Happy Pride Month, Columbia!

June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, an annual celebration that recognizes LGBTQIA+ people and their impact on the world. The timing commemorates the Stonewall uprising of June 1969, a key event in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.

On campus, SIPA student organization SPECTRUM’s mission is to create welcoming spaces for LGBTQIA+ members of the SIPA community and allies, and to increase SIPA’s awareness of and engagement with global LGBTQIA+ issues. This June, the 2022 SPECTRUM board would like to highlight the importance of intersectionality, both in LGBTQIA+ spaces and at SIPA. We stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ Black, Indigenous, and People of Color this month and every month, and we look forward to working with the DEICE Committee to make sure that all members of the SIPA community are welcomed, valued, and prioritized. For more information about SPECTRUM, you can stay connected through Instagram @spectrumsipa or through their website.

SIPA is pleased to highlight the following LGBTQIA+ alumni to help mark Pride Month and honor all the members of our LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, we encourage folks to read this blog post from 2019 by alumni Kier Joy MPA ’19 on how corporations have been monetizing Pride.


Zaina Arafat MIA ’09 is a LGBTQ Palestinian-American writer based in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, You Exist Too Muchwas published in June 2020 and won a Lambda Literary Award. The novel was also praised by O: The Oprah MagazineVogueElleHarper’s BazaarNPRLitHub, and Good Morning America, among others, and selected as Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020. Read a recent profile of Arafat and other alumni authors.

Richard Brookshire MPA ’16 is the cofounder 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. A member of the U.S. Foreign Service, Bush is currently second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain. , He 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; a foreign policy fellow in the office of then House minority leader Nancy Pelosi; and an aide to then Senate minority 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 became President Biden’s press secretary on May 13, 2022. Jean-Pierre is the first Black person and the first LGBTQ person to hold what the New York Times called “one of the most high-profile jobs in American politics.” During the 2020 campaign she served as senior advisor to now President Biden and chief of staff to now Vice President Kamala Harris.

Ryan Kaminski MIA ’11 was named to New America’s 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List. Kaminski is an LGBTQI+ adviser at USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development. 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 25 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. In this 2021 video for SIPA, López commented on how important it is for women to enjoy economic autonomy.

Andrew Lohsen MIA ’15 was named to New America’s National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+ 2021 Out Leaders List. A foreign affairs specialist with more than 10 years of experience promoting security, governance, and human rights in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Lohsen spent five years between 2016 and 2021 working in Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). He is currently a fellow in the Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Tyrik McKeiver MIA ’13 was named to New America’s 2020 LGBTQIA+ Out Leadership List. In January 2022 McKeiver joined the U.S. Mission to the United Nations as a public affairs specialist. Before that he served most recently as a vice president for Ogilvy, the advertising and PR firm.

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 began his latest assignment—as a political officer in Copenhagen, Denmark—in October 2021. He previously served as a vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

In June 2021 Vladimir Tlali MPA-DP ’19 was 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.


If you are interested in learning more about NYC Pride Month and events happening in and around Columbia, please visit this link. Additionally, if you would like to march with Columbia SIPA for the NYC’s 2022 Pride March on June 26th, you can find more information here.