| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Kudera and Meehan
Courtney Kudera MAIEP ’23 (left) was mentored by Mairi Miller Meehan MAIEP ’15 (right) this spring.

When you’re at a new internship and have a million questions, sometimes you don’t know where to turn.

Thanks to a program launched in 2021, Middlebury Institute students doing a practicum can now turn to alumni mentors in their field for advice.

“My alumni mentorship experience was lovely,” says environmental policy student Courtney Kudera MAIEP ’23, who was matched with Mairi Miller Meehan MAIEP ’15 of the Ocean Frontier Institute. “It was wonderful to have a personal connection and it was a relief to talk with her about my experiences, hopes, and prospects for the future.”

Joint MPA/International Trade student Samantha “Sam” Fino also had a very positive experience meeting with Meehan. “I prepared some questions as I was interested in hearing about her journey after graduation. She gave me key advice when I explained that I am also interested in pursuing another degree after working for some time.”


Fino, Sam
Sam Fino MPA/MAITED ’23 (middle row, third from left in jean jacket) with classmates on a trip to the Balkans.

“It was a pleasure to speak with Sam and Courtney,” says Meehan, who was recruited by the alumni mentor program’s manager, Carolyn Taylor Meyer, director of immersive professional learning . “Our conversations were very casual. What stood out to me about both of them were their levels of engagement with me, questions about my work, and their eagerness and drive to pursue meaningful and impactful careers.”

It was wonderful to have a personal connection and it was a relief to talk with her about my experiences, hopes, and prospects for the future.
— Courtney Kudera MAIEP ’23

Each student met with their alumni mentor at the beginning and end of their practicum project, providing them with support as they worked on their project, as well as advice about navigating the transition from graduate school into their future careers. These connections also help students build the professional networks that can be invaluable as they launch their careers. Currently, students in the Environmental Policy and Management, International Policy and Development, International Trade, MPA in Social Change, and Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies programs are all eligible to be matched with an alumni mentor. The Professional Service Semester (PSS) is one of many experiential learning courses and initiatives offered.

“Mairi’s biggest advice was not to let what I do stifle my passion,” adds Fino. “If I have a passion for something, I should pursue it and not let it be pushed down or away.”

Says Meehan, “I hope they both got a sense of the endless possibilities they have and will continue to have as experts in their fields, whether at the international, national, or local levels of environmental policy, decision making, and so forth. It was really great to connect with such excellent students from MIIS; it helped remind me of why I pursued this path.”

Alumni Mentors Support Students with Time and Expertise

The Middlebury Institute is grateful to the following alumni who shared their time and expertise to support practicum students during the fall 2022 and spring and summer 2023 terms:

Summer 2023

Ronald Craft MANPTS ’13, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Andrew Dyer MACD ’00, Navigatr
Jane Eklund MAIPD ’21, Amnesty International
Addy Jimenez Haga MAIPD ’17, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
Rafael Hernandez MPA ’15, Hernandez Consulting
Karl Kailing MAIPS ’07, Thomson Power 

Spring 2023

Tabitha Birdwell MAIEP ’22, Delta Stewardship Council
Sarah Erickson MANPTS ’22, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
Elizabeth Francis MAIEP ’21, Blue Carbon
Tristan Guevin MPA ’19, Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Lidia Guirguis (no degree, FMS ’15), Solidaridad Network
Natalie Berland Hayes MAIEP ’09, Bentley University
Tiffani Jarnigan MAIEP ’14, Hewlett-Packard
Amanda Larson MAIPD ’19, Carter Center
Adam Martyn MANPTS ’20, U.S. Department of Defense
Adrienne McKeehan MAIEP ’09, Conservation International
Mairi Miller Meehan MAIEP ’15, Ocean Frontier Institute
Jessica Morten MAIEP ’15, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Mary Pantenburg MAIEP ’22, SecondMuse
Mariko Powers MAIEP ’18, Oceankind
Daniella Saint-Phard MAIPD ’21, IREX
Jordan Sanchez MAIEP ’15, California Coastal Commission
Becca Sheffield MAIEM ’16, Evolve
Julie Stasiuk MAIEP ’22, ECOM Agroindustrial Corp.
Emily Stokes MAIEP ’22, Waitt Institute
Nick Tomb MAIPS ’02, Naval Postgraduate School
Tessa Varvares MAIEP ’22, Harvard Belfer Center
Bailey Warren MAIEP ’20, California Coastal Commission
Alexis Wilkman MAIEP ’22, Fair Carbon
Whitney Anderson Yadao-Evans MAIEP ’13, Conservation International 

Fall 2022 

Kyle Abbattista MPA ’10, U.S. Agency for International Development
Alfonso Aragon MAIPS ’04, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Ileana Ortega Brunetti MAIEP ’13, University of California, Santa Cruz
Shannon Casey MPA ’21, WorldCompass
Nikita Desai MAIPS ’07, The Asia Foundation
Gunther Errhalt MAITED ’18, Global Fishing Watch
Elizabeth Fisher MPA ’18, Catholic Relief Services
Lawrence Garber MAIEP ’21, Building Decarbonization Coalition
Bryan Herbert MAITED ’20, Deloitte
Cate Klemme MAIPD ’19, Southern Pulse
Elea Becker Lowe MAIEP ’18, California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
Aimee Maron MPA ’06, Co-Inside Consulting and Coaching
Iris Nolasco MAIEP ’17, Paws and Stripes
Anna Ondracek MAIEP ’21, Nebraska Department of Transportation
Jessica Sanders MAIEP ’05, Foreign Area Officer and PhD
Cameron Steagall MAIEP ’20, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)
Christina Watson MAIEP ’98, Transportation Agency for Monterey County
Kiera Welch MANPTS ’21, TRM Labs
James Tsou Wong MAIEP ’13, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

For More Information

Experiential Learning