Q & A

Hear from our graduate students about what being a part of the Jackson community means to them.

Want to know more? Contact our admissions office to be connected with a Jackson student for a one-on-one Skype chat or phone call.

Deanna Johnson

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Deanna Johnson is a first-year master’s student at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She graduated from The George Washington University in 2016 with a B.A. in anthropology and international affairs, concentrating in international development. While at GW, Deanna received a grant to complete her research on the diminishing presence of African-American young adults in Historically Black Churches, focusing on ethnographies in the D.C. metro area. After graduation, Deanna served in Ecuador with the Peace Corps as an English Education Volunteer, where she worked alongside Ecuadorian English teachers at public schools to improve their methodologies and increase teaching efficacy in the classroom. While in Ecuador, Deanna also worked to promote leadership, health, and gender equity amongst teens by collaborating with other volunteers to plan and institute Ecuador’s first-ever national project following the Peace Corps’ Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) and Boys Respecting Others (BRO) initiatives. She also began to study firsthand the ways in which community ideology and social media impact the lives of refugees moving into new countries and communities. During her time at Yale, Deanna plans to study the root causes of displacement, and how the sentiments of the communities receiving displaced individuals affect the rights and well-being of the displaced.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?
Before coming to Jackson I served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador as an English Education Volunteer. In this role, I worked with Ecuadorian English teachers and the Ministry of Education to improve methodology and pedagogy for successful English learning. I also helped to organize programming as part of the Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) and Boys Respecting Others (BRO) initiatives for gender equity and health, and I helped to create a peer leadership program for middle school students. After leaving Peace Corps I briefly worked with a small grassroots organization that serves migrant families in New Jersey. I assisted with the administration of the organization, immigration procedures, and community organizing.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
What I like most about the M.A. program is its small size. I like that I have been able to share and converse with nearly every student and learn from everyone's experiences and distinct backgrounds. The student lounge, the Global Affairs, and the Salons have been extremely helpful in bringing us together and I feel that I've made connections with many of my peers that have inspired me, taught me, and helped me to grow personally and professionally. Along with gaining the chance to make connections with other students, I have had the opportunity to learn from and engage with faculty on a profound level that has added immensely to my Jackson experience.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
In order to match my area of focus (migration and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean), I have taken courses from a variety of different schools and programs. For example, this past semester along with Jackson's core history course I took a class offered by the School of Public Health and School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences in which I helped to design, implement, and analyze qualitative community data. I also constructed a directed reading course exploring migration trends with a professor from the Economics and African American Studies departments, and I studied French to expand my linguistic abilities as I prepare to work in Latin America and the Caribbean. I have also taken courses in policymaking and quantitative analysis which have all given me many of the tools I will need as I continue to pursue my focus.
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
During the Fall semester, Jackson and Former Secretary of State John Kerry held a conversation forum in Horchow Hall in which the students of Jackson had a chance to speak with Secretary Kerry and ask him questions regarding the current state of affairs in the US and his opinions on what needs to be done going forward. The experience was enlightening and a fantastic opportunity to learn more.
What do you want to do once you’ve finished the program?
After Jackson, I hope to work for a multilateral organization or NGO addressing issues of inequality and inequity that lead to irregular migration and that disproportionately affect certain groups of individuals once they have chosen to migrate.

Jill Capotosto

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Jill Capotosto graduated from Elon University in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and strategic communications. As a Princeton in Asia fellow, she spent two years in Vietnam with TRAFFIC, an international nonprofit combatting wildlife trafficking. As the country communications officer, she worked on a campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn, as well as a program to support sustainable rural livelihoods. Jill has also worked for the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a Vermont-based nonprofit working to build climate resilience in U.S. cities. At Yale, Jill is a joint-degree student with the Jackson Institute and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is focusing on environmental justice, particularly on the relationship between marginalized urban communities and climate change, climate-induced migration, and climate mobility.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?
After undergrad, I moved to Hanoi for two years as a Princeton in Asia Fellow to work for TRAFFIC, an international nonprofit combatting wildlife trafficking. Just before coming back to school, I was working for the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a Vermont-based nonprofit that focused on building climate resilience at the community and regional level across the U.S.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
It's been so fun to be around a group of people with this breadth of interests and experiences, who are also eager to explore questions outside their wheelhouse. A student lounge conversation last fall about philosophy and ethics of leadership and decision-making turned into a reading group that met every few weeks in the spring to discuss writing by authors ranging from Frederick Douglass to Donna Haraway. The best thing about this reading group is that it's just one of many examples of how our Jackson community supports curiosity and intentional learning. As a joint-degree student, I've also really appreciated being exposed to the different perspectives and backgrounds of my two communities. I can bring ideas from one school to the other, and come away with new ideas I had never considered before and a completely different understanding.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
I'm interested in the intersection of climate change, urbanization, and human mobility/migration, especially as it relates to advancing equity and reducing vulnerability for marginalized people. In addition to taking classes at FES and Jackson on urbanization, climate change, environmental justice, and humanitarian aid and development, I've been able to branch out to schools and departments across Yale. I've particularly enjoyed getting to take a PhD-level American Studies course on migrant justice; an African American Studies course called Race, Inequality, and the City; a history course on Jim Crow; and the year-long Grand Strategies course. I've been able to build on what I'm learning in classes through independent studies, projects, student jobs, and internships. Supporting real-world local projects, I worked with the City of New Haven's Department of Engineering to plan and coordinate the community engagement component of a local climate resilience project. I'm now working at the state level with the Environmental Justice and Equity Working Group, part of the Governor's Council on Climate Change, to develop guidelines for equitable public participation in the state's climate strategy planning. On campus, I've organized a symposium on incorporating environmental justice into teaching, and coordinated (along with other Jackson students) Yale's inaugural Global Environmental Justice Conference. Last year, I helped launch the Environmental Justice and Health Initiative at the School of Forestry, which I'll be supporting through my summer research this year. All of these experiences have given me hands-on opportunities to learn about climate justice, urban planning, and local decision making.
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
One of the most meaningful experiences I've had with Jackson has been supporting the Yale Emergency Services team, which started with a group of Jackson students looking to respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in our New Haven community. With the guidance of Prof. Nathaniel Raymond, the group has (among many other things) provided policy support to the Mayor's Office, and created a platform that matches volunteers with local organizations at the front lines of the coronavirus response. I've learned so much from observing the process and the structure of the response, conducting policy research, and seeing my classmates in action, each person bringing their own talents to bear. I'll continue supporting this work this summer and into the fall as needed. Last summer, again with the support of Prof. Raymond, I interned with the UN's migration agency (the International Organization for Migration) in London as part of the agency's Displacement Tracking Matrix team. The internship provided an eye-opening opportunity for me to learn about the operations and inner workings of the UN system, and understand more clearly the international humanitarian ecosystem. I supported a fascinating project on the use of AI and big data predictive analytics in the humanitarian sector, and helped develop ethical guidelines for these new technologies. Another meaningful experience for me has been joining Yale's Grand Strategy program, a one-year course with undergraduate and graduate students from across the university that asks, "How can you achieve large ends with limited means?" We spent our first semester reading canonical texts on war and military strategy, states and political strategy, and social movements. The readings and our in-class discussions have provided me a unique experience to push myself outside my intellectual comfort zone and connect with students from different disciplines.
What do you want to do once you’ve finished the program?
I hope to find a job where I can support the security, wellbeing, and socioeconomic position of vulnerable groups through urban climate mitigation and adaptation, and vis versa. I am interested in working for an organization like USAID to develop place-based programs related to the environment and equitable development.

Faraz Salahuddin

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Faraz Salahuddin is an M.A. candidate at the Jackson Institute from Karachi, Pakistan. He is interested in issues of health care access and international development. During his undergraduate studies, Faraz studied economics and history at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK. Over the past three and a half years Faraz has been developing a home base in Washington D.C., working as both a health care researcher and data analyst at Advisory Board. In his role, Faraz focused his time researching structural challenges in the U.S. health care system, and then developing analytics platforms to help hospitals and health care providers meet those challenges. At Yale, Faraz intends to continue his work on strengthening health care systems. His ultimate goal is to help governments in low-income countries, like his home country of Pakistan, develop stronger health insurance markets which in turn help make health care affordable for communities that are presently underserved.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?
Before Jackson I did a couple of things—I spent a few months working as a researcher at the Pew Research Center, and then as a programmer at a digital marketing agency respectively. However, the vast majority of my four years after graduation were spent at the Advisory Board Company in Washington DC. My work focused on addressing systemic challenges in health systems, and it was through this experience that I found a career and an industry that spoke to me. My time working in healthcare is also what has brought me to Jackson.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
It’s the small cohort size that I attach to most in the M.A. program. The small size means that there is an overabundance of resources—academic, professional, and human—relative to class size that we can all access as we move closer towards the targets we have set for ourselves. The smallness of the program also means I can more frequently and closely engage with both my colleagues and my teachers.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
My interests span a few domains, namely international development, health policy, health insurance, and globalization studies. As such, the extreme flexibility offered by Jackson has been crucial. In the process of building an academic+professional path at Yale, I have learnt from some great practitioner-scholars at the Yale School of Public Health, while building on core skills in development theory, programming and data analysis from within Jackson.
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
Two courses that I am taking this semester nicely reflect how Jackson’s academic flexibility plays out and benefits MA students. First, I am taking a History of Art/Architecture course that has introduced me to a lot of new critical theory on contemporary globalization. At the same time, I am participating in a policy practicum led by Jackson Senior Fellow Clare Lockhart where a team of Jackson colleagues and I are aiding the Minister of Education, Sierra Leone with his education reform agenda. The two classes together have been incredibly useful learning experiences that are pushing my understanding of how to do international development consulting work.
What do you want to do once you’ve finished the program?
This summer I will be working with the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition, and Population on two health projects in Pakistan related to universal healthcare financing and system strengthening. I had originally planned to work out of the Islamabad field office as these projects got going. However, the exceptionality imposed on us by COVID-19 means that I will now be operating on a slightly absurd sleep schedule as I try to work alongside the Islamabad team from here in New Haven. While working on issues of health financing sustainability and system reform seem to be the need of the moment, they are also the exact issues that I have wanted to work on in my career after Yale. In particular, I hope to leave Yale and work with low-income countries as they expand health access and move further towards important socialist objectives like universal health coverage.

Sophie Kaldor

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Sophie Kaldor graduated from Sydney University with a B.A. (languages) in 2016, receiving First Class Honors and the University Medal for her joint honors thesis in English and German literature. Sophie’s thesis analyzed the attempt by Romantic poets to escape the limitations of their inherent immanence in describing the transcendent. Sophie believes this paradoxical attempt to gain a ‘view’ from outside one’s self is also pertinent to the field of international governance and cooperation. In 2017, Sophie joined Aon, a global professional services firm, completing their graduate program in Financial Specialties Insurance broking, consulting and strategy. Since 2019, Sophie has worked as a risk analyst within Aon’s Global Risk Consulting division, enabling clients to effectively mitigate asset and liability risks through risk transfer solutions. Her clients ranged across multiple industries, including government, finance and construction. Growing up with relatives who fought on both sides in WWII and grandparents who came to Australia as refugees, Sophie’s background, complemented by her own extensive involvement in faith-based communities, drives her support of democratic ideals. Sophie’s exchange year in 2015 at Ludwig Maximilian Universität, Munich, brought this into sharp focus through her volunteer work with the emerging refugee community. Witnessing the divergent impact of Angela Merkel’s ‘open-doors’ policy first-hand intensified her interest in the tension between globalization and human rights. While at Yale, Sophie hopes to focus on the role of narratives and emotions in issues central to international security, particularly countering polarization and extremism in all its forms.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?  
Immediately before coming to Jackson, I worked in Australia as an analyst at Aon, a global risk advisory firm. The role included consulting on asset and liability risk management projects for financial institutions clients, modeling worst-case claims scenarios and running workshops to inform clients' insurable risk mitigation strategies. I really enjoyed the fast-paced, client-centric environment and working for a multinational company with colleagues all over the world.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
Being stretched and challenged by the diverse cohort, as well as the highly accessible Senior Fellows and professors. The small class size, coupled with Jackson's emphasis on practitioner-based learning, means it's remarkably easy to collaborate on ideas and put these into action. I hadn't anticipated that Horchow Hall (where the Jackson Institute is located) would actually be a kind of learning hub, which hosts a constant stream of events, lectures and debates. This really enhances the ideation culture.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
I've been particularly focussing on the role of narratives and emotions in issues central to international security, such as countering violent extremism and balancing human rights with the need to keep people safe. In the past semester I was able to take a class at the Law School focusing on the constitutionality of security law, as well as classes offered by the Jackson Institute on security strategy and the role of emotions in foreign policy. 
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
There are so many! Perhaps one of the most unusual was attending a sustainability workshop with sustainable-living advocate and 2019 World Fellow Rebecca Sullivan. It was a rather surreal and memorable experience to be surrounded by a mix of students and other World Fellows as Rebecca taught us to make our own sauerkraut, toothpaste and deodorant! 
What do you want to do once you’ve finished the program?
I am still working this out: Covid-19 has created many uncertainties around what life will look like in May 2021! I am excited to be working over the summer for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), one of the world's leading 'think and do' tanks dedicated to understanding and innovating real-world responses to polarization, hate and extremism. I'll be undertaking research and policy-advisory work around mapping violent extremism in the Indo-Pacific, as well as on tracking hate speech in the US elections.

Douglas Gledhill

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Douglas Gledhill graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College in 2014. He majored in international politics and economics with a focus on Brazil and a minor in Chinese. At Middlebury, Douglas explored topics such as economic development, economic reform, comparative democratization, international trade, and Chinese state-owned enterprises. He also interned at the IDB, at a garment manufacturer in Bangladesh, and as a research assistant for the political science department. He is fluent in Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese, and is proficient in French. After graduating, Douglas joined a rotational management training program at Amazon.com as a financial analyst. During that time, he did financial forecasting, reporting, and investment analyses in their operations division and helped run five warehouses. Later, he moved to Seattle to work in FP&A for Amazon Web Services Digital. Most recently, Douglas fulfilled a lifelong dream of backpacking the world. In 2017, he traveled through 20 countries in the Americas and in 2018 he traveled through 10 countries in Asia. Douglas is most interested in the intersection of politics, economics, and business. At Yale, he hopes to gain tools to analyze factors that affect the business and investment climate in various countries, with particular interest in Asia and Latin America.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?
Immediately before coming to Jackson, I spent 1.5 years traveling through Latin America and Asia with my fiancée. We bussed, hiked, and occasionally flew our way through 22 countries in 20 months. We spent an average of about $27/person/day and had the time of our lives getting to see the world. Read more on our travel blog: anemoscopio.wordpress.com

Before traveling, I worked in corporate finance at Amazon.com. I spent about two years working in operations finance running various warehouses, and about a year doing higher level financial planning and analysis for a branch of AWS in Seattle.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
I most like how small the Jackson community is. It's easy to get to know people when there are only about 60 people across both years and it creates great conversations. I also love being able to hear about everyone's different school, work, and life experiences. We come from different backgrounds and I love seeing how they come into play as we discuss different issues in class, or over dinner.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
I've been able to take quite a few courses at the School of Management that match my focus on the influence of political and economic factors on business decisions. I've also been able to dive into region-specific courses that match my interests in East Asia, and also study more widely applicable theory through classes like Macroprudential Policy.
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
I took the Global Social Enterprise (GSE) India course this past year and it was an immensely rewarding experience. I learned a lot about the skillset required to be a consultant, the social enterprise space, and rural India. I enjoyed working with my classmates on the project and had an unforgettable time visiting rural India to interview local entrepreneurs.
What do you want to do once you've finished the program?
I'm most interested in helping businesses facing problems with strategy localization in foreign markets, either as a consultant or in-house at a large multinational. I find the process of adapting a business model to a new national or cultural environment fascinating and would love to help businesses understand the political and economic environments they're expanding into. I have regional expertise in the greater China region, as well as Latin America and hope to find a role that allows me to use both these skillsets.

Kathleen Keefe

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Kathleen Keefe is a joint degree MA-MBA candidate at the Jackson Institute and School of Management. She comes to Yale from the international development sector, where she managed USAID projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that promote land market development and the growth of small and medium enterprises. Kathleen served as a Fulbright English instructor in Khabarovsk, Russia from 2012-2013. Prior to this, she worked in domestic policy evaluation, where she co-authored reports on labor, healthcare, defense, and nutrition programs. Kathleen graduated cum laude from Wellesley College in 2009 with a double major in political science and Russian. At Yale, Kathleen studies policymaking for inclusive economic development, with a focus on approaches that build wealth and equity in communities.

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What did you do before you came to Jackson?
Prior to Jackson, I worked in international development. I designed and managed large-scale, U.S. government projects supporting economic development across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Previously, I worked in public policy evaluation and spent one year as a Fulbright English Instructor in Khabarovsk, Russia.
What do you like most about the M.A. program and the Jackson community?
My Jackson courses have allowed me the chance to use different lenses to think about complex development problems. I entered Jackson with a solid understanding of how the U.S. government approaches international development, and with the intention of continuing work in this space following graduation. I credit Jackson’s flexible curriculum with expanding my conception of what constitutes good development, and for pushing me to think deeply about how I can best reflect that in my future career.
How have you customized your curriculum to match your area of focus?
I’ve been able to create a program that meets my academic and professional goals in a way that is tailored to my past experience and my specific needs. My courses at Jackson have focused on economics and leadership, and have equipped me with the analytical frameworks to speak and act with more authority in my field. Due to Jackson’s integrated nature, I have had the opportunity to take School of Management courses that have complemented my policy focus at Jackson by capturing the role the private sector, and fields such as impact investment, can play in good development.
Any particular experiences that have really stood out?
It’s hard to choose! The community at Jackson is what drew me to this program, and my most memorable moments to date are the chances I’ve had to learn from my peers outside the classroom. For example, every Friday, students meet for a Global Affair—a casual gathering where students share some aspect of their past professional or personal experiences over food and drinks. These types of conversations have been inspiring, challenging, and an incredibly meaningful part of my Jackson experience.  

Among my courses at Jackson, a class on Ethical Choices in Public Leadership with Eric Braverman stands out as truly memorable. This course provided us with frameworks for approaching decisions when there are no easy answers. It pushed us to examine our values and unpack the motivations driving our actions when we are in a position to make choices on behalf of others.

Finally, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the city of New Haven better by volunteering in the community, checking out the rich arts and music scene, and spending time in some of New Haven’s surrounding parks!  
What do you want to do once you’ve finished the program?
After graduation, I plan to continue working on issues of economic development. My time at Jackson has been critical to helping me investigate various models for effective and just economic growth, and I intend to apply the insight and skills I’ve gained at Jackson to contribute more meaningfully to my field.