Dean's Letter

It has for many years been a point of pride that the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) is Columbia University’s most international school, welcoming half of its student body from outside the United States. Representing 75 or more countries in a typical year, our students bridge divides of language, culture, and national origin.

To attend SIPA is to join a vibrant multicultural community—to meet and study with people from around the world. As we embrace our international diversity, we must also acknowledge other equally important differences such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Mindful of this, SIPA has formally committed to train new students in the areas of self, social, and global awareness as part of orientation this fall. I am pleased that incoming students will for the first time participate in workshops that support what we call Multicultural Competence.

In addition to underscoring the expectation that students, faculty, and staff will respect each other’s differences, this training prepares SIPA students for leadership, because the process of designing public policy should reflect consideration for diverse segments of societies.

The orientation workshops will be led by Dr. Cheryl Franks, a consultant with extensive experience in this area, and modeled after initiatives at peer institutions at Columbia University including the Mailman School of Public Health and the School of Social Work. Based on their positive experiences I am confident we are starting with a strong model.

In conjunction with these workshops, we have also initiated efforts to train staff and peer advisors in the Office of Student Affairs to handle concerns related to diversity and inclusiveness.

I am grateful to those students, faculty, and staff who have contributed to these critical initiatives. They are important steps in our effort to strengthen our commitment to welcome and continue to foster diversity in our community.

I look forward to working with you to support this component of our mission, and I expect students will provide crucial engagement and feedback to help develop our culture of inclusiveness.

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Professional Practice in International Law and Public Affairs

Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

Dean Merit E. Janow and counterparts at SIPA's peer schools make statement on "Commitment to Diversity."


The SIPA Diversity Committee (formerly, Diversity Task Force) was convened by Dean Janow during the spring 2014 to support the efforts of SIPA faculty, staff, and student organizations in fostering a community at SIPA that is welcoming, respectful of individual and group differences, and representative of our society.

The Diversity Committee will advise the Dean and her leadership team on efforts to support greater diversity at SIPA on a range of topics, including, for example, improving recruitment of students of color, identifying scholarships for students from historically under-represented communities to attend SIPA, and addressing specific concerns of students of color in career planning.

The Committee will meet monthly during the semester. Regular meetings will provide a frequent, structured opportunity for members to raise concerns and review progress on the Committee's activities and goals.

Each semester the Committee will sponsor a public event for the SIPA community. These events will be an important part of our outreach to prospective students of color to apply to SIPA, and to link concerns of our on-campus and alumni communities.




Michael A. Nutter (Faculty Chair)
David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Policy
Focus areas: Cities, ethical and transparent government, politics, development of effective national urban policy

After serving almost 15 years in the Philadelphia City Council, Michael A. Nutter was elected the 98th Mayor of his hometown, where he served in office from 2008 until 2016. During his time as Mayor, he also served as the President of the United States Conference of Mayors from June 2012 to June 2013.

Since leaving public service, Mayor Nutter has remained active in public policy, government, and civic life, in critical areas of education, media, public policy, political campaigns, the corporate community, and academic institutions across the country. In addition to his appointment as the Inaugural David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) by the Columbia University Board of Trustees, Mayor Nutter has been appointed as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; political commentator at CNN; Senior Fellow and national spokesperson for the program “What Works Cities” at Bloomberg Philanthropies; Executive Fellow in Leadership (ISL) at the Lebow College of Business Institute for Strategic Leadership (ISL) at Drexel University; Chair of the first Mayor’s Advisory Council at Airbnb; Executive Fellow at the University of Chicago Urban Labs; Member of the Economic and Community Advisory Council at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and Distinguished Non-Resident Senior Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. Mayor Nutter received his Bachelors in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Hisham Aidi

Lecturer in the Discipline of International and Public Affairs

Focus areas: Sub-Saharan migration and transnationalism, African migration into Europe and racial politics in North Africa

Hisham Aidi's research interests include cultural globalization and the political economy of race and social movements. He received his PhD in political science from Columbia University, and has taught at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, and at the Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Redeploying the State (Palgrave 2008) a comparative study of neo-liberalism and labor movements in Latin America; and co-editor, with Manning Marable, of Black Routes to Islam (Palgrave 2009).

In 2002-2003, Aidi was a consultant for UNDP's Human Development Report.   From 2000-2003,  he was part of Harvard University's Encarta Africana project, and worked as a cultural reporter, covering youth culture and immigration in Harlem and the Bronx, for Africana, The New African and ColorLines.  More recently, his work has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker and Salon.  Since 2007, he has been a contributing editor of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society.  Aidi is the author most recently of Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture (Pantheon 2014), a study of American cultural diplomacy.


Yasmine Ergas

Lecturer in the Discipline of International and Public Affairs; Associate Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights; Director, Specialization in Gender and Public Policy

Focus areas: Globalization, gender equality, and human rights. Director of the Specialization on Gender and Public Policy and Lecturer in Discipline in International and Public Affairs. She also directs the program in Gender and Human Rights of Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, is a member of the Executive Committee of the University’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, and is the co-convener of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Council at Columbia University. 

A lawyer and sociologist, she has worked on issues regarding gender and women’s rights as a policy analyst and advisor, scholar and advocate. She has served as a consultant to international and domestic policy organizations, including the OECD, UNESCO, the Millennium Villages Project, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and CENSIS, a major applied social research institute in Italy, and been on the staff of the Social Science Research Council. Her recent work has focused on the emergence of an international market in reproductive services, the transformations of ‘motherhood’ and the impacts of human rights programs and policies. Previous relevant work centered on feminist movements and their interactions with public policies; the implications of the concept of ‘gender’ for feminist politics; child care policies in international and comparative perspective; educational policies and the social implications of HIV/AIDS.  A graduate of the Universities of Sussex and Rome and Columbia Law School, Ergas is a former member of the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; visiting scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University; and a Pembroke Fellow of Brown University.


Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is an Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs. He studies the political economy of the United States, with an emphasis on the politics of organized interests, especially business, and public policy. One forthcoming book examines how employers are increasingly recruiting their workers into politics to change elections and public policy. Other projects examine lobbying and legislative staffers, the development of cross-state networks of conservative activists and business interests, and the role of elite donors in American politics. 

Hertel-Fernandez’s academic work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, the Journal of Politics, and Perspectives on Politics, and has been featured in a range of popular outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Washington Post.


Dipali Mukhopadhyay 

Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs

She recently published the book Warlords, Strongman Governors and State Building in Afghanistan (Cambridge, 2014). Prior to joining Columbia's faculty, Mukhopadhyay spent 2011 as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. Her current work on Afghanistan builds on her first book with a study of palace politics during the Karzai presidency. She also has a number of projects underway on the Syrian civil war related to Western engagement with the opposition and rebel governance. Mukhopadhyay’s research has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Eisenhower Institute, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, Harvard Law School, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Education. Her writings have been published in academic books and journals as well as by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Foreign Policy, U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. News & World Report, and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage Blog. She is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. Professor Mukhopadhyay received her doctorate from Tufts University's Fletcher School in 2010 and her B.A. in political science from Yale University.



Cory T. Way (Administrative Chair)

Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs

Focus Areas: Criminal justice policy and management; crime, media and journalism; presidential commutations and pardons; white collar crime; the intersection of art and crime; mentoring in the legal profession. Cory Way is Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at SIPA.  He was formerly an award-winning Lecturer on Sociology at Harvard University, the Kirkland House Dean at Harvard College, and Affiliated Faculty at Harvard Law School's Centre on the Legal Profession.  

Way holds a doctorate from Oxford and is a licensed attorney who has practiced both litigation and corporate law at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and Zuckerman Spaeder in Washington, DC. While in law practice he maintained an active pro bono practice, most recently winning political asylum for a Rwanda genocide survivor whose entire family had been murdered; his work on this novel case earned a pro bono award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

He holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard, Virginia and the University of Oxford, where he also served in dean positions at Merton and Corpus Christi Colleges. While in England he was also appointed as Course Director for a masters degree program at the University of Cambridge. Way’s public service includes four years at the U.S. Department of Justice (working for the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, and the Director of the Bureau of Prisons) and one year as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He has also served in an executive director capacity for both the National Committee on Community Corrections and the National Prison Industry Task Force.


Laura L. McCreedy
Executive Assistant, Dean's Office

Laura is an Executive Assistant in the Office of the Dean at SIPA, where she assists with special projects and events, including support for the Diversity Committee. Prior to working for SIPA, Laura worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation Office in Tanzania; in the President’s Office at the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Museum of Anthropology at Wayne State University; Consultant and Program Manager for Diversity and Inclusion and Women’s Leadership initiatives at Accenture and Booz Allen Hamilton; Program Associate for Interfaith, Youth, and Adult Diversity and Police-Community relations initiatives (Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) and IMPACT Southwest Detroit) at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion (MRDI); and Program Manager of Global Health and Medical/Dental Education at the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) / New York State Academic Dental Centers (NYSADC).

Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Anthropology from Wayne State University in Detroit and a Master’s of Science by Research (MPhil) degree in Social Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, where her research focused on social cognition, specifically superordinate and cross-categorizations and conflict resolution in Kosovo.


Samantha Shapses-Wertheim
Assistant Dean, Office of Student Affairs 

Samantha Shapses has worked for the past 15 years at Columbia and New York University as a student affairs dean and professional focusing on leadership, student engagement and social justice in higher education. Samantha holds an Ed.D. from NYU in Higher and Postsecondary Education, a master’s degree from NYU in Higher Education and Student Affairs, and a bachelor’s from Washington University in St. Louis in Comparative Arts and Women’s Studies. Samantha is also a trained facilitator in cross-cultural communication.

Her research and publications have focused on multicultural education and social justice. Samantha has served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University and Teachers College, Columbia University, where she teaches courses on social justice education and higher education administration.

Diane Nguyen
Associate Director of Admissions 



Raiesa Ali

Raiesa Lisa Ali is a first generation MIA candidate studying humanitarian policy and international conflict resolution at Columbia-SIPA. Raiesa grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in Political Science from Florida International University in Miami.

Prior to SIPA, Raiesa worked in Washington, D.C. as a Research Associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affais. While there, she wrote several articles regarding the various social and political issues within the Latin American and Caribbean region. She later interned with the Florida Democratic Party to encourage voter participation in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

Raiesa’s current academic interests revolve around youth empowerment and the ability of young people in conflict zones to cultivate peace through education and dialogue. Though born in New York and transplanted to Florida, Raiesa’s cultural roots remain intertwined with her family’s home country, Guyana.


Andres Chong-Qui Torres

Andres Chong-Qui Torres is a graduate from Vanderbilt University with a double major in Political Science and Spanish & Portuguese. He spent two years in his hometown, Miami, FL, serving as a Teach for America corps member where he worked on closing the educational achievement gap. He jumped from the classroom to politics, where he worked as a field organizer in Florida with Organizing for America, President Obama’s reelection campaign. Upon moving to D.C. in early 2013, he worked as an economic policy research associate and Assistant to the President at NDN & New Policy Institute, a center-left think tank. He was later appointed by President Obama to work at the Department of the Treasury in the Office of International Affairs, International Finance, where he served as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for International Finance. He is currently in New York City pursuing his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Columbia SIPA.


Hamza Naseem Iqbal

A student of MPA’19 at SIPA, majoring in economic and political development and specializing in management, Hamza has worked with youth on fostering tolerance, empathy and community leadership. He is the co-founder of Youth Impact, a non-profit organization in Pakistan that uses experiential learning to empower youth in building bridges across ethnic and social fault lines. Prior to coming to SIPA, he was a consultant-trainer at an organizational consulting firm, where he conducted training programs on ethics, communication and leadership for public and private sector organizations, and helped in designing simulations and experiences that facilitated teamwork and improved decision making within companies. Hamza is from Lahore, one of the most vibrant and historically rich cities of Pakistan.


Student bios forthcoming

Diversity Coalition Representatives


A full list of SIPA student organizations can be found here.

Past Members

  • Rachel Claude, MPA '15
  • Nina Sawhney, MPA '15
  • Manuel Vazquez Cano, MPA '15
  • Li Zhou, MPA '15
  • David Deutch, MIA '16
  • Rashima Kwatra, MPA '16
  • Ji-Hyeun Kwon-Min, MIA '16
  • Kiara Reed, MPA '16
  • Damian Fagon, MPA '17
  • Andres E. Ochoa, MIA '17
  • Stanislas Phanord, MPA '17
  • Alexandra Maria Wilcox, MIA '17



  • Wednesday, December 12
  • Wednesday, November 14
  • Wednesday, October 17
  • Wednesday, September 5
  • Wednesday, May 2
  • Wednesday, March 28
  • Wednesday, February 28
  • Wednesday, January 22


  • Monday, December 11
  • Wednesday, November 15: SIPA Open Forum
  • Wednesday, November 1
  • Wednesday, January 25: Agenda
  • Wednesday, March 29: Agenda





Upcoming Events

Why Policy Matters: Access, Equity, and Voting in the U.S. October 17 from 6-8pm in IAB 1501

Please join the SIPA Diversity Committee for an exploration of how policy has shaped equity and access to voting across the United States. Our panelists will share four varying perspectives on why policy matters in the enhancement or suppression of voter engagement within their area of work, community, and constituents. Sponsored by the SIPA Diversity Committee as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy. Reception to follow. Speakers include: Mayor Michael Nutter, Professor of Practice (Introductions), School of International and Public Affairs; Jonathan Brater, Council, Democracy Program Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law; Farai Chideya, Program Officer, Ford Foundation; Alex Hertel-Fernandez, Assistant Professor, School of International and Public Affairs; Irene Jor, New York Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance; and Chiraag Bains, Director of Legal Strategies, Demos: An equal say and an equal chance for all.

Please visit to register.


Identity@SIPA Student Experience Panel on Thursday, October 25, from 6-8pm in IAB 1501

Identity@SIPA: Student Stories, presents the perspectives of 8 students with varying intersectional identities in conversation with each other. Join us to listen in on a dynamic conversation between your peers on identity, inclusion and systemic structures of power and privilege from a global context. Midway, we'll open up the program so you can join the dialogue! Student Panelists: Katy Swartz, Kier Joy, Lindsay Horne, Mike Drake, Maria Fernanda Avila Ruiz, Nitin Magima, Maggie Wang, and Karla Henriquez. Sponsored by the Diversity Committee and the Diversity Coalition

Facebook Event Link:


Past Events

Diversity ‘Dine’alogue: Panel on the Decriminalization of Homosexuality in India (Section 377)
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Panelists who worked to petition the appeal of Section 377, as well as prominent LGBTQIA rights activists, discussed the appeal of the law and its implications for India and the region. Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

Co-sponsorship of TMaC event, “Why the November elections matter and what you can do to help”
Monday, September 24, 2018
Congressional candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined SIPA faculty Prof Anya Schiffrin and Prof Joseph Stiglitz in conversation and called on Columbia students to register to vote and get involved with local politics.

First Annual SIPA Intersectionality Conference
Friday, April 20, 2018
Co-Sponsored by the SIPA Diversity Coalition and SIPA Diversity Committee
Click here for more information

Diversity ‘Dine’alogue with Professor Christina Greer: "Race and Policy in the Current Political Climate"
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
This "Dine-alogue" was a discussion of politics - past, present, and future. Professor Greer also discussed the 2020 Census and considered questions including: "What is the future of American democracy and the Democratic party?"
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

Interactive Electoral Workshop
Monday, April 16, 2018
Co-Sponsored by Citizen American Voter and the SIPA Diversity Committee

Diversity ‘Dine’alogue with Vice Provost, Dennis Mitchell: "Race and Policy in Higher Education"
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

2018 Admitted Students' Day Diversity Social
Monday, April 9, 2018 at the Harlem Tavern - 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd
The SIPA Admissions' Office, SIPA Students of Color (SSOC), and members of the Diversity Coalition hosted a mixer for Admitted Students' Day.

Identity@SIPA: The role of self-awareness in public policy and international affairs
Wednesday, February 26, 2018
Dean Shapses and members of the Diversity Committee facilitated this interactive workshop which asked SIPA students, staff, and faculty to reflect upon their identities as both individuals and as communities and to consider the role of self-awareness on public policy and international affairs. This pilot will inform the development of a new multicultural orientation workshop. Committee members Hamza Iqbal, Zachary Kazzaz, Kier Joy, and Laura McCreedy served as co-facilitators.

J-Term Orientation Diversity Training
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Dean Shapses and members of the Diversity Committee facilitated this diversity workshop for incoming students, which focused on personal and social identity and public policy. Committee members Andrew Chang, Laura McCreedy, and Samira Abdul-Karim served as co-facilitators.

The Uncertainty of U.S. Immigration Policy – Where Do We Go From Here?
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy in collaboration with SIPA Students of Color (SSOC)
Read more / Watch complete program

Spring 2016 Diversity Task Force Event
April 27, 2016
Theme: Progress and Pushback: The State of Global LGBTI Human Rights

Ernesto Cortés, Jr. – Leadership Training and Civics Education in the Southwest 
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy
March 22, 2016
Watch complete program

4th Annual Diversity Symposium
November 23, 2015
Theme: From Protests to Public Policy: Advocacy for Positive Change
In collaboration with the Office of Admissions, the 4th annual Diversity Symposium focused on public policy, advocacy, and leadership for communities of color.

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. – Genealogy, Genetics, and Race
October 19, 2015
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

From Civil Rights to Civil Unrest: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equal Justice Under the Law
October 8, 2015
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy

Benjamin Todd Jealous – At the Intersection of Tech and Social Impact
April 1, 2015
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy
Read more / Watch complete program

Racial Justice Leadership Institute
February 20, 2015
An interactive training on how to challenge and change institutional racial inequities developed by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation.

Improving Police-Community Relations
February 5, 2015
Dean Merit E. Janow, Mayor David N. Dinkins, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (pictured), and Kadiatou Diallo were key speakers at an event co-sponsored by the Amadou Diallo Foundation (ADF)
Event organized as part of the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy
Read More / Watch complete program

3rd Annual Diversity Symposium
November 14, 2014
Theme:  Policies and the Politics of Diversity
In collaboration with the Admission Office, this event is aimed at attracting underrepresented students from the tri-state area.

Multicultural Competence Workshop during New Student Orientation
August 27, 2014

Patricia J. Williams, Columbia Law School professor – The Death of Contingency: Risk, Race and Rue
January 28, 2014
Inaugural event in the Dean's Seminar Series on Race and Policy
Read more / Watch complete program

Student diversity grant initiative

Sponsored by the SIPA Diversity Committee, the Student Diversity Initiative Grant, is a program that provides financial support to students or student organizations for a project or event that advances diversity and inclusion at SIPA. All SIPA students (and student organizations) are eligible to apply for the grant. Awards range between $100 to $1500 and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
For details or to apply click here.


Current Student Initiative Grants

The SIPA Diversity Committee is pleased to announce the first two events awarded the Student Diversity Initative Grant! Please join the programs below as we expore diversity at SIPA, in public service and international affairs.


Interactive Electoral Workshop
Monday, April 16, 4-6pm / IAB 1501
Join Columbia faculty and policy experts in a workshop that explores what the U.S. presidential elections might look like without the Electoral College. The exercise is designed to inspire change and push the conversation forward by highlighting innovations in citizen participation; finding where it works, and how can we actually help to change it. To accomplish this, the competition provides a groundbreaking opportunity for inclusion and public discourse between prominent experts and the next generation of change agents.
Co-Sponsored by Citizen American Voter and the SIPA Diversity Committee
Click here for more information and to RSVP

First Annual SIPA Intersectionality Conference
Friday, April 20, 3-8:30pm / IAB 1501 & 1512
Through intersectional analyses and a coalition-building approach, the first annual SIPA Intersectionality Conference brings together policymakers, scholars, advocates, organizers, activists, and students to share innovative strategies and new perspectives on addressing some of the most pressing, complex, and entrenched problems in our society. The conference will include panels that engage in a discussion of the role that gender, race, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and other identities play in continued social, economic, and political inequities in the United States.
Co-Sponsored by the SIPA Diversity Coalition and SIPA Diversity Committee
Click here for more information.