Ariela Blätter

President & CEO
Ariela Blätter

President & CEO

Ariela Blätter has more than 20 years of experience in the peace and security field as an international lawyer, grantmaker, social entrepreneur and nonprofit leader.

Most recently, Ariela served as a senior grantmaker on mass atrocity prevention and response for the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Here, she spearheaded new philanthropic investments in civilian protection, women peace & security, and launched a local action fund with conflict-affected community partners in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar.

Ariela co-founded the consulting firm Strategy for Humanity, stewarding its growth to an 8-person staff serving over 30 public and private sector clients. Ariela’s work included creating the inaugural research agenda for the Georgetown’s Institute for Women Peace & Security and strategically re-launching the George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute.

Ariela has held senior management roles at Amnesty International USA, Citizens for Global Solutions and Refugees International. She has twice served as an NGO Permanent Representative to the United Nations, working on the negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty and the International Criminal Court’s Rome Treaty.

While at Amnesty, Ariela founded its award-winning global center for preventing and responding to human rights violations in armed conflict. Brokering a groundbreaking public-private partnership, she secured Amnesty’s place as the first human rights organization to use commercial satellite technologies for preventative conflict and displacement monitoring. In recognition of this work, she was appointed by former Secretaries Madeleine Albright and William S. Cohen to serve on the U.S. Genocide Prevention Task Force, resulting in the establishment of the U.S. Government’s Atrocities Prevention Board.

Ariela has served as adjunct faculty at the School of International Service at American University in Washington DC and has published peer-reviewed scholarly articles.

She holds a law degree from Trinity College (Dublin) and a Master of Laws from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Karin Johnston

Research Director
Karin Johnston

Research Director

Dr. Karin L. Johnston is a Senior Fellow at WIIS and an Adjunct Professor at the School of International Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.  Her research interests include foreign and security policy analysis, U.S.-European relations, migration policy, conflict analysis, and security sector stabilization.  From 2017-2019, Dr. Johnston served as a Franklin Fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), focusing on conflict in fragile states, security sector development, and stabilization strategies.  She has worked in policy research institutes in Washington, D.C and has written on German policy decision-making on out-of-area operations, German public opinion during the Bosnian crisis and the Iraq war, and security sector reforms and Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) planning. Her current research includes projects on the securitization of Europe’s migration policy, democratic governance and use of military force, and cooperation between military and civilian components in multilateral peace and stability operations.  Fluent in German, Dr. Johnston was a Mercator Fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2014 and a former fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program.

Ellen Haring

Senior Fellow
Ellen Haring

Senior Fellow

Dr. Ellen Haring is a senior fellow at Women in International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative. Haring’s research and work focus on women and gender in the military. She is a West Point graduate and a retired U.S. Army colonel. She holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and she has taught at the US Army Command and General Staff College, the US Army War College, and Georgetown University. Haring has published numerous articles and papers on a wide array of military and security related topics. She has been a guest speaker on foreign and domestic news shows. She guest lectures and has testified before Congress.

Haring’s publications include:

“Make Women Register for the Draft” US News and World Report (June 22, 2016)
“Integration of Women Depends on Male Leaders” Army Times (May 2, 2016)
“Our Military Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on Servicewomen Who Need an Abortion” Huffington Post (April 30, 2016)
“Give Women All of the Rights of Citizenship, Including Selective Service” Task and Purpose (February 26, 2016)
“That Valor Isn’t Yours to Defend” Task and Purpose (March 18, 2015)
“Is the Marine Corps Setting Women Up to Fail in Combat Roles?” Cicero Magazine (February 18, 2015)
“Civilian leaders need to lead on women in combat,” The Hill Congress Blog, (February 5, 2015)
“A Snapshot: Two Years in to Combat Integration,” Women in International Security, (January 30, 2015)
“Dear Berkeley women: It’s time to lead the next revolution,” The Daily Californian, (August 26, 2014)
“The Sea of Sameness in PME” Joint Forces Quarterly (July 2014)
“Deck Stacked Against Women in Experimental Task Force” Marine Corps Times (July 6, 2014)
“Can Women Be Infantry Marines” War on the Rocks (May 29, 2014)
“Do Military Women Want Combat Jobs” Foreign Policy (April 24, 2014)
“Combat Integration: Good but not good enough” The Army Times (January 2014)
“Rangers are NOT Leading the Way” Foreign Policy (January 2014)
“A Col’s View of Commander’s Authority” Foreign Policy (September 2013)
“Women and the Audie Murphy Model,” Armed Forces Journal (August 2013)
“What Women Bring to the Fight,” Parameters, US Army War College (Summer 2013)
“To Stop Sexual Assault in the Military Add More Women,” Christian Science Monitor (June 24, 2013)
“The Army’s Disservice to Women,” The Washington Post (June 21, 2013)
“Insights from the Women in Combat Symposium,” Joint Forces Quarterly (June 2013)

Loredana Teodorescu

Senior Fellow
Loredana Teodorescu

Senior Fellow

Expert in EU policies and migration, actively involved in gender-related issues, Loredana Teodorescu is the Head of European and International Affairs at Istituto Luigi Sturzo, a foundation based in Rome, and Research Associate of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels. Since February 2020 she is the Secretary General of WIIS Italy.
After graduating in International Relations, she obtained a PhD in Political Science-European and International Studies at the University of Roma Tre, focusing her research on the link between internal security and external action of the EU in the migration field.
Her areas of interest include migration and asylum policy, link between internal security and external relations, EU's foreign and neighbourhood policy, security and borders, women's rights and gender issues. On these topics she develops and coordinates research projects, holds university lectures and participates in working groups and debates, writes articles and analysis.
She collaborates with the chair of EU law and institutions and the Altiero Spinelli Center of excellence (CeAS) of Roma Tre University, and with numerous international think tanks and organizations. In 2014 she worked for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the Italian EU Presidency.

Dr. Irene Fellin

Senior Fellow
Dr. Irene Fellin

Senior Fellow

International Expert in Gender, Peace and Security Policies Irene Fellin has worked for several international organizations for women's rights and gender issues. Dr. Fellin lived in Ankara, where she collaborated with the local offices of UNICEF and UNPD. Her job in Turkey was to train and assist local staff on gender issues by analyzing issues such as domestic violence, honor killings and early marriages. She worked from 2013 to 2014 as Policy Advisor to the "NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security", with the task of training the organization's staff on WPS-related issues, and assisting NATO in the implementation of the Plan National for United Nations Resolution 1325. Since 2014, Dr. Fellin has been working as a Trainer at CoESPU - Center of Excellence for Police Stability, on gender issues, peace and security and sexual violence in armed conflicts and since 2015 she has been a research consultant on gender issues for the Institute of International Affairs (IAI).

 Brenda Oppermann

Senior Fellow and Legal Advisor
 Brenda Oppermann

Senior Fellow and Legal Advisor

 Brenda Oppermann considers herself a “pracademic,” having extensive experience as a practitioner and academic working on conflict, peace, security, and gender equity. A senior advisor and subject matter expert, Brenda has 30+ years of experience -- including more than seven (7) years in conflict-affected countries -- working with DOD, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, USAID, the United Nations, U.S. Institute of Peace, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO, and assorted NGOs. Specializing in women, peace, and security, stability operations, organizational change, human rights, and traditional justice, she has extensive experience working in Africa, Central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Brenda currently serves as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval War College and as Chief GameChanger at GameChangers 360, a social enterprise dedicated to creating positive change through gender equity. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School, the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Yale University, the UN, Naval Postgraduate School, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and National Defense University among others. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine, an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University, and a J.D. from Western New England University School of Law. 

Joan Johnson-Freese

Senior Fellow
Joan Johnson-Freese

Senior Fellow

Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese served as a University Professor and Chair of the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval War College (NWC) between 2002-2022. She has also been part of the Government Department faculty of Harvard Extension School and Harvard Summer School since 2004, where she teaches courses on Women, Peace & Security, Leadership in War and Peace, and Grand Strategy and US National Security.

As a political scientist, she has published multiple articles on aspects of Women, Peace & Security, particularly focusing on raising awareness regarding the framework generally and within security communities specifically, believing that you can’t implement what you don’t know about. She is the author of Women, Peace & Security: An Introduction (2018) and Women v Women: The Case for Cooperation (2022). Over the arc of her academic career, her research also focused on space security, authoring seven books in that field and over 100 published articles, many with a particular focus on the Chinese space program. She has testified before Congress on multiple occasions about space issues and served on the National Academy of Sciences Space Studies Board.

Her publications include:

“Reviewing Brazil’s Commitment to Women, Peace & Security,” exame, with Yasmine Sterea, (in Portuguese).December 8, 2021.https://exame.com/blog/nosso-olhar/revisando-ocompromisso-do-brasil-com-mulheres-paz-e-seguranca/https://warontherocks.com/2021/07/women-peace-and-security-movingimplementation-forward/ https://exame.com/blog/nosso-olhar/revisando-o-compromisso-dobrasil-com-mulheres-paz-e-seguranca/

“Women, Peace and Security: Moving Implementation Forward,” War on the Rocks, July 23,

  1. https://warontherocks.com/2021/07/women-peace-and-security-movingimplementation-forward/

“How Women, Peace & Security Gives the US and Australia an Edge in the Indo-Pacific,” with Jacqui True, PacNet #23, 2021. https://pacforum.org/publication/pacnet-23-how-womenpeace-and-security-gives-the-us-and-australia-an-edge-in-the-indo-pacific

“Getting Serious about Women, Peace & Security,” with Lt. Col. Nalani Tyrell, Strategy Bridge, 2021, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2021/4/13/getting-serious-about-womenpeace-security

“Women, Peace and Security at Twenty,” with Andrea Goldstein, The Strategy Bridge, April 28, 2020. https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2020/4/28/women-peace-and-security-attwenty

“Women, Peace & Security in the Military: The Need for Leadership,” Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, March 23, 2020. https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/news/9891-women-peace-and-security-in-the-military-theneed/news/cerl-news

Gender Equality as a Security Issue, Yale Global, September 19, 2019. https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/gender-equality-security-issue

“The Rise & Fall of Theresa May,” with Chuck Houston, YaleGlobal, June 2019. https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/rise-and-fall-theresa-may

“How the Pentagon Can Build on NATO’s Success with Women, Peace & Security, with Andrea Goldstein, Strategy Bridge, May 13, 2019 https://thestrategybridge.org/thebridge/2019/5/13/how-the-pentagon-can-build-on-natos-success-with-women-peace-ampsecurity

“Expanding Space Security Options Through Gender Perspectives,” with Sahana Dharmapuri, Space News, December 5, 2018. https://spacenews.com/op-ed-expanding-space-securityoptions-through-gender-perspectives/

“Integrating Women into Non-Traditional Fields: Athena and Beyond,” Proceedings, USNI, June 2017.

“Sexism and Sexual Assault: Connecting the Dots,” USNI Blog, June 6, 2015, http://blog.usni.org/author/jjohnsonfreese

“Patriarchal Sexism is Alive and Well in the Military,” with Ellen Haring, Best Defense, December 18, 2014. http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/18/is-patriarchal-sexism-alive-and-wellin-the-military-where-do-you-think-bears-poop/

“The Counterproductive ‘Sea of Sameness’ in Military Education,” with Ellen Haring and Mary Beth Ulrich, Joint Forces Quarterly, July 1, 2014.

http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/NewsArticleView/tabid/7849/Article/577529/jfq-74the-counterproductive-sea-of-sameness-in-pme.aspx

“Dancing for Democracy,” with Marilyn Moss Rockefeller, Orbis, February 2013. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0030438713000057

Some Thoughts on the Need for More Diversity in Military Education, Best Defense, December 3, 2013. http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/12/03/some-thoughts-on-the-need-for-greaterdiversity-in-professional-military-education/

Jana Wattenberg

Senior Fellow
Jana Wattenberg

Senior Fellow

Dr. Jana Wattenberg is a Lecturer in International Politics and Security at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. She is also the Deputy Director of the David Davies Memorial Institute for International Studies and a fellow with Women in International Security. Dr. Wattenberg was awarded a PhD from Aberystwyth University. Her PhD thesis Ideas that Stand in the Way of Nuclear Disarmament shows how entrenched ideas about nuclear weapons and disarmament have made global nuclear abolition more difficult. Dr. Wattenberg received a BA in Sociological European Studies from University of Bremen and a MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Studies from Goethe University Frankfurt. She is an active member of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium network and the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) network. Her current research projects focus on the roles of women in the nuclear weapons field, gendered dimensions of nuclear discourses, nuclear stigmatization processes and the role of ideas in global nuclear politics.

Ana Laura Velasco Ugalde

Fellow
Ana Laura Velasco Ugalde

Fellow

Ana Velasco is a feminist security researcher and consultant with experience in government, media, and civil society. Winner of the international essay contest 1325andBeyond in 2020, Velasco has specialized in the Women, Peace and Security agenda from a Global South perspective and has published on the subject in international and Mexican media. She is co-author of the report "Increasing Security: Women's Participation in Security Forces in Latin America and the Caribbean" published by Women In International Security (WIIS). Currently, she is a fellow of WIIS and a visiting researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Diorella Islas Limiñana

Fellow
Diorella Islas Limiñana

Fellow

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 instructor of mafia and organised 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 organize 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.

Some of her recent publications include

The chapter “Guatemala: Organised Crime, fraud and politics” in the Handbook on Organised Crime and Politics. (2019) and the article “Coca leaf boom in Colombia: How it concerns us all” Per Concordiam v.9n.4.  (2019)

Roksana Verahrami

Public Affairs and Programs Manager
Roksana Verahrami

Public Affairs and Programs Manager

Roksana Verahrami graduated with a B.A. in Economics and International Affairs, with a concentration in international development from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in May 2020. She has previously worked with the Save Darfur movement, studying genocide and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. She also worked on some the issues surrounding the ensuing refugee crisis from Sudan into neighbouring countries and abroad and helped organize an annual symposium designed to bring awareness to the situation in Darfur and its impact on women. Her interests also include studying the gendered dimensions of climate change, especially the intersectionality of race and class on these gendered dimensions, analysing the subversion or exploitation of traditional gender roles during times of violence, rebellion and war, and looking at how religious norms shape gender roles cross-culturally. She has also spent a semester studying at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland studying international politics, economics and religion.

Nicolas Alesso

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellow
Nicolas Alesso

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellow

Nicolas works in the Education sector-leading Escuela de Formación Política (EFOP), which in English is the School of Political Education. Nicolas is a researcher, teacher, and education manager leading a nonpartisan project on political education and citizen engagement that targets politicians, social movements, and social leadership. Clients are people with a genuine interest in generating positive changes in their communities and societies but lack certain tools to maximize their efforts and fully develop their goals. The company’s products supply those theoretical and practical tools, strengthening their projects. Off-the-peg and custom training courses are offered, which are designed to meet both current challenges and future opportunities. Training courses include values aimed at building a better democracy, such as integrity, responsibility, and service.

Ava Kalinauskas

Gender & Global Security Program Intern
Ava Kalinauskas

Gender & Global Security Program Intern

Ava Kalinauskas is a Gender & Global Security Program Assistant at Women in International Security (WIIS) and is currently based in the United Kingdom. A student in the Sciences Po Paris and University of Sydney Dual Degree program, the dual Australian/UK citizen is earning two Bachelor of Arts Degrees in four years through accelerated coursework.

Ava recently graduated Cum Laude from Sciences Po Paris, studying an intensive social sciences curriculum focused on transatlantic relations between North America and Europe. In addition to majoring in Political Humanities and minoring in International Law, at Sciences Po, she was also the Opinion Editor for The Sundial Press, the student newspaper, Publications Executive for the Feminist Society, and a food bank volunteer. Prior to this, her writing also featured in media such as the ABC—Australia’s national broadcaster—who published Ava’s unique generational perspective on Australia’s 2019 Federal Election.

Ava has just commenced the second half of the Dual Degree program at the University of Sydney, as a Dalyell Scholar, participating in a range of tailored enrichment opportunities and majoring in both Political Economy and History. She is interested in exploring how gendered study of genocide and mass atrocities can create new avenues of prevention, as well as how histories of empire and migration intersect with class, race, and gender to shape modern ideas of citizenship and statehood. Passionate about journalism and advocacy, Ava is seeking to pursue people-centered and sustainable policy solutions to global issues.

Amy Cowley

Gender and Global Security Program Intern
Amy Cowley

Gender and Global Security Program Intern

Amy Cowley graduated with a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Politics and a minor in Middle East Studies from Utah State University.  While at school she studied issues like the Israeli-Palestinian divide, the impact of COVID-19 on global economies, and how constitutional theories present in contemporary politics. Before joining WIIS, she was a corporate trainer for a homebuilding company and was a part of Professional Women in Building.  She is currently getting her M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with a concentration in Global Gender Policy.

Emme Pitts

Gender and Global Security Program Intern
Emme Pitts

Gender and Global Security Program Intern

Emme Pitts is a rising sophomore at the George Washington University’s Elliott School pursuing a degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Security Policy. Her primary interests include counterintelligence and Eastern European affairs. In addition to interning at WIIS-Global, Emme is the president of the GW chapter of WIIS, where she seeks to further develop the academic and professional competencies of other young women interested in international security. Emme is also a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon professional foreign service sorority and has spent the past year living and learning in the Elizabeth J. Somers Women’s Leadership Program. She is looking forward to deepening her knowledge of a wide range of topics relating to gender and security through her internship at WIIS.

Rebecca Wilson

Gender and Global Security Program Intern
Rebecca Wilson

Gender and Global Security Program Intern

Rebecca Wilson is from Athens, Georgia. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in May 2021 with a BA in International Affairs and minors in Criminal Justice and Public Policy and Management. She has been a participant in the Master of International Policy “Double Dawg” program since 2019. During her undergraduate career, she interned or studied abroad every summer. She completed the Comparative Politics and Education Maymester Study Abroad Program in Glasgow, Scotland in 2018. In the summer of 2019, she lived in Tel Aviv, Israel working as a Higher Education Caseworker at the African Refugee Development Center. Last summer, Rebecca lived on Sao Miguel Island, Azores, and interned at the American Corner within the US Consulate Ponta Delgada, directly assisting the Principal Officer. These unique experiences allowed her to explore various topics, including education policy, immigration, refugee policy, human rights, and American foreign policy. Rebecca hopes to work in intelligence or policy analysis.

Jenna Dean

Gender and Global Security Program Intern
Jenna Dean

Gender and Global Security Program Intern

Jenna Dean is a rising junior at Boston University pursuing a dual degree in acting & political science. Her primary interests include the intersectionality of gun violence specifically in terms of disparate effects based on gender, digital security, and animal rights. She is heavily involved in the movement against gun violence & has worked closely with Everytown for Gun Safety and Students Demand Action. Additionally, Jenna spends time volunteering at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Jenna is eager to learn more about international security in relation to gender through her internship this summer.