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Meet the 2019-20 Climate and Security Advisory Group Fellows

csag-logo-massiveIn response to increasing interest in career pathways for climate and security practitioners, the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG) has developed a community-wide Climate Security Fellows Program and is pleased to announce the 2019-20 class of CSAG Climate and Security Fellows.

The CSAG Climate and Security Fellowship program is the first professional organization for emerging leaders seeking meaningful careers at the intersection of climate change and security. The program connects established climate security experts with prospective future leaders through a year-long mentorship program. CSAG Climate Security Fellows gain experience through research and writing, field trips and outings, and networking with experts and practitioners. The CSAG Climate and Security Fellows also contribute articles to a Risk Briefer. Ultimately, fellows will play a leading role in expanding the climate and security network of the next generation and solving some of the most complex risks the world faces.

CSAG Climate Security Fellowship Supporting Organizations

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CSAG Fellowship Program Fellows 2019

Cole Baker

Cole A. Baker is a 2019 Climate and Security Fellow with the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG). In addition to his role with CSAG, Baker is a current congressional staffer and a 2019 security and defense fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. He has worked previously as a freelance contractor writing on terrorism and human trafficking and as a violent extremism fellow for the United Nations in Turkey. Baker holds an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Middlebury College.

James Barile

James Barile has led briefings to senior officials of the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of State, and Environmental Protection Agency as a civilian, most recently leading predictive research on aridification and terrorism for a Special Operations Force command.  At Columbia Law School, Mr. Barile served as a research assistant at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in 2017. At Yale College, as a two-sport varsity athlete, he authored an algorithm to model solar production capability en masse on National Renewable Energy Laboratory software in 2014, then forged a co-op partnership with SolarCity in 2016 and led solar installations in two states.  Mr. Barile is proficient in Chinese and Persian.

Annalise Blum

Annalise Blum is a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow supporting Stabilization and Peace Operations in the Office of the Under Secretary for Defense-Policy (OSD-P) at the Department of Defense. At OSD-P, Annalise contributes to interagency efforts to promote stabilization in fragile countries, including through implementation of the Stabilization Assistance Review. Previously, she was a visiting fellow with the American Meteorological Society’s Policy Program and postdoctoral fellow in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. With a background in water resources engineering, Annalise has studied floods, droughts, access to safe drinking water, and communication of hydrologic forecasts in the US and abroad. Annalise also served as a Mirzayan Fellow in Policy and Global Affairs at the National Academy of Sciences, an NSF fellow at the US Geological Survey, and a research assistant at the Center for International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Annalise has a PhD in environmental and water resources engineering from Tufts University, M.S. from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a B.S. from Stanford University.

Olivia Burzynska-Hernandez

Olivia Burzynska-Hernandez is a consultant at C&M International where she advises multinational companies on issues related to digital trade, global environmental policy, and global health. Prior to joining C&M International, Olivia was the Program Officer for the RAISE Health Initiative, a major activity of the USAID-funded Evidence Project, which aimed to improve women’s health services and education in global supply chains, particularly through changes in global and corporate policies and workplace practices. She was also previously with the Coalition of Services Industries (CSI), an international trade association. At CSI, she advocated for incorporating services language within international trade agreements, notably to reflect the use of digital trade across borders, and she organized Coalition delegations to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Olivia is the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award, and subsequently taught English in Sabah, Malaysia. She holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon.

Lydia Cardona

Lydia Cardona is the Manager for Conflict Resolution and Peace at Conservation International, managing the institution’s environmental peacebuilding program within the Center for Communities and Conservation. She provides technical guidance on peacebuilding, conflict management, and gender and works directly with field teams to build capacity and integrate conflict sensitivity into their programs.  She has trained over 100 staff on conflict analysis, communication, and facilitation while working globally across diverse cultures and languages. She has a professional interest in the nexus of climate change and conflict on conservation and adaptation efforts. Lydia has a master’s degree in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin, with a focus on women, peace and security, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Georgia.

Naz El-Khatib

Naz is Associate Director of Policy at National Security Action. He focuses on major issues in contemporary U.S. foreign policy, principally climate change, U.S.-China relations, and democracy and the rule of law. Naz previously worked at McKinsey in multiple roles, including as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Global Managing Partner. He has additional experience in law, local government, and asset management. Naz holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.Phil. in International Relations and Politics from Cambridge, and a B.A. in Political Science from Yale. He is an avid Steelers and Lakers fan, has lived in six U.S states for at least two years, and grew up primarily in Pittsburgh, PA.

Alexandra Hackbarth

Alexandra Hackbarth is a Climate Security intern at the American Security Project. Her research focuses on how climate change is affecting U.S. national security interests worldwide. From 2017 to 2019, Alexandra served as the Special Advisor for Forward Operations in the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) office in Kabul, Afghanistan. Prior to her posting in Kabul, Alexandra was the Senate Congressional Liaison in SIGAR’s Washington, D.C. office. Alexandra received a Masters in Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, where she was a Robertson Foundation for Government Fellow and a Harold Rosenthal Fellow for International Relations, where she studied the economic and political relationship between the U.S. and China. In the fall of 2014, Alexandra studied at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Her coursework focused on China’s political, economic, and governmental structures, as well as Chinese history and culture. Alexandra was a Rosenthal fellow in the Office of Stability and Humanitarian Affairs at the Pentagon. During her time, she drafted a decision memo for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in support of a UN Peacekeeping Operation; authored a paper on the Defense Department’s equities for UN peacekeeping missions; and drafted talking points and briefing materials for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs. Alexandra also has an advanced degree from the Air Command and Staff College, an academic course designed for field grade officers, geared toward teaching the skills necessary for air and space operations in support of a joint campaign as well as leadership and command in the military and government arenas. Before graduate school, Alexandra was a Legislative Assistant for Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Her portfolio included natural resource, energy, agricultural, and transportation policy.

Ryan Haerer

Ryan Haerer has had a long interest in trying to minimize risks from climate change. He has worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 6 years as a program analyst, serving as the lead for addressing unintended issues from the introduction of new formulations of fuels into old infrastructure. Outside of EPA, he started Nexdevonian, Inc. in 2019, a public benefit startup that aims to drive down costs and risks for climate smart fisheries and agriculture. Ryan served in the US Army from 2004-2007, deploying to Iraq as a combat medic with the 10th Mountain Division in 2005. He plans to complete an M.A. at Johns Hopkins in global security studies in 2020. He also has an M.A. in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS with a specialization in energy, resources, and environmental policy and a B.A. in international development from Ohio State University. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Kira, and black lab, Inka.

Matthew Hallex

Matthew Hallex is a Research Staff Member in the Joint Advanced Warfighting Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA.) His work at IDA focuses on long-term defense strategy, defense innovation, and the military implications of emerging technologies, particularly space and artificial intelligence. Matthew holds a graduate degree in Security Policy Studies from George Washington University. He received his undergraduate degree from Hunter College, City University of New York and studied at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

David Harary

David Harary is an Analyst with ASRC Federal for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service and is the Board Chair of the Center for Development and Strategy 501(c)(3). His passion for climate security started at the onset of the Syrian Civil War as his family background originates from Aleppo. He merged this passion with a deep interest in space technology by exploring the ways remote sensing satellites can be used to anticipate resource shortages and insecurity. David’s writing on environmental security issues has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Slate, The Jerusalem Post, and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat. He holds an M.Sc. in Sustainability Management from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in Economics and Geography and International Trade from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Rudra Kapila

Dr. Kapila is the Co-Chair for the Climate Change Working Group at Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS), a non-profit organization committed to promoting diverse perspectives from WoC leaders within foreign policy and national security. She is also a multifaceted researcher and an expert on the development and implementation of clean energy technologies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change, specifically in the context of vulnerable emerging economies. Following her doctoral research on carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology, and her work on energy and environmental policies with the Scottish Parliament, Dr. Kapila applied her unique skillset to support political campaigns and policy outreach for U.S. presidential, congressional, and state-level races. She received her interdisciplinary Ph.D in Earth & Planetary Science and International Relations from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jessica Libertini

Dr. Jessica M. Libertini, Ph.D., is currently an associate professor of applied mathematics at Virginia Military Institute where she is also holds a Virginia Militia commission from the Governor of Virginia at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After graduating with her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Ms. Libertini began her professional career in 1999 as an engineer at General Dynamics, Electric Boat, where she worked on the VIRGINIA Class, the SSN 23, the SSBN to SSGN conversion, SUBMARINE NR-1, and DARPA-funded advanced concepts. In 2003, she was promoted to senior engineer and was selected to represent General Dynamics on the Missile Defense National Team where she was the architecture lead for defense of the homeland and also ran analyses that were sent to Congress, NATO, the Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States. During her tenure with General Dynamics, Ms. Libertini completed masters’ degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Applied Mathematics from Brown University. Upon completion of her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University in 2008, Dr. Libertini joined the faculty of the United States Military Academy at West Point where she went on to be awarded a Davies National Research Council Fellowship and the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service. Prior to joining the Virginia Military Institute faculty in 2014, she served on the faculty at the University of Rhode Island where she brought in over $1M in National Science Foundation funding for STEM education efforts. In 2017, she was selected as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow with a placement in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, International Cooperation, where she managed a portfolio of eight partner nations and directly supported Undersecretary Ellen Lord in her international engagements. In the past ten years, Dr. Libertini has given over 40 professional presentations on four continents and has published over 20 articles in fields as diverse as medical imaging, food security policy, and STEM education. As a result of her AAAS fellowship experience, she has recently turned her attention to matters of international security and is redirecting her research portfolio towards the nexus of climate change and security.

John Lichtefeld

John Lichtefeld is a Vice President at The Asia Group, where he provides strategic advisory and regulatory analysis for emerging frontier markets in Southeast Asia, as well as client support for foreign direct investment projects across the automotive, manufacturing, media, non-profit, telecommunications, and tourism sectors. In this capacity, he is responsible for tracking regional and sectoral trends, providing insight on political developments and impending regulatory reforms, and developing sophisticated investment and government relations strategies to help clients’ investments achieve their full potential. John has extensive experience operating in Southeast Asia, and has lived and traveled throughout the region. This experience informs his approach to and understanding of the region’s unique dynamics and investment challenges, and provides him with a nuanced perspective on the role and evolution of foreign investment in the region. Since joining The Asia Group, John has supported and lead efforts across multiple sectors and disciplines. He has provided political risk assessments on proposed inward investment into Myanmar, legal analysis of proposed regulatory changes in Vietnam, and supported strategic planning exercises for investments in Thailand. In the U.S. context, he has also provided support on the shifting landscape of U.S. trade policy, and led a trade analysis exercise, illuminating client trade patterns and pinpointing potential areas of vulnerability. Before joining The Asia Group, John worked as a Foreign Legal Consultant with the Singaporean law firm Kelvin Chia’s Yangon office, working alongside other regional consultants and local attorneys. While with the firm, he directly interfaced with clients to provide advice and guidance on Myanmar’s fast-evolving legal and regulatory regimes, and helped successfully guide investments and negotiate contracts in the telecommunications, real estate, hospitality, and energy sectors. He was later seconded to Myanmar’s largest telecommunications provider, KSGM, where he served as in-house counsel during the implementation of Myanmar’s telecommunications law. While he was in Yangon, John also traveled frequently to Bangkok to serve as an independent consultant to a USAID-backed development project focused on preparing the region’s small-scale agricultural sectors for impending changes due to economic development and climate change. John has a Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, a J.D. from Georgetown Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He is also a Nonresident Fellow with the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia program.

Andrew Light

Andrew Light is a second year graduate student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, where he is pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Policy, Education, and Communication. Andrew is currently studying how shared natural resources can be leveraged to help build the foundation for peace in transboundary environmental conflicts. As a student, Andrew also works as a Policy Analyst for the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, where he is researching the process of wind and solar energy development in the State of Michigan. Prior to graduate school, Andrew earned a BA in International Relations from Grand Valley State University.

Rennie Meyers

Rennie Meyers is a SeaGrant Marine Policy Fellow currently supporting the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. She advises the Subcommittee on matters related to coastal resilience, climate change impacts and adaptation, natural resource management, and sustainable maritime industry issues as they pertain to agencies like the Coast Guard and Maritime Administration. Previously, she received a Watson Fellowship to independently research coral restoration and artificial reef development in the South China Sea, exploring the interaction between geopolitics, security, nature-based infrastructure], and climate change adaptation. Rennie received a BA in Environmental Studies and History from Reed College, and a MA in Marine Affairs from University of Rhode Island specializing in coastal zone management and policy.

Zander Nassikas

Alexander (Zander) Nassikas is a master’s student at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs where he is focused on the geopolitical consequences of global climate change. He was selected to be a fellow last year for former Secretary of State John Kerry. Prior to graduate school, Zander worked at the Woods Hole Research Center, a climate change think tank in Massachusetts. He was a research assistant to Dr. Richard Houghton. Together they studied the impact of land management on the global carbon cycle, publishing several peer-reviewed articles. Zander has a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Wesleyan University.

Joe Recht

Joe Recht is an Analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, currently on the Strategic Issues team. He is experienced in government efficiency and oversight, national security, and the energy sector. He previously served the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as a law clerk equivalent, the Departments of State and Defense as a management consultant with Deloitte, and the Department of Energy’s Energy Security Division as an NNSA Graduate Program Fellow. Joe holds an M.A. in International Affairs with concentrations in conflict management and international law from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He also holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.A. in Japanese studies from Case Western Reserve University, and studied at Waseda University as a Boren Scholar.

Emily Sample

Emily Sample is a PhD Candidate at George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she is the Executive Director of the Raphaël Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program. Previously, she has worked as Associate Director of Education at Holocaust Museum Houston and for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Ugandan National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, as well as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She earned her B.A. from The College of William and Mary and her M.A. in Human Rights and Genocide Studies from Kingston University London. Her research interests include sexual- and gender-based violence, climate change mitigation, and mass atrocity prevention.

Mini Saraswati

Mini Saraswati is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at The Ohio State University where she specializes in Comparative Politics and Political Economy. She also earned an MA in Climate and Society from Columbia University (2013) and completed a BA in Political Science, with a minor in Astronomy, at Wellesley College (2010). Her doctoral work examines the links between climate volatility and political violence in sub-Saharan Africa; with a particular focus on how small-holder farmers across the region seek out the protection and assurance of social groups—especially armed groups—in order to reduce the psychological and economic burden of climate-linked economic uncertainty. Her other research interests include social policy and the role of risk inequality in driving political violence, as well as transnational security challenges emanating from fragile and failed states. Over the course of her career, she has conducted fieldwork in Uganda, Mongolia, and India and has worked with organizations such as the Red Cross and the Earth Institute on climate change issues.

Angela Soriano-Quevedo

Angela is an international consultant with a strong interest in how climate change could drive instability or conflict in specific contexts, as well as the way that it could influence the expansion of extremist groups. Currently, she is an expert reviewer for the IPCC’s Working Group II, which assesses the impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities related to climate change, contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Previously, Angela worked as a consultant for the World Bank’s Climate Change Group where she contributed to the Bank’s Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Action Plan, and worked on other initiatives related to climate services for decision-making and disaster risk management in fragile contexts. She also worked for INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Program. Angela earned her Masters of Arts in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Rabiou Yari

Rabiou I. Yari. is a naturalized United States citizen from Niger republic, West Africa. He lives in Maryland with my wife and three kids (two girls and a boy). In May of 2019, he graduated from American University in Washington, DC with a Master of Science in Justice, Law and Criminology with concentration in Terrorism and Security Policy. In December 2009, he was awarded a full fellowship by the U.S. Department of Defense to attend Georgetown University in Washington, DC as National Security Scholar. There, he received analytical tradecraft training in research methodology, database management and geopolitical trends analysis. Prior to that, in 2008, he graduated from Fort Schuyler, State of University of New York Maritime College with a Master of Science degree in International Transportation Management. Before attending Maritime college, he attended Hofstra University, in Long Island, New York where he earned a B.A in Political Science (International Relations) in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as Contracts Management Assistant with the Contracts Division of New York City Transit Authority supporting operations managers with financial management responsibilities. In 1998, he earned an L.L.B in Business Law (Honors) from the Private Professional Institute in Niamey, Niger, where he worked as legal counsel for two years. Before that, he attended the prestigious Ecole National d’Administration (E.N.A) in Niamey and graduated with a professional degree in Law and Judiciary Science. Since 2010, he has been working as Consultant providing research and analysis services for various institutions in Washington, DC. His areas of expertise include Maritime Transportation Management, Security, Charter Parties, Legal, Qualitative and Quantitative Research in Criminology, Terrorism, and the nexus between Climate Change, Conflicts and access to energy. For the past five years, he has volunteered to serve as Diaspora Liaison Officer on the board of Friends of Niger (FON), a DC-based not-for-profit organization. In that capacity, he has had opportunities to support the FON’s various development projects in Niger such as micro finance, access to solar technology in rural areas to support agriculture projects and health clinics. In June 2019, he enrolled in the Yale University’s Prestigious 11 month Online Certificate in Energy Financing and Deployment to learn the soup to nuts of renewable energy business and its transfer from the US to Sub-Saharan Africa.  He is a PhD candidate in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and participating in outdoor activities with his family such as biking, soccer, aerobics and swimming. Also, he practices Karate Shotokan.


The Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG)
The CSAG is a voluntary, non-partisan group of U.S.-based military, national security, homeland security, intelligence and foreign policy experts from a broad range of institutions, focused on developing policies for addressing the security implications of climate change. The CSAG is chaired by the Center for Climate and Security in partnership with the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.


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