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Our next Five-Year Update comes from Vincent Fennell, whom I recall spent quite a bit of time around the Admissions Office during his two years in the MIB program.  I recently caught up with him at an event, and I was reminded why it was so delightful to see him regularly.

I admit there’s a certain irony in writing an update about “life since Fletcher” when I’m currently only 30 minutes away from the Fletcher campus.  However, it’s more a case of things coming full circle, rather than sitting still.  Let me explain.

Before Fletcher:

Before I joined the Fletcher MIB class of 2011, I worked at State Street Corporation in Boston.  I decided to pursue an MIB as a way of developing my passion for international business.  I had seen during my time at State Street that no business happens in a vacuum.  There are so many “non-business” variables to an internationally successful business that I felt these were best addressed in an International Affairs School.  I had already lived a pretty international life — albeit tame by Fletcher standards — but I wanted an education that could help me try to make sense of it all, help me become, in the words of the late Dean Bosworth, “culturally fluent.”

After Fletcher:

After I graduated from Fletcher in 2011, my wife, daughter, and I moved to England where I started a job at the Strategy Office for Hitachi Ltd. in their European Headquarters.  This job came as a direct result of the internship I had in Tokyo with Hitachi the summer before.  In what might be a Fletcher first, I was an Irishman who got a job in London while living in Boston after an internship in Tokyo.

Working for Hitachi was a dream post-Fletcher job for me.  Each and every week felt like an applied session of the courses I had taken at Fletcher.  Some weeks I was involved in Smart City discussions with the Japanese Ministry for Economy in Spain, while other times I was helping lay the foundations for a renewable hydrogen energy storage system at the Nissan test facility at their factory in Sunderland.  At Fletcher I had taken a course on Petroleum in the Global Economy.  This proved to be an invaluable foundation in energy discussions that I referred to constantly.

If I wasn’t focused on Smart Cities, I was helping negotiate the terms of a first of its kind Smart Energy Grid demonstration project in the UK or speaking with the Istanbul municipality about about municipal water network management systems.  This is where I gained a whole new appreciation for my negotiation course and the importance of frameworks and BATNAs (Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement).

Toward the end of my tenure at Hitachi, I was asked to undertake a market analysis on the nascent “Industry 4.0” or Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Industry 4.0, simply put, is a catch-all for the automation of factories.  Through this research and by meeting with a wide variety of software companies and manufacturing companies, I found the catalyst for the next step in my career: digitization.

Digitization and Industry 4.0 were not topics I had really explored in great detail while at Fletcher.  I had taken courses in Innovation and even explored an internship with a few tech startups, but I always thought that I wasn’t “techie” enough.  I’m not a software engineer and didn’t know anything about coding.  What I experienced after Fletcher is the understanding of the critical need for both clear communication and lateral thinking in the technology arena.

Midway through 2015 I was offered a chance to move back to the U.S. and work with my former team at State Street, where I currently lead various internal digitization initiatives.  My role is to help make State Street a market leader in the financial services industry.  Digitization is rapidly changing the realm of possibilities within the financial services sector and the business is significantly different than when I left in 2011.  It’s really exciting to be at the frontier of a changing global industry.

The last thing I want to say is about the Fletcher community.  When I was at Fletcher everyone always talked about the Fletcher family as an invaluable resource.  While I was at Tufts, this was always tangible in the form of people to reach out to with career-related questions.  It wasn’t until I left Fletcher that I realized the true value of this global community.  I feel inspired, fortunate, and proud to be a member of this unique and wonderful tribe.

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I’ve tucked away links to a cornucopia of different news items, and today seems like a good day to share them.  I know you may have caught this information somewhere else, but here it is again — just in case.

Several members of the community have new books.  Among them are Dean Stavridis, with his book on leadership.

Fletcher graduate Elliot Ackerman, F03, visited Fletcher to discuss his novel, Dark at the Crossing.  Elliot is a Double Jumbo.  Here’s the Tufts Now take on his writing.

Here’s a nice interview with Admissions’ own Graduate Assistant, Ashley.  She’s graduating soon.  We miss her already.

Though he’s not a member of the Fletcher faculty, I found this profile of Professor Daniel Dennett, from the school of Arts and Sciences, to be very interesting.  There’s a thread that connects him to Fletcher, in that Professor Dennett’s full title is “Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and University Professor.”

Also interesting: this article about Mike Balaban, F75.  (A good example of how one never knows where a Fletcher degree will lead.)

New this year!  A podcast produced by the Fares Center.

Remember Mariya’s post about the Ginn Wish TreeThe Tufts Daily picked up on it, too.  And speaking of Mariya, she participated in the annual Faces of Our Community presentation from the Arts of Communication class.

Mediterranean cuisine.  Need I say more?  Delicious!

I’ll leave the list here.  There’s more that I could share, but there’s always another day!

 

One day a random thought popped in my head: There are a lot of Fletcher alumni on the faculty.  And they span a broad range of experience.  Some are early in an academic career while others are already on their second career, having worked many years in government, business, or NGOs before returning to the Hall of Flags.  Still others are wearing two hats — spending part of their time at Fletcher and the remainder at a different school or organization.

I pulled together a list and shared it with the faculty to be sure I hadn’t left anyone out.  In response, alumnus-in-chief Dean Stavridis noted, “We hire our own proudly!”  In the final list, below, I’ve linked the professors to their faculty pages so that you can see the scope of experience they bring to Fletcher.  Some professors have faculty research profiles, too, if you want to scout out more information.  You can also find Faculty Spotlight posts for Professor Gallagher and Professor Moghalu.

The Alumni Professors are:

Jenny Aker

Nahid Bhadelia

Diana Chigas

Bruce McKenzie Everett

Kelly Sims Gallagher

Barbara Kates-Garnick

Sung-Yoon Lee

Michele Malvesti

Kingsley Moghalu

Mihaela Papa

Elizabeth Prodromou

Klaus Scharioth

Patrick Schena

Edward Schumacher-Matos

James Stavridis

Elizabeth Stites

Richard Thoman

Christopher Tunnard

Phil Uhlmann

Rockford “Rocky” Weitz

Toshi Yoshihara

On a related note, just as I was gathering information for this post, I learned about yet another graduate who will soon return to Fletcher.  Dr. Abi Williams will share his time between Fletcher and directing the the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership.  A prime example of an alumnus who will bring vast experience to the classroom, Dr. Williams has worked with The Hague Institute for Global Justice, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention.  Earlier, he was with the United Nations as Director of Strategic Planning for Secretaries-General Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Annan, as well as in senior political and humanitarian roles in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Haiti.  His fellow alumni on the faculty, whether they knew him as a student or when interacting with him in a previous post, are enthusiastically welcoming Dr. Williams back to campus.

 

Though we’re tip-toeing up to their six-year post-graduation mark, I’m happy to introduce another member of the Class of 2011.  Philippa Brown completed the one-year mid-career MA program, and is now a consultant specializing in designing and implementing programs focused on counter-terrorism and stabilization, as well as early recovery work in conflict environments.  Her bio further says that, “She has just completed a three-year posting to the British Embassy Mogadishu, Somalia, where she covered two thematic areas: leading the multi-disciplinary counter-terrorism team, and designing and delivering the UK’s bilateral stabilization program.  Prior to her work in Somalia, she designed and managed the UK’s counter-terrorism program in Pakistan, focused on criminal justice capacity building in Punjab.  Philippa also deployed to Afghanistan as part of the UK’s support to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand 2009-10.”

Pre-Fletcher Experience
As one member of the small group of “mid-career” MA students, I had already been working internationally prior to Fletcher.  After ten years working in London as a UK civil servant, I was heading the Counter Narcotics Team in the multinational Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand.  Two weeks later, I found myself at Fletcher Orientation in Medford.  It was a bit of a culture shock.

I had heard about the MA program from a work friend who was based in Khandahar, working with the U.S. military.  I mentioned my interest in going back to school to study international relations.  He said, “You’ve got to go to Fletcher.”  I had anticipated studying in the UK but had a look.  I was really impressed with the courses available, the professors (How many superstar academics is it possible to have in one school?), and the international mix of the student body.  I was further impressed when I met a current Fletcher student visiting Lashkar Gah on his summer internship — everything you hear about the Fletcher community is true!

At Fletcher
On arriving, I sat in the auditorium at Fletcher, with hundreds of other students, and felt a sense of awe.  It was even more international than I had expected.  It was hard to whittle down the list of courses I wanted to take, and I had only one year at Fletcher to complete everything.  I tried to cover a mixture, combining Professor Nasr’s Comparative Politics, Professor Maxwell’s Humanitarian Action, Professor Shultz’s Role of Force, Professor Block’s Agricultural Economics, and Professor Scharbatke-Church’s Design Monitoring and Evaluation, which absolutely changed my perspective on how we can deliver better results in the field.  Even now, I feel some regret about the classes I didn’t manage to squeeze in — Professor Mazurana’s Gender and Conflict and Professor Drezner’s Classics of International Relations.

It was intense.  I found myself working just as hard as I had in Afghanistan, but it was endlessly fascinating.  There was just so much going on that I found it really important to be selective in deciding what to take on: I really enjoyed the Security Studies Program lunches, with their fascinating speakers; SIMULEX was a lot of fun; the ski trip was FREEZING but great.  And the chance to cross-register for a couple of Harvard courses gave me a chance to widen my circle even further.

Post-Fletcher

After leaving Fletcher, I came back to the UK and left the civil service, deciding to make the leap into consultancy that I’d been considering for a few years.  Since then, I have spent almost all my time overseas: first in Pakistan working on criminal justice reform; and then in Somalia, working on counter-terrorism and stabilization.  I am currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex, as well as consulting on international security issues.  I have also continued to enjoy the Fletcher family, catching up with a Fletcher crowd for dinners when transiting Nairobi, and now reconnecting with classmates back in London.  I look back on my time in Medford as a bit of a whirlwind: intense, challenging, and a period of real growth.  And I use the skills and knowledge I gained from Fletcher every single day.

In Baidoa, Somalia as British Embassy Stabilization Advisor, arriving with a delegation at the AMISOM headquarters during a visit to assess Quick Impact Projects in April 2015. (AMISOM Photo / Abdikarim Mohamed)

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In March, the foreign service world lost a diplomat with an astounding career.  Ambassador Deane R. Hinton, whose many life accomplishments included a degree from Fletcher in 1952, died at the age of 94.

Deane R. Hinton, center, the United States ambassador to El Salvador, in San Salvador in 1983. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The American Academy of Diplomacy summarized Ambassador Hinton’s 48-year diplomatic career as starting in 1946 with his first assignment as a foreign service officer at the Legation in Damascus, Syria.

He was ambassador to Zaire (1974-75), El Salvador (81-83), Pakistan (83-87), Costa Rica (87-89), and Panama (90-94).  He was considered among the foremost Latin American experts in the State Department.  He earlier served in other capacities as a Foreign Service Officer: Damascus, Syria (46-49), Mombassa, Kenya (50-52), France, Belgium, Guatemala (67-69), where he directed USAID programs, and Chile (69-71), where he was also director of USAID.  In between country ambassadorships to Zaire and El Salvador, he was drawn upon for his expertise in economics, his main area of study, as Representative of the U.S. (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary) to the European Economic Community in Brussels (76-79), after which he served as Assistant Secretary for Business and Economic Affairs (79-81).  He was designated a Career Ambassador in 1987, a rare distinction among foreign service officers.

In its obituary, The New York Times focused on one particular episode of Ambassador Hinton’s career, when he was “rebuffed by the Reagan administration over his accusations of human rights abuses by Salvadoran security forces and right-wing ‘death squads.'”  The Times goes on to note:

Leftist Salvadoran guerrillas, emboldened by the Marxist Sandinistas’ success in neighboring Nicaragua, had been trying to overthrow the country’s ruling junta. But Mr. Hinton was determined.  He encapsulated his mission this way: “Save the economy, stop the violence, have the elections and ride into the sunset.”

But after an election campaign in which fending off far-right candidates was at least as demanding as subduing leftist insurgents, Mr. Hinton gave a more modest goal: “We were not going to let it become a Marxist totalitarian state.”

In a speech in El Salvador in October 1982, he also delivered an ultimatum, saying El Salvador must make progress “in advancing human rights and in controlling the abuses of some elements of the security forces,” or it would lose American military and economic aid.

He denounced El Salvador’s legal system and far right, which he blamed for thousands of murders.

The speech had been cleared by the State Department but not, apparently, by the White House. Presidential aides were quoted as saying afterward that “the decibel level had risen higher than our policy has allowed in the past.” The administration was particularly uncomfortable with Mr. Hinton’s use of the term “death squads.” He was told to refrain from any further public criticism of rights abuses.

And the Washington Post obituary highlighted yet a different episode.

Mr. Hinton held his first ambassadorship under President Gerald R. Ford, serving as representative to what was then Zaire, where President Mobutu Sese Seko expelled him for an alleged assassination conspiracy.  “Total nonsense,” Mr. Hinton said.  “If I’d been out to get him, he’d have been dead.”

Ambassador Hinton was born in Missoula, Montana on March 12, 1923 and retired in 1994.  He died on March 28, 2017.

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Here’s your invitation to join us, from wherever you are, as Dean Stavridis chats with Fletcher alumna Farah Pandith, F95.  We’ll be sharing the conversation via Facebook Live on the main Fletcher Facebook page.  The conversation will start at 10:40 a.m. EDT (UTC -4), but if you miss it at that time, you can (of course) catch it later on our Facebook page.

And the conversations continue on Thursday (3:00 p.m.), with a second Facebook live conversation between Dean Chakravorti and Christina Sass, F09, cofounder and COO of Andela, Africa’s largest technology talent accelerator, and recipient of the first donation from the Zuckerberg Chan Foundation.  Christina will be on campus to receive an award for young Tufts alumni.  Again, you’ll find the conversation on the Fletcher Facebook page.

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In a week when much of my time has been dedicated to newly admitted students, I’d like to turn to one of our 2011 graduates.  Imad Ahmed arrived at Fletcher with a varied set of experiences behind him during the five years after he had completed his undergraduate degree.  While in the MIB program at Fletcher, Imad pursued an exchange semester in Paris, and five years out, he’s continuing his education.

My Fletcher MIB taught me International Finance and International Business and Economic and Law.  Though I had read economics for my undergrad degree at University of California, Berkeley, my five years prior to Fletcher had nothing to do with either of these fields.  I co-ran a successful fundraising office for an unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign in 2004, documented national and provincial campaigns to encourage women to run for office in Pakistan in 2005, worked as a journalist, and finally worked as an entrepreneur in London, seeking to create jobs in Pakistan.

After Fletcher and my semester at HEC Paris, I returned to London to work in frontier market private equity.  I was excited about the jobs we would and did create.  I was less excited about extracting value from negotiating hard against an African parastatal.  The Rwandan government then recruited me to assist them in negotiating infrastructure with private developers, which I did for four years, as well as serve as a Special Policy Advisor to their Secretary to the Treasury.  I served competently, in large thanks to my Fletcher education and subsequent investment associate training.  Also in large part due to Fletcher, I was never short of friends in Kigali, where I proudly held our flag and congregated our community.  I met 100 Fletcher classmates (sometimes while out dancing after midnight!), student interns and alumni (sometimes on the opposite side of the negotiating table!).

With Fletcher friends Sophia Dawkins and Bart Smit Duijzentkunst for the weekend. All smiles after a self-rescue mission when their kayak disastrously started sinking into Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Bart is an Associate Legal Officer at the UN and Sophia is now pursuing a PhD in political science at Yale.

Besides providing me with new skills and networks, Fletcher reoriented my mindset.  The uber-travelled student body motivated me to double the countries I’d lived in, and to add a fourth continent to match the class average. (With six countries to my name now that I’m five years out, I might have fallen behind!)

The mature students at Fletcher doing their second master’s degrees brought rich tales and richer philosophies.  One of them started work life as a chef, before becoming an international banker.  His words about periodically returning to school to sharpen one’s toolkit and to reflect remained with me, and allowed me to think of my own return later.  (He himself is now a research director and PhD student at Fletcher.)

The consistent theme to my career has been that I’ve operated as a critical idealist, finding gaps in the value of my work.  Following on from my work in Rwanda, I am now pursuing a PhD at University College London.  I am assessing how governments can prioritize infrastructure projects for the purpose of most effectively reducing rural poverty.

Remarking at the Financial Times Africa Infrastructure Summit on how infrastructure provides one of the more concrete paths to development.

As we close out March, the month that includes International Women’s Day, let me point you toward a feature on Fletcher’s Facebook page.  Clicking on the photo below will take you to the site, and then you can click each individual photo to read the women’s stories.

 

Just yesterday, I posted a link to a profile of Rizwan, a PhD candidate.  And then today, he sent along this fun photo with the explanation below.  This strikes me as a great example of an area (nuclear policy) where there’s no specific Field of Study, but nonetheless, there’s a cluster of expertise that enables students to pursue their objectives — true for so many different focus areas.  (Plus there’s that special Fletcher family aspect, too.)

Rizwan’s note to me and a few others:

Please find attached a photo of nuclear policy-focused Fletcher students and alumni from across the last 30 years!  We are currently gathered in DC for the biannual Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. From left to right:

Emma Belcher (F04, PhD F10), Director for International Peace and Security at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chen Kane (PhD F04), Director of the Middle East Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Steve Miller (PhD F88), Director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Mathew Cravens (F18)
Clark Frye (F17)
Rizwan Ladha (F12, PhD F17), Research Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Wendin Smith (PhD F01), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, U.S. Department of Defense
Lami Kim (F13, PhD F18), Research Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Travis Wheeler (F15), Research Associate in the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center
Amanda Moodie (F11), Assistant Research Fellow in the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University

Not pictured, but also attending the conference: Janne Nolan (PhD F83), Research Professor and Chair of the Nuclear Security Working Group at the Elliott School, George Washington University

 

Is it true that Admissions folks try to make matches among our applicants when we decide to admit them?  No, of course not!  But I can say that there are folks on this list whom I knew before they knew each other, so I’m more than willing to claim a role in their happiness.  Continuing with our Valentine’s week celebration of Fletcher couples, please meet another twelve alumni.

Bria, F12, and Ivan, F12
We met on the first day of Fletcher orientation in 2010.  We soon became good friends and often met for lunch in Mugar Café.  During our second year, we stopped being shy and went on our first dates.  Our favorite memory of that time was dancing away during Africana Night, the last cultural night of our Fletcher experience.  We got married in 2015 and have since been living in South Asia, where we both work for the U.S. Foreign Service.  Thanks for bringing us together, Fletcher!

Ivan and Bria


Laura, F92, and Mark, F90 (MALD) and F93 (PhD)

Laura was working at Fletcher on a China education program.  Mark had finished his PhD orals and needed a job.  Mark was hired.  Flirting ensued.  Engagement six months later.  Wedding at Tufts Goddard Chapel in the company of many Fletcher friends.  Twenty-five years later, international adventures continue to unfold, including stints living in Hong Kong and Mexico.  Mark and Laura now live in Denver, and have two boys, Nathan (21) and Theo (18).

Mark and Laura


Hammad, F11, and Manny, F12

Hammad and Manny met at the entrance of Blakeley Hall on Admitted Students Day in April 2010.  What began as a simple friendship, after Manny enrolled at Fletcher, turned into a long-distance relationship — as those pursuing international careers might know all too well.  In spring of 2011, Manny had one year left to complete his MALD program and Hammad was set to join the U.S. Foreign Service upon graduation.  With some luck, Hammad’s first post was Washington, DC, paving the way for his frequent return visits to Fletcher.  The relationship blossomed into a six-year courtship across five cities: Medford, Washington, Caracas, Tunis, and Mexico City.  The couple fondly recall their memories from Medford: joint study sessions on the third floor of Ginn Library, staying up late to work on the demanding but rewarding DME course with Professor Church, and the active social calendars of the Green House (where Hammad lived his second year) and Blakeley Hall (where Manny lived his first year).  They now both work for the U.S. State Department, and look forward to more globetrotting adventures together.

Hammad and Manny


Filipa, F11, and Chris, F12

We met on October 9, 2010 during Chris’s first semester and Filipa’s last semester at Fletcher.  We know the exact date because we were on our way to a comedy show in downtown Boston (“Arabs Gone Wild”) when we were introduced at a fellow Fletcherite’s house.  After the show, we decided to have dinner in Chinatown and meet friends at a house-party in Porter Square.  Chris walked Filipa home at the end of the night, and what followed were study sessions in the library and computer lab until we went on our first date, to watch a movie at the Somerville Theater.  Filipa moved to New York in the spring, so we quickly got to know the MANY bus routes between New York and Boston.  After Chris’s graduation in 2012 and subsequent move to Washington, DC, we continued to take advantage of the east coast buses to visit each other.  Chris asked Filipa to marry him in June 2014 on the eve of traveling with Fletcher friends to the World Cup in Brazil.  We were married the following year in Evora, Portugal in front of our families, friends, and, of course, our beloved Fletcher family.  We have lived in Washington DC since 2013, where we continue to enjoy sports, comedy, movies, and the occasional inter-city bus ride.

Filipa and Chris - Olive tree

 

Andrew, F12, and Arielle, F12
We were both very fortunate as students to have the opportunity to participate in the Asia Foundation Study Tour in China.  During that trip we bonded over our mutual love of gorging on delicious food and exploring new places, both of which we continue to do today!  We are currently living in Seoul, South Korea working at the U.S. Embassy.  Should any fellow Fletcher grads make it out this way, we would love to grab a bite to eat with you!

Andrew and Arielle

 

Nathan, F13, and Ana, F13
We had common friends at Fletcher, but despite this, during our two years at Fletcher, we never got to know each other well.  Nathan, a music-frisbee-development passionate guy.  Ana, a zumba-library-Middle East club girl.  It was only after graduation that our paths crossed in a strange but amazing way.  Nathan found himself house searching and, at the insistence of one of Ana’s roommates — and Nathan’s amazing cookies — Nathan moved into the empty room of an apartment with Ana and her friends.  Who would have predicted this was going to change our lives!  During our early morning coffees, Ana got ready for work and Nathan would share his job-hunting stories, his latest guitar song, or just the quiet of the early morning summer in Boston.  While he was looking for jobs away from Boston, Ana was also making plans — to move away from the U.S.  In the meantime, we became good friends and Nathan stayed by Ana’s side during a surgery that summer.  While she was recovering, he got a job in Washington, DC and he moved in late in August.  And it was then when we both realized how much we meant to each other, and how much we wanted to be in each other’s lives.  We skyped, talked, emailed, and saw each other as much as we could, mostly living in different places, adding up to more than 20 different cities around the world.  Ana moved to southern Turkey, where we currently both live, in 2014, and Nathan joined in 2015. We got married in August 2016 in Boston, a city that will always have a special place in our lives.

Ana and Nathan

And Nathan and Ana’s photo at the School is a fitting conclusion to our Fletcher Couples feature.  I’m already looking forward to Valentine’s Day 2018 to reach out to more married alumni and hear their stories.  Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the photo album on Fletcher Facebook page for more Fletcher couples.

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