New and senior SAIS alumnae gathered in the grandiose halls of the Cosmos Club on November 30th for SWAN DC’s annual major event. The private social club, a venue for distinguished scholars to meet and mingle, has been serving diplomats, scientists, writers, and poets since 1878. Seated in the historic Dupont Circle neighborhood, just minutes away from SAIS’s campus, the club was a perfect fit for SWAN’s event.
A wine and cheese reception welcomed guests and gave them the opportunity to socialize and network. SWAN created a networking game, of sorts, where all attendees received brightly colored star stickers – each star corresponding to a specific field – to match alumnae in similar fields, and to add a little color to the evening.
Once the socializing hour was through, alumnae congregated to hear three highly accomplished SAIS women talk about the Trump administration, foreign affairs, and professional development. Heather Conley, who graduated from SAIS in 1996, is Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and Director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Meredith Miller, another SAIS graduate, is a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group with a focus on Southeast Asia. She has been working on U.S-Southeast Asia relations for more than 15 years and speaks Indonesian.
Sarah Sewall, who is the Speyer Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS, served as Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights until earlier this year. In that position, she was responsible for counterterrorism, refugees and migration, international justice and law enforcement programs, human rights, human trafficking, and conflict prevention.
These three amazing women discussed everything from the administration’s trip to Asia to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar to U.S. policy toward Russia. Anne Gearan, a National Politics Correspondent for The Washington Post, moderated the conversation, pressing the panelists to give their opinions on current events, which included asking for comments on the state of the State Department.
Beyond these SAIS-oriented topics, the panelists also talked about the many different paths to success, even if life takes one away from Washington, and the importance of mentorship, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of being a generalist and an expert.
The event was “off the record,” in order to encourage the speakers to be very candid with the group; hence, why specific details of the panel discussion cannot be relayed.
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