Alumnus Daniel Severson Receives Harvard’s Presidential Public Service Scholarship
Daniel Severson is pursuing a joint JD/MPP degree at Harvard University. The Presidential Public Service Fellowship will support his work this summer at the Department of Defense. Daniel will advise policymakers on legal issues associated with the Department’s worldwide activities.
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Daniel participated in BGIA in Fall 2008 and interned at Oxford Analytica. As an intern he researched, wrote, and edited material for a new product line, represented the company at a global investment conference, and marketed the consulting practice to foreign dignitaries and executives.
Daniel graduated from Bard College with two degrees—a B.A. in Political Studies and a B.M. in French horn performance. At Bard, Daniel tutored writing, French, and English as a Second Language to Chinese students. He also served in the student government and on the Educational Policies Committee. Daniel’s senior project analyzed U.S.-China power relations in the two decades after the Cold War. He received the political studies department’s top student award and the William J. Lockwood Prize for his contribution to the intellectual life of the College.
Daniel served as a Council of American Ambassadors Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. As a foreign affairs analyst, he advised diplomats and military officials in support of public diplomacy in Africa. While in Washington, D.C., Daniel trained as a Court Appointed Special Advocate to aid children in foster care.
Daniel has lived and worked in Mainland China and Taiwan. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to Taiwan, where he taught English and conducted music ensembles at an underserved public elementary school. He also studied advanced Mandarin at a Buddhist university, played in the Taipei Wind Band, and volunteered at a non-profit devoted to promoting democratic and civic values. Daniel returned to Taiwan to work at the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei. He published a signature report on Taiwan’s economic competitiveness, and he interviewed legal scholars, human rights activists, and Ministry of Justice officials for an article on Taiwan’s first human rights review process.
Now at Harvard, Daniel is a rising second-year law student and works on the editorial staff of the Harvard International Law Journal. At the Kennedy School, Daniel studies international politics, U.S.-China relations, and national security. He co-chaired the Diplomacy Professional Interest Council and worked as a research assistant at the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom. Next year, he will serve as course assistant to former Undersecretary of State and Professor Nicholas Burns.
In his spare time, Daniel continues to play the French horn.
Alumna Lyric Thompson works for ICRW
BGIA alumna Lyric Thompson is Senior Policy Manager at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) in Washington, D.C.
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She serves as a policy advisor to the President on topics relating to gender and development. In this capacity, Lyric manages the development and dissemination of ICRW's evidence-based policy recommendations pertaining to issues such as child marriage, violence against women, and economic and political empowerment. Her ICRW field work includes building the advocacy capacity of a coalition of women’s property rights groups in Tanzania and mobilizing a wide variety of stakeholders to achieve gender-responsive, urban development in slum communities of Mumbai, India. Lyric also serves co-chair of the advocacy coalition Girls Not Brides USA and an advisor to Amnesty International USA’s women’s human rights program, where she serves as a primary expert and strategist in AIUSA's work to promote and protect women's human rights.
Lyric began her work in human rights at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2006 with a BA in Communications and Social and Economic Justice. She participated in the BGIA program following her graduation and interned with the Global Justice Center, where she aided the Center in its mission to move legal advances in human rights from paper to practice, including advocacy on women and war at the United Nations Security Council.
Before accepting her current position at ICRW, Lyric was was Senior Policy Analyst at Women for Women International, where she advised officials at the White House, State Department and Department of Defense in the crafting of the United States’ first-ever National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Prior to this, she worked on USAID-funded conflict mitigation and democratic governance projects in Sudan and Serbia for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), where she conducted fieldwork on post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Sudan. Lyric has addressed the UN General Assembly on harmful widowhood rituals and given testimony to the Human Rights Council’s Special Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice.
A prolific writer on women's issues, Lyric writes for institutions such as the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Amnesty International USA. Her work has been featured in venues such as Newsweek, openDemocracy, and Jurist Legal News. In 2011, Diplomatic Courier Magazine honored Lyric by naming her one of the Top 99 Under 33 Young Professionals Impacting Foreign Policy. You can read a sampling of her current work at http://www.trust.org/search/?q=Lyric+Thompson&sbd=1&x=6&y=23.
BGIA alumna Ada Petiwala is studying Arabic at the American University in Cairo as a Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Fellow. Ada was awarded a year- long grant to intensively study Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic.
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Prior to studying in Egypt, Ada was a Post Baccalaureate Fellow with the Al-Quds University- Bard College Partnership in Abu Dis, Palestine. She worked as a writing fellow and met with students from the undergraduate and Masters in Teaching programs to strengthen their writing skills. She also worked as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Philip Hopper’s History of Film seminar and Professor Emilio Dabed’s Politics of Human Rights seminar in addition to working as a layout designer for Nukta Nukta Nukta, a student literary arts magazine.
Ada participated in BGIA in Spring 2010 and interned with Oxford Analytica. As an intern, she studied political risk situations, wrote briefs, managed client research needs and databases, and proofread and edited various daily and longer-term publications. Ada was also editor-in-chief of BardPolitik, the student-run journal of the BGIA program. The Spring 2010 issue was themed “The World in 2030.”
The summer following BGIA, Ada worked as an Editorial Assistant at the Turkish Policy Quarterly in Istanbul, Turkey. She edited individual articles, copy-edited issues of the journal, maintained communication with writers, and participated in the layout and design process. In the summer of 2011, Ada was the recipient of a US State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco.
Ada graduated from Bard College in May 2012 with a BA in Political Science and a concentration in Global and International Studies. While at Bard, Ada worked as a Research Assistant for the Bard College Human Rights Project. She organized and archived educational materials; and conducted grant and outreach research for the advancement of the department. She was also a writing tutor with the Bard Prison Initiative and worked with inmates at the Eastern Correctional Facility.
Ada was a member of the Bard College Educational Policies Committee, Student Senate, and Muslim Student Organization.
Valerie Doescher Works for the CICC
BGIA alumna Valerie Doescher is a Programs Associate at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York City. She serves as Executive Assistant to the Convenor, works on Coalition Membership, and coordinates the internship process.
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She plans the Convenor’s domestic and international meetings and travel and maintains his daily calendar and email correspondence. She also arranges the attendance and side-event planning for several hundred NGO participants in the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute Meeting. Additionally, she reviews all internship applications, runs internship orientation, and special events. Prior to working at the Coalition, Valerie was Membership and Communications Consultant and Internship Coordinator at the World Federalist Movement- Institute for Global Policy.
Valerie also currently serves as an Executive Assistant at the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists. She assists international human rights lawyer William J. Butler with preparations for annual colloquium of government ministers on the role of human rights in foreign policy, coordinates with the host country, and the United States Office of Legal Council. She also drafts letters, speech materials, and brainstorms on content for meeting agendas, and attends meetings on CIA Targeted Killings.
Valerie participated in BGIA in Fall 2009 and interned at the media watch group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. She fact checked articles and maintained the online database of the organization as well as conducted research for FAIR’s reports and wrote for their publication, Extra!
In the winter of 2011 Valerie served as a Legal Intern at the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo, Egypt. She conducted intake interviews, researched client backgrounds, and formatted testimonies for Iraqi and Somali refugees seeking permanent resettlement outside of Egypt. After her internship in Cairo, she returned to New York and graduated from Bard College with a BA in Religion in May 2011. Her senior project focused on Al-Qaeda and was entitled, “Decoding Al-Qaeda: The Ideological Path to Violent Celebrity.”
While at Bard, Valerie served as a Writing Tutor in the Bard Prison Initiative. She regularly tutored twenty students in a Freshman Seminar Class and conducted one-on-one weekly drop-in tutoring sessions with prisoners working towards Bachelor’s Degrees at maximum security Eastern Correctional Facility. She is the recipient of the Cooky Heiferman Signet Award and the Clinton R. and Harriette M. Jones Award at Bard College.
Alumna works for CUNY Start
BGIA alumna Rachel Oppenheimer is a Project Coordinator at the City University of New York’s CUNY Start program. CUNY Start provides intensive preparation in academic reading and writing, math, and “college success” to prospective students who have been accepted to the university because they have a high school or GED diploma, but are not ready for college-level work based on their scores on the CUNY Assessment Tests.
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At CUNY Start, Rachel markets the program to CBOs, high schools, and GED programs; serves as a liaison to various college offices; manages the staff recruiting and hiring process; oversees and analyzes student data; and supports unit-wide strategic planning meetings around Achievement Gap and Educational Technology issues. Her role with CUNY Start is evolving as the program experiences dramatic expansion throughout 7 colleges in the CUNY system.
Rachel participated in the BGIA program in Spring 2009 where she interned at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). As a legal intern, she worked in the International Human Rights, Government Misconduct, and Racial Justice dockets. She assisted clients with daily needs and trial preparation in the case Wiwa v. Shell Oil, a landmark human rights abuse case where Shell was charged complicity in the torture, killing, and other abuses of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and other non-violent Nigerian activists in the 1990s. She also prepared depositions and performed other trial work for the case Floyd v. City of New York, a landmark Stop-Frisk case that is still on trial and frequently in the press today. Rachel was hired on as a Legal Worker with CCR in the summer of 2009 and also served as the Research Assistant to the Director of the Public Science Project at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
In May 2010 Rachel graduated cum laude from Kenyon College with a BA in Economics. After graduation, she moved to New York City and began working as a college advisor with Harlem Children’s Zone. While there, she worked one-on-one with students providing them academic, financial, and career advisement and guidance. Rachel also served as a Saturday Academy Tutor in English Language Arts at Achievement First in Brooklyn, NY.
Prior to participating in BGIA, Rachel was the Assistant Site Director at Let’s Get Ready in New Haven, CT in Summer 2008. She recruited under-served high school students and volunteer coaches in collaboration with the Site Director. She also trained and supervised coaches in College Choice programming and SAT tutoring. In the summer of 2007, Rachel was a Citigroup Fellow with Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven.
Alumnus works for the ICRC in Equatorial Guinea
BGIA alumnus Raimondo Chiari is currently working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as Deputy Head of the Regional Delegation for Central Africa and Head of Mission for Equatorial Guinea.
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As Deputy Head of Regional Delegation (covering Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe), he provides political-humanitarian environment scanning, network development, country analysis, policy recommendations and overall management - while directly supervising activities in Angola. As Head of Mission in Equatorial Guinea, (where he is based 50% of his time) Raimondo represents the ICRC and implements its activities in protection, detention and humanitarian diplomacy. Raimondo previously worked for the ICRC as a Field Delegate in Darfur, Sudan from 2007- 2008.
Raimondo participated in BGIA's opening semester in the Fall of 2001. While at BGIA he interned at the Ford Foundation. He did archival research and reporting for Dr. William Korey’s book, “Taking on the World’s Repressive Regimes. The Ford Foundation’s International Human Rights Policies and Practices.”
Prior to joining the ICRC delegation in Central Africa, Raimondo was the Humanitarian & Media Liaison Officer with Internews Europe in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). While in CAR, he helped set up a network of local media organizations to gather real-time, first- hand information from affected populations. Using Information Communication Technologies, the system created a two-way communication flow with humanitarians to improve information sharing, emergency response and community resilience.
Raimondo also served as the Head of Office for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pasto, Colombia. He established a network of relevant humanitarian actors, government, and the civilian population to obtain relevant humanitarian information to report, mobilize and coordinate effective and principled responses to armed conflict and natural disasters in southwestern Colombia.
Before focusing on humanitarian affairs, Raimondo worked in international electoral assistance with the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI), the International Organization for Migrations (IOM) in Jordan, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo.
Raimondo holds a BA in Political Studies from Bard College, a MA in Peacekeeping Management from Turin University, Italy and a postgraduate degree in Armed Conflict and Peace Building from the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia.
Alumna co-founds Project Istwa for Haitian Youth
BGIA alumna Fiona Korwin-Pawlowski is the Vice President and Co-founder of Project Istwa, a nonprofit organization that conducts a series of seven-day workshops with Haitian youth in Haiti to promote self-empowerment, awareness, and self-expression through the use of photography.
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Project Istwa was founded in 2011 with the goal of helping Haiti’s large youth population take on a positive role in the country’s future. In May of this year, Project Istwa held its first U.S. exhibition of participants’ photographs at the Dillon Gallery in New York.
Fiona, who is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Global Affairs with a concentration in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance at New York University, first traveled to Haiti in the summer of 2010 as a medical mission volunteer with the New York Chapter of the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH-NY). While volunteering with NOAH-NY she assisted with the planning of missions including the creation of volunteer orientation materials, suggested procedures for improved mission structure, contributed to social media, fundraising and outreach efforts and assisted the organization with its annual gala in New York City. She also helped systematize the patient intake process, conducted patient interviews, and worked in the mission pharmacy in Port-au-Prince and Fort-Liberté, Haiti.
Fiona participated in BGIA in Spring 2005. While in the program she interned at the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG), now known as Philanthropy New York. At NYRAG, she researched and drafted writing and design for a report on the philanthropic response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and assisted with the writing, editing and release of an online survey to 200 New York area foundations. The summer following BGIA, Fiona was a Grants Intern with the National Geographic Society.
Fiona received a BA in Politics from Oberlin College in May 2006. As an undergraduate student, Fiona interned for Senator Joseph Biden in Washington, DC in 2004. She compiled daily press clips for the Senator and his staff as well as prepared information for the Senate Judiciary Committee for the National Domestic Violence Hotline project. Fiona also spent the summers of 2003 and 2004 in Washington, DC working as a GI Rights/Draft Counselor at the Center on Conscience and War.
After graduating in 2006, Fiona became an Associate with with the New York City based development consulting firm J.C. Geever, Inc. where she worked with a variety of nonprofit clients on their grantwriting and fundraising efforts. In 2007, she began working as a Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Operating Officer at the Council on Foreign Relations, and in 2009 became Special Assistant to the Executive Office. At the Council, she assisted with the annual Board of Directors nomination and election process; organized, prepared for, and attended meetings of CFR Board of Directors subcommittees; collaborated with the Council's Vice Presidents on various projects and committees; and monitored the Executive Office and Board of Directors budgets among other tasks.
Alumna works for US Department of Transportation Secretary
BGIA alumna Ashley Nash- Hahn is the Associated Director of Speechwriting for the Office of the Secretary at the US Department of Transportation. She serves as the lead speechwriter for Secretary Ray LaHood.
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Ashley participated in BGIA in Summer 2007. While in the program, she interned at Newsweek International, where she communicated editorial changes to correspondents as a story-shepherd in the overseas desk. She also contributed to the Good Life and Periscope section of the international edition.
In Spring 2008 Ashley graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in International Relations. While a student at the college, she served as Music Director of the college radio station, 91.5 FM WMHC. She was also an editor and reporter for The Mount Holyoke News, and founded Zigzag Magazine.
After graduating from college, Ashley worked as a Field Organizer for the Arizona Democratic Party. She managed a campaign office, supervising over 2,000 volunteers working during the historic 2008 election cycle.
In 2009, she joined the staff of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, where she served in a number of capacities, most recently as Deputy Communications Director. In that position, Ashley spoke on the record, answered media inquiries, scheduled interviews, and drafted communications plans. She also wrote speeches and drafted press releases advising media of upcoming events, legislative action and the congresswoman's schedule. She was the lead on all social media engagement for the office and established Rep. Giffords as one of the largest online personas in Congress.
Ashley also wrote speeches and managed social media engagement for astronaut Captain Mark Kelly. She drafted his final speech prior to the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour and assisted him with speeches delivered around the country.
Prior to joining BGIA in Summer 2007, Ashley served as an office assistant at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Northampton, Massachusetts and as a Congressional Intern for US Representative Raul Grijalva in Tucson, Arizona.
Alumna working at Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia
BGIA alumna Yana Kusayeva is spending her summer in Tajikistan where she is monitoring and evaluating programs at the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia (EFCA-Tajikistan), and is helping implement the new “Building Tajik Youth's Confidence in Democracy" Project.
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As part of an evaluation team, she analyzes EFCA-Tajikistan’s programs, writes reports, and provides recommendations to local program managers. Recently, she presented on lessons learned, challenges and recommendations for program implementation and evaluation at a regional EFCA workshop in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
As part of her position at EFCA-Tajikistan, she also assists with the implementation of youth programs and develops specialized training sessions for the Youth Council in the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast. In June, she led trainings on the role of civil society and ethical decision-making in democratic societies for forty-four youth council members from Badakshan.
Yana is a second-year MPA candidate at NYU Wagner School of Public Service where she is specializing in public and nonprofit policy and management. Her summer position at EFCA-Tajikistan is supported through the Wagner Experience Fund, which helps NYU Wagner graduate students combine theory and practice by funding relevant summer internships.
While at BGIA in Fall 2007, Yana interned with the Women’s Refugee Commission where she wrote a chapter for a manual on best practices in livelihoods interventions in refugee and IDP settings. She graduated from Adelphi University’s Honors College in May 2008 with a B.A. in International Studies, and spent over three years managing the Levermore Global Scholars Program at Adelphi University where she served as Assistant Director.
She also co-founded and currently leads Dialogue Beyond Borders (DBB), a nonprofit organization focusing on human rights and anti-bias education. Since 2009, Yana has served as DBB’s founding Board President and Executive Director, overseeing the strategic development and management of three signature youth programs. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of Every Child Matters – Long Island Fund, and volunteers with Women for Afghan Women and CCC Refugee Resettlement Office.
Alumna Interning with the Hungarian Embassy
BGIA alumna Barbara Hanis is interning at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington DC this summer. She is helping to organize and manage cultural events, developing content for the website, tracking and preparing daily press clips, attending cultural and government events throughout the city, and assisting Hungarian nationals when visiting the Embassy.
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Barbara participated in BGIA in the fall of 2011. While in the program, she interned at the United Nations’ Protocol and Liaison Office. She assisted with conferences and receptions and helped organize the State Luncheon during the opening ceremony of the 66th General Assembly. Barbara was a 2011- 2012 Kellner Foundation Scholar, and spent the fall semester at BGIA and the spring semester at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
Barbara is currently pursing a Masters in American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. During her graduate studies, she interned in the Commercial Section of the United States Embassy in Budapest. She participated in conferences on the behalf of the Embassy, assisted the Commercial Counselor at meetings and negotiations, and helped with the preparation and execution of events, such as the 4th of July Independence Day celebration.
Barbara also has a Bachelors of Arts in American Studies from Eötvös Loránd University and wrote her thesis on US immigration policy. As an undergraduate, she also conducted coursework at the University of Rome in American and Italian Studies. While in Italy, Barbara worked at the Hungarian Academy of Rome, assisting with event planning for diplomats and corporations.
Alumna works at the NYC Housing Authority
BGIA alumna Annel Cabrera is a Zone Coordinator at the New York City Housing Authority’s Office of Resident Economic Development and Sustainability. VIEW MORE >>
The New York City Housing Authority, NYCHA, is the largest provider of public housing in the nation, if not the world. NYCHA provides safe, stable, affordable housing for over half a million low- and moderate- income New Yorkers. As one of the inaugural Zone Coordinators, Annel went to NYCHA to help develop and launch a new and exciting outcomes-driven resident economic opportunity platform – Zone Model – that focuses on service coordination, strategic partnerships, leveraging community resources and services, and NYCHA resources to support residents in increasing their income and assets. During the summer of 2012, Annel will be working on implementing NYCHA’s new Zone model in the birthplace of public housing, Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Annel was a member of BGIA’s inaugural class, participating in Fall 2001 and Spring 2002. She interned in Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division and at WITNESS. At Human Rights Watch, due to the events of 9/11, Annel helped monitor and track human rights issues connected to the Muslim Community in the US. In addition, she worked closely with India researcher Smita Narula monitoring and tracking of existing work on the Indian Caste System, with a primary focus on the Dalit community. In the Spring of 2002, Annel worked at WITNESS in their Latin American division focus on translation and video production work for “Garifuna Holding Ground." Thanks to her experience at WITNESS, she focused her Bard senior project, and later work, on issues of community economic development.
In 2003, Annel graduated from Bard College with a BA in Anthropology and a concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies. After graduating from Bard, she went on to work for Seedco as an Operations Associate in the New York Community Based Programs. At Seedco, she managed the organization’s Medicaid Facilitated Enrollment Program and Continuous Program Improvement for national workforce development contracts. She developed various program training curriculum, operational procedures and guidelines, and assisted in the management and implantation of many programs, some of which were: Opportunity NYC – Work Rewards, Opportunity NYC – Family Rewards, the first conditional cash transfer program in the US; and Memphis’ Families First Workforce Development Program.
In 2009, Annel became Technical Assistance & Training Manager at Single Stop Technologies. She developed training curriculum for Single Stop’s Benefit’s Enrollment Network (BEN) software, creating operational materials and systems to provide technical support for over 500 users that spread over 80 nonprofit organizations and an estimated 15 community colleges nationwide.
Annel is a member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, and an active volunteer with the Empire State Pride Agenda and New York Cares.
Alumnus Recognized by "Long Island Business News"
This month, BGIA alumnus Peter DeBartolo was named "One to Watch in Education" by Long Island Business News for his innovative educational and diplomatic initiatives at Adelphi University.
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He serves as Administrative Director of Adelphi's Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) Program – a four-year interdisciplinary program of distinction aiming to prepare students to become international leaders in an age of globalization. Peter also teaches courses on international affairs and manages the university's strategic relations with the United Nations, in support of the UN Academic Impact Initiative.
Over the past several years, he has established new relationships with local and global partners and has expanded the university's engagement with the United Nations. In addition to being a fully accredited national university, Adelphi also enjoys the status of an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. Working closely with the United Nations, Peter promotes the role of civil society in international affairs and supports collaborative NGO efforts to advance cross-cultural understanding, as well as the realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
He developed and led Adelphi's summer program in cultural diplomacy that brought Chinese students to the United States to visit non-profits in the New York City area and study the work of NGOs in international affairs. Peter also supervised the university's participation in the inaugural U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy in Washington, DC, and led Adelphi's delegation as it presented research in high-level panels and met with the U.S. Department of State, among others. This year, he launched and led a new collaborative academic program that now allows Adelphi students to study sustainable development, peace building, and human rights at the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica during the winter intersession. Recipient of a Teaching Excellence Award from Adelphi, Peter's dynamic courses in international affairs challenge standard conceptualizations of foreign policy and diplomacy, and incorporate innovative teaching tools, such as academic conference calls with the Council on Foreign Relations, international video teleconferencing, guest speakers, and briefings at the United Nations Headquarters.
Peter participated in BGIA in Fall 2004 and Spring 2005. He interned with, and later consulted for, International Crisis Group, assisting with the development and coordination of high profile international advocacy, legal affairs, and conflict monitoring. He graduated from Bard College with his B.A. in Political Studies and International Affairs, and earned his M.A. from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, where he also completed Ph.D. coursework in Political Science and Sociology. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association of the USA (Southern NY Division) and chairs the BGIA Alumni Advisory Board. He is a member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, the American Political Science Association, and the Carnegie New Leaders program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
Alumnus Practices Medicine in Chile
BGIA alumnus Brian Block is currently in his final year at Harvard Medical School and in the midst of a two month elective that has him working as a clinician in a family medicine clinic in Santiago, Chile.
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The clinic is in the poorest section of Santiago, and serves a population that uses free, government-provided insurance. Brian sees patients exclusively using Spanish, and his days are a mixture of different types of medicine he does adult and pediatric primary-care, adult and pediatric urgent-care, gynecology, and adult minor surgery.
Brian participated in BGIA in Fall 2005 and interned with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative(IAVI). As an intern with IAVI, Brian reviewed tools for assessing the sexual risk behavior of subjects in clinical trials and designed an online resource for policymakers about HIV/AIDS and the search for a vaccine.
In May 2006 Brian graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College with a BA in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. The following month, he joined the laboratory of Bruce Walker, MD, at the Partners AIDS Research Center (now Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.) During his two years in the Walker lab, Brian was part of a team studying rare HIV-infected individuals termed "elite controllers" whose bodies are somehow able to control HIV replication without the need for treatment. Concurrently, Brian also spent a year working part-time as a research assistant and HIV counselor for a team led by Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, at Brigham and Women's Hospital, that was researching how best to implement the then-new Centers for Disease Control recommendation that HIV testing be offered universally to all adults. Through his dual positions in HIV research, Brian had the opportunity to contribute to more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles pertaining to HIV/AIDS.
In July 2008, Brian entered Harvard Medical School. During his first and second years at Harvard Medical School, Brian took his MD courses and also worked to establish the Harvard Medical School Student HIV/AIDS Action Initiative's HIV Counseling and Testing Program. The program now provides training and state-certification in HIV Counseling and Testing for 24 students annually, and sets them up with volunteer opportunities at community sites throughout the greater Boston area. Over a thousand patients have received free, high-quality testing from counselors trained in this program, and Brian was awarded the 2010 Harvard Medical School Dean's Community Service Award for his efforts.
During his third and fourth years at Harvard, Brian completed clinical rotations at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Through these experiences, Brian became fascinated by human physiology, and enjoyed caring for patients in both acute settings and outpatient clinics. He retains a strong interest in political affairs, and has closely followed the discourse on healthcare reform as a firm believer that the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction.
Brian will graduate from Harvard Medical School in May and begin his residency in Internal Medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center. He anticipates a career in academic medicine that combines clinical care, teaching, and research. He is very excited about moving back to Manhattan, which he first became acquainted with during his BGIA days, and also looks forward to reconnecting with BGIA faculty and alumni, several of whom he has been in touch with regularly over the past 7 years.
P.S. For more on Brian's experience practicing medicine in Chile, check out his blog!
Alumnus Graduates from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
BGIA alumnus Zach Kussin graduated from the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism with a MA in Arts and Culture in December 2011. Zach is now an Editorial Assistant with The Real Deal Magazine.
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He covers various angles of New York City’s real estate market through print reporting, multimedia web reporting and web production.
Zach participated in BGIA in Spring 2008 and interned with the New York City Community Media Alliance (NYCMA). As an intern with the NYCMA, he organized and updated the online version of their flagship publication, Voices that Must Be Heard, a news aggregate composed of articles from the city’s community and ethnic newspapers. He also translated and edited news stories from Spanish to English for the online publication.
The summer following BGIA, Zach interned for Newsweek magazine as a Research and Reporting Intern. He wrote political reports, fashion and art reviews, and travel tips for the magazine’s international edition. His work included a feature-length article covering the shift of graffiti art from public outdoor display to the private gallery setting.
In May 2009, Zach graduated from Bard College with a BA in Political Studies and a concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies. That summer, Zach returned to intern with Newsweek magazine, then began working for Thieme Medical Publishers as an editorial assistant. In August 2010, he entered the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
While pursuing his Master’s, Zach worked as a Multimedia Reporter for “The Local” blog, a collaboration between The New York Times and CUNY. He reported transportation issues in the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn, edited articles written by community contributors and took photos and produced videos to accompany his stories. In Summer 2011, Zach interned with “Need to Know” on PBS. He covered topics in security, health, politics, and environment through reporting and aggregation, and used social media to promote new content and to engage in dialogue with viewers.
During his time at CUNY, his freelance articles, videos and photos appeared in Newsweek.com, The New York Times Metro Section, and Brooklyn Based.
Alum Works for Bloomberg New Energy Finance
BGIA alum Salim Morsy is the Lead Bioenergy Analyst in Latin America for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in São Paulo, Brazil. He produces research and analysis on the ethanol markets of Brazil covering investment trends, supply and demand, margins, supply costs and policy. He has often been quoted in the media, including Businessweek and Bloomberg News.
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Salim participated in the BGIA Fall of 2002 program and interned at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (CCEIA). At CCEIA, he assisted with research on just war theory during the build up to the Iraq war of 2003. Later in 2004, Salim went on to study abroad in Chile and intern with the International League for Human Rights in New York City.
Salim graduated from Bard College in 2005 with a BA in Political Studies with a concentration in International Affairs. In 2007, he graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a Masters of Science in European Political Economy. His thesis examined the economics of ethanol from sugar beet in the European Union.
After graduate school, Salim worked as a junior consultant for ECORYS, a public sector consultancy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He conducted consulting work on energy and environmental issues for the European Commission. Projects he worked on include an analysis of wholesale energy markets in Europe and an evaluation of the needs for state aid to the European coal industry.
In 2009, Salim was awarded a Fulbright grant to do research on biodiesel from palm oil in Bogotá, Colombia. He contributed to the Colombian Ministry of Environment’s legislation on biofuel sustainability and was affiliated with the Universidad de los Andes and the WWF.
BGIA Alumna Works on Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner
BGIA alumna Gaia Filicori was Casting Associate and Production Coordinator for Sundance Film Festival 2012 Grand Jury Prize-winner, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” VIEW MORE >>
The film, a mythical drama about a young girl and her father in a southern Louisiana community, was purchased by Fox Searchlight for theatrical release in 2012. Gaia led casting efforts during the 5-month search for a ferocious young girl who could play the lead of Hushpuppy. During production, Gaia coordinated a cast of twenty, crew of 85, throughout the four-month film shoot involving pyrotechnics, exotic animals, and small children, in Terrebone Parish.
Gaia participated in BGIA in Fall 2005 and interned with the World Federalist Movement- Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP). As an intern at the organization, she worked on the Responsibility To Protect – Engaging Civil Society (R2PCS) project, a coalition of civil society organizations focused on protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Gaia attended meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in September and helped organize events on R2PCS with the embassy’s of China, Australia, and Lithuania.
Following BGIA, Gaia spent Spring 2006 at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary studying International Relations and European studies. While in Budapest, she interned for the Center for Media & Communications, assisting on a policy paper submitted to the Hungarian Parliament about telecommunications regulation.
Gaia graduated from Bard College with a BA in Human Rights and International Relations in May 2007. She then interned for the Council on Foreign Relations as a communications intern, tracking media coverage of Council events and Fellows. Gaia went on to work as a PR Coordinator for Conde Nast’s Bon Appetit magazine where she booked monthly magazine branded television segments, launched the website bonappetit.com with an innovative press campaign and social media presence, and developed a syndication partnership with The Huffington Post.
After finishing production on “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in 2010, Gaia returned to New York to work as a freelance public relations and social media manager for clients including new website MyBlockNYC.com, Condé Nast brands Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Condé Nast Traveler; and Church Street School for Music and Art in Tribeca. Gaia specializes in social media strategy and digitally integrated product launches.
BGIA Alumna to participate in Abu Dhabi Conference
Elizabeth is part of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS delegation. During the conference, the ACCESS delegation will lead two sessions, one on online advocacy and the other on women as agents of change.
Elizabeth participated in BGIA in Fall 2010 and interned with the World Policy Institute where she conducted research for multiple fellows and the organization’s executive director. She also carried out fundraising and media contact database management, event organization and composed the monthly newsletter.
After participating in BGIA, Elizabeth returned to SUNY New Paltz where she graduated in May 2011 with a BA in International Relations. As a senior at the university she presented her research paper, “Post-Conflict Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina” at the Student Research Symposium in May.
The following summer, Elizabeth interned with the Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker. She accompanied the Legislator to meetings with constituents about critical local issues, organized and attended events and conducted research on relevant issues. That same summer, Elizabeth became an Executive Board Member and Program Writer with Dialogue Beyond Borders, an organization founded by fellow BGIA alumna Yana Kusayeva (Fall 2007). Dialogue Beyond Borders works with immigrant and heritage communities and the general public to foster greater understanding and tolerance among diverse youth in local neighborhoods and communities in Long Island.
In the Fall 2011 Elizabeth interned with the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect in New York City. She monitored UN events relating to the “responsibility to protect” principle, attended meetings at other non-governmental organizations, conducted research and compiled information for Member States and the UN Secretariat.
Currently, Elizabeth works as a Content Writer for the Council on Foreign Relations’ website, cfr.org. She provides online content for the new “Renewing America” platform, as well as for the website’s “Backgrounders” section.
The Foundation selects 34 fellows to be based in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India and Sierra Leone to spearhead multi faith action in their counties. As a fellow in the program she serves as an interfaith organizer for UNITED SIKHS in New York City, where she mobilizes faith communities to take action on the UN Millennium Goals.
Nomi participated in BGIA in Fall 2009 and interned at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As an intern she researched the history of prisoner abuse in the United States, as well as helped plan for the event, “Racism, Repression and Resistance.” After graduating from BGIA, Nomi interned with J Street in Washington DC in Summer 2010. While there, she tracked the growth of the movement and organized donor information for the Field Organizing department. She also helped develop an educational program that has been carried out all over the country by the Education department.
Nomi graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in Philosophy in Fall 2011. She received high honors for her thesis, “The Intimate and the Invisible: A Theory of Moral Engagement.” While at Wesleyan, she volunteered for the Sexual Assault Policy Review Board, York Correctional Institution, Shining Hope for Communities, Encounter and the Adult B’nei Mitzvah Program.
Alumna Serves in the Obama Administration
Betsaida Alcantara, BGIA Fall ’03, was appointed back in February 2009 to serve as Deputy Press Secretary for Obama's environment chief, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
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Betsaida serves as a spokeswoman and works to get the Administrator’s message out on a number of issues like water, energy efficiency and environmental justice.
While attending BGIA, Betsaida interned at the Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) in Brooklyn, NY. As an intern with CALA, she developed communication documents and affidavits and provided translation services for refugees. After graduating from Bard College in 2005, she worked as a paralegal at the Workers’ Rights Law Center in Kingston, NY where she aided in employment litigation and outreach to low-wage workers, farm workers and day laborers in the Hudson Valley. In 2006 she was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and began working with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and later, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
In 2008, Betsaida left Capitol Hill to work in the Obama presidential campaign. Here, she served as a Deputy Press Secretary in Florida with a focus on Hispanic media. She helped deliver the state’s Hispanic vote for the first time in history to the Democratic candidate for president.
After Barack Obama’s historic presidential win, Betsaida found herself once again in Washington, DC. However, this time she was serving under the first African American EPA Administrator. “It has been a privilege to work with an administration that has made environmental and clean energy issues a top priority. I also work for an EPA Administrator who believes it is crucial to reach out to communities who are disproportionally impacted by pollution, and that piece of my work is very important to me,” says Betsaida.
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