February 16, 2021

"For nearly 75 years, SIPA graduates have made an impact in international affairs, public policy, and related fields. In recognition of Black History Month, we wish to express our pride in the achievements of SIPA's Black Alumni."
— Dean Merit E. Janow
 


Bunmi Akinnusotu MPA ’14 is deputy director of the Rangel Fellowship at Howard University and the creator and producer of What in the World?, a radio show and podcast that makes issues of U.S. foreign policy understandable and relevant to the American public.

Roger Nathaniel Ashby MPA-DP ’17 is the founder and executive director of OpenWise Learning, a youth development organization serving marginalized kids by providing them with STEM education with an emphasis on technology, social justice, and ecological justice.

In 2019, the National Association of Black Journalists named Karen Attiah MIA ’12, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, its journalist of the year. The previous year she won a George Polk Award, with David Ignatius, for their writing about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Attiah’s forthcoming book is Say Your Word, Then Leave: The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Power of the Truth.

Richard Brookshire MPA ’16 is the cofounder and executive director of the Black Veterans Project, which seeks to "deepen public understanding around systemic racial inequities in our nation’s military." In June 2020 his essay on “Serving in the Army as a Queer Black Man Opened My Eyes to Racism in America” appeared in the New York Times

Shawn Bush MIA ’17 was named among the Atlantic Council’s 2020-21 LGBTI in Foreign Affairs Fellows. Bush, political officer at the U.S. State Department, was an aide to Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, a foreign policy fellow in the office of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and a contributor at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he supported the launch of “Model Diplomacy,” a simulation of the National Security Council.

Asha Castleberry-Hernandez MIA ’12 is the new senior adviser in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. A cofounder of the Diversity in National Security Network and a former senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Castleberry-Hernandez was also a Schmidt Futures International Strategy Fellow for 2020 and was named among New America’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

CJ Dixon MIA ’19, who is currently the senior adviser for security sciences at New York City Cyber Command, was named to New America's list of 2020 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Brian Greer MIA ’12 recently joined the government affairs firm Klein/Johnson Group. As a principal at this firm, he advises business on how to work with the U.S. government. In a 2020 op-ed piece for the Washington Post, Greer wrote about a lack of diversity in Congress's oversight of the U.S. military.

In November 2020, Lisa Hines-Johnson MPA ’04 joined NYC Children’s Services as the associate commissioner for administration. Before that she spent more than eight years as the COO of the Food Bank for New York City, garnering honors from Latina magazine and News 12 Bronx. A frequent guest lecturer in the EMPA program, Hines-Johnson most recently took part in an October 2020 panel on food security

Anuli Isichei MPA ’16 was recognized by UNFPA, WHO, and WGH as one of 100 global women nurse leaders for her commitment to the profession and equipping nurses across Nigeria and Africa to sit at the decision-making table. Isichei is a registered nurse currently working in Nigeria, where she is a program manager for the Healthcare Leadership Academy.

Lisa Dolberry Hancock MIA ‘93 is the founding director of the Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University. She was previously a vice president at Goldman Sachs, where she oversaw grants administration and management for the Goldman Sachs Foundation and was head of employee community engagement, leading the creation of pro bono advisory programs designed to strengthen nonprofit organizations and small businesses in the United States and around the world.

Karine Jean-Pierre MPA ’03 is the principal deputy press secretary for President Biden and one of the leaders comprising the first ever all-female senior White House communications team. During the 2020 campaign Jean-Pierre served as senior advisor to now President Biden and chief of staff to now Vice President Kamala Harris; she is the the first Black person and first lesbian to have held that position for a vice presidential nominee. 

In June 2017, Herman N. (“Rusty”) Johnson, Jr., MIA ’99 was seated as a magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Before his appointment Johnson spent seven years as a law professor at Samford University, earning repeated recognition for his teaching, scholarship, and service.

Jean-Paul Laurent MPA ’17 is the founder and "chief smiling officer" of the Unspoken Smiles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits developing countries like his native Haiti. Unspoken Smiles provides children in underserved communities with access to dental care, while also empowering women with professional and technical jobs in dentistry. In 2016 Laurent received a President's Volunteer Service Award. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Pennsylvania.

On February 13, C. Andrew McGadney MPA ’06 was appointed as the 20th president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois; he will formally take office this July 1. McGadney is currently vice president and dean of student advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and previously served Colby as its vice president and secretary of the college. 

Tyrik McKeiver MIA ’13 was named to New America's 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List and, earlier, as one of the organization’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders. He was recently appointed co-director of the Tru-Diversity Initiative at the Truman National Security Project. McKeiver is a vice president at Ogilvy and a former vice president of the global financial crimes division at MUFG (Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group).

Jo Christine Miles MIA ’17 was recently chosen to lead Principal Financial Group’s corporate and nonprofit philanthropic initiatives as director of Principal Community Relations and the Principal Financial Group Foundation. In her role Miles oversees philanthropic giving and employee community engagement across all of Principal’s domestic and international markets.

Mike Paul MPA '92 is a longtime public relations consultant who currently heads his own firm, Reputation Doctor, and previously worked as a senior executive at other leading firms. Recognized for his work by publications including PR Week, Paul is a frequent commentator on television news. Over his career he has worked at three levels of government—for NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. Senator Alphonse d'Amato, and multiple state legislators.

Dr. Basil Smikle Jr. MPA '96 is a political strategist, policy adviser, and longtime lecturer at SIPA, where he is currently co-teaching a new course, Rethinking Policing in the 21st Century, with New York State Attorney General Letitia James. In 2019 Smikle completed his PhD in politics and education at Teachers College. He is also an adjunct professor at CCNY, and in 2018 and 2019 was the distinguished lecturer on politics and public policy at its School of Labor and Urban Studies. 

New America recognized Lauren Sprott MIA ’14, a senior program officer for Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America programs at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among its 2020 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

In 2020 Kawai Strong Washburn MIA ’08 published his acclaimed debut novel, Sharks in the Time of Saviors (Macmillan). President Barack Obama went on to name the book among his favorites of 2020

Rahel Tekola MPA ’18 was named, along with classmate Niara Valério MPA ’18, among Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020. Tekola and Valério are cofounders of the edtech startup Learnabi. 

Daniel E. White MPA ’20 recently joined the U.S. Defense Department as special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities. He was also selected as a Truman National Security Project’s Class of 2020 security fellow and named among New America’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Please send your professional and other updates to Susan Storms, SIPA’s director of alumni affairs.