The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) identifies and cultivates rare potential by immersing promising young professionals in the study of a country, region or globally important issue, positioning them to become leaders in their fields.
Through a unique two-year immersion program crafted over 90 years, the Institute of Current World Affairs has transformed the lives and careers of emerging writers, academics, attorneys and diplomats, as well as experts from the fields of finance, policy and social activism. A prestigious ICWA fellowship provides recipients with the rare gift of time and freedom to explore a region, research a topic and expand their ideas at a formative time in their lives. ICWA fellowship recipients then join a growing community of distinguished professionals who make vital contributions to their fields.
While in the field, fellows receive support and mentoring from ICWA staff, former fellows and ICWA members with expertise in fellowship areas. ICWA fellows share their evolving insights and activities through monthly newsletters. Fellows return to the United States after two years ready to impart the lessons their fellowships have inspired.
He is the author of two internationally acclaimed books on Libya: Libya Since Independence (Cornell University Press, 1998) and A History of Modern Libya (Cambridge University Press, 2006; second edition 2012) and several edited volumes and several dozen academic articles on North Africa. A History of Modern Libya was selected as one of the highlight titles in The New York Times travel section.
Vandewalle has been one of only a handful of scholars who have made frequent visits to Libya over the last four decades, and he was the only western researcher who lived and worked there during a period of almost 15 years when the country was under United States and United Nations sanctions.
In addition to his academic work on the politics of economic development in the Middle East and the developing world, he has written extensively for policy journals and magazines of general interest, including Newsweek, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs.
When the ongoing crisis in Libya began in 2011-12, he also became the most sought-after expert on the situation by virtually all media outlets in the United States and across the world. He has appeared many times since on Al Jazeera, CNN, the Charlie Rose Show, the PBS Newshour, ABC, CBS and BBC as well as Australian and European television and radio outlets. He has repeatedly been interviewed by all major global newspapers, and is considered one of the world’s leading Western experts on Libya, North Africa, and Middle Eastern oil economies.
Vandewalle has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Libya, and before numerous State Department committees, international agencies involved in the reconstruction of Libya, and in front of several parliamentary commissions in Europe.
He served as Political Advisor to Ian Martin, the United National Special Envoy in Libya, in Summer 2011, and then became the Senior Political Advisor to the Carter Center’s electoral mission to Libya. He was appointed Senior Advisor on Democratic Transitions for the Carter Center’s mission in Libya in 2013-14 until the mission closed due to security issues.
In addition to his academic work, Dirk consults extensively for regional and international development banks and institutions and, most recently, for a number of Gulf State ministries on educational projects.
Feifer’s book Russians: The Power behind the People (Twelve, 2014) explores the seeming paradoxes of life in Russia by unraveling the nature of its people and what it is in their history, desires and conception of themselves that makes them baffling to the West. His other books include The Great Gamble (HarperCollins, 2009), a history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Spy Handler (Basic Books, 2005) co-written with former KGB colonel Victor Cherkashin. He has written for numerous other outlets, including The New York Times, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post.
Educated at Harvard University and currently an associate of Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian Studies, he lives in Washington with his wife Elizabeth, son Sebastian and daughter Vanessa. Follow him on Twitter at @gfeifer.
JIM ABDO is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Abdo Development. Mr. Abdo has over twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of design and building in both commercial and residential construction. He was honored by the District of Columbia Building Industry Association for his work to ensure that economic growth and opportunity is spread throughout Washington, DC neighborhoods in the public and private sectors through his various partnerships. Mr. Abdo serves on numerous boards, including those of the DC Building Industry Association, Fight for Children, DC Chamber of Commerce, and Arena Stage.
MARY LYNNE BIRD served as the Executive Director of the American Geographical Society from 1983 to October 2010, when she retired from active duty. She came to the position from having served on research staffs at the Center for Research in Personality at Harvard University, the Center for International Studies at Princeton University, the School of International Affairs at Columbia University, the Twentieth Century Fund, and the Council on Foreign Relations. She was a Program Officer for the Executive Council on Foreign Diplomats and then Development Director for the Institute for World Order, Development Director for the Fund for Peace-which at the time included the Center for Defense Information-and Development Director for Engender Health (an international family planning agency). Along the way she has done fundraising consulting for the Federation of American Scientists and reviewed books for the New York Times. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Syracuse University, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a professional singer (opera and other classical repertoire.).
CYNTHIA CARON (Vice Chair) is Assistant Professor of International Development and Social Change at Clark University. A political and environmental sociologist, she holds a Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University. Her research on land and natural resource management has two complementary foci: the first coalesces around decentralization, state-society relationships, and governance; the second coalesces around gender relations, property rights, and equity. She has held several professional posts in development programming in India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka and undertaken short-term assignments in Ethiopia and Rwanda. A Former ICWA Forest and Society fellow, her research has appeared in Society and Natural Resources, Agroforestry Systems, Land Tenure Journal, Journal of Asian and African Studies, and Energy for Sustainable Development. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka and received a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She has served in a number of advisory boards in Sri Lanka and presently serves on the Board of the Growing Places Garden Project of North Central Massachusetts.
CAMILA GONZALEZ (Treasurer) is an Energy Consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank where she works on energy infrastructure projects in Central America and the Caribbean. She holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Los Andes in Colombia and a Masters in International Development with concentrations in Energy Policy and Economic Development from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where she was a Board of Overseers Scholar. Prior to joining the IDB, she served for two years as the New Infrastructure Investment Leader for Colombia’s integrated national oil and gas company, Ecopetrol, where she worked on the growth of Ecopetrol’s downstream business including refining, biofuels, and pipeline operations. She was the General Manager for a startup oil services company, SAR Energy, and worked for six years for Invercolsa, a natural gas holding company. While there, she served on the board of directors of three of Invercolsa’s related companies. In various leadership roles at Invercolsa, first as a Financial Analyst, then as the Operations and Logistics Director, and finally as the Director for New Investment Projects, she worked towards the consolidation of a successful business model to provide energy services to low income and rural populations. With a decade of experience in the energy sector in Latin America, in roles ranging from finance and strategy to operations and project development, Camila is committed to helping develop sustainable business models, policies, and projects that promote economic and social development.
FABRICE HOUDART is a Human Rights Officer at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York. Fabrice works on the UN Free & Equal campaign, an unprecedented United Nations global public education campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality. In addition, he leads a project on global corporate standards for tackling LGBTI discrimination and data collection tools for Human Rights violations against LGBTI people. Previously, Fabrice was Senior Country Officer for the Maghreb at the World Bank where he worked from 2001 to 2016 and was President [2011 – 2015] of its LGBT Employee Resource Group, GLOBE. At the World Bank, Fabrice managed a “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Development” grant that initiated the sexual minorities in development agenda. The grant, launched in 2012, provided a first estimate of the economic cost of homophobia using India as a case study, carried out a socio-economic survey of LGBTI populations in India and funded a short film on the interconnection between discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and poverty. During his career at the World Bank, Fabrice worked in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, first as a human development specialist and later as a strategy officer. He has authored analyses on Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Tunisia and provided contributions to the 2012 Gender World Development Report (WDR) and the 2011 Conflict, Security, and Development WDR. He holds a B.A. in economics and management from Dauphine University in Paris and an MBA from American University in Washington, D.C. Fabrice is on the Board of Alturi, a non-profit organization devoted to elevating the LGBTI community globally. He lives in New York City with his twin sons Maxime and Eitan. Twitter: HoudartUN, Instagram: fhoudart
LEENA KHAN is a U.S. trained lawyer and international development practitioner. A former ICWA fellow in Pakistan, Leena examined the role of national identity, laws, policies, institutions and traditional practices – factors which have helped shape and influence women’s lives since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Her fellowship provided an in-depth perspective of a country where women’s rights intersect with and are influenced by customary practices, religious norms, sectarian violence and spiraling internal conflicts.
Leena has worked with international organizations and NGOs in the U.S., Cambodia and Mozambique on labor issues, land tenure security, rural development, labor migration and the extractive industries. With the International Labour Organization in Phnom Penh, she contributed to policy discussions and applied international labor standards and national labor laws to improve working conditions in Cambodia’s garment sector. Prior to this, she was with the ILO’s Office for the United Nations in New York during the General Assembly. In that role, Leena engaged in both group and bilateral negotiations with Member States on language for UN resolutions and outcome documents.
During her master’s, Leena served as a legal consultant on a team of graduate students examining Mozambique’s extractive industries with respect to legal, social, environment, governance and economic considerations. Drawing upon the stakeholder interviews she conducted in Maputo with government officials, the African Development Bank, extractive companies and international organizations, Leena developed policy recommendations to improve transparency and the sustainable development of the sector.
Leena previously worked as an attorney in the areas of immigration/refugee and asylum law, and in the litigation department of a large international law firm in New York City on federal securities regulation and antitrust matters. She holds a Masters Public Administration in Development Practice from Columbia University and a J.D. from the University of San Diego.
ROBERT A. LEVINSON is Chief Executive Officer, President and Executive Chairman of Levcor International Inc. He served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Carlyle Industries Inc., (formerly Belding Hemingway Inc.) from May 1998 to January 2003. From November 1979 to July 1986, he served as President of Dillon Yarn Corporation. From 1977 to December 1987, Mr. Levinson served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sheldon Petroleum. Mr. Levinson was a Member of the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Museum from 1968 to 1994, where he served as Chairman from 1972 to 1984. From 1979 to May 1, 1995, Mr. Levinson served as Chairman of the Board of Andrex Industries Corp. Mr. Levinson served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of The National Committee of U.S.- China Relations Inc. Mr. Levinson served as Chairman and Member of the Advisory Board of The National Dance Institute. He serves as Chairman Emeritus and Member of the Board of The Harlem School of the Arts. Mr. Levinson was on the Board of Overseers of the Hood Museum and Hopkins Performing Arts Center at Dartmouth for 12 years, and a Member of the New York-Beijing Sister City Advisory Committee. He is on the Advisory Committee of the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange at Columbia University. Mr. Levinson graduated from Dartmouth with an A.B. degree in February of 1946 and received an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth in September of the same year. He attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he did additional graduate work.
JOEL MILLMAN is a press officer at the International Organization for Migration based in Geneva, Switzerland. Formerly, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal based in Portland, Oregon, covering global issues, immigration and the Pacific Northwest. In the spring of 2000, he opened the bureau’s satellite office on the U.S. – Mexico border in San Diego County, Calif., and also has worked through the Mexico City bureau. Mr. Millman began his journalism career in 1972 as a high school news stringer for the South Middlesex (Mass.) News. In 1981, he was a news producer with WNEW-TV News in New York. From 1987 to 1989, he was an Institute of Current World Affairs Fellow studying the impact of arms aid on recipient nations in Central America. He joined Forbes magazine as an associate editor in 1989. In 1990, Mr. Millman won a first-place award from the Overseas Press Club for magazine journalism and received the Inter American Press Association’s (IAPA’s) interpretive commentary award. In 1997, he was a member of a Journal team awarded the IAPA award for in-depth reporting for their coverage of political corruption and the drug-running crisis in Latin America. In 2004, Mr. Millman received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America. Mr. Millman is the author of the 1997 book, “The Other Americans, How Immigrants Renew Our Country, Our Economy and Our Values,” published by Viking. Mr. Millman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in international relations.
CATHERINE RIELLY has for 25 years worked for global poverty alleviation and gender justice through field research, teaching, policy and practice. Professor at SNHU’s School of Community Economic Development (CED) for nine years, she taught graduate-level classes in international development; policy analysis; economic and social policy; and gender analysis. A Political Economist, she has conducted research, training, and technical assistance on women’s empowerment, public policy, economics, democratization and governance, for the following organizations: the Harvard Institute for International Development, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNDP, the Asian Development Bank, USAID, the Governments of Mali, Zambia, and Uganda, and Harvard University. Throughout her career, she has kindled women’s groups and networks aimed at economic empowerment and social change from women refugees in Manchester, to female embroiderers in Afghanistan, to a network of African First Ladies battling the spread of HIV/AIDS to children. She is Executive Director of Rubia, a non-profit organization serving women and girls in Afghanistan through education, training, and sale of their embroidered textiles. She received her Ph.D. and Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and her B.A. in History from Stanford University. Dr. Rielly has conducted comparative research and written journal articles on policy processes in over twenty countries.
EDMUND SUTTON is retired from JP Morgan & Co. From 1985 to 1999 he was president of JP Morgan Overseas Capital Corp. He is also a trustee of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the New York Council for the Humanities.
NERI ZILBER (Secretary) is a journalist and researcher on Middle East politics and culture. He is also an adjunct fellow of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he was most recently a visiting scholar (2014-2015).
His work has appeared in the New Republic, The Atlantic, Guardian, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and Politico, among other outlets. He is also a contributor to The Occupy Handbook (Little, Brown, 2012), a chronicle of the global “Occupy” movement, where he authored the chapter on Israel’s social protest demonstrations.
In addition to reportage and commentary, Neri consults for the private sector on political and economic risk in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and the broader Eastern Mediterranean. Previously, he was a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs based in Israel (2011-2013). He has also worked as a researcher and analyst at the U.S. Library of Congress and the World Jewish Congress.
He is quoted regularly in the international press, and has appeared in interviews with CNN, BBC, NPR, CBS, France 24, Al Jazeera English, NHK (Japan), CBC (Canada), and CNBC Asia.
Neri was raised and educated in Israel, Singapore, Spain, and the United States. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and a master’s degree from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.
PETER BIRD MARTIN is Executive Director of the John Hazard Institute, a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides international comparative law fellowships to study the law, law language, and law culture of countries crucial to U.S understanding of international affairs. Peter Martin was an ICWA fellow in sub-Saharan Africa (1953 to 1955). He then spent 23 years as a writer, senior editor and magazine inventor at Time Incorporated. He was the Executive Director of the Institute of Current World Affairs from 1978-2006.