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Influencers & Changemakers:
Faculty Profiles

The quality of the Washington Semester faculty is the program's hallmark. With the depth of their experience and the breadth of their contacts throughout Washington, they create an experience for the students available nowhere else.

As the School of Professional & Extended Studies has expanded into new areas, the faculty has stepped into new roles to reach a wider variety of students.

To give a taste of who these faculty members are and what they provide, here are mini-profiles of six veteran professors with highlights of the types of experiences and speakers they have offered.

Dr. John Calabrese with students

Dr. John Calabrese
Foreign Policy


B.A. Georgetown University; Diploma and PhD, The London School of Economics. Served as a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute (MEI); Book Review Editor of The Middle East Journal; and Director of MEI's Middle East-Asia Project (MAP). He is the author of China's Changing Relations with the Middle East and Revolutionary Horizons: Iran's Regional Foreign Policy. He has edited several books, including Transatlantic Cooperation on Protracted Displacement: Urgent Need and Unique Opportunity; and written numerous articles and book chapters on the international relations of the Middle East. Teaches in Washington Semester, pioneered the Graduate Gateway and has worked with Monash University's summer in Washington program. Joined the faculty in 1998.


Just last spring the class held 34 individual guest briefings, including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department, the embassies of Afghanistan and the UAE, the Mexican Cultural Center, European Union Delegation to the United States, American Enterprise Institute, Center for American Progress, Center for the National Interest, Heritage Foundation, McCain Institute, Atlantic Council of the United States, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Arab Gulf Institute, U.S. Institute of Peace, The Hudson Institute, and the Congressional Research Service.

Dr. Heckel with students

Dr. Heather Heckel
Sustainable Development
(formerly International Environment and Development)


B.A. Duke University; PhD Georgia State University. Executive Director of Engage Globally, a non-profit supporting community-led education and conservation. Former middle school teacher and non-profit community organizer, specializing in at-risk youth. Has taught in Washington Semester, Washington Mentorship and WINS. Joined the faculty in 2008.


Our classes explore global challenges in development and environment and consider many of the key actors. Students engage in issues through semester projects and utilizing DC resources. We have talked with key people at the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Save the Children, the World Bank, USAID, State Department, Honest Tea, Climate Reality Project, Bread for the City, Project Create, DC Central Kitchen, the Senate, and the Smithsonian Zoo. Past classes have traveled to Ghana, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. More recent classes have traveled to New York City and to the Chesapeake Bay. An actively engaged alumni group stays connected on social media and supports each other as guest speakers, mentors, and with professional development.

Krasnow and students

Iris Krasnow
Journalism and New Media


B.A. Stanford University, M.A. Georgetown University; former national feature writer for United Press International, current contributor to many national publications, including Huffington Post, and bestselling author of relationship books. Teaches in Washington Semester and in Graduate Professional Studies. Joined faculty in 1994.


With journalism under attack and in a state of "fake news fallacy," my class puts the students in front of those REAL reporters, editors and communicators who work to unravel the truth and make sense of it all. My students meet with top editors and reporters at Reuters, Politico, NPR, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS. We have had sessions at the White House, the Newseum, The National Press Club and sailing aboard a skipjack with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We also sit in with the Justices during Oral Arguments at the Supreme Court and eat many meals together at Washington, D.C. at iconic restaurants such as Ben's Chili Bowl.

Among my speakers are Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Sari Horowitz;, ABC Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas; Yahoo investigative reporter Michael Isikoff; CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer, who invited us to be on the set for one of his last "Face the Nation" program; CBS National Security reporter David Martin; New York Times Chief White House correspondent Peter Baker; Fox anchor Tucker Carlson; Al-Jazeera English producer Noorulain Khawaja; Fleishman-Hilliard Public Relations executives Ann Saybolt and Frank Kauffman; Glen Caroline, Educational Director for the National Rifle Association and Josh Horwitz, and Director of the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence.

Dr. Christian Maisch and students

Dr. Christian Joaquín Maisch
Foreign Policy/International Law & Organizations


Ph.D., M.A. American University; B.A. Ohio Dominican University; worked for the Inter-American Development Bank. Author of a book on the legal history of the Anglo-Argentine Dispute over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, and several academic journal articles. Has taught in Washington Semester, Graduate Professional Studies and GAP program. Joined the faculty in 1988.


My courses draw on the city’s international community and takes advantage of visiting top officials, as well as American officials who shape foreign policy in both the executive and legislative branches. Among our speakers have been Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. UN Secretary General António Guterres, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and Her Royal Highness Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. Also on our list have been European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman; Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. U.S. government leaders include Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs María Otero, and Ambassador Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. On human rights issues, Mr. Wu Hongda, former PRC’s political prisoner and founder of the Laogai Research Foundation & Museum; Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson, director for Middle East & North Africa, Human Rights Watch; and Louise Lawrence-Israels, Holocaust Survivor.

Dr. Semiatin and students

Dr. Richard Semiatin
American Politics and Government


Ph.D., M.A. American University; B.A. Connecticut College. Editor and co-author of Campaigns on the Cutting Edge, author of Campaigns in the 21st Century: The Changing Mosaic of American Politics. Teaches in Washington Semester. Joined the faculty in 1991.


My classes delve into both the political process that gets legislators and the president to Washington, the governmental process of how they function once they get here, and the consequences of those decisions in the courts. On Capitol Hill, we have talked to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Democratic Senate cloakroom; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL); Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WS), a Washington Semester alum and now Speaker of the House. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) talked to us about the Democrat’s Senate agenda, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., briefed us on immigration reform. And it was most gratifying to me to bring the class to talk to one of my former students, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), who discussed the role of a moderate Republican.

For the executive branch, we have met with Andrew Card on how he was selected to be George W. Bush’s chief of staff, as well as Michael Strautmanis, in his White House Office, discussing his role President Obama’s public liaison. We toured then-Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal office and talked to Lissa Muscatine, her former chief speechwriter. David Almacy, former White House digital director for President George W. Bush, delved into the growth of social media in culture and politics.

For the courts, my class has talked with Chief Justice William Rehnquist on war powers and Justice Antonin Scalia on originalism, as well as Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Samuel Alito on judicial decision making.

Dr. Nimer and students

Dr. Mohamed Nimer
International Affairs and Research Methods Courses


PhD in Political Science from the University of Utah. Reviewer for the American Political Science Association’s Religion and Politics Journal and Oxford University Press. Has served as Research Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Author of The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and Canada and editor of Islamophobia and Anti-Americanism. He has taught in Washington Semester, Graduate Professional Studies, Washington Mentorship and Evaluation Science programs. Professor since 2007.


Top speakers include Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Iraqi Prime Minister Riad al-Maliki, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Russian Embassy Senior Political Advisor Ayder Aganin. He teaches Research Methodology skills, particularly quantitative research and the use of statistical software in managing and analyzing data.