In this interview, we talk to Andrea Kiser, '13, about her human rights work with International Justice Mission and her experience at IWP.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am originally from Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., and the city naturally cultivated my fascination with history. I spent my childhood studying exhibits at the American History Museum, visiting monuments, and learning from stories of ordinary leaders who impacted world affairs extraordinarily. Knowing that I wanted to follow in their examples of leadership, I studied History and Political Science at Cedarville University, and then moved back to Washington to pursue higher education at The Institute of World Politics.
How did you become interested in international affairs and human rights?
What started as an undergraduate class on international relations slowly developed into a personal call to action. I knew and believed in the values that make the United States distinct -- and it perplexed me to find that all nations do not to operate under a similar rule of law, but instead many are ruled by violence. Aside from outright war, I noticed the prevalence of manipulation in leadership, the abuse of power, and the purposeful exploitation of enemies. Standing in stark opposition to the truths I believed about the dignity of human life and the inherent value of peace, these themes led me to study counterintelligence as a means of fighting injustice in the world.
How did you get involved with the International Justice Mission? Could you tell us a little about IJM's work, and about your role there?
I first heard about the International Justice Mission (IJM) through a University campus chapter and knew that it was an organization that worked to end the threat of violence against the poor. What I did not understand at the time is that IJM does this by holistically considering the complexities of establishing a precedent for the rule of law in other nations. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems through national leaders and a model of justice system transformation. It is not about a "quick fix," but a desire to change a culture of impunity towards violence with an appropriate fear of the law -- effectively and permanently.
IJM has field offices in nearly 20 communities throughout the developing world, employing lawyers, investigators, social workers and other professionals. I currently serve as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Office and Senior Advisor. IJM's work is exciting, and with my professional experience in non-profit administration and management, and my passion for protecting the vulnerable from the violent, IJM stood out as an inspiring place to work.
What attracted you to IWP?
After doing my research, I realized how atypical IWP is as an institution. It has a unique voice, both in Washington D.C specifically, and in higher education generally. It offers focused degree programs and a variety of professors who provide individualized assistance to tailor academic interests into a plan to graduate as a subject matter expert. Learning from and being led by such esteemed leaders in their respective fields is the best part of IWP.
What have been the most interesting things you have learned at IWP? Have you written any papers or taken any classes that you particularly enjoyed?
Each professor guided me through a mountain of available literature on the subject of National Security, taught me to distinguish trustworthy information by checking and understanding the sources from which it came, and prepared me to evaluate that information critically to determine what to do with it. That skill has proven to be invaluable in the workplace, and I am not exaggerating when I say that IWP taught me to think.
Above: General Raymond T. Odierno, Andrea Kiser, and John Lenczowski.