build a business case for investing in local development and communities.  I also worked on developing the Water, Mining, and Communities Framework, which guides mining companies in how to effectively address social risk around water and deliver positive development outcomes.

Working at IFC, I strengthened my expertise in social sustainability.  As a next career step, I wanted to experience how the public sector tackles sustainability issues.  So, for the past two years, I have been working as a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, focusing on the application of environmental and social standards in investment lending projects.

Despite having an interesting career, I don’t let my job define me.  Through a Fletcher classmate, I discovered sailing as a passion in my life.  Obtaining a boat-cruising certificate is one of my biggest accomplishments since graduating from Fletcher.  And, of course, the Fletcher crowd joins me in annual sailing trips in the Mediterranean.

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As a Fletcher staffer, there are the events I attend, the events I wish I could attend but don’t have time for, and the events that, let’s be honest, are really designed for students, not staff.  That would include the Culture Nights, where students share music, dance, and other performances from their native Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Mediterranean Region, and just have a great time.  The newest of the Culture Nights is Americana Night, which I have asked Admissions pal and soon-to-graduate MALD student, Anna, to describe.

Fact: There are 50 states in America!
Fact: The colors of the American Flag are red, white, and blue!
Fact: Beyoncé is our greatest national treasure!

These are just three of the “facts” that students who attended this month’s Americana Night learned.  I had the honor of being the co-host in both my years at Fletcher, and it is quite a night.  There might not be a lot of learning going on, but there is a whole lot of fun.

Americana Night started as a Fletcher Follies sketch a few years ago — it was a tongue-in-cheek parody of all of the other (amazing) Culture Nights at Fletcher.  But then some students decided they wanted to make it a real thing, so here we are!

This year, we had a truly incredible display of talent.  Many different genres of American music were represented, from a bluegrass quartet singing Johnny Cash to “Fletallica,” a metal band covering some of the greatest headbangers in the canon.  The fashion show theme was “America Through The Decades,” and Fletcherites strutted their stuff to hits ranging from Chubby Checker to Mariah Carey.  One student performed some of Robin Williams’s greatest stand-up routines as a tribute to the comedian, while another recited original poetry that he had penned for the occasion.  And, of course, there was Beyoncé.  Well, a Beyoncé dance, that is — we reached out to the legend herself, but she couldn’t squeeze Americana Night into her busy schedule.  Next year, Bey!

Despite the night’s star-spangled theme, students from all over the world performed in the acts.  Jamaica, Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, Ghana… as with everything at Fletcher, this was a truly international gathering.  We even had a nice tribute to the frozen north as our brothers and sisters from Canada sang their national anthem at the top of the show.

Hosting and organizing Americana Night was definitely the highlight of my Fletcher career.  The Culture Nights as a whole represent the very best of Fletcher.  We’re a group of internationally minded people who love nothing more than to get together with some good food, good spirits, and good friends, to better know the world.

 

One of our 2014 graduates, Jennifer Ambrose, contributed a post to WhyDev, a blog she edits that focuses on improving development and international aid.  In the post, she answers the question on many of our minds — how we can help Nepal.  Her key point:

Do not go volunteer in a crisis. Do not send stuff (pillowcase dresses, ski jackets, stuffed animals, old medical equipment, notebooks, yoga mats…) to a disaster zone.  DO donate money!  Choose an established professional organization, one that works in disaster response and has experience in Nepal — the likes of CARE, Mercy Corps, the Red Cross or MSF.

Her post includes a Storify, compiling Twitter posts of advice from development experts on how to help.  And how not to.

 

In the area?  Here (at very short notice — sorry!) is an event you might like to join us for.  The information that flowed my way said:

Fletcher Ideas Exchange (FIE) is the first annual forum for public speaking at the Fletcher School.  Modeled as a TED-type event, this year FIE will feature engaging speeches around a theme that is relevant and thought provoking: media and technology that connect or change the world (Media/Tech to Change/Connect).

Join us Tuesday, April 28th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for an exciting display of the ideas of the future, where students and faculty alike will share with the audience how the power of media and technology will connect us all.

The speakers — who include students, faculty, one alum, and a special guest — will deliver short and engaging speeches, eight to 15 minutes each.  The line-up:

Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti: Flying Cars and The Human Condition
Seth Pate (second-year MALD): New Media in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement
Prof. Daniel Drezner: Pop Culture in International Relations
Rachel Roberts (visiting student): The Value of Learning Communities in Online Education
Prof. Achim Ladwig: Town Hall Meetings of the Future in Europe
Malini Goel, F03: Should Tomorrow Be (Using Video to Inspire and Tell Your Story)
Muralidhar Selvamani (first-year MALD): The Tale of Two Documentaries
Prof. Edward Schumacher-Mathos: A New Vision for IR Schools in the Platformed World
Dean Davis: Sofar (How Social Media Fueled a Global Music Movement)
Grant Bridgman (first-year MALD): What Do You Want to Know? (Spreading Access to Information in Africa)
Prof. Mihir Mankad: Social Change Television

Check these links for  more information:

Website
Speakers
Register

 

Catching up with an event from earlier this month, I’m happy to be able to share links to results and findings from Lean Lab, co-hosted by Fletcher, the Feinstein International Center, and MIT’s D-Lab.  The Lean Lab was a gathering that grew out of Lean Research to discuss a rigorous, relevant, ethical approach to research in vulnerable settings.  Key players in Lean Lab include Prof. Kim Wilson, as well as our old blog friend, Roxanne Krystalli.  Roxanne shared these links with the community:

  • Key insights from the day can be browsed here.
  • A draft of the Lean Research working paper, as well as a framework of questions to ask ourselves when designing and implementing field research, are available halfway down the page here.
  • Follow @Lean_Research on Twitter for more.

Besides Prof. Wilson and Roxanne, another Fletcher graduate Rachel Gordon F12, worked on the implementation of the event, as did several current Fletcher students.

 

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