February 8, 2023

By Olivia Hille, Graduate Fellows Program Coordinator

Our 2023 Graduate Fellows Program is kicking off with a number of exciting announcements, including a few special guests, special sessions, and a diverse mentor cohort that consists of both DC and international professionals. GFP 23 Group PhotoUNA-NCA is delighted to announce that this is the largest cohort of fellows it has ever had! Our fellowship program includes 35 fellows from schools across DC, including American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland College Park, Gallaudet University, Carnegie Mellon, University of Baltimore, and George Mason University.

There are 36 fellows, 30 of whom are women and 6 of whom are men. Our cohort of fellows for 2023 ranges in age from 22 to 43, with the majority in their early to mid-20s. Our fellowship program is not only popular with students who are pursuing their MAs, but also with those working towards their PhDs. International service, public policy, international relations and affairs, and so much more fall under the umbrella of our students' studies. While all students live in the DMV area, the 2023 cohort has a global reach from where they were born to where they have worked. Some places our fellows are coming from are Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Argentina, the United States, Sweden, Georgia, Germany, Pakistan and so many more.

This year's GFP leadership includes Katherine Marshall, John “Cal” Williams, Ed Elmendorf, and Tom Bradley. Katherine Narshall is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, where she leads the center's work on religion and global development, and a professor of the practice of development, conflict, and religion in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She serves as a Co-Director of the GFP. John ‘Cal’ Williams served as the Vice President for Business and Economic Development of the International Association of Black Professionals in International Affairs (BPIA) since 2004 and has recently joined UNA-NCA as one of the GFP Co-Directors. Ed Elmendorf has been actively engaged in UN organizations for over 50 years. He holds degrees from Yale University, the George Washington University, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He currently serves as a Past President of the Board of UNA-NCA and as Co-Director of its Graduate Fellows Program. Tom Bradley has been an assistant director of the UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program since 2018. He was executive director and chief executive officer of a non-profit educational association, has been a contractor and consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, and is a skilled facilitator.

In the GFP sessions, we have already discussed several topics. The first session was called “The UN Today: Looking Out at the GFP with Brenden Varma 1.20.23Wider World, and its Challenges and Risks”, in which we were joined by Brenden Varma (pictured standing left), who serves as Head of Communications and Spokesperson for the President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly. That was followed by a session on “The UN Prevention and Reduction of Violence: Case Study of Ukraine”. We welcomed Richard Gowan, who is the UN Director of the International Crisis Group and oversees Crisis Group’s advocacy work at the United Nations, liaising with diplomats and UN officials in New York. Our fellows asked tough questions and proposed ideas on how to productively implement humanitarian aid in violent situations. In our first career session this year, run by Kristen Cordell who is a Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we welcomed back Brenden Varma, Julia Deng (Senior Advisor, Bureau of International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State), Sarah Jackson-Han (Senior Adviser for Communications, Partnerships, & Policy at the UN Development Programme) in our first panel. In our second panel, we were joined by Damla Zeybel, Founder and CEO of Arya Effective; Yumiko Kaizuka, Senior Human Resources Officer, Talent and Incentives, Human Resources at the International Finance Corporation; and Ousmane Diagne, Human Resources Business Partner at the International Finance Corporation. After listening to how these accomplished professionals got to where they are today, our fellows asked in depth questions about how to gain experience in these sectors to have fulfilling careers.

Future topics in our sessions are The UN and Global Health in a Rapidly Changing Environment of new Challenges and Opportunities; The UN and Human Rights: A Country Case Study of Limits, Voice, and Accountability; The UN, Climate Change, and the Environment: COP 27 Achievements, Failures, and A Wider Perspective; A UN Resident Coordinator Field Perspective on the UN: What does the UN look like in the Field, at the Country Levell; Financing the UN and its Programs: A Headquarters Perspective getting beyond Accounting to Policy and Challenges; The UN and DEI: The UN Faces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenges, Threats and Opportunities (DEI), both internally and externally; The UN and Humanitarian Action: Country Case Study of the UN in Action when others can’t or won’t act; and The United Nations and the Future of Global Governance. At the end of the semester, fellows will present on their personal learning and future visions for the world with the UN Lens. We will also be hosting a second career session in this program cycle as well.

On February 17th, Graduate Fellows will attend the UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in addition to our 12 learning sessions and two career sessions. Seeing the General Assembly for the first time in three years and inspiring future UN leaders is an important opportunity.

In addition to informational sessions, guest speakers, and career sessions, we also arrange one-on-one mentorship opportunities with professionals from the UN, international organizations in DC, and the federal government. As a result of many fellows continuing their mentorship relationship for years after their fellowships end, these mentorships are often seen as the highlight of the fellowship. Fellows have the opportunity to learn about new and emerging opportunities in their field of interest while interacting with someone who has already made a name for themselves in their field of interest.

Need to Know


More >

Upcoming Events

More >