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.
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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 a 2018-2019 Fulbright Schuman Fellow with affiliations at Chatham House and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) where her work focuses on European defense policy. She previously served as a Research Assistant at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) and a Researcher with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Michelle came to CNAS having been a policy intern in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for four years while an undergraduate.
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.
Jessie Evans, Outreach Officer
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Jessie Evans is an independent consultant who most recently 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.
Merav Ceren, Event Coordinator
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Merav is the Research Manager at Delve, LLC, a competitive intelligence firm. She previously served at the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a Middle East Fellow, where she focused on Israel, Iran, and counterterrorism policies. Merav received her M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Post-Conflict Reconstruction.
She wrote her thesis comparing the Taksim Square protest movement to the Arab Spring of the broader Middle East while studying in Istanbul. She has conducted field research work in Israel and Turkey and has also held research positions at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a leading think tank focusing on Israeli security, regional diplomacy, and international law.
Catherine (Cathy) Howell Wood, Event Coordinator
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Catherine (Cathy) Howell Wood is the Communications Manager at USAID. Originally, from Los Angeles, Calif., she has obtained a B.A. in Global Studies, a B.A. in Communications and Public Relations, and her M.A. in Global Communications at George Washington University where she emphasized in Global Gender Policy and Public Diplomacy. She is interested in and has managed portfolios that addressed the nexus of human rights, conflict resolution initiatives, and best communication practices among international communities in African, MENA, European, and South East Asian regions; particularly those regarding the experiences of women and girls.
Her interests led her to become involved in a human trafficking seminar in Thailand, where she worked with anti-human trafficking nonprofit organizations. Before working at USAID, she has held positions at the Brookings Institution, FHI 360, the State Department, and CSIS. Cathy is happily married and enjoys traveling to new places. She is currently volunteering and working on women empowerment projects and looks forward to taking on this new opportunity.
Jacqueline Ramos, Advisor
September 24, 2018: In partnership with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Women In Defense (WID), Women's Foreign Policy Group (WFPG), Women's Foreign Policy Network (WFPN), and Women In International Security (WIIS) Global, WIIS-DC will host The Gender Gap in 2018: Supporting Women in the International Security Community. The event is a 5-member panel focused on the status of the gender gap in the international security field. During the panel, experts will discuss why it matters that there are few women in the international security field, what steps we can take both to increase the number and to retain more women, and why support networks like the ones provided by these organizations are important. WIIS Global will also provide a sneak peak of their Gender Gap Scorecard during the event.
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.