Wednesday, February 2, 2011
CIPI Researcher featured for work on Liberia Elections Conference
This past December, while the majority of Heinz College students were immersed in last-minute cramming sessions for fall semester finals, Daron Christopher, a first year student in the Master of Science in Public Policy and Management program’s DC track, found himself in the midst of a different challenge. Christopher spent a week in the West African nation of Liberia as part of a team working to ensure an election free of violence. View a slideshow of images from the Liberia conference.
During the semester, Christopher worked as a research associate for Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for International Policy and Innovation (CIPI), with a focus on assisting the center in preparation for a conference held in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia – “Mitigating Election Violence in Liberia’s 2011 Electoral Contests.” The conference brought together a wide array of stakeholders, including elected officials, government leaders, scholars and civic leaders from across the region, in an effort to build upon the success of Liberia’s 2005 election in ensuring free and fair democratic elections. The conference was held in conjunction with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development and the National Electoral Commission of Liberia, with generous funding provided by Humanity United, a human rights and grant-writing foundation.
CIPI is led by Carnegie Mellon Distinguished Service Professor Jendayi Frazer, who brings vast experience in Africa from her government service as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Frazer was instrumental in bringing together key players to assemble for the three day conference. “We approach our work from the fundamental principle that nobody should have to risk dying to cast their vote,” Frazer said at the beginning of the conference.
The majority of Christopher’s contributions involved assisting with the drafting of press statements and media outreach, as well as assisting with preliminary research and coordination of conference logistics.
“I found the experience extremely rewarding,” Christopher said. “I am extremely interested in a career in international affairs, so it is invaluable for me to have had the opportunity to collaborate with partners from a range of different countries on a project like this.”
Having previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde, Christopher has been able to take advantage of financial support through the Peace Corps Fellowship program offered at Heinz. “I’m extremely grateful for all of the opportunities that are available at Heinz to get involved beyond the classroom. Professors and staff were all very supportive of my having access to the opportunity to be involved in this important conference. I think it speaks to the commitment at Heinz to encourage students to get involved in a very hands-on manner with public policy issues.”