The Center for International Trade & Security’s (CITS) Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP) is a selective year-long academic program for undergraduate students interested in careers in national and international security. It has a rich history of training the next generation of national security leaders, particularly on issues related to diplomacy, intelligence, WMD nonproliferation, human security, and strategic trade management.

Students in the SLP develop the skills necessary to understand, analyze, and create policy related to national security and the management of international conflict. Two courses – INTL 4415 & INTL 4425R –  form the foundation of the program.

In the first semester of the SLP, students enroll in INTL 4415: Practicum–Methods and Issues in Security Studies. This seminar-style course offers an overview of the field of security studies and focuses on skills-building. Students develop policy memo writing, analysis, and oral briefing skills, and put them to the test in a 2-week simulation of the US National Security Council. In the second semester, students enroll in INTL 4425R: Advanced Research in International Security Policy, where they complete a faculty-supervised independent research project on an issue relevant to national, international, or human security.  See the “Independent Research Projects” link below for titles of recent projects.

SLP fellows have the opportunity to attend the annual CITS in DC Spring Break trip alongside students from the Master of International Policy program. While the itinerary for the trip varies from year to year, past trips have included visits to meet with practitioners from security-relevant government agencies (Department of State, Department of Energy/NNSA, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, FBI, and intelligence agencies) and think-tanks (Center for Strategic &  International Studies, Brookings Institute, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and others).

In addition to the skills focus of the SLP, students participate in a professionalization series intended to prepare their application materials for internships, jobs, and post-graduation opportunities, and regularly attend events hosted by the Center for International Trade and Security.

The SLP is NOT limited to students from any particular academic background, however INTL3200 or INTL3300 is a prerequisite. Students of all disciplines and year levels are encouraged to apply. More information about the program can be found below. With questions, reach out to or Dr. Maryann Gallagher (, Director of the SLP.

2023-2024 SLP Cohort Application Information

The SLP is no longer accepting applications for the 2023-2024 SLP cohort . Members of the 2023-2024 cohort will be announced in late April.

 Please direct all questions to Dr. Maryann Gallagher (, Director of the SLP.


Current SLP Cohort: Fall 2022 - Spring 2023
Luke Caggiano

Luke Caggiano is a fourth-year International Affairs major from Charlotte, North Carolina. Luke is a presidential scholar completing a minor in Spanish and a certificate in global studies. Throughout his first three years at UGA, he volunteered with UGA Miracle and served as the Student Relations Coordinator for UGA Fresh Express, a student-led emergency food assistance program. This summer, Luke spent May and June sharpening his Spanish skills through a UGA study abroad opportunity in Madrid, Spain, before interning at Zooberg, LLC, a political consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Luke plans to pursue a career in national security and/or diplomacy.




Sudhan Chitgopkar

Sudhan Chitgopkar is a fourth-year from Cumming, Georgia studying Computer Science and International Affairs with a Math minor. At UGA, Sudhan is currently working on flight software for the Small Satellite Research Lab, and has previously directed UGA’s flagship hackathon (UGAHacks), UGA’s Model UN team, and spoken at TEDxUGA. Outside of school, Sudhan has interned as an Analyst for Southern Company’s Threat Management & Intelligence team, and as a Software Engineer at Amazon. Sudhan is broadly interested in how emerging technologies can affect our security landscape and has previously conducted research investigating the factors that motivate cryptocurrency adoption.




Alex Drahos

Alex Drahos is a second-year from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, studying International Affairs and Statistics. At UGA, Alex is a Student Industry Fellow, where he uses human-centered design to help governments, nonprofits, and businesses innovate. Through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, he is researching the intersection of international conflict and anti-LGBT+ hate crimes. Alex also is an assistant editor for Georgia Political Review and a member of the Dean Tate Honor Society. This past summer, he studied International Conflict at the University of Oxford before traveling across Europe. In the future, Alex plans to pursue interests related to design thinking, political campaigns, and international security.




Jacqueline GaNun

Jacqueline GaNun is a senior from Savannah, Georgia. She is double majoring in journalism and international affairs and minoring in French. She has been heavily involved in The Red & Black during her time at UGA and served as editor-in-chief in fall 2021. This summer, she interned on NPR’s business news desk in Washington, D.C. Jacqueline studied at Oxford University this past spring and took courses in French Literature and Human Rights. Her research interests include gender and security, and she has studied how gender impacts war reporting. After graduation, she hopes to work as a journalist.




Sahar Joshi

Sahar Joshi is a junior from Suwanee, Georgia double majoring in International Affairs and Religion. Sahar is also pursuing a minor in Human Rights and Security. Sahar’s campus involvement includes being an ambassador of the UGA Mentor program, holding the Community Outreach Chair on the Homecoming Committee’s executive board, and serving as an Orientation Leader for incoming international students. She also holds leadership positions at her campus ministry. This past summer, Sahar completed an internship at the National War College, where she served as a research assistant and supported the development of curriculum for a senior-level practicum course of study in national security strategy under the National Defense University. Her independent research interests include topics that involve both her degree programs, especially focusing on countering violent extremism and information campaigning.




Daniel Klein

Daniel is a third-year student from Sylvania, Ohio, pursuing degrees in International Affairs and Sociology, as well as a certificate in Geographic Information Science. On campus, Daniel is involved with the Period Project @ UGA and the Dean William Tate Honor Society, and is also the Senior Editor of the Georgia Political Review. He additionally has worked as an intern at TradeSecure, a global advisory firm specializing in export and trade controls. This past summer, Daniel studied analytic philosophy during a Maymester at Oxford, and human rights, repression, and the Troubles on a GLOBIS study abroad program in Ireland.




Riley Mied

Riley Mied is a third-year from Dunwoody, Georgia. She is a presidential scholar double majoring in International Affairs and Criminal Justice. She is also double minoring in Sociology and Law, Jurisprudence, and the State. In addition to the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP), she is active in numerous organizations on campus. She is president of Common Ground, a club created to build bridges between different political ideologies and to provide a safe space for respectful political debate. Additionally, Riley is on the executive board of the Criminal Justice Society. Prior, Riley served as Georgia Secretary of State Ambassador. She also served as Freshman Coordinator to the largest philanthropy event on the University of Georgia campus, Sigma Delta Tau Greek Grind, in which she helped to raise over $100,000. This summer, Riley lived in Florence, Italy where she studied the European Union and the Politics of Food during a University of Georgia Maymester. Moreover, she is currently striving to obtain her Italian dual-citizenship. After graduation, she intends to begin a career in counterterrorism.




Thompson Miles

Thompson Miles is a third-year student from Thomasville, Georgia, majoring in political science and double-minoring in Spanish and religion. Thompson is a recipient of the Henry King Stanford scholarship. During her time at UGA, Thompson has taken classes through the honors college and has been very involved in leadership positions through her campus ministry. She has interned with a senatorial campaign and served as an officer in her sorority. This past summer, Thompson spent six weeks in Spain, studying Spanish and working on completing her minor. After graduation, Thompson hopes to pursue a masters or J.D. within the field of security studies and/or international law.




Sofia Mohamed

Sofia Mohamed is a third-year student studying International Affairs while pursuing a certificate in Data Analytics in Public Policy and a minor in Global Health. At the University of Georgia, she is involved in Model UN, the Dean William Tate Honor Society, and the Muslim Student Association, where she is the Student Outreach Chair. Outside UGA, she has interned and volunteered with organizations such as, Young Georgians for Justice Coalition and Jon Ossoff for US Senate. This year, she has worked for the SPIA Survey Research Center as a Student Interviewer and interned with Groundbreakers, a non-profit global leadership network, as a Racial Equity Associate. She is currently interning with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. Through the SLP, Sofia aspires to further her understanding of security through empirical and theoretical coursework, while exploring various fields in international affairs. In the future, she hopes to attend law school to study international law.




Alexis Nash

Alexis Nash is a fourth-year honors student from Fayetteville, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Psychology. During her time at UGA, Alexis has worked as a research assistant within the Leadership, Innovation, Networks, and Collaboration Lab in the Department of Psychology. Through this role, she aided in projects that identified optimal characteristics that contribute to effective leadership styles within the U.S. military. In her independent research endeavors, she explored the causes and implications of gender-based violence in South African society. She has also pursued research surrounding the fragility of South Africa’s energy infrastructure and the political, social, and economic effects it has had on the country. Outside of her academics, Alexis has been involved in SPIA’s Honor Society of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, Leadership UGA, Georgia Daze Minority Recruitment Program, and Serve UGA. In the Athens community, Alexis volunteers with the Athens-Clarke County Animal Services shelter and Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful. After graduation, she hopes to begin a career in energy security policy or the U.S. foreign service.




Jere Pearson

Jere Pearson is a junior from Hinesville, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and currently starting the Double Dawg pathway to attain his Masters in International Policy.  Jere attends UGA as an ROTC Cadet and intends to become a commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army after graduation.  He has enthusiastically studied under the Russian Flagship program while being an active member of the Russian club and will achieve a minor in Russian.  Jere also is also an active brother in Beta Upsilon Chi social fraternity, participates in campus ministry, and proudly represents his school as a SPIA Ambassador.  This past summer, Jere was fortunate to be able to study abroad in South Africa with SPIA for a maymester and attend an internship with the U.S. Army at EUCOM in Germany.  Jere hopes to learn a lot from his experience in the SLP and looks forward to building connections with his new peers!




Shekina Shindano

Shekina Shindano is a third-year from Forsyth County, Georgia majoring in International Affairs and French. She is also minoring in African Studies and pursuing a certificate in Data Analytics in Public Policy. At the University of Georgia, she is a member of AIESEC @UGA and served as the the secretary for Model African Union. This past summer she was a development and strategic team intern at Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit organization centered on women’s issues and advocacy. She also studied abroad at the University of Stellenbosch in Stellenbosch, South Africa through the UGA GLOBIS study abroad program where she gained a comprehensive understanding of South African politics and economics. In the future, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs and work in Washington, D.C.




Connor Stockenberg

Connor Stockenberg is a fourth-year Political Science and International Affairs major from Roswell, Georgia. He has also earned a certificate in Applied Politics. Outside of class, Connor is involved in Dawgs for Warnock, a student political advocacy group, and the Phi Kappa Literary Society. Last semester he participated in the Washington Semester Program where he interned with a campaign advocacy group while living in our nation’s capitol. Over the summer, he took courses and traveled to Israel for two weeks. There, he learned quite a bit about Middle Eastern politics and security. Through the SLP, he hopes to learn more about international security and how it intersects with political security at home and around the world.




Abby Then

Abby Benton Then is a fourth-year international affairs major with a public policy and management minor. She is from Hendersonville, North Carolina, but has lived in several different places throughout her life. Her passion for international affairs stemmed from her time living abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, where she served as an intern for the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy. At UGA, Abby serves on the executive board for the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and is a member of the honor society Order of Omega. This past summer, Abby volunteered with Safelight, a nonprofit that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Additionally, Abby conducted a research project about nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation education through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunity. She has also researched the effects of gender quotas being implemented in governments throughout the world. After graduation, Abby intends to stay at UGA through the Double Dawg program and complete her Masters in International Policy. In her free time, Abby enjoys running, cooking, reading, and spending time with family.




Kevin Vega

Kevin Vega is a third-year student from Austell, Georgia, double majoring in International Affairs and Economics, while pursuing a certificate in Data Analytics in Public Policy. Outside of his participation, he serves as a Campus Leader and a sub-committee head for UGA HEROs, a member of the Hispanic Student Association at UGA, a SPIA Ambassador, and a proud member of the Redcoat Band. In addition, Kevin presented his research on economic disparity in Mexico in both the SPIA Undergraduate Research Colloquium and the Presentation Collaboratory Fellowship Capstone Presentation. This past summer, he campaigned for GA District 99 candidate Om Duggal and currently serves as a Data Analyst Intern for the Griffin & Strong law firm. Upon graduation, he wants to pursue his research interests in economic and environmental security in Latin America through work in the public and/or private sector.


Independent Research Projects
Spring 2022

Olivia Bauer, “Insurgencies or Gangs: An Analysis of Service Provision by Criminal Organizations”

Dan Doss, “How Should Energy Security Influence Investments in Alternative Energy?”

Catherine Fender, “Terrorist Outbidding: The Effects of Leadership Decapitation on Terrorist Group Recruitment”

Haley Gamis, “A Chain Reaction: Evaluation of the Security Threat to Global Supply Chain Chokepoints posed by the Belt and Road Initiative”

Jeanelle Garcia, “Sexual Violence and the Welfare of Women in ICE Detention Facilities”

Hayley Hunter, “How NATO Has Used Environmental Security as a Strategy of Engagement”

Elizabeth Howell, “Kidnapping in Terrorist Groups: Money, Power, and Recruitment”

Patrick Jackson, “Comparative Analysis of UN and NATO Authorizations for Use of Force”

Sonia Kalia, “The Radical Right & Violence Against Women in Politics”

Julie Kettle, “The Yassification of the Radical Right: The Use of Homonationalism for Gender Diversification in Radical Right Support Bases.”

Simi Kolodka, “Lock her Up: A Gender Analysis of Violence Against Women in Politics & Extreme Right Recruitment Tactics”

Sophia Macartney, “Naming and Shaming: How Does Regime Type Affect Terrorist Organization Designation?”

Ashni Patel, “The Sexy Side of Development: Sex Industries and Global Development Projects”

Hannah Skinner, “Not Just a Man’s World: The Rise of Women’s Incarceration in Latin America”

Joshua Walker,The Bit about BITs: Bilateral Investment Treaties and the Black Market”

Spring 2021

Ayah Abdelwahab, “Friends or Foes: An Analysis of Individuals Sanctioned Under the Global Magnitsky Act”

Mennah Abdelwahab, “Dangerous Women: Analyzing the Securitization of Female Protesters during the Egyptian Revolution”

Albert Chen, “Reforming United States Financial Regulation to Secure Economic Influence in Asia”

Annabelle Cochran, “Cannabis and the War on Terror: A Qualitative Report on the Impacts of Legalizing Marijuana on Counter-Terrorism Strategies”

Kendall Embry, “Slavery & Security: Preventing Sexual Enslavement in Terrorist Organizations”

Xzavior Goeman, “Insurgent Groups’ Bureaucracy and Intelligence”

Jonathan Lauria, “National Security Risk Management: Applying the Framework of Enterprise Security Risk Management to the National Security Context”

Audrey Park, “Reforming U.S. Countering Violent Extremism Programs through a Mental Health Framework”

Sahana Parker, “The Mind and the Military: Defense Applications for Emerging Functional Neuroimaging Technology”

Lindsey Rhyne, “From the Frying Pan into the Fire: Solutions for the US Asylum Seeker Immigration Process in the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Christopher Rosselot, “Health of the Nation or Health of the Nation? Analyzing State Intentions Behind Discriminatory COVID-19 Vaccination Plans”

Nate Shear, “How Should the US Approach High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel?”

Addie Sparks, “Rebel Leader Goals and Indiscriminate Killing”

Kat Symons, “The U.S. Army’s Attempt at Creating Lethal Combat Machines: An Analysis of the ACFT”

Andrew Zach, “‘Send Lawyers, Guns, and a Dispersal Notice’: An Analysis of the Insurrection Act of 1807 and Its Application to the January 6th Capitol Riots”

Fall 2020

Zainub Ali, “Tracking the Presence of Protest in Oil Wealthy Rentier States from 2014-2015 with the Existence of ‘Weather the Shock’ Economic Policies”

Ian Allen, “American Export Controls as Counter-China Trade Weapons”

Miranda Bourdeau, “A New Space Race: Space Weaponry of the United States, Russia, and China”

Adrina Bradley, “Sexual Violence & Disasters”

Mariah Cady, “The 2015 European Refugee and Migrant Crisis: Press Coverage Across Germany and the United Kingdom”

Nia Evereteze, “Female Recruiters for Terrorist Organizations”

Alex Fabre de la Grange “How Gender Impacts Equity in Terrorism Cases”

Alexa Hernandez, “Online Recruitment by Far-Right Groups”

Sam Lombardo, “How Regime Type Affects the Management Type and Zone Identification of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Latin America and the Caribbean”

David Mustard, “Exploring China’s COVID-19 Health Assistance Patterns in Latin America”

Natalie Navarette, “Russian Holistic Investment in Latin America: A Counter to the Security Interests of the United States”

Isaac Parham, “Running Down the Clock: How IGOs Are Addressing the Impending Climate Catastrophe”

Rehna Sheth, “A Comparative Analysis of Intra-state and Inter-state Violent Conflict on Education Enrollment and Completion Rates”

Emma Traynor, “Combating Illicit Firearms Trafficking from the U.S. to Mexico”

Micha Wallesen, “Nuclear Material Transportation Security”

Washington, D.C. Spring Break Trip

SLP DC Trip Spring 2020

Participants on the 2020 (top) and 2022 (bottom) CITS DC Spring Break Trip

Each year, students of the SLP and the MIP travel to Washington, D.C. during spring break to visit various security-related organizations, including government agencies and think tanks, and to network with UGA and SLP alumni.

The 2023 CITS Spring Break to Washington, DC will include visits to the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Senate, Brookings Institution, CNAS, and other government service providers.

Past SLP Cohorts

Fall 2020

Ayah Abdelwahab

Mennah Abdelwahab

Albert Chen

Annabelle Cochran

Kendall Embrey

Xzavior Goeman

Jonathan Lauria

Audrey Park

Sahana Parker

Lindsey Rhyne

Christopher Rosselot

Nate Shear

Addie Sparks

Kat Symons

Andrew Zach


Spring 2020

Zainub Ali

Ian Allen

Miranda Bourdeau

Adrina Bradley

Mariah Cady

Nia Everteze

Alex Fabre De La Grange

Alexa Hernandez

Sam Lombardo

David Mustard

Natalie Navarrete

Isaac Parham

Rehna Sheth

Emma Traynor

Micha Wallesen


Fall 2019

Matthew Aldridge

Robyn Anzulis

Marshall Berton

Rosa Brown

Christina Chu

Adriana Dale

Sam Daly

Chase Duncan

Avery Eddy

Emily Goggin

Eleanor Goldin

Griffin Hamstead

Jena Jibreen

Faeez Juneja

Rachel Markhoff

Anna Patterson

Ivan Ruiz-Hernandez

Emily Threlkeld


Spring 2019

Rebecca Buechler

Stephanie Cannon

Elizabeth Carter

Charley Claudio

Mary Beth Dicks

Arden Farr

Robert Gluzman

Nick Hughes

Dane Hulsey

Patrick Jenkins

Mary McCarthy

Thomas Russell

Matilda Segal

Meredith Van de Velde

Tricia White


Fall 2018

Allison Reid

Alyssa Hoover

Amanda Tysor

Celeste Norton

Joseph Atkins

Kadi Bortle

Kal Hicks

Karan Pol

Mary Craig Lindgren

Nicki Brown

Noble Jacob

Ryan Slusher

Samantha Barnes

SK Lasseigne

Zoe Bayer


Spring 2018

Austin Emery

Candice Lee

Caroline Gustavson

Erica Bressner

Folakemi Akinola

Grant Mercer

Jack Maerz

Joe Mahoney

Julia Ricciarduli

Megan Gillahan

Nia Harris

Seamus Murrock


Fall 2017

Austin Gignilliat

Bryanna Shook

Caleb Kirby

Cheikh Faye

Chloe Deitrich

Daria Kolpakova

George McCall

Haidi Al-Shabrawey

Kara Joyce

Louis Conde

Mauli Desai

Sierra Runnels

Swapnil Agrawal

Featured SLP Alumni

Learn more about Sara Beth Marchert from the Fall 2016 SLP Cohort.


Learn more about Valerie Tucker from the Fall 2015 SLP Cohort.


Learn more about Austin Gignilliat from the Fall 2017 SLP Cohort.


Learn more about Kathleen Nisbet from the Spring 2015 SLP Cohort.


Jack Slagle SLP Alumnus Feature

Learn more about Jack Slagle from the Fall 2011 SLP Cohort.


Learn more about Emily Threlkeld from the Fall 2019 SLP Cohort.


US National Security Council Simulation

This past November, students in the Center for International Trade and Security’s (CITS) Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP) spent two weeks in a simulation of the US National Security Council (NSC). This capstone of the first-semester practicum course of the SLP had each student assigned to play a member of the NSC, including the President of the United States, the National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and regional advisors. The members of the NSC, were required to make decisions on several “ripped-from-the-headlines” foreign policy issues including a crisis stemming from Chinese aggression towards US Navy surveillance ships in the South China Sea, to a crisis in the Mediterranean potentially undermining NATO, to democratic protests in the Gulf region. In addition to these known situations, the members of the NSC had to respond to several unexpected crises, including a looming environmental disaster off the coast of Yemen. The crises were selected to challenge the members to consider the tensions between US strategic interests and values, to weigh long-term and short-term goals, and to experience the pressure of “drinking from the fire hose” as policy makers are expected to juggle numerous ongoing crises at once.

In addition to developing a rich understanding of each situation, members of the NSC became adept at writing policy briefs and memos with short turnaround time and briefing colleagues on developing issues.  Simi Kolodka, who served as President, said, everyone was challenged to push themselves to not only understand and have the capacity to explain to others complex and nuanced topics, but to be confident enough to come up with solutions and defend [them] whilst cooperating with others to make said solutions better.” The individual research, rigorous debate, and teamwork led by President Kolodka and National Security Advisor Sophie Macartney, culminated in 4 presidential memoranda responding to the crises. Finally, the NSC also wrote a National Security Strategy for the Kolodka administration. This ensured the members would be conscious of long-term goals for the administration while responding to acute crises. When asked about the skills she developed, Ashni Patel, Advisor on Asia, said, The NSC simulation taught me problem-solving, briefing, and communication skills. With numerous problems being thrown at us day-to-day, I, along with my peers, had to think creatively and quickly about solving issues.”