Meet the CGA Team

The NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs (CGA), one of the most exciting and dynamic programs to emerge on the higher education landscape, explores the latest trends in international policy and examines and vigorously debates critical issues in the classroom and through public events. It is a program that provides the opportunity for individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities to come together and to explore how to make our world a better and more just place. CGA embraces a world where diplomacy and global transactions occur in a 21st-century milieu comprised of state and on-state actors.

Our mission is straightforward—to create a community of global citizens who are capable of changing the world. Some might this is a terribly bold aim for an academic program. Nonetheless, we would have it no other way! CGA’s leading-edge MS in Global Affairs, career advancement courses, and diploma programs, as well as its provocative public events, combine to create an environment where everyone with an interest in global affairs can find a place to contribute and learn.

Those who develop these programs are scholars and practitioners, individuals who have had direct experience in the global arena. Everyone at CGA is passionate, enthusiastic, and committed to our ambitious global agenda.

Graduate Administration

Carolyn Kissane, Associate Dean

Dr. Carolyn Kissane serves as the Associate Dean and is a Clinical Professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University where she teaches graduate level courses examining the Central Asian region, transformations in China, the geopolitics of oil, comparative energy politics, resource security, civil society organizations, and women’s movements. She serves as the Coordinator of the Energy and Environment concentration at the Center and is faculty advisor to the Energy Policy International Club. She held a two year fellowship from the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs and received a Fulbright Hayes Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, Teachers College Columbia University Dean’s Grant, National Security Graduate Enhancement Fellowship, IREX Caspian Sea Fellowship, IREX travel grant for study in Kazakhstan, and an IREX Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Grant to examine the impact of natural resources on civil society development. In recognition of her unwavering commitment to education Dr. Kissane was awarded the esteemed NYU Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007 and nominated for the NYU-wide Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 and 2009. She received the SPS Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009.

In 2009 Dr. Kissane received a grant from the Canadian government to lead a group of students to visit the Canadian Oil Sands in Fort McMurray and to visit with oil sands leaders in Calgary. Her work with Canada continues in the form of event partnerships and a special series on the Arctic which she is organizing with the Government of Quebec. Complementing her academic, public service and consultant experience, Kissane is the author of numerous publications including an article on history education in Comparative Education, Freedom House: Countries at the Crossroads report on Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Great Decisions Series, and Evaluating Human Rights Education. She also has chapters on transitional challenges in education in Central Asia and human rights education in Europe, an article on Girls’ Education and Democratization in the Post-Taliban Era and another focusing on the oil extractive industry published in Globalization, Societies and Education. Dr. Kissane received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Sylvia Maier, Academic Director and Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Sylvia Maier serves as the Academic Director and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Center for Global Affairs where she directs the MSGA Concentration in Global Gender Studies, the annual Global Field Intensive to the United Arab Emirates, and serves as faculty adviser to the MSGA Gender Working Group. Sylvia’s principal fields of interest and expertise are women’s rights in the Middle East, South Central Asia, and the Gulf States, with a particular focus on the United Arab Emirates, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Afghanistan, where she has taught and conducted extensive field research. Sylvia is especially interested in women’s culturally-situated modes of resistance to patriarchy in deeply traditional societies, the “globalization-empowerment nexus” in the Gulf States, feminist urbanism, gender and migration, and the politics of integration and multiculturalism in Western Europe, chiefly the legal responses to cultural diversity and honor-based violence against women. She has spoken extensively and published on these and related subjects. Her co-edited book, titled EU Development Policies: Between Norms and Geopolitics was published by Palgrave Macmillan in February 2019. She is currently working on a comparative research study of feminist urbanism in global cities (Vienna, Berlin, Abu Dhabi, Delhi, and New York), on a field research project on biotrade, food security and women’s empowerment in Perú with her CGA colleague Jens Rudbeck, and, with another CGA colleague, Christopher Ankersen, on a book manuscript on Monarchies in Global Affairs. 

Sylvia’s teaching interests bridge the fields of gender studies and international politics and include Gender and International Affairs: Sex, Power and Politics, Gender and Migration, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and South Asia, International Relations Theory, The Geopolitics of Afghanistan, Ethics in International Affairs, and Analytic Skills. 

Complementing her academic work, Sylvia was the co-founder and deputy editor-in-chief of Women Across Frontiers, a digital women’s rights magazine, and currently serves as VP and Director of Education Programs as well as on the board of The Peace Project, Inc.

Prior to joining the CGA, Sylvia Maier was on the faculty of the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where she worked on Islam-state relations and the politics of integration and multiculturalism in Western Europe. 

Sylvia received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California in 2001.

Cori Epstein, Director, Graduate Administration

Cori Epstein has been with the NYU Center for Global Affairs (CGA) since 2006 and is currently the Director of Graduate Program Administration.  Prior to joining the CGA, Cori worked on school reform initiatives at the New York City Department of Education and on youth development programming at the Partnership for After School Education (PASE).  Cori holds an M.A. in International Education from NYU Steinhardt and a B.A. in History from Brown University.

Laura Valeri, Program Administrator, Graduate Administration

Laura Valeri was born and raised in Italy, She came to the United States as an international student to pursue her graduate studies at NYU and completed a Master's Degree in Politics.

She has then worked in international education as an international student advisor for the last eight years, more recently at the Office of Global Services at NYU. She also previously worked in Italian and European politics, as a political assistant to an Italian Congressman and facilitating conferences and events for the European People's Party. 

She is passionate about languages and intercultural exchange and is currently pursuing her second Master's at NYU, a Master's in Translation and Interpreting at SPS.

Crissy Lederman, Assistant Director, Graduate Program

Crissy Lederman is a program administrator for the MSGA. In addition to advising students, Crissy’s role is to support the administrative processes of the program. Growing up as a Los Angeles native, she earned her BA in California and later went on to NYU to earn a MA in International Education at Steinhardt. Having a keen interest in global affairs and international exploration, Crissy is excited to be a part of the CGA team!

Tanala OsaYande, Program Administrator, Graduate Program

Tana OsaYande’s career has focused on education, access, and restorative justice. Prior to joining the SPS Center for Global Affairs, Tana worked as the Manager of Literacy Initiatives at Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit supporting survivors of gender-based violence. She worked for ten years in the School of Professional Studies, English Language Institute, in ESL and English instruction and testing and evaluation, and was awarded the SPS Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. She also taught abroad at the Universidad del Caribe in Mexico and the Berlitz dil Merkezi in Turkey. Tana holds an MS in Publishing from Pace University and a BA in International Studies from the Atlanta University Center, Morris Brown College.

Katerina Siira, Project Director, PREP

Katerina Siira directs PREP’s project Supporting the Peace Process in Colombia and helps to oversee PREP’s overall development. Prior to shifting her focus to Latin America, she worked in refugee and child protection with the UN Refugee Agency and the United States Refugee Admissions Program in sub-Saharan Africa, where she led refugee resettlement missions throughout the continent and oversaw the child protection program. Katerina’s passion to develop and implement youth participation and education programs have led her to work with several international organizations in countries such as Iraq, Thailand, India, and Jordan. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Skidmore College and an M.S. in Global Affairs from NYU.

Noncredit & Public Programs

Michelle D’Amico, Director, Continuing Education and Public Programs

Michelle D'Amico has been supporting the success of continuing education students since she joined the Center for Global Affairs in 2006. In her role as Director of Continuing Educations and Public Programs, Michelle oversees robust offerings within the Global Affairs and Fundraising portfolios and directs the George H. Heyman Program for Fundraising and Philanthropy housed within the CGA. Programs offered include Career Advancement courses, weeklong summer high school programs, and Professional Certificate Programs including programs in Monitoring and Evaluation, Clean Energy, RIsk Management and Scenarios Planning, Digital Fundraising, Global Affairs, and Fundraising. Collaborating with faculty and a variety of organizations, Michelle manages 20-30 public events per semester and supports conference production. She has developed and executed offerings in the Executive Education space and custom and corporate programs. In addition to program management and development, Michelle supports fundraising efforts and provides social media management. She holds an M.P.A. from the NYU Wagner School or Public Service, a B.S. in Marketing and Advertising from F.I.T., and a Professional Certificate in Fundraising from the NYUSPS Heyman Program. Prior to working at CGA she served as a Senior PC Support Technician for NYUSPS.

Robert Lesko, Administrative Aide

Robert Lesko has been the Administrative Aide of non-credit programs at NYU’s Heyman Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising since 2005, providing support to students and faculty in the Certificate in Fundraising and Career Advancement courses.  Prior to the Heyman Program, Robert worked for 20 years in a number of other capacities for NYUSPS, including in the Office of Finance and Administration, the Shack Institute of Real Estate, and the office of Non-Credit Student Services. Robert holds a B.S. in Marketing from the NYU Stern School of Business.

Hibah Ali, Administrative Aide, Continuing Education and Public Programs

Hibah Ali is a former NYU Honors Scholar. Her passion encompasses anthropology as well as diversity and inclusion, which is why she is proud to be a part of the CGA team. Hibah has experience in project management and administration. She holds a B.A. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the NYU College of Arts and Science.

Advisory Board

  • Michael Druckman (Co-chair), Chairman, Schools that Can
  • Robert Pietrzak (Co-chair), Partner, Sidley Austin
  • David Goldring, Chairman and CEO, Overseas Military Sales Corporation
  • Go Katayama, Power and Gas Market Regulatory Advisor, Shell Energy Japan
  • Nicholas Kourides, Senior Counsel, DLA Piper
  • Sam Lissner, Associate, Ridgewood Energy


  • Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, UN Navy Retired; President, SJL Global Insights
  • Channon Lucas, Chief Administrative Officer, Mother Cabrini Health Foundation
  • Peter Nitze, Chairman, Nitze-Stagen, Inc.
  • Alexandra Rogan, Managing Director, Teneo Intelligence
  • Richard Wolffe, US Columnist, The Guardian
  • Jason Wright, Principal, Geer Mountain Holdings


Honorary Members of the Board

  • H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security


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