The following are profiles of current and past recipients of the Kathryn W. Davis Public Diplomacy Fellowship.
T. Kareema Dauod-Akguc, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2021-2022
Kareema Dauod-Akguc is a 16-year veteran of the State Department, having worked in both the Foreign and Civil Service as a Public Diplomacy Practitioner, primarily in Europe and the Middle East.
In her current capacity, she serves as Deputy Arabic Spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Qatar and 2021 U.S.-Qatar Year of Culture Lead.
Outside of the State Department, Kareema has served as the Deputy Chief of Protocol and Special Events for the former Mayor of Los Angeles; Program Officer on the Middle East at the National Endowment for Democracy; and SAT Prep Instructor and Tutor for Kaplan and other tutoring agencies.
On a personal level, Kareema holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Regional and Comparative Studies (between Europe and the Middle East) from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service; a Master’s Degree in Arab Studies with a concentration in politics also from Georgetown University; and has completed coursework toward a PhD in Arabic Language, Literature, and Linguistics, from Georgetown. She has lived in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Spain, and Germany, in addition to Virginia, Delaware, and California. She is fluent in German and English and proficient in Arabic, French, and Turkish. Kareema is married to a university professor, with one daughter, and enjoys playing tennis, traveling, drawing, and reading in her free time.
Nelson Wen, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2021-2022
Nelson Wen has served in the Foreign Service in tours at the U.S. Embassies in Sri Lanka, China, and Kuwait. At Embassy Beijing, he was Deputy Director of the Beijing American Center, where he organized interactive programs for the center’s thousands of monthly visitors. He is completing his current assignment as the Cultural Attaché at U.S. Embassy Kuwait. In his next assignment, he will be the Public Affairs Officer for the American Institute in Taiwan – Kaohsiung, overseeing U.S. cultural diplomacy for southern Taiwan. He is proficient in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Portuguese.
Nelson received his B.A. in History from Brown University, where his love for Bossa Nova music drove him to spend a year abroad in Brazil. He ended up writing a senior thesis about the history of Japanese immigrants in Brazil. After graduation, he obtained a J.D. from New York University School of Law and practiced corporate transactions law in New York City for five years. However, his passions for travel, languages, and cultures eventually led him to the Foreign Service.
In his free time, Nelson is an obsessive fan and amateur historian of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music. He also enjoys films, especially science fiction and documentaries. His wife is a nurse practitioner who has served at Embassy Kuwait’s Health Unit, and they have two young children.
Dana Marie Jea, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2020-2021
Dana is a Foreign Service Officer who is passionate about designing innovative programs, building partnerships, and conducting analyses to promote evidence-based policy and practice at the intersection of diplomacy, global health, and economic development. She has served in overseas diplomatic assignments to South Korea as a Public Diplomacy Officer, The Bahamas as a Political-Economic Officer, and in Pakistan as a Consular Officer. Prior to joining the State Department, Dana managed global health and economic development projects while living in Switzerland, Madagascar, and Kazakhstan.
Dana is a Returned Peace Volunteer and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and American University. She speaks some Korean, Urdu, and Russian. Dana is married to David Jea; they have three children.
Mike Harker, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2020-2021
Mike Harker is the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer for Outreach at Embassy Cairo, where he is establishing new business, academic, and media relationships across Egypt. He will serve as the Spokesperson and Press Attache to Embassy Rangoon in Fall 2021.
He previously served as the Assistant Information Officer for Innovation in Islamabad; Vice Consul in Baghdad; and Cultural Affairs Officer for Programs in Dhaka. Prior to the Foreign Service, he was a broadcast news investigative journalist.
He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master's degree in International Security Policy and the Middle East from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He was a David L. Boren National Security Fellow in Syria.
Hailing from California, he enjoys mountain climbing and surfing. Watch his TEDx Talk, "What Death Taught Me," which explores the connections between generations, conflicts, and countries.
Kahina Robinson, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2019-2020
Kahina Robinson is a staff assistant in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. From 2016-2018, she worked as a Watch Officer/Senior Watch Officer in the Operations Center – the State Department’s 24/7 communications and crisis management center. Previously, she served as the Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Niamey, Niger, and as a Consular Officer in Brasilia, Brazil. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2011, she worked in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network at the World Bank.
Kahina holds a BA in anthropology from Yale, an MA in international affairs from Columbia University, and studied at Fundação Gétulio Vargas Escola de Administração de Empresas São Paulo. Kahina is originally from Washington, D.C., and speaks Portuguese and French.
Mike Pryor, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2019-2020
Mike Pryor joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2010. He currently serves as the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Lome, Togo, where he designs and implements country-wide public diplomacy strategies to advance U.S. foreign policy goals. Mike received a Meritorious Honor Award in 2018 for his efforts to use public diplomacy to promote reconciliation and healing in the violence-scarred city of Sokode, and was also nominated for the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy. He previously served as the American Citizen Services Chief in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Deputy Public Affairs Officer in Vientiane, Laos.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mike spent six years as a public Affairs specialist in the U.S. Army. He deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan as a military reporter, and in 2008 he received the Paul Savanuck Award, the Army’s highest award for journalistic excellence. From 2000 to 2001 Mike was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College. Mike is married with four kids.
James Wesley Jeffers, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2018-2019
Wesley Jeffers is a Public Diplomacy Desk Officer for Western Europe in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. He most recently finished his third tour as a Political Officer for U.S. Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan.
Wesley's first tour was at the PAO in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where he opend the Public Affairs Section, establishing both cultural and media programs as well as the country's first lending library. His second tour was as a Consular Officer and Deputy Manager of the Non Immigrant Visa Unit at U.S. Consulate General Toronto, Canada. Wesley began working for the U.S. Department of State thanks to the Thomas Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship in August 2010.
Wesley is from Petersburg, West Virginia and obtained his BA in Political Science and Sociology at Tulane University in Louisiana and his MA in International Affairs and Human Rights at Columbia University in New York. He is a 2003 Horatio Alger National Scholar. He speaks Russian, French and Bengali.
Katherine "Kat" Tarr, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2018-2019
Katherine "Kat" Tarr currently serves as Coordinator for Japan and Korea for the Office of Public Diplomacy in the East Asia Pacific Bureau, where she works with both policy desk officers in DC and Public Affairs Sections overseas to assist in coordinating policy, messaging and programs.
Prior to this assignment she was Cultural Affairs Officer in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and before that Vice-Consul in Shanghai, China. She graduated with a Masters in International Policy Studies with a specialization in East Asia from the Monterey School of International Policy Studies (now the Middlebury Institute), in Monterey, California, and has a bachelors in Japanese Studies from Austin College in Sherman, TX. She was born in Dallas, Texas, and can speak Japanese, Spanish and a little Mandarin. She is now lliving in DC with with her husband, Davin, and their two cats. Twitter (professional): @KatTarrFSO
Maren Payne-Holmes, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2017-2018
Maren Payne-Holmes’s goal is to be well-versed in all aspects of the U.S. Department of State’s public diplomacy efforts. She just completed a tour as the Public Affairs Officer in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan where she focused on management and leadership. She managed a staff of sixteen, including mentoring two Entry-Level Officers, and a budget of close to $2.5 million.
Ms. Payne-Holmes focused on Cultural Affairs both in Turkmenistan and when she served in Astana, Kazakhstan as the Assistant CAO and she was responsible for the Education, Alumni, and Exchange programs, as well as a large number of cultural programs. As a Press Officer in the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau’s Press Office, she worked with traditional media and event organization. She covered China, Taiwan, Burma, and ten other countries, as well as major press events including Aun Sun Suu Kyi’s first trip to the United States after her release from house arrest and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Ms. Payne-Holmes has also served in all three of the major Consular Sections of Embassy Manila and managed several of its premier portfolios, including the health screening process for more than five percent of all Immigrant Visas issued by the U.S. Department of State.
Before joining the Department of State, Ms. Payne-Holmes worked on a successful Congressional campaign for a first-time representative. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Indiana University where she focused on Poland and identity politics in Eastern Europe. She is an avid reader and figure skater.
Julius Tsai, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2017-2018
Julius Tsai is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He just completed a tour in the Operations Center, the Secretary’s and Department’s 24/7 communications and crisis management center.
His previous assignments were at the U.S. Embassies in Manila, Philippines; and Beijing, China. In Beijing, he served as Public Diplomacy Officer in the embassy’s press office. He speaks Mandarin, Taiwanese, German, French, Japanese, and Tagalog; and has studied Classical Chinese, Greek, and Latin. He will be learning Georgian in preparation for his onward assignment as Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. Prior to the Foreign Service, Julius was an assistant professor of East Asian religions.
Mr. Tsai is a graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard University and Stanford University. He is married to Anny Chuan; they have two children.
Elise Crane, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2016-2017
Elise Crane joined the Foreign Service in 2011, after completing her M.A. in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Since June 2016, she has served as a Public Diplomacy desk officer focused on Ukraine within the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. From 2014-2016, Ms. Crane was a Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, where she led the consular public outreach team to promote U.S. tourism and educational and cultural exchanges. From 2011-2013, Ms. Crane was the Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, where she launched the Embassy’s interagency youth outreach program and oversaw all press relations.
Prior to the Foreign Service, Elise worked in Prague as a sales manager for Project Syndicate, a private media organization that distributes opinion content to newspapers around the world. In that role, she traveled to 30 countries to meet with editors and journalists and to promote press freedom. Ms. Crane is originally from Boulder, where she received a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado. She speaks Spanish, French, and limited Russian, and she recently completed her first Olympic-distance triathlon.
Jason Frohnmayer, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2016-2017
Jason Frohnmayer is the press and public diplomacy officer in the Public Affairs, Planning and Coordination Office at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to Washington, Jason served in Canberra, Australia as the Cultural Affairs Officer and in Manila, Philippines as staff aide to the Ambassador and a consular officer. Before joining the Foreign Service, Jason worked for several years as an international supply chain manager for high tech manufacturing in both Japan and the United States. He was also a professional actor and university public speaking instructor.
Jason graduated from The George Washington University with a cum laude Bachelors degree in East Asian Studies and holds a Masters degree in Intercultural Communication, Rhetoric and Cultural Anthropology from Oregon State University. He is the recipient of three individual meritorious awards and several group awards. He speaks Japanese and is originally from Oregon.
Monica Damberg-Ott, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2015-2016
Monica Damberg-Ott joined the Foreign Service in 2009 as a Public Diplomacy Officer. Since August 2014, she is the Cultural and Educational Programs Coordinator in the Office of Public Diplomacy for the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP/PD). From 2012-2014 she served as a Political and Economic Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, India and from 2010-2012 she served as a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Damberg-Ott worked as an account executive for an advertising firm in New York. She received a B.A. in International Relations from Boston University and a M.A. from the American Graduate School for International Relations and Diplomacy in Paris, France. She speaks Polish and French. Her interests include photography, travel, and fashion.
Angie Smith, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2015-2016
Angie Smith is a regional policy officer for the Near Eastern Affairs region in the Bureau of International Information Programs, a bureau that develops multimedia and digital products that reach across platforms to connect foreign audiences to U.S. policy priorities through relatable dialogue. She served as Deputy of the Public Diplomacy section in Dublin, Ireland, from 2012-2014, where she worked on a number of initiatives including those involving youth in Northern Ireland and along the border. Previous tours include Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jerusalem and Athens, Greece as a Foreign Service specialist. She earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago in film and studied Russian in Ukraine and Russia before joining the Foreign Service.
Shanna Surendra, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2015-2016
Shanna Dietz Surendra is currently Consul at the U.S. Embassy in London. She most recently served as the Desk Officer for Portugal and Malta where she oversaw the development and implementation of U.S. policy with European allies. In her previous assignment as Cultural Affairs Officer in Chennai, Ms. Surendra utilized educational and cultural initiatives to further foreign policy priorities and also served as the Consulate’s speechwriter. She joined the Foreign Service in 2009 and fulfilled her consular tour in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ms. Surendra has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she worked for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development; taught English in Cairo, Egypt; and served as Assistant Editor to the academic journal, Perspectives on Politics. Ms. Surendra speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu. Originally from Michigan, she resides with her husband Shravan and son Rahm.
Carissa Gonzalez, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2014-2015
Carissa Gonzalez is currently pursuing Arabic langague training at FSI. Previously, she was the Deputy Public Affairs Officer in Montevideo, Uruguay, where she oversaw press, education, and cultural outreach initiatives, led the Mission's digital outreach and youth engagement strategy, and routinely served as the Ambassador’s speechwriter and Embassy Spokesperson. Earlier, Ms. Gonzalez served as the Political-Military Affairs Officer in Sana’a, Yemen (2009-2010), where she led the Department of State’s security and counterterrorism (CT) coordination with all host nation and U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and managed the external relations, rule-of-law, and Muslim outreach portfolios. In the turbulent environment resulting from the Arab Spring in Yemen, she served at various points (2010-2011) as Immigrant Visa Chief, Acting Information Officer/Press Attaché, Acting Political Chief, Acting Public Affairs Officer, and leader of a 24/7 Operations Center at post that oversaw all evacuation planning and communications with Washington and the public.
She has received multiple Meritorious Individual and Group Honor Awards for her service.
Ms. Gonzalez studied International Relations and Public Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School where she focused on both Latin American and Middle Eastern policy. While at Princeton, she authored a number of policy papers on U.S. national security, and an academic thesis on innovative public diplomacy approaches to combating violence against women in Jordan. Ms. Gonzalez also lived in South Africa as part of a joint research task force between Princeton and the University of Cape Town which worked on poverty alleviation solutions.
Before entering the U.S. Foreign Service in 2008, Ms. Gonzalez worked as a business strategy consultant in the banking, energy, and health services industries in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Texas, she speaks both Spanish and Arabic, plays the violin, and is an avid runner. Ms. Gonzalez looks forward to advanced Arabic studies in Washington and immersion training overseas in preparation for her onward assignment as the Public Affairs Officer and primary Arabic Spokesperson on all bilateral issues in Doha, Qatar.
Megan Tetrick, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2014-2015
Megan Tetrick is Attache for Culture and Education at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. Previously, she served as the Political Officer for Internal Affairs and Human Rights in the Department of State’s Office of Russian Affairs. In that capacity, she drafted press guidance and statements on human rights and internal developments in Russia.
Earlier, Ms. Tetrick served as Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and a Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Quito. A Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine from 2003-2006, Ms. Tetrick holds a B.A. in journalism and politics from Ithaca College University and a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University.
Lia Miller, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2013-2014
Lia Miller is currently Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. Previously, she was a public affairs specialist in the Office for International Media Engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs. In June 2013, she served in the Operations Center as a watch officer. Prior to her assignment to Public Affairs, Ms. Miller served as the Foreign Assistance Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia managing the largest democratic transition assistance budget in the world. From 2009-2011, Ms. Miller was an advanced Arabic language student at both FSI in Arlington and the Tunis-based FSI field school. From 2007 to 2009, Ms. Miller served as the assistant general services officer in Managua, Nicaragua. Prior to that, her first posting was in Muscat, Oman where she served as the Acting Consular Chief and deputy public affairs officer in a rotational assignment. Ms. Miller is a graduate of Syracuse and Columbia University.
Erin Rattazzi, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2013-2014
Before joining the State Department, Erin worked for Human Rights Watch in London, England for several years where she created and developed the “London Network,” a young professionals group mobilized to achieve outreach, fundraising and advocacy objectives. Erin had been living in London when terrorists launched a series of coordinated attacks using the public transportation system on July 7, 2005. It was shortly after these attacks that Erin began considering a job in the Foreign Service. Erin joined the State Department in 2008 where she spent a year learning Vietnamese before heading to her first post in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. While in Vietnam, she managed a S/GWI grant to support women’s rights and gender equality for a rural community and development center. After her tour in Vietnam, Erin served in Kabul, Afghanistan as assistant information officer. It was an eventful year in Afghanistan, which included attacks on the Embassy, one Presidential visit and two Secretarial visits. While in Afghanistan, as part of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, Erin worked with the local videographer to film sixteen public service announcements featuring prominent and influential Afghans condemning gender-based violence.
As the public affairs officer in the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Erin led the Department’s public diplomacy and public affairs work to advance Sudan and South Sudan policy and helped to align these efforts with the President’s strategic goals toward Sudan and South Sudan, focused on supporting the development of two viable states at peace internally and with each other.
Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Erin Rattazzi has a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of arts in history from UCLA and a master of philosophy in justice and transformation, specializing in human rights, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She speaks Vietnamese and Spanish.
Glen Davis, Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow for 2012-2013
Glen Davis is the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus. Previously, he was Desk Officer for Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan, the primary liaison between Washington and post for the largest public diplomacy effort in the State Department. He has also worked as Deputy PAO in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where, as press officer and cultural attaché, he created a number of programs to foster reconciliation among Sri Lankans in the aftermath of the long insurgency that ended in 2009. Before that, he was vice consul in London. Mr. Davis has received two individual Meritorious Honor Awards from the State Department and several group awards.
Before joining the Foreign Service in 2006, Mr. Davis enjoyed one career as a student, teacher, and scholar of literature and philosophy and a shorter one as a telecommunications consultant. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he speaks Italian, French, German, and Sinhala and reads Latin and Greek. He holds an honors degree in History and Literature from Harvard University and Master’s degrees from St. John’s College in Annapolis and the University of California at Irvine. He has the unusual distinction of having met his wife at a monastery.