Working in the Field: Opportunities & Challenges for your International Career (WIIS Professional Development Series)

Event Details

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Are you considering a career overseas? Join us to hear from political parties expert Sef Ashiagbor, security specialist Diorella Islas, and democracy and human rights expert Deborah Ullmer and learn more about fellowships, research, field study, and relocating to a different country. During this event, they will discuss options for working overseas, what it means to work in different sectors abroad, how to adapt, what skills might be valuable, and potential challenges you may encounter navigating an international career.


Panelist Bios:

Diorella Islas (Security Specialist at Jaguar Exploración y Producción)

Dr. Diorella Islas is an independent security and intelligence analyst and an adjunct faculty member in the Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) program at the Marshall Center since 2018. She was an instructor of mafia and organized crime culture at the Bader International Study Center of Queens University and member of the Steering Committee of the Standing Group on Organised Crime of the European Consortium for Political Research. She holds a PhD in Politics Languages and International Studies from the University of Bath. For ten years, her area of expertise has been focused on understanding the expansive process of transnational organized crime and to the design and implementation of related national security policies. She did her Masters Degree in International Studies and her undergraduate degree in International Relations at the Tec de Monterrey, Mexico City.


Deborah Ullmer (Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Programs at the National Democratic Institute)

Deborah Ullmer is the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Programs at NDI. She has over 20 years of experience managing a range of democracy assistance and human rights programs and previously served as Freedom House’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean programs and as chief of party for a USAID/Office of Transition Initiative’s program in Nicaragua. Ms. Ullmer has spent over a decade in Latin America with NDI, working on projects ranging from citizen security, public integrity and transparency, human rights, election monitoring and political reform advocacy. Earlier, she helped establish NDI’s Latin American regional political leadership training program and served as development director. She has a BA from Seton Hall University, has completed graduate courses in Latin American Studies at American University, and is currently pursuing an Executive Master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at AU.


Sef Ashgiabor (Senior Advisor For Political Party Programs at NDI)

Sef Ashiagbor is a senior advisor for political party programs at NDI. She provides technical support on the design, implementation and evaluation of the Institute’s political party programs worldwide, and conducts research on issues affecting the development of political parties in nascent democracies. Sef has been with NDI for over two decades, during which time she has traveled extensively throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. She has managed a range of training and research programs, and conducted programmatic assessments in such areas as political party development, extractive industries management, women’s political participation, election monitoring and legislative development. She has also served in field positions in Ghana and Malawi. Previously, Sef worked in international humanitarian assistance, and in the West Africa department of the World Bank. She holds a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in History from Selwyn College, Cambridge. She is fluent in French.

Michelle Abou-Raad (Co-Founder of Urban Refugee, Associate at Strategy& in Dubai)

Michelle Abou-Raad studied International Relations and Middle East & North Africa Studies at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. She has been working in management consulting for the last 2 years at Strategy& (part of the PwC network) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Throughout her time in consulting, she has worked with various public and private sector clients throughout the Gulf in industries ranging from telecommunications to culture. Prior to joining consulting, she worked in international development in Washington, DC, on governance projects in the Middle East. She also serves as a Co-Founder and Board Member of Urban Refuge, a phone application aid locator that aims to help urban refugees and vulnerable individuals locate and access aid and services. She has conducted extensive research on vocational programming for refugee women and has written articles and given talks to raise awareness about forced migration. Michelle is now taking a sabbatical from consulting to spend the upcoming year in Thailand as a Luce Scholar, learning Thai and working with a local social enterprise.