By: Fiona Captan
Cassandra Zavislak is a Gender and Global Security Program Assistant at WIIS. Recently
graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Cassandra
studied International Security and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, with a focus
on gender. She previously received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2019 where she
studied International Security Studies, Political Science, and Russian Area Studies.
Cassandra grew up in Detroit, Michigan. While she did not get the chance to travel much prior to
university, she took full advantage of the University of Michigan’s study abroad programs and
studied abroad in Brussels, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm for cultural and language immersion
experiences. Additionally, Cassandra’s undergraduate focus was on women, peace, and
security. In pursuing her master’s degree at Tufts University, Cassandra focused on gender and
mobilizing masculinities in security and the prevention of gender-based violence. Fresh out of
graduate school, she hopes to further pursue this gendered perspective of security in research
of the alternative right and male supremacist movements in the NGO space. Cassandra
eventually wants to work in the State Department and possibly pursue a PhD.
Cassandra’s past work has included working with the Hudson Institute. She first worked on US-
China-Russia relations and conducted breaking news reports and policy briefings. She then
worked on transatlantic relations policy and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as
Middle East Security policy. Cassandra was also a research assistant with the Military
Intervention Project and worked with a data set to research US military intervention and its
consequences abroad. Additionally, she has conducted research on the development of
international human rights law and political science theory with the University of Michigan.
At WIIS, Cassandra is working on several projects including research on masculinities in
international security with Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, the summer member engagement
series with Fiona Captan, and the “Profiles of Women in International Security” video
compilation project with Meredith Sarkees and Alissa Indeck.
Outside of her professional life, Cassandra loves to travel. One of her most memorable trips
was with her twin brother backpacking in Lisbon, Portugal. They made friends at their hostel and
went sailing and to jazz clubs. She fell in love with the city because it was different from the rest
of Western Europe. Little did she know that her Grad School roommate-to-be was in Lisbon at
the same time! In Detroit, Cassandra has a dog named Honey, a Pomeranian Golden Retriever
mix, and she loves to watch New Girl, Schitt’s Creek, and Jane the Virgin with her friends.
Our backgrounds have a lot in common: I was also graduated from Fletcher (Ph.D), studied Russian in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), and worked at Hudson.