NGOs

Alejandro Turino, Using USA Development in Latin America

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas. WOLA envisions a future where public policies protect human rights and recognize human dignity, and where justice overcomes violence. WOLA tackles problems that transcend borders and demand cross-border solutions. The organization creates strategic partnerships with courageous people making social change—advocacy organizations, academics, religious and business leaders, artists, and government officials. Together, they advocate for more just societies in the Americas.

This fall I interned with the Washington Office on Latin America, carrying out research for the Central America Monitor. The monitor is a new initiative led by WOLA and local partner organizations to track U.S. assistance to Central America and evaluate the progress that Central America is making to reduce violence, safeguard human rights, strengthen law enforcement and the rule of law, combat corruption, and increase accountability and transparency.

Since starting my work, I have been offered networking opportunities I could have never imagined receiving in places other than DC. For example, I interacted with multiple diplomats and private sector personnel from across Latin America. My work has allowed me to meet numerous practitioners of international development and human rights advocates, including top officials from some of the world’s best-known NGOs.

WOLA also raised my awareness towards the impact of development. My role as a research fellow allowed me to gain insight on how international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operate both internally and externally in the quest to address global societal problems. I investigated how the Guatemalan government was professionalizing their police force, to avoid human rights abuses on the part of law enforcement, and to create a force that would no longer require help from the nation’s military. I constantly sent Freedom of Information Requests (FOIAs) to the Ministerio de Gobernacion (Interior Ministry) in Guatemala to obtain data we needed on issues such as police budgets and numbers of officers. My work at WOLA has allowed me to both understand the Central America region more in depth, and to see how human rights and their preservation are key to successful human and societal development.

Alejandro Turino was a MAIR student who graduated in December 2020. He also interned at Oxfam and the Pan American Development Foundation.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Alejandro Turino, Learning International Development through Theory and Practice

Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy in DC

One of the most pressing issues facing the international community is how to address the impact of climate change. Rising oceans, food and freshwater insecurity, urbanization, and many other issues prompt global action to preserve the planet for future generations.

The weight of this issue led me to pursue a new role this Fall with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global non-profit focused on environmental issues in 79 countries and all 50 states. The Worldwide Office in D.C. coordinates the organization’s work which brings together scientists, policy experts, and local leaders to tackle climate change, protect lands and waters, provide food and water sustainably, build healthy cities, and connect people and nature. TNC is a great place to work with smart eco-geeks, environmental policy wonks, and other upbeat and motivated colleagues.

My responsibilities as a Contract Specialist focus on ensuring money-out agreements for TNC’s global initiatives adhere to legal standards and TNC policies. The day-to-day of the job has required me to guide program teams through the contract and grant-writing processes, review and approve agreements, manage extensive records, and more. Some of the projects I supported include: mitigating the impact of climate change on indigenous communities in the Amazon; advocating for international action on environmental issues at UN summits; and cleaning up polluted river basins in Latin America. One recent work day began with me video chatting a team in South Africa, consulting with our legal office about a Chinese project, and finishing the day by guiding a West Coast office through a contract revision.

The role has been very satisfying—serving as an expert point of contact for staff around the globe addressing a large problem in diverse and meaningful ways.

Bart Kassel is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Social Media in summer 2019.

Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy
Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Bart Kassel at DoS Office of Global Social Media

Alejandro Turino, Learning International Development through Theory and Practice

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. They help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.

The Pan American Development Foundation assists vulnerable and excluded people and communities in the Americas to achieve sustainable economic and social progress, strengthen their communities and civil society, promote democratic participation and inclusion, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

This summer I interned with Oxfam and Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). Both organizations have taught me a lot, not only about international development, but more importantly, about work culture in Washington DC. Since starting my work, I have been offered networking opportunities I could have never imagined receiving in places other than DC. For example, since PADF is the development arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), I interacted with multiple diplomats and private sector personnel from across Latin America.

My work with Oxfam allowed me to meet numerous practitioners of international development, including top officials from some of the world’s best-known NGOs. Oxfam also opened my awareness towards the impact of development. My role as a research assistant allowed me to gain insight on how international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operate both internally and externally in the quest to address global societal problems. I investigated how Oxfam and other organizations see their role within the international community, and what their views are on what these roles should be. The position allowed me to learn about the field of development on-the-job, which was extremely beneficial since I did not have a lot of experience in the industry beforehand.

As part of PADF, I assisted staff in conducting research, developing methodologies and communications products, and managing projects for our Caribbean programs. PADF offered a hands-on, multicultural environment where I gained practical program management and implementation skills and a collegial atmosphere of professionals dedicated to creating a hemisphere of opportunity for all.

Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

 

Maggie Callahan Gets Rewards Tenfold with Aythos in Nepal

Nepal is not for the faint of heart. In the two months I lived there, I vomited from dust induced coughing a dozen times; made countless emergency visits to a squatty potty; got over 20 bed bug bites and seven leach bites; rode in a jeep with people hanging off the sides and sitting on the roof up a narrow winding mountain road; and survived countless motorbike rides through rush hour traffic without holding on to the man driving. Surprisingly, I would do it again, and I would recommend an Aythos Nepal internship to anyone ready to overcome these challenges for rewards tenfold.

Maggie Callahan assisting with health education
Maggie Callahan (2nd from left) assisting in women’s reproductive health trainings in Kathmandu

As an Aythos Nepal intern, no two days are alike, but each day brings new tasks and ways to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the work of the organization. My days in the office ranged from: leading and planning evaluation and monitoring trainings for staff, formulating needs assessments and surveys, researching for women’s empowerment and agriculture projects, assisting in program planning, and cutting out fabric pads for upcoming trainings.

My days outside the office, however, were my favorite. In the field, I hiked along the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen, learned and performed local dances, assisted in feminine hygiene and sustainable livelihood projects, and traveled to parts of Nepal that tourists never see. As for the places tourists see, my time off during the weekends and flexible schedule allowed me to travel to well traversed areas of Nepal as well.

Maggie Callahan at Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal

Ultimately, my internship with Aythos Nepal was one of the most challenging experiences of my graduate school career. It pushed me out of my comfort zone professionally, culturally, physically, and mentally. It was an immeasurably valuable opportunity to constantly practice and refine the intercultural communication and program planning and evaluation skills that will be the cornerstone of my future career. For students ready for the challenge and eager to have an internship that gives them real experience, Aythos Nepal is the perfect fit.

Maggie Callahan is completing her joint MAIR/MSPR degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse schools at Syracuse University.

Maggie Callan at a Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal
Maggie Callahan (Center) with her Aythos colleagues
Maggie Callahan (center) and her two supervisors at Aythos, Shanti Magar (left) and Samikshya Shrestha (right)
MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
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Arpan Dahal Supports Global Witness on Capitol Hill

When founded in 1993, Global Witness was a pioneer in seeing the link between natural resources, conflict, and corruption. Since then Global Witness has fearlessly worked for protecting human rights and the environment by confronting corruption and challenging the systems that enable it.

My interests include working on policy issues and field that involves interaction. My Fall internship at Global Witness has been rewarding for many reasons. I have been exposed to different levels of policy efforts and got to engage with people from diverse fields. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Global Witness where I assisted with publications and reports on anti-money laundering and corruption and their policy solutions. Conducting research to support advocacy with policy advisors and outreach to strategic constituencies helped me get exposure to policy areas. Furthermore, I learned about the cycles a bill goes through and the steps involved in between.

I was fortunate to support Global Witness’ presence on Capitol Hill as a thought-leader and issue expert on priorities. I was also involved in a coalition called FACT that Global Witness is part of. Here I learned more about how multiple organizations working towards the same goal cooperate and overcome the challenges to succeed. Attending Senate hearings regularly and getting involved in current affairs added to my existing knowledge and skills set. I believe the experience at Global Witness has made me a better thinker and a better problem solver. Working with law enforcement communities and other allies was a bonus which was an exciting experience.

Arpan Dahal is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the Institute of International Finance during Spring 2019.

Arpan Dahal working at Global Witness
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program
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Khem Sedhai’s Remarkable Semester of Courses, Interning, & Events

The Fall 2018 semester has been a remarkable period for both of my academic and professional career. I participated in the Global Security and Development Program at Maxwell-in-Washington at CSIS.

Khem Sedhai in front of the U.S. Capital Building

The Global Sustainability and Development class was an extraordinary course taught by Professor Melinda Kimble. The focus was on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and policy recommendations with an emphasis on climate change and environmental issues. The class discussions mainly concentrated on analyzing international agreements and action plans; assessing national policies in alignment with SDGs; and describing the economic, social and environmental interlinkages among various SDGs.

Khem with Professor Melinda Kimble in DC

The other course I was enrolled in was Statecraft and Smart Power in the Digital Era, offered by Professor Shannon N. Green. The course focused on a strong foundation on public diplomacy by the use of policy formulation, interagency decision-making, and the practice of public diplomacy. I was very much inspired and motivated with the public diplomacy programs administered by the US government agencies and other non-profit organizations. Those seeking employment in public service, NGOs, think tanks, and consulting firms would find this course most appealing.

I worked as a Public Policy and Advocacy Intern at InternAction. It helped me to observe and analyze on the policy strategies of many of its member organizations by attending various events and policy discussion meetings. During the internship, my major assignment was researching newly elected US Congressmen and their political stand on foreign assistance. I accomplished this using advanced research and advocacy skills with my newly acquired knowledge on the American political system. I would like to offer special thanks to the InterAction team, Professor Ryan Williams, Samantha Clemence, and Isaac Olson for their great support and guidance during the period.

Khem at NAGPS

During the semester, I participated in many events of the World Bank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Brookings Institution, the National Association of Professional-Graduate Students (NAGPS) among others. The Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) forum of the World Bank was held with the theme “Money Matters: Public Finance and Social Accountability for Human Capital.” I found this event very valuable as I was able to meet and interact with many activists working in the field of social accountability, governance, and education.

Khem at the GPSA forum of the World Bank

The second conference I participated in was Law, Justice and Development Week 2018. Interacting with justices, lawyers, students, and development workers from all over the world was a very enriching experience. Hearing their perspectives and best practices in relation with law, justice and development which are, as we know integral parts of sustainable development.

Khem at Law, Justice and Development Week

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Bonus: Hear Khem speak about his Maxwell Experience at IIE’s conference.

Khem Sedhai Networks and Attends Events in DC & NYC

 

In Chile, Lluvia Hernandez Educates Locals on Their Rights

This Fall I had the opportunity to intern abroad in Santiago, Chile at Fundación Multitudes as an Operations intern. This internship provided me the opportunity to learn about civil society in Chile by educating locals on their right to be heard in government. The mission of Fundación Multitudes is to reduce the gap between citizens and public institutions, working with a strong emphasis on cross-cutting issues to achieve agreements between the government and different sectors of civil society, including the private sector. All of the above encourages citizen participation by raising standards of transparency and open government in state agencies.

I specifically worked on strengthening tied with The Community of Democracies (CD) which is an intergovernmental coalition of states established in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of the common goal of supporting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world.

I worked directly for the CEO of Fundación Multitudes who is also the Chair of the ISC for The Community of Democracies. The ISC advises governments on the actions needed to enable civil society to work freely to strengthen democracy, rule of law, and protection for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Warsaw Declaration. The ISC coordinates a variety of initiatives for civil society, including the civil society forum taking place in the biannual Ministerial Conferences of the Community, which results in a set of recommendations to the Ministerial Declaration made by civil society representatives. I was in charge of translating various documents from Spanish to English for The Community of Democracies.

The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) in Indonesia hosted by the IMF and World Bank Group ‘s annual meeting, which provides a space for CSOs to exchange dialogue and views with IMF and World Bank staff, their peers, government delegations, and other stakeholders.

Fundación Multitudes is a very small non-governmental organization that is composed of 10 employees who take on various roles. Due to this I was able to work closely and in the same office as the CEO and the project director. I wrote two communication protocols to define communication between The Secretariat General of the Community of Democracies and the Chair of the ISC. The protocol included information regarding civil society matters and how it can be communicated properly to the governing council. I was given liberty to design and write it according to my best abilities which was later on reviewed and signed by the CEO of Fundación Multitudes and Secretariat General of The Community of Democracies.

The second project I was in charge of was the creation of a branding and internal communication proposal where I was in charge of designing the new logo for The Community of Democracies. This project challenged me in various ways since I do not have a background in design or marketing and was not sure how to design a logo.

Logos Lluvia Hernandez designed

One of the things I learned through this internship is that when you work for a small organization you will be asked to do projects outside of your field of expertise. This not only challenged me but helped me gain new skills that I can further develop in another position. The last project I was in charge of was the creation of a capacity assessment and survey. This was designed to help Community of Democracies identify areas in which all 25 members of the organization need help in. This was designed to help establish a concrete foundation between members of the organization by identifying the needs and capacities of all 25 members. While I interned for Fundación Multitudes I worked with their external partner where I was in charge of designing projects. As I end my semester here in Santiago Chile I am very appreciative of the opportunity I had to intern while taking courses.

Community of Democracies meeting with the 29 governing council members in Poland

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

SU’s Santiago Center

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Victoria Fanibi Works on Community Housing in Brazil

This summer, I was fortunate to intern at Catalytic Communities, an advocacy NGO and think-tank based in Rio de Janeiro. The organization runs a variety of programs, but my internship was primarily focused on the Community Land Trust initiative being headed by the organization’s Executive Director. Catalytic Communities is dedicated to formulating networks of discussion between the informal and formal settlements of Rio, community mobilization, and a participatory and asset-based model of development.

The core focus of my internship was on the Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, which is a community-managed nonprofit organization that is established to provide permanent affordable housing and build community assets. My main role on this project was to draft materials for our planned workshops in August and to do research on the diverse application of the CLT model. My research on CLT case studies and their diverse application was published in an article for the NGO’s sister organization,  “Rio on Watch” , which is a news source that profiles residents of informal settlements, informal settlement regularization efforts in Brazil, and local events in communities of interest. This research was imperative to my understanding of the applicability of the CLT model in Rio de Janeiro, as well as provided support for my education of other interns in my organization.

While I was mainly concerned with the development of the CLT Initiative in preparation for our August workshops, I was able to engage with interns completing a variety of projects. The most important of those being a study on evictions. I joined fellow interns on community visits to profile residents all over the city of Rio. These community visits were essential in helping me comprehend the effects of land speculation, post-Olympic development issues in Rio, and the failure of the government to provide essential services to its residents. In addition to these community visits, I attended community events. These community events were generally in the same communities that we profile or have the intent to profile. I emphasize these events as this enabled us as interns to see the residents of these informal settlements and strengthen our friendly relationships with them. It was also beneficial in simply getting to understand the culture of Rio.

At the very top of Santa Teresa. On my way to a community visit. Rio is a dense, complicated, and beautiful city

Lastly, I took the time to explore Rio’s sprawling natural landscape. I went on several hikes and, of course, visited the beach. It’s amazing to be laying on the beach in Leme staring at the waves and seeing people rappel on the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the same frame. I also went on a trip to Sao Paulo. The main intent on that trip was to, of course, enjoy myself but it provided an important comparative experience to the function and systems of Rio de Janeiro.

My time in Rio was truly amazing. I am so lucky to have been working for a great organization like Catalytic Communities. I am grateful to have been a witness to a variety of social issues in Rio including community militarization, gentrification, and land speculation. I walk away from this experience with a confidence in what I want to accomplish professionally, one that I didn’t have before.

Victoria Fanibi (back row, far right, red bandana) and Catalytic Communities’ crew visiting Barrinha on the third day of their CLT workshops in August

Victoria Fanibi is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. After completing her independent internship in Brazil, she finished her degree through Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Tsinghua University, World Partner Program

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Stephanie Spera Works with Illiterate Mothers in South Africa

Stephanie Spera is a current joint MPA /MAIR student at The Maxwell School. This summer she interned with Connect Network, a non-profit network based in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of her degree requirements. She also participated in the summer program South Africa: A Global Health Education Experience.

This summer, I embarked on a journey that has changed me academically, professionally, and personally. It all started with a Skype call with Dee Moskoff, an alum of the Maxwell School and Director of Connect Network, an organization that partners with NGOs around Cape Town to reach women and children at risk through health, education, and empowerment programs.

Connect Network office in Cape Town, South Africa

My primary responsibility at Connect was to aid in the final stages of developing a health literacy manual for illiterate mothers and their children in the Western Cape. The manual focuses on empowering women and children to respect their bodies, identify their health needs, and improve their understanding of issues such as sexuality, emotional health, and abuse. This included several steps, including performing a baseline survey of mothers to identify community needs; meeting with partners to finalize content and to ensure they are happy with the final product; writing a year-end report for donors; and drafting a budget request for year two funding.

From the start, my team met the stress of development and deadlines with passion, purpose, and perseverance. We sat for hours with partners to make sure the manual met their objectives. We facilitated conversations between each partner, the illustrator, and donors to maintain the vision of the project at every step. Amid threats of rioting, we traveled weekly to Khayelitsha Township to meet with local facilitators who helped to develop and collect surveys and provided valuable feedback on the needs of the community. Although each partner has different interests in the project, our shared dedication to improving the lives of women and children by empowering them to advocate for themselves and improve their access resources has kept us moving forward.

Stephanie Spera and her team at Connect Network

During my time in South Africa, I have found a passion for health care and bridging resource gaps for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. My experience at Connect has taught me the importance of people and relationships, and has given me the skills necessary to continue that fight when I return stateside.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

South Africa: A Global Health Education Experience

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At World Vision-Ecuador, Valeria Urbina Cordano Applies Collaborative Governance

Valeria Urbina Urbina Cordano is a De-Sardon Glass Fellow working on the joint MPA/MAIR degree.

Between the months of June and August, I had the opportunity to do my internship at World Vision (WV) in Ecuador. My professional interest in social policies aimed to enhance the quality of life of vulnerable people, particularly in Latin America, motivated me to do an internship with this great NGO.

WV-Ecuador is a Non-profit Organization aimed at increasing the well-being and integral protection of children and youths in Ecuador. To achieve this, WV works with children and youths together with their families and communities to reach their full potential in the exercise of their rights and participation. It also works to promote their economic development.

As an intern, I worked within the Directorate of Integrated Ministry, the department in charge of implementing, monitoring, and evaluating their institutional programs and projects. In a context of organizational change, my responsibilities were twofold. First, I conducted research regarding the inter-institutional cooperation between WV and the public sector oriented towards recommending improvements to WV’s inter-institutional cooperation strategy. Second, I identified and assessed the most important causes of vulnerability in children and youths in order to diversify and increase the positive impacts of WV’s interventions.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting a focus group discussion with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.
Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.

I had the great opportunity to lead both endeavors. In this sense, I was in charge of activities such as setting goals, literature research, methodology design, tools’ development, coordination, data collection and systematization, as well as analysis and elaboration of the final report. I really enjoyed reviewing the literature and applying frameworks from my Maxwell courses, particularly, those related to Collaborative Governance.

Moreover, as part of this work, I visited two of WV’s Area Development Programs located in different regions (Colta which is in the highlands, and Santa Ana which is on the coast). There, I conducted interviews with WV’s personnel and partners from the local government. I was able to grasp the perspectives of decision-makers in charge of local policies in education, health, social development, among other areas.

Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Santa Ana, Manabí Province, Ecuador.

Furthermore, I conducted two focus groups with community leaders, who in the case of Colta belong to the Kichwa indigenous people. They inspired me. These extraordinary men and women work every day to achieve greater development in their communities. Despite the long distances typical of Ecuadorian rural areas, they attended and participated enthusiastically in the activity.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting an interview with the Major of the Municipality of Colta.

This experience was so meaningful for me. It allowed me to strengthen my methodological, analytical and interpersonal skills in a context of cultural diversity. Also, from my fieldwork, I learned more about issues of ‘collaborative governance’ from the current role of WV Ecuador. In this context, for instance, I could identify some challenges for promoting and developing this form of government effectively in Ecuador, Peru, and other Latin American countries. Finally, I met a great team and many people who deepened my passion for working on development policies in this region.

Valeria Urbina Cordano with the Directorate of Integrated Ministry’s team on her last day at work. From left to right, Top: Pamela Toro, Kelly Gonzales, Mabel Bustamante, Milena Olivares, Mares Sandoval, Gabriela Romero. Bottom: Ángel Cucurí, Valeria Urbina, Gabriela Benítez.
Valeria Urbina Cordano in the Historic Center of Quito, Ecuador.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

De-Sardon Glass Fellowship at the Maxwell School