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Today marks eight months since the Class of 2015 graduation last May 22, and it’s time to start checking in with our newest graduates.  While I continue lining up First-Year Alumni updates, let’s hear from one of the student bloggers who completed the MALD last spring.  Unlike many of his classmates who are still settling into their new jobs,  Liam is in the U.S. Army, and his plans for this year were in place well before he graduated.

With everything going on in my life, it’s hard to believe that only a year ago I was in my last Fletcher semester, deep into my capstone.  Since then, I’ve spent the past eight months as a student at the Command and General Staff College (CGSS), the U.S. Army’s professional education program for mid-career officers.  Yet, despite being in the middle of Kansas, thousands of miles away from Medford, my Fletcher experience continues to shape my life daily.

First, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute recently published my Fletcher capstone.  Focused on how the Army can improve at advising and assisting other nation’s militaries, the monograph was the culmination of work I did in Professor Shultz’s Internal Conflicts and War class and in an independent study I did with him.  Although I’m thrilled the paper was published, what I’m more excited about is that it’s making its rounds through the Security Force Assistance community.  I recently met with the Director of the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance to discuss the paper, and am in the process of consulting with the team that is re-writing Army doctrine on the topic.  For me, it’s a great reward, after putting so much work into my capstone at Fletcher, to have it be read by a wider audience, and I’d encourage current and prospective students to attempt to do the same.

Second, what I learned at Fletcher has a direct impact on my studies here at CGSS.  From the basis of national security strategy I gained in Professor Shultz’s classes to the ability think critically through history learned from Professor Khan, I find myself often going back over my Fletcher class notes and readings to gain a better understanding of topics we cover in class.  My ability to address complex issues, from humanitarian relief operations to the roots of instability in Europe and everything in between, has been greatly enhanced by the breadth and depth of my Fletcher education.  Additionally, last fall we had the pleasure of having Dean Stavridis come talk to all 1,300 officers in our CGSS class about how he sees the 21st century security environment, and it made me incredibly proud to be part of the Fletcher community when my classmates said they thought the Dean gave the best guest lecture we’ve heard.  And Fletcher alumni gained a very visible face when General Joe Dunford was named the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last fall.

Liam and ChristineLast, and most importantly, I got married in December.  My wife Christine is an Air Force pilot and we currently live apart while she’s in Colorado and I’m here, but the wedding gave us an opportunity to catch up with several classmates.  Shockingly, Kansas is hardly the center of the Fletcher-sphere, so seeing friends after almost a year was great.

My Fletcher experience, from the education to the friendships made over my two years in Medford, sticks with me everyday.  As my classmates make their way out into the world and start in their careers, I feel secure knowing that some of the most intelligent, caring, compassionate, and capable people the world has to offer are tackling the tough issues at hand.  Also, as the Class Fund Agent for the class of 2015, it’s great to see donations back to the Fletcher Fund already coming from my peers and friends, helping the next generation of students succeed in their pursuit of making the world a better place.  Looking back, I have to say that being a student at Fletcher was truly the most incredible experience of my Army career to date.

 

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Let’s close out this week with the next Five Year Update from a 2010 graduate.  Rebecca is one of the growing number of Fletcher-trained M&E professionals out in the world, and here she describes her trajectory from before Fletcher to her post-Fletcher career.

Before Fletcher

After graduating in 2005 from Bates College, where I studied political science, studied abroad in Cape Town, and wrote my honors thesis on the gendered nature of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, I knew I wanted to do something international, but I wasn’t sure exactly what.  I decided to move to Washington, DC and see what opportunities I could find there.  I ended up at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy think tank.  It was a great introduction to the world of international policy.  While at CSIS, I organized high-level membership meetings and special fundraising events.  I got to meet Sandra Day O’Connor and travel to China and I was exposed to the field of policy and decision-making.  I knew I needed to gain practitioner skills, and graduate school seemed like the logical next step.  Fletcher was my first choice — I loved the close-knit community feeling I got when I visited and also that it was outside of the beltway.

At Fletcher

Rebecca speaking to the American Evaluation Association Conference

Rebecca speaking to the American Evaluation Association Conference

At Fletcher, I studied Development Economics and Global Health Policy (a self-designed Field of Study) and graduated with a certificate in Human Security.  During my first semester I signed up for a course on Design, Monitoring and Evaluation.  I had never heard of M&E before and didn’t realize it would have such an impact on my career.  As I went through the course that semester, something clicked.  I loved the idea of using my analytical skills to help development practitioners learn from and improve the work they were doing.  During the summer, I traveled to Malawi with three other Fletcher students and designed an M&E framework for a girls’ education organization.  For my thesis, I worked with a small global health organization to design an M&E strategy for the organization’s programming.  I believe that the combination of education and practical skills in M&E I gained at Fletcher enabled me to get my foot in the door at Oxfam America after I graduated.

After Fletcher

I started at the headquarters of Oxfam America in Boston as an intern — I tell every Fletcher student who contacts me for career advice that it’s OK to take an internship after graduating.  It’s a great way to test out an organization and you get opportunities that you would not have as someone external to the organization.  My internship ultimately turned into a consultancy, which turned into a full-time position.  I worked for almost four and a half years in Oxfam’s Campaigns Department, where I was introduced to the wonderful world of policy advocacy monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL).  I worked with a variety of campaign teams based in the U.S., supporting them on all things MEL, including developing MEL plans, collecting data, facilitating debriefs and writing evaluation reports.  In my last year in the department, I provided campaign MEL support to country teams and led trainings in Nepal and Spain.

My experience in policy advocacy MEL, combined with the program M&E skills I acquired at Fletcher, enabled me to transition to Oxfam’s Regional Programs Department, where I am the MEL Project Officer for domestic programs.  I provide technical MEL support and make sure the different programs are effectively monitoring, reporting on, and learning from their work.  After working in the international field for almost a decade, it has been rewarding to support programming in my home country.  I could not have predicted this career when I first set foot in the Hall of Flags in 2008, but my two years at Fletcher had a profound impact on where I am now, and I am all the better for it.

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Ariel 2015Most of today’s blog readers won’t remember Ariel, a 2013 graduate of the MIB program, but that’s really a mistake on my part.  Ariel was a member of the Admissions Office student staff from 2011-2013, and she skillfully doled out advice in the blog’s “Dear Ariel” feature.  (Correcting for my previous oversight, I now encourage you to check it out — Ariel provided good information!)

Fast forward about two and a half years, and exciting news about Ariel recently landed in my inbox.  She has been recognized in the “Law and Policy” sector in Forbes Magazine‘s “30 Under 30” feature for her work with the U.S. State Department combating drug trafficking.

Ariel was the first MIB student with a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  Other MIB graduates have pursued careers with the State Department or other government agencies, but the Pickering Fellowship certainly seems to have boosted Ariel’s career onto the fast track.

It’s a treat for the Admissions team to see one of our students honored in this way.  Congratulations, Ariel!

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So I answer my office phone one day.  I note the caller ID (“Farzana Hoque”), but the person on the other end is Matt Herbert, a PhD candidate.  Matt and I chat about his reason for calling, but then I ask him about the caller ID.  “Farzana is my wife,” he says.  Then (at my prompting) he goes on to explain that he (a 2010 MALD graduate) met Farzana (a 2012 MALD graduate), during her final semester at Fletcher.  He had just returned from a year living and working in Norway.  They stayed in Boston from 2012 to 2013 (she was working, he continued with the PhD program) while they considered if their relationship might be a keeper.  It was.

In 2013, Matt bought an engagement ring in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 2014, they were married.  Three times.  The first wedding was the one that made everything official, and yet it took place in a car speeding out of Washington, DC.  They needed to fulfill the requirement imposed by their DC marriage license that the formal ceremony be performed in the District.  Matt’s sister, who had obtained legal authority to conduct the wedding, was in the car.  A kiss at the spotlight sealed their “I do’s.”  The second was a “Flash Wedding” — Matt and Farzana’s secret plan to turn a small wedding shower into an actual, though low-key, wedding.  (Matt’s sister officiated this time, too.)

The third wedding took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh — a three-day ceremony filled with dancers, food, and 400 friends and relatives.  Several Fletcher alumni living in Dhaka even made an appearance.

Matt and Farzana now live and work in Washington, DC, except when Matt is in West or North Africa for work or research.  Their life together has already touched on more than the average number of countries, in true Fletcher fashion.

Matt and Farzana

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What better way to celebrate the first work day of 2016 than to return to the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2010.  This post comes from Adam Welti.

Adam WeltiFive years after graduation from Fletcher, I am currently employed by a United States Government technical agency that allows me to work with high-level political leaders to support sustainable natural resource policies — as well as farmers and young people living in and around forests and wetlands that hold some of the greatest biodiversity in the world — to develop more sustainable agricultural practices while improving livelihoods.  A career at this nexus was my goal, and my Fletcher experience played a large part in helping me arrive at where I am today.

Before Fletcher

My international interests began with study-abroad trips that later led to two years with the Peace Corps in Morocco, where I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer in a rural Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains.  Following this formative experience in Morocco, I taught English at a high school in Saint Dizier, France through the Foreign Language Teaching Program.  During my time abroad, I realized I wanted to pursue graduate studies in an international affairs program that had a strong faculty and curriculum in environment and natural resource policy, to augment my undergraduate work in environment and natural resource science.  I sought a school with a strong sense of community that reflected the value of community I had come to appreciate as a part of my childhood and later years in Morocco.  For those primary reasons, Fletcher stood out as the logical choice for my graduate studies.

During Fletcher

While at Fletcher in the MALD program, I focused on International Environment and Resource Policy as well as International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  I was fortunate to have a student job at the Office of Development and Alumni Relations that afforded me the opportunity to interact with the extensive Fletcher alumni network, which has truly lived up to the hype.

The summer between my first and second years at Fletcher, I served as an Advocacy Project Fellow in Liberia supporting a local non-governmental organization through capacity building and environmental education assessments.  During my time in Liberia, I met the U.S. Forest Service Advisor to USAID and the Liberian government, who told me about the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs office.  It was this chance encounter that eventually led me to my current position.

After Fletcher

Upon graduation from Fletcher, I worked with the Rainforest Alliance supporting their Forest Stewardship Council certification work.  In 2011, I joined the Africa and Middle East team of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, where I manage programs in West and North Africa.  Our office works to connect the technical expertise of the 35,000 staff of the U.S. Forest Service with our partners abroad.  Through technical exchange missions, policy dialogues, international seminars, and longer-term development projects, we partner with other forestry and environment agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to sustainably manage natural resources while improving livelihoods.

Adam Welti in GhanaMy work with the U.S. Forest Service allows me to interact with high level government counterparts within U.S. government and host country agencies, as well as with resilient, inspiring farmers in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.  In my work across West and North Africa, for example, I have been able to leverage my knowledge and experience in international negotiations and agreements to support capacity related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Managing a complex project and a team that works with more than 300 subsistence-level farmers to integrate fruit and timber trees into their farm lands, while improving incomes and conserving biodiversity, and at the same time informing national-level dialogues related to leveraging international carbon market funding, combines my undergraduate training with my graduate coursework.  This has proven to be an ideal match and a rewarding career.

Throughout the five years since leaving the Tufts campus, I have found the Fletcher community to be incredibly strong.  Whether meeting Fletcher alumni within the greater U.S. government community abroad or finding myself seated next to a fellow 2010 graduate on a flight to West Africa, the sense of community remains strong even after graduation.  I am proud to be a member of the Fletcher alumni network and enjoy being able to leverage what I learned in Medford in my work across the ocean.

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Is it too late to write about the Paris Climate Talks?  I thought not.  In fact, I’m not going to write much of my own, but Fletcher is well represented at the talks and in the study of environment issues, and I collected some links for you.

First, for general info on COP21, you could do worse than to check out the Tufts Sustainability Office’s page.  Note that members of the Fletcher community are tweeting about the event — Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher and PhD Candidate Rishikesh Bhandary, and there’s a Twitter feed for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

And some other stories:

Daniel Reifsnyder, a 2014 graduate of the Fletcher PhD program, is co-leading the climate negotiations that culminated in Paris.

Professor Rachel Kyte, F02, was named one of Vogue Magazine’s 13 “climate warriors.”  She is the special envoy to the talks from the World Bank, and she also shared her comments recently on NPR.

Cristiana Pasca Palmer a 2014 graduate of the PhD program, has been named Romania’s Environment MinisterYou can find her here among all the other Ministers of the Romanian Government.

And there’s recent commentary from Professor Gallagher and also from Professor Michael Glennon.

Finally, you can read about fall semester events organized by the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

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For our first Five-Year Update from the Class of 2010, let’s meet Naureen Kabir, whom I remember as an Admissions interviewer during her first year in the MALD program.  Because of the recent event mentioned in Naureen’s post, I’d like to note that she originally sent it to me about two weeks ago.

NaureenI’ve sat down to write this update several times in the past few weeks, but I keep getting interrupted by world events.  To be specific, world events in the form of terrorist attacks.  Most recently it was the November 13 attacks in Paris.  As an Intelligence Research Manager with the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, my days are very much dependent on terrorist activity around the world, which unfortunately seems constant these days.

I always knew that I wanted a career that had an international focus.  Having spent my childhood across Europe, South Asia, and the United States significantly influenced this goal, as did having a mother who had an amazing career that let her travel the world and work on development programs that benefited women and children in the poorest of countries.  I spent my summers in college working for a non-profit in Bangladesh.  My dream was to follow in my mother’s footsteps and travel the world like she did.

Instead, I stayed in the U.S. after graduating from college in 2004.  I spent the first year post-college working at small nonprofits, before getting a job at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

I assumed, when I was admitted to Fletcher, that while my time at CFR had broadened by interests to U.S. foreign policy issues — such as regional security and defense issues — I would still find my way back to the international development world at and after Fletcher.  But the classes I took during my very first semester — Role of Force with Richard Shultz, Islam and Politics with Vali Nasr, Policy Analysis with Bill Martel, and Islam and the West with Ayesha Jalal — not only challenged and excited me, they firmly planted me in the International Security Studies camp and set the course for the next seven years of my life.

I will forever be so grateful to Fletcher for the incredible education I received during my time there.  The professors I mentioned above were truly phenomenal.  Professor Nasr (a Fletcher graduate who is currently the dean at Johns Hopkins SAIS), welcomed questions and debate at all times; Professor Jalal pushed me harder than anyone else to solidify my arguments and analysis; Professor Martel, whom I had the privilege to work with during my time at Fletcher, approached each day with an enthusiasm and positivity that spread to his students.  And Professor Shultz, in my opinion, is simply the best.

Besides academics, I met many incredible people at Fletcher, some of whom have become dear friends.  And while it often drove me crazy, my time serving as Editor-in-Chief of the The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs was a great experience and taught me skills that I have applied often in my post-Fletcher life.

Following Fletcher, I began work as an Intelligence Research Specialist with the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, as part of an analytical unit known as the Terrorism Threat Analysis Group.  Five years later, I currently lead the unit, and have a team of analysts who assess global terrorist networks to determine potential threats to New York City.  I spend my days monitoring global developments and attacks, reviewing intelligence assessments, and briefing the NYPD’s senior leadership on threats and vulnerabilities.  I also work with the various other units within the Counterterrorism Bureau on ways to bolster security in New York City and train officers in countering specific tactics and terrorist tradecraft.  While it is often hectic, and while it often means working weekends and holidays, I truly love my job and the sense of purpose that it gives me every day.

So much of what I learned at Fletcher has been directly applicable to my work at the NYPD, and I remain so grateful for the Fletcher education, as well as the faculty members and friends who have offered invaluable guidance and advice over the past several years.  On a personal note, five-years post-Fletcher, my husband and I continue to live in New York City, though we are now exploring the city as parents: Last year, we were blessed with a daughter who is now a very active toddler.

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All through this semester I’ve been reaching out to graduates from the Class of 2010 and asking them to write a Five-Year Update for the blog.  I’ve now gathered a few posts, with promises of many more to arrive in January.

The Class of 2010 is just a little different from the Classes of 2009, 2008, or 2007 in that it was the first graduating class that included students who completed the MIB program.  We’ll be hearing from some of those MIBers down the road.  But tomorrow, we’ll read an update from a MALD graduate who found herself going in an unexpected direction with her career.

Some readers put in a special request for the Five-Year Updates in my November survey, and I’m happy to be bringing them back to the blog.

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Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation is a field that has grown dramatically at Fletcher in recent years.  Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church kindly offered this run-down on a conference she attended recently that served as a Fletcher reunion.

A highlight of my professional calendar is the American Evaluation Association (AEA) annual conference.  As the preeminent professional event for the global evaluation community, this 4000+ attendee conference shows the innovation, diversity, and scale of the profession.  In addition to the professional development opportunities, the event is a highlight because of the opportunity to reconnect with the Fletcher Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DME) community through the annual Fletcher lunch.  Learning what former students are doing, along with their challenges and accomplishments, is always a rewarding experience.

This year, an extraordinary 29 Fletcher alumni and students attended the AEA conference in Chicago.  A few fun facts:

  • Two alumni flew from Turkey where they work in humanitarian M&E.
  • One alumna was from my very first year of teaching at Fletcher (nine years ago).
  • Twenty-six attended the Fletcher lunch, of whom only one was male.  (He took the picture below!)
  • One alumna is the head of an AEA Topical Interest Group.
  • Approximately six alumni did presentations, and some did more than one.
  • Approximately five alumni work for funders.
  • Seven current students attended, of whom one was a first-year student.
  • One recent graduate returned to Rwanda to continue her role in development M&E.
  • At least nine nationalities were represented.

AEA Crew1

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For today’s daily dose of inspiration, I want to tell you about the latest adventure of my friend, and Fletcher grad, Charles Scott, F94.  I’ve written about Charlie before — there’s often an international flavor to his adventures — though he’s hardly the traditional Fletcher graduate.

This month’s adventure was to guide a blind athlete to ascend the Inca Trail nonstop, to the historic site of Machu Picchu.  Charlie, his friend Dan, who lost his sight as an adult, and two other friend/athletes have joined together to form Team See Possibilities.  They took on their latest challenge only after a successful rim-to-rim-to-rim Grand Canyon run about a year ago (garnering plenty of press attention).  Here’s how the team members introduced themselves and their plan before their latest run:

Shortly after arriving in Peru, Charlie sent a note to friends saying:

This high elevation mountain trek to Machu Picchu normally takes four days and climbs over three mountain passes that reach as high as 14,000 feet.  We’ll try to complete it in one day.  In our planning meeting yesterday, the Peruvian guide who has completed the trek 215 times told us, “What you are planning to do is not impossible, but the local authorities think it’s crazy for anyone to try, let alone with a blind person.”

We’re working with UNICEF to encourage children with disabilities to participate in sports.  During our visit, we will meet with blind students at a school in Lima, Peru.  Dan, who decided to become an endurance athlete after going blind in his 30s, offers a reminder that each one of us can overcome even the greatest of obstacles.  I hope, as the students hear Dan’s story, they will be inspired to come up with and dive fearlessly into their own adventures and, like Dan, see blindness as an inconvenience to be overcome rather than a disability that prevents them from living life to the fullest.

So far, Charlie and the team have shared only limited information on the results of the run.  I assume there will be more news soon via Twitter and the team website.  But we know they achieved their amazing goal!

I confess — I often tell Charlie (jokingly?) that he’s crazy, but sometimes another person’s crazy ideas become genuinely inspiring, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about the extraordinary efforts of Dan, Charlie, Brad, and Alison.  If their next plan evolves on schedule, I look forward to writing in about a year about a successful run for Team See Possibilities on the Great Wall of China.

 

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