Fall 2019
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Meet one alumnus who advocates for asylum seekers and human rights issues and another who is chronicling the massive transformation in China from his home in a remote village in Yunnan province … Read about noteworthy happenings in the lives of former classmates … Catch up on SAIS alumni events unfolding around the globe.

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Alumni Profile
Transformation in Rural China

“Changes have been taking place in Bangdong village, where I live. Spring tea season has come and gone. Some have married, and some have passed. The township started a trash collection program, and my neighbor ate their dog.”

So writes Matthew Chitwood ’11 (HNC Certificate ’10) from the mud-walled home he occupies in a remote mountain community of 350 souls in China’s Yunnan province—a place he describes as the country’s “wild southwest.” He acknowledges that the last bit of his recent report might be a bit jarring for his urban friends.

But there are different imperatives in a place where generations have depended on subsistence farming or on sending family members to faraway cities and even foreign countries to work for months or years at a time as migrant laborers. A place where hunger is as familiar as the nearly impassable mountains.

“It’s definitely a different reality over here regarding food,” he says. He explains that his neighbors ate their dog because “they are getting into the tea business—processing it at home—and tea leaves and dog hair don’t mix.”

And, in a place where eating is less a culinary adventure than a matter of survival, it is “much more intimate in that people kill the animals themselves,” he says. “So there’s still a meaningful personal connection, which strikes me as a healthier approach than picking up beautifully plastic-wrapped lamb chops at the butcher’s.”

Chitwood moved to Bangdong in late 2017 after being awarded a highly competitive fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs, a nearly century-old Washington, D.C., nonprofit that identifies exceptional young people and supports them for two years in pursuing their chosen study of a country, region, or globally important issue. Only two people are selected every year. Chitwood had spent a decade in China’s cities— living, studying, and working, including for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and for a number of companies offering “transformative” study abroad programs. Inspired in part by a 2011 SAIS study trip to Yunnan, he wanted to learn more about rural China, which is home to 40 percent of the country’s population. And he wanted to chronicle the massive and nearly overnight transformation being effected by the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping to fulfill his promise to eradicate rural poverty by 2020.

Chitwood’s beautifully written dispatches, accompanied by photos that tell the story of Yunnan’s rich and varied cultures and the anachronisms inherent in rapid modernization—the first paved roads and tunnels traversing the region, high-speed rail lines, new bathrooms and sturdy houses and Internet service and electricity—appear regularly on the ICWA website and were posted in May as a four-part miniseries on the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel.

When his time in Bangdong is up in November, Chitwood plans to write a book about the experience, a tribute to all he has learned and to the people who have befriended him and shared their stories.

Growing up in Spokane, Washington, and studying international business at Northwest Nazarene University in Boise, Idaho, Chitwood dreamed of traveling but never gave a thought to China until a visiting Taiwanese pastor invited him to Taipei to teach English. There, he became curious about mainland China, and somehow, unexpected and compelling opportunities kept presenting themselves. Now he wants to return to the U.S. to write that book. And then, who knows?

“I seem to live mostly in the present,” he says. “And what has always motivated me is connecting with and learning about other people. That’s why I learned Spanish, why I learned Mandarin. It just seems that, wherever I am, I love where I am, and I love the people around me.”

Joan Cramer

Alumni Profile
Helping People When They Need Help

Alex Parcan’s dream has always been a career working with immigrants and promoting human rights to not only help individual émigrés but also help shape public policy in the U.S. and abroad. At Boston College Law School, where he earned his law degree before earning his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2012, he volunteered in immigration clinics and helped prosecute war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Later, he worked with refugees in Thailand.

In December 2016, he took a first step toward realizing his dream, launching his own practice as an immigration lawyer in Washington, D.C. But it wasn’t until a year or so later that he landed the job that encapsulated all of the things he wanted to do—as senior staff attorney at Human Rights First, the venerable Washington, D.C.-based international advocacy organization founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights.

“What I do is challenging in the current climate, but it’s also rewarding,” he says. “Day to day, I’m working with individuals who are requesting asylum. But it’s also my job to help further the greater policy goals of the organization to advocate for human rights generally. So it’s the best of both worlds.”

Parcan says that law school taught him to be a lawyer, but SAIS taught him how to “lead in the international policy world in a really special way. It’s an invaluable skill set, and I don’t think you can get it anywhere else.”

The son and grandson of Chilean immigrants, Parcan grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Montgomery County, Maryland. His parents are both teachers: His father is a college professor, and his mother is devoted to her work as a teacher and administrator in underserved public schools. He speaks fluent Spanish and French, and a little bit of Mandarin (his fianceé is a journalist from Taiwan who works in Washington), and he says it means everything to him to be able to use skills he has picked up along the way to serve people in need.

Asked what he wants people to know about his clients, he says: “First, that they’re people. And they’re people who’ve suffered incredible hardships, things we in our comfortable lives have never had to experience.

“Second, they are not ‘lawbreakers.’ We have a system of laws in this country that gives people an opportunity to request asylum, a system put in place by our grandparents after they witnessed the horrors of World War II.

“Third, things can change in any country very quickly, and any of us could find ourselves suddenly desperately dependent on the kindness of strangers. Helping people when they need help, being nice to people, should matter to every single person in the world.”

Past Events
Around the Globe

Our amazing Johns Hopkins SAIS community comprises alumni, friends, and students who create links with each other, with the school, and with the broader Johns Hopkins universe. On nearly all continents, alumni guide activities and drive events while working in partnership with alumni relations.


Alumni SAIS Europe Student Trip Dinner


SAIS alumni and admitted students joined SAIS Europe students visiting Tunis for dinner at El Ali, hosted by Phillip Assis B’95, ’97. The guests also met for a post-dinner gathering at Le Malouf.​


Dinner with Professor Vikram Nehru


Alumni in Bangkok enjoyed dinner at Audrey Cafe with special guest Vikram Nehru, distinguished practitioner-in-residence.​


Social Gathering


Itt Thirarath ’17 greeted alumni in Bangkok and admitted students, who gathered for an evening of socializing at The Bar Upstairs.


Alumni, New Student Reception


Anjue Wu B’09, ’10 welcomed Beijing alumni and admitted students at a reception held at Finders Keepers.


Reception and Welcome for Dean Nasr


​Alumni in Dubai welcomed Dean Vali Nasr at a reception hosted by Collin Keeney B’03, ’04, and Yoko Shimada JHU ’03 at their home. Vahid Fotuhi ’02 greeted guests.


​Social Gathering​


Vahid Fotuhi ’02 welcomed alumni in Dubai at the social gathering in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Johns Hopkins SAIS, which was held in Jumeirah. ​


“Johns Hopkins SAIS FORESIGHT 2019” and 75th Anniversary


The Johns Hopkins SAIS FORESIGHT 2019 took place at Asia Society Hong Kong Center. This year’s forum, focusing on “U.S.-China Relations and Implications for Asia,” featured keynote speaker David Shear ’82, N’87. Additional discussions during the day on “The Intersection of Business, Politics, and Geopolitics in East Asia” included panelists Andrew Mertha, director of the China Studies Program; Yam Ki Chan, former director of the White House National Security Council and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Carly Ramsey, associate director of Control Risks; and was moderated by Daniel Markey JHU ’95, senior research professor in International Relations and academic director of the Master of Arts in Global Policy.


Hong Kong Alumni Leadership Summit


​Alumni representing 10 cities in Asia gathered for the fourth Alumni Leadership Summit in Hong Kong, where they heard school updates from Dean Vali Nasr, learned about ways they can help with recruitment, and connected with one another on alumni best practices for the region.


Dinner with Professor Vikram Nehru


Alumni in Jakarta enjoyed dinner at KAUM Restaurant with Vikram Nehru, distinguished practitioner-in-residence. Heru Prama Yuda ’14 was there to greet guests.


Celebrate Johns Hopkins SAIS and Its 75th Anniversary


In celebration of the 75th anniversary of SAIS, H.E. Ambassador Michael Reiterer B’79 hosted a gathering for alumni and Dean Vali Nasr in Seoul.


Happy Hour with Professor Vikram Nehru


Ai Ghee Ong N’07, ’09, and Arti Srivastava B’16, ’17, greeted alumni in Singapore, who gathered at HRVST Bistro for a happy hour with Vikram Nehru, distinguished practitioner-in-residence.


New Year’s Gathering


Alumni and SAIS students visiting Japan gathered for a New Year’s celebration at Nakameguro Taproom, a restaurant owned and operated by Bryan Baird ’94 and John Chesen ’95. The guest of honor, Kent Calder, vice dean for faculty affairs and international research cooperation, and director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, delivered remarks on “Today’s U.S.-Japan Relations.” Ariko Ibe ’85 and Jessica Berlow ’08 were there to greet guests.


Spring Networking Dinner


​Ariko Ibe ’85 greeted alumni in Japan, admitted students, and members of the SAIS administration—Jordi Izzard, director of global alumni relations, and Jonathan Henry, director of advancement in Asia—as they gathered for dinner at Tokyo Gas Aoyama Club.

Central and South America

Social Gathering


Alumni, current students, and Monica de Bolle, Riordan Roett Chair in Latin American Studies and director of the Latin American Studies Program and Emerging Markets Specialization, gathered for an evening of socializing at the home of Ralf Leiteritz B’98, ’99, and Eulalia Sanin ’00.


Happy Hour


Alumni in Amsterdam enjoyed a happy hour at Grand Café Restaurant.


Happy Hour with Alumni and Admitted Students


Alumni and admitted students enjoyed happy hour together in Barcelona at Casa Gràcia.


Afternoon Tea on Third Advent in Berlin


Germany alumni were hosted for afternoon tea on the third Advent at the home of Ambassador Norbert Baas B’76 in Berlin.


SAIS Europe Alumni Weekend


SAIS Europe held its annual Alumni Weekend in Bologna, where alumni were welcomed from all class years back to the city and the Center.


Happy Hour


Alumni in Brussels gathered for happy hour at Funky Monkey.


Dinner Dialogue on “Changing Geopolitics of Democracy”


Brussels alumni gathered for a dinner dialogue at Maison d’Istrie with Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, European External Action Service (EEAS), Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, who discussed “Changing Geopolitics of Democracy.”


Dinner Conversation in Luxembourg with SAIS Europe Director Michael G. Plummer


SAIS Pizza in Milan


Alumni gathered in downtown Milan for pizza to officially relaunch the Johns Hopkins University/SAIS alumni chapter and plan future directions for the group.


Security Conference Alumni Dinner


Dean Vali Nasr and Michael Plummer B’82, director of SAIS Europe, joined the SAIS Europe Alumni Association’s Munich chapter for its alumni dinner, held at Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom. It featured a discussion with Karl-Heinz Kamp, president of the Federal Academy of Security Policy, who addressed the most topical security challenges in Europe.


Panel Discussion on “The State of the U.S.-France Bilateral Relationship”


In Paris, alumni gathered for a panel discussion on “The State of the U.S.-France Bilateral Relationship” with Fleur Cowen, first secretary of the Political Section at the American Embassy of France; Anne Baverel Macey ’05, CEO of Confrontations Europe; and Sheherazade Semsar de Boisseson, CEO of Politico Europe.

Paris, France

​Happy Hour with Alumni and Admitted Students


Alumni and admitted students in Paris gathered for a happy hour at Café A, Maison de l'Architecture in Paris.


Meetup with Professors Jacqueline Mazza and Justin Frosini


At Circolo in Rome, alumni joined for dinner and conversation with Jacqueline Mazza B’83, ’84, PhD’98, adjunct professor of International Development, and Justin Frosini, adjunct professor of constitutional law.

North America

Reception with Dean Nasr


​Dennis Lockhart ’71 welcomed Dean Vali Nasr and fellow alumni in Atlanta as they joined together for a reception at Einstein’s to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary.


Happy Hour


Geetha Ramani ’98 greeted alumni in Boston as they gathered at Sonsei to enjoy happy hour.


Johns Hopkins SAIS 75th Anniversary Celebration


In celebration of the 75th anniversary, alumni in Boston joined Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor, for a discussion on “American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump,” moderated by Dean Vali Nasr at the Union Club. Geetha Ramani ’98, Mary Yntema ’95, Rory Phimister ’98, Cynthia Greene B’97, ’99, and Jonathan Halpern ’13 were there to greet guests.


Celebrating Johns Hopkins SAIS’ 75th Anniversary with Dean Nasr at Asia Society


n Houston at the Asia Society Texas Center, Caroline Allison ’01; Bruce Campbell ’99; Beverly Barrett B’00, ’01; and Laura McWilliams ’78 greeted alumni who gathered to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary and to hear Dean Vali Nasr discuss “U.S.-Iran Relations after the Nuclear Deal.” Bruce Campbell generously subsidized the cost for alumni to attend this event.


Morning Book Talk with Professor Emeritus Michael Mandelbaum


Houston alumni joined together for early-morning coffee at Pondicheri with Michael Mandelbaum, professor emeritus, to discuss his new book, The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth. Caroline Allison ’00; Beverly Barrett B’00, ’01; Laura McWilliams ’78; and Kristof Abbeloos B’04 greeted guests.


Johns Hopkins SAIS 75th Anniversary Celebration


Robert Abernethy JHU’62 hosted alumni and Dean Vali Nasr in Los Angeles at his home for a celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary. The evening program featured a discussion on “The U.S. and China at a Turning Point: Trade, Tech, and the Trump Administration” with panelists Andrew Mertha, director of the China Studies Program; David Bulman, Jill McGovern and Steven Muller Assistant Professor of International Affairs and China Studies, and director of the Pacific Community Initiative; and Thomas Rid, professor of Strategic Studies. David Karl B’88, ’89; Stephen Chien ’06; Bruce Comer ’94’ and Anjali Sharan ’09 welcomed guests.


Dinner Gathering


Antonio Pineda B’98, ’99, greeted Mexico City alumni and Christopher Sands ’94, PhD’09, senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies, as they joined together for a dinner discussion on “The Future of North America: Preliminary Estimates of the AMLO Effects” at Casa Awolly.


Happy Hour with Dean Nasr


Lisa Deis ’17 welcomed Miami and South Florida alumni as they joined Dean Vali Nasr for happy hour at Ricky’s to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary.


Journalists in the Spotlight


The SAIS New York Alumni Club gathered with fellow alumni for a talk with Landon Thomas Jr. ’91, reporter for The New York Times, and Tim Naftali ’87, presidential historian for CNN, on “Journalists in the Spotlight: A Review of the U.S. Midterm Elections and the State of Journalism in Contemporary America.” Jen Reingold B’91, ’92, former editor-at-large for Fortune, moderated this discussion held at Morgan Stanley. Arthur Rubin ’92; Elizabeth Madigan Jost B’97, ’98; Valerie Gadala-Maria ’13; and Sam Lee ’13 greeted guests.


SWAN NY Skills Session - Building Your Network


The SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN) New York hub hosted a networking skills panel, “Building Your Network: Transforming Associates into Trusted Allies,” at the New York Film Academy.


Holiday Party


​Alumni joined together to celebrate the season at the annual holiday party. SAIS New York Alumni Club, SWAN NY, and Amici de Bologna co-hosted this year’s event at The Seymour.


SWAN New Year’s Networking


SWAN NY hosted a New Year’s networking event at the New York Film Academy.


Celebrating Johns Hopkins SAIS and Its 75th Anniversary


Sam Lee ’13, Arthur Rubin ’92, and Kate Maloney ’02 welcomed fellow New York alumni at a celebration the 75th anniversary of SAIS at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dean Vali Nasr moderated the evening discussion featuring Christopher Sands ’94, PhD’09, senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies, and Francisco González, senior associate professor of International Political Economy - Latin America, who spoke about “The Future of North America: Preliminary Estimates of the Trump Effects.” Dave Fuhrmann ’82 helped sponsor this memorable evening.


Johns Hopkins SAIS 75th Anniversary Celebration


Sibyl Chen B’03, ’04, welcomed San Francisco alumni who gathered at Hotel Nikko SF with Dean Vali Nasr to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary. The evening featured a conversation on “The U.S. and China at a Turning Point: Trade, Tech, and the Trump Administration” with panelists Andrew Mertha, director of the China Studies Program; David Bulman, Jill McGovern and Steven Muller Assistant Professor of International Affairs and China Studies, and director of the Pacific Community Initiative; and Thomas Rid, professor of Strategic Studies.


Celebrating 75 Years of Johns Hopkins SAIS


Tina Wong ’11 greeted Toronto alumni who joined together to celebrate to school’s 75th anniversary at the Royal Canadian Military Institute. The group welcomed Charles Doran B’65, ’66, PhD’69, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations, and Christopher Sands, ’94, PhD’09, senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies, for an evening program moderated by Deanna Horton B’79 about “Donald Trump and the Forgotten Partnership between Canada and the United States: Abnormal, or the New Normal?”


​​SWAN Power Lunch with Former SAIS Dean Jessica Einhorn ’70


The SAIS Women’s Alumni Network D.C. Hub welcomed former Johns Hopkins SAIS Dean Jessica Einhorn ’70 as its special guest speaker at a power lunch. Sara Forden B’87, ’88, Bloomberg News journalist and corporate influence team leader, moderated this inspiring conversation at The Hamilton.


Engaging Underrepresented Alumni - Social Gathering and Follow-Up Dialogue


The Development and Alumni Relations Office invited alumni to participate in a social gathering and continue the roundtable discussion with university administrators about ways Johns Hopkins SAIS might better engage with and signal support for alumni from diverse backgrounds. Julie Hackett B’03, ’04, welcomed fellow alumni.


Johns Hopkins SAIS 75th Anniversary Celebration


Marijke Jurgens-Dupree ’92 hosted Washington, D.C., alumni at her home to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary. The evening program featured a panel discussion with Dean Vali Nasr; Monica de Bolle, Riordan Roett Chair in Latin American Studies and director of the Latin American Studies Program and Emerging Markets Specialization; and John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute.


Annual MIPP Reception


MIPP alumni, students, and faculty members came together for socializing and networking at the annual MIPP reception. Kent Calder, vice dean for faculty affairs and international research cooperation, and Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, welcomed everyone with remarks in the Herter Room.


Global Women in Leadership Conference – “Power: Engage. Claim. Change.”


​The seventh annual SAIS Global Women in Leadership conference brought together a diverse group of voices who spoke on a variety of panels throughout the day about this year’s topic, “Power: Engage. Claim. Change.” Jennifer Hart ’01 moderated the alumnae panel featuring Soo Kim ’11; Karen Poreh JHU’12, ’13; and Bhavana Chilukuri B’10, ’11.


SAIS Europe Reception


Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe alumni returned to the school for the annual reception and to meet prospective students. SAIS Europe Director Michael Plummer B’82 welcomed guests and provided an update on the center in Bologna.


SWAN Pitch Perfect! Mastering Your Elevator Pitch


SWAN DC welcomed alumnae for a skills workshop on mastering your elevator pitch, featuring coach Jan Fox.

In Memoriam
In Memoriam
John A. Bleyle ’68
William Culbert ’49
Lola Gulomova ’01
Kiyo-Aki Kikuchi ’51
Peter Kilby ’59
Peter Magowan ’68
Puay Tang PhD ’93
Jan Wlodarkiewicz ’59

Volunteer to Be a Mentor

Global Careers is seeking alumni volunteers for our Long-Term Mentoring Program.

This opportunity is open to alumni on a rolling basis from all sectors and all levels of experience.

Mentorship is a valuable way to make an impact on junior professionals while giving back to the SAIS community. The primary purpose is not to assist students with their immediate job search and/or with short-term networking opportunities, but instead to help them with longer-term career exploration and development.

Mentors commit to at least three meetings or calls with their mentee(s) over the first year and one meeting or call in years to follow.

The matching campaign for this academic year will take place across September and October, when Mentees submit applications for specific Mentors after reviewing their profiles. Mentors then select their own Mentees from the pool of applications and Global Careers will facilitate the introduction in November.

If interested, please contact Luke Connolly, Associate Director of Global Careers, at with your latest professional bio (approx. 10 lines or 2 paragraphs).

More Resources
To see upcoming global alumni events, visit