Mark Buntaine

BUNTAINE headshotI am currently Assistant Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I research and teach about environmental policymaking in developing countries. I completed a Ph.D. in environmental politics at Duke University and previously taught in the Government Department at the College of William & Mary. My interest in the environmental challenges facing developing countries began when I was a student at Wake Forest. After taking courses on Chinese politics, I applied for a scholarship that would support independent research on economic and environmental change in China. I was fortunate to receive it. Combined with a more traditional study abroad program, this research exposed me to previously unimaginable pollution, and the challenge of balancing the costs and benefits of development.

Armed with new language skills, I took a position with the China program of the Nature Conservancy. I led the community outreach portion of the project and was responsible for designing and conducting household surveys. My time in China convinced me that social science research can add real value to the hard decisions faced by policymakers, firms, and communities. Since that time, I have pursued a variety of projects on environmental policymaking in developing countries , with a particular emphasis on the targeting and impact of foreign aid. I have completed or am currently implementing projects across Asia, Africa, and South America. These projects address the allocation practices of aid donors, the participation of citizens in environmental policymaking, the relationship between public and private financing of new environmental technologies, the processes that lead to lasting government reform, and the evaluation of environmental programs, among other interests. I am very fortunate to have received the mentorship and research opportunities at Wake Forest that launched me down this path. [posted November 2013]

Joel Cohen

Joel_low_res (3)Doing a brief bio for the WFU Dept. of Politics and International Affairs is a special pleasure as it is an opportunity to reflect on the amazing courses and professors that introduced me to political thought and encouraged me to always strive to broaden my perspective.  A particular thank you to my profs and classmates, many of whom I still count as close friends.

After Wake, I worked at the DHS in Washington, DC helping to shape domestic policy seeking to prevent terrorism in aviation.   There, my colleagues and I wrestled with the difficulties of developing effective policy and then conforming such a policy to the political and legal reality of the day.   Wresting with the legal issues, in particular, was good prep for me, as I would soon be transitioning into the legal field.

After completing a JD and Masters in International and Comparitive Law at Duke (you probably know it as “that other NC private school”) I went to work in private practice at a leading international firm called Skadden, Arps.   At Skadden, my practice focused on cross-border transactions and mergers & acquisitions.

After working in private practice, I have taken a career shift back in the direction of education and contemporary thought.   Currently, I’m in the process of launching a new media and online education company with some outstanding lawyers – Talks On Law (“TOL”).   TOL is a platform where top thinkers and practitioners speak on contemporary and controversial legal issues of the day to inform the debate and inspire change.  And for the rest of us, it’s another great place to learn.  Feel free to follow us on twitter: @talksonlaw or facebook:  I very much hope to continue to hear from other Wake Politics grads in the future. [posted August 2013]

Kezia McKeague

KeziaI pursued my interests in Latin America and U.S. foreign policy through a double major in Political Science and Spanish.  I also took advantage of Wake Forest’s study-abroad opportunities, from a program in Havana (my mother’s hometown and the inspiration for my passion for all things Cuban) to a semester in Venice and an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.  Most importantly, I undertook an independent research project in Buenos Aires with the support of a Richter grant.  In 2005, I returned to Argentina for my last semester as an exchange student at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, which is known for its excellence in the social sciences.  Buenos Aires is a difficult city to leave; those initial three months turned into three wonderful and very formative years.  I became a research associate at a local think tank, the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), and enrolled in the master’s program in International Studies at Di Tella.  Following a brief stint in New York for an internship at the United Nations Secretariat, I completed the degree at Sciences Po in Paris.

These peregrinations ultimately led me to Washington, DC.  From 2008 to 2011, I was a Legislative Assistant on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I contributed to multiple staff studies that helped shape debate on U.S. policy towards Latin America.  I also enjoyed a unique vantage point for learning the mechanics of Congress and observing the role of the legislative branch in foreign policymaking.  In March of 2011, the Council of the Americas recruited me to be Director of Government Relations in the Washington office.  Based in New York since its founding by David Rockefeller in 1965, the Council is a cross between a think tank and a business association.  Its membership consists of leading international companies across a range of sectors, with a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.  As the organization’s chief liaison to the U.S. government and the diplomatic community, I led our advocacy efforts in support of congressional passage of the free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.  I continue to manage the annual Washington Conference on the Americas, co-sponsored with the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, as well as the activities of the Council’s Trade Advisory Group.  Since 2012, I have worked with Ambassador John Negroponte, Chairman of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, on an initiative focused on fostering a public-private dialogue around improving management of the U.S.-Mexico border and highlighting the economic opportunities in the bilateral relationship.  I also write on occasion for the blog of the Americas Quarterly.

Over the last three years, I have been honored to serve on the Reynolds Scholarship Committee.  The trips back to campus have reinforced the depth of my gratitude to Wake Forest’s faculty and administration, particularly the Politics and Romance Languages departments. [posted July 2013]

Megan Huber

I graduated from Wake Forest in May 2010. After spending a few months working as a Resource Call Specialist with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in Washington, DC, I left in December 2010 to be a US Fulbright Scholar in rural Malaysia. I have the opportunity to work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at a rural secondary school while simultaneously examining the unique way of life which exists in the highly conservative Muslim state of Terengganu. The past few months in Malaysia have proven to be profoundly challenging and yet incredibly rewarding experiences, and they are ones which the Political Science department prepared me for in a way I do not think any other university or department could.

I credit the stimulating course options as well as the close one-on-one contact and support of the Political Science faculty with opening the doors necessary for my post-graduate success so far. Every class I took within the department involved a highly personal and provocative exchange of ideas where students were continuously encouraged to ask questions and foster their own opinions. These skills gained within the classroom were only further reinforced by the eager willingness of the faculty to share their own passions and experience with their undergraduates, thereby allowing me to explore and develop my own research and career interests. All of the wonderful opportunities I have had the pleasure of experiencing, from a Richter grant to study female education in Nepal, to internships or jobs with such organizations as International Bridges to Justice in Geneva, Switzerland or Polaris Project in DC, to my current position as a Fulbright scholar in Malaysia are all direct products of the words or letters of support from professors in the Political Science department.  I am forever grateful for the personal attention and stimulating education I received during my time at Wake Forest, and I know that the skills and connections I have gained there will continue to assist me in any future endeavors I undertake. [posted April 2011]

Beth Doby

Despite being a local girl from Winston-Salem, I was thrilled to come to Wake Forest.  While I began contemplating a career in medicine early in my college career, political science quickly piqued my intellectual interest and sparked my passion.  Balancing pre-medicine courses and a non-science major was challenging at times, but I am truly glad I was able to pursue both.  At Casa Artom in Venice I not only learned Italian, studied Venetian Renaissance Art in person, but I also was able to learn about Western European politics while living there!  During my senior year, I was able to combine both of my passions (medicine and political science) by writing a thesis comparing the health care systems of the United States, Great Britain, and Germany.

I graduated in 2002 with a major in Political Science, and a minor in Biology.  I moved on to study medicine at Emory University. In 2006 I traveled westward to complete my pediatrics residency at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  I just concluded one year as Chief Resident, and I am continuing my training as a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellow.

My education in political science, and my strong liberal arts education in general, has been invaluable in my career as a physician.  Especially as a pediatric infectious disease specialist, public policy and domestic and global political forces profoundly influence health care for children and many public health issues, including funding for HIV research and treatment. Through medicine, you can affect one life at a time.  Through changing health care and public health policy, you can affect the lives of many. More broadly, the political science faculty helped me hone my skills in academic writing, scholarly research, and critical thinking, all of which are crucial to my career as an academic physician.  I will be forever grateful to my professors and the incredible learning experience I was so fortunate to receive at Wake Forest. [posted March 2011]

Brian Greenberg

I graduated from Wake Forest in 2000 with a major in Political Science, a minor in International Studies, and certificate in Management.  After graduation, I briefly worked at Morgan Stanley as a marketing coordinator and investment intern manager.  Based on my studies at Wake Forest and my personal interests, I knew I wanted to combine my interests in politics and business.  I found the perfect situation in late 2000 accepting a position with KPMG Consulting, a large federal government consultancy.  I worked for KPMG Consulting (which ultimately became BearingPoint) from 2000 – 2009 supporting an array of federal government clients including the Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, and Department of Justice.  In 2009, I joined Deloitte Consulting as part of an acquisition and I am currently serving as a Strategy and Operations (S&O) Senior Manager in the firm’s Emerging Markets segment with special focus on diplomacy and international development.  Some of the hot button issues I work on include immigration reform, border security, and capacity building for “fragile states”.  In addition, I support many strategic firm initiatives and community organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the National Capital Region and Leadership Fairfax.   My coursework and experiences at Wake Forest provided me with a strong foundation of critical thinking, communication and writing skills that helped me to succeed professionally and inspired me to give back to my community.  Many thanks to the Wake Forest faculty and administration, and particularly the Political Science Department.  [posted February 2011]

Benjamin Barron

I graduated from Wake Forest in 2007 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Economics.  By the fall of my senior year, I recognized that I was not ready to leave behind the debate and discussion of the classroom, which is a testament to the faculty of the Wake Forest Political Science Department and the passion, energy, and intellect they bring to the halls of Tribble each day. With a view to advancing my analytical skills and my knowledge and understanding of US foreign policy, I enrolled at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, where I earned a Master’s Degree in International Affairs in May 2009.  Upon completion of my degree, I accepted employment at the Department of the Treasury, where I serve as a License Examining Officer for the Office of Foreign Assets Control and focus on administering our government’s sanctions programs.

As I reflect back on my time at Wake Forest, much stands out with regard to my experiences as a student of political science. I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement of the department’s faculty, which is something that continues to this day. Each professor offered an open door and each classroom offered a forum for study where we were expected to challenge conventional norms and to leave no rock unturned in our quest for knowledge. Furthermore, I will never forget the constant reminders to hit the ground running, maintain a sense of humor, and to never cease asking questions. This is an approach to life and learning that is contagious and I am certain that it will continue to serve me well as I seek to advance my career and other interests in Washington, DC and beyond. [posted January 2011]

Dave Forsythe

Dave Forsythe followed up his Wake Forest BA (‘64) with a Princeton PhD and then spent 42 years in the classroom teaching International Relations. He retired from regular teaching in May 2010. His main interests were human rights, the UN, international law, US foreign policy, and Red Cross diplomacy. In 2008 he held the Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair in Human Rights and International Studies in Copenhagen. The American Political Science Association named him a Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights, and the International Studies Association gave him the Quincy Wright Award for lifetime achievements. Among his recent and forthcoming publications are books on human rights, US treatment of prisoners after 9/11, and Red Cross humanitarian policy. At the University of Nebraska where he taught for 37 years one now finds the Forsythe Family Program in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. [posted January 2011]