Taking the Next Step to Leadership: Advancing Your Career in International Security

Event Details

Taking the Next Step to Leadership: Advancing Your Career in International Security


Wednesday, August 8th, 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Light refreshments will be provided

We Work Dupont Circle
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor
(Enter on T St. between Connecticut and Florida Avenues)
Washington, DC 20009 

Space is limited. Advance registration is required.

Please join us for a candid and interactive conversation with established international security professionals. Mentors will share their experiences, the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them, and advice they have for you to reach the next level of your career. The program will open with a brief panel discussion, then we will break off into smaller groups by experience and interests for informal, off-the-record mentoring conversations.

Registration and Networking Reception: 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: 5:30 to 6:20 p.m.
Breakout Sessions: 6:20 to 7:30 p.m.


Alyssa Ayres
Council on Foreign Relations
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins
Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security
Anne Knight
Department of Defense
Karen Monaghan
Central Intelligence Agency, Retired
Nitza Sola-Rotger
Department of State
Tamara Cofman Wittes
Brookings Institution
Laura Kupe
RAND Corporation (Moderator)
WFPG and WIIS Members – Free of Charge | Non-Members – $20
Find the discount code on your WIIS membership portal announcements bar or email [email protected]

Mentor Bios

Alyssa Ayres is senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she also served as the project director for an initiative on the geopolitics of China, India, and Pakistan. She directs the US Relations with South Asia Roundtable series, blogs regularly for Asia Unbound, and is a contributor to Forbes.com. Previously, Ayres served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia (2010-2013). Prior to serving in the Obama Administration, Ayres was founding director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates and served in the State Department as special assistant to the Undersecretary for Political Affairs as a CFR international affairs fellow. Her most recent book, Our Time Has Come: How India is Making Its Place in the World, was published in January. She speaks fluent Hindi and Urdu. @AyresAlyssa 
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is the founder and president of the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) nonprofit organization. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and president of Global Connections Empowering Global Change LLC. She was an ambassador at the U.S. Department of State from 2009-17, where she served as coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. She began her career as a civilian in the federal government at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the Office of the General Counsel. Jenkins holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Virginia; a Master of Law in international and comparative law from the Georgetown University Law Center; an MPA from the State University of New York at Albany; a J.D. from Albany Law School; and a bachelor’s from Amherst [email protected]
Anne Knight is the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she has served as the Colombia Country Director, the program manager for DoD’s “Section 1206” Global Train and Equip program, and as a foreign affairs specialist for DoD humanitarian assistance and disaster response activities. Knight also worked in strategic communication at US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. She began her career as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department. From 1999 to 2002, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. Knight is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, among other awards. She holds an MA from Johns Hopkins SAIS.
Karen Monaghan retired as a Senior Federal Executive in the Intelligence Community in 2017 after 32 years of service largely at the Central Intelligence Agency. She is known for being a strategic thinker and writer with broad multidisciplinary and geographic knowledge and experience analyzing economic and political developments in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Her most recent positions at CIA included director level positions in Europe and Eurasia Mission Center, the Global Energy Security Group, and the Political Islam Program. She also served at the National Intelligence Council as National Intelligence Officer for Economics and Global Issues and as a Visiting Intelligence Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds an MPhil from St. Antony’s College at Oxford University and a BA in Political Science/Economics from Vassar College.

Nitza Sola-Rotger is a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. She is currently assigned to the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, where she manages the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative—the government’s flagship program for emerging leaders in Southeast Asia. She previously served in diplomatic assignments at the US embassies in Mauritania, Sudan, Egypt, Senegal, and Cameroon. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Sola-Rotger worked in public affairs for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, US Army, and Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. She lived in France for close to a decade, where she worked in internal communications for UNESCO, L’Oreal, Christian Dior, and French defense company Thales. She has a BA in International Relations and French from Wellesley College and an MA in economic and technical translation from the University of Paris, Sorbonne Nouvelle. @Zazi75Zazi

Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Wittes served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East during the Arab uprisings. Wittes also oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions. Wittes is a co-host of Rational Security, a weekly podcast on foreign policy and national security issues. She writes on U.S. Middle East policy, regional conflict and conflict resolution, the challenges of global democracy, and the future of Arab governance. Her current research is for a forthcoming book, Our SOBs, on the tangled history of America’s ties to autocratic allies. @tcwittes
Laura Kupe (moderator) is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. She most recently served as a special assistant at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Office of International Engagement within the Office of Policy. Kupe served as a subject-matter expert on the Department’s engagement with European Union member states and the Five Eyes. Before that, she was detailed to the Office of Presidential Personnel in the White House and served as domestic director. Before her detail, Kupe served as the briefing book coordinator to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. Prior to that, Kupe served as a legislative fellow for Congresswoman Karen Bass, Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Kupe speaks German, French, and Luxembourgish. @Laura_Kupe