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Maxwell welcomes four Robertson Fellows as part of new MPA/MAIR class

August 10, 2020

Among students who began pursuit of professional master’s degrees earlier this month, four did so as Robertson Foundation for Government Fellows. Robertson awards are among the most generous and prestigious available to professional graduate students at the Maxwell School.

The Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) exists to inspire the best and brightest U.S. graduate students to pursue long-term federal government careers in foreign policy, national security, and international affairs. Its overarching goal is to strengthen the government of the United States and increase its ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world. The Maxwell School is one of four schools that partner with RFG on the fellowship program.

All Robertson fellows at Maxwell receive funding for two years of study, allowing them to pursue one of the joint degrees offered through Public Administration and International Affairs; the grants cover not only full tuition, but a living stipend, health insurance, and assistance in finding a summer internship. All four of this year’s incoming fellows will pursue the joint M.P.A./M.A.I.R. degree.

Two of the new Robertson Fellows are co-funded by a generous gift from Joseph A. Strasser ’53 B.A. (history)/’58 M.P.A. and a matching grant from the foundation. 

The 2020-22 Robertson Foundation for Government Fellows:

Ricky Cieri RFG 2020Ricky Cieri is a summa cum laude Syracuse University graduate (2017, majoring in international relations, modern foreign languages, and political science) who spent his senior year in Brazil, funded by the NSEP Boren Award. He later worked in Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a Spanish high school; and through the U.S. Embassy’s Go American English afterschool language program for students from disadvantaged families. At Syracuse University, he was later an international program advisor and campus advisor for the State Department’s Gilman Scholarship. After Maxwell, he hopes to work for the State Department, expanding government-funded programming to support students who wish to live internationally.

Elizabeth Marin RFG 2020Elizabeth Marin is one of the two Strasser/RFG Fellows. She graduated summa cum laude from Dickinson College in 2018, where she majored in Latin American studies and minored in Portuguese and Brazilian studies. Her family’s ancestry in Mexico fuels Marin’s passion for Latin America, and her interests in collaboration and empowering communities to create sustainable change. She has worked with organizations dedicated to refugee resettlement and emergency services relief for low-income communities of color. As a Princeton in Latin America Fellow in Mexico and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Brazil, she worked alongside educators and other stakeholders in public education. At Maxwell, Marin plans to explore her interests in diplomacy, conflict resolution, and international collaboration, hoping one day to create and enact just and inclusive education and immigration policy. 

Katherine Maxwell RFG 2020Katherine Maxwell is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (global studies, with minors in gender studies and German). While at UCLA she interned for UN Women USA’s Los Angeles chapter and spent a summer studying international organizations in New York City. After college, she taught English via Fulbright Austria; conducted policy research on gender issues for the European Institute for Gender Equality, an EU agency in Lithuania; and supported several federally funded research projects on health disparities among sexual and gender minorities at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. After Maxwell, she plans to focus on gender equity, international cooperation, and policy reform in the United States and beyond.

Kelli Sunabe RFG 2020Kelli Sunabe, the other Strasser/RFG Fellow, holds a bachelor of business administration in international business and human resource management and a bachelor's degree in fashion design and merchandising, both from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (2018). At UH Mānoa she was president of the Inter-Business Council, cohort coordinator during her time as a Shidler Global Leader scholar, and captain of the first all-women team to win first place in the Northeastern University CUIBE International Business Case Competition. She has been a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in China’s rural Sichuan province. During an undergraduate field study summer program in Japan, China, and Vietnam, Sunabe witnessed disparities in labor conditions, which seeded her career aspirations as an advocate for ethical business practices and humanitarian principles. Her Maxwell degree will serve a career in international labor.

This year’s cohort brings to 31 the number of Robertson Fellows to have entered the Maxwell School since 2010, when the School’s partnership with the foundation began.


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