Rebecca Wallace is the Deputy Director of the Office of Peacekeeping Operations (IO/PKO) and a civil service officer at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, she served the Senior Economic Advisor in the Office of Economic and Development Affairs, the Senior Peacekeeping Advisor in IO/PKO, as Advisor to the U.S. Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and as a peacekeeping advisor for the UN peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before joining the Department of State, Rebecca worked for the Future of Peace Operations program at the Henry L. Stimson Center in DC and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo. She graduated with a master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict Resolution from the Elliott School of International Affairs at GW. Rebecca has one husband, one child, two dogs, and four chickens.
What is your current position? What are your favorite and/or challenging responsibilities?
I am currently the Deputy Director of the Office of Peacekeeping Operations in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. I have worked on multilateral affairs almost my entire State Department career and have a passion for UN issues, especially peacekeeping, which began with an internship during my time at GW. Keeping up with the pace of the UN Security Council, feeling that I’m contributing to something that really matters, and managing a staff of talented and driven peacekeeping advisors are three of the many reasons I love my position.
How does your current position compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your degree at the Elliott School?
I decided to attend the Elliott School because it was geared toward practitioners and it was expected that we would either hold jobs or seek internships to supplement our degree work. I thought I would be working in grassroots conflict-resolution work somewhere in the field but fell in love with peacekeeping during my internship at State. I credit GW with helping me obtain a range of internships that helped me find the best fit for both my strengths and my skillset.
What part of your career do you find most rewarding and why?
Working in public service is not always easy, but I find it rewarding to know that my job is contributing to the larger good that the United States is doing through the UN system – I believe the future is multilateral and that there are a host of issues (COVID is a great example) that do not have borders and are best addressed through the UN system. I also believe we are doing a lot of good to reform the UN system to make it more efficient and effective.
How has your Elliott School graduate degree been valuable?
The network I created while at GW continues to grow and has been hugely helpful for employment opportunities but also for peer mentorship and friendships both in and out of my field. My work in the Conflict Resolution concentration and with Professor Paul Williams continue to pay off as I use my subject matter expertise to advise both my team and senior officials now that I’m in a position of leadership at the Department.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?
My classes within my concentration solidified my passion for conflict resolution and exposed me to professors who were working within the field, which was hugely valuable. Elliott gave me a good idea of the breadth of opportunities to which I could apply my skillset and then gave me the flexibility to explore those opportunities through internships.
Share a fun work from home story!
I adopted (live) chickens at the beginning of the pandemic, and they have become a source of constant amusement not just for me but for the office WhatsApp group. I have become a crazy chicken lady and they have been known to crash virtual happy hours by jumping on my lap or on my computer.
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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at email@example.com.
The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.