Archive for Meet Seeples – Page 2

Program Assistant Introduction: Kier Joy

Kier Joy, 2nd year EPD student

Our next program assistant introduction highlights one who has previously been featured before on the blog – Kier Joy!

Kier Joy is a second-year student at SIPA studying Urban Social Policy and International Conflict Resolution. He was raised a military brat, having lived all over the U.S. and in the UK. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2017 with a dual degree in International Affairs and Political Science. During undergrad, Kier worked as the director of a state-level legislative research fellowship, applying his passion for policy and progressiveness to legislative issues. Also in undergrad, he studied abroad at the University College London and spent a summer in Washington D.C. as a Rangel Scholar. Kier is also a 2017 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship recipient under the United States Department of State. Through this position, he has spent a summer working as a foreign policy fellow on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and spent a summer interning in the political section at the US Embassy in Mexico City. Upon graduating from SIPA, Kier will join the Foreign Service as a Political Foreign Service Officer. He hopes to have a life-long career in the Foreign Service and become a U.S. ambassador to a post-conflict country. In his free time, Kier likes to listen to music, attend concerts and music festivals, and explore new restaurants in the city.

Favorite City: London, England
A Tip for Prospective Students: Manage your time well before you fall behind in your studies.
Five-Year Goals After Graduating SIPA: Visit 30 countries by 30.
Fun Fact: Beyoncé once kicked water in my face at her concert.


[Photo courtesy of Kier Joy]

Program Assistant Introduction: Niara Valerio

Niara Valerio, 2nd year MPA - IFEP & GPP student

Niara Valerio, 2nd year MPA – IFEP & GPP student

Class has officially started for the 2018-2019 academic year! With this semester, we have a brand new group of program assistants who will be assisting the SIPA Office of Admissions. We’ll be featuring our new PA’s over the next couple of weeks. For today’s post, let’s give a warm welcome to Niara Valerio!

Niara is a current graduate student at Columbia University studying International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Gender and Public Policy. Niara grew up in New York City and completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University where she studied Economics and Government. Prior to enrolling at SIPA, Niara worked as an Investment Intern at Women’s World Banking Capital Partners and served as Economic Affairs Adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union. Niara has a strong interest in women’s economic empowerment and hopes to work for either a venture capital or private equity fund after graduation. She recently started her own ed-tech company, Purpose Tutors, which provides test prep and mentorship to underserved students in the South Bronx. Her hope is to gain the experience to one day start her own fund to invest in female and minority led companies.

What were you doing before you came to SIPA?

I was working as an Economic Affairs Advisor at the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations.

What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?

I wanted to come to SIPA because I was attracted to all the different course offerings and how international the school is. I was especially interested in the Gender and Public Policy Specialization. My focus is on Women’s Economic Empowerment and I wanted to attend a school that allowed me to pursue my interests in both finance and gender.

Have you taken classes at other Columbia Schools?

Yes, I’ve taken several courses outside of SIPA, I took a class at the Mailman School of Public Health “Public Health and Abortion Policy” and one at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS), “Gender, Sexuality and Labor in the Caribbean.” I really valued the opportunity to get to know other students and professors within the Columbia community and outside of SIPA.

Did you choose to attend SIPA to change careers, or to gain experience in a career path you already had experience in?

A little bit of both, I already had some exposure to finance and economics prior to attending SIPA but I wanted to get more experience in Gender and Public Policy. I think SIPA is a great place to blend different interest areas because the course offerings are so diverse. You can really tailor your coursework to suit your own interests.

How did you obtain your internship?

My internship last year was with Accion EAST in their SBA Lending division, I actually applied via SIPA Link and heard back pretty quickly, I was offered the position on the spot, but I think I was very lucky in that regard, that doesn’t usually happen.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?

The people I’ve met for sure! I think SIPA attracts a really dynamic, interesting group of people with unique perspectives; you have the opportunity to be exposed to so many different cultures and backgrounds. I definitely appreciate how much I’ve learned from my classmates.

[Photo courtesy of Niara Valerio]

Welcome to SIPA with Giovanni, Jake and Rahel

It’s an exciting time at SIPA right now – Orientation Week just finished (check out photos here!), and classes start today!

And of course, the 2019 application is open. We know it’s a lot to think about as you go through preparing your application package – or even deciding if you want to make the effort. Two years in graduate school is no small choice, and we encourage you to come to an information session, ask any admissions questions you may have, and get a feel for the SIPA community.

While SIPA offers a flexible theory-meets-practice curriculum, top-notch faculty, and access to all of the Columbia University resources, many alum will say that their favorite thing about SIPA is the people. With that, here’s a few of those great Seeples: Jas, Katy and Anjana.

Learn more about the student organizations Jas, Rahel and Anjana are involved with:

Welcome to SIPA from Caitlin and Sid

SIPA Orientation is happening this week, and everyone here is excited to welcome the Class of 2020 to our global family!

If you can see yourself being here in a year or two, be sure to check out a few upcoming recruiting events on-campus and off-campus. You’ll be able to chat with SIPA admissions staff and alumni about the application process, student life, career options, and anything else that comes to mind.

In the meantime, get a glimpse of student life at SIPA with Caitlin and Sid.

Learn more about the student organizations Caitlin and Sid are involved with:

Startup Sesame Features Jennifer Kanyamibwa MIA ’16

We’re resharing this post of featuring Jennifer Kanyamibwa MIA ’16 and dual degree student, with the permission of Startup Sesame.

“Here at #SesameHQ, we believe in the potential for entrepreneurs to change the world, so we make sure our Sesamers are meeting the right people, at the right event & at the right time. We’re proud to have an international pool of mentors & experts helping us support our startups.

Joining this group of #RockstarMentors, we’re excited to introduce you to Jennifer Kanyamibwa, Senior Design Program Manager for the Design and User Research Team at Twitter!

Serendipitously, Jennifer and Suzanne first met in San Francisco during a visit to #SlackHQ, where Jennifer was previously working as Design Studio Manager.

Check out our recent #MentorSpotlight interview with Jennifer 😉

Let’s start with a quick snapshot of your academic & professional background; what path did you take?

I lived, worked and studied in New York City, Brussels, Berlin and San Francisco and hold a Master in International Affairs with a focus on Technology, Media & Communications from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Master in Public Policy with a focus on Public Management from Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Both my academic and professional experiences provided me with a global understanding of how technology works in every facet of human life.

Tell us more about your experiences in government and finance and how they relate to tech?

Well, I started my career working in the New York City Mayor’s Office in the Bloomberg administration for the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services so all of New York Cities agencies and programs that have to do with public assistance, homelessness services, public hospitals as well as the research and evaluation components of understanding if programs were effective in serving the citizen of New York City etc…these were major programs with many challenges and opportunities and since it was the Bloomberg administration, I learned about the importance of using research and evaluation to solve problems and understand metrics — similar to many approaches used to understand users and metrics in technology.

New York

In terms of finance, I worked as a Global Project Manager at Bloomberg LP where I received my formal project management and operations skills. I managed global finance projects including an award-winning, year-long project where I led Engineering, R&D and Global Payroll teams in São Paulo, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London and New York City in the design and implementation of a new global payroll system. After this project I had such a world of experience in (1) Working cross-functionally (2) Breaking down complex issues in order to achieve big results and (3) Understanding the global impact of improved technologies and the cultural competency needed to manage and inspire global team — -these are lessons I have brought to every job and tech since then. Whether it be the consultative work I did with Nike, my current board work as Ambassador Council member for International Crisis Group or even the academic work I did in grad school at Columbia University and the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, Germany — these three lessons are my guiding lights.

Since you are new to Twitter, what are some things you are looking to achieve with your role?

At Twitter, we (my manager and myself) are building up the Strategy and Operations arm of the Design and User Research Department. What this means is that as the Design and User Research Department scales, I am building out the processes and cultural components to ease collaboration and amplify effectiveness, not only across product disciplines, but also between the increasingly complex world of Product Design and User Research. We are the arm that does all the strategic and operational things to retain and find talent and to scale and buildout a world class design org at Twitter. It’s a very exciting role that combines my passions and expertise in design ops, program management, operations and strategy.

Twitter Headquarters (SFO)

What are some of your favorite books, magazines or podcasts that inform and/or relate to your work?

In terms of magazines, I love Communication Arts it’s an amazing publication that covers the best in graphic design, advertising, photography, illustration and interactive media. Its very creative and really inspiring. I also love the book Designing Design which is a great book on design thinking by Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara.

My favorite design podcast is Revison Path which is a weekly showcase of the world’s leading Black creatives, graphic designers, web designers, product designers and web developers. My love for learning more about design was a direct result of working with extremely talented designers at Slack and Tech Open Air. Particularly Angelica MckinleyChris ReathViet Huynh (all based in the Bay Area and NYC) Amit Barnea and John Michael (both based in Berlin)

I am also super inspired by the cultural and artistic writing of Antwaun Sargent (who is a prominent art critic, prolific writer and a friend) his work is creative, passionate and forward thinking — all things I believe are also critical to good design.

Last but certainly not least, what is your experience with Tech events?

I actually got my start in tech with Tech Open Air ( Editorial) in Berlin, Germany. I had a position as Special Advisor to the CEO/Founder Niko LeWoi (aka Mr. TOA) (great boss and mentor!). I started off doing research around tech policy issues for example driverless cars and then I ended up working on presentations about emerging tech ecosystems and finally working with the Program Team, Production Team and the Design Studio at TOA with projects and during the entire festival, I shadowed the CEO it was AMAZING!

I also got to speak at Pirate Summit in Cologne, Germany. I spoke on two panels: Getting More Women into Tech and The Future of European Tech Ecosystems: London, Berlin, Paris. Pirate Summit ( was such a unique and exhilarating experience; and I had A LOT of fun and learned so much from all the international presenters and attendees.”

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

Boiler Image