Over a Decade of Advanced Study Opportunities for Social Change Leaders Worldwide  |  2001–2013

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Secretariat: 2001 - 2013

Joan Dassin
Mary Zurbuchen
Rob Oppegard
Adriana Thoen
Barbara Wanasek
Alan Divack
Diana Whitten
Rachel Clift
Daniel Reisner

Joan Dassin, Executive Director

Joan Dassin was responsible for overall coordination of the IFP worldwide. She worked closely with the Board of Directors, the Finance and Investment Advisory Committee and the Program Advisory Committee of the International Fellowships Fund, as well as the Fund's program and administrative staff. Joan was responsible for the IFP evaluation project and worked closely with several outside consultants on program communications. She also oversaw all aspects of program implementation in Latin America. Joan coordinated the initial design process for IFP, which began in December 1999, and assumed the position of Executive Director of IFF when the organization was created in April 2001. Before IFP, Joan served as the Ford Foundation's Representative in Brazil and the Foundation's Regional Director for Latin America, and worked as an independent education consultant in Washington, D.C. She taught English, Communications, and Latin American Studies for a number of years at Amherst College, Fordham and Columbia Universities, and has held three Fulbright grants for teaching and research in Brazil. Joan holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and has written extensively on international education and on politics and culture in Brazil.

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Mary Zurbuchen, Director for Asia and Russia

Mary Zurbuchen oversaw all aspects of program implementation for Asia and Russia. She was responsible for coordinating the organizations working on the IFP placement process, developing strategic partnerships with selected universities, and improving models for pre-academic training. She developed a series of case studies of IFP’s implementation in countries around the world. Mary lived and worked in Asia for two decades, including assignment as the Ford Foundation Representative in Jakarta, and two assignments as Program Officer in Education and Culture. She recently taught in and directed the Southeast Asian Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Mary holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She joined IFP as Director for Asia and Russia in late 2003.

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Rob Oppegard, Director of Finance & Administration

Rob Oppegard oversaw IFP's investments and overall budget, and administered IFP's institutional grants. He graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas with a BA in history and French. He also received a secondary teaching certificate from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, an MA in American studies from New York University, and completed a program at Columbia University in database application design and development. Rob worked at the Ford Foundation for over a decade as a grant and loan administrator in the program-related investments and economic development units. In the late 1990s, he worked at Ford as a researcher, investigating grant making in the area of information technology. He came to IFP as a budget and grant consultant in August 2001 and assumed his current position in late 2001.

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Adriana Thoen, Administrative Manager

Adriana Thoen supervised and organized a variety of office activities in New York and worldwide for the IFP. Before joining the team in May 2003, she was an executive administrative assistant at Bank Hapoalim in New York. Adriana holds a BA in liberal arts from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Barbara Wanasek, Grants Manager

Barbara Wanasek collaborated with Rob on all partner institution grants. Barbara has worked, studied and lived abroad in Australia, France, and Russia, and served as Director of Alumni Relations and Development for the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership (IPSL). Barbara has also worked at the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) and the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange and has volunteered with AFS Intercultural Programs and AIESEC. Barbara holds a B.A. in International Relations and French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University.

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Alan Divack, Senior Project Manager, Archives and Knowledge Management

Alan oversaw the effort to create the IFP Global Archives, which helped to preserve the legacies of IFP and its fellows after program completion. He also worked on IFP knowledge-management and legacy-building initiatives. He received a BA in history from the University of Chicago, an MA in history from Columbia University and an MS from New York University in Information Systems, which combined course and project work in computer science, systems design, and business. For many years he was the Archivist and Manager of Research Services at the Ford Foundation, where he oversaw records processing, digitization projects, and research. Alan is particularly interested in the areas of intellectual property, archives and human rights, and digitization and electronic records.

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Diana Whitten, Director of Communications

Diana Whitten oversaw all communications initiatives at IFP. She was responsible for creating and gathering the stories, photos, and videos that showcase the achievements and experiences of the IFP community, online and in print. She designed strategic media tools and a Legacy Website to help build the IFP community, Alumni networks, and overall program legacy. Diana is a writer and film activist whose work has appeared on network television and in over 25 international film festivals. She is the director of Sovereignty Productions, founded as a forum in which to use video and new media to foster social change. Her first feature film, Vessel, is expected to be released in 2013. A graduate of Tufts University (BA), the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (BFA), and the Newschool Program in International Media (MA), she was a Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia in 2000 documenting the political use of shadow theater.

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Rachel Clift, Communications Officer

Rachel Clift collaborated with Diana on all of IFP's communications and online media initiatives. She managed IFP's website and social media presence, co-designed and implemented IFP's media outreach strategy, and was responsible for sourcing, researching, and writing IFP Fellow and Alumni impact stories. She also produced and co-wrote the organization's final publication in 2013, and designed the communications and alumni engagement plan for the longitudinal IFP tracking study (led by the Institute of International Education). Rachel is an Emmy-nominated television producer and documentary filmmaker who has created award-winning programs for PBS and The Sundance Channel on topics ranging from organic farming to microfinance. She has also written and produced videos for numerous organizations including Habitat for Humanity, The Asian Development Bank, Women’s World Banking, and Safe Water Network. A former community organizer, Rachel received an MFA in Film from Boston University, and a BA in Women’s Studies from Hamilton College.

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Daniel Reisner, Multimedia and Archives Officer

Daniel Reisner was working with the members of the Secretariat to prepare and organize its records for the Global Archive. He also worked with the Communications team to write stories for the IFP website and develop its Media Library. He recently graduated from Long Island University’s Palmer School with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, where he specialized in archives and records management. Prior to this, Daniel served as Program Manager for a cultural exchange organization, providing visa services and matching international participants from over 35 countries with host employers throughout the United States. In addition, Daniel holds an MSc in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

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