United Nations Building in Geneva

Photo Credit: Katie Pirolt

Katie Pirolt, an alumna who graduated in 2006 with a Political Science degree, shares her post-graduation experiences.

After graduation, Katie worked for ten years at The United States Conference of Mayors https://www.usmayors.org/. At the Conference of Mayors, she worked to represent cities’ priorities in Washington, supported the sharing of best practices among mayors, and promoted direct funding programs such as the Community Development Block Grant. Katie really enjoyed advocating for cities and working with mayors and says she “will always have a soft spot in [her] heart for local government.”

She then left D.C. for a new adventure overseas when her husband accepted his first foreign service assignment in Geneva, Switzerland. Katie was hired at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in the Human Rights office and spent most of her time meeting with civil society members from places like Colombia, Yemen, Hong Kong, Tibet, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan, and conducted analytical political reporting on human rights issues occurring around the world. A main focus of their office during her time there was bringing attention to the atrocities committed by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela, and President Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua. She also assisted in the U.S. government’s participation in the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/upr/pages/basicfacts.aspx.

After Geneva, Katie and her husband moved to Kigali, Rwanda. She was then hired at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali in the Political and Economic Section. She now serves as the Embassy’s Labor Officer and Environment, Science, Technology, and Health (ESTH) Officer, where she works on numerous assignments.

Katie monitors child labor issues and engages with the Rwandan government, the ILO, and NGOs to build the capacity of Rwandan labor inspectors to more effectively enforce child labor laws. She met with local labor unions to advocate for the adoption of minimum wage laws and elimination of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the workplace. She also attends and participates on a Rwandan task force developing a nationwide school feeding program modeled after the U.S. McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

Another key focus of hers is on air quality monitoring; she coordinates between U.S. air quality experts from the EPA, the State Department, and U.S. research institutions with Rwandan air quality experts to exchange data and provide analysis on regional air quality trends in Central Africa.

She also is responsible for the Embassy’s COVID-19 cable reporting to inform Washington what is happening on the ground in Rwanda in regards to testing, treatment capacity, government lockdowns, border closures, and the implementation of U.S. aid and humanitarian assistance.

Katie says that “choosing North Georgia over the larger state schools was one of the best decisions of my life, because I would have been completely lost and overwhelmed at a larger school. Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Friedman, in particular, had a special skill of getting to know and engaging us beyond just the lecture and set the bar very high as to what we should aspire to.

Since graduation, my work has spanned local, federal, and international issues, covering human rights, economic and social development, science and health, and my experience and education at North Georgia definitely prepared me to pivot to new issues as my career has evolved.”