Public Diplomacy Magazine Staff
Bret Schafer graduated with a Master’s in Public Diplomacy and a Certificate of International Policy and Planning from USC. He earned a B.S. in Communications with a major in Radio/Television/Film and a minor in Sociological Studies from Northwestern University. Before attending USC, he spent more than ten years in the film industry, including stints as a development assistant at Cartoon Network, a development producer at Citizen Skull Productions, and a freelance writer at Warner Brothers. He has also worked in Budapest as a radio-host and a stand-up comedian, and in Berlin as a semi-professional baseball player in Germany’s Bundesliga. His work has been published by the Chronicle of Social Change, LAist.com, WitnessLA.com, and USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy. His interests include Russia and Eastern Europe, and he recently worked in the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
Justin is an author, journalist, travel writer, actor, musician, and politician. He was the youngest elected member of the Altadena Town Council at age 19. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Diplomacy at USC. He serves as Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy, and previously worked at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. He has written for over 20 publications and his first book about his travels across Africa, Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, was published in January 2015 by Rare Bird Books. He serves as president of Men Educating Men About Health and as secretary of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association. He is a member of the LA Press Club and the LA World Affairs Council. As a professional child actor he performed in dozens of commercials, TV shows, and movies. He lives with his wife Mercedes in Pasadena, CA.
Maria Lattouf Abou Atmi
Maria recently graduated with a Master’s of Public Diplomacy from USC. She is the former content coordinator for CPD Weekend and the co-chair of the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholar’s Conference on City Diplomacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs from the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
Yesenia Vargas is a recent graduate from the Masters in Public Diplomacy program at USC. She obtained a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in French from Centenary College of Louisiana, and has worked in community engagement, women’s health, and refugee rights. She formerly worked as a publications assistant at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Michael Arda Karakash
Michael Arda Karakash is a graduate student in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC. He received his B.A in Literary Journalism with a minor in African-American Studies from UC Irvine and also studied International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. As a Geoffrey Cowan Scholar at USC Annenberg’s CCLP, his research focuses on the intersection of politics & technology, immigration from Latin America and the Middle East, as well as LGBT diplomacy.
Lacey is a Master’s of Public Diplomacy student at USC.
Matthew L. Essex
Matthew comes to USC and PD Magazine from the University of Maryland, where he recently completed Bachelor’s degrees in both History and Government & Politics. There he concentrated on Colonial American history, writing his thesis on the correlation between Australian settlement in 1788 and the American Revolution. His Government and Politics studies focused on international relations between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2014, he won a Gilman Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study abroad at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. While in Australia, he founded a cultural dialogue program between schools in Brisbane and his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Matthew is a member of both Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Alpha Theta honors societies. His interests lie in the study of the Olympic Games as a mechanism for soft power, as well as America’s Pacific policy. Following graduation, he aspires to work for NBC Olympics as a field research analyst
Valery Zhukova is an undergraduate student at USC’s Roski School of Art and Architecture, with a focus on graphic design. She is a Los Angeles native, but her family comes from the former Soviet Union. She is fluent in Russian and English, and studied French in high school. She has received the Rhode Island School of Design Annual Art Award in 2016, as well as a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her hobbies and interests include, but are not limited to, dance, literature, film, and art history. She has experience designing posters, logos, business cards, and covers, as well as advertisements and promotional designs.
International Advisory Board
Sean Aday, Director, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication; Associate Professor of Media, Public Affairs, & International Affairs, George Washington University
Simon Anholt, Editor Emeritus, Journal of Place Branding & Public Diplomacy
Geoffrey Cowan, Professor, Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership, USC
Harris Diamond, CEO, McCann Erickson
Pamela Falk, Foreign Affairs Analyst & Resident UN Correspondent, CBS News
Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs & Research School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Florida International University
Eytan Gilboa, Professor of International Communication, Bar-Ilan University
Howard Gillman Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine
Guy Golan, Associate Professor of Public Relations/Public Diplomacy, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
Cari Guittard, Principal, Global Engagement Partners; Adjunct Faculty, Hult IBS & USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Markos Kunoalakis, President & Publisher Emeritus, Washington Monthly
William A. Rugh, U.S. Foreign Service (Ret.)
Crocker Snow, Edward R. Murrow Center for Public Diplomacy, Tufts University
Nancy Snow, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Fullerton; Pax Mundi Professor of Public Diplomacy, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies; Media and Public Affairs Advisor, Langley Esquire, Tokyo
Abiodun Williams, President, Hague Institute for Global Justice
Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean of USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; Founder of Third Space Institute