WIIS-DC is a WIIS U.S. Chapter based in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
WIIS-DC carries out localized, intimate-scale events for women working in the peace and security fields in the mid-atlantic region. The mission of the D.C. Chapter is to provide opportunities for networking, collaboration, mentoring and skill development among women in D.C.’s vibrant international peace and security community.
Michelle Shevin-Coetzee, President of WIIS DC
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Michelle Shevin-Coetzee joined WIIS-DC in May 2015 as Vice President, having previously served as the Founder and President of WIIS-GWU, the chapter at the George Washington University.
Outside of WIIS-DC, Michelle is an MA candidate in Security Studies at Georgetown University. She previously was a 2018-2019 Fulbright Schuman Fellow based at Chatham House in London and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin. Michelle also worked in Washington’s think tank community, serving as a Research Assistant at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) and as a Researcher at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Her work focuses on European defense policy.
She graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with a B.A. in International Affairs and a minor in Arabic. She has also studied at the University of Cambridge.
Brenda Estefania Ortiz Calva, Event Coordinator
Estefania is an Analyst in the Congressional Affairs Office at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC. She has contributed in the organization of a wide variety of events, including briefings to Congressional staffers, a discussion on consular protection to LGBTI communities, and a mentoring talk between Mexican diplomats and college women interested in foreign policy. Estefania obtained a master’s degree in Security Policy Studies from the George Washington University, where she belonged to the first generation of Carlos Slim Scholars.
As a graduate student, Estefania interned at the Inter-American Dialogue and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime liaison office in New York. She is interested in the intersection between security and development, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. She enjoys working on topics like migration, transnational crime, and regional cooperation. Estefania was born and raised in Hidalgo, Mexico. She received her bachelor's degree in International Relations from ITAM. As a research assistant, Estefania participated in the organization of roundtable events to discuss the state of the energy sector in Mexico. Her thesis about security cooperation between Mexico and Central America allowed her to graduate with distinction.
Carly Millenson, Partnerships Coordinator
Carly Millenson’s focus is the international peace and security field, particularly as it pertains to the Eurasian sphere. She received her BA from Princeton University with a self-designed major in International Security with Historical Studies, which used the lens of modern history to understand current security challenges facing the US, and a minor in East Asian Studies. Her senior thesis examined how best to characterize the US-China-Russia strategic dynamic. Other research interests include the South China Sea dispute and the Far Right. While at Princeton she served as a fellow at the Center for International Security Studies, where she helped run inter-institutional crisis simulations and the Center’s speaker series.
Carly first began working with WIIS while in high school, when she served as Program Manager at WIIS-NY. She speaks Mandarin, Spanish, and German and has spent time living in the People's Republic of China, as well as Taiwan, where she attended National Taiwan University for a semester. Carly has interned at the Center on National Security at the Fordham University School of Law, the American Enterprise Institute’s Asian Studies Group, and Washington’s Laogai Research Foundation. She is currently taking classes at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Advisors to the Board
Jessie Evans, Advisor
For requests to join the listerv and questions about partnerships, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessie Evans is the Africa Program Lead for the Institute of Security Governance at the U.S. Department of Defense. She works closely with foreign security sector
partners across Africa on institutional capacity building. Prior, Jessie served as a
security sector reform advisor to the United States Mission to Somalia in Mogadishu, Somalia, and Nairobi, Kenya. Her team managed over $115 million dollars in US- security assistance to Somali forces and other African partners serving in Somalia. She pushed for tougher conditionality and as a result, the US Ambassador paused and realigned millions of dollars of assistance to address issues of waste, corruption, and poor alignment to policy goals.
Previously, she served six years as a Conflict Specialist in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations supporting US embassies in Burma, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Before the State Department, Jessie worked at the Harvard School of Public Health on international health and human rights. Jessie received her master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. While at Fletcher, Jessie was a Rosenthal Fellow in the Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Office of African Affairs. She received her BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College and originally hails from Bend, OR.
Jacqueline Ramos, Advisor
Ms. Jacqueline Ramos is a Democratic Professional Staff Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where she covers the Europe and Russia portfolio. She is also a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Prior to this, Ms. Ramos served as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and the Russia Country Director at the Department of Defense.
She has also worked as a Nonproliferation Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration and a Project Manager at Airbus. Ms. Ramos holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and master’s degrees from Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
February 10, 2020: WIIS-DC hosted its third "Africa Women's Foreign Policy and Defense Mixer." It was an opportunity for women working on Africa to connect, network, and share ideas.
December 18, 2019: WIIS-DC hosted an end of year toast at Eighteenth Street
Lounge. The gathering was an opportunity for WIIS-DC members to reflect on the
events organized during 2019, meet and network with others, and plan events for
the next year.
November 21, 2019: In partnership with SAIS Global Women In Leadership, WIIS-
DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: International & Domestic
Humanitarianism.” It was the tenth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and
featured Dr. Jane Stromseth of Georgetown Law, Dr. Felice M. Apter of Georgetown
Medical School, Ruth Greenspan Bell of the Wilson Center, and Professor E. Christi
Cunningham of Howard University School of Law, with opening remarks
by Professor Tanvi Nagpal of SAIS’ International Development Program.
October 22, 2019: In collaboration with WIIS-GWU, WIIS-DC hosted an event,
"Latin American Women in Diplomacy." This was the fourth event of the "Embassy
After Hours" series and featured Georgina Barquet from Mexico and Beatriz De la
Fuente from Chile, diplomats who lead their Embassy's work on security and
political affairs, respectively.
September 25, 2019: In partnership with the SAIS International Law Society, WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Maritime Security.” It was the ninth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured the Council on Foreign Relations’ Lori Murray, the Hudson Institute’s Liselotte Odgaard, and the Defense Department’s Cristina Garafola.
August 28, 2019: In partnership with the Truman National Security Project, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), WIIS Global, Diversity in National Security Network (DINSN), #NatSecGirlSquad, GLIFAA, and Truman's TruDiversity initiative, WIIS-DC hosted an event, "Diversity in International Security: How to Broaden your Network." Attendees also had the opportunity to interact with representatives from these organizations.
August 26, 2019: In partnership with Women’s Foreign Policy Network, WIIS-DC hosted its second “Africa Women’s Foreign Policy and Defense Mixer.” It brought together over 60 women who work in African affairs to connect and share ideas.
August 7, 2019: In partnership with Pay Our Interns, WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in International Law.” It was the eighth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured Dinah Shelton and Burrus Carnahan, both of the George Washington University.
May 1, 2019: In partnership with the SAIS International Law Society, WIIS-DC hosted a career event on international institutions and organizations. The event featured New York University’s Anna di Lellio, SAIS’ Ruth Wedgwood, and Georgetown University’s Shareen Joshi.
March 11, 2019: In partnership with Women’s Foreign Policy Network, WIIS-DC hosted an “Africa Women’s Foreign Policy and Defense Mixer.” It brought together over 60 women who work in African affairs to connect and share ideas.
March 27, 2019: In partnership with Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, WIIS-DC hosted a networking happy hour to celebrate Women's History Month.
February 7, 2019: WIIS-DC hosted an event, "The Heart of War Book Talk: an Evening with Dr. Kathleen McInnis." It featured the Congressional Research Service's Kathleen McInniswho discussed key themes from her new novel, "The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon."
October 23, 2018: In partnership with Cultural Vistas, Women’s Foreign Policy Group, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and WIIS Global, WIIS-DC hosted a networking happy hour with international affairs professionals to learn more about early- and mid-career fellowship opportunities.
September 24, 2018: In partnership with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Women in Defense, Women's Foreign Policy Group, Women's Foreign Policy Network, and WIIS Global, WIIS-DC hosted an event, "The Gender Gap in 2018: Supporting Women in the International Security Community." Panelists discussed the status of the gender gap in the international security field.
August 16, 2018: WIIS-DC hosted a networking Happy Hour at the Italian Dupon Kitchen. Members of WIIS DC met members of their chapter and planned for the next year of events.
May 8, 2018: WIIS-DC will hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed at the Department of Defense.” It is the seventh in the “Navigating Your Career” series and feature the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Melissa Dalton and Alice Friend, as well as the Center for a New American Security’s Kelley Sayler.
March 12, 2018: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “So You Want to be a DASD.” It featured a panel of three former Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense: Western Hemisphere Affairs’ Rebecca Chavez, Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia’s Evelyn Farkas, and Strategy and Force Development’s Mara Karlin.
March 1, 2018: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed at the National Security Council.” It was the sixth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured the Atlantic Council’s Elisa Catalano Ewers, the Center for a New American Security’s Loren DeJonge Schulman, and JPMorgan Chase’s Lisa Sawyer Samp.
December 7, 2017: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Middle Eastern Security.” It was the fifth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured the Brookings Institution’s Tamara Cofman Wittes, the Institute for the Study of War’s Jennifer Cafarella, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Dana Stroul.
October 24, 2017: WIIS-DC hosted the third event in its “Embassy After Hours” series at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States. During this private event, panelists discussed the U.S.-EU and EU-NATO relationships, as well as the EU’s defense initiatives.
September 5, 2017: In partnership with Harvard University’s Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D), WIIS-DC hosted a networking happy hour.
July 10, 2017: In partnership with The German Marshall Fund of the United States’ (GMF) Young Transatlantic Network, WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Foreign Policy.” It was the fourth in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured the GMF’s Derek Chollet and the Center for a New American Security’s Julianne Smith.
June 29, 2017: WIIS-DC hosted the second event in its “Embassy After Hours” series at the German Embassy. During this private event, panelists discussed the U.S.-German relationship, Germany’s role in the EU and NATO, and the upcoming German federal elections, as well as how to succeed in the international security field.
April 26, 2017: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Academia.” It was the third in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured American University’s Karin Johnston, Georgetown University’s Oriana Skylar Mastro, the George Washington University’s Joanna Spear, and the National Defense University’s Eva Jenkins.
December 16, 2016: In partnership with Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, WIIS-DC hosted a holiday party.
November 14, 2016: WIIS-DC hosted the first event in its “Embassy After Hours” series at the British Embassy. During this private event, panelists discussed the U.S.-UK special relationship and women in combat.
October 20, 2016: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed at the State Department.” It was the second in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured both foreign service officers and civil servants.
May 3, 2016: WIIS-DC hosted an event, “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed on Capitol Hill.” It was the first in the “Navigating Your Career” series and featured both personal and professional staffers.
March 2, 2016: Women In International Security hosted a collaborative networking event to kick off 2016. This was a great opportunity to have candid conversations and form both personal and professional relationships with established practitioners in the security and international affairs field.
Participants represented professionals from organizations, which include, but are not limited to:
- Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH)
- Brookings Institution
- Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
- Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI)
- Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS)
- International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
- International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
- The Institute for Inclusive Security (IIS)
- US Agency for International Development (USAID)
- US Department of Defense
- US Department of State
- US Institute of Peace (USIP)
- Women for Women International (WfWI)
- Women in Defense
- Women in International Security (WIIS)
- Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP)
December 16, 2015: WIIS-DC hosted a Holiday Happy Hour, which included International security professionals from WIIS, Women in Defense, the Women's Mentoring Network of Brookings Institute, and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy met for a networking happy hour. Participants got into the holiday spirit as they met, mingled, and networked across organizations.
October 5, 2015:WIIS-DC hosted an October happy hour, kicking off a series of new events for area professionals. Individuals new to Washington and long time residents alike gathered to meet and mingle with other men and women interested in international security, peace, and development.
April 22, 2014 : Anne Witkowsky shared her range of experiences working at the National Security Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the State Department, and her current role leading the Defense Department's Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations office.
March 4, 2015 : WIIS DC hosted their Monthly Mentoring Circle featuring Dr. Craig Zelizer. Dr. Zelizer shared his expertise in conflict resolution. In addition, as Founder of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN), he shared insider tips on how to use this amazing global networking and job search tool for peace builders and change agents. The event was held on the GWU campus.
January 22, 2015 : Dr. Nora Bensahel shared her range of experiences and advice working national security issues across the think tank community in D.C. Come prepared to offer your own questions and observations to help enrich the discussion.