Earlier this spring, 115 multigenerational women gathered to attend the 3rd Annual Career Opportunities for International Relations (COIR) Symposium. This year’s theme, Women Impacting the World, honored the achievements of current women leaders in the International Affairs community and invited students and professionals to engage with these incredible women.
The COIR Symposium was organized by the U.S. Department of State’s Recruitment and Outreach Division in Human Resources and the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU). This is the second year they have partnered for this extraordinary conference. Event panelists ranged from government heads to distinguished writers and producers, to non-governmental organizational leaders. Marcela Trask, a symposium attendee, remarked of the event, “As a young professional in the field- I think it is important to learn from others and seek advice. It was amazing to see and engage with so many women in the field.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jo Ellen Powell provided the opening remarks, reminding the female professionals gathered that “you are never too young to make a difference, never too old, too humble or too important to serve your community, your country, to do good, to make your mark and leave a mark on others.” The first panel, entitled, Conversations, featured Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy; Jacqueline Wilson, Principal at Civic Fusion International; and Sheila Crowley, Acting Director of the Peace Corps. Moderated by Shawna Thomas from VICE Media, the panel discussed such topics as being true to one’s self and managing family expectations. “Even though people may see you as different‑ it’s okay- just be you,” Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said. “One day, your family will see that your ‘weirdness’ pays off.”
Another panel included Noreen Jameel, Head of Foreign News at VICE Media; Naomi Pizarro, Manager for International HR and Travel Security at the National Endowment for Democracy; Evelyn Rodriguez-Perez, Director of the Office of Education at USAID; Andi Gitow, Acting Deputy Director of United Nations Information Center; and Desiree M. Cormier, Director of the Africa Practice at the Albright Stonebridge Group. They spoke of their paths to success, with Rodriguez-Chavez encouraging attendees to find their own path. “There are so many possibilities to explore you just have to follow your interests and passions,” she observed.
Melanne Verveer, the Executive Director of Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, delivered the keynote address during lunch, which focused on the importance of women achieving power and purpose in all fields. Verveer emphasized that a women’s voice is the most powerful tool in the tool kit. The day ended with a speed mentoring session where more than 20 mentors from across the international affairs community paired up with attendees to discuss issues, give advice, and build networks.
The State Department and our partners remain committed to creating spaces where professionals of different ages and backgrounds can come together to learn from one another and learn more about international affairs. Such efforts are crucial to creating diverse leaders, including women, that will have an impact on the future of global affairs.
About the Author: Judy Torres serves as a recruiter for the U.S. Department of State.
Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.