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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MIIS Donor Challenge: Will Match with $25,000 If 250 Give in Next 25 Days

Donor Challenge

MIIS community members do the math on this exciting challenge!

The Monterey Institute community has been presented with an exciting challenge by long time Board Member and supporter Jed Smith. If 250 alumni and friends of the Institute make a gift of any size in the next 25 days, or from June 5 to June 30, he will match these gifts with $25,000 for financial aid.

Financial aid ensures that great students from all of backgrounds can come together at the Monterey Institute. It's what makes a MIIS education possible for about 90% of our fantastic students. “I hope this match will inspire others throughout the Monterey Institute community to step up and show their support – MIIS needs us!” says the enthusiastic Jed Smith.

The challenge ends on June 30, so people are encouraged to match Jed Smith in this enthusiasm and give now at If you already gave this year, an additional gift made in June will still count towards the challenge. Remember any size gift counts!


Toastmasters Magazine Spotlights MIIS Club for Its Unique Multilingual Program

MIIS Toastmasters

MIIS Toastmasters Club members Molly Lineberger (MBA '03) and Will Heilbut (MBA '14)

Highlighting the diverse and international character of the Monterey Institute Toastmasters Club, members have partnered with the school’s translation and interpretation program to offer multilingual live events. At a special event last year members had the option to give a presentation in the language they are most comfortable with, and have their presentation interpreted simultaneously by students into other languages.

Toastmasters Magazine featured the unique event hosted by the MIIS club in its April edition. The club includes members from the Monterey Institute community, faculty, staff, and students as well as people from the local community.

Building on the academic strengths of the Institute and the diverse backgrounds of members, the club’s live event featured seven speeches presented in Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and English, interpreted simultaneously for the audience into those four languages as well as Japanese and French. As member Will Heilbut (MBA ’14) explains in the article, “We not only highlighted the language diversity of our club and our school, but also the complexities of working with an interpreter.”

The MIIS Toastmasters Club created a short short video about their partnership with translation and interpretation program.


MIIS Delegation Makes Waves at National Conference of International Educators

National Conference of International Educators

Kristen Greene and Alex Nichol with their co-presenters David Wick and Kevin Long, and MIIS student Heather Frank (MAIEM '14).

As the International Education Management program at the Monterey Institute heads into its third year, it continues to grow in size and scope. The program is hiring new faculty this summer to prepare for the large incoming class in the fall. That the program is also growing in reputation was clearly evident at the national NAFSA (Association of International Educators) conference in San Diego this week where a delegation of two faculty members, five staff members, half a dozen alumni, and dozens of students made waves with highly regarded presentations and sessions.

Among those presenting were recent alumna Kristen Greene (MAIEM ’13) and current student Alex Nichol (MAIEM/MPA ’14) whose presentation, “Mentoring in International Education: Strategies for Success,” was voted best in session at the 4-day regional conference in November. They were invited to give an encore presentation as part of the Region 12 Highlight. Kristen, who graduated in December, is the International Exchange Coordinator at San Francisco State University. She and Alex presented with two other international education practitioners, David Wick of Santa Clara University and Kevin Long of UC San Francisco.

Other Monterey Institute representatives presenting at the NAFSA conference included Gael Meraud and Jennifer Holguin of the Center for Advising and Career Services (CACS) who presented on “Integrating Career and Academic Advising to Create Globally Competent Leaders,” and current students Jarod Hightower-Mills (MAIEM ’14) and Anessa Escobar (MAIEM ’14) who presented their ideas on the “Integration of Underrepresented Students into Campus Internationalization Efforts.” Program chair Katherine Punteney also hosted workshops on student advising.

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Students Participate in UN Negotiations as Members of National Delegations


MIIS at the UN: (l-r) Benjamin Pack, Thomas Gray, Aoi Sato, Dr. Bill Potter, Andrew Brown, Amanda Moodie and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova

For generations of Monterey Institute students, the semester-long NPT simulation course has been a life-changing experience.  Led by Dr. Bill Potter, Director of the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), the class is devoted to a simulation of upcoming negotiations on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT.  Students prepare for and participate in the simulated negotiations as members of different national delegations, often joined by visiting current or former lead negotiators.  At the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, dozens of Monterey Institute faculty, alumni, staff, and students participated in the official negotiations. 

Current students in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program, Thomas Gray (MANPTS ’15), Benjamin Pack (MANPTS ’14) participated in the negotiations as part of the Chilean delegation, and Andrew Brown (MANPTS ’15) as part of the U.S. delegation.  Dr. Potter himself also served as technical advisor to the Kyrgyz delegation and in total, MIIS/CNS alumni and current students and staff accounted for 20 delegates from 13 nations and 2 international organizations.

“First, I learned that international diplomacy moves at a glacial pace,” says Thomas Gray, describing his experience at UN.  “After the simulation class, I was ready to discuss the issues and the national positions, but I was not ready for how slowly everything moves in the real world, compared to how fast the simulation seemed. Secondly, and I think more importantly, I realized that the ‘MIIS mafia’ is real. It was great to make those connections, not only in terms of networking, but also in reminding me that MIIS people do go on to some really awesome jobs after graduation.” 

In this week’s edition of The MIIS Experience in 60 Seconds, Thomas talks about Dr. Potter’s simulation class. 

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Celebrating Outstanding Alumni: The MIIS 2014 Alumni Achievement Awardees


Vladimir Cernavskis and Jennifer Ullman on the steps of the Alumni Office in Simoneau House before a celebration in their honor on May 16.  Ed Brzytwa was not able to attend Commencement this year.

This spring marks the third consecutive year of alumni, staff, faculty and friends nominating outstanding alumni for a trio of awards that acknowledge professional success, service, and other values important to the Institute. The Alumni Achievement Awards Review Committee, comprised of the provost, deans, student council representative, alumni relations director, one alumni influencer, and one faculty member met in February to review the numerous deserving nominations. After careful consideration and deliberation, the committee announced the following 2014 award recipients:

Distinguished Alumni Award: Mr. Ed Brzytwa, MACD ’03

Young Alumni Achievement Award:  Mr. Vladimir Cernavskis, MAIPS ’04

Alumni Volunteer Service Award: Ms. Jennifer Ullman, MAIPS ’93 

The 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards were presented during Spring Commencement as a way to acknowledge the many achievements of our alumni, and to demonstrate that our alumni truly live the motto of “Be the Solution.” While Ed was not able to attend Commencement, due to a commitment with a trade delegation negotiation in China, we happily celebrated Vladimir and Jennifer’s professional success and volunteer service to the Institute. Ed will receive his award later this year in Washington, DC.

For details about each awardee, check out their stories at, and please mark your calendars for the 2015 award cycle in January—your nominations of our outstanding alumni are critical to the success of this program!


Monterey Mayor Commends Team of MIIS MBA Students for Excellent Consulting Work


Team members (l-r) Henry Webbe, Whitney Hales, Alex Dennis, Charley Ruegger and Mary Vargo.

City of Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala has issued a letter of commendation to each member of the Golden State Theatre International Business Plan team.  In his letter, Mayor Della Sala writes: “We have worked with a number of consultants over the years on a wide array of topics. The work your team provided rivaled, if not excelled, those professional consultants.”

The team consisted of five students in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program, Whitney Hales (MBA/MAIEP ’14), Mary Vargo (MBA ’14), Charles Ruegger (MBA ’14), Alexander Dennis (MBA/MAIEP ’14), and Henry Scotson Webbe (MBA ’14).  The project for the City of Monterey involved consultation regarding the future of the historic Golden State Theater in downtown Monterey.  The team investigated different uses of the theatre and assessed impact on community development, economic benefit, and financial viability. Instead of presenting the city officials with a set of strategic recommendations of the optimal use scenarios, the team also provided an easy-to-use spreadsheet tool that would allow the city officials to experiment with different mix of objectives and discover associated optimal use scenarios.


Spring Commencement: Celebrating Achievements of 278 Graduates from 40 Countries


Spring Commencement at MIIS, held on Saturday, May 17th 2014 at the historic Colton Hall lawn. 

Under sunny skies on Colton Hall lawn, 278 students from 40 countries received their degrees from the Monterey Institute of International Studies on Saturday afternoon.  Friends and family members gathered from near and far to celebrate their achievements, providing cheers and laughter in competition with the barks of sea lions and calls of seabirds, the daily soundtrack of downtown Monterey.

Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient David A. Jones, co-founder of Humana, Inc. and a longtime MIIS board member, called language acquisition “the essential gateway to cultural understanding,” and urged the graduates to “be adventurous, be willing to take some risks.”

Former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who serves on the advisory board of the Institute’s James Martin for Nonproliferation Studies at MIIS, received an honorary degree as well. Also honored at the ceremony were Middlebury trustee emerita and alumna Betty Jones, and longtime MIIS board members Beverly Hamilton and Stephen McDonald.

Student speaker Charles Ruegger, who received his Master’s in Business Administration, highlighted the diversity of the relatively small student body.  “It helps you to see what life is like on the other side of the fence," said Ruegger adding, "It can really open your eyes.” Prefacing Jones and Ruegger’s comments, the processional featured flag-bearers representing each of the 40 home countries of students in the graduating class, led by bagpiper (and Russian professor) Mike Gillen in full Scottish regalia.



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MIIS Receives $2.1 Million Gift to Support Language Scholarships

Supporting Language Scholarships

Arabic students in the Institute’s Summer Intensive Language Program are among the many potential beneficiaries of the new $2.1 scholarship funds designated to support the acquisition and enhancement of language ability.

The Monterey Institute announced on May 16 that it has received a $2.1 million donation to support student scholarships for the acquisition and enhancement of foreign language ability. The Institute is a graduate school of Middlebury College.

The donor, who asked to remain anonymous, directed that the gift create two endowed two scholarship funds, one to honor former Monterey Institute president Clara Yu and her husband, John Deppman, and the other to honor the current president, Sunder Ramaswamy, and his wife, Varna Ramaswamy.

The $2.1 million gift to the Monterey Institute came as part of a $4.2 gift to Middlebury. The other $2.1 million will establish the endowed Jessica K. and Ronald D. Liebowitz Centennial Fellowships Fund to provide financial aid to students attending Middlebury’s summer Language Schools in Vermont and at Mills College in Oakland, CA. That fund honors Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz and his wife, Jessica, and recognizes the Centennial of the Language Schools in 2015.

“We are deeply indebted to this family for its generous support of Middlebury and the Monterey Institute,” said Liebowitz. “Their commitment to providing access to Middlebury’s renowned language programs will make it possible for hundreds of students from around the world to study at these premier institutions.”

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by this donor’s generosity,” added President Ramaswamy. “This gift will truly make a difference in the lives of hundreds of students, sending ripple upon ripple of positive change out into the world in the years ahead.”


MIIS Ranks 2nd Among Peace Corps Masters International Programs

Peace Corp Fellowship

Noor Puthawala (MPA '10, second from right) during her PCMI assignment in Guatemala.

It appears the special relationship that the Monterey Institute and the Peace Corps have enjoyed for decades is only growing stronger. This year, after placing third two years in a row, MIIS ranked second in the nation in terms of number of students participating in the Peace Corps Masters International program or PCMI. Currently twenty-five MIIS students are on Peace Corps assignments in partnering countries through the PCMI program.

Further showing the strength of the connection, the Monterey Institute ranked tenth in the nation for its Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship program, launched in 2012. The fellowship, originally founded by MIIS professor Beryl Levinger, provides graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers who complete a degree-related internship in an underserved U.S. community while pursuing their studies. The program is specifically reserved for students who have already completed their Peace Corps service abroad.

A degree at the Monterey Institute pairs perfectly with the Peace Corps experience. Many Monterey Institute PCMI graduates have spoken about the complimentary combination of classroom theory and fieldwork of their degree, and how happy they are to return to Monterey after two years in the field and get an opportunity to further build on their experience in an environment where so many faculty, staff and fellow students can fully relate. For more information about the Peace Corps connection to MIIS, visit