Meet the Team


Hillary Rodham Clinton - Honorary Founding Chair

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Honorary Founding Chair of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. From January 2009 to February 2013, she served as Secretary of State of the United States. During her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University on December 19, 2011, at which time she also announced the creation of the Institute. A lifelong advocate of women and girls’ empowerment, Secretary Clinton has dedicated some four decades to public service.

Melanne Verveer - Executive Director

Ambassador Verveer served as the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, a position to which she was nominated by President Obama in 2009. She coordinated foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women, traveling to nearly sixty countries and developing the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. President Obama also appointed her to serve as the U.S. Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Amb. Verveer currently serves as the Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.

Carla Koppell - Distinguished GIWPS Fellow

Carla Koppell is a Senior Advisor in the School of Foreign Service and Distinguished Fellow for the Institute. Koppell recently served as a vice president with the United States Institute for Peace. Prior to that she served as chief strategy officer in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and was appointed USAID’s inaugural senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Koppell also directed the Institute for Inclusive Security, served as deputy assistant secretary for international affairs with the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, and worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Jessica Smith - Research and Policy Director

Dr. Jessica Smith works with Ambassador Verveer to envision and execute research projects, supervise research fellows, and disseminate research findings through academic, policy, and practitioner communities. Jessica also leads the Institute’s climate research and directs our graduate certificate in Gender, Peace and Security. She brings nearly a decade of research experience working on gender-related issues with women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Indonesia, Jordan and the United States. Dr. Smith completed her PhD at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. She has worked in various capacities for the International Rescue Committee, Catholic Charities, the United Nations, USAID, the US Institute of Peace, and Everyday Peace Indicators.

Robert Nagel - Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Robert Ulrich Nagel’s research at GIWPS focuses on women’s impact on peacekeeping missions’ effectiveness. He earned his PhD in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent. His prior research explores the conflict dynamics that contribute and result from sexual violence, their consequences for international security, conflict resolution, and post-conflict stability. He won the 2019 Cedric Smith Prize for the best peace and conflict studies paper by a UK or ROI-based PhD student and the International Studies Association 2020 Dina Zinnes Award.

H.E. Roya Rahmani - Distinguished Fellow

Roya Rahmani is a Distinguished Fellow at GIWPS. Roya is a former Afghan diplomat who served as Afghanistan's first female ambassador to the United States and non-resident ambassador to Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic from December 2018 to July 2021. Before entering government, she worked for several nonprofits that primarily focused on women's rights and education. She received a bachelor's degree in software engineering from McGill University in 2003 and a master's degree in public administration and international law at Columbia University in 2009.

Palwasha Hassan - Senior Fellow

Palwasha Hassan is a senior fellow at GWIPS. She holds a master's degree in Post-war Recovery Studies from York University, UK, and is a former fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. Palwasha is a dedicated women's rights activist pioneering many critical works to promote women's rights and civil society in Afghanistan. Her achievements, among others, include the first women's legal support organization Roazana (1997), Women and Street Children Center (1998), Women, Children Safe Home Network Manager (1999), Irfan Cultural Center. She co-founded a visionary women's rights movement in Afghanistan by setting up the Afghan Women Network that has played a pivotal role in Women's rights advocacy for the last 26 years.

Clara Chiu - Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellow on Climate

As the 2021-2022 Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellow, Clara contributes to the Institute’s research on climate change and disaster risk reduction, particularly the gender-climate-fragility nexus. She has worked with the Agency for Peacebuilding on monitoring and evaluation projects related to women’s empowerment and with the International Water Management Institute on creating a typology of water-related examples of climate change maladaptation. Clara graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and M.A. in Conflict Resolution. She also holds a certificate in mediation from San Francisco Community Boards.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis - Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellow on Gender Equity

Rangita is a renowned international women’s rights expert. She is Senior Adjunct Professor of Law and Global Leadership and served as the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School where she teaches international women’s rights and a policy lab on AI and bias, among other courses. She started the Global Women’s Leadership Project and Women, Law & Leadership Lab at the University of Pennsylvania under the auspices of UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to map the laws that regulate the status of women in the family.

Sarah Rutherford - Director of Communications and External Affairs

Sarah is the director of the Georgetown Ambassadors for Women, Peace and Security. She also helps to promote the Institute’s original research on gender and conflict through the Institute’s podcast, oral history project, media relations, and student advocacy. She previously worked for Georgetown's Vice President for Global Engagement, and as special assistant to the Dean of Admissions at the Georgetown University Law Center. Sarah received a B.A. in political science from Brown University, where she graduated magna cum laude, and a graduate degree in public relations and communications from Georgetown University. Please direct press requests to

Allie Smith - Program Director

Allie Smith directs all programming for the Institute and leads key portfolios of work related to Afghanistan and Generation Equality. She also serves as senior advisor to Ambassador Verveer and manages strategic partnerships with governments, multilaterals, foundations and civil society. Previously, Allie worked on mediation and conflict resolution in Myanmar including with the Kofi Annan-chaired Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, where she supported the development of policy solutions for resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Jess Keller - Senior Program & Policy Coordinator

Jess Keller coordinates development and execution of all programming and special projects for the Institute. She also manages GIWPS’ Afghanistan portfolio and humanitarian response operations, and advances policy development, advocacy strategy, and stakeholder engagement. Previously, Jess worked with West End Strategy Team, J Street U, and in the U.S. Senate, where she promoted gender-responsive legislation and human rights. She has also worked with refugee nonprofits in Greece and Denmark to provide training and educational services to women and girls. Jess holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

S. Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana - Affiliate GIWPS Researcher

Dr. S. Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana previously served as Associate Director and Assistant Professor of the Practice at Georgetown University’s MA Program in Conflict Resolution. Before coming to Georgetown University she served as a consultant for the Religion and Peacebuilding Program at United States Institute of Peace, and as an Assistant Professor in the field of Peace and Conflict Resolution at the School of International Service at American University, Washington D.C. Her research focuses on Muslim women’s peacebuilding initiatives, mediation and peace building, religion and conflict resolution, interfaith dialogue, Islamic approaches to war and peace, and Islam and nonviolence.

Nagwan Soliman - Affiliate Scholar

Nagwan Soliman is a PhD researcher at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence and an affiliate scholar at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in Washington, DC. She was recently named as a 2022 Kraemer Middle East Distinguished Scholar by The Reves Center for International Studies and the Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding at William & Mary Law School. Previously, Nagwan worked as a researcher and trainer at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) at EUI. She was co-training focusing on peace building and atrocity prevention, as part of the Local Voices for Peace work project, at Peace Direct Organization, London. She has also previously held a visiting fellowship at University of California at Berkeley and a PhD fellowship at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin.

Melissa Shields - Director of Finance and Administration

Melissa Shields (née Pasos) has over nine years experience in accounting and finance. Prior to joining GIWPS, Melissa was an independent business operations consultant with a variety of clients. Prior to that, she served as the Business Manager for Global Technology Programs at Internews Network. There, she was responsible for managing over $25M in funding annually for programs relating to Internet Freedom, Digital Rights and Digital Safety. She was also responsible for ensuring all agreements and subawards were administered according to US Government (USG) rules and regulations.