Maureen Ahmed

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy - 2016

Foreign Affairs Officer
U.S. State Department
Maureen Ahmed

How did your experiences at NYU Wagner prepare you for your career?

My time at Wagner helped me cultivate the skills and experiences I needed to enter into a career at the State Department.  The coursework at NYU Wagner really set me up to understand how to manage large programs and projects, essential to the work I do within the government.  In particular, the quantitative classes I took, including statistics, financial management, and microeconomics, were skillsets I could apply to any regional or thematic issue I took on.

I also knew how critical it was to stay committed to building skills outside the classroom while at Wagner.  I finished the Wagner program within 1.5 years of full-time classwork, but also worked full time throughout the entire period.  I utilized NYU Wagner’s great reputation to land a wide range of internship and employment experiences, including working on gender issues through UNDP, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and the New York Women’s Foundation.  My capstone project with UNFPA also augmented my experiences as I had the opportunity to work on creating family planning indicators and targets for women in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The capstone assignment ended up being central to my application process for the U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship, as I ended up working on HIV issues through the State Department’s Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program for four years.  Had I not done that capstone project, I probably wouldn't have been where I am now.

What were you doing before you came to NYU Wagner?

As a born and raised New Yorker from Queens, it was a natural fit for me to find a school in my city that I could trust to help me carve a career path in public service. Before going to Wagner, I was very involved in local human rights work across New York City. I spent a couple of years working on community-based human rights issues across the city, particularly on issues pertaining to accessing public housing and services, workplace discrimination, gender equality, as well as issues impacting South Asian and Muslim Americans in New York City. It was around the time that I applied to Wagner that I decided I wanted to take my local expertise and apply it to an international career. To me, the best way to catapult the next stage of my career was to come to Wagner and meet a like-minded community of changemakers. 

Tell us about your current job duties.

I joined the State Department through the PMF program, which is really a great entry path for graduate degree holders who want to pursue a career as a Civil Servant in the federal Government. As a Foreign Affairs Officer at the State Department, I've had various roles over the past couple of years, and all of them have allowed me to lead on priority U.S. foreign policy issues.  On an average day, I write briefing and policy memos, engage with both bilateral and multilateral stakeholders, and often travel overseas for extended timeframes. The PMF program is one of the best programs I applied to while at Wagner, and I highly encourage others to do the same!