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Announcing the 2016 Diplomacy and Diversity Fellows



Humanity in Action is pleased to announce the 2016 Humanity in Action Diplomacy and Diversity Fellows. Humanity in Action Fellows are young professionals and future leaders who are dynamic, entrepreneurial and passionate about changing the world.

The Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship was a transatlantic Humanity in Action program about the changing international dynamics of diplomacy and diversity. The program served to increase awareness of the importance of diversity in diplomacy and other international fields and to encourage the careers of professionals from minority backgrounds in foreign affairs. The program was offered in the summer, 2014 – 2016.

Humanity in Action is an international educational organization. We educate, inspire and connect a global network of students, young professionals and established leaders committed to promoting human rights, diversity and active citizenship—in their own communities and around the world.

Humanity in Action supports all Fellows financially for the duration of their programs, allowing for the merit-based selection of diverse applicants.

The 2016 Diplomacy and Diversity Fellows

Lizbeth Arias

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Lizbeth Arias is an Education Abroad Advisor for the Office of International Programs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she is also completing her Master’s in international relations. Prior to her graduate and professional work at UNLV, Lizbeth served as a Bolden Scholar for the D.C. office of Senator Harry Reid, participated in an international leadership program at the University of Liverpool in England, and pursued intensive Mandarin studies at the Southwest University for Nationalities in China. Lizbeth enjoys making pizza at home, attending concerts when she’s not studying, and finding last minute flights to places she’s never been.


Renata Barreto

University of California, Berkeley

Renata Barreto is a graduate student in the jurisprudence and social policy Ph.D. program at Berkeley Law. Her research focuses on international law, technology, and social movements with an emphasis on quantitative methods. She completed her undergraduate education at Reed College, where she majored in international and comparative policy studies. Renata is the recipient of the Eugene-Cota Robles Fellowship and the American Political Science Association’s Minority Fellowship. Additionally, she has worked at the Public Policy Institute of California as an intern evaluating the efficacy of the state penal system’s reform. She is fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.


George Bogden

University of Oxford

George Bogden currently serves as a J. William Fulbright-Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellow in Kosovo. In this capacity, he is an embedded special assistant in the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, providing support on matters pertaining to treaty succession and international commercial policy. George is also a D.Phil. candidate in international relations at the University of Oxford, where he was awarded a Clarendon Scholarship. Before beginning his graduate studies, he received his B.A. in political science from Yale, serving as the university’s Fox International Fellow in Istanbul the following year. He has completed internships in the U.S. House of Representatives and the State Department, as well as in non-governmental organizations and research institutions in Washington D.C., Ankara, and Istanbul.


Tanja Dittfeld

University of East Anglia

Tanja Dittfeld has recently returned to Denmark from working in Zambia at a local partner organization to the Swedish international organization We Effect with the primary responsibility of gender mainstreaming. Prior to this position, Tanja has also lived in Uganda twice whereby the first time was to work for a local NGO as a HIV/AIDS counsellor, while the second time was to conduct a Sida-financed minor field study on the lived experiences of LGBTI individuals. In August 2015, Tanja received her MSc in development studies from Lund University in Sweden. In October 2016, Tanja is to commence her PhD studies at the School of International Development at University of East Anglia in England.


Tamikka Forbes

American University

Tamikka Forbes is a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, where she most recently served on a domestic assignment with the executive office for African Affairs. She also served overseas in Nouakchott, Mauritania. She completed her master’s in international communication strategy at American University, where her research came to focus on radicalization, and preventing violent extremism. Prior to the State Department, Tamikka worked at an alternate dispute resolution firm in Los Angeles. She earned her BA in humanities from Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles. She studied previously in Germany and Brazil, and speaks French and German. She is a native Californian.


Andreas Holzinger

Sciences Po Paris and the Freie Universität Berlin

Andreas Holzinger is currently working as a part-time analyst at Roland Berger, focusing on public sector strategy consulting. He is a dual-degree Masters candidate at Sciences Po Paris and the Freie Universität Berlin in international affairs, exploring the intersection of international development and human rights. A fellow of the German National Academic Foundation, Andreas graduated with a trilingual B.A. in social sciences with honors from Sciences Po. He has held policy and research positions in both national and multilateral institutions, and volunteered with non-profits in Europe, Asia, and North America. Most recently, he conducted policy research and fieldwork in Benin and Ghana as a fellow of the Open Society Foundations, focusing on institutional reform and civil society in the sub-region.


Kyla Johnson

The George Washington University

Kyla Johnson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship. She began her career in international development as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique where she spent three years working on HIV/AIDS and malaria outreach. After her Peace Corps service, she was selected as a 2014 LGTVP ICats Fellow, placed with Educate Girls, an NGO based in Mumbai, India. Her most recent position was with Dimagi, a social enterprise working at the intersection of international development and technology. Kyla is currently pursuing an M.A. in global communication, specializing in public diplomacy, at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Kyla is a native of Detroit, Mich.


Alen Kerić

University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna

Alen Kerić is a recent graduate with an MA in human rights and democracy in South-East Europe from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna. His MA thesis explored the relationship between LGBTIQ and Catholic communities in Croatia, while interning at the Women’s Room, Center for Sexual Rights – Croatia’s only counseling center for victims of sexual violence. Prior to his graduate studies, Alen obtained a BA in performance and media studies from Beloit College. He is socially engaged and political artist, performing in mediums of theatre, dance and performance art. His current general interests include studies on identity, race, class, gender, performativity, refugees, Islamophobia and corporate social responsibility. He was born and raised in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Jennifer Kuklenski

University of Southern Mississippi

Jennifer Kuklenski is an instructor in the Department of Social Responsibility at Northland College and teaches courses in multicultural development and strategic management. Jennifer also held teaching appointments in economics at Gogebic Community College and international political relations at the University of Maryland University College – Europe. She possesses over ten years of experience as an Air Force Intelligence Analyst and has served on Crisis Actions Teams in support of regional and international operations. Jennifer received her MA in international security from the University of Arizona and is completing her Ph.D. in international development at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her research interests include democratic development, demographic shifts associated with post-disaster migration, and conflict management in multicultural societies.


Matthew Kustenbauder

Harvard University

Matthew Kustenbauder works at the U.S. Department of State as staff assistant to the Consul General in São Paulo, Brazil. His onward assignment is to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Matthew holds an M.Div. and M.A. from Yale University. He also received an A.M. degree from Harvard University, where he is a doctoral candidate in history. Matthew is a Dan David Prize Scholar and was a Fulbright Fellow to South Africa. He is the proud father of an eight-year-old boy, Liam, and husband of Humanity in Action Senior Fellow David Bargueno. He grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania.


Xianzhi Lafond

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Xianzhi Lafond is currently a doctoral candidate at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a writer, translator and editor, and is currently an assistant editor with Tsinghua Studies of Western Philosophy, Tsinghua University, China. She received a BA in english language and literature and a MA in literary theory and philosophy from universities in China. In addition, she received a second MA in American studies from Heidelberg University in Germany. After receiving her Ph.D., Xianzhi plans to join the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in order to prepare for a career at the United Nations to promote human rights and education for underrepresented people. Additionally, she speaks multiple languages including English, Chinese, Japanese and German.


Nina Łazarczyk

Uppsala University

Nina Lazarczyk currently works as National Coordinator at Centre for Antitrust and Regulatory Studies at University of Warsaw. She is a feminist activist and journalist writing for an independent Polish online magazine “Daily feminist” (“Codziennik Feministyczny”). Nina received her MSSc in Peace and Conflict Studies from Uppsala University. She completed an internship at Nordic Africa Institute. Prior to coming to Uppsala, Nina had completed internships at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nina holds her bachelor’s degree in European studies as well as multidisciplinary linguistic studies with the specialization in English, French and Spanish from University of Warsaw.


Kathryn McDonald

The George Washington University

Kathryn McDonald is an LLM candidate at The George Washington University Law School, specializing in international and comparative law. Prior to her time in Washington, DC, Kathryn was an associate at a large law firm in Minneapolis with an expansive international practice. Most recently, Kathryn was a Legal Fellow in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the U.S. Department of State. There she engaged with government actors, civil society, and multilateral bodies, including the UN Security Council, on issues of post-conflict transitional justice. Her graduate research builds on this experience and evaluates witness protection mechanisms in hybrid courts trying atrocity crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Kathryn is also a certified yoga instructor and former collegiate athlete.


Moises Mendoza

Columbia University

Moises Mendoza graduated in 2016 with a master of international affairs from Columbia University and a master of public policy from the Hertie School of Governance. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. In Fall 2016, he will join the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. Moises has previously worked in the German Bundestag and the European Commission and also worked as a journalist in the United States and Europe where he was a Fulbright scholar.


Ashley Portillo

Columbia University

Ashley Portillo is a master of international affairs candidate in human rights and conflict resolution at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, she taught English and implemented literacy programs in Bataan and Northern Samar, Philippines. Currently, she works as the Program Assistant for the Academy of Medical and Public Health Services in Brooklyn and finds great purpose in helping the neighborhood’s largely immigrant residents learn about their rights to healthcare access. Ashley was born and raised in Orange County, California and received a B.A. in both Latin American studies and international relations at UC San Diego. Her research interests include women’s reproductive rights and the lack of women’s participation in peace negotiations.


Oskar Raczycki

University of Warsaw

Oskar works at the Danish Royal Embassy in Poland as a Research Officer in the political department and as a Principal Investigator in a research grant funded by the Ministry of Science, which explores the new forms of international forced migration and their implications for international security and law. He gained experience i.a. in SKS Legal (a law firm), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and AIESEC. As a Paderewski Scholar in 2015, he interned at Institute of International Finance in Washington, DC. Oskar is about to graduate with degrees in international relations and Law from the University of Warsaw. He enjoys living in the vibrant capital of Poland.


Hanya Riedl

Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva

Hanya Riedl is a MA candidate in international law at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva. Alongside her studies, she currently supports the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS in its advocacy for child-sensitive economic and social policies and, highly topical, for rights of refugee children. Previous work experience, including at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, allowed Hanya to explore topics ranging from disarmament to criminal justice and from corporate compliance to human rights. Hanya completed her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at Columbia University in New York. Being German-Taiwanese, Hanya grew up in Bayreuth and spent a gap year after high school in Taipei.


John Scott

Harvard University

John Scott is an master of public health student at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He is developing a veterans organization, is active with several veterans initiatives, and is working with the Dana Farber Global Health Initiative to build an oncology center in Yerevan, Armenia. John is also an attorney with experience in antitrust and medical malpractice law. He is a former military judge advocate, U.S. Marine, and Veteran of Afghanistan. John is an alumnus of UC Berkeley and Stanford Law School.


Rohit Sudarshan

Tufts University

Rohit Sudarshan recently graduated from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he studied international business relations. Prior to attending graduate school, Rohit worked as a Legislative Fellow at the Ohio House of Representatives and as a Teacher and Dean of Students at Breakthrough Collaborative, a teaching nonprofit. He graduated with a degree in political science from Kenyon College. At the Fletcher School, he focused on migration studies by studying the social and economic impacts of remittances with a specific focus on migrants from Southeast Asia. He was born in Newcastle but raised in Cincinnati, OH.


Roya Talibova

University of Michigan

Roya Talibova is a dual degree PhD student in political science and statistics at the University of Michigan interested in dynamics of armed conflicts. Prior to PhD program, Roya was a program coordinator for the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard University. Between 2009-2012, Roya was a Senior Advisor on United States at the Office of the President of Azerbaijan Republic. She has previously worked at the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations and served as a Spokesperson for the UN Millennium Development Goals. Roya received her MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, MA in international relations from Seton Hall University, and BA in international relations from the Azerbaijan University of Foreign Languages.


Jessica Tollette

Harvard University

Jessica Tollette is a PhD Candidate in the department of Sociology at Harvard University where she focuses on race and immigration. Prior to entering graduate school, Jessica worked for two years a management consultant at the Monitor Group where she focused on marketing consulting and led the North American undergraduate diversity recruiting efforts for the firm. She received her bachelor’s of arts in communication with a minor in Hispanic studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She was also a Fulbright Scholar to Spain where she conducted her dissertation research on race and immigrant integration in Madrid. She was born and raised in Laguna Niguel California but has lived in Philadelphia, New York, Boston and currently resides in Madrid.


David Truong

Harvard University

David Truong is a second year master in public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, concentrating in social and urban policy. As a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, he will join the Foreign Service upon graduating from HKS. Previously, he has interned at the State Department in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and at the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. David received his undergraduate degree in political science at Yale University and is deeply passionate about social justice issues, particularly around poverty and racial inequality. He was born and bred in Texas.


Mike Videler

University of Amsterdam

Mike Videler is a research associate with the Public International Law & Policy Group, a global pro bono law firm advising states and non-state actors on peace negotiations, constitution drafting, and war crimes prosecution. He is also an LLM candidate at the University of Amsterdam, where he works as a research assistant. Previously, Mike worked for the SIM Netherlands Institute of Human Rights and interned with the Netherlands Permanent Representation to the UN at Geneva, where he worked on the UN Human Rights Council. Mike holds a BA in liberal arts from University College Utrecht and an LLB from Utrecht University, and spent a semester abroad at Sciences Po Paris. A native to the Netherlands, he currently lives in Amsterdam.


Suong Vong

University of Texas at Austin

Suong Vong works at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) as the Regional Civil Rights Director for the Southwest Region, where she oversees Civil Rights compliance for all 15 of FNS’s nutrition assistance programs. Suong has worked in county, state, and federal governments and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa. Suong holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies and Asian American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently a masters of public affairs candidate at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.