PPIA Program

“Diversity & Leadership in Public Service”

PPIA’s 11th annual Public Service Expo to be held on Friday, July 19th in Washington, DC.


Held in the nation’s capital, the PPIA Public Service EXPO serves as a creative commons for prospective applicants to public policy and international affairs schools, for individuals seeking public service careers and internships, and for strengthening a community of high-impact individuals.

Thank you to American University’s School of Public Affairs and School of of International Service sponsoring this event!

When: Friday, July 19, 2013, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Where: Katzen Arts Center, American University, Washington, DC


Attendance is FREE – Register here.

Want to exhibit?  Non-member graduate schools, non-profits, public

and private sector entities welcome – Register here.

About the EXPO

Who should attend?

The EXPO brings together representatives of some of the nation’s top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs and employers seeking highly qualified individuals who are committed to public service under one roof. Undergraduates and graduate students alike can benefit from the expertise and guidance they can access through this event.

A list of school’s and employers who attended last year can be found here.

Why attend?

Learn about the graduate school admissions process!

Attendees of the EXPO receive unparalleled access to decision makers in the admissions process at the nation’s top policy schools. Prospective applicants have an opportunity to ask questions about various policy programs, what makes a strong candidate, and carefully consider which programs align with their interests and careers.

Find careers and internships in public policy and international affairs!

As many graduate programs emphasize career experience as an essential part of a competitive application, the Expo encourages attendees to visit the various employers that offer information about careers and internships in public service.

Be part of a community!

Recognizing the importance of networks, the Expo provides a crucial meeting point for over 200 students each year to exchange of ideas, information, and inspiration. The EXPO also offers students attending PPIA’s 2013 Junior Summer Institutes the opportunity to meet each other and connect with program alumni in Washington, DC.


PPIA welcomes the 2013 cohort of fellows to our Junior Summer Institutes!


The Public Policy & International Affairs Fellowship (PPIA) Program is thrilled to welcome over 100 rising seniors to the 2013 Junior Summer Institutes. These students were selected from a national pool of nearly 500 highly qualified applicants. They have demonstrated a commitment to public service and strong interest in pursuing graduate level education.

Held on the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, University of Michigan, and University of California, Berkeley, the Junior Summer Institutes provide participants with a rigorous 7-week curriculum that prepares them for graduate level study. Participation in a JSI will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in graduate school and, ultimately, in influential roles serving the public good.

The PPIA program prepares undergraduates to be competitive candidates for top degree programs in the fields of Public Policy, Public Administration, International Affairs, or a related field. Students who successfully complete the program go on to be eligible for financial support to attend one of over 30 U.S. graduate schools in our Consortium.

PPIA was founded in 1981 to promote diversity and leadership in Public Policy and International Affairs. Today, the program has an alumni network of nearly 4,000 individuals who share an interest in public service and are advancing leadership roles in the field.

Maggie DeCarlo joins the PPIA Board of Directors!

PPIA is excited to welcome Maggie DeCarlo to our Board of Directors. She has been the Director of Admissions for The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago since 2003. She was born in Detroit, MI and has a long history of public policy and community development work experience in the public private and non-profit sector. Her formal work in policy and advocacy began with the Warren/Conner Development Coalition, a non-profit focusing on healthy neighborhoods, economic development and political empowerment, where she served as a program director.

From 1996 to 2000, Maggie served as an appointee for the Honorable Dennis Archer, Mayor of the City of Detroit, where she was Deputy Director/Service Coordinator for the Butzel Family Center an 80,000+ square foot municipal facility that housed government, private and not for profit family serving agencies providing “cradle to grave” services and recreation activities for residents of Detroit’s eastside. Upon relocating to Chicago in 2000, Maggie went to work for an Illinois State Representative and later the Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross as manager of Community Education before transitioning to the University of Chicago.

Maggie attended the University of Michigan where she was first introduced to the formal study of Public Policy in the program that is now known as PPIA and later graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Economics. Maggie lives in the Woodlawn community near the University and she hopes to continue to work towards the completion of her MPP.

Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs hosts online information session!


The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs will host a series of informational webinars for prospective students to learn more about the program. Participants will hear directly from program administrators, faculty and current students.

Date: Wednesday, June 19, 12:00-1:00pm EST.
Register to attend one of these events by clicking here.

Alumni Voice: Interview with Jean Pierre-Louis (PPIA ’97)


Name: Jean Pierre-Louis

JSI Attended: University of Washington, 1997

Current Title: Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France

Current Employer: U.S. State Department


You attended the University of Washington’s JSI program in 1997. How did that experience shape your future educational and professional path?

UWLogoPPIA was one of the key moments in life for me. I had not thought about graduate school before really and I didn’t know whether or not I had the aptitude to do it. It was not one of my goals. I went to the University of Washington to see what would happen, in a sense. I met a cohort of people who were enthusiastic, many of them had clear goals to go to graduate school and do other things and those goals became part of my own reality. That probably was, for me, pivotal. In addition to giving me at least the belief that graduate school was a necessity and something that I could tackle, the program also came with a financial incentive to continue. That combination really set me off sailing in a direction that I otherwise would not have gone.

You attended the Master of Science in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University. How did you end up choosing that program?

I think in part because I had met the Director of Admissions and the Dean at my PPIA summer institute. They had traveled to meet with us. With those two having come to the institute, it put Georgetown on my radar. After the summer institute I went to Taiwan to do my senior year abroad and the administrators of the PPIA program at the time kept in touch. In Taiwan I met a lot of people who were in graduate school already and they had a clear path to go on to do a PhD or something. I was one of a handful of undergrads and when I talked to them about the places they had looked at for getting an advanced degree, Georgetown kept coming up as one of the APSIA schools that was an option for PPIA alumni. After, when I was exploring my options, I really focused on schools in Washington, DC. Georgetown was a good fit because I had become interested in the Foreign Service. Initially, I was waitlisted. I did not want to remain waitlisted so I wrote a note to the two women I’d met at the PPIA summer institute and I think that, in part, that helped get me off the waitlist.  So a number of factors kicked in to get me to attend Georgetown.  It was definitely the best fit for me.

What were the top 3 most valuable takeaways from your graduate school experience?

The top take-away was the network. When you go to Georgetown you join a network of people who are like-minded, successful, and feel that they owe other alums an ear if not taking action directly on their behalf. That was key. While I was there I had access to the World Bank, the Pentagon, etc. I wanted to focus on North Korea and I met with some of the top people working on North Korea. There was no institution that I wanted to reach out to and connect with that they could not get to through a professor or alum. That’s the number one thing that you get out of it.

Second, I learned how to write for leaders, busy people who are not going to read 15 pages routinely. I learned to put the meat of your argument up front and summarize what they really need to know. In a sense, keeping it short, sweet, and powerful. I think this applied not only to my writing but also in oral presentation. I learned how to give people information in way they will remember.

GULogoThird, Georgetown gave me an opportunity to learn about leadership. Georgetown had a weekend seminar that looked at leadership. This remains one of the other key moments in my life besides PPIA. It was a one-day seminar where we had a presenter who talked about leadership. Why be a leader? What does it mean to be a leader? What are the realities? In other words, do you know that leaders work long hours, sometimes it means giving other people credit or taking blame when there is blame to take. He asked very pointed questions and gave us really powerful nuggets. I have never forgotten those lessons. In my career I still frequently ask myself why am I here? What am I supposed to learn? I also learned that you lead at every level and lead differently in different settings. We talked about different type of leaders and I remember that I preferred the helicopter model. Over ten years later, I still remember my preference.

What advice would you give to alumni who are thinking about graduate school?

Be sure that graduate school is what you need. Don’t hurry into it. Don’t go just because you think you need to punch that ticket. There are so many options that can help prepare you for the three or four careers you are about to experience. The days are gone when you are going to stick with one company for 30 years. Even if you are in the same organization, you don’t necessarily have the same responsibilities. In the Foreign Service, my work changes every couple of years. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into being an expert before you have a chance to understand what the needs are in the fields you are looking at long-term. I think it’s important to ask yourself – Will the skills you plan to acquire in grad school allow you to pivot so people will believe that your degree is an asset? Also, you don’t need to go to a brand name school necessarily; you can pick up the same book knowledge from any campus. You should focus on finding a school that prepares you for what you hope to do in the next 5, 10, 15 years and will help you pivot through your next couple of jobs.

You are currently based in Paris, France as the Special Assistant to the US Ambassador. For those of our alumni who are considering a path in the State Department, how would you describe your work?

 The first thing I’d say is don’t let the hype fool you. This is a job. It’s glamorous sure, it’s exciting yes, but you do have a desk and a computer and you are expected to work. The work that you are expected to do most of the time looks like any of the work that anyone else with a desk and a computer is doing. You’re feeding information to Washington, to your colleagues, and to others. The work isn’t anything you can’t do if you have the aptitude. The job itself calls for someone with the skill set we’ve described before. Being willing to be a leader at any level regardless of what your job calls for. Being willing to take a leadership role when called for and take a back seat when needed.

If working in an embassy is something you think you are interested in, work on your writing skills. 40% of your time is spent pushing information to others over email.  The goal of what you write is to quickly present the ideas that you need to get across in order to have them get acted on quickly. It’s also important to be analytical. I’m a political officer by cone and part of our job is to see that things are going in a particular direction and why. In those cases, you can’t let yourself get lost in the details and miss the big picture.

As a Foreign Service Officer in this job you have to learn how to quickly make friends and get people to believe that you have something valuable to share and that you are a person of integrity. Share the credit. I tell people that I don’t have a meaty portfolio, my job is to empower the Ambassador to do his job well. He needs to be able to show up and be prepared. In the past, I’ve been the one that had to show up and be prepared. Be flexible. Show people that you care about their well-being and communicate clearly and succinctly.

Before joining the Foreign Service you held a number of very different positions. How did you navigate your career path? 

Jean and Bush

Jean with Former US President George W. Bush at the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund office in Washington, DC.

It was mostly about opportunities presenting themselves but it wasn’t haphazard. You can prepare yourself to take advantage of opportunities. PPIA was one of those steps. I didn’t know it at the time but I was preparing myself for what was ahead. I studied abroad, I had summer jobs, and all of that helped prepare me. For example, I went on vacation to Haiti and while I was there, found an opportunity to be a translator for a U.S. Special Forces in Haiti. I was a flight attendant when I got out of college because I wanted to travel. In that job I learned about service and dealing with difficult people with a smile. It has been extremely useful throughout my career. I started a small business and closed a small business and that failure helped me focus on what else I wanted to do in life. It actually reminded me that I had the opportunity through PPIA to go to graduate school. Without that failure I might not have gone on to get an advanced degree. I haven’t had a bad job. Every job was a learning opportunity that taught me something I was able to use later.

Why did you choose to enter the Foreign Service?

I first learned about the Foreign Service when I was in China as a sophomore in college. While I was there, a gentleman in the program mentioned that his Chinese girlfriend was going back to the US with him that summer. People told him that it was very hard to get a VISA and he said his dad was an Foreign Service Officer and would help her. That was the first time I heard about it. Later, when I went to Taiwan in my senior year, I started visiting a bunch of diplomats who had really nice homes. They had homes with pools and I was sharing a two-bedroom place with three other people. I wanted to know what they did and I decided that it was a career I’d like to try at some point. I knew that I had what it took to live abroad and could deal with the daily impact of living far away from family. I also liked language. I didn’t want to take the Foreign Service exam right away though. I went on to do other things first. Once I went to Georgetown, the Foreign Service was in my face all the time. In my second year there I took and passed the exam. It was always in the back of my mind and I kept moving towards it slowly. The opportunities were there and I jumped on them but there were steps that prepared me to show up and succeed in getting in.

 To date, what professional achievement are you most proud of? 

Jean in Haiti1

Jean Pierre-Louis conducting a monitoring and evaluations visit at a project site in Jacmel, Haiti.

I’m quite proud of the fact that all of the places I’ve worked I can pick up the phone, call those colleagues, and have them take that call. I think that’s important. I’m quite proud of the professional relationships I’ve built. I make an intentional effort to do that. There is not one staffer in an office who deserves all the credit. It takes hard work on the part of every person who works in an office, from the people who empty the trash up to the top person, to achieve success. I respect what my colleagues do and have accomplished.

The other thing I’m proud of doing is encouraging people to leave a position when they are more skilled than the job they are doing calls for. Even people on my own team who I benefit from working with, I encourage them to move on and up and take on bigger challenges that fit their skill sets.

In terms of a legacy, I spent two years after the earthquake in Haiti working for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. That was some difficult work. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund had about $50 million in funds and we did some things in Haiti that were good and different than what other organizations were doing. We empowered small business in the local communities and when we worked with NGOs, we tried to ensure that their goal was to transfer knowledge to local Haitians and empower the community. Ultimately, this created sustainable jobs.

What other advice would you like to share?

I’d like to share that it’s important to ask for help. Do it in a way that makes sense, be respectful and reasonable when talking to busy people, but ask for help. It’s also really important to follow up to say thank you. In all the years that I have been making myself available to help people interested in getting involved in the Foreign Service, only 1 or 2 have followed up.

What are your goals for the future?

 When I went to China, I started reading the Economist. The back of the Economist had all kinds of job advertisements for things that sounded so interesting. My goal is to one day find a job in the ads in the Economist that interests me, apply, and get it. I’m not preparing in any special way for this, I don’t have a specific job in mind, but I know that it’s an achievable goal for me. I’d hope that’s the way life would work for all of us. That we have a goal and work towards it, however slowly, and eventually, achieve it.

About Jean

Jean Pierre-Louis is Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France, where he helps optimize operations so that the Ambassador and his Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) receive the best possible support from the Embassy’s 1,000 staff and 40-plus USG departments and agencies. Jean took up his current assignment in August 2012.

From June 2010 until February 2012, on loan from the Department, Jean managed $50 million in grants, loans, and investments that fostered economic development in Haiti as the Senior Program Manager of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

From August 2008 until May 2010, Jean served as Special Assistant to the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), from which he deployed to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.

Jean’s previous overseas assignments include working as Deputy Branch Chief of the American Institute in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Branch Office, where he was responsible for economic & political reporting as well as consular functions from August 2006 until July 2008. In his first tour at the Department, Jean served as General Services Officer at U.S. Consulate General Shanghai.

Jean holds a M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Florida. As an undergraduate, Jean attended two yearlong exchange programs – spending his senior year at National Taiwan University in Taipei and his sophomore year at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’An, China. He is fluent in French, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin Chinese. Jean was born in Mole St. Nicolas, Haiti; he grew up in Miami, Florida. Jean is married to Janée Pierre-Louis, a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of Commerce. They are the proud parents of three dynamic children – Julien, Sarah, and Joelle.

PPIA at the Conference on Diversity in International Affairs

In April, over two hundred professionals and students from diverse backgrounds gathered in Washington, DC for the Conference on Diversity in International Affairs, hosted by the Council on Foreign RelationsGlobal Access Pipeline, and the International Career Advancement Program. The event featured Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, the US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States,  and Charles Bolden, Jr., Administrator of NASA and attendees benefited from workshops on topics ranging from “World Demographics & Economic Challenges” to “Making yourself Marketable for International Careers.” Thanks to its involvement in the Global Access Pipeline, PPIA was able to share this unique opportunity with seven outstanding alumni.


Michael Cruz, UC Berkley ’11, and Tasneem Chowdhury, Princeton ’12.

They came from different Junior Summer Institutes and different years but this event was a chance for PPIA alumni to make new connections. According to Michael Cruz (UC Berkeley, ’11), “Meeting some of the other PPIA alumni from other institutes and years was extremely enlightening about the diversity that PPIA brings to the table. I look forward to more events such as this one in the future.” In summing up his experience, Liban Ahmed (Princeton, ’10) said he “…was inspired by the bright and tenacious youth who were present.” He explained that for him, ” this conference demonstrated that globalization isn’t just a diffusion of ideas and information, but the joining of lives and professions on a global scale.”

Networking didn’t just happen between the PPIA alumni, participants had the opportunity to engage with accomplished professionals who provided insight on opportunities in international careers. Ronnell Perry (Carnegie Mellon, ’07), connected with the director of the Global Language Project to talk “… about how she works to provide language learning opportunities for youth who would otherwise not be exposed to foreign languages and culture.” He followed up with her after the conference and has been asked to submit a guest blog post for the Global Language Project’s website.

The experiences of these alumni captures a fraction of the valuable interactions and connections that were made over the course of this day and half long event. PPIA looks forward to continuing to support our alumni with access to professional development opportunities like this one and hopes to be able to bring more alumni together at next year’s event!

For a look at the full conference agenda, click here.

Diversity, Equity, and Public Policy: APPAM’s 2013 Spring Conference Recap

On April 6, 2013, nearly 100 academics, researchers, educators, and analysts attended APPAM’s Spring Conference, Diversity, Equity, & Public Policy. Among the participants were members of the PPIA Board of Directors and National Office, including Tara Sheehan, Martha Chavez, Erin Mann, and Maggie DeCarlo. This year’s conference was sponsored in part by RWJF New Connections, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) with technical assistance and direction provided by OMG Center for Collaborative Learning.


Lilliana Garces answers a question from the audience.

The conference consisted of three sessions that covered various aspects of diversity issues in the public policy field, from education programs to the workforce. In the first session, Different Models of Pipeline Programs to Increase Diversity, panelists discussed efforts of various pipeline programs in the field of economics, a Master’s Program, postdoctoral training, and social programs. The second session’s panel, Reaction about the Realities of Diversity in Public Policy, included members from the federal government, practitioners, and academia.

The presenters shared the realities they face with diversity in educating and hiring public policy graduates and staff.  The final session, Access, Higher Education, and Public Policy, took a look at the future of diversity in higher education. Presenters discussed affirmative action, recent court decisions regarding admissions policies, financial aid, and how these issues continue to impact diversity policies today.

At the end of the conference, attendees filled out a comprehensive survey and the results will help determine APPAM’s next steps in addressing diversity. An action plan for progress will be determined and the Association will continue working with its members to further discuss and promote diversity in the field of public policy.

You can check out videos of each session online at APPAM’s YouTube channel. Session summaries and presenter slideshows will be posted on the APPAM website in the coming days, so check them out on social media and their homepage for more information.

Face to Face – PPIA Alumni Connect in DC for a Networking Happy Hour

From left: Eduardo Garcia, UC Berkeley '09, Juana Hernandez, UC Berkeley '08, Daysi Alonzo, Marc Bacani, UC Berkeley '09

From left: Eduardo Garcia, UC Berkeley ’09, Juana Hernandez, UC Berkeley ’08, Daysi Alonzo, Marc Bacani, UC Berkeley ’09

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, several PPIA alumni in Washington, DC got together for a happy hour at Front Page in Dupont Circle. The event was the second PPIA happy hour of the year. Like many of the alumni present at the event, Michael Fletcher (Michigan ’11) was eager to reconnect with his cohort. “I really enjoy attending PPIA happy hours because it’s a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. It is great to come together with like-minded, ambitious, caring, and intelligent people in a relaxed social setting. The drink specials were great too.”

In addition to meeting and making friends, PPIA alumni also found the event a valuable time to make professional connections. According to Ryan Price (Princeton ’12): “It’s always fun to compare experiences and share stories…and I’ve actually followed up with a few other fellows on networking and job opportunities since as well!”

James Goldgeier, Dean of American University’s School of International Service and Co-Chair of PPIA’s Board of Directors, also joined the alumni at Front Page. Dean Goldgeier remarked about the importance of PPIA alumni events, “It was so great to meet such successful PPIA alumni! It’s such an impressive and talented group, and the opportunity the happy hour provided for networking was invaluable.”

Make sure you don’t miss the next event in your area! Connect with us on social media and update your Alumni-Net account! To plan your own event, email ppia.office@ppiaprogram.org!