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More and more Class of 2013 alumni are feeling settled in their new lives, opening (I hope) the door for me to feature more of their stories. For now, I’m happy to introduce Margot Shorey. Margot, a two-year veteran of the Admissions Committee, visited the office a month ago, and I asked if I could persuade her to write for the blog. Happily, I could. So here’s her story.
Before Fletcher, I was living and working in Washington, DC — a city I have always been drawn to — with some medium-term stints in Africa. While at Fletcher, I struggled to figure out if I wanted to take a position in the field, finding a way to implement projects related to my interest in African security, or to return to DC to focus on U.S. policy in Africa. This decision was not easy for me, as some of the best experiences in my short pre-Fletcher career occurred while working with project teams in Chad and Senegal. On the other hand, I was sometimes very lonely abroad, missing my friends and community back in DC. I had learned a lot about the challenges of implementing USAID projects, but wanted a broader perspective to ask why the U.S. was even running such programs in Africa. Particularly with everything I learned at Fletcher, I sought an active role in shaping U.S. policy in such a critical region. I really wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in.
Whew! These were hard questions that stressed me out even more than a three-hour, all-you-can-write, grade-determining Role of Force exam. (In December 2011 I didn’t think anything could stress me out more than that.) Luckily, all my classmates and friends were struggling with the same decisions and were there to talk them out with me. From conversations in the Hall of Flags, to advice from our senior military fellows, to Togo-New York-Cambodia gchats during summer internships, I aired my anxieties and listened to how my friends were thinking about their post-Fletcher lives.
For now, I’ve decided to return to DC, where I’m working for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), one of five regional centers of the Department of Defense. I support academic outreach programs with members of the African security sector on civil-military relations, respect of democratic values, and other U.S. security priorities on the continent. Recently, for example, we held a three-week program in DC for 60 rising African security sector leaders. I conducted research and prepared background materials for the participants on ethical leadership, served as the point of contact for over 30 guest speakers, and got to interact with some amazing participants. Recently, while discussing guest speakers with colleagues for an upcoming program, I kept saying, “Oh, I know her, she went to Fletcher and is awesome,” or “She went to Fletcher. I don’t know her personally, but I’ve heard Professor Shultz rave endlessly about her, so she must be great.” After hearing quite a bit of this, my coworker turned to me and asked if we could populate the guest speaker list exclusively with the Fletcher network. Yep — I’m pretty sure we could.
Through my job, I’ve been able to gain a deeper understanding of the security challenges in Africa, as well as the U.S. policy structure, and I’ve started to build a network within the Africa security community here in DC. But I’ve also learned a lot about what it means to work for the U.S. government, which has been at times a bit frustrating. Although I certainly enjoyed my time with Netflix during my brief paid vacation in early October, the government shutdown presented a serious planning challenge and threatened to cancel our program altogether.
Living in DC is not all about work, of course. Fortunately, many of my friends from before Fletcher are still here, but there is also a large Fletcher crowd from my class, who I see often. The best part is that everyone is always up for a new adventure, even if it doesn’t involve leaving DC. We’ve splurged on an après-ski event at a fancy hotel bar, just because it seemed fun, tried some of the hundreds of new restaurants in the city, hosted birthday/holiday/just-because parties, and will be delivering holiday meals to seniors together. I run into Fletcher people on the Metro, at work programs, at networking events, and at social gatherings where I didn’t know anyone from Fletcher would be. It’s true — Fletcher is everywhere in DC.
So, I know I made the right post-Fletcher decision for me. But do I get a tinge of envy when I hear about my friends who are currently traveling the world? Of course I do — I wouldn’t be a Fletcher grad if I didn’t.
Tagged with: First-year alumni
Informative notes on a variety of topics have flowed into my inbox lately. I’m going to combine them all in this pre-Thanksgiving catch-up blog.
Newly selected Al Nakhlah editors (and first-year MALD students) Alex Taylor and Jack Berger interviewed Rami Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He discusses the emergence of a new conception of citizenship in the Arab world.
Fletcher alum and contributing Admissions Blogger Manjula Dissanayake sent me an update this morning. Both Manjula and Educate Lanka have had great success this year!
Current MALD student Kat Trujillo was just selected by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance for the 2015 class of George J. Mitchell Scholars. Congratulations to Kat!
In October, a Fletcher alum, Mulatu Teshome, was selected as the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Finally, unrelated to any of the above, a note from me: I have received some good suggestions for blogs for the coming months, but I’m open to more! Please be sure to complete the survey and send me your ideas.
One more November visit with the Class of 2008. Today, let’s learn what Kallissa Apostolidis has been doing in her five years since graduating from Fletcher.
Having graduated with a Philosophy degree from Smith College (2004), I returned to Greece and worked at a think-tank, called the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), and at the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then I went on to do a paid internship (stage) at the European Commission.
With this professional experience behind me, I entered Fletcher and focused on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Security Studies. All the courses were excellent and I vividly remember classes with Professors Babbitt, Drezner, Chigas, and Aucoin. During my last semester, I was naturally preoccupied with what to do after Fletcher and engaged in long discussions with fellow students and professors. These discussions and exchanges helped me narrow down the organizations and institutions I wanted to target in my job hunt, and led me toward Interpeace.
Interpeace is an international peacebuilding organization based out of Geneva, with 18 programmes throughout the world. It started out as part of the United Nations. In 2000, it became an independent organization maintaining a unique partnership with the UN, which allows it to use both identities and to implement programmes either as Interpeace or as the UN. I joined Interpeace’s team in Geneva in December 2008 with a UN contract as a Programme Assistant, supporting our local teams in Liberia, Cyprus, and Israel. In my position it was very interesting to see the strengths and weaknesses of both institutions: the UN and a much smaller, more flexible NGO. Having stayed in that position for about two years, I then became Programme Officer for the Mediterranean and Middle East programmes. Currently I am based out of my hometown, Athens, and travel more than 50% of my time to visit our programmes. A core value of Interpeace is to have local teams in each country lead the peacebuilding programmes, and my role as Programme Officer is to support the teams in the region on all issues: fundraising, donor relations, programmatic strategy, administrative support, financial management, and policy and learning.
When I first joined Interpeace, I was the only Fletcher graduate, but I am happy to report that we have added two additional alumni and our forces now number three!
I’ve let a month slip by since I introduced the first member of the Class of 2008 to be profiled. Continuing with the updates from this class who graduated just over five years ago, let me introduce Carmen Arce-Bowen. I can remember working with Carmen during her application process, so it’s amazing to me that it has already been five years since she was at Fletcher!
I have always been very interested in learning about other cultures, their traditions, their food, their history and their language. I come from a medium-sized town in Northern Mexico. Most of our exposure to other cultures is only to the U.S., because of our proximity to it.
I was part of the Rotary Club Youth Exchange program after I graduated from high school. I spent a year in Germany learning its culture and language. This experience definitely solidified my desire to live in another country and be part of a multicultural and transnational community. After my year in Germany, I returned to Guadalajara, Mexico to study law in a five-year undergraduate program. While studying there, I met my now husband … who happened to be from Massachusetts! We got engaged during my last year of law school and moved to Boston in the summer of 2005.
While in school in Mexico, I interned at the Economic/International agency of the state, at the National Immigration Institute, and at a local law firm. At that time I wanted to study law in the U.S. to become an immigration law attorney and work with the Latino community.
I applied to LL.M. programs and to Fletcher, hoping eventually to complete both programs. I learned about Fletcher from a good friend of my husband who had graduated just a few years before. I was admitted to two LL.M. programs, but not to Fletcher. I decided to attend one of the LL.M. programs and re-apply to Fletcher the following year. I wanted to study policy and development, and take a more macro-level approach to immigration and other economic and social development issues. Fletcher was my top and only choice for a policy graduate program.
I started the MALD program in the summer of 2006. My Fields of Study were Development Economics and Latin America. I interned at a local international development agency called Grassroots International for a summer and throughout one academic year.
My experience at Fletcher was an intense and very rewarding one. Classes were definitely challenging, with all sorts of assignments, mid-terms and presentations. But sometimes I just couldn’t believe that I had the opportunity to simply hang out and chat with my classmates (and professors) — all well-rounded, down-to-earth, smart people. We came from different paths in life, but we all had the same desire to learn and change the world.
During my second year, I became president of the Latin America club. We organized 10+ events with a budget of $500! One of the events included all the Latin American consuls in the Boston area. The consuls were grateful for this invitation and said that it was not very often they happened to be in the same room together.
Right after graduation, I worked for three years at a local non-profit organization doing economic and social development work. We organized revenue campaigns, and trained grassroots groups on the importance of civic engagement, on government transparency, and on tax revenues in the state. I did it all, from talking to the media, to training members of local unions, to writing blogs, to drafting grant proposals and grant reports. I was also very involved locally in three nonprofit boards and as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. Networking has definitely been a key part of my professional development in Boston.
Two years ago, I came to work in the office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as Director of Personnel and Administration. In the personnel office we oversee applications for justices of the peace, notaries public, and public administrators in the state, along with one-day marriage designations. We also oversee the internship program for our office and run background checks on all high level managerial hires in the state.
My experience at Fletcher was one of the most rewarding of my life. It shaped how I see the world, how I interact with my colleagues, and how I see life through the lens of global understanding. I can only hope that I can pass all this experience to my three-year-old daughter – who hopefully will become a Fletcherite, too!
With students from around the world, the Fletcher community acts quickly in response to regional disasters. Since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Philippines, students have started to organize fund-raising activities, and I’m sure we’ll have details on their plans this week.
Meanwhile, readers might be interested in the work of a graduate of Fletcher’s PhD program, Patrick Meier. Through a current student, Patrick sent this message to the community over the weekend:
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs just activated the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) in response to Typhoon Yolanda, which has already been described as possibly one of the strongest Category 5 storms in history. The Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) was in turn activated by the DHN to carry out a rapid needs and damage assessment by tagging reports posted to social media. So colleagues and I have launched MicroMappers in partnership with the SBTF to micro-task the tagging of tweets. We need all the help we can get given the volume we’ve collected (and are continuing to collect). This is where you come in!
In short, Patrick is part of team that is calling on individuals to monitor posts to social media as a means of determining where need is greatest in typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines. He has asked Fletcher students to jump in and help. Blog readers are also invited to be part of this effort. Details , as well as a live crisis map, can be found on Patrick’s blog.
When we last featured five-year updates, it was members of Fletcher’s Class of 2007 who described their paths since graduation. But another class graduated last May, and now we turn to the Class of 2008. Kicking off the new year for this feature is Adria Chamberlain who has taken on a pivotal role in bringing together members of her own graduating class, as well as other alumni in the Boston area.
We all want to change the world for the better, right? Leave that lasting mark; help people, organizations, and cultures redefine the concept of neighbor; dramatically improve the opportunities of those who may have extremely limited ones, right? Right. The question is, how are you going to do it, and what do you need to get you there? The answer: Fletcher. Fletcher produces a feast by taking what you’ve done, challenging your notions of what should be done, and blending it together with others who are similarly driven and knowledgeable, and who come to the table with myriad experiences. It’s a feast from which you can draw unlimited nourishment both during and after your time in the Hall of Flags.
For the years between college and Fletcher, I worked in private practice immigration law — mostly on asylum cases from around the world. I found my job extremely valuable and rewarding, but was getting frustrated doing work that didn’t affect the system creating the nightmare situations these asylees had had to live through. I chose an international affairs graduate school because I wanted to play a role in improving systems, rather than administering band-aids to consequences. Thankfully, that is exactly what I get to do now. I chose Fletcher because it was the very best at the factors that were important to me about graduate school. I knew it was an incomparable feast.
My concentrations at Fletcher were Human Security Studies and Leadership Studies (self-designed). Through research and in-depth interviews of leaders at the highest levels, my thesis examined leadership differences and similarities across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Their insights and my learnings continue to aid my leadership trajectory today. I also organized the annual ski trip, and now serve as the Class of 2008 Reunion Chair.
After grad school I became a Chief of Staff on a U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts, then went on to join New Profit Inc. where I work on a rotation of special initiatives on behalf of the founder and Executive team. New Profit is a nonprofit social innovation organization and venture philanthropy fund headquartered in Boston. We invest significant growth capital in a portfolio of social entrepreneurs, work to scale their impact and drive systemic change in areas such as education, workforce development, public health, community development, and poverty alleviation.
Last month I needed to contact our volunteer interviewers and I used an email list that included recent grads. Though I apologized for including them in the email, I also invited them to write about their post-Fletcher lives for the blog. Instant success! In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing reports from several of our newest alumni. The first report comes from Ana Garcia, who reflects on her current work and provides some thoughts for our new students or applicants.
My first memory of Fletcher goes back to the day I entered the Hall of Flags. I walked in, looked up, and there it was, the Fletcher flag! I had finally made it: after all the effort, the paper work, and…a “suggestion” to take an English language course during the summer. Two years and two months later, I find myself here, writing about my activities, now as a Fletcher graduate.
I belong to the amazing Class of 2013 MALD group, which included many like me who wondered how we were going to make it all the way to graduation day. And like many of my classmates, I thought that I would fly out into the world right after getting my diploma. Instead, Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston are still my home. I currently work at Conflict Dynamics International, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on preventing and resolving violent conflicts. My work here is linked to two extremely interesting projects: one that aims to identify the main constraints for humanitarian access in countries in conflict; the other one focused on violations of children’s rights in conflict and post-conflict settings. It sounds like a Fletcher type of job and it is! (Given, also, that most of my coworkers are former classmates. Yep, the Fletcher alumni community starts close to campus.)
Staying in Boston, while many of my friends have left the city for Washington, DC, New York, or their home countries, was the first surprise of my life as a Fletcher grad. The second surprise of my postgraduate life was realizing how intense being a Fletcher student was. Suddenly, I have found myself with TIME: time to be by myself or with my friends, to walk, to watch endless t.v. shows. Despite those feelings, I would never have missed all the all-nighters with my study groups (yes, you will have those), all those coffee refills, cultural nights, and house parties. Fletcher is a place to learn, but also to live, to fail, and to challenge yourself.
Fletcher gave me the chance to do things and meet some of the most important people in my life, often not in class. Organizing cultural nights, dancing the waltz, participating in debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or painting the cannon in pj’s are all things I encourage current students to do. You may not know it yet, but you gain skills from those experiences that are as valuable in a work environment as any class you can take.
My summer has been extraordinarily fun, but also professionally rewarding. I had the opportunity to collaborate in different interesting projects on negotiations and humanitarian aid while I also brushed up on my Arabic skills. Boston has been, and currently is, the place where I will continue the transition toward that job for which I came to Fletcher, and this will happen during this Fall. In the meantime, I have learned the most important lesson of all: Don’t rush, take your time, don’t be hard on yourself. At Fletcher, we are all overachievers, smart and creative people. We will do great things. For now, I’ll be ready and open to the uncertainty, the world of opportunities and options that is out there.
Tagged with: First-year alumni
An alumna who has been making her mark in a quiet but steady way for several years now is Farah Pandith ’95, the U.S. Special Representative for Muslim Communities. Farah was originally appointed by Hillary Clinton, but she has remained in her position and now reports to Secretary of State John Kerry. The Tufts Now folks recently wrote a nice feature, with an interview, on her work. Check it out!
I first met Manjula Dissanayake when he had nearly completed his Fletcher MALD, though I had heard others talk about him before that. Throughout 2012-2013, I made up for lost time by getting to know him as we featured his first post-Fletcher year and his organization, Educate Lanka, on the Admissions Blog. Today, I couldn’t be happier to share the news that Manjula has been recognized for his work by Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy as an “Influencer” in the publication’s 2013 list of Top “99 under 33″ foreign policy leaders. It has been a great pleasure to follow Manjula’s post-Fletcher progress and to be inspired by his dedication to Educate Lanka and the children it supports. Congratulations, Manjula!
As if that weren’t enough good news for a day, it turns out that Manjula has plenty of company from Fletcher alumni among this year’s 99. Here’s the complete list, with the category in which they were recognized:
Elliott L. Ackerman ’03, Chief Operating Officer, Americans Elect (Risk-Taker)
Caroline Andresen ’10, Evaluation & Reporting Coordinator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (Practitioner)
Erin Clancy ’09, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State (Innovator)
Sophia L.R. Dawkins ’11, Program Officer, Conflict Dynamics International (Shaper)
Jan Havránek ’09, Deputy Director, Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic (Catalyst)
Sherif Mansour ’08, Middle East and North Africa Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists (Risk-Taker)
Toru Mino ’10, Head of Product, Kopo Kopo (Catalyst)
Dalia Ziada ’11, Executive Director, Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (Influencer)
And the Fletcher grads are joined by two alumni of the Tufts undergraduate program:
Eileen Guo, Founder and Partner, Impassion Media and Impassion Afghanistan (Catalyst)
Meena Sharma, Associate, International Practice Group, Covington & Burling LLP (Catalyst)
Having so many members of our community recognized for their work, well, it’s just a happy day around here!
You can read more on the Diplomatic Courier site, and on the Fletcher website. You can also see what people are saying on twitter: #99Under33. But here’s how Diplomatic Courier describes this recognition program:
The 99 Under 33 recognizes the distinctive impact each of the honorees has on his or her community today and their promise of potential as a leader in the future. This list uniquely offers insight into the creativity, determination, and passion of the diverse young people who are already tackling the world’s critical global challenges. By design, this list is broad and diverse, which reflects the belief that foreign policy in the 21st century is made by leaders from all sectors.
“Since the inception of this list in 2011, Tufts University leads in alumni being recognized as top leaders. Evidenced by the impressive people named to the 99 Under 33, Tufts University goes above and beyond typical academic expectations and truly prepares its graduates to tackle tough foreign policy problems. These leaders are not waiting for tomorrow — they are leading now,” highlights Ana C. Rold, Editor-in-Chief, Diplomatic Courier.
Congratulations to all the Fletcher/Tufts alumni who have received this special recognition in their field!
Tagged with: 99 Under 33
I received a quick note yesterday from Hannah, a 2013 grad. She wrote:
I seem to remember you often solicit news from students and recent alumni about our public work, so I wanted to share a link to a blog post I wrote for NextBillion, a website that focuses on international development through entrepreneurship and innovation. Here is the link.
I asked the logical follow-up question: How did you end up writing this particular post for that particular blog series? She explained:
NextBillion asked me to contribute to their Measure for Measure series on the impact-investing/social enterprise space. It came out around the time I co-facilitated a panel at the ANDE Metrics Conference on social return on investment, based on Value for Women‘s work on the topic. Value for Women is part of the epven group of companies, where I have a six-month post that started immediately after I graduated from Fletcher.
Cool! I love receiving these surprise updates!
This isn’t Hannah’s first appearance in the blog. Kristen and I chatted with her during a morning last February when we sat in the Hall of Flags. It’s great to know that the student who seemed to be weighing a lot of options for her post-Fletcher future is already putting together the pieces for a great career.
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