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Speaker Series

The Blue Ridge Consulting Speaker Series features leaders from across the country.

Professor Raza Rumi, Journalism Department at Ithaca College & journalist. Topic: role of arts in development. 

Dr. Dan Masters, Chair of International Studies at University of North Carolina Wilmington. Topic: the role of NGOs and aid organizations in conflict zones. 

Anna Mahalak, Youth Engagement Manager, UNA-USA, UN Foundation. Topic: UNA-USA & the United Nations. 

Dr. Adnan Rasool, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Accounting, Finance, Economics and Political Science at University of Tennessee – Martin. Topic: importance of data driven development and policy.

Kirthi Jayakumar, Founder of The Gender Security Project. Topic: Role of gender in development. 

Sherri Johnson, JD, MBA - VP Communications & Business Development at American TelePhysicians.

Topic: role of business in development. 

Naveed Ifthikhar - Founder, Learner's Republic. Topic: urbanization and changing dynamics of cities. 

Dr. Farida Jalalzai, Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Engagement, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Professor of Political Science, Virginia Tech. Topic: women’s representation in development. 

UN Experiential Fellowship


The UN Experiential Fellowship is a selective, and unique virtual opportunity for US-based students to attend UN events around the world, receive lessons on development, and engage in mentorship sessions with notable academic leaders and government officials. Students will focus on development issues such as food insecurity and access to broadband (ICTs) in the United States.


The Fellowship is being facilitated by Blue Ridge Impact Consulting, which helps organizations become an agent of change by transforming passionate and compelling ideas into sustainable and impactful outcomes. The firm is led by Ameena M. Zia, Ph.D., an NGO UN Representative at the Economic and Social Affairs Committee (ECOSOC) and Professor with over 15 years of strategy consulting experience.


This Fellowship is committed to experiential learning through a holistic approach, with an emphasis on the influence of cognition, environmental factors, and emotions on the learning process. The methodology is based on David Kolb’s (1984) four-stage cycle of a holistic learning idea emphasizing that “learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”

Please sign up here if you would like to receive the Fall 2023 application.

Fall 2020 Fellows focused on issues of gender violence

Spring 2021 Fellows focused on issues of access to healthcare 

Fall 2021 Fellows focused on issues of food insecurity 

Spring 2022 Fellows focused on issues of climate change

Fall 2022 Fellows focused on issues of financing for development

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