Dear SPIA Community,
SPIA is a community in conversation.
This is a phrase our graduate admissions office often uses to describe SPIA’s community of driven individuals coming together to advance solutions to the world’s top policy issues.
The conversation part is key! While I’m grateful this blog allows me to share updates with you, it can feel a bit like a one-way street. So, I’m delighted to announce the launch of my new podcast, the Dean’s Dialogue. This platform will allow me to get to know you and your policy interests — and vice-versa! I’m looking forward to sharing your stories and efforts with the world, and to giving the SPIA community greater insight into my priorities than I can cover ‘on paper.’
With April being Arab American Heritage month, it felt both important and natural to me to invite a fellow Arab American to talk about our unique experiences as members of this incredibly diverse community. I was honored that Baher Iskander MPA ’22 accepted my request to be my first podcast guest.
Baher is an immigrant who came to the U.S. on a lottery visa from Cairo, Egypt. His Christian faith — and his family of public servants — compelled him to dedicate his life to service.
I greatly appreciated Baher’s open and genuine approach as we navigated topics such as:
- the representation of different faiths within the Arab community;
- his experience researching and presenting policy recommendations to Tim Lenderking, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen, as part of Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer’s workshop on protracted conflicts; and
- ways we as a School can foster a more inclusive community, such as increasing our population of international students.
I won’t spoil the episode; however, I would like to share my favorite quote of Baher’s. To me it truly encapsulates the SPIA experience: “You come here if you’re serious about service.” It was fascinating for me to hear how the meaning of public service to Baher evolved throughout his journey. I hope you’ll give it a listen.