June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, an annual celebration that recognizes LGBTQ+ people and their impact on the world. The timing commemorates the Stonewall uprising of June 1969, a key event in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.
SIPA is pleased to highlight the following LGBTQ+ alumni to help mark Pride Month and honor all the members of our LGBTQ+ community.
Zaina Arafat MIA ’09 is a LGBTQ Palestinian-American writer based in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, You Exist Too Much, was published in June 2020 and won a Lambda Literary Award. The novel was also praised by O: The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, NPR, LitHub, and Good Morning America, among others, and selected as Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020.
Richard Brookshire MPA ’16 is the cofounder and executive director of the Black Veterans Project, which seeks to “deepen public understanding around systemic racial inequities in our nation’s military.” In June 2020 his essay on “Serving in the Army as a Queer Black Man Opened My Eyes to Racism in America” appeared in the New York Times.
Shawn Bush MIA ’17 was named among the Atlantic Council’s 2020-21 LGBTI in Foreign Affairs Fellows. Bush, a political officer at the U.S. State Department, had previously been a contributor at the Council on Foreign Relations—where he supported the launch of “Model Diplomacy,” a simulation of the National Security Council—and before that served as a foreign policy fellow in the office of then House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and an aide to then Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer.
Mark Jamias MIA ’18 was named to New America’s National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+ 2021 Out Leaders List. As the international affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, Jamias crafts strategy and advises the commander, division staff, and field units on global operations, major deployments, and strategic engagement in the Command’s area of responsibility, spanning from the Arctic and the Americas to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Karine Jean-Pierre MPA ’03 is the principal deputy press secretary for President Biden and one of the leaders comprising the first ever all-female senior White House communications team. During the 2020 campaign Jean-Pierre served as senior advisor to now President Biden and chief of staff to now Vice President Kamala Harris; she is the the first Black person and first lesbian to have held that position for a vice presidential nominee.
Ryan Kaminski MIA ’11 was named to New America’s 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List. Kaminski is the global public policy lead at the World Benchmarking Alliance. He is also a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.
David Young Kim MPA ’18 was named among the Atlantic Council’s Twenty-Five LGBTI Next Generation Leaders to Watch in 2019. He is currently a senior strategic planner and deputy team lead for United States Forces Korea (USFK), the joint headquarters for U.S. combat forces in South Korea. Most recently he served as a research analyst at the Henry L. Stimson Center.
Rashima Kwatra MPA ’16 was named among the Atlantic Council’s 2020-21 LGBTI in Foreign Affairs Fellows. As an international advocacy advisor at RFSL (Swedish Federation for LGBTQI Rights), Kwatra manages and executes the organization’s international advocacy portfolio focused on the United Nations. She also leads policy advisory efforts with governments, intergovernmental bodies, and public- and private-sector actors, as well as capacity-building programs for activists from the global south and east.
Claudia López MPA ’03 was elected mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, in October 2019. She is the first woman and the first openly gay person to lead her nation’s capital city.
Andrew Lohsen MIA ’15 was named to New America’s National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+ 2021 Out Leaders List. Lohsen is a foreign affairs specialist with more than 10 years of experience promoting security, governance, and human rights in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. As a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, he currently supports efforts to resolve Europe’s only active armed conflict.
Tyrik McKeiver MIA ’13 was named to New America’s 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List. He was recently appointed co-director of the Tru-Diversity Initiative at the Truman National Security Project. McKeiver is a vice president at Ogilvy and a former vice president of the global financial crimes division at MUFG (Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group).
Leyth Swidan MPA ’18 was named to New America’s National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+ 2021 Out Leaders List. A foreign service officer at the U.S. State Department, Swidan recently completed his first assignment as a vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. He is currently in Danish-language training at the Foreign Service Institute in preparation for his next assignment as a political officer in Denmark.
Vladimir Tlali MPA-DP ’19 was recently promoted to director of the New York State LGBT Health & Human Services Network, a coalition of 70 LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations that provide holistic health care, education, legal and social services to LGBTQ+ communities. The program is administered by the New York City-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center.