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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy


Student Programs

Current Sié Fellows

Class of 2018

Diego Bleifuss Prados

Originally from Chicago, Diego attended Wesleyan University, where he majored in Neuroscience and Behavior. During and after college he conducted research on epilepsy at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Diego also spent a year teaching English in La Coruña, Spain, and he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. While there, Diego taught Biology and English and worked to improve education and health in his community through workshops, a water pump project, and academic camps. After Peace Corps, Diego spent a year as a grant writer for SGA Youth & Family Services, a Chicago non-profit, before serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Sierra Leone, where he taught Biology and Physics and worked to improve his school's library. Diego is an MA Candidate in International Development with interests in education, health, and sub-Saharan Africa. He enjoys reading fiction, playing soccer, and watching birds and the Chicago Cubs.

Sarah Chasin

Sarah is an MA candidate in International Development. Prior to pursuing graduate studies at the Josef Korbel School, Sarah worked with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in New York. There she provided strategic program guidance to cultivate and grow key partnerships supporting UNICEF’s global mandate to protect and advance children’s rights. Before joining the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Sarah managed field office operations for the Kyrgyz Republic Transition Initiative, a USAID-funded project supporting democratic transition and mitigating conflict in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Sarah served as an AmeriCorps volunteer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina and graduated magna cum laude from The George Washington University in 2009 with a BS in public health.

Dennis DeBobes

A graduate of Northwestern University, Dennis retired from the U.S. Navy in 2013 after serving in a variety of leadership, planning, and operational assignments throughout South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia. He is currently an independent consultant and looks forward to learning from and collaborating with the faculty and students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where he will pursue an MA in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration. Outside of school, he enjoys exploring Colorado’s outdoor activities with his wife and three wonderful children.

Justine Lyons

Justine Lyons is an MA candidate in International Human Rights. She graduated from Barnard College in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and Human Rights and spent a semester in Rwanda with SIT’s Post-Genocide Reconciliation and Peacebuilding program. She has worked on several political campaigns in New York City and upstate New York. Justine has also taught English in Taiwan, Palestine, and Cameroon, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the education sector from 2014 to 2016. In Cameroon, Justine lived in Bertoua, East Region, and worked with a local primary school to improve literacy rates, including supporting founding of a small school library and a tuition payment plan for parents. During service she also learned to make homemade tortillas and speak a few words of Fulfulde.

Elise Mann

Born, raised, and recently relocated back to Denver, Elise plans to study human rights, country governance, and health equity at the Josef Korbel School. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in Political Science and minors in Women’s Studies and African Studies. For four years, Elise worked in Washington D.C. with the Aspen Institute’s Global Health and Development policy program on a high-level initiative aimed at elevating reproductive health through public events, private meetings, and media placements. Previously, she served as Field Manager for a community project in Uganda developing a family planning curriculum in partnership with community members and health clinic staff, and she studied in Arusha, Tanzania, where she conducted research on the sustainability of women’s nonprofits. She loves coffee, dancing to live music, and being outdoors; in 2015 she completed a 2,189-mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Natália Maraschin

A native of Passo Fundo, a small town in the south of Brazil, Natália graduated with honors from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in 2015, earning a BA in International Relations. During her undergraduate studies, Natália received a federal grant that allowed her to spend a year studying Iran’s history and foreign policy, and later conducted additional research on the Middle East and Ukraine. As an undergraduate, Natália also volunteered as a member of the Editorial Board of Perspectiva Magazine, staff at UFRGS Model United Nations, and Secretary of Academic Affairs at UFRGSMUNDI, a Model UN for under-privileged high school students. At the Josef Korbel School, Natália will pursue her MA in International Studies and explore her interests in conflict resolution, strategic studies, human rights, and history.

Vahaken Mouradian

Vahaken is from Nicosia, Cyprus. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Lawrence University with a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. During his time at Lawrence, he conducted field research in Jamaica, interned at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington, D.C., and completed an honors project on the recent rise of radical right parties in Europe, combining empirical research with philosophical argument. Prior to his undergraduate studies, he served in the National Guard of Cyprus and was discharged as a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. At the Josef Korbel School, he will be pursuing an MA in International Security to explore his primary interests in foreign policy, conflict resolution, terrorism and insurgency, and interstate war.

Alexandra Smith

Alex is pursuing an MA in International Development with certificates in Global Health Affairs and Humanitarian Assistance. She holds a BA with High Honors in Philosophy with a concentration in Gender Studies from Haverford College. While at Haverford, Alex was awarded research fellowships exploring development issues in Guatemala and India and also assisted in researching the role that government transparency plays in protecting human rights. Since graduation, Alex has focused her work on the intersection of health and human rights at a variety of organizations domestically and internationally in Madagascar and Uganda. She is also an Advisory Council Member of the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. Alex's research interests include humanitarian health aid and women's empowerment in post-disaster and post-conflict zones. A New England native who has lived in Colorado on and off for over six years, Alex loves exploring new trails, night skies, and peaks with her husband and their dog, Miles Davis. She also teaches yoga and cycling around town.

Jon Vreede

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Jon earned a BA with distinction in Public Policy from the University of Michigan with a focus on the economics of foreign policy. As part of his studies, Jon spent a semester working at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he was able to further pursue his interest in countries of the former Soviet Union. Following graduation he worked for the National Democratic Institute in Washington D.C., supporting the promotion of credible and transparent elections around the world. At the Korbel School, Jon is pursuing an MA in International Security.

Class of 2019 

Leah Breevoort

A native of Acworth, GA, Leah is an MA candidate in Human Rights. She graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in film studies. Post-graduation, Leah spent a year volunteering as an English teacher in Netanya, Israel where she developed a social entrepreneurship venture aimed at tackling societal stereotypes and discrimination within the Israeli culture. Upon returning to the U.S., Leah began a career in nonprofit marketing and communications with Magen David Adom, Israel's first-aid,blood-services, and disaster-relief organization. As her passion for human rights grew, Leah decided to move to Cambodia and volunteer with Minority Rights Organization working with ethnic Vietnamese and Khmer Krom communities. Most recently, Leah was a communications and advocacy associate with an international development organization in Washington, D.C. focused on economic growth in the developing world. At Korbel, Leah plans to focus her studies on refugee rights within the Middle East.

Kelci Burckhardt

Originally from Alabama, Kelci graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2008 with a degree in global health policy and minor in chemistry. She spent eight years as an analyst in the federal government before beginning her master's degree in international studies at the Korbel School. Kelci's academic interests include conflict resolution, political psychology, institution building and development in post-conflict societies, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Summer Downs

Summer Downs is an MA candidate in International Administration and a Colorado native. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Global Development Studies from Seattle Pacific University, complemented by numerous distinctions and awards. Summer has extensive experience working with NGOs in locations such as Ghana, Rwanda, northern Iraq, Greece, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Thailand. Her interests as an aspiring scholar-practitioner include complex emergencies, sexual violence, psychosocial trauma, health, and humanitarian assistance, with a regional focus on East Africa. She is currently working on becoming fluent in Swahili, and she also plans on earning a degree in International Disaster Psychology at DU.

Chris Kallenbach

Originally from Urbandale, Iowa, Christopher Kallenbach earned his bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and Religious Studies from Iowa State University. Following graduation, Christopher joined the United States Peace Corps as a secondary school English teacher in Cameroon. Outside of the classroom, Christopher devoted his service to public health and sanitation projects, including the development of a trash collection and disposal system across the Bamendjou sub-division. Since returning from Cameroon, Christopher has continued a career in international development in Washington, D.C. working with USAID contractors on countering violent extremism initiatives in South Asia and international public health projects in Southeast Asia. Christopher is pursuing a MA in International Studies with a certificate in Humanitarian Assistance.

Shannon Payne

Born and raised in England, Shannon has lived in Virginia and Florida since moving to the United States. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Diplomacy. During the summer of 2014, Shannon completed a State Department internship in the Cultural Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. After finishing her bachelor's, Shannon worked at the UCF Global Perspectives Office for two years. There, she facilitated a variety of programs designed to sharpen UCF's international focus, including a distinguished speaker series (with guests such as international journalists, government officials, and Bill Nye the Science Guy). Shannon is an MA candidate in International Studies, and hopes to work in public diplomacy and international exchange programs. She enjoys skiing, sunny days, and speculative fiction.

Tasia Poinsatte

Tasia graduated summa cum laude from American University in 2013 with a dual degree in International Studies and Environmental Studies, along with minors in French and Economics. As an undergraduate, Tasia studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal, where she taught English at a public primary school. Following graduation, she worked in Ghana as the site manager of an education-focused nonprofit before moving to New York City, where she received a Conservation Corps Fellowship to work for the NYC Parks Department Office of Green Thumb as a school gardens coordinator. For the past year, she has worked as a financial editor in Valparaiso, Chile. When she was 19, Tasia founded a scholarship program serving students from rural communities in Nicaragua, which she continues to direct today. A Boulder native, she is excited to return to her roots in Colorado to pursue a MA in International Development. She loves painting, hiking, riding her bicycle, learning languages and organizing co-ed soccer matches wherever she might be in the world.

Josh Satre

Josh Satre received a BA with Honors in Political Science from Swarthmore College in 2013. During his time at Swarthmore, he interned for a microfinance organization and studied abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland, sparking an interest in conflict resolution. After graduation, Josh interned at Congressman Van Hollen's Office and worked as a legal secretary at the Distilled Spirits Council. He enjoys endurance sports and has completed two marathons, including the Right to Movement marathon in Bethlehem, which fused his interest in running with his interest in conflict resolution and human rights. An avid reader and researcher, Josh is particularly fascinated by stories and research describing the role of institutions in peacebuilding, development, and innovative public partnerships.

Noa Shapira

Noa was born and raised in Israel. She served in the Israeli Defense Force for three years as a foreign affairs correspondent for the military radio and later worked for two more years as a journalist covering Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other conflicts around the world. She graduated summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University with a dual degree in Political Science and the Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities - Social Justice, Gender Studies and Judaism. Noa has a vast experience in human rights and conflict-related work, including with an Israeli-Palestinian initiative to resolve conflict, and as an intern with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel. Her experience led to an interest in the privatization of conflicts and the way it affects women rights in those conflicts, a subject she hopes to explore at the Korbel School, where she is pursuing a degree in international human rights. She loves baking, travelling, and open-water diving.

Tom Zolot

Tom is a MA candidate in Conflict Resolution. Tom was born in rural California and attended University of California, Davis. He received his BA there in Linguistics graduating with honors. Following graduation, Tom served two terms with Americorps VISTA in New Orleans. His first term was with the English language night school, Oportunidades NOLA, and the second was with the Center for Restorative Approaches (CRA). He then worked for several years with CRA providing training and facilitation of restorative justice circles. While in New Orleans, Tom also pursued and volunteered with a variety of initiatives including community-police mediation, various gardening programs and working closely with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center, Arte Reviver NOLA.