A 2014 graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Stéphane Laroche is now serving as a Financial Management Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in India. In this capacity, he provides guidance to the U.S. mission and host country government on issues related to financial, budgetary, and resource management. Having recently been posted to New Delhi, India with USAID, Laroche speaks not only on the first few weeks of his new assignment, but also on his journey to becoming a USAID Foreign Service Officer. 

While the first few weeks on the job in a new country always require a period of adjustment, Laroche underscores his love of a professional life abroad and how much he enjoys supporting America’s foreign policy overseas and making a positive impact on individuals who benefit from American generosity. Laroche comments, “Despite some negative aspects that the world believes about the U.S., it’s a greatly generous country that cares about helping the less fortunate.”

In his work with USAID, Laroche has had the opportunity to witness this firsthand. “The agency is run by people who care deeply about their work, who make mistakes, but are willing to adapt,” Laroche explains. “Their local staff are the backbone of USAID overseas and without their commitment and hard work, the organization would not thrive.” 

With a background in international relations, Laroche also comments on how much he is enjoying being involved in the implementation of U.S. foreign policy. Given India’s key role in the larger U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, Laroche appreciates the opportunity to be in the country while this strategy is being operationalized and to have the chance to explore the different facets of India’s society and culture. 

Prior to working for USAID, Laroche served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of State and as an International Trade Analyst with the Foreign Commercial Service. He also currently works as a Civil Affairs Officer with the U.S. Army in addition to his work with USAID. Laroche credits an extensive network of ambitious professionals, passionate about international relations and public service, for encouraging and supporting him in pursuit of these roles. He also credits the Robertson Foundation for Government for enabling him to pursue a career in federal service following his graduation from Tufts University. “RFG, through its Fellowship, afforded me a significantly lower debt burden which allowed me to strongly consider a career in public service post graduate school,” Laroche says.

Laroche’s commitment to public service is rooted in his post-college job in Brooklyn, New York, where he worked for a community development credit union that offered basic banking, micro lending, and financial literacy services to low-income families who were stuck in institutional poverty. That opportunity, coupled with his immigrant roots and an exchange program to Tokyo, Japan during college instilled in him a desire to give back to others. That desire is still alive and well today and is being exercised in his current and past work in government. As Laroche explains, “Every assignment humbles me and makes me appreciate the cultural, ethnic, and culinary diversity of our world, while allowing me the chance to find different ways to connect with others in order to share ideas, talk about our own cultures, or influence people from a professional standpoint.”

When thinking of the future and those interested in pursuing a career as a Foreign Service Officer, Laroche shares that it “helps to be more comfortable leading teams made entirely of non-Americans.” Such opportunities have helped him “to communicate well with locals when representing the U.S. at official events.”

And for those looking to enter into public service, Laroche encourages flexibility. “Don’t be fixated on just one organization; there are a lot of challenging yet rewarding international relations jobs across the U.S. Government both in the U.S. and overseas.” With this plethora of opportunities comes a million hiring mechanisms, so it is vital to “network, network, network,” Laroche concludes.

Dear Fellows & Friends:

Let me begin by expressing a hearty congratulations to the Robertson Fellows Class of 2022 graduates! Your effort and determination have paid off, and you should be very proud. I am proud to hear that many of you have already secured post-graduation employment, including our three PMF Finalists – Demetria Charlifue, Ryan Damron, and Katherine Maxwell – who have secured PMF appointments at USAID and the Voice of America. The Foundation is honored to count you among our distinguished group of Robertson Alumni.

This is also an exciting time for our First Year Fellows who are interning with federal agencies in positions around the world – from USINDOPACOM in Hawaii to the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia, Robertson Fellows are making an impact! I hope that these internship experiences provide clarity on the next steps in your burgeoning careers and help prepare you to serve as leaders in the public sector.

On behalf of the RFG Board and family, we are honored to have so many Fellows and Alumni representing the Robertson name and mission throughout the Federal Government. Thank you for your continued efforts in public service. Our family’s mission could not be realized without your hard work and dedication. I wish each of you and your families a safe and enjoyable summer!

Geoff Robertson

The Class of 2023 Robertson Fellows have finished their first year of graduate school and are settling into their summer internships, focused on furthering their interests in public service. From internships at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to the Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs Research team, RFG Fellows are working around the world to support government offices and learn more about public service.

Jacob Emont (Maxwell ‘23) is interning in the U.S. State Department’s Embassy in Tunisia.

“I am very excited to see diplomacy in action and better understand the inner-workings of the State Department’s foreign posts,” Emont explains. “Like many people, I think my interest in public service stems from a desire to be a force for positive change and progress in the world. Though it is not without its difficulties, I have seen throughout my studies and career so far that the public sector is where substantial change can be made, and I would like the opportunity to be a part of, and shape, that change.”

Megan Whinna (UMD SPP ‘23) is interning with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs Research Team and is excited to put her interest in data analysis and research into practice.

“I am really excited for the opportunity during my summer internship to take ownership of a research project and get to see that research through from a conceptual hypothesis to reporting my findings using a ‘real world’ data set,” Whinna elaborates. “I think this is an amazing opportunity to directly apply skills I have learned in a classroom to marketable job experience.”

Emont, Whinna, and the other first year Fellows will spend the summer interning in offices, learning about government operations in different departments, and supporting critical missions around the world. While some of our Fellows will be in-person this summer, like Emily Ashbridge (Bush ‘23) who is interning at the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) in Hawaii, some internships continue to operate remotely.

RFG Fellow Cody Arigo (UMD SPP ‘23) will intern remotely with the UMD Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security. Christina Baker (Bush ‘23) and Naomi Atughonu (UMD SPP ‘23) will also be interning remotely with the GAO.

As part of the Fellowship program, RFG supports students as they seek to find matches for their summer internship experiences. As Emont explains, “The Robertson Foundation for Government afforded me an incredible opportunity with the Fellowship, which provided me the means and motivation to go back to school and pursue a career in public service. Additionally, RFG has provided essential guidance throughout my studies, which has been key to my search for an internship and eventually a career after graduation.”

In addition to their internship experiences, First Year Fellows are attending a series of professional development programs designed to strengthen their skills, broaden their professional networks, and expose them to new and exciting career opportunities in the Federal Government. Programming includes sessions with RFG Alumni who will discuss strategies on how to best succeed as an intern, Federal Government policy memoranda and communications writing workshops, roundtable discussions on the security and refugee crises in Ukraine, and networking opportunities with public sector professionals in Washington, D.C.

We look forward to sharing more about their summer experiences and highlighting their stories this Fall.

Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2022! These highly qualified, committed, globally-aware individuals are beginning careers dedicated to serving the public as leaders in international issues, foreign policy, and national security.

For some of these Fellows, deciding to pursue a career in public service doesn’t come as a surprise, as a passion for public service runs in the family.

Katherine Maxwell (Maxwell ‘22), who will begin her Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) appointment as a Budget Analyst at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), shares how her personal and family background contributed to her desire to work in public service. “My father was a probation officer, and my mother is a professor of public health who focuses on health disparities,” Maxwell states. “I decided that public service would be the best way to advance the issues I care about. I am highly mission-driven and am professionally fulfilled when my work makes a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives.”

Demetria Charlifue (Bush ‘22) is also a PMF and will begin her work in the USAID Middle East Bureau. Charlifue grew up overseas while her parents served on assignments in the Foreign Service.

“During my formative childhood years, I experienced momentous milestones, celebrations, and occasions alone while my parents served on assignments that separated my family more often than not. Though I experienced a different childhood than most of my peers, I took great pride in my parents’ contributions to a mission that was larger than my nuclear family,” Charlifue shares.

Phoebe DeVos-Cole (UMD SPP ‘22) is joining the U.S. Navy and preparing to enter Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island this Fall to pursue her dream of becoming a Navy pilot.

“I come from a public service-oriented family,” DeVos-Cole explains. “There are a number of veterans and service members in my family, and my parents have always been very community-oriented. I have always been a service-oriented individual, and this, coupled with my interest in government and policy, led me to pursue a career in the Federal Government and a Master of Public Policy.”

Robertson Fellows have already interned in positions across the government giving them some insight of what the government can offer.

Charlifue had the opportunity while at the Bush School to serve on the Department of State’s Afghanistan Task Force where she “supported the Department’s largest relocation efforts in history to support American citizens and our Afghan allies.”

For DeVos-Cole, RFG provided a connection with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, leading to a summer fellowship “which solidified my desire to pursue a career in the military and provided me with a plethora of professional connections and mentors.”

For those who hadn’t been exposed to the Federal Government prior to graduate school, RFG has provided tools and resources as Fellows pursued their work in this sector.

“Nobody in my family works for the Federal Government, and I came to Syracuse not knowing how to write a federal resume or knowing anyone in D.C.,” Maxwell recollects. “Through the Foundation’s programming and Alumni, I have gained the tools to navigate the federal hiring and interview process, become connected to a network of RFG Alumni from Syracuse and the other partner schools, and learned about government agencies and career paths I had not previously considered.”

As the graduating Fellows embark on this next chapter in their careers in public service, they are eager to learn and experience all the Federal Government has to offer.

“I am excited to work with and learn from people who are experts in their fields and similarly passionate about public service,” Maxwell explains. “I am also excited about the number of paths my career can take, as the Federal Government has so many agencies and opportunities to grow.”

For Charlifue, the most thrilling part of a career in public service comes from the impact that she can have on some of the most pressing challenges in a dynamic region. “I look forward to working under the leadership of USAID Administrator Samantha Power, problem-solving in a challenging region, being part of the COP2022 planning, learning from incredible development professionals and promoting the White House’s foreign affairs priorities in the Middle East.”

For DeVos-Cole, a career in the Navy is an opportunity to give back to her country and pursue a lifelong dream. “I am excited to work in a physically and intellectually demanding environment alongside other dedicated and service-oriented professionals. I’ve always wanted to fly, so being selected to become a Navy pilot is a dream come true.”


The Robertson Foundation for Government congratulates the Class of 2022! Below is a sample of some of the places where the Fellows are launching their careers in public service, dedicated to serving as leaders in international issues, foreign policy, and national security

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office on Intelligence & Counterintelligence

U.S. Agency for International Development

U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School

Government Accountability Office

PhD Candidate at Baylor University

Center for Naval Analysis

TechCongress Fellowship

Voice of America

The Foundation is proud to have two Robertson Fellows taking part in the Boren Fellowship Program, through which scholars immerse themselves in cultures and study critical languages around the world.

Kelli Sunabe (Maxwell, ‘23), is currently completing her Boren Fellowship in Taiwan where she is studying Mandarin and JaKyah Beatty (UMD SPP, ‘24) has been accepted as a Boren Fellow to study Swahili in Tanzania this Fall.

Sunabe, who spent time in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a Peace Corps volunteer, achieved some proficiency in the language, but applied for the fellowship because she wanted to achieve a higher Mandarin Chinese proficiency. “The influence of the PRC and the Republic of China (Taiwan) on other actors around the world is a factor that I believe can be better understood through cultural, historic, and linguistic traditions,” Sunabe explains.

Beatty tells of how travels abroad in undergrad led her to pursue a Boren Fellowship. While you might not immediately see the connection between global development and fashion merchandising, Beatty says it became evident during her junior year while studying abroad in Italy. “We participated in several global workshops in and around Italy, London, and Paris. The traveling projects taught us about sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry – from organic cotton farming to sweatshops and labor ethics in garment factories in developing countries. I was deeply inspired to learn more about how the apparel industry’s outsourcing influences developing countries and local economies.”

Beatty continued to build on that experience and started to work for a social enterprise in Uganda, focused on economic development by employing women to produce apparel sold in the U.S. and Canada. Her work led her to partner with two local Ugandan men, and develop a community organization providing education, professional development and alternative sources of income to women who previously worked in prostitution.

“Working with them taught me that sustainable development is more than just providing a job; it is teaching, supporting, and equipping individuals to create their opportunities and organizations,” Beatty elaborates. “I also realized that the field of international development lacks diversity. I was the only Black American out of about 60 expats working in different organizations around Gulu, Uganda, and the only African American of the 30 plus past employees who had worked with the same social enterprise that I had. These experiences were impactful enough to push me to pursue work in international development.”

Beatty hopes to build on this experience as a Boren Fellow. “I am interested in learning Swahili through the Boren Fellowship program because I deeply enjoyed my time in East Africa. I have learned so much since I spent time there after undergrad and would love to return with my increased knowledge of development and policy.”

Beatty hopes to use the experience to build on her career in public service, and to work in the Foreign Service as a Public Diplomacy Officer or Economic Officer.

“The Public Diplomacy Officer position interests me because it entails building bridges of understanding between Americans and the world. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, a large portion of our role was to share American culture with our communities and learn their culture to bring home and share with Americans. I believe that developing mutual cultural understanding is imperative to continuing strong foreign policy and foreign relations. I am also interested in the Economic Officer position as it involves working with other countries on environmental issues and promoting economic development in underdeveloped or newly emerging countries.”

Sunabe has also used her time as a Boren Fellow to increase her language skills and sees a long-term impact on foreign policy.

While the PRC and Taiwan share the same language, there are some divergences in various vocabulary, phrases, cultural references, etc. By the end of my fellowship, I hope to offer a more informed interpretation of word usage and its corresponding meaning for governmental policies, political rhetoric, and citizens’ perspectives on geo-politics.”

As they continue with this exciting new opportunity, both Beatty and Sunabe are grateful for their experiences with RFG.

“I have had the pleasure of working with the RFG staff who have been excellent in helping me choose fellowships and internships to apply for,” Beatty explains. “I have also enjoyed networking and hearing advice from the RFG alumni network virtually and in person.”

For Sunabe, “RFG has given me the means to pursue a career in public service. Throughout my graduate school career, they have provided extensive Federal Government career pathway training and events and special cross-governmental agency event opportunities; introduced me to a close-knit Alumni community; and actively encouraged me to pursue various internship and job opportunities. The RFG team ensures Fellows, including myself, have a smooth transition into a career in public service.”

For both women, they are eager to have careers in public service and to continue building upon U.S. international efforts.

“I hope to participate in a public service career that values the positive impact of U.S. bilateral and multilateral engagement and the capability for communities across continents to empower groups of people despite socio-economic and cultural barriers,” Sunabe states.

For Beatty who is about to embark on her Fellowship, she looks forward to a career dedicated to empowering people and improving systems that ultimately will influence the quality of life offered by the U.S. and other countries worldwide. In addition, I love learning about new cultures and problem-solving, so a career in foreign service and international development is something that genuinely interests me.”