International Education Policy

International Education Policy

Alumni & Careers


IEP alumna Ramya Vivekanandan featured by UNESCO’s U. S. mission.


Samantha Williams
Samantha Williams, 2011
Prior to coming to HGSE, I spent two and a half years studying and working in South Africa as a graduate student on a Rotary scholarship. During that time, I completed a master’s degree in international development, conducted research on school-based social services for vulnerable children, and worked at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Through these experiences, I developed a solid understanding of South Africa’s education and social welfare systems, and got a glimpse of the challenges facing schools and community organizations. However, it became very clear to me that I still lacked the technical knowledge about education policies and large-scale interventions that I would need to be truly effective in the field. I applied to the IEP program to fill this gap.

Through the IEP program, I was brought into contact with professors who treated me as a colleague and pushed me to build upon and utilize my knowledge of South Africa and the African continent. I joined the HGSE African Education Initiative and the Kennedy School Africa Policy Journal, both of which allowed me to keep up with African affairs and engage in dialogue with like-minded practitioners and students. I also took courses on education practice in general, building my knowledge of curricular, pedagogical, and socio-emotional issues. My time at HGSE helped me transition into my current role as the Project Manager for the HGSE South Africa Education Leadership Initiative, which is a multi-year partnership with the University of Johannesburg to train school leaders and district managers in Soweto. Through this role, I am gaining experience working on a large-scale education intervention in Africa. This job is a perfect fulfillment of the reasons I came to HGSE in the first place, and the ideal segue into a career managing education and social welfare programs in Africa.

Simon Thacker
Simon Thacker, 2010
After having been a teacher for some years, I hoped the IEP program at HGSE would serve me as a springboard into a new career in education and development. It has done just that. It has offered me a wealth of background knowledge, an array of analytical tools, and new approaches and perspectives on education that I required to make the transition. Discussions with great teachers, bright TFs and committed classmates helped clarify and cement all this learning. It has been a privilege to make this career-change in such fine company. Thank you!

I work in the education sector of the World Banks MENA region (Middle East North Africa) on several projects: I am doing quantitative research on data from a recent teacher survey, helping organize a conference on Improving Education Quality to be attended by the regions Ministers of Education in Doha, Qatar in September 2010, helping research and write a strategy paper for the region, as well as working on implementing the TIMSS assessment in a number of the regions countries. I am also scrambling to learn Arabic as quickly as possible.

Peter Cooper
Peter Cooper, 2005
For me, IEP was a phenomenal program that provided the perfect environment in which to reflect on my prior experiences working in educational contexts overseas. More importantly, the program provided me with the skills – both “hard” and “soft” – that fuel my work on a day-to-day basis.

I am currently the Global Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Room to Read, a San Francisco-based organization that promotes literacy and the habit of reading in the developing world. Prior to joining Room to Read in 2007, Peter worked as an Evaluation Research Associate for WestEd, an education research organization located in San Francisco.

Silke Heuser
Silke Heuser, 2003
When I reflect back on my experience at the IEP program, I feel that it was one of the best years of my life. The support I received from the HGSE community, my peers from all corners of the world, the professors, as well as the many visiting politicians and scholars made it an extraordinary experience.

In 2003, I graduated from the IEP program and moved to Washington D.C. for a summer internship at the Organization for American States. Through contact with another HGSE student, I later received the opportunity to join the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group. Over the past seven years, I have worked on major evaluations of Bank-funded projects, which have informed both the policy and practices of the organization. In addition, I have been able to take part in fact-finding missions to Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Caribbean, speaking with government officials, project managers, World Bank staff, and beneficiaries to find out what works and what doesn't when implementing projects. Improving development results through evaluation is something I greatly enjoy, and IEP was critical in creating many of the opportunities I've been fortunate to have.


IEP students and alumni gain access to the HGSE Career Services Office (CSO) which offers job search assistance. The CSO offers guides for writing cover letters and resumes and maintains a database of job listings. It also provides free access to fee-charging websites including: The Chronicle of Higher Education, The International Educator, Educational Directions, Inc., Project Connect.

Additionally, IEP alumni have access to the Harvard Alumni Advising Network as well as the diverse and far-reaching IEP Graduate community. They can also join the IEP Graduates listserv, which includes job postings and opportunities for career development.

The following list of positions assumed by IEP graduates highlights the roles and organizations for which the IEP program prepares its graduates.

  • Program Associate -Basic Education Division, USAID-Washington D.C.
  • Education Sector Officer - World Bank, Colombia
  • Senior Project Officer – UNESCO, Chile
  • Education Specialist - World Bank Research Division
  • Education Program Officer – USAID, India
  • Assistant Director - World Education
  • Basic Education Specialist - Education Development Center
  • Program Associate - Academy for Educational Development
  • Associate Professor - Comparative & International Education Dept., Michigan State University.
  • Education Specialist - Ford Foundation