Tag Archives: Summer

Michelle Herr Helps Presidential Appointees Become Ready to Govern

I spent my time at the Partnership for Public Service in the organization’s Center for Presidential Transition. Launched in 2016, the Center’s purpose is to support the safe and effective transition of power from one administration to the next. It does this by developing tools, sharing best practices and connecting transition subject matter experts to inform transition team planning, and supporting the outgoing administration and federal agencies in managing their part of this transition. The Center also keeps track of issues that impact how an administration might execute its agenda, focuses on federal management issues and provides guidance for Congress, presidential candidates, and senior political appointees to lead and manage government. My responsibilities included researching and analyzing federal management issues, assisting with research about presidential transitions, and supporting the coordination and execution of Partnership events.

Within the Center for Presidential Transition is the Ready to Govern program. Ready to Govern assists the presidential appointees in navigating the transition process, engages Congress and promotes presidential transition reforms, develops management recommendations to address government’s operational challenges, and trains political appointees to lead effectively in their new positions. Over the course of my internship, I helped develop a new training module for political appointees. The module was piloted twice to a small group of advisors and current presidential appointees to ensure that the content is engaging, impactful, and strategic.

Lastly, the Center is housed within the Partnership’s Government Affairs team in the organization. During my internship, I had the opportunity to visit with congressional staff and members of Congress to talk about the Partnership’s priorities and what role Congress can play in transforming government.

One of the highlights of my internship was attending the annual Service to America Medals gala, referred to as Sammies. The Partnership for Public Service honors outstanding workers in the federal government who are nominated by their peers. In all, the event recognized nine award winners out of 28 nominees surrounded by top government officials, private-sector partners of the organization, the Partnership’s board members, and the families of the award-winners. This year, the Partnership presented the first Spirit of Service Award to Jeff Bezos to honor individuals in the private sector who are making a positive difference in government. Sammies was a great experience to be a part of – it is organized and run entirely in-house by the Partnership and accurately honors the spirit of public service.

Michelle Herr (4th from left), Maxwell Dean David Van Slyke (2nd from left), and Maxwell Faculty Sean O’Keefe (far right) at the Sammies

My time at the Partnership was incredibly rewarding. I learned about critical issues facing the federal government, the amazing things people in government are doing, and leading strategies and methods to mitigate the challenges government experiences.

Michelle Herr is an alum of the MPA/MAIR program. She currently works at Deloitte.

Michelle Herr (top left) with fellow interns

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2018

While MAIR students participate in off-campus internships and global programs, the Maxwell School’s MPA Workshop gives MPA students the chance to work as consultants for a real world client on a team of their peers. Many of these projects work with international entities or focus on serving international communities.

While the number of international projects varies from year to year, MPA students always have a chance to further hone their professional skills with a project to add to their portfolio. In 2018, MPA and joint MPA students worked with the following clients with a global perspective.

Client Project
Global FoodBanking Network Emerging Markets – Food Systems Analysis
Hopeprint Empowering Resettled Refugees to Thrive
InterFaith Works of Central New York Qualitative and Quantitative research report concerning economic and workforce issues facing low-income immigrants (including refugees, migrants and immigrants)
RAND Corporation, National Security Research Division North Korea Strategy for Security on the Future of the Korean Peninsula
RAND Corporation, National Security Research Division Middle Eastern Rivalries and the Future of the Region
Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment Assessment of RISE monitoring and evaluation procedures
U.S. Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program A Pilot Community Policing/Community Prosecution Project for Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Kenya
United Nations Office for Project Services, UNOPS Ghana Suppliers Sustainability Initiative

For the 2018 MPA Workshop, students used ranked preference voting to narrow a larger list of projects down to 18. Then, students ranked their top four projects from the final list. These rankings were used to assign students to teams according to their project rankings. This method saw 97% of students receive their first or second choice project. MPA students were able to add a global perspective to their degree with these projects, further enhanced by taking a variety of international relations courses at Maxwell.

RAND and IDA project teams traveling to Washington, DC to deliver presentations on their projects.
Project teams arrive at RAND to give presentations.
RAND and IDA Team Members, 2018. Left to Right: Andrew Sander, Max Tucker, Matt Heggy, Sam Friedman, Tim Schmidt, Ryan Pensyl, Ryan Gross, Phil Porter, Taylor Hart-McGonigle, Chih Yun Huang, Minyang Wang, James Heller

Featured image of the Globe by Andrew Smith from Flickr. Creative Commons.

Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2017

Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2016 & 2015

Scott Clements, International Law Enforcement at DOS

This summer, I have had the amazing opportunity to serve the State Department as an intern in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) in the Management Assistance and Program Support Division (MAPS). As a bureau, INL works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.

As a Bureau, INL consistently receives a heavy amount of appropriated funding to continue to carry out its meaningful mission. INL is a program heavy Bureau and is subdivided into Program and Functional offices which help to carry out its overall mission. INL program offices consist of Afghanistan and Pakistan (AP), Africa and Middle East (AME), Europe and Asia (EA), and Western Hemisphere Programs (WHP). INL’s functional offices consist of Aviation (A), Anti-Crime Programs (C), Criminal Justice assistance and Partnership (CAP), and Policy Planning and Coordination (PC). Finally, The Resource Management Division Offices (RM) consist of a variety of supportive offices including MAPS – the division that I worked in.

During my time at INL, I got to work on a multitude of trainings, department projects, and bureau protocols. When I first started at INL, I was responsible for being part of the planning and oversight team for INL 101 – a crash course on the bureau, and its capabilities, aimed at foreign and civil service officials, in between their time at embassy posts, or headquarters assignments. This experience served as a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the Bureau and gain in depth knowledge of how INL functions as a greater part of the state department, while being able to converse and network with high level foreign and civil service personnel.

Additionally, I was given a leading role in the development, creation, and manipulation of several critical accountability databases for the departments property, construction, and contractual information at overseas embassy posts. Engaging in this detailed analytical work really gave me a better idea of the overall scope, mission, and capability of the INL Bureau, and just how broad and global their reach is. Other projects throughout my tenure at INL involved establishing current points of contact (POC) with embassy and program officials for the department, as well as attending and participating in high level meetings, trainings, and educational events put on by the division, bureau, and greater state department.

While the exposure to working in the Federal Government was certainly informative and beneficial to my career goals, I was also blessed to work with a team that was incredibly welcoming, and supportive of my efforts, and contributions to the departments mission. I established a variety of long term relationships, and critical contacts with experienced individuals that I am grateful for. Overall, working at the State Department and INL as an intern has been a great learning experience, and I will be better off professionally and personally for having served in such a role.

Scott Clements in front of the State Department in DC

Scott Clements completed the MPA degree in 2018.

MPA Degree at the Maxwell School

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Sybelle Rodriquez, A New Passion for Advocacy

This summer I was an intern at InterAction, a nonprofit organization that serves as a convener for the NGO community and as a space for collaboration and action. Focusing on policy, advocacy, development and humanitarian practice, InterAction contributes to advances in these fields internationally.

I was an intern in the public policy team. I focused on the budget and appropriations work where I followed the humanitarian assistance and development accounts of the Federal Budget. This experience has helped me understand the budget and appropriations process in more detail and the complexity behind it. Mostly I worked with InterAction’s foreign assistance budget expert, explored data visualizations, and gained a better understanding of nonprofit dynamics in the office.

This experience helped me to reaffirm my interest in international development and helped me discover a new passion for advocacy. There is value in educating and helping people communicate their own beliefs because it gives them the ability to act. In addition, I have gained an understanding about NGOs and how they work together to reach consensus and move forward. The opportunity to interact every day with many people with different backgrounds and expertise and learn from them is something that I will always be grateful for.

Sybelle Rodriguez at InterAction Forum 2018

My days at InterAction made me understand the importance of giving your best effort. Waking up every day thinking that your work can save lives is a great reason to give your best. While I was in Washington, DC working in an office, my work impacted the life of someone on the other side of the world and this was the biggest lesson InterAction gave me: it does not matter how small the task, the task matters.

While I still have a long way to go in my career, InterAction surely marked my journey as I continue to discover my path.

Sybelle Rodriguez is a joint MPA/MAIR student. She went on to intern at InterAction in the fall of 2018 as well, and she is now in Washington, DC interning at Search for Common Ground.

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Jacob Wisenbaker, National Security Innovations at MD5

Tucked away amid the hustle and bustle of Crystal City, Virginia is a small team of men and women who are working to completely transform the Department of Defense. Created in October of 2016, MD5 is a program office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense tasked with creating new communities of innovators to solve national security problems. We do this by partnering with those individuals who are typically not associated with the DoD. These include students, entrepreneurs, university professors, startup companies, venture capital communities, city governments, and private accelerators/incubators. We collaborate with our above partners to bring solutions to the national security problems of our customer, the DoD.MD5 is organized into three distinct yet integrated portfolios: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. The Education portfolio is tasked with building a DoD workforce that has strong innovation skills and an improved problem framing capacity. The Collaboration portfolio helps to develop the novel solutions that are put forth by our partners in addition to creating new communities of innovators. Lastly, the Acceleration portfolio works to improve the viability of dual-use ventures and solutions for defense market entry.

As an Innovation Fellow with MD5 I have had the opportunity to work at the headquarters located in Crystal City. My tasks over the summer have ranged from writing policy recommendations for how the program conducts itself to meeting with various DoD entities to better understand the problems they face. I have been tasked with constantly seeking more innovative and streamlined ways in which MD5 can complete its mission. By enabling better communication processes, developing publications, consolidating and distributing workflows, and optimizing MD5’s vast troves of data, I am helping MD5 team members to better serve our customer.

Before coming to work for MD5 I had little understanding as to what innovation truly meant. Many times the word is used as a buzzword that few people efficiently know how to employ. MD5 actualizes this abstract concept by teaching hard skills relating to Human Centered Design (HCD), Lean Launch Pad (LLP), Mission Model Canvas (MMC), and Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With these skills the DoD will undoubtedly hold its competitive edge in the 21st century.

Jacob Wisenbaker is a recent graduate of the MAIR program.

Jacob Wisenbaker

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Carol Tojeiro, Doing Business at World Bank

This summer I had the opportunity to join the Doing Business department at the World Bank. Doing Business is an annual flagship report which measures business regulation in 190 economies. Each economy is ranked according to 11 sets of indicators. There are combined into an overall “ease of doing business” ranking.

Read the Report: http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2019

I was part of the Registering Property indicator, where I worked with my team to measure the time, costs, and procedures needed to conduct a transfer of property between two local parties. We closely followed the Doing Business methodology, which you can read more about on http://www.doingbusiness.org/methodology.

Working in the Doing Business department was a truly rewarding experience. It did not only enhance my communication and analytical skills but also taught me about the strategies and components that go behind a ranking report. The working environment was also very international, which made me feel very welcome and taught me about other working cultures.

Carol Tojeiro at World Bank

MAIR/MAECN Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Carol Tojeiro Featured in Cornell Policy Review

Carol Tojeiro at the UN Migration Agency in Ghana

Jennifer Valdez Assists Training at USCIS in LA

In Summer 2018, I had the opportunity to serve as Student Intern at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angles, California. As a Student Intern, I worked on a variety of assignments and projects including the development of a new Leadership and Employee Development Training Program. My job functions included project management, event coordinating, and helping with the hiring process by scheduling interviews and arranging the interview panel. I had the opportunity to assist Immigration Service Officers as they interviewed applicants for citizenship or lawful permanent resident status and assessed documentations to either grant or deny applications.

The Leadership and Employee Development Training Program aims to serve as the master program that will incorporate existing trainings and add new trainings on leadership, technical and other skills. My role was to assist in the stages of program development and implementation by drafting a proposal explaining the purpose and goal of the new training program for every employee at USCIS in the District of Los Angeles, creating the business rules and training courses, and designing the program logo. I accomplished this with the guidance, and under the supervision, of the Los Angeles County Field Office Director.

Jennifer Valdez (left) with the Congressional Leads at Rep. Linda Sanchez 16th Annual Seniors Fair. August 10th, 2018, Congressional Outreach event

A major highlight of my internship experience this summer was getting the chance to present the program proposal to the Los Angeles District Director, Deputy Director, Chief of Staff and five Field Office Directors.

In addition to being involved in various exciting projects another incredible experience I had was attending the oath ceremonies in July and August where honorable judges officially granted applicants citizenship. I enjoyed every moment of it especially the part where I got to issue certificates of citizenship. What rewarding moments those were. I take pride in what I did and all that I was able to accomplish during my time at USCIS.

July 24th, 2018. Oath Ceremony at the Los Angeles Staple Center. Approximately 10,000 applicants became citizens that day.
Jennifer Valdez at USCIS in Los Angeles

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Chris Tonsmeire, Peace Operations Initiative at DOD

The U.S. Department of Defense’s USINDOPACOM headquarters is located on Camp HM Smith, Oahu, Hawaii.  It was recently renamed from USPACOM to reflect the importance of India in USINDOPACOM’s Area of Responsibility.  USINDOPACOM is unique among the Global Combatant Commands (GCC) because it is the only GCC with its subordinate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Commands co-located in the same state and island.  Additionally, the island of Oahu is home to Joint Interagency Task Force – West (JIATF-W), the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies (APCSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research facility.  An internship with USINDOPACOM offers an amazing opportunity to learn about all of these organizations.

Seal of USINDOPACOM

My position was as a Visiting Fellow in the J372 office.  The J372 is a sub-category of the J3 Operations directorate.  The J372 office consists of Multinational Programs and Theater Security Cooperation Exercises.   Multinational Programs, where I interned, consists of two programs: the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).  While my internship was officially with GPOI, I was also able to work extensively with the MPAT.  GPOI was created in 2004 as the U.S. contribution to the broader G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations because of the strategic importance of international peace operations to US national security.  Increasing the capability of partner nations to conduct international peace operations was seen as a cost-effective way of increasing world stability and sharing the burden of conducting peace operations. To meet this objective, GPOI funds training, equipment, and facilities building capabilities worldwide for USINDOPACOM’s twelve regional partners. GPOI is unique in that it is a US State Department program that is executed by the US Department of Defense to build capacity of partners to train and sustain peacekeepers who deploy to United Nations missions around the world.

Like the GPOI team, the MPAT works to improve the capabilities of multinational partner forces.  Unlike the GPOI team the MPAT is regionally focused and was an initiative developed by the regional Chiefs of Defense in 2000 with the goal to facilitate the rapid and effective establishment and/or augmentation of a multinational force headquarters (MNF HQ) and/or other multinational military and civil-military coordination mechanisms.  In order to improve the ability of regional multinational response to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and any other operation in USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility that fall short of war, they have developed the Multinational Forces Standing Operating Procedures (MNF SOP) and conduct the TEMPEST EXPRESS exercise.  The MNF SOP is a living document that collects best practices, compiles and defines new terminology, and standardizes methods for all of these operations.  Yearly MNF SOP conferences are conducted to update the document as well as create relationships between military planners and civilian organization leaders active in the region.  These relationships are seen as added benefits that decrease response time when different organizations arrive to deal with a real-world crisis.  The TEMPEST EXPRESS and other theater security cooperation exercises are where the planners try to “break” the MNF SOP.  It is a scenario-based exercise that allows the planners to work together using the MNF SOP to deal with a simulated crisis.  Flaws exposed by the TE exercise and from real world use are then compiled into the MNF SOP at the next conference.

Getting to attend the MNF SOP 20 conference in Wellington, New Zealand was undoubtedly the highlight of my internship.  The conference sought to update and complete sections on Defensive Cyberspace Operations, Protections of Civilians, Logistics, Inter-agency Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, and the Glossary.  I was assigned to the Glossary section which compiles new terminology, acronyms, and definitions from the other working group.  This allowed me a great opportunity to see what every section was working on as well as meet experts from foreign governments, USAID, the IFRC and other NGOs, and different directorates of the US military. I was also asked to research options for a regional case study to include in the Inter-agency Cooperation section.  This greatly increased my familiarity with multinational operations in USINDOPACOMs area of responsibility.

USINDOPACOM Area of Command

My background as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant has given me exposure to planning on the tactical level and this internship expanded that planning knowledge to include the operational and strategic level.  My main projects working for the GPOI team was to create a spreadsheet that compiled the GPOI partner nations’ military force pledges to United Nations peacekeeping and identified the priorities for training programs location and subject.  Creating the pledge tracker required research into all of the different types of military units that are sent to support UN missions.  These included infantry, engineering, force headquarters support, medical, military police, reconnaissance, riverine, special forces, transportation and logistics units.  For the MPAT I was assigned the task of incorporating the changes to the MNF SOP from the conference in New Zealand.

Oahu is a great place for recreation as well as professional development.  The close relationship with my office was increased with participation in the MPAT fencing club and attendance of the MNF SOP 20 workshop.  There are numerous hikes, beaches, and coral reefs that are great to explore with other interns in the program.  The food is also unique due to the many cultural influences from Hawaii’s diverse immigrant population.  Hawaiian poke is a personal favorite.  Getting to know all of the great people in the office: Tak, Dan, Bernie, Joe, Bob, Bobby Ray, Murray, John, and Scott was a lot of fun.  Additionally, getting to know all of the other interns from Texas A&M, University of San Diego, University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and other schools was great as well.  I want to especially thank Steven “Tak” Takekoshi, Crysti Woods, Dr. John Wood, Professor Robert Murrett, the Global Programs Coordinator at Maxwell, and Gerald B., and Daphna Cramer for their support during this experience.

Chris Tonsmeire completed his MAIR degree in December 2018.

Chris Tonsmeire in Hawaii

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Xiaotong Liu Helps Detect Global Crisis at UNDPA

I received an internship offer from the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) at the UN Headquarters in New York City this summer. The DPA plays a central role in United Nations efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflict around the world. The DPA monitors and assesses global political developments with an eye to detecting potential crises before they erupt and devising effective responses. The Department provides support to the Secretary-General (SG) and his envoys, as well as to UN political missions deployed around the world to help defuse crises or promote lasting solutions to conflict. The DPA is divided into two parts: Regional Divisions and Non-Regional Divisions. I was recruited by the Asia and the Pacific Division of the Regional Offices.

Effective policy responses begin with sound and timely information and analysis – having a pulse on events as they develop. Primarily through the work of its regional divisions, DPA monitors developments and provides the Secretary-General with analytical reports and briefing notes to inform his decisions and shape his continuous diplomacy with the UN Member States, regional and non-governmental organizations and other actors. Senior DPA officials are called on frequently to brief the UN Security Council on global political developments, the status of UN peacemaking efforts and the activities of UN political missions in the field.

My major duties were preparing background papers for summits in the Asia and the Pacific region, the General Assembly, SG’s visits to the region, and SG, Under SG and Assistant SG’s meeting with different nations’ UN missions’ permanent representatives. In addition, I contributed to writing regional issues reports, which advocate for regional and global solutions to international problems. I also carried out research regarding economic assistance from Asian nations to Pacific islands countries for infrastructure development. My research provided the teams with more information about how South-South cooperation builds sustainability and resilience in the Pacific region to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

My graduate study’s focus is on East Asia and the Pacific. Therefore, the UN internship was a perfect opportunity for me to explore what issues are UN concerns in the region and how the UN works on them. My supervisor offered me opportunities to work on almost all the issues that I am interested in. Other staff in the Division also welcome me discussing my questions with them. Besides daily work, I can access all the open meetings at the UN Headquarters and listen to ambassadors discussing the current international issues.

The experience in DPA was genuinely eye-opening. I consolidated my knowledge in East Asia and the Pacific and obtained an overview of how the UN functions in global affairs.

Xiaotong Liu at UNDPA

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

Brendan Reaney Looks at Threats to the US and Europe

I spent the summer as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. I’ve always wanted to live in DC and Maxwell’s strong reputation in the district is largely responsible for what drew me to Maxwell in the first place. In addition to taking a class with Professor O’Hanlon on Who Will Rule the 21st Century, I spent the summer interning as a transatlantic security analyst with The Streit Council for a Union of Democracies. The Streit Council is driven to create better-organized relations between the United States and Europe, along with liberal democracies across the globe. In order to do so, the council aims to foster greater public awareness on the importance of the transatlantic relationship and to provide expert analysis, perspectives, and identify practical solutions for key policymakers.

As part of the Transatlantic Security Program, our mission was to analyze prominent threats facing the US and Europe. Working closely with Mitch Yoshida, a Maxwell alumnus, we closely followed events related to Russia’s resurgence, terrorism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy. One of my main tasks included daily submissions of pertinent news summaries. I was able to research and analyze major international events on a daily basis, gaining a greater understanding of transatlantic relations on a day-to-day basis in what turned out to be an eventful summer. Apart from the daily responsibilities, I was able to work on longer briefs. One of the major pieces I worked on was analyzing how the potential of a unified European army might affect NATO. The brief analyzed the history of the EU, dissected current events, political statements, and military proposals to better predict what a future relationship might look like. My time in DC this summer solidified my career interest.

The Maxwell-in-Washington program exposes students to real world experiences on what they studied in Syracuse. My internship allowed me to apply the historical and analytical skills I learned while at Syracuse to current events. Although taking a class on top of a fulltime internship was challenging, it offered an opportunity to analyze situations from an academic perspective. My class was also a great place to network with classmates who have a lot of experience working in related fields.

Whether it was through classes, the internship, or networking, my time in DC allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.

Viewing Party of the Washington Capitals Winning the Stanley Cup, Outside Capital One Arena

Brendan Reaney was a Fast Track BA/MA international relations student student who graduated in December 2018. He also spent his last Fall Semester interning at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

International Relations Undergraduate Program

  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

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