University News

Former Ambassador Kicks Off Speaker Series on Creating Policy in an Uncertain World

Established by Carolyn Brehm ’96 MBA, founder and CEO of Brehm Global Ventures, and former ambassador Richard Boucher, the speaker series endeavors to bring leaders in the world of diplomacy, international affairs, political science, and national security to the University community.

August 12, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Online speaker series presentation
Ambassador Barbara Bodine recently spoke to the University community via Zoom.

Sanduni Muhandiramge ’22 was looking forward to a recent talk by former Ambassador Barbara Bodine because she is interested in learning firsthand about what a career in foreign service entails. She, particularly, wanted to learn about the skills necessary to succeed in the field.

“My favorite part about the lecture was Ambassador Bodine herself,” she said. “Her integrity and knowledge inspired me to act upon the same values of justice and humanity. As a national security major, with a concentration in intelligence analysis, I hope that I am also able to preserve and expand cultural relationships within our global society.”

Muhandiramge was one of the many students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who listened to Ambassador Bodine’s recent talk, which was held via Zoom. It kicked off the Brehm-Boucher Speaker Series: Making Policy in an Uncertain World, which is sponsored by Carolyn Brehm ’96 MBA, founder and CEO of Brehm Global Ventures, an organization that provides advice on global government relations and public policy strategies, and her husband, Richard Boucher, who served as the United States ambassador to Cyprus from 1996 to 1999.

“The notion is to talk about the volatile world we live in through lens of practitioners in fields such as national security,” said Brehm, a member of the University’s Board of Governors. “It’s important to learn through storytelling how they navigated opportunities and challenges and what this meant for how they achieved success in their career. Ambassador Bodine has a lot of great stories to tell.”

'She really has an enormous amount of experience'

Currently a distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy and director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, Ambassador Bodine spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service before retiring. Her service focused primarily on issues in the Arabian Peninsula and the greater Persian Gulf, specifically, U.S. bilateral and regional policy, strategic security issues, counterterrorism, and governance and reform. She has served in countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

“It’s not a question of getting out of your comfort zone,” she said. “I like to think of it as expanding your comfort zone. It’s learning how to take on the crisis, find your role, and determine what can you do to take care of yourself and the situation, and make the situation better. To me, that’s resilience – owning who you are regardless of what’s happening and taking ownership of the situation and trying to find that place where you can do something about it.”

"The notion is to talk about the volatile world we live in through the lens of practitioners in fields such as national security."Ambassador Barbara Bodine

A first-generation college student, Ambassador Bodine told students that her own path was not traditional. While studying abroad in Hong Kong as a junior, she discovered she liked living abroad and immersing herself in other cultures. She was interested in a career in foreign service because she wanted to make a difference by being in a position to directly affect policy and problem solving.

“She really has an enormous amount of experience,” said Boucher. “She’s shown an incredible amount of resilience dealing with these events.”

‘This is a great opportunity for students’

A collaboration between the University’s national security, international affairs, and political science departments, the speaker series, which was created by Chris Haynes, Ph.D., will bring the world of diplomacy, international affairs, and national security to prospective, incoming, and current University of New Haven students. At least once per month, senior foreign affairs and public policy practitioners from the government, private sector, and humanitarian/civil society will discuss how their careers evolved, how they dealt with unanticipated events, solved problems, and what they learned along the way.

Ambassador Barbara Bodine
Ambassador Barbara Bodine.

Speakers connect with the University community in an interactive discussion via Zoom, enabling students to ask questions. The events will be held on campus when the coronavirus pandemic allows.

Douglas Gordon ’21, an international development and diplomacy major, enjoyed listening to Ambassador Bodine’s talk, and he says he appreciated the opportunity to learn about her experiences.

“This is a great opportunity for students because being able to listen to professionals who have made a career doing what many University students wish to do in the future is incredibly valuable,” said Gordon, who is minoring in political science and national security. “Having the opportunity to ask them questions about the field is amazing because the answers can be really revealing.”

To learn more about the Brehm-Boucher Speaker Series, please visit the University’s Model United Nations program website. The next speaker will be Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Bulger, Commander of 1st Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment. He will speak to the University community virtually on Thursday, Aug 13 at 4 p.m.