“For nearly 75 years, SIPA graduates have made an impact in international affairs, public policy, and related fields. In recognition of Black History Month, we wish to express our pride in the achievements of SIPA’s Black Alumni.”
— Dean Merit E. Janow

From journalism and foreign policymaking to educational empowerment and political leadership, these graduates continue to lead the way.


Bunmi Akinnusotu MPA ’14 is deputy director of the Rangel Fellowship at Howard University and the creator and producer of What in the World?, a radio show and podcast that makes issues of U.S. foreign policy understandable and relevant to the American public.

Roger Nathanial Ashtier MPA-DP ’17 is the founder and executive director of OpenWise Learning, a youth development organization that provides marginalized kids with a STEM education emphasizing technology, social justice, and ecological justice. He is also the cofounder of and principal consultant at OpenWise, an IT solutions consultancy that serves nonprofits, NGOs, and government institutions.

In June 2021 Karen Attiah MIA ’12 became an opinion columnist for the Washington Post. In 2019, the National Association of Black Journalists named Attiah, then an editor and writer at the Post, as its journalist of the year. The previous year she won a George Polk Award, with David Ignatius, for their writing about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Attiah’s forthcoming book is Say Your Word, Then Leave: The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Power of the Truth.

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.” He frequently speaks with media organizations on behalf of the Black Veterans Project, as he did in this February 2021 conversation with CBS News.

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, was an aide to Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, a foreign policy fellow in the office of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and a contributor at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he supported the launch of “Model Diplomacy,” a simulation of the National Security Council.

Asha Castleberry-Hernandez MIA ’12 is the new senior adviser in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. A cofounder of the Diversity in National Security Network and a former senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Castleberry-Hernandez was also a Schmidt Futures International Strategy Fellow for 2020 and was named among New America’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Kris Clark MPA ’11 is Dell Technologies’ global director for supply chain risk and resilience. Before joining Dell, Clark worked for the National Security Council as a director for Africa. He continues to serve as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

CJ Dixon MIA ’19, who is currently the cyber & strategic risk specialist master at Deloitte, was named to New America’s list of 2020 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Joshua Elder MPA ’18 is the director of grantmaking at Siegel Family Endowment, a foundation that focuses on understanding and shaping the impact of technology on society. Elder was recently selected to participate in the 2021 Council on Foundation Career Pathways program, a leadership development program designed to diversify the talent pipeline for executive roles in the philanthropic sector.‍

Brian Greer MIA ’12 is a partner at Empire Consulting Group. Greer formerly served as a professional staff member with the House Committee on Armed Services and as a legislative assistant to numerous elected officials, including Senator Charles Schumer.

Lisa Hines-Johnson MPA ’04 serves as the deputy commissioner for administration at NYC Children’s Services. Before that she spent more than eight years as the COO of the Food Bank for New York City, garnering honors from Latina magazine and News 12 Bronx. Hines-Johnson is a frequent guest lecturer in the EMPA program.

Anuli Isichei MPA ’16 was recognized by UNFPA, WHO, and WGH as one of 100 global women nurse leaders for her commitment to the profession and equipping nurses across Nigeria and Africa to sit at the decision-making table. Isichei is a registered nurse currently working in Nigeria, where she is a program and partnership lead for the Healthcare Leadership Academy.

Lisa Dolberry Hancock MIA ’93 is the founding director of the Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University. She was previously a vice president at Goldman Sachs, where she oversaw grants administration and management for the Goldman Sachs Foundation and was head of employee community engagement, leading the creation of pro bono advisory programs designed to strengthen nonprofit organizations and small businesses in the United States and around the world.

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.

In June 2017, Herman N. (“Rusty”) Johnson, Jr., MIA ’99 was seated as a magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Before his appointment Johnson spent seven years as a law professor at Samford University, earning repeated recognition for his teaching, scholarship, and service.

Jean-Paul Laurent MPA ’17 is the founder and “chief smiling officer” of the Unspoken Smiles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits developing countries like his native Haiti. Unspoken Smiles provides children in underserved communities with access to dental care, while also empowering women with professional and technical jobs in dentistry. In 2016 Laurent received a President’s Volunteer Service Award. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2021, C. Andrew McGadney MPA ’06 was appointed as the 20th president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. McGadney is currently vice president and dean of student advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and previously served Colby as its vice president and secretary of the college.

Tyrik McKeiver MIA ’13 was named to New America’s 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List and, earlier, as one of the organization’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders. He was recently appointed co-director of the Tru-Diversity Initiative at the Truman National Security Project. McKeiver is the outreach & engagement lead in the Press & Public Affairs Section at the US Mission to the United Nations.

Jo Christine Miles MIA ’17 was recently chosen to lead Principal Financial Group’s corporate and nonprofit philanthropic initiatives as director of Principal Community Relations and the Principal Financial Group Foundation. In her role, Miles oversees philanthropic giving and employee community engagement across all of Principal’s domestic and international markets.

Mike Paul MPA ’92 is a longtime public relations consultant who currently heads his own firm, Reputation Doctor, and previously worked as a senior executive at other leading firms. Recognized for his work by publications including PR Week, Paul is a frequent commentator on television news. Over his career he has worked at three levels of government—for NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. Senator Alphonse d’Amato, and multiple state legislators.

In November 2021 Brit (Bailey) Rocourt MIA ’11 joined Gap as the director of women’s empowerment in the United States. Over her career she has led women’s and girls’ empowerment work around the world, for organizations including Plan International, USAID, IDB, and UNFPA. She has also been a Fulbright scholar, a Pickering foreign affairs fellow, and a White House National Security Leaders fellow.

Dr. Basil Smikle Jr. MPA ’96 is director of the public policy program at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute and a longtime lecturer at SIPA, where he recently co-taught a new course, Rethinking Policing in the 21st Century, with New York State Attorney General Letitia James. In 2019 Smikle completed his PhD in politics and education at Teachers College. He is also an adjunct professor at CCNY, and in 2018 and 2019 was the distinguished lecturer on politics and public policy at its School of Labor and Urban Studies.

New America recognized Lauren Sprott MIA ’14, a senior program officer for Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America programs at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among its 2020 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

In 2020 Kawai Strong Washburn MIA ’08 published his acclaimed debut novel, Sharks in the Time of Saviors (Macmillan). President Barack Obama went on to name the book among his favorites of 2020.

Rahel Tekola MPA ’18, who was named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020, is program officer and quality jobs fund portfolio manager at the New World Foundation.

Daniel E. White MPA ’20 recently joined the U.S. Defense Department as special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities. He was also selected as a Truman National Security Project’s Class of 2020 security fellow and named among New America’s 2018 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.