The Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellowship Experience

Collage of FKD Fellowship experiences

Since 1999, the U.S. DoS Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) and the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) have selected 30 outstanding individuals as Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial (FKD) Fellows. Past FKD Fellows now work for international NGOs, the U.S. Government, the United Nations, and more. Read below to find out more about past FKD Fellow experiences and what the opportunity meant to them.

 


Victoria (Price) Matkins (2017–18)

As a Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) within the U.S. Department of State, I gained critical experience in the federal government, built a professional network, and established a foothold in the Washington, D.C. area. During my first year, I assisted the Resource Management team to responsibly process millions of dollars in U.S. funding to further foreign assistance objectives. I learned and participated in the federal fiscal lifecycle from congressional appropriations to the grants that support implementing partners who enact PM/WRA’s mission.

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The fellowship presented me with the rare opportunity to be both a colleague and mentee. At the encouragement of my supervisors, I attended trainings, had coffee with mentors, and learned from observing my coworkers. In a trip to Tajikistan, I supported a PM/WRA Grants Officer with a Grants Management Review to ensure implementing partners were operating with sound fiscal principles and internal controls. For a conference on donor perspectives in mine action, I traveled to Geneva and met with counterparts from the governments of Sweden, Belgium, Canada, the United Nations and more to discuss emerging best practices and priorities in the sector. Later in my fellowship experience, I also supported the Western Hemisphere, European and Eurasian portfolios to manage the programmatic implementation of humanitarian demining and physical security and stockpile management projects. Being involved on this side of management gave me invaluable insight to the movement of federal funding to support national security goals and priorities.

Through the FKD fellowship, I connected my knowledge gained from JMU’s Public Administration graduate program to the practice of everyday professionalism and international literacy in the public sector. Before transitioning into my Program Management year of the two-year fellowship, I applied for and received the position as Resource Management Analyst at PM/WRA. I am grateful for the communication skills, confidence, and professional practices I learned during my time as a fellow, and I will recall upon this experience as the foundation for each future career opportunity I pursue.

Click here to read more about Victoria’s experiences traveling as the FKD fellow.


 

Michael Tirre (2016–18)

When I applied to be a Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow, I only vaguely understood humanitarian mine action and certainly had never heard the term “physical security and stockpile management.” I had never used grants management software, examined a budget, evaluated a proposal, or thought about how to change a multi-million dollar program to align with broader U.S. Government strategies. Despite this, my colleagues in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) steadily invested in my professional development and entrusted me with significant responsibility, teaching me to do these tasks and much more. 

Brenna Feigleson pullquoteThe fellowship challenged me at every turn. Even as I was still getting used to “State-speak” – fondly used to describe the peculiar email language within the State Department – I was helping obligate millions of dollars in funding, responding to taskers from the Office of the Inspector General, and completing reports for Congress. After my time in resource management, I went straight into year two of the fellowship: the Programs team. As an assistant program manager for Europe and Africa, I helped design and monitor 21 country and regional programs. I responded to a plethora of emails, repeatedly asked for help, and drafted briefing materials and papers to represent CWD efforts to Department leadership, the American public, and foreign governments. Over the two years, I also travelled to Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Albania, Kosovo, Romania, Slovenia, Angola, Chad, and Burkina Faso, plus trips within the U.S. to San Francisco, Seattle, and Fort Lee.

In addition to exposing me to various issues, the fellowship grew my confidence and positioned me to perform well in a variety of professional settings. I’ve learned the regulations for federal awards and the budget cycle, and acquired analytical tools to examine proposals. I’ve gained respect for State Department personnel – both in Washington and in our embassies abroad – who work late hours, operate in a team mindset, and brainstorm creative ways to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives. Most importantly, my experience as a fellow has shown me what it means to be a public servant and work towards building peace, which for me, echoes the legacies of Ambassador Frasure, Dr. Kruzel, and Colonel Drew.

Learn about Michael's trips to Zimbabwe and Angola as the FKD fellow.

 

 

Liz Wilson (2015–17)

When I graduated from James Madison University with a Master in Public Administration degree in 2015, I had no idea that the next year-and-a-half of my life would bring the excitement, challenges, and unique experiences I had as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew (FKD) Memorial Fellow. During the fellowship, I supported the overall mission of the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), and knew that my work contributed to improving lives around the world. I was drawn to the tangible impact that PM/WRA-supported programs made all the way from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Burkina Faso. My time as a FKD Fellow has truly been an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Liz Wilson pullquoteThe number of opportunities I had while in PM/WRA has helped shape me into the young professional I am today. During the fellowship, I traveled to Sweden, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany; and each trip was different from the others. For example, I was responsible for ensuring that U.S. Department of State-funded conventional weapons destruction programs ran effectively in Senegal. In order to do so I met with an international NGO and visited a landmine removal site in the Casamance. On another trip, I represented the U.S. Government at a Sahel Donor Coordination Conference at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany. The responsibilities and experiences I had while in the fellowship went beyond what I had anticipated, and I learned so much throughout the entire process.

Beyond the unique travel opportunities the FKD Memorial Fellowship provides, the professional development skills you gain through working in an office that manages over $150 million a year in foreign assistance are unparalleled. I learned about the various funding mechanisms the federal government uses, how they work, and how to effectively oversee two regional portfolios, all the while learning how to facilitate meetings and discussions in a professional environment. The skills you gain as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow can be applied to any position in a federal, nonprofit, foundation, or university setting, and is an incredible position whether you are graduating from undergrad or graduate school. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and hope to carry the skills I have gained during the fellowship on to my next adventure.

Click here to read more about Liz’s experiences traveling as the FKD fellow.

 

Chris Murguia (2013–14)

I was the 2013–14 Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs (PM/WRA). I first learned about this one of a kind Fellowship opportunity while working as an Editorial Assistant at James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery. I decided to apply to the Fellowship because it offered the opportunity to work on complex and exciting foreign policy issues regarding conventional weapons destruction (CWD), including humanitarian mine action and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) destruction. Moreover, as a recent college graduate interested in international relations, I knew that working at the U.S. Department of State would provide a professional development opportunity like no other. 

Chris Murguia pullquote

Upon entering the Fellowship, I was placed in PM/WRA’s Resource Management (RM) division. The RM division is responsible for planning and developing the office’s budgets, managing its finances, and, in fiscal year 2013, awarding approximately $142 million in grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to support CWD projects across the globe. During my time with RM, I received an in-depth education about the federal budget process, federal grants management, grants processing, and financial management.

In addition to serving in the RM division, I also assisted the PM/WRA program management division. Specifically, I was tasked with assisting the program managers for our Africa and Western Hemisphere Affairs portfolios. The highlight of my time in the program management division was when I participated in a program review visit to Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras. During the trip, I was able to observe demining operations in Colombia, a weapons depot construction project in El Salvador, and SA/LW destruction in Honduras. This trip allowed me to witness firsthand the lifesaving work that PM/WRA’s implementing partners conduct.

My time as a Fellow was one of the best professional development experiences I have had, and I am proud to call myself a former Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow. Although my time as a Fellow has ended, I have been lucky enough to continue working in PM/WRA as a Program Analyst. I encourage all who are interested in working at the U.S. Department of State or CWD to apply for this great Fellowship opportunity.

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