An Interview with Rollie Lal from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.
One of the clearest needs and challenges to surface in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is how to gather and communicate reliable intelligence and information. Even as containment and relief efforts are still being developed and deployed in our current crisis, there is a critical need to take steps for combatting the next global health crisis. Whether it is a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 or a new threat in the years to come, intelligence for predicting pandemics and responding to them will be invaluable.
What can we do now to prepare? Since there is so little consensus in current opinion or policy about how to handle COVID-19, it’s unlikely that any one proposed solution for the future can garner broad international support. However, there are three things that governments, scientists, communities, and even citizen volunteers can do to strengthen international intelligence efforts to combat the next pandemic.
Emma Rafaelof is a senior manager on the Policy team of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). Before joining ITI, Emma interned at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office of China Affairs focusing on technology policy and intellectual property issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. Additionally, Emma has a background managing startups with a focus on tech-based solutions for language learning and business development. She has also worked extensively with digital media as both a video editor and a consultant for web and graphic design. Emma is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and has limited working proficiency in Japanese. As a native of Boulder, Colorado, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a triple major in Chinese language and literature, English literature, and Asian Studies, as well as a minor in Japanese language. She graduated from the Elliott School in 2017 with a Masters in Asian Studies.
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Robin Merritt will be pursuing a Master of Arts in International Development Studies at the Elliott School, intending to focus on the intersection of gender and conflict in development. She received her Bachelors from the School of International Service at American University where she also studied Spanish language and translation. Robin has worked for the last three years at Creative Associates International, first in the office of Programs and Operations and later as a member of the business development team. Prior to this role, Robin interned with SOS Children’s Villages USA and CentroNia in D.C. She also has experience in public diplomacy, having worked with the American Corner at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile while studying in-country. Robin’s academic interests include public policy, conflict mitigation and a regional interest in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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Daniel Barnhardt works for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in New York City. He holds a MA in Middle East Studies from the Elliott School and a BA in History from Pennsylvania State University. He got started in the humanitarian sector while studying in DC during which time he interned with Save the Children and CARE. He also studied abroad in Lebanon in 2010-2011 and interned there with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). Seeking to again work with the UN, he was hired by WFP in 2012 as an Early Warning analyst and later promoted to oversee WFP’s global Emergency Centre in Italy until 2017. During that time, he went to Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, and Somalia on temporary assignment for WFP. In 2019, he transitioned to WFP’s New York office where he now works as a Policy Advisor for a reform of UN’s development system, which seeks to strengthen the UN’s capacity to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
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Matt Geason was born in D.C. and grew up in a small college town in New Hampshire. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Political Science. While attending UNH, he interned at the New Hampshire State Senate and also the DC based consulting group, The Potomac Advocates. After graduation, he spent a year studying Chinese in Taiwan before returning to the U.S., where he began working at the DC think tank, the Truman National Security Project. Additionally, he worked as a Research Analyst at Thomson Reuters before starting his MA in Asian Studies at the Elliott School. As a Freeman Foundation International Fellow, Matt interned at the Taipei City Government’s Special Projects Office during the Spring of 2020.
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Clare Zimmerman is an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia. She holds an M.A. in International Trade and Investment Policy (now International Economic Policy) from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and bachelor’s degrees in History, Spanish, and International Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. She has worked as a Foreign Service officer for the Department of State since 2013. Her previous overseas assignments include Vienna, Austria and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Previously, she worked at a Philadelphia non-profit organization and assisted homeowners facing foreclosure during the 2008 financial crisis. While at GW, Clare received the Graduate Development Fellowship and interned at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Delphos International, a financial advisory firm. Clare resides in Riga with her husband and two daughters.
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Brennan Hoban is a first-year Masters candidate in the International Science and Technology Policy at the Elliott School, studying how government policy at all levels can improve digital literacy, access to technology, and economic and social inclusion for vulnerable populations. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Science from American University. Brennan currently works at McKinsey & Company in their Public and Social Sector Practice. She has held past positions at the Brookings Institution and has interned for InterAction in Washington, D.C. and for the U.S. Department of State in Rome. Brennan also studied Urdu as a Global Giver Fellow through the Global Language Network and currently volunteers at the National Press Club.
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An interview with Susan Aaronson from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.
As countries and medical workers around the globe have experienced difficulties in securing critical medical supplies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, recent protectionist actions have had a dramatic impact upon the supply of needed medical equipment. A panel of Elliott School faculty experts recently contributed to a post about regional responses to COVID-19.
Susan Aaronson was among the contributors and shared her insights about the effects of US export restrictions. Dr. Aaronson is the Director of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub, Research Professor of International Affairs, and a GW Cross-Disciplinary Fellow and Senior Fellow at CIGI. We spoke with her in a follow-up interview to hear more about the developing effects of US trade policies.
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Dr. Gregory Asmolov is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Russia Institute, King’s College London. His research focuses on the role information technologies in crisis situations. Asmolov started his career as a journalist. He has worked as a Middle East correspondent for Russian newspapers Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta, and served as a news editor and security analyst for Israeli TV. Later, he has consulted on media development and social media projects for The World Bank and Internews Network. He also worked as a contributing editor for Global Voices Online. In 2010, Asmolov co-founded a “Help Map” – a crowdsourcing platform used to coordinate assistance to victims of wildfires in Russia. The project received a number of national and International prizes. Asmolov holds a BA in Communication and International Affairs from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MA in Global Communication from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, and PhD in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
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BeomJoon “BJ” Choi is a first-year M.A. Asian Studies student at the Elliott School of International Affairs, concentrating in security and geopolitics issues of the Korean Peninsula. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Simpson University in Redding, California. Before he started his master’s program, he worked at a nonprofit organization that has been working for the North Korean underground church believers. He is currently doing an internship at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as an intern at the Asia team, specifically focusing on North Korean human rights issues. He is deeply passionate about the freedom of North Koreans and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, and the main interest of his study is on how to create a favorable geopolitical condition around the Korean Peninsula where all major foreign powers become willing to support the rebuilding of North Korea under democracy and ultimately the reunification of the two Koreas.
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