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Program in International and Comparative Studies Annual International Studies Alumni Career Panel and Reception

International Studies Alumni
Monday, March 20, 2023
5:00-7:30 PM
Room 1010 Weiser Hall Map
The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) will host its annual International Studies Alumni Career Panel in person and virtually on Monday, March 20, 2023.

If you wish to attend virtually, please register here:

This alumni panel will showcase and celebrate the university’s rich history of contributions made by International Studies alumni, while providing valuable insight for current students as they start to develop their own career paths. The panel will include a student Q&A portion. This will be followed by a reception.

PICS is home to the International Studies major and minor. Established in 2009, International Studies is one of the largest majors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, with over 2000 accomplished alumni worldwide. International Studies graduates pursue numerous career paths, many going on to work with corporations, non-profits, or government agencies, as well as progressing directly on to graduate school.

Learn where an International Studies major can take you!

This event is co-sponsored by: the LSA Opportunity Hub, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of American Culture, the Department of Sociology, Sigma Iota Rho, and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.


Emily Biester, Senior Refugee Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Political Science; minor French and Francophone Studies ‘13

Emily Biester is from Oak Park, IL and obtained a B.A. from the University of Michigan. While conducting research on migration policy through her coursework, she worked with refugees and asylum seekers at the Freedom House in Detroit, and then with individuals at all stages of their immigration journey at an immigration law office. Emily was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar from 2013 to 2015 and joined U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Seattle Field Office as an Immigration Services Officer in March 2016. She came to the International and Refugee Affairs Division (IRAD) as a Refugee Officer in September 2019 and became a Senior Refugee Officer in May 2022. Emily has completed refugee processing circuit rides to Uganda, Malawi, Lebanon, and Iraq as well as detail assignments to IRAD HQ’s Policy Branch and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s Office of Admissions at the U.S. Department of State. She currently lives in Seattle, WA with her wife, dog, and cat.


Atlee Chait, Program Specialist, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and the Office of International Religious Freedom
Washington, D.C.
MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, The London School of Economics and Political Science, '19
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘14

Atlee Chait is a Program Specialist for the US Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and the Office of International Religious Freedom where she supports the administering of multi-million dollar programs across the globe focused on supporting religious freedom. Prior to her current role she was contracted as the Senior Election Analyst Assistant with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) Limited Election Observation Mission for the 2020 US General Elections. She has also worked on monitoring and evaluation, geopolitical risk and security, and development programming while living in Washington DC, Uganda, and Israel. Atlee holds a Master's in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Bachelor's in International Studies from the University of Michigan, and has served as a Princeton in Africa Fellow.


Mekarem Eljamal, Doctoral Candidate in Urban Planning, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
New York
Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Masters in International and Regional Studies (Middle Eastern and North African Studies), University of Michigan ‘21
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Middle Eastern and North African Studies; Honors ‘16

Mekarem Eljamal is a doctoral student in urban planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her current research looks into the political economy of “mixed-cities” within Israel, looking at how the management and leveraging of social mix in these cities is intimately tied to the same logics of division that guide and undergird settler colonialism and neoliberalism. Eljamal is currently the managing editor for the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative of the Arab Studies Institute and an affiliate editor for History@Work, the blog for the National Council on Public History.


Skylar Gleason, J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School
New York
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Political Science; Honors; minor, Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture; minor, Law, Justice, and Social Change ‘19

Skylar Gleason is a first-year law student at Columbia Law School, where she is a member of the Human Rights Institute 1L Advocates Program and the Max Berger '71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program. She is interested in international human rights law with a primary focus on mass atrocity accountability and transitional justice. Prior to law school, Skylar was the Liu Xiaobo Human Rights Fellow for two years at Perseus Strategies, a public interest law firm based in Washington, DC. While there, she blended legal, government, and media advocacy to advance a wide variety of human rights projects around the world, including international parental child abduction cases, atrocity crime reports, and political prisoner cases in countries such as South Sudan, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, and Cambodia. Since leaving her full-time role at the firm, she has remained a consultant on the case of Siamak Namazi, an American citizen held hostage in Iran. She also served as a member of the advocacy team with the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) -- a NY-based non-profit focused on academic freedom -- where she published reports on attacks on the higher education community and assisted in developing case strategy for the Scholars in Prison Project. While at the University of Michigan, Skylar was President of the community service organization Circle K, studied abroad in Argentina, and completed internships with Perseus Strategies, the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender, and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.


Nathaniel Maekawa, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.
Master of Public Administration, Focus: Development Practice and
Technology, Media, and Communications, Columbia University ‘22
BA International Studies (Global Environment and Health); minor, Medical Anthropology; Sustainability Scholars Program ‘18

Nathaniel Maekawa is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. Born in New York City and raised in Michigan and Texas, Nathaniel graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018. He received a B.A. in International Studies and minored in Medical Anthropology. While at U-M, he studied and worked in Guatemala, Mexico, Indonesia, France, New Zealand, and Madagascar. After graduation he served as a Peace Corps Health Education Volunteer in Mongolia and as an AmeriCorps Environmental Volunteer in Minnesota. He received a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University with a focus on Development Practice and Technology, Media, and Communications. Nathaniel loves nature, being active, learning, writing, taking pictures, and sharing time with friends and family.


Fadel Nabilsi, Associate Attorney, HNH Law Group
Ann Arbor
JD, Michigan State University College of Law ‘21
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Near Eastern Studies (Arabic Cultural Studies); minor, Arab and Muslim American Studies ‘16

Fadel Nabilsi is an Ann Arbor native and first-generation college and law school graduate. He is also a first-generation attorney. He currently works as an Associate Attorney at HNH Law Group doing business, cannabis, and personal injury law servicing clients across the State of Michigan and internationally. During his time at U-M, he studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco through the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, interned with the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), and worked as a program assistant at Community Action Network (CAN) serving the under-resourced community in Washtenaw County. Fadel also participated in the Michigan in Washington (MIW) Program where he spent a semester in Washington, D.C. as an intern at the Arab American Institute doing policy related work. After graduation he completed a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CAN, worked as a research assistant at the U of M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and worked at a pro-bono legal non-profit. He continued on to receive his Juris Doctor Degree from the Michigan State University College of Law in May 2021 and has been practicing law as an attorney since.


Jordan Solano-Reed, NYC DOT Transportation Planner
New York
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (Transportation Planning), University of Michigan ‘18
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Political Science; minor, Music ‘16

Jordan Solano-Reed is a Transportation Planner with the New York City Department of Transportation, specializing in Commercial Corridor Enhancements and curbside management as a part of the Traffic Operations division. Jordan completed his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan in 2018, and has worked in the public sector as an Urban Planner on projects throughout Metro-Detroit and New York since. Over the past several years, he has conducted research and written extensively about safe streets design guidance, policy, and equity and access in transportation. He has created and been a partner on roadway, bikeway, transitway, and land-use plans across Michigan, New York State, and New York City. As a Transportation Planner, he collaborates and partners frequently with other planners, engineers, practitioners, and researchers from across the United States, North America, and Europe to recommend, plan, and implement best-practices for roadways, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and safety. This includes encouraging the removal of urban highways as a part of restorative justice for minority communities whose quality of life is restricted by air pollution, tire particulate, lack of access to housing and jobs, and higher fatality and injury rates while walking or biking. Jordan is also active in LGBTQ advocacy through the NYC DOT Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion's LGBT@DOT organization.


Parisa Soraya, Product Manager, Brightline
Ann Arbor
MHI Health Informatics, University of Michigan ‘17
BS International Studies (Global Environment and Health); BS Spanish ‘15

Parisa Soraya is a product leader and entrepreneur in the digital health space. She is currently at Brightline, which brings virtual behavioral and mental health care to kids, teens, and their families. Previously, she led solutioning for ArborMetrix, a growth-stage healthcare data science startup. In 2016, she co-founded Find Your Ditto, a peer-peer support platform for individuals living with chronic illness. She also guest lectures on Clinical Design Thinking at UM School of Information and mentors students in the idea/pilot stage of their entrepreneurial ideas. In her free time, she loves challenging her culinary skills, including many hours of baking. She also loves to hike, play with her active cat Finn, and practice ashtanga yoga.


Lilian Varner-Bostedor, Marketing and Media Relations Manager at University Musical Society (UMS)
Ann Arbor
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘21

Lilian Varner-Bostedor is the Marketing and Media Relations Manager at the University Musical Society (UMS), one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, which contributes to a vibrant cultural community in Southeast Michigan by presenting approximately 60-75 music, dance, and theater performances and over 100 free educational activities each season, as well as by commissioning and producing new work, sponsoring artist residencies, and organizing collaborative projects with local, national, and international partners. Throughout her life, Bostedor has engaged with the intersection of the performing arts, communications, and their power to share otherwise unknown perspectives. In the past, she has held positions in journalism and graphic design with Michigan News, U-M Arts & Culture Initiative, and the U-M William L. Clements Library. At UMS, she is continuing to work to rethink public relations as a way to inspire individuals and enrich communities by connecting diverse audiences and artists in uncommon and engaging experiences. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, baking, and spending time with her husband and pets.


Britta Wilhelmsen, Customer Success Manager, BetterUp
Washington, D.C.
Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD), The Fletcher School at Tufts ‘19
BA International Studies (Comparative Culture and Identity) ‘13

Britta Wilhelmsen currently works in the government practice at BetterUp, a tech startup focused on personal and professional development coaching from a mental wellness perspective. Her role combines elements of customer strategy and account management, all with the goal of helping federal employees live with greater clarity, purpose, and well-being. Prior to BetterUp, Britta spent 3 years with Guidehouse (formerly PwC) doing change management and strategic communications consulting for DHS agencies. Britta has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from The Fletcher School at Tufts, where she studied international conflict resolution and negotiation with a regional focus on Latin America. She also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a year, during which she co-founded an English teaching practice and took on freelance copywriting jobs for local Buenos Aires blogs. At Michigan, Britta was co-artistic director of hip hop group Dance 2XS and worked for the Program of International and Comparative Studies (PICS). She loves all things dance, animals, traveling, and practicing her Spanish.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Presentation
Tags: Alumni, career, Undergraduate
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Program in International and Comparative Studies, International Institute, Sigma Iota Rho, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Department of American Culture, Department of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Department of Political Science, LSA Opportunity Hub