Maxwell Lawson was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, and raised in Kissimmee, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Comparative Political, Economic, and Social Systems from George Washington University. During his undergraduate career, he achieved advanced Mandarin and Spanish proficiency and maintained advanced Korean proficiency. Maxwell led as a committee director in the Young Black Professionals in International Affairs organization and contributed writing to the GW Hatchet and Pro Bono Net, a legal nonprofit organization focused on providing legal assistance to those with limited access. Maxwell first studied abroad as a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship recipient, completing intensive Korean language courses and cultural research in Seoul, South Korea. Later, he spent a semester studying Afro-Colombian political and social movements in Cali, Colombia. He also received the Critical Language Scholarship and spent two months studying Mandarin in New Taipei City, Taiwan. These language skills have allowed Max to encourage discourse surrounding the impacts of American foreign policy with communities abroad. As a 2023 Payne Fellow, Maxwell will continue his studies in International Affairs, pursuing a master’s degree focusing on democratization efforts and international cooperation in Asia and Latin America. He is interested in learning more about the interactions between nonprofit organizations and the American government in their missions to strengthen democracy and maintain peace abroad. Maxwell intends to join USAID as an Executive Officer or Crisis, Stabilization and Governance Officer. Maxwell enjoys studying languages and catching up on Korean dramas in his free time.