Graduate Assistants

Meet our wonderful Spring 2017 GAs!

Gauer, Ashley – Administrative / Special Projects Assistant, CSIL

Kemp, Courtney – Strategic Initiatives Advisor, M-Force

Lukeman, Christina – Frontier Market Scouts Partnerships Assistant

Margason, Clare – Communications Assistant

Romero, Mario – Special Projects Assistant, MicroEnterprise Consultants

Stranahan, Austen – Ambassador Corps Assistant


Ashley Gauer, Administrative / Special Projects Assistant

Growing up in one of the most multi-cultural & geographically isolated places on earth, Ashley realized the importance & value of community early on. She spent her undergraduate years exploring identity, social justice, community development, & leadership as a Martín Baró Scholar in the heart of San Francisco. She received her BA in Bio-Psychology, minored in Public Service and Philosophy and has TESOL and Business Admin Certificates. She has studied & volunteered across three continents, and has helped launch two social enterprises in Cambodia that support a community school. She has worked in education, health, & community development for 10+ years.

Currently, Ashley co-owns a small arts & retail business, serves as a micro-enterprise consultant with California Farmlink, and interns at Rancho Cielo where she co-facilitates workshops on non-violent conflict resolution.  She is a Dual Degree Candidate in International Education Management and Public Administration with an emphasis in Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Agriculture. An ongoing student of Earthship Biotecture, she’s an advocate for radically sustainable buildings.

Ashley has a passion for people and social change organizations. She hopes to catalyze sustainable, transparent, and ethical supply chains in agriculture, education, travel, and fashion. She believes in an intergenerational, interdisciplinary, inclusive approach to empowerment and economic development.


Courtney Kemp, Strategic Initiatives Advisor / M-Force

Courtney Kemp is the Strategic Initiatives Advisor for the Middlebury Institute’s Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL), a role in which she is responsible for leading a group of 100+ social change makers within the Middlebury community and managing a variety of student-led consulting projects around impact investing due diligence, benefit corporation certification, and impact assessment. As an Investor Relations and Due Diligence Consultant, Courtney also provides critical support in the areas of research, partnerships, and financial and impact due diligence for SMEs in frontier markets. Prior to working for CSIL, Courtney worked on a variety of development projects in the United States, Tanzania, and France. She holds a BA in Applied Political Economy and French from the University of Arizona, and is currently pursuing a double MBA: Social Enterprise and Finance and MA: International Policy and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.


Christina Lukeman, FMS Partnerships Assistant

Currently pursuing a Master in Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in Social Enterprise and Finance at MIIS, Christina works as the Partnerships Associate at CSIL, connecting partners in the impact space to our flagship program, Frontier Market Scouts. She also works as the Managing Director of Partnerships for Central Coast Children’s Foundation, a NGO that focuses on community empowerment where she leads initiatives in budgeting and business development for multiple stakeholders including migrant families and children with disabilities, bringing grassroots development into the hands of social entrepreneurs. She holds a part-time position with Manta Consulting, in which she wrote a case study on the sustainable fishing industry for a course on Social Entrepreneurship in China—the first course of its kind. And she just finished up a summer project with IOS Partners, a high-profile international consulting firm focusing on economic development in which she led a $1,000,000 Public-Private Partnership (PPP) proposal on ecotourism development in National Parks in Colombia. Last semester, she visited Bhutan under Professor Jan Black to research effects of Gross National Happiness (the idealistic version of GNP) on local businesses and economic development, and during January-term, she partnered with a Colombian NGO to spearhead a project on business development and sustainable tourism in designing a financial solution to a water supply crisis affecting the rural region of Santa Marta.

Before coming to MIIS, Christina had traveled to over 60 countries with her background in education. She held a position with the Ministry of Education in Madrid, Spain, and was on the founding team of an ex-monk-run NGO in a village outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia that educated impoverished young adults in trade skills. Her most memorable experiences involve hula-hooping through Central America and living in a treehouse as an ESL teacher in Turkey. She speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Next semester, she hopes to continue in Partnerships and/or Investor Relations working for an impact investing fund abroad for the capstone of her MBA. Upon graduation, she looks to complete her proposed Fulbright project assessing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Guatemala to determine which factors best foster growth of impact investment in the region


Clare Margason, Communications Assistant

Clare Margason is in her third semester at MIIS and is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from the school of Development Practice and Policy. Before moving to California, Clare worked on community development initiatives around the world.

As an undergraduate student she spent two years interning with the organization Mercy Corps, and then went on to work with Somali immigrant and refugee youth for two years in Portland, Oregon with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). After graduation, she moved to Tanzania to work with the International Youth Foundation on primary school education projects. Clare then transitioned to life in SE Asia where she worked for three years on sport-for-development and environmental education projects in nine rural villages in the Lao PDR. She now sits on the board of directors for the Lao NGO that managed these projects, and hopes to return to the field as soon as she completes graduate school.

For now, Clare is delighted to be in sunny Monterey, California and to have the opportunity to study amongst a brilliant and inspiring cohort of aspiring development practitioners and gifted faculty.


Mario Romero, Special Projects Advisor / MicroEnterprise Consultants

Mario Romero is a second year joint degree MBA/M.A. International Policy and Development student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). Prior to coming to MIIS, Mario spent two years in Mali with the Peace Corps as an education volunteer and two years in South Sudan as a regional and senior operations manager for the Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program.

Mario is currently the project manager for the Center for Social Impact’s (CSIL) MicroEnterprise Consultant Group which aims to provide students at MIIS with experiential opportunities in microlending to small farmers in the Salinas Valley. In addition, he works as the project manager for Global Majority’s Salinas Peacemaker Program which provides conflict resolution coaching to high school students in alternative schools in Salinas. Mario earned his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. He is a Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow.

Austen Stranahan, AC Strategic Initiatives Assistant (Coming Soon)

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