The Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP) is a year-long academic program designed to increase a student’s ability to understand, analyze, and create policy related to national security and the management of international conflict.

Students in the SLP are required to take the two courses that form the basis of the program and regularly interact with guest lecturers from around UGA and the national security communities. In the first semester, 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. 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. Past research topics have addressed issues such as the US’s expanded use of export controls to limit Chinese economic growth, the risks climate change poses to military infrastructure, disinformation campaigns in Tanzania and Ghana, and the influence of gender on terrorism charges and sentencing. 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 our 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, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and others).

The SLP offers a variety of opportunities designed to facilitate the professionalization of students interested in the security field. Participants have gone on to positions in the US government, the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, high-technology manufacturers, consulting firms, and prestigious academic institutions.

Each semester of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program confers three (3) hours of academic credit. This program is NOT limited to students from any particular academic background. Students of all disciplines and year levels are encouraged to apply. More information can be found below. With questions, reach out to or Dr. Maryann Gallagher (, Director of the SLP.

2022-2023 SLP Cohort Application Information

The SLP is no longer accepting applications for the 2022-2023 SLP cohort . Members of the 2022-2023 cohort will be announced in late April. 

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


Starting in fall 2020, cohorts will only begin in the fall, rather than on a semester-basis. 

Current SLP Cohort: Fall 2021 - Spring 2022
Olivia Bauer

Olivia Bauer is a fourth-year student from Cumming, Georgia, double majoring in International Affairs and History, minoring in French, and earning certificates in Non-Profit Management and Leadership and Global Issues. During her time at UGA, Olivia worked as a research intern at PeachPod, a podcast about Georgia Politics. She created the newsletter Peach Press to cover under-reported topics in Georgia politics. She also completed an independent undergraduate research project on the effect of French economic influence on democratic trajectories in Francophone Africa, which she presented at the SPIA Undergraduate Research Colloquium. She worked as a research assistant on a research project examining post-election demonstrations protesting state-sponsored election violence in Africa. Olivia also interned with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as an Economic Empowerment Intern, where she aided newly arrived refugees, asylees, and SIVs gain employment and financial assistance. She currently volunteers with the IRC as an Assistant ESL Teacher once per week. During her third year, Olivia was a member of the Public Service and Outreach Student Scholars program, through which she interned with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and aided them with research regarding research methods in fragile and conflict-affected areas and Early Intervention Services in Georgia for children with developmental delays. Recently, Olivia was an intern at the Carter Center in the Democracy Program where she worked on the Zambia Participatory Rights project and the US Election Reform project. Olivia has been involved in the Athens community through volunteering at Nuçi’s Space, a suicide prevention non-profit; working on Mokah Johnson’s campaign for State House District 117; and serving as the Executive Director for Communications for Amnesty International at UGA. 




Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark is a senior at UGA from Fayetteville, Georgia, studying Management Information Systems with an emphasis in Information Security. During his time at UGA, he has worked various internships at major defense contractors specializing in information technology and cybersecurity. Outside of class, Christopher is part of UGA’s Society of Cyber Security, serves as a Terry College of Business Teaching Assistant, and plays sousaphone in the Redcoat Marching Band. After graduation, Christopher looks to return to defense contracting for a cyber engineering position.





Dan Doss

Dan Doss is a fourth-year from Alpharetta, GA. He is majoring in International Affairs and Computer Science. During his time at UGA, he has worked with Professor Rong Luo on consumer economics research and interned at a tech startup called DataAutomation. He has also been heavily involved in the UGA Outdoor Adventure Club as president and secretary, the UGA Climbing Club as safety officer, and UGA Habitat for Humanity. This semester, he will be working with Professor Gregory Thaler on research in veganism as an environmental ethic and land conservation projects in Chile while interning with either EARTHDAY.ORG or The Borgen Project. After graduation, he intends to pursue a career in environmental advocacy and/or a masters focused on environmental policy.




Catherine Fender

Catherine Fender is a third-year student from Savannah, Georgia, double majoring in Arabic and International Affairs. In her time at UGA, she took classes through the Honors college and has been heavily involved with her campus ministry in several leadership positions. She is passionate about security studies and understanding the security threats facing women, particularly in the Middle East. 








Haley Gamis

Haley Gamis is a fourth-year honors student from Roswell, GA majoring in International Affairs and Economics with a Consulting Emphasis. In her tenure at UGA, she has been a part of multiple organizations, including the Economics Society, Relay for Life, and Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity, in which she served as the Director of Parent and Alumni Relations. In addition to campus involvement, Haley interned with Hornsby and Watts P.L.L.C as a law intern and conducted research as an intern for Samaritan Consulting, a small political consulting company local to the Athens area. While in Washington D.C. during the summer of 2021, she participated in the Summer Internship Program at the Fund for American Studies, in which she attended lectures and took classes at George Mason University. In conjunction with TFAS, she interned at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University as a Financial Regulation Policy Research intern. After graduation, Haley hopes to begin a successful career in defense/intelligence/government consulting.




Jeanelle Garcia

Jeanelle Garcia is a senior from Cartersville, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs. She is minoring in Law, Jurisprudence, and the State. Apart from the SLP, she has participated in several clubs and organizations on campus, such as Model UN and the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Her past independent research endeavors have centered around democratic down-sliding in Latin America and the struggles of migrant women. This past summer, she volunteered at a non-profit organization that advocates for children’s rights and interests. 







Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth is a fourth-year student from Waycross, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and earning a certificate in Global Studies. Before attending the University of Georgia, she attended South Georgia State College where she was an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was presented with the Award of Excellence in Mathematics, and worked as a tutor in the STEM Center. After obtaining her A.A. from SGSC, Elizabeth came to UGA and has become active in service at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and the children’s ministry at a local church. This past spring, she had the opportunity to intern with the Department of Homeland Security in the Office of Congressional Relations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She is currently participating in the Double Dawgs program and is taking classes toward her master’s degree in the field of international policy. After graduation, she plans to finish her master’s degree and pursue an analytical job in the Intelligence Community. 




Hayley Hunter

Hayley Hunter is a senior from Ball Ground, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs, minoring in Transnational European Studies, and earning certificates in Global Studies and Sustainability. She is President of UGArden Club, on the executive board of Bag the Bag, and has played on UGA’s Women’s Club Volleyball team. She has recently started writing for the Loch Johnson Society. In the past, she has interned for UGArden and the UGA River Basin Center, and is currently interning with the UGA Marine Extension and GA Sea Grant. 






Mathew Jackson

Mathew Jackson is a third-year student from Decatur, GA majoring in International Affairs and Russian. He is currently a cadet within the UGA Army ROTC program and a student within the UGA Russian Flagship program. Outside of university, Mathew has interned for the Peters, Rubin, Sheffield, and Hodges law firm in Decatur, GA, assisting the lawyers with research and evidence review for their cases. After graduation, Mathew will be commissioned into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant where he hopes to work in the field of military intelligence.






Sonia Kalia 

Sonia Kalia is a third-year student from Johns Creek, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Economics with an emphasis in Public Policy and a minor in French. During her time at UGA, she has conducted research on election violence as a research assistant at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and presented her findings at the 2021 CURO Symposium. This summer, she interned with Vital Voices on their Human Rights and Leadership & Global Activation teams. Sonia is also a site leader with UGA IMPACT and a writer for the Georgia Political Review. After graduation, Sonia hopes to pursue a career in security studies and/or human rights advocacy. 




Julie Kettle

Julie Kettle is a third-year international student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil majoring in International Affairs on a pre-law track. Prior to transferring to UGA, Julie worked as a Communications Intern at an oil & gas company in Perth, Western Australia and a Sales & Marketing Intern at a tourism advertising company in New York City. In addition to SLP, Julie is a member of UGA Food2Kids, the UGA powerlifting club and works with UGA’s Recreational Sports department as a Facility Manager at the Ramsey Student Center.







Simi Kolodka

Simi Kolodka is a third-year student from Suwanee, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Russian, and minoring in Law, Jurisprudence, and the State. In addition to being a fellow within the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program, she is a cohort student within UGA’s Russian Flagship Program, and a UGA SPIA student ambassador. As an active member of her community, she is a subcommittee head for UGA HEROs, the Director of Fundraising for UGA Food2Kids, and an avid participant in research, having presented her independent studies on gendered violence at the SPIA Undergraduate Research Colloquium. This past summer, she completed her first Russian language immersion program, while participating in a summer internship for the Federal Aviation Administration. Prior, she completed a legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol as a legislative aide to the Lieutenant Governor. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a masters and/or J.D. within the fields of security studies, public policy, and/or international law.




Sophia Macartney

Sophia Macartney is a fourth-year student from Augusta, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Sociology and minoring in Portuguese. As well as being a fellow of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program, she is a member of the Portuguese Flagship Program, a piccolo player in the Redcoat Marching Band and wrote for UGA’s student newspaper, The Red & Black. Funded through UGA’s experiential learning program, she was a global intelligence research associate with British Standards Institution. Throughout this internship, she monitored and conducted research on security threats facing supply chains throughout the Americas while providing intelligence and analysis to clients. This gave her the opportunity to focus on contemporary trends of security issues like human rights violations, environmental violations, organized crime and terrorism activity, and civil liberties violations. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in security studies, intelligence studies, and/or international policy.





Ashni Patel

Ashni Patel is a second-year from Sandy Springs, Georgia, studying International Affairs and Economics with a minor in Statistics. On campus, she serves as an Honors Teaching Assistant, on the executive board of Refugee Outreach, and as a member of the Honors Program Student Council. She also interns with the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement’s Freedom Fund to help bail out those in need. 







Hannah Skinner

Hannah Skinner is a third-year student from Gainesville, Georgia. She is double majoring in Political Science and International Affairs. Throughout her time at the University of Georgia, she has worked closely alongside SPIA faculty in their individual research endeavors as well as completing her own independent research. During her first year, she worked with Dr. Jeffrey Berejikian in his research on loss aversion and the influence it has on foreign policy resolve. In her own research endeavors, she has explored the possibility of democratic backsliding in the case of the United States and the potential global implications this may have on the current global order. Hannah currently serves as the Social Chair in her sorority Sigma Alpha Omega and has been involved in local charities such as Athens PB&J.






Joshua Walker

Joshua Walker is a junior from Monroe, Georgia, double majoring in International Affairs and Economics with minors in French and Mathematics. He currently works as a student research assistant at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, where he aids in projects that develop strong work environments for employees in local governments. Josh is involved with UGA’s Model United Nations team; the Roosevelt Institute; the Economics Society; the Campus Kitchen; and the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. Per his interests in European politics and economic models, Josh has also completed independent research on methods for improving the European Union’s approach to carbon-reduction through the Emissions Trading Scheme


Independent Research Projects
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

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.

Details of the Spring 2022 SLP/MIP Spring Break to Washington, DC will be posted soon.

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 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.”