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Alumni Profiles

Meet some of our GGPS alumni and learn about their experience in the program and what they are doing today.

Jacinth Planer

Jacinth Planer

Current Job Title and Organization?
Editor/Researcher at the Enough Project

AU Degree:
M.A. International Affairs, International Politics (IP/GGPS)

Languages Spoken:
English, French

Current Residence:
Silver Spring, MD

Why did you choose SIS?
Great faculty, programs, and community—and a place with a big heart and strong commitment to service. I’d worked for several years after college as a journalist but had lived abroad before and was always interested in international affairs and international law. SIS gave me a way to explore those interests by working with Prof. David Bosco and also Prof. Paul Williams through the Public International Law & Policy Group. The flexibility and cross-disciplinary focus at SIS also enabled me to study abroad and do internships with U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense.

How do you make a difference in the world?
I get to work with an amazing team at the Enough project, a genocide prevention organization co-founded by fellow SIS alum John Prendergast that focuses on conflict in central Africa. I write, edit, and provide research assistance for our policy publications. I work with my colleagues to raise voices and help move policies forward to build better peace processes and forge more effective responses to the economic dimensions of war across central Africa.

What is a world issue of interest to you?
I focus on conflict in the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Who is your professional role mode?
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Her book, “A Problem from Hell” galvanized me. And the late Dr. Alison Des Forges—for all that she did to try to help Rwandans, to reach people in the local language, to document what happened in the genocide, and to fight for justice afterward.

Favorite Book:
Anything written by David Sedaris!

Favorite Movie:
“The Staircase,” a 2004 academy award-winning documentary by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade about a murder trial. Ittakes storytelling and suspense to a new level.

Adela Levis

Adela Levis graduated with an MA in International Politics from American University’s School of International Service in 2012. She is currently a program coordinator for international professional and cultural exchanges in the State Department’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Adela started interning with the State Department while pursuing her Masters degree, but the internship ended up turning into a permanent position. Adela believes that the theoretical knowledge she obtained as well as the extensive analytical writing she did for the program prepared her for her career. She especially liked the program’s flexibility to allow her to shape her degree to her interests, taking classes ranging from International Security and Statistics to Human Security and Peace Communication. As Adela puts it, “The classes served as tools to enhance my understanding of how the world of international affairs goes round and to figure out my place in it. AU was an investment worthwhile and I truly feel that the world is open to me.”

Wisam Waleed Al-Qaisi

Wisam Waleed Al-Qaisi, Fullbright Scholar, graduated from SIS on August 2013 with an MA in International Affairs, International Politics and is currently working for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a mid-career diplomat. In his current role, Wisam works Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA’s) United Nations section and more specifically, the International Organizations and Multilateral Cooperation department. In this role, he follows up with the Iraqi Delegations at various UN offices in New York, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi in particular. Within the United Nations section he also coordinates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq (UNHCR) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Wisam closely follows the Syrian refugee crisis in Iraq and coordinates with UNHCR and other related Iraqi government agencies and private bodies. As a victim, witness, and former journalist during the Iraq War he personally experienced violence and terrorist attacks, in the aftermath of the US-led invasion in 2003. Consequently, he feels deeply honored to be able to help people who are desperately in need.His career with the Ministry began in 2004 at the Foreign Service Institute’s Press Department and Human Rights Department. Wisam has found that his SIS degree was particularly helpful in his career, in both the development of skills and a deepening of his background in research and theories. Classes he found especially pertinent were Political Risk Analysis and International Negotiations. Wisam credits his thesis supervisor Anthony Wanis, saying, “He was a very knowledgeable and inspiring person. I'm applying some of his course techniques to my daily work.” Wisam hopes to eventually return to academics to pursue a PhD. It is his philosophy that, “Drinking from the fountain of knowledge is crucial and essential to solve the world problems. It’s our stepping stone towards solid and durable peace and stability.” Together as International Community we will be stronger and better off.

Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane graduated with an MA in International Affairs from SIS in spring 2013. She is currently employed as an Associate Consultant at Corner Alliance Inc., a values-based federal management-consulting firm based in DC. In her role as a consultant, Lauren provides national policy and critical infrastructure support services to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications. This entails producing analyses on telecommunications policy trends, Congressional actions, and the development of the first high-speed, nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety. Within Corner Alliance, she co-leads the Public Safety Broadband Development Group which pursues broadband business development strategies for Corner and Corner's clients. Lauren feels the GGPS program has advanced her ability to analyze large quantities of information into digestible meaningful reports, a critical skill in her field. The most important skill Lauren acquired though “was the ability to speak my mind. The IP/GGPS program helped me find my inner voice. My current employers (and clients) respect that I make an argument and boldly pursue initiatives outside of my comfort zone… IP/GGPS contributed to my ability to say no and back it up with facts.”

Jonathan Dixon

Jonathan Dixon graduated with an MA in International Affairs from SIS in 2012. He currently works as an Asia-Pacific analyst at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a non-profit think tank that focuses on conflict and security analyses. In particular, the organization focuses on non-traditional, transnational security issues such as weapons smuggling, illicit trade networks, and sanction evasions. Recently, Jonathan has been working on a project that examines how former Myanmar junta members have retrained their political and economic influence even as the country begins to liberalize. He has found that he uses much of what he has learned in SIS in a think-tank setting. For instance in combing through large sets of data, Jonathan uses many of the techniques learned from his quantitative statistics class to make sense of what could be disparate date sets. For those customers who want research abstracted to a theoretical level, he uses a good deal of what he learned from his qualitative courses. In his words, “Much of what I studied at SIS has actually helped me make sense of what I see on a day-to-day basis, though of course there is still a good amount of on-the-job learning.”