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Peer to Peer Forums Showcase Expertise, Global Perspectives

May 31, 2023

When Gabriel Uy first heard about the chance to present on a topic of his choice to faculty, students and staff as part of the Maxwell School’s Executive Education Peer to Peer lunchtime forum series, he had no trouble coming up with a subject.

Peer to Peer story
Gabriel Uy presents at an Executive Education Peer to Peer forum.

A member of the Nevada National Guard currently enrolled in the Maxwell-Whitman School dual-degree Defense Comptrollership Program, Uy had experienced firsthand the disparities in health care coverage between active-duty military personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserves—individuals who stand ready to support active-duty military operations as needed. He had already written about the challenges related to cost and coverage gaps for one of his Maxwell classes, and he saw the series as an opportunity to further spread awareness of the issue.

The Peer to Peer program, Uy said, “was a great opportunity to ‘socialize’ the idea and my recommendations, get the information out there a little bit, and at the same time, practice public speaking.”

Uy was one of 11 Executive Education students, fellows or scholars to present for Peer to Peer during this academic year. The sessions include a 15- to 20-minute presentation followed by a robust question-and-answer session. Presenters come from across Maxwell’s Executive Education programs, including the Humphrey Fellows cohort.

“Maxwell is fortunate to have such a broad array of experienced midcareer professionals in our student body. They come to us from every part of the world and work tirelessly to advance their knowledge,” said Steven Lux, director of Executive Education. “The Peer to Peer program is a unique way for these students to share insights with the entire Maxwell community. It sparks dialogue and broadens the perspective of both listener and presenter. It’s an informal, outside of the classroom way to advance our goal of educating leaders for a global community.

Like Uy, Yuliia Fediv chose a topic closely related to her own realm of experience when she presented on “The Role of Cultural Diplomacy During War and Peace: A Ukrainian Perspective.” A Humphrey Fellow from Ukraine, Fediv is a cultural and media manager and former director of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.

Her presentation focused on the role of cultural diplomacy in international relations and conflict management. As one notable example, she illustrated how the well-known Christmas classic “Carol of the Bells,” which has its roots in Ukrainian folk music, served as a diplomatic tool for advancing Ukraine’s push for independence in 1922 and again in 2022.

Fediv said she valued the opportunity the forum gave her to showcase her country and her expertise for faculty and peers. “After the presentation, I also received a lot of invitations from faculty members and students to talk about my topic during their lectures or with smaller groups of students,” she said.

Mo Shat, a Humphrey Fellow from the Palestinian Territories who most recently worked as a monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning officer at Catholic Relief Services in Gaza, highlighted challenges facing young entrepreneurs in Gaza City. He said he valued the chance to both share about the embattled region’s unique challenges to business start-ups and to learn from the diverse perspectives of his global audience. “The experience was interesting to me because people usually hear about my country in the news, and it is rare that there will be someone like me to give different information,” he added.

In all, the 2022-23 forum series featured 11 talks from presenters from nine countries and three Executive Education programs plus a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Among others, topics included tax administration in India; anti-corruption policy of Kazakhstan; and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

For his part, Uy is already strategizing next steps for calling attention to health care challenges facing the U.S. National Guard and Reserves. He says he anticipates reformatting his Peer to Peer material into an op-ed for submission to a military-focused media outlet such as Stars and Stripes or Army Times.

“There is a bill in Congress now that has been introduced to address the issue,” he said, “and it has pretty wide bipartisan support. But with any new program, there’s always the cost. I’m just trying to get awareness out there, because this is an important issue to me, and hopefully others can see the value in it too.”

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