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Fordham IPED Alumni Networking Night 2018

By: Sarah Garwood ’19

Alumni presenters and IPED professors (L-R) Michael Fajardo ’14, Sahra English ’08, Dr. Jonathan Crystal, Elizabeth Wisman-Strojan ’13, Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg

On Thursday, March 8th IPED students and alumni gathered for the annual IPED Alumni Networking Night at Fordham Lincoln Center. After everyone enjoyed some hors d’oeuvre and conversation, three alumni, Michael Fajardo ’14, Elizabeth Wisman-Strojan ’13, and Sahra English ’08, presented on their career paths. Michael Fajardo ’14 is an Investment Analyst at Goldstein Capital Corporation, an investment adviser that manages a mortgage-backed securities focused hedge fund. Michael spoke about his experiences as an international student and then as a professional in the private sector. Elizabeth Wisman-Strojan ’13 is the Director of Government Affairs at the New York Housing Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservationa and Development. Her work with the University Neighborhood Housing Program in the Bronx as a Fordham IPED Coverdell Fellow influenced her career path in affordable housing. Sahra English ’08 is Vice President of Global Public Policy at MasterCard. She is responsible for leading the company’s global trade agenda and leading international advocacy strategies for trade negotiations.

Fordham IPED students receiving Awards and Placements standing with IPED alumni

Following the alumni presentations, Language Immersion Study Awards, Arrupe Overseas Field Placements, and Public Service Field Placements were awarded to current IPED students. Many thanks to Ms. Donna Odra and everyone who attended the annual Alumni Networking night for making this night a success!

Fordham IPED Class of 2019 Graduate Assistants

   

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United Nations Career Trip

By: Sarah Garwood ’19

Friday, October 20th, the first year IPED students embarked upon a full day of meetings and events on the United Nations complex in Manhattan, New York. The day started with a visit to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator Initiative office. Jamison Ervin, the manager of the UNDP Global Programme on Nature for Development, spoke with the group about the Equator Prize, the New York Declaration on Forests, and why climate justice is integral to development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several Fordham IPED students work at the UNDP Equator Initiative office part time through the Arrupe Fellowship. Students asked questions about development finance, internships, and nature-based solutions for development.

UNDP and Fordham IPED celebrate a robust partnership.

UNDP Jamison Ervin presenting to Fordham IPED students.

After that, the IPED Fordham group headed to the UNICEF office where we were greeted by Liliana Carvajal, Statistics and Monitoring Specialist at UNICEF and 2004 Fordham IPED Alumna. Liliana showed us data on infant and maternal mortality and explained how to use this data to track trends and progress on the SDGs. We also heard from an HR representative to hear more about the application process for potential internships and jobs at UNICEF in New York.

IPED Alumna Liliana Carvajal ’04 at UNICEF.

Fordham IPED students at UNICEF presentation.

Fordham IPED visits UNICEF.

For lunch, we went to the prestigious UN Delegates Dining Room. We shared a meal with our Director, Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg, as well as current and former Alumni who work at the United Nations.

In the afternoon, we were hosted at the United States Mission to the United Nations by Political Advisor to Ambassador Nikki Haley, Leslie Ordeman. He explained the process of creating and relaying policy briefings to the ambassador and international parties. He also shared about his background and what it looks like to choose the Foreign Service Officer path.

Leslie Ordeman, Political Advisor, speaks with students at the US Mission.

The day concluded with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters. Guides showed us the UN Security Council Chamber, the UN General Assembly Hall, exhibits on the damage of nuclear war, and human rights documents, among other pieces. It was inspiring to be in a place where so much happens. Many of us were inspired throughout the day, seeing our dreams up close and within reach.

UN Security Council Chamber.

Students outside the UN Headquarters.

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Summer Series: Tess Hart ’18 and the Chuuk Women’s Council in Micronesia

By: Tess Hart

Tess Hart, an IPED Arrupe Fellow, was awarded the Santander International Internships Fellowship to spend part of the summer in Chuuk, Micronesia working at the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC). The CWC is an umbrella organization of 64 women’s groups across the state with over 1,000 total members. The mission of the organization is “to assist women in becoming more productive and self-sufficient members of our society through comprehensive programs which enhance the social, economic and physical well-being of women and their families in Chuuk.”

Members of the Chuuk Women’s Counsel at a general meeting joined by two representatives from USAID

The Chuuk Women’s Council is currently implementing their Tongen Inepwinéú, Tongen Fénúwach (Love of the family, Love of Our Islands) Climate Change Adaptation through Family, Gardens, Food, and Health Project, which is being funded through the USAID Pacific American Climate Action Fund (PACAM). The program involves training and providing ongoing support for 45 home gardeners, maintaining 3 community nurseries, and developing and implementing a high school gardening curriculum. The program seeks to help participants improve food security through climate resilient gardening methods with a co-benefit of increasing access to nutritious food options.

The USAID PACAM Review team meeting with the CWC.

Returning to the FSM having served as a Jesuit Volunteer in the region prior to attending IPED, Tess helped the CWC team prepare for their mid-term grant review. She worked with the Monitoring and Evaluation team and Project Coordinator to compile data and strengthen implementation methods. The review included visiting and interviewing home gardeners in the villages.

One of the CWC-PACAM sponsored home gardens in Sapuk village.

Tess with one of the many young beneficiaries of the home gardening program (11% are under 5 and an additional 29% are school aged).

In addition to assisting with the PACAM project, Tess assisted the with several grant applications and helped with the preparation of summer curriculums for the CWC’s Summer Enrichment Program for second to fifth graders, which focuses improving reading, writing, and math skills while exploring the importance of the environment and the impacts of climate change. She also reviewed the CWC’s Young Women’s Empowerment Program and helped prepare the implementing team for compliance with AusAid. Moreover, while in Chuuk, Tess had the opportunity to utilize the Micronesian Seminar library, attend the Xavier High School Class of 2017 graduation, attend the inauguration of the governor of Chuuk, and meet with the ambassador of the United States to the FSM.

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset in Chuuk, Micronesia.

Tess is very grateful to the CWC for warmly welcoming her back to Chuuk and allowing her to be a part of their programs. Her advice for students considering applying for Santander funding or seeking a summer internship is to look for opportunities early, make the experience your own, and pursue an area in which you are passionate.

 

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Summer Series: Crisostomo Ala ’18 and CRS Ecuador

By: Crisostomo Ala

The purpose of my internship with CRS Ecuador is twofold: to gain work experience, insight, and involvement in the development sector and to understand the field operations of development NGOs whom I used to collaborate with when I worked for the consulting industry.

Upon my arrival in Ecuador, I was sent to Esmeraldas from Quito to support the shelter, water, and sanitation project of CRS which provided low cost housing and latrines to the most vulnerable communities affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 2016. The city was characterized by economic activity limited to the production and sale of mostly agricultural goods and also, by poor infrastructure investments concretized by unfinished buildings along the province’s coastline. Esmeraldas is locally known as a tourist destination and such investments were intended to be profitable hotels and tourist attractions. However, after last year’s calamity, they were immediately abandoned placing a great strain on the area’s economic development.

I was assigned to the project’s operations where we had to acquire raw material to manufacture into housing parts that can be delivered and assembled on site. I handled inventory, monitoring and evaluation of delivered parts, and payroll of drivers who delivered these parts. My main role was to ensure that the beneficiaries received the correct amount of parts and in good quality for them to be able to construct their houses. By fulfilling my role, I was able to be involved in the implementation of the project on the ground. Furthermore, I was also able to observe how the specific process I handled was integrated to the project as a whole and how each procedure was meant to ensure donors that budgets are being spent in a cost-effective manner. The main purpose of this was to optimize operations so that the least amount of money was being spent while retaining the same level of quality in project delivery. In essence, the goal was to spend optimally so that the savings from one project can be used in other program efforts.

As such, by contributing the operations side of the project, I was able to gather sufficient understanding of how projects are executed on the ground. I can use such experience in the future when applying for career opportunities in development NGOs like CRS and other similar organizations as well.

Moreover, apart from merely being part of the process ensuring seamless transactions at the operational level, I was also enabled to observe and understand how NGOs function at the field level. Previous work experience in the consulting industry taught me that the performance of NGOs is measured by the utility they bring the cost-effectiveness of their operations. I was able to observe this from the HR side for the past 6 years, how one can improve operations while optimizing salaries and benefits, one of the biggest costs of an organization. Similarly, from this internship, I was able to learn the importance of cost optimization not just at the regional level but also at the field level when it came to the execution of procurement transactions of raw materials for a shelter and water sanitation project. It was indeed a learning experience for me as it provided the link I was searching for between field operations and regional operations.

Overall, it was an experience filled with lessons both on international development level and actual project implementation on the ground. This internship trained me to respond to unforeseen circumstances in the field and have contingency plans in place for such instances which will be very helpful for either a career in development or development and HR consulting. Being involved at the field level allows one to understand local circumstances, gain anticipatory insight in project development, and adapt project execution to the local level whenever circumstance dictates to ensure seamless delivery.

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Summer Series: Grace Avila and Hillary Khan at UN Women

This summer, Grace Avila (IPED 2017, Economics 2017) and Hillary Khan (IPED 2017, Economics 2017) interned in the Independent Evaluation Office at UN Women’s New York headquarters. UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, leading international initiatives, policies, and programs to advance women and girls’ rights. The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) carries out corporate and decentralized evaluations and coordinates gender-responsive evaluation in the UN System.

 

As interns, Grace and Hillary supported the IEO’s preparations for a corporate evaluation of UN Women’s Governance and National Planning programs. Hillary conducted research on gender-responsive budgeting, analyzing how fiscal policy contributes to gender equality. Grace compiled country portfolios, examining how different work modalities and partnerships enable gender mainstreaming in governance. As founding members of IPED’s Feminist Economics graduate student group, both have greatly appreciated this internship as an opportunity to advance their skills in gender analysis of economic policy and theory.

Additionally, they are both conducting independent research projects that will develop into guidance on how gender equality and human rights-based approaches to evaluation can be integrated into emerging areas of work for UN Women. Grace’s research focuses on gender and climate change adaptation, applying skills she developed in Environmental and Resource Economics and an independent study with Dr. Conte, as well as Dr. Combs’ Gender and Development course. Hillary’s research focus is on women’s land rights, building off of projects she worked on in Economic History with Dr. Combs, Agriculture and Sustainable Development with Dr. McLeod, and African Economic Development with Dr. Themeli.

 

Grace and Hillary were both connected to the internship opportunity through current IPED students. Hillary continues to work with UN Women today. They would like to thank IPED for generously providing internship support and funding.

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