Sofia Quesada is honored to be a member of the 2014 Payne International Development Fellowship. Sofia was privileged to grow up in Costa Rica, a country known for its legacy of peace. She moved to Rhode Island in 2008 to attend Brown University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Middle East Studies.
As a student at Brown University, Sofia worked with development organization Caritas in Lebanon, and shortly after, conducted field-based research on food security in Jordan following the 2008 economic downturn. She additionally worked as a research assistant for the Costs of War project, which explored the true costs of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Exploring the aftermath of conflict, both academically and on the ground, motivated Sofia’s interest in working to prevent and mitigate conflict. “In our highly interconnected environment, every country is burdened with the aftermath of war—from hosting refugees to combating weapons proliferation and organized crime. I believe conflict prevention is the best and most cost-effective space for U.S. foreign policy today, and hope to contribute to this much-needed work.”
Sofia continued to work on peacebuilding issues as an international intern with the Alternatives to Violence Program in Guatemala, and later as a mediator and case manager with the Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis. Most recently, Sofia was the External Affairs Coordinator for World Savvy, a national non-profit dedicated to building global competence within mainstream education.
Following her Congressional Internship with Congressman Vargas’ office, where she focused on International Affairs Committee issues and education, Sofia will attend the Harvard Kennedy School for Government, where she will pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy with a concentration in International and Global Affairs. She looks forward to deepening her knowledge of conflict management and negotiation, as well as honing the management, analysis and leadership skills critical to work with USAID.
As a Payne Fellow, Sofia looks forward to contributing to the Foreign Service’s conflict management efforts as a Crisis, Stabilization and Governance Officer with USAID. She is humbled to be part of a fellowship named after the late Congressman Payne, and strives to honor his legacy of advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable international communities.