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Maxwell Celebrates Four Exceptional Alumni at Annual Awards of Excellence

April 11, 2023

Alumni Bernard Rostker G’66, G’70, Sean Callahan G’98 L’98, Deniece Laurent-Mantey ’09 and Juan Carlos Izaguirre G’06, G’07 will be celebrated at the event on April 27 in Washington, D.C.

Bernard Rostker has tackled some of the most contentious issues in the military over a 55-year career in government service and research.

He oversaw the re-establishment of Selective Service registration during the Carter administration, co-authored two key RAND Corporation reports supporting gay individuals serving openly, and authored the definitive, “I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force.”

During the Clinton administration, Rostker accepted the challenge of the mysterious Gulf War illness as a special assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense John White, and later John Hamre.

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“Hamre warned me, no matter where we move you, you’re not getting away from Gulf War illness,” Rostker recalls, “and I said, ‘That’s exactly the way I want it.’ That was really hands-on with veterans who were hurting and hopefully giving them some sense that the department was listening to them.”

For his continued pursuit of solutions to intractable problems, Rostker G’66, G’70 will be honored with the Spirit of Public Service Award at the second annual Maxwell Awards of Excellence. The ceremony will be held April 27 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), home to the school’s Washington, D.C., programs.

The awards highlight Maxwell alumni and friends who exemplify a commitment to engaged citizenship. The school will also recognize the exceptional contributions of Sean Callahan G’98 L’98, mission director for Afghanistan with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Deniece Laurent-Mantey ’09, a special advisor in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. State Department; and Juan Carlos Izaguirre G’06, G’07, senior financial sector policy specialist at the World Bank-affiliated Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

“Together, these four alumni have used their talents, positions, power and influence to positively impact the lives of millions around the globe,” said Dean David M. Van Slyke. As Maxwell approaches its centennial year, the Awards of Excellence are an opportunity to share and celebrate Maxwell’s ideals in action and to inspire others in the ways that we ever strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Spirit of Public Service Award: Bernard D. Rostker ’66 M.A. (Econ)/’70 Ph.D. (Econ)

Bernard Rostker
Bernard D. Rostker 

Rostker’s public service includes two years of active duty in the Army in the late 1960s. During the Carter administration, he was principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, following which, he took on the reboot of Selective Service registration, which President Ford had ended.

Rostker’s work on the Department of Defense response to Gulf War illness lasted from 1996 to 2001. During that time, he also served as assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, undersecretary of the Army, then undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

In between defense jobs, Rostker worked for RAND, for a time in the 1970s, then again in the 1980s and early 90s. He returned in 2001 and is a senior fellow there today. He calls the organization his “real home” for its focus on interdisciplinary research, an approach he learned to value at Maxwell. “Certainly, it provided me with what I needed to be effective in government,” he says.

Three of Rostker’s projects, including his examination of the all-volunteer Army, are among the 21 reports on the RAND Classics webpage. He and his wife, Louise G’68, have fostered further study into the lives of veterans and their families by creating a dissertation research fellowship at Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

1924 Award: Sean E. Callahan ’98 J.D./M.P.A.

Sean E. Callahan
Sean E. Callahan 

Callahan, a 22-year veteran of USAID with the senior foreign service rank of minister-counselor and postings in Southeast Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, will receive the 1924 Award for distinguished and sustained civic leadership and achievement.

Early in his career, an overseas opportunity to help Vietnamese refugees resettle in the U.S. confirmed Callahan’s interest in public service. “There really is something rewarding about being part of something bigger,” he says. “Maxwell instills that in you.”

Perhaps his most vivid experience of that calling came while stationed in Jakarta with his wife, Kristin Dadey ’94 B.A. (IR/PSc)/’98 J.D./M.P.A., when a tsunami devastated Aceh province in Sumatra. During the day, he worked as the acting deputy mission director, and in the evenings and on weekends on disaster relief.

“I was helping load humanitarian supplies onto C-130s in Jakarta that the U.S. Air Force was flying to Aceh,” he explains, where Kristin, with the International Organization for Migration, would then unload and distribute the aid on the other end. “I was proud that we were both trying to help the Indonesian people and seeing what the full force of the U.S. government can do.”

Today, working from Qatar, he oversees USAID’s multi-sector response to the crisis in Afghanistan.

“It’s probably the hardest and most complex job I’ve ever had and one under intense scrutiny,” he says of managing a staff of over 100 that is spread out over 21 countries and 10 time zones after the U.S. withdrawal in 2021.

“We need to think about not just this generation but the next generation and provide that hope and dignity for the Afghan people."

Compass Award: Deniece Laurent-Mantey ’09 B.A. (IR)

Deniece Laurent-Mantey
Deniece Laurent-Mantey 

Laurent-Mantey is receiving the Compass Award, which honors early career alumni for exceptional impact within 15 years of graduating.

She previously served as the director for Africa at the White House National Security Council, where she led more than 18 government agencies to execute President Biden’s 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit last December. The undertaking involved 49 African countries and their heads of state and thousands of visitors. The event yielded $15 billion in trade and investment commitments and $55 billion for advancing U.S.-Africa shared priorities.

“It was a great experience putting all those pieces together to really deepen America’s partnership with African nations,” she says.

Laurent-Mantey began her State Department career in 2009 and served as a special assistant to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry from 2012 to 2014. For the next five years, she was the acting deputy director for West Africa in the Bureau of African Affairs. It was during this time that she accompanied the assistant secretary for Africa to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak to visit treatment centers built by U.S. troops.

“That was a pivotal moment in my career. I was able to witness the impact of our troops and U.S-Africa policy,” she says.

Her own trajectory, she says, was molded by the overall atmosphere at Maxwell. “It’s a community of people who are just dedicated to doing good and helping each other succeed.”

Charles V. Willie Advocate Award: Juan Carlos Izaguirre ’06 M.P.A./’07 M.A. (IR)

Juan Carlos Izaguirre
Juan Carlos Izaguirre

Izaguirre will receive the Charles V. Willie Advocate Award for his work advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the World Bank and as a leader of GLOBE, the bank’s LGBT+ employee resource group.

The LGBT+ community faces criminal charges or persecution in 70 countries, putting World Bank employees from that community in danger, he says.

“We try to make sure leaders are aware of any situation where the risk of the community is more severe,” Izaguirre explains. He adds that raising awareness within the World Bank gives visibility to the lives of LGBT+ individuals in the regions the bank serves.

Izaguirre’s efforts with GLOBE complement his expertise promoting consumer protections that enable the poor to safely save, borrow and buy insurance.

His first project with the World Bank in 2007 was a consumer protection pilot operating in two Eastern European countries. Over the following six years, he co-authored “Good Practices for Financial Consumer Protection” and expanded the program worldwide, including his native Peru.

As a senior financial sector specialist with CGAP, he helped shepherd the groundbreaking adoption of financial inclusion guidance for banking supervision that includes consumer protection.

“Financial services are just a means to an end, and that end is better economic development, better economic opportunities, better resilience, especially for low-income customers,” he says.

Izaguirre attributes his ability to operate globally to his Maxwell experience, in which he lived in a community of international students, thrived on the variety of his coursework, and studied abroad in Beijing.

“Maxwell was a great experience at so many levels,” he adds. “It really helped me navigate a range of issues that made me a much better person and professional.”

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Read about the inaugural recipients of the Maxwell Alumni Awards of Excellence: "Maxwell to Honor Champions of Public Service with Inaugural Awards of Excellence."

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