The Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) is proud to announce a recent partnership with the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP). ICAP is a professional development and leadership program for highly promising mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups in international affairs in the United States. It provides a support network, career advising, mentors, policy and research background, and other forms of assistance in order to help professionals from underrepresented groups reach their potential and attain leadership positions in international affairs in both the public and private sectors. 

The inauguration of the program involves an introductory day in Washington, DC and a week in Aspen at the Aspen Institute, where participants engage in professional development activities, hear from panels of policy and research experts, work with senior mentors and career advisors, and interact with other participants. 

As a new partner, RFG was honored to sponsor a 2022 ICAP Fellow, Luis González, and facilitate his participation in the Aspen program on October 1-9, 2022. Mr. González is a political-coned Foreign Service Officer serving as a Political Officer in the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs. 

My participation in the ICAP Aspen program, generously sponsored by the Robertson Foundation for Government, was a transformational experience,” Mr. González recounts. “During my week in Aspen, I embraced my authentic self and story, my new ICAP community of peers and mentors, and professional development experiences that will advance my career goals and help me lift others to reach their potential.” He shared how the ICAP Aspen program expertly focused on the realities and challenges faced by underrepresented and historically disadvantaged mid-career foreign policy professionals, commenting that “it filled us with new energy, hope, and connections to carry on as change agents in our professions.” Reflecting on his experience as an ICAP Fellow, Mr. González states, “The experience provided me a moment to pause and review my personal and professional journey and helped me define steps to further achieve my career and personal service goals.” 

Following the ICAP Aspen program, Mr. González began a 13-month assignment in the State Department’s Operations Center as a Watch Officer. RFG looks forward to hearing more about his career and future accomplishments, while also advancing its newly established partnership with ICAP!

One of its annual traditions, the Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) hosted a holiday party and charity drive this year at the Old Ebbitt Grill for Fellows, alumni, and their families. Guests brought more than 150 items to donate to a local charity, including nonperishable foods, clothing, and toiletries. These items will go towards supporting families and individuals in need in the Washington, DC area. A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the charity drive and we wish our Fellows and alumni around the world a wonderful holiday season!

Check out photos from the event below and in our Photo Gallery!

A 2021 graduate of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Charlotte Volpe is now serving as an Economic Officer with the U.S. Department of State. In her current position, she recently traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to serve in a temporary capacity with the U.S. Embassy there. In her role with the Embassy’s Economic Section she worked on a multitude of projects, including the planning of a U.S. Trade Show and the organization of an event with American scientists working on a National Science Foundation-funded project in Bangladesh. 

Looking back on her recent experience abroad, Volpe shares that “it was great meeting our Bangladeshi counterparts in person while in Dhaka. I was able to meet with counterparts in the Government of Bangladesh as well as with U.S. business advocacy organizations.” She also talked about what life was like working in a U.S. Embassy, stating that it was challenging to complete both her day job, which involved meeting with contacts and focusing on USG programmatic and policy efforts on-the-ground in Bangladesh, while also balancing requests coming into post from Washington. Overall, Volpe found the experience to be an edifying one as she not only deepened her economics expertise, but also really enjoyed learning the realities of everyday life in Dhaka, along with gaining knowledge about Bangladesh’s history and culture.  

Volpe got her start at the State Department following the completion of her Boren Fellowship in India. Specifically, while studying at Syracuse University, Volpe had the opportunity to take a gap year while completing her Masters in Public Administration and International Relations to take part in the Boren Fellowship. Speaking about her experience as a Boren Fellow, Volpe shares, “I honed the Hindi skills that I started while in college through daily, immersive language study, and learned so much about India’s complex and very fascinating political, social, and economic context.” This experience paired well with her overall graduate education at Syracuse University, which allowed her to step out of the day-to-day grind and think critically about her work, enabling her to see how what she was learning in school could advance broader U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the long-range impact of those policies. 

As a Boren Fellow, Volpe secured her first role at the State Department as an Economic Officer in the Office of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan through the Boren hiring board. Thinking back to the early days of her career, Volpe comments, “I started the Economic Officer role with a basic background on broad economic issues, but I’ve learned so much on the job through exposure, especially on macroeconomics, and have enjoyed it so much.”

When asked about what has made her successful not only in her work with the State Department, but also as a graduate student and Boren Fellow, Volpe cites three things. The first is her study abroad experience as an undergraduate student at Barnard College. While studying abroad in Italy during her junior year, she had the opportunity to intern at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, which ignited her passion for international affairs and diplomacy. Volpe recounts, “I was fascinated with modern European history and Indian history in college,” and this experience motivated her to delve deeper into studying South Asia as a graduate student. 

Volpe also credits the Robertson Foundation for Government as a key contributor to her success thus far, stating that becoming a Robertson Fellow opened the door to multiple opportunities that she would not have had otherwise. Volpe explains that “the network of RFG Fellows is fantastic, and I’ve learned so much from seeing other academic and career paths that Robertson Fellows have gone through.” 

Finally, Volpe emphasizes the benefits of networking both for her personally, but also for any future aspiring students interested in a career in public service. She underscores that it’s important to keep in touch with friends from college, grad school, and the Robertson program because the “best way to learn about opportunities in the Federal Government is through your networks and you never know where your career interests with someone else may overlap!” 

This article represents Charlotte Volpe’s personal thoughts and is not an official position of the U.S. government.

This past October, 21 current RFG Fellows traveled to Washington, DC for the Robertson Foundation for Government’s annual Fall Gathering. This year’s Fall Gathering was special in that it represented the first in-person Fall Gathering since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fellows kicked off their time in Washington with a dinner at the Japanese Embassy, where they heard remarks from the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Tamaki Tsukada on U.S.-Japanese engagement efforts and the importance of careers in public service. Deputy Chief of Mission Tsukada was joined in his remarks by RFG President Geoff Robertson and the Deans and senior leadership of each of the Foundation’s partner universities, including Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs; Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government & Public Service; UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy; and the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. In addition to these remarks, Fellows had the opportunity to network with junior Embassy staff, who like them, were embarking on the first steps in their careers in public service. RFG Fellows also enjoyed learning about various aspects of Japanese food and culture, along with potential opportunities to study or work abroad in Japan through programs like the Boren Fellowship and JET Program. To view photos from this event, please check out our Photo Gallery.

A crucial part of the RFG Fall Gathering is giving Fellows the chance to learn more about potential career paths in the Federal Government. In support of this effort, RFG organized several employer site visits for Fellows to participate in during their visit to Washington. Over the course of a full business day, Fellows visited three Federal employers and met with agency representatives to learn more about the work of a particular agency and opportunities for pursuing internships and future jobs. Federal employers this year included the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the Smithsonian Institution; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI; the U.S. Department of State; and the Treasury Department. A special element of these visits was the fact that RFG Alumni were on the informational panels at six out of the eight employers, encouraging current Fellows in their career interests and sharing their experiences serving in government. Each of these visits also included an interactive element, such as a briefing simulation led by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the State Department or a guided tour of FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, which educated Fellows on how this Center operates in the midst of a national disaster. To view photos from the Fellows’ employer site visits, please check out our Photo Gallery.

Another element of the RFG Fall Gathering was an evening reception for current Fellows and RFG Alumni. This event was an incredible networking opportunity for Fellows and Alumni as they mingled and spoke with RFG partners, members of the Robertson family, and recruiters and representatives from a variety of government agencies. To view photos from the reception, please check out our Photo Gallery.

To closeout the Fall Gathering, Fellows gathered together at the DACOR Bacon House for a full day of professional development workshops led by RFG Chief Program Officer for Fellowships & Career Development, Sharon Swabb, and the Director of Career Services at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy, Stephanie Boomhower. Workshop topics included sessions on career pathways in the U.S. Foreign Service, salary negotiation techniques, and strategies for crafting and tailoring your Federal Resume. The workshops also included a session on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and your career in which the Fellows had the opportunity to take the MBTI® personality assessment, receive interactive coaching on their assessment results, and learn how to apply the results of their assessment to their career planning efforts. 

RFG is thrilled to have its annual Fall Gathering return to in-person programming, and both the Foundation and its Fellows look forward to what’s in store for the RFG Fall Gathering in 2023.