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Faculty Profile: The Distinct Music of Professor Mike Gillen

Mike Gillen with Uliana Prosvirina

Professor Mike Gillen (BARS ’78, MBA ’81, right) with graduate Uliana Prosvirina (MATI '14) after the May 2014 Commencement ceremony.

Mike Gillen (BARS ’78, MBA ’81) is a rare bird – not only does he have degrees from both the Monterey Institute of International Studies and its predecessor the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, but he is also the Russian professor who plays the bagpipes and leads the procession at every commencement. When you meet Mike, it all makes sense. He is a natural teacher who embraces a good challenge, whether in choice of language or instrument.

Growing up in Denver, Mike Gillen learned to play the piano at an early age. His gravitation to bagpipes did not come from his Scottish heritage but a relationship to a talented neighbor who gave him his first lessons. It could be said that serendipity – of sorts – also led Mike to master the Russian language. “On the day of my 7th grade registration I was sick,” he shares with a wry smile, adding that all Spanish and French classes were full by the time he could make his pick so Russian was all that was left.

Intrigued by the language and culture, Mike majored in Russian and music in college before coming to MIFS to complete his B.A. degree. After graduation he worked at the Defense Language Institute teaching and developing courses while pursuing his master’s degree at the newly renamed MIIS. He worked for a while in the private sector doing freelance translation work but came back to MIIS as an adjunct professor in 1985.

“At first my motivation was cynically self-serving,” Mike says of his decision to become a full-time professor a few years later. “There was a lack of qualified translators and I figured I would just train them myself.” In his close to forty-year affiliation with MIIS, Mike says the school has shed some of its funkiness and matured its mission, but remains essentially the same place. He loves seeing students overcome challenges and notes that “nothing comes easy for them here – it is all applied learning.” And the key to longevity as faculty: “You’ve gotta like young people!” It probably doesn’t hurt when they like you back.


Alumna Satomi Kobayashi: Around the World and Back Again

Alumna Satomi Kobayashi

Satomi Kobayashi (MATFL ’97).

Growing up in Japan, alumna Satomi Kobayashi (MATFL ’97) always dreamt of traveling the world and volunteering for the good of others. Her practical side led her to the field of language teaching and the Monterey Institute. It turned out to be the perfect environment for both interests.

“While I was still a student at MIIS, I got an offer too hard to resist,” she shares, adding that the offer was for a teaching position at a local private high school that included covering her tuition. While teaching at the high school, she joined Operation Crossroads of Africa and spent her summer setting up youth groups in one of the most impoverished areas of Malawi. She was hooked. The following year, Satomi was off to Nepal to work in the Bhutanese refugee camps. In 2001, she took a sabbatical from teaching and worked for a year as a volunteer for two non-profit organizations in Tanzania.

At that point Satomi was at a crossroads in her life, and her career. “I wanted a family and I also had to think about a steady income,” she says of her decision to return to teaching and to Monterey. “It was not an easy decision, but I realized that most of the people working in the field were either single or not living in the same country or area as their family.” Satomi currently works for the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in the test management division.

“I am very happy with the choices that I made,” she remarks and adds that working at DLI is a little like MIIS in that she gets “to learn about other cultures through differences in customs, food, or from anecdotes and life stories.” Her hope is to retire early and use her income to continue her volunteer work, to fulfill her wishes to “do something good for the community, country, or the world!” She values greatly the balance she has with her family life and job at DLI and says that none of that would have been possible without MIIS.

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New International Trade & Economic Diplomacy Degree to Launch in Fall 2015

Robert Rogowosky - Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Prof. Robert Rogowosky (center), program chair for the new Master of Arts in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy, with students on a March 2014 immersive learning trip to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

With the increasing interdependence of the global economy accelerating the demand for high-caliber trade professionals, the Monterey Institute of International Studies today announced the launch of its new Master of Arts in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy degree program.

The new 18-month program will feature two semesters of classroom instruction in Monterey, and a final semester based out of the Institute’s new Washington, D.C. office, which includes a large classroom and videoconferencing space and offers direct access to policymakers and career networking opportunities. The program will enroll its first students in fall 2015.

“This unique 18-month program will give students the opportunity to combine two semesters of intensive classroom training with a semester in Washington, D.C. working directly with leading practitioners in the field,” said President Sunder Ramaswamy. “The program will position them well to make a successful transition into the professional world of international trade.”

Students will begin with an introductory boot camp to reinforce basic skills, and progress through the program with same diverse cohort of classmates and colleagues. The program is designed to foster the leadership, writing, communication, and team-building skills that will allow graduates to excel as professionals in areas including international trade, economics, business and finance, international institutions & law, economic diplomacy, and multicultural negotiation..

The new program builds on the Trade, Investment and Development track previously offered within the International Policy Studies degree program. At various times in the past, the Institute has offered standalone master’s degrees in Commercial Diplomacy (1998-2005) and International Trade Policy (2004-11).

“I'm excited about the opportunity to launch this new degree,” said Professor Robert Rogowsky, chair of the new program. “This program combines existing MIIS strengths with an innovative new approach offering the kind of practical experiences and networking opportunities that will ensure our graduates will become sought-after professionals.”

For more information about the Master of Arts in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy degree program, visit


MIIS Community More Than Doubles Campaign Goal in Earning $25,000 Match for Student Financial Aid

25k Donor Match Challenge

The MIIS community rose to the challenge, more than doubling the initial goal of 250 individual gifts in 25 days!

The Monterey Institute’s extended campus community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni is known for many things—language abilities, global perspectives, and cross-disciplinary innovation, to name a few. This June, two other key characteristics of the MIIS community came into focus: loyalty, and the desire to be the solution to any problem our community encounters.

As chronicled in a previous story, the Monterey Institute community was presented with an exciting challenge in early June by long time board member and supporter Jed Smith. If 250 alumni and friends of the Institute would make a gift of any size over the 25 days stretching from June 5 to June 30, Jed pledged to match it with $25,000 for student financial aid. “I hope this match will inspire others throughout the Monterey Institute community to step up and show their support,” said Jed—and he was not disappointed.

When the challenge finished on June 30—and staff finished tallying the flood of gifts large and small—the final tally came to 541 gifts totaling more than $125,000! With the $25,000 match added on, this campaign raised more than $150,000 for student financial aid.

“This truly remarkable outcome demonstrates once again how much our alumni value the experiences they had at MIIS, and how much they want to pass that opportunity on to future students,” commented President Sunder Ramaswamy. “We are tremendously grateful to every donor who stepped up and made a gift to help us earn this match, whether it was for $5 or $5,000.”

Financial aid helps ensure that the Monterey Institute’s student body includes a vibrant mosaic of individuals from all over the world and all different backgrounds every year. Approximately 90 percent of students receive some financial aid while attending MIIS. To make a gift to the Monterey Institute, visit


MIIS to Offer New Intensive Training Program for Spanish-English Community Interpreters

Professor Holly Mikkelson

Professor Holly Mikkelson (center) is among the faculty teaching in the Monterey Institute’s new Spanish Community Interpretation Program.

Beginning in January 2015, the Monterey Institute of International Studies will offer a fast track to professional interpreting positions in bilingual Spanish-English communities through its new six-month Spanish Community Interpretation Certificate program.

The new program is designed as a hybrid, low-residency program that begins with an on-site, four-week module on the Monterey Institute campus in January, continues with an online module through the spring, and culminates with a seven-week summer module back in Monterey. The concluding summer module includes a week of intensive preparation for medical and court certification exams.

Participants who complete the certificate will be eligible for many freelance or staff positions at courts, law firms, hospitals, clinics, school districts and other public service centers. Ideal candidates for the program should have a bachelor’s degree, strong bilingual and bicultural skills, and an interest in using their language and cultural backgrounds to facilitate communication in these important community environments.

The program features nationally-known faculty who are active interpreters and translators in the community market, teaching a curriculum that offers participants a solid foundation in written translation, sight translation, consecutive dialogue interpreting and simultaneous interpreting.
The Monterey Institute’s state-of-the-art interpreting lab facilities enable participants to develop and hone their professional skills with extensive individual feedback.

For more information, or to apply to the Monterey Institute’s Spanish Community Interpretation Certificate program, please visit


Alumnus Garvey McIntosh Shoots for the Stars Working at NASA

Garvey McIntosh with Leah Gowron

Garvey McIntosh (MAIPS ’03) with Alumni Relations Director Leah Gowron (MPA ’97).

Garvey McIntosh (MAIPS ’03) came to the Monterey Institute of International Studies from Japan, where he had been teaching for four years. The inspiration for this move was actually his father, a retired college professor who had attended a conference at MIIS, and proclaimed that this was the “exact place” for him! As it turns out, his father was right—and in many ways still is, because Garvey has remained actively involved as an alumnus and is now one of the leaders of the revitalized Washington D.C. MIIS alumni chapter.

Garvey is among those MIIS graduates who really can claim two different sets of classmates. He certainly left his mark on campus, earning his master’s degree in International Policy Studies while serving as Student Council president and working in the President’s Office, where he had the opportunity to interact with faculty, staff and students from all corners of campus. “I saw it as my role in a way to improve relations among everyone,” Garvey says.

That knack for facilitating connections is one of Garvey’s greatest strengths and he has used it, along with his other skills, to catapult into a very rewarding career with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). While at MIIS, Garvey received a Center for Nonproliferation Studies fellowship to work for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for close to a year and then he was off to Vietnam on a yearlong Boren fellowship. When he returned to complete his degree after two years away, he had the opportunity to gain a new set of classmates.

“I love my job,” Garvey says affably of his position as international programs specialist at NASA, noting that the majority of space and aeronautics missions today have an international component. He has traveled the world negotiating agreements on behalf of the U.S. government and NASA, and we can’t help but think that international scientific cooperation is in good hands.

For more stories from the current issue of the Communiqué newsletter, see the online edition.

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MIIS Welcomes 137 Summer Language Students to Campus

SILP Spanish Students

A group of students studying Spanish in the Summer Intensive Language Program (SILP) enjoy a summer afternoon on the Samson Student Center patio.

The first days of school is always filled with excitement and new discoveries. The air was certainly filled with promise and good cheer when Monterey Institute summer language students celebrated their first week with a pizza party on Friday.

This year, the Institute welcomed 114 students to the Summer Intensive Language Program, or SILP. Students enroll in SILP with the goal of seriously improving their skills in Arabic, French, Chinese, Russian or Spanish over the summer, while also enjoying a host of cultural activities to enhance their learning experience. Close to half of the students are incoming graduate students and the other half come from a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate institutions across the United States, as well as one student from Liberia.

Also here in Monterey for the summer are 23 students from 10 countries who are enrolled in the English as Second Language program, or ESL. These students will also participate in diverse extracurricular activities to learn about the Monterey area and gain cultural context for the new language they are attempting to master.


Another Bountiful Harvest of Fellowships for Monterey Institute Students

Nate Maynard MAIEP ‘14

Nate Maynard (left) is researching the economic value of a marine reserve in Taiwan on his Fulbright scholarship project.

Monterey Institute students are celebrating yet another banner year for earning prestigious fellowships such as the Fulbright, Boren and the Presidential Management Fellowship. The high success rate for these very competitive fellowships can be attributed to a combination of excellent candidates and strong support from MIIS faculty and staff.

"Before attending MIIS, a Fulbright fellowship seemed impossible, now it seems like it was inevitable, I couldn’t imagine attending any other school," says International Environmental Policy student Nate Maynard, who will be researching the economic value of a marine reserve in Taiwan as part of his Fulbright scholarship.

Here are some highlights from this year’s bumper crop:

Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace:

  • Wesley Laine (MAIPS ’14)

NNSA Graduate Program (NNSA):

  • Jerry Davydov (MANPTS ’13)

Presidential Management Fellowship (USG):

  • Trisha Thibodaux (MANPTS ‘14) 
  • Matthew Jira (MPA ‘14)

Boren Fellowship:

  • Philip (Hiro) Chang (MAIPS ‘13) Korea, Korean
  • Stephanie Gentle (MAIEP ‘16), Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz and Uzbek 
  • Katherine Leggiero (NPTS ‘16) Jordan, Arabic

Fulbright US Student Program (DOS/IIE):

  • Nathaniel Maynard (MAIEP ‘14), Research, Taiwan, “What is the Economic Benefit of the Houbihu Marine Protected Area?” (September 2014 to June 2015)
  • Teryn Wolfe (MAIEP ;14), Research, Colombia, “Assessing the FAIRMINED Certification for Artisanal Mining in Tadó, Colombia.” 
  • Stephanie Loiselle (MATFL ‘14), English Teaching Assistantship (ETA), Colombia 
  • Emily Quade (MATESOL ‘13), ETA, Taiwan

Scoville Fellowship:

  • Shane Mason (MANPTS) Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January-May 2014

Catholic Relief Services Fellowship:

  • Bill Reinecke (MBA ’10) Rwanda
  • Anne-Claire Benoit (MPA ’12), Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Kathleen Gordon (MPA ’12) Niger
  • Michelle Bradley (MPA ’05)

California Sea Grant (NOAA)/Knauss Fellowship:

  • Laura Henson (MAIEP ‘13)

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Frontier Market Scout’s New Social Venture Connects World Cup Fans with Safe Accommodations in Rio

Favela Experience Founder Elliot Rosenberg

Favela Experience founder Elliot Rosenberg, who developed his social enterprise while participating in the Monterey Institute’s Frontier Market Scouts program.

What happens when a Frontier Market Scout meets the World Cup?

You get a social venture like Favela Experience – founded by Elliot Rosenberg, who holds a certificate in Social Enterprise and Impact Investing from the Monterey Institute’s Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program – which connects the people of the favelas of Rio with World Cup fans seeking an authentic Brazilian experience and safe, affordable accommodations. Favela is the Portuguese word for slum.

“I am a huge proponent of FMS as it laid the foundation for the connections I needed to make to launch my enterprise,” says Elliot, who worked with Village Capital in Rio as part of his FMS placement in Brazil. Describing his venture, he says: “We’re like Airbnb for Rio’s favelas -- and eventually the rest of the world!”

Affordable accommodations are hard to come by in Rio de Janiero these days as fans from around the globe assemble for one of the world’s most popular sporting events. Soaring hotel rates have logically led many inhabitants of Rio to explore the option of renting out part or all of their homes. The people of the favelas are no exception and Elliot’s social venture is helping to broker safe transactions for all. Favela Experience only operates in favelas with permanent police units, and hosts are recruited through trusted personal networks.

Elliot and Favela Experience have been featured in national and international media leading up to the World Cup, including the Christian Science Monitor, NPR, International Business Times, and the Guardian. He says none of this would have been possible without his incredible FMS advisors and the people he met because of his placement in Brazil. He has this message for Dean Yuwei Shi and other leaders of the program: “You are doing life-changing work for the Scouts, entrepreneurs and their beneficiaries, so I thank you for everything!”

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Recent Alumnus Amer Barghouth: “MIIS Prepared Me Well” for Demanding New Career

Amer Barghouth

Recent MIIS graduate Amer Barghouth speaking at the December 2013 Energy Management Conference & Exhibition in Bahrain.

We always love to hear back from recent alumni who have realized their dreams for an exciting new career propelled by the training and education they received at MIIS. Amer Barghouth (MAIPS ’09, MAIEP ’13) received his job offer from the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), less than three weeks after graduating with a master’s degree in International Environmental Policy in 2013. While acknowledging that the job is demanding, he says happily, “I have always felt up to the task. My education at MIIS has prepared me well for this job.”

Amer first heard about the organization through Dr. Tareq Emtairah, executive director of RCREEE, who taught a workshop on sustainable urban transformation at MIIS. RCREE is a regional nonprofit organization that provides policy advice, as well as technical and institutional support to 13 Arab governments. “My first assignment at RCREEE was to co-author a study commissioned by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the League of Arab States,” says Amer. The findings were presented at the General Assembly of IRENA in January, and will guide IRENA’s future interventions in the region. Currently, Amer is managing the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) Technical Support Program, which provides assistance to member states in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of short and medium term energy efficiency plans. Furthermore, he is the co-author of the Arab Future Energy Index (AFEX) report, an annual assessment of progress made by Arab countries in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Four people report directly to Amer and he has to manage multiple budgets amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros. In addition, he spends about one week per month on the road promoting energy efficiency and working with various governments to increase the share of sustainable energy in the region. “Professor Zarsky’s and Shrimali’s classes in particular equipped me with the right mix of policy and business skills,” says Amer. He really enjoys his new career, especially “working with different stakeholders from young entrepreneurs to senior-level policymakers to create the right environment for rapid deployment of sustainable energy technologies and practices.”

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