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Alumna Spotlight: Yola Johnston, Managing Director of JINSA and supporter of IWP

Yola JohnstonHow did you hear of IWP?

I had heard about IWP through John Wobensmith, who at the time was Vice President of the school.  I had met John when I was working for the ARI Foundation, a small non-profit organization in DC that sought to raise awareness on Capitol Hill on U.S.-Turkish cooperation.  My IWP studies coincided with the time I started working at JINSA. I have always been interested in international affairs and national security issues, having studied Political Science and Economics at Brown University for my Bachelor’s Degree.

Please tell us a little about the work of JINSA and your role there.

JINSA – the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs – is a niche organization.  We are small and often work behind the scenes to advocate on behalf of a strong U.S. military, a robust national security policy, and strong defense and security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.

One of our key missions is to raise awareness in the general public, as well as in the American-Jewish community, of the importance of a strong American defense capability.

JINSA is an advocacy organization and as such builds relationships between the American and Israeli defense and security establishments.  Our annual programs in Israel for recently retired American Generals and Admirals; Cadets and Midshipmen studying in the American Military Academies; and American law enforcement executives are unique.

It has been our experience that the most effective way to counter de-legitimization efforts against Israel is to bring critical constituencies to Israel.  Similarly, for effective advocacy on behalf of a strong U.S. military to succeed, it is critical that civilian leaders interact with our military. That is, ultimately, the strategic thinking behind JINSA’s programs.

I have been with JINSA for 11 years, most recently as the organization’s Managing Director.

Has your IWP education been helpful to you in your work?

IWP has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on matters of statecraft, national security, and public diplomacy/political warfare.  It wasn’t just the expertise of the professors and the quality of the classes that I found to be unmatched by any other educational institution in Washington DC, but also the diverse and relevant background of the student body that, frankly, made the level of education wholesome.

What were your favorite classes at IWP?

I believe I ended up taking every single class offered by Dr. Michael Waller.  Despite the fact that he was probably the most demanding professor at IWP, I enjoyed and benefited immensely from every course that he taught.

Thank you for your recent gift to IWP!  As an alumna, why do you support IWP?

What IWP offers is unique:  it provides professionals in the field with real and useful information.  The curriculum is based less on academic theories and more on practical information that is relevant, critical and timely in today’s world.  As indicated before, it is the expertise of the professors, the relevance of the course work, and the quality of the student body that makes IWP unique and unmatched by any other graduate school in the DC area.