Alisha Deluty works in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT). She serves as CT’s Congressional Affairs liaison, works on CT issues related to racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism, and is involved in CT strategic planning. She previously worked on CT’s initiatives countering Iran and Hizballah. Prior to joining CT, Alisha was a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) in State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, serving as the Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa. She previously worked in State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Office of International Religious Freedom; as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; and on a communications team at the U.S. Department of Defense. A native of Queens, NY, Alisha holds an M.A. in Middle East Studies from GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, a B.A. in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a B.A. from The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying to it?
I’m a Strategist and Congressional Affairs liaison in the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) in the Office of Strategy, Plans, and Initiatives. In this capacity, I lead CT’s Congressional engagement, working closely with other Congressional counterparts at State, other U.S. government agencies, and Capitol Hill. This includes coordinating and preparing witnesses for Congressional hearings and briefings on all CT-related issues, as well as reviewing legislation and other Congressional information that affects CT issues. I also work on CT’s initiative to counter racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism, which includes working closely with other U.S. government partners, foreign governments, and international organizations. Additionally, my office oversees the strategic planning for the CT Bureau, which includes regional and foreign assistance planning. I worked in CT for one of my rotations as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), and while there, I realized that this was the kind of work I wanted to be doing. A position opened up in CT shortly after I completed the PMF program.
What do you wish other people knew about your organization?
The State Department brings together people from all backgrounds and walks of life who are truly dedicated to State’s mission and to public service. No two people have the same path that led them to State. People also bring such a diverse set of experiences with them – whether they’ve lived or worked abroad, served in the military, worked at non-governmental organizations or the private sector, or are coming to State as a second or third career and bringing their previous experiences with them.
What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?
Two of the most significant courses I took at the Elliott School were “Religion and Society in the Middle East” and “Non-State Actors.” “Religion and Society in the Middle East” provided a foundation to understand the people and cultures of the region, which is often overlooked when studying and working on the politics and conflicts of the region. “Non-State Actors” was an eye-opening course and the first time I closely studied terrorist organizations, such as Hizballah and al-Qa’ida, which are directly relevant to my job today. I would also highly recommend students take advantage of the skills courses – “Negotiation Skills” and “Writing for International Policymakers.” Both were extremely useful and can be applied to any career in international affairs.
What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students starting their job search?
As I’m sure many Elliott School students know, the international affairs job market in D.C. is extremely competitive. It took dozens of job applications until I found the right job after graduation. Until that happened, I kept applying, got a part-time job, and volunteered working with refugees through the International Rescue Committee. I’d advise students starting their job search to keep busy, attend events around town, remain up to date with the latest developments in your field, and of course, network. And remember to be patient, persistent, and make sure you surround yourself with a support system of family and friends!
What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?
The people I met at the Elliott School really shaped my experiences there. Some of my fellow classmates, whether ones I met at orientation, or just as I was graduating, have become not only colleagues, but also close friends. Additionally, my capstone field research was an extremely rewarding aspect of my time at the Elliott School. Thanks to funding from GW’s Institute for Middle East Studies, everyone in my program was able to conduct field research over winter or spring break. My capstone partner and I traveled throughout Israel for our project on the Druze community, conducting interviews in Hebrew and Arabic. It was a pretty unforgettable experience!
What book should be required reading for all Elliott School grad students and why?
It’s so hard to choose just one book, but with Secretary Madeleine Albright’s recent passing, I have to highlight the importance of everyone reading her book, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948. Secretary Albright’s experiences as a refugee influenced her commitment to advocating for global democracy and human rights. She turned her personal struggles into a force for good and dedicated her life to public service, including being the first woman to be Secretary of State.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.