International Affairs

Alumni with careers in international relations

It's not surprising that our alumni have careers in international affairs in the public, private or non-profit/NGO sector. 

Amb. Charles Rivkin FR'79 FRS'11P, former Ambassador to France, is the chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA). He leads the MPA’s global mission to advance and support the film, television, and streaming content industry. Drawing on almost 30 years of experience as a media executive and a leading U.S. diplomat, Charlie advocates for policies that drive investment in film and television production, protect creative content, and open markets. He champions the economic and cultural power of film and television to communities around the world.

Amb. David McKean FR'74 FR'11P is a senior fellow at the United States German Marshall Fund, and recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Previously, he held the position of director of policy planning at the Department of State and is a recipient of the distinguished honor and superior honor awards. Before joining the Department of State, David was a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; a staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: and chief of staff to Senator John F. Kerry, among several other positions. David has authored four books on American political history and has served for many years as a board member on the Foundation for the National Archives. He currently serves as a trustee for SYA.

Amb. Jess Baily FR'77 began his lifelong career in foreign service in 1985 upon graduating from Columbia University. Jess was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey in Macedonia in December 2014, a position held until 2019. Prior he served as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, after arriving there in July 2011 to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission. Before this, he served in the State Department as Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs where he managed bilateral relations with Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, Jess has served in public affairs positions in Bangladesh, Senegal, Thailand, Turkey and the Netherlands. He was in Erbil, Iraq as the senior U.S. government civilian representative in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In Washington, he directed the State Department’s Foreign Press Center and coordinated U.S. policy on political issues before the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly as Director of the Office of UN Political Affairs. He is now a member of the Foreign Service Grievance Board.

Amb. S. Fitzgerald "Fitz" Haney ES'85 served as U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica from 2015 to 2017. Fitz has lived and worked on five continents and communicates effectively in four languages. He is currently a managing director at Lyrical Partners LP, a New York-based asset management firm.  Recently, he was head of strategic development in Viola Group, Israel’s largest tech investment house. Prior to his ambassadorship, Fitz was head of EMEA business development and client services for Pzena Investment Management, a $40B global asset manager. He also previously worked throughout Latin America in strategy, marketing, and operations for Fortune 50 U.S. multinationals including Citibank, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble. (And while still in Costa Rica following his ambassadorship, Fitz was spotted on its version of "Dancing with the Stars.")

Taylor Ruggles ES'85 is the Director of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation at U.S. Department of State. Formerly, he served as the U.S. Department of State’s Regional Energy Counselor for Africa, based in Kigali, Rwanda. He is a career diplomat, serving in many roles at the U.S. Department of State such as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Durban, South Africa; White House National Security Staff as a Senior Advisor for Middle East Affairs; Vice President Biden’s Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia; and Deputy Director of the State Department’s Executive Secretariat Staff. Other Washington assignments include Assistance Coordinator for Russia and Turkey desk officer. Other overseas assignments include Embassies Oslo, Norway, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He currently serves as a trustee for SYA.

Elizabeth Martin-Shukrun ES’97 is the Cultural Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Her favorite part of her job is connecting with people in different countries and trying to give them an understanding of the best that our country as to offer. In her various State Department roles, she’s had the opportunity to meet with students at SYA Spain and SYA France. Her year with SYA provided her with the three tools that are essential for a diplomat: confidence; ability to negotiate one's own culture and perspective with those of another culture; and foreign language fluency.

Tim Dalton FR'84 is a professor and director of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet at Kansas State University. He is the leader of a global consortium that links agricultural and food science researchers from the U.S., Germany and France with collaborators in West Africa, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Haiti. They focus on two cereal crops, sorghum and pearl millet, that are staple foods for hundreds of millions of people living in semi-arid regions of the world. Tim is an agricultural economist by training, and built this interdisciplinary network of geneticists, plant breeders, agronomists, food scientists and economists over the past ten years through a $29.5 million grant from USAID. His 25+ year career has focused on agricultural development in Africa through assessing the welfare impacts of technological innovation and its impacts on poverty reduction. Read more about his research and this op-ed piece he wrote on the global food crisis.

Rachel Vandenbrink CN'04 is a program officer for China in the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In this role she develops, coordinates, and implements research and dialogue projects related to China’s impact on peace and conflict dynamics around the world. Before joining USIP in 2016, she worked as a news editor at Radio Free Asia and interned with International Crisis Group in Beijing and with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. 

Lee Williams FR'78 joined the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) as the Vice President for Programs in August 2020. Before coming to LIRS, Lee was Senior Vice President at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. During his tenure there, Lee was responsible for its refugee, unaccompanied children, and human trafficking victim assistance programs, MIS, and field office operations. Lee also served as Chief Financial Officer for seven years. Before USCRI, Lee was the Executive Director of the International Institute of Akron, a nonprofit that serves the refugee and immigrant communities of northeast Ohio. Lee’s earlier career was in financial services in the U.S. and Europe. 

Brian Timm-Brock CN'04 is a U.S. diplomat, who has worked to strengthen cooperation on governance and human rights, trade and investment, security and people-to-people exchanges at U.S. embassies and consulates in China, Israel, Estonia and Central Asia.

Alys Spensley CN'96 is the spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan and recent recipient  of the 2022 Ameri Prize for Innovation in Public Diplomacy from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the USC's  Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. A mid-career foreign service officer, She previously served as the deputy spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where she led teams focused on media monitoring and translation, social media, audience analysis, and visual diplomacy. Her career in foreign service began as a Fulbright grantee in Yunnan, followed by postings including Kathmandu, Shanghai and at the American Institute in Taiwan. 

Kitty Arie FR'88 is the CEO of RESULTS UK. She has a long career in humanitarian and development roles, as a researcher and writer, as an advocate and as a campaigner. Most recently she held senior leadership roles at Save the Children, including Director of Global Campaigns, Advocacy and Communications. She currently volunteers for organizations focused on refugees and women's rights. 

Lisa Petzold FR'00 is currently the Deputy Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London. Prior, Lisa held positions in D.C. and at the Embassy in Paris. 

Caitlin Piper FR'97 is the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Mbabane.  She joined the Department of State in 2009 and most recently served as Management Counselor and long-term Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia.  Prior to Croatia, Caitlin was the Supervisory General Services Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua and was an officer on the INR Watch, the nerve center of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research responsible for providing round-the-clock intelligence support for the Secretary of State and other senior Department officials.  Caitlin has also served at U.S. Embassies in Bogota, Colombia and Dakar, Senegal.

Charlie Davis FR'91 is a career political officer with the Department of State currently serving in Beijing.

Michael Disner CN'00 is a career political officer with the Department of State currently serving as the Second Secretary and Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Thailand. 

Andrew Gilmour FR'78 is a senior visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America.  He previously served as a senior intelligence expert on the Near East, South Asia, and Islam over a 32-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency in a range of positions including Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, Deputy Chief of CIA’s Middle East Task Force, and Deputy Chief of Station for Analysis in a war zone.

Cris Dilworth ES'91 is a career diplomat with the Department of State.

Josh Friedman CN'97 CN'98 is director of partnerships and program design at The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.

Nicole Posivak ES'86 is Vice Consul at the U.S. Department of State.

Don Gonneville FR'82 recently retired from decades of public service. His last served as the Director of NATO Office of Security (NOS) / Deputy Assistant Secretary General of Security (DASG-S) in the Joint Intelligence and Security Division in April 2019. In this role, he dealt with all aspects of NATO security, including counterintelligence. He was the Principal Security Advisor to the Secretary General and to the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and acted as Chair in high-level committees. He was responsible for negotiating and implementing Security Agreements with non-NATO nations and International Organizations. He led and managed around 190 staff from NATO nations. Don joined the United States Department of State in November 1998 and has served overseas in Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Turkmenistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and Peru. Domestically, he served as Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of Diplomatic Security’s Los Angeles Field Office and as Special Assistant to the Director of Diplomatic Security. He is the recipient of several Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.

Matt Pagett FR'00 is an Economic Affairs Officer and Refugee Affairs at U.S. Department of State based in D.C.

Janice Kaguyutan ES'86 serves as Chief Counsel for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Saul Mercado ES'96 is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State/Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.

Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga CN'06 is a Chinese foreign policy and security researcher with a focus on East Asian security issues at RAND Corporation.

Norva Hall ES'03 is a Foreign Service and Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic where she leads advancing bilateral relationship in science, technology/5G, cybersecurity, civil aviation, intellectual property and maritime affairs.

Allyson Cornish FR'79 is a lifelong staffer at the U.S. Department of State and is currently a consular office at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.

Beppe Lovoi FR'00 is a political affairs officer, UN Peacekeeping Mission for the United Nations.

Mary O'Loughlin CN'05 is an intelligence analyst with the FBI.

Megan Zuckerman FR'12's day job is as a public relations and events manager at IvyWise, an educational consultancy, but she is very involved in nonprofit work outside of her career. She recently began her term as Training Council Head on the Management Council of the New York Junior League, a women’s nonprofit organization she has been volunteering with since 2014. She previously served as the Membership Area Associate, co-chair of the 120th Anniversary Cookbook Task Force, a Provisional Training Leader, and Nominating Committee member, amongst other roles. In 2019, the NYJL honored her as a Woman to Watch. Outside of the NYJL, she serves as the Secretary of the Billion Oyster Project Young Leadership Committee and recently ended her second term as the Chair of Communications for Fordham University's Young Alumni Committee. Megan also serves as the Class of SYA France 2012's Class Ambassador.

Jennifer Serfass FR'95 is a conflict and transition specialist at Research Triangle Institute in Washington, D.C.

Michael Pignatello FR'92 is the liaison at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in D.C. Prior to this post, he was a foreign service officer and political unit chief at the Office of Afghanistan Affairs.

Melissa Nozell IT'05 is the program officer for religion and inclusive societies at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), where she leads initiatives to research and support the effective engagement of religious actors in conflict prevention and resolution. Prior to joining USIP in 2014, she lived in Amman, Jordan, where she volunteered to help Syrian refugees through humanitarian aid efforts and mediation with several organizations,

Lisa Miller FR'90 is the deputy director for the Office of Water and Conservation at the Department of State. Prior, Lisa held appointments both domestically and abroad, including the Embassy in Honduras, London, Bulgaria, Milan, Serbia and Montenegro, Jerusalem and Kosovo.

Ana Nikonorow FR'01 IT'02 is a humanitarian affairs officer and team lead at United Nations OCHA, whose work based in Amman is at both the field- and policy-level is focused on conflict and transition for humanitarian, development, academic and policy institutions. At field level: programming infrastructure implementation, negotiating access for humanitarian assistance in active war-zones. At policy level: inter-agency coordination, multi-national mass-displacement contingency planning, national health policy reform.

Alysa James IT'10 is the Communications Director at U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Laurence Webber FR'16 is a senior assistant director of admissions at SYA! He has been recruiting future SYAers since 2021 and has been the primary navigator of the visa process for our students.

Susan Povenmire ES'73 is an environmental policy advisor with decades experience as a senior policy officer at the U.S. Department of State with expertise in international communications with broad experience advancing U.S. foreign policy on sustainable development and the environment. Served as the U.S. delegation press director at UN climate change negotiations from 1997 (Kyoto) to 2011 (Durban). 

Pam Eaton ES'76 has been a member of the SYA staff since 2007 and is the senior admissions operations manager, helping new families navigate the admissions process. 

Elina Sarkisova ES'00 is a senior manager at Resonance, global consulting firm that helps clients solve social, economic and environmental challenges to achieve sustainability goals and drive opportunity. She has 10+ years of experience working at the intersection of finance and global development. She has worked with a wide range of development actors, including donors, investors, NGOs and social enterprises, on developing innovative finance strategies, conducting on-the-ground feasibility studies, assessing investment readiness, and supporting access to finance.

Ned Henningsen IT'04 is a faculty member this year at SYA from Winsor School where he teaches English.

Claire Thomas FR'88 has spent the last decade at FEMA, most recently as the Strategy Director in the Office of Policy and Program Analysis. Prior to  was an education volunteer in Tanzania for the Peace Corps, partnership coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters and served as the Director for Preparedness and Response at the National Security Council. 

Elise Guarna ES'12 is a program coordinator for The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs' Office of Assistance Coordination at the Department of State.

Will Green CN'11 is an analyst with the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Sara Pinto FR'87 is associate general counsel for Swisher International. Prior, she served as a procurement specialist and vendor sanctions secretary at the The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. As an international corporate attorney, she spent decades in Italy in new business planning and development and cross border securities and M&A transactions.

Anson Mersereau CN'13 is a senior validation associate on the Grant Services Team at CAF America, a global grantmaking organization assisting corporations, foundations, and individuals to make grants directly to charities around the world.

Nafeesah Allen ES'01 is the Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Lima and has been in the Foreign Service for 13 years. She also authored a few books, found here, including dual lingual rhyming children's books and Indo-Mozambicans in Maputo, 1947-1992: Oral Narratives on Identity and Migration , a book that explores the experiences of ‘Indo-Mozambicans,’ citizens and residents of Mozambique who can trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent.

Lailee Moghtader ES'91 is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment at the Department of the Treasury. Her experience there has included 20 years in the International Affairs division of the Treasury.

Tim Dalton FR'84 quote on career and SYA
Quote from Lailee Moghtader ES'91
Megan Zuckerman FR'12