Alexander observes Russian election, offers her expertise in Siberia


Deborah Alexander represented the United States on as international delegation to observe national Duma elections in Russia, assisted regional election commission in Siberia.

In September 2016, Deborah Alexander ’82 MSSc/’95 PhD (SSc) represented the United States on an international delegation in Russia, where she observed the Federal Assembly of Russia’s State Duma elections (the lower house of Russia’s national legislature). Also, while in Russia, she went to Siberia to work with the regional election commission — the only American to do so. These are not the first times Alexander played a role in election monitoring. In post-9/11 Afghanistan, she was principal advisor for the first democratically held elections in decades, helping to create partnerships that resulted in the successful conduct of the elections — elections that that were deemed secure, legitimate, and credible.

Alexander’s expertise in overseeing election procedures builds off of her long and distinguished career in international affairs and diplomacy. Over the course of her 16-year career with the U.S. government, she served in a range of progressively senior positions at the U.S. Department of State, where she carried out nine years as a senior policy advisor in Afghanistan, in addition to holding key positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Joint Forces Command, and the Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe. In these roles, she worked in several countries experiencing conflict or political transition, such as Bosnia, Somalia, Serbia, Romania, Albania, Pakistan, and Kosovo. Her work in these countries focused on elections, governance, stabilization, women’s advancement, and civil/military relations.

After leaving the State Department, she took a post as senior subject matter expert and mentor with IDS International and the U.S. Army’s Joint Regional Training Center (at Fort Polk, Louisiana) and its National Training Center (at Fort Irwin, California). In Afghanistan, Alexander was part of an interagency team that oversaw field operations — a team that included more than 400 civilian colleagues working at 80-plus locations throughout Afghanistan. She has served in many other critical roles: first U.S. deputy head of mission during the U.S. Marines counterinsurgency surge in the strategically key province of Helmand (south Afghanistan); and first USAID field program officer in Afghanistan embedded with Special Operations forces. Currently, she is a social scientist and program and training consultant at Alexander3D Consulting Services, splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C.

Among Alexander’s other career achievements was time spent as a Fulbright scholar in Calcutta, India, serving with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity; and a 10-year career as a Syracuse and New York State government official prior to her international career. Alexander is quick to acknowledge the role that Maxwell has played in her influential and successful career, both personally and professionally. In 2014, upon receiving the Maxwell School's Spirit of Public Service Award — given to individuals or organizations whose life and work reflects a creative and passionate commitment to public service — she stated: “There’s probably not a day that goes by — whether I have been in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Washington, D.C., wherever I might be—that I have not thought about my work at Syracuse and my education at Maxwell. It has carried me day in and day out, both the practice that I was involved in at Syracuse as well as the academic education and training that I received at Maxwell. I remember really wrestling with coming back to my doctoral work. … I couldn’t decide whether I’d be [in] political science or maybe anthropology, sociology — I loved them all — or public administration, and Maxwell provided a place for me where I didn’t have to make a choice, and I could do what I loved. I could continue to be a practitioner and also be able to ask the larger questions about civic engagement, and citizenship, and democracy, and women’s participation.”