International Careers Week

International Careers Week will be held virtually Monday, February 5th - Thursday, February 8th.

Join the Montana World Affairs Council as we cover a range of different international careers opportunities. Our distinguished guest speakers will discuss with students how they got into their career path, what the career daily life entails, and more! Students will have plenty of time to ask any questions. Programs will be recorded and uploaded to our YouTube. All grade levels are encouraged to participate and are free to join!

Register here for sessions

See last year's speaker lineup.

February 5th

9:15 - 10:00 AM

Pierre Peron

Humanitarian Aid - Global Challenges, Global Response

A Regional spokesperson on humanitarian issues in Asia and the Pacific. With Field experience including countries spanning from Afghanistan, Mali, and the Philippines to name a few.  He is Broadcast Journalist and Current Affairs Documentary Producer at BBC London on topics such as Airport Security, Crime, and Whistle Blowers.  He is also a Zookeeper at the Bristol Zoo. Pierre earned is B.S. in Zoology at UC Santa Barbara and his Master's in Wildlife Management and Conservation at the University of Reading. 

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Meeting ID: 828 2731 5593

Passcode: 105534

10:15- 11:00 AM

Maria Rosa Pla Huberti

United Nations Office of Geneva

Opening Doors Through Spanish

Maria Rosa Pla Huberti, Senior Reviser, Spanish Translation Section, United Nations Office at Geneva

Born in Barcelona, Spain, Maria grew up in Catalonia, a bilingual region (Catalan/Spanish) in the Northeastern Spain. Her mother was a French teacher and sparked an early interest in languages. Growing up, music and books in different languages were always present. Maria started to learn French and English at an early age, and German in her teens. Studying translation seemed like a natural choice. While at university, Maria added Japanese to her languages. She earned her BS in Translation from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1991, and subsequently studied a second degree there in Political Science/International Relations, graduating in 1995.

Having spent three years working as a translator at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., Maria moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1998 and started to work as a temporary translator for international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. She passed the UN Competitive Examination for Language Professionals in 1999 and became a permanent UN staff member in 2000. She has worked with the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) since then, translating documents on the subjects dealt with by UNOG (for example, human rights, disarmament, trade and development, the International Law Commission, climate change and desertification).

Maria has been the Spanish coordinator for climate change documentation at the UN since 2009, working on documentation for climate change negotiations and attending several COPs. She co-translated the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015.

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Meeting ID: 828 0444 8928

Passcode: 211498

11:15 - 12:00 PM

Kit Heffner

Business Unusual - Living and Doing Business Abroad. 

Kit Heffner, now a Bozeman resident, currently serves as a Board Director for several multi-national companies while also actively supporting Montana’s small business start-up community. He spent the majority of his career working in Southeast Asia and Africa, first managing companies for Chevron and then building start-up companies representing iconic brands like Ford and John Deere in frontier markets such as Myanmar and Cambodia. Kit received his Bachelor’s degree from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania and has an MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University. He has lectured at Harvard Business School on Globalization and Emerging Markets. He is also President of the Board for the Montana World Affairs Council."

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Meeting ID: 854 0444 8928

Passcode: 711560

12:15 - 1:00 PM

Carol Giacomo

Covering the World, Getting the Story Right

Carol Giacomo became the chief editor of Arms Control Today, a monthly journal on arms control and nonproliferation, in April 2021. This followed 13 years as a member of The New York Times editorial board writing opinion pieces on all major national security issues including nuclear weapons, China, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. Her work has involved regular overseas travel, including to North Korea, Iran and Myanmar. She met a half dozen times with President Barack Obama at the White House and interviewed scores of other world leaders. A former diplomatic correspondent for Reuters in Washington, she covered foreign policy for the international wire service for more than two decades and traveled over 1 million miles to more than 100 countries with eight secretaries of state and other senior U.S. officials.

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Meeting ID: 896 6736 3021

Passcode: 285233

1:15 - 2:00 PM

Steve Birell

Owner/CEO Quantum Composers

Steve Birrell received his BA in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined Hughes Aircraft Company in 1978 to develop early laser designators and Raman-shifted eye safe rangefinders. After leaving Hughes in 1988, Steve spent a year developing a market leading, high-performance laser energy meter. In 1989, Steve moved to Bozeman to become Vice-president of Big Sky Laser (now Lumibird). Steve was instrumental in the early development and growth of Big Sky Laser, before leaving in 1994 to start Quantum Composers. In the past 30 years, Quantum Composers has become a leading supplier of high-performance digital pulse generators, compact lasers, laser micro-machining systems and specialty control instrumentation and pulse generators.

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Meeting ID: 880 7470 6950

Passcode: 972907

February 6th

9:15 - 10:00 AM 

Chase Sutherland

One Piece at a Time - Careers in Manga and Anime

Born and raised in Michigan, Chase graduated from Michigan State University after studying creative advertising and copywriting. He then joined the JET Programme as a High School English instructor in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. After four years, he was transferred to the Kumamoto Prefectural Government Office, where he played a role in facilitating positive experiences for JET Programme participants.

After spending five years in the JET Programme, Chase joined the manga publisher COAMIX as an editor and became part of the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® (SMA) project, the world's largest international manga competition. While providing editorial support remotely to SMA top-awarded manga creators from across the globe, he contributed to launching the Artists Village Aso 096k project, COAMIX's most ambitious venture. In this initiative, international creators are invited to live in Japan and work towards their manga series debut in a newly renovated facility outfitted to meet their professional needs.

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Meeting ID: 834 1278 6367

Passcode: 128911

10:15 - 11:00 AM

Jeremie Waller

Montana Instruments: Living in Montana, Working in the World

Jeremie Waller is an Electrical Engineer with over 22 years of experience in electrical hardware design, system architecture design, research and new product development from concept to the customer, as well as leading and advising Electrical Engineering teams for three different international companies in that timeframe. Jeremie is an IPC Certified Interconnect Designer and specializes in printed circuit design with emphasis on design for manufacturability, rapid prototype development and team collaboration.

Jeremie is currently the Senior Electrical Engineer for the R & D team at Montana Instruments developing cryostats and instruments for the quantum industry. Montana Instruments is the premier cryogenics company accelerating quantum discovery. In addition, Jeremie serves as the Senior Electrical and Electronics team advisor for Hyundai's New Horizons Studio developing Ultimate Mobility Vehicles with focus on Next-generation vehicle architectures.

As is the case with many Montanans... Jeremie enjoys time outside of work with his wife, two children, labrador and a spunky Vizsla on adventures in the outdoors including hiking, snowboarding, backpacking, hunting, fishing and camping.

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Meeting ID: 831 4885 1209

Passcode: 348385

11:15 - 12:00 PM

John Heminway

NatGeo - Animals, Environment, Culture and Travel

Heminway’s filmmaking career at ABC Sports, Anglia Television, Discovery, PBS (WNET/Thirteen and WGBH), the Walt Disney Company and National Geographic Television, spans five decades and many hundreds of films. For PBS, he helped produce, write and direct “The Brain,” “The Mind” and the “Evolution” series, as well as an episode for the Nature series. Over four years he produced and hosted the popular PBS series, “Travels.” His lifetime awards include two Emmys, two Peabody’s, a DuPont Columbia Journalism award and more. 

For National Geographic, Heminway wrote, directed and co-produced “Bones of Turkana,” that aired on PBS. His “Battle For The Elephants,” produced with Katie Carpenter and J.J. Kelley in 2013, won the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s Best Conservation Film, as well as Science Media’s “Best Environmental and Conservation Sciences Program.” It still is noted for its impact at C.I.T.E.S. (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), throughout Africa, in the U.S. Senate, at the Department of Fish & Wildlife as well as at the U.S. State Department. 

As sequel to “Battle For The Elephants,” in 2015 Heminway initiated and helped produce, direct and write “Warlords of Ivory” which re-launched National Geographic Channel’s Explorer Series. It was nominated for an Emmy and won the New York WILD Film Festival’s best conservation film of the year. 

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Meeting ID: 831 4885 1209

Passcode: 939468

12:15 - 1:00 PM

Chris Dobbs

A Night at the Museum

With over 25 years of diverse museum experience, Chris has a strong background in executive leadership, strategic planning, fundraising, education, exhibit development, and a passion for museums. He believes that museums are here to serve their communities, inspire visitors of all ages, and act as centers for public discourse and lifelong learning.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts in American history from Indiana University and a Masters of museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York at Oneonta. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and has lived most of his life in New England.

Chris started his administrative career in museums in 1998 as supervisor of special interpretive programs at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. He oversaw special events, role players, musicians, costuming, and the interpretation in a number of historic sites and exhibits. Chris was later made Associate Director of Education, where he managed the museum's education division, which included serving over 60,000 students per year.

Since starting at Museum of the Rockies in 2018, Chris has immersed himself in the museum and Montana State University. He oversees a museum with a renowned paleontology collection and an extensive western history collection. He has helped develop new programs, including Haunted Mountain Theater (a blend of live theater and the planetarium's special effects). During COVID-19, Chris has been an instrumental player in pivoting how the museum serves its members and visitors – developing safe onsite visitor experiences while pushing for virtual methods beyond the museum's walls. He is currently guiding the Board and staff to develop a new long-range strategic plan. Chris is also working with the museum's curator of history and tribal representatives to develop a new American Indian exhibit.

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Meeting ID: 885 4612 4160

Passcode: 063432

1:15 - 2:00 PM

Monica Gilsanz

Passion, People, and Peace – Charting a Path for an International Career Stateside.

Monica Gilsanz is the Senior Program Specialist for the Higher Education Engagement (HEE) team at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). In this role, she deepens connections and partnerships with colleges, universities, and related collegial associations to develop the next generation of peacebuilders skilled in preventing, mitigating, and resolving violent conflict worldwide. She also works to raise the visibility of the Nation’s commitment to peace by connecting the higher education community with the Institute’s resources, research, and education and training opportunities.

Monica has been with USIP since 2021. Prior to joining the HEE team, she worked on the Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers program, which strengthened the capacity of UN peacekeepers in protecting civilians using non-violent approaches.

Before USIP, Monica worked to increase US leadership on global health and implement data-driven public policy by supporting higher education engagement on Capitol Hill.

 Throughout all these experiences, Monica has gained direct fieldwork and research experience in Cuba, India, Malawi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Monica received her master’s in education and human development with a focus on international education from George Washington University. Monica completed her bachelor’s degree in political science at American University.

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Meeting ID: 893 7889 9448

Passcode: 020810

February 7th

9:15 - 10:00 AM

Mark Von Sponeck

The Nomad and the Bean

Coffee Culture - A Global Career in Coffee

Mark von Sponeck has lived all over the world, mainly in Africa and Asia but also in the US and Europe. He is currently based for most part of the year in Denmark but sometimes also in Mozambique. Mark is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called Global Nomads Group ( that connects hundreds of thousands of youth around the world to get them to learn about each others’ cultures and lives and to discuss important world issues. Mark transitioned into the tourism industry in 2006 and built a small hotel in Mozambique ( In Denmark, you will find him working as a barista in his hole in the wall café, The Nomad and The Bean ( which he opened in 2017 when he entered into the international coffee business.

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Meeting ID: 863 3569 9229

Passcode: 292855

10:15 - 11:00 AM

David Cates

Missoula Medical Aid

The World from Montana - Montana's International Nonprofits

David Allan Cates is the author of five award-winning novels, a collection of short stories, and two collections of poetry. His non-fiction has been published in a variety of magazines, including Outside and The New York Times Sophisticated Traveler. He currently serves as the director of Missoula Medical Aid, an NGO that provides public health and surgical services in Honduras, and supports nutrition and agricultural development projects there.

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Meeting ID: 841 0139 8765

Passcode: 042507

11:15 - 12:00 PM

Christine Figgener, PhD

The Sea Turtle Biologist, Marine Conservation Biologist & Author

Christine Figgener, born in 1983 in Germany, grew up in the Ruhr area and studied biology in Tübingen and Würzburg before earning her doctorate in marine biology from Texas A&M University. Since 2007, she has lived and worked in Costa Rica, researching sea turtles and fighting to protect them.

Her video of a turtle having a plastic straw painfully removed from its nose went viral, fueling the global debate over the use of single-use plastic, which has led to bans in many countries. She was named a "Next Generation Leader" by TIME Magazine in 2018 and was the Director of Science & Education for the Footprint Foundation from 2020-2023. She founded and directs the conservation organization COASTS and the consulting firm Nāmaka Conservation Science in Costa Rica, which both strive to protect sea turtles.

She lives with her husband and her dog Fiona on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. When she is not rescuing sea turtles or writing, she swims as Sea Turtle Biologist through the vast expanses of the internet, trying to get more people interested in sea turtles and their conservation.

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Meeting ID: 895 6233 7761

Passcode: 466983

12:15 - 1:00 PM

Major Christopher Cory

US Marine Corps - The Few, The Proud

Major Cory is the State Partnership Program (SPP) Director for the Montana National Guard.

He is responsible to the Adjutant General, Montana National Guard, for all aspects of administrating the State Partnership Program. Currently, he manages operations for four countries: the Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Major Cory was hired as the new SPP-Director on 15 January 2022.

Major Cory graduated Cum Laude from the United States Naval Academy in 2009, and he commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. Immediately after graduation, he attended Infantry Officers Course, Ground Intelligence Officers Course, and Sniper School. Upon successfully completing his training, he reported to 3d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment where he deployed several times to Afghanistan. He then reported to other various units until he attended Expeditionary Warfare School where he graduated with honors. His last active-duty billet was commander of a counterintelligence and human intelligence company. After ten years of active service, he returned home to Montana.

Major Cory resides in Helena, Montana with his wife Allison Cory, his daughter Meredith, and his two sons Grayson and Max.

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Meeting ID: 824 3802 7369

Passcode: 897894

1:15 - 2:00 PM

Devin Johnson

Bridger Aerospace 

Devin Johnson has been part of the Bridger Aerospace Marketing team since 2021. He has a background in automotive advertising, having worked with Honda after graduating from Biola University in 2020. Devin's passion for aviation eventually led him to Montana, where he joined the marketing department of Bridger Aerospace's aerial firefighting team. Going from intern to Marketing Manager, he has gained hands-on experience, from photographing aircraft on the fire line and flying with Bridger pilots to running social media platforms and planning large-scale events.

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Meeting ID: 851 6710 2406

Passcode: 150627

February 8th

9:15 - 10:00 AM

Ambassadors Marcie and Charlie Ries 

American Diplomats - Representing the USA Oversees 

Ambassador Marcie Ries 

Marcie B. Ries is a retired Ambassador with more than thirty-five years of diplomatic experience in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. She is a three-time Chief of Mission, serving as Head of the U.S. Mission in Kosovo (2003-2004), United States Ambassador to Albania (2004-2007) and as United States Ambassador to Bulgaria (2012-2015).    

She was the Senior State Department Representative on the negotiating team for the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. From 2008-2009, she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. She has also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control and Verification. 

From 2007-2008, Ambassador Ries was Minister-Counselor for Political-Military Affairs in Baghdad, Iraq. Other overseas assignments include Santo Domingo, the Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Ankara, Turkey, and London, UK.

Ambassador Charles Ries

Ambassador (Ret.) Charles Ries is Adjunct Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, working on economics and national security, European affairs and post-conflict challenges. During Ries' three decades in the U.S. diplomatic service, he was U.S. Ambassador to Greece; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; and Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. In earlier assignments, Ries was in charge of economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London, and the U.S. Mission to the European Union. He served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for North American Affairs and was a member of the NAFTA negotiating team.

 Ries is the recipient of the State Department's Cordell Hull Award for Senior Economic Officers, the Distinguished Honor Award, Presidential Meritorious Service Award, the Rockwell Schnabel Award for U.S.-EU Relations, and several Superior Honor Awards. For his service in Iraq, he received the Department of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Award. He is a member of the Academy of American Diplomacy.

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Meeting ID: 839 0701 1522

Passcode: 817083

10:15 - 11:00 AM

Frank Zee

CIA technology and tradecraft, it’s not what you think!

Your presenter, Frank Zee, is a 20-year veteran of the CIA, working in support of intelligence projects across all directorates. He also spent 20 years as senior communications engineer/consultant for the University System of Georgia, as well as several Silicon Valley established vendors and communication startups. He has an undergraduate degree in Math/Physics and an MBA with technology management focus.

Frank will also go over how to qualify and apply for a Student Internship with the CIA!

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Meeting ID: 934 925 614 528 1

Passcode: YkNB5g

11:15 - 12:00 PM

Ed Jankowski

Bringing Art & Animation to Life through Interactive Games

Ed Jankowski is the Art Director of Biggest Little Studio in Reno, NV. He currently works for Aristocrat Gaming. His professional goals include making great games that are entertaining, fun, and intuitive while bringing excellent leadership and enriching his staff’s lives. He earned an A.A.S in Commercial Art from the College of Dupage in Dupage, IL. In his free time, he creates landscape art in oils, is an avid outdoorsman and Fly Fisherman.

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Meeting ID: 874 2311 3145

Passcode: 996117

12:15 - 1:00 PM

Eric Oehlerich & Mick Mulroy

US Special Forces - Securing America's Interests

Eric Oehlerich, Former Navy Seal Commander

Eric “Olly” Oehlerich is the co-founder of Lobo Institute, a private firm consulting, advising and teaching on current and future conflicts. 

Olly is a retired 20+ year Navy SEAL Officer, ending his career while serving as the Commanding Officer (CO) of Naval Special Warfare Development Group- Squadron 2, from July of 2017-2019. At the pinnacle of a career as CO of this elite unit, he was responsible for the research and development of technology and tactics for SEALs to use against the nation’s hardest problems. The geographic scope of responsibility spanned the Pacific, Africa and Middle East. By galvanizing over 1,100 personnel combined with collection technology he provided a security blanket against extremism for the International Community. Olly is also a member of the Board of Directors for Grassroots Reconciliation Group, a nonprofit to help rehabilitate child soldiers.

Olly graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and went straight to Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD) Seal training, a grueling program that pushes young service members to their limits. Out of 144 students who entered his training class, he was one of only 10 who finished.

Mick Mulroy, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.

Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.

Mr. Mulroy is a retired Paramilitary Operations Officer (PMOO) from the Central Intelligence Agency. His previous assignments include: Chief of Department in Special Activities Center (formerly Special Activities Division), Chief of Station of an overseas country, Chief of Expeditionary Team in a warzone country, Chief of Base in a warzone country, Deputy Chief of a Branch in Special Activities Division (SAD), a PMOO in a Branch in SAD and several other overseas and headquarters positions. His awards include the Intelligence Star, the Intelligence Commendation Medal, the Career Intelligence Medal and the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal, among others.

Mr. Mulroy is also a retired U.S. Marine reservist where he served as both a commissioned and enlisted Marine. During his twenty years of service, he served as an Armored Crewman, a Judge Advocate and an Infantry Officer. His awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, among others. He is also a recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.

Mr. Mulroy holds a bachelor’s degree from Augusta University and a law degree from Samford University.

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Meeting ID: 827 6027 8987

Passcode: 477295

1:15 - 2:00 PM

Michael Poland 

USGS Volcanology, What is the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory?

Mike Poland is a research geophysicist with the Cascades Volcano Observatory and the current Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

Mike's area of specialization is volcano geodesy, which emphasizes the surface deformation and gravity fields associated with volcanic activity. This work involves the use of space-based technologies, like Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), as well as ground-based techniques, like microgravity surveys. Mike has taken part in studies on a variety of volcanic systems in the United States, including Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest,  Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes in Hawaii, and the Yellowstone caldera. His recent work has focused on using gravity change over time to understand the character of the fluids that drive volcanic unrest, and also on the potential of satellite data to improve forecasts of future changes in volcanic activity.

  • Education:  Arizona State University: Ph.D. (2001), Geological Sciences
  • University of California, Davis: B.S. (1997), Geology

Join Zoom Meeting 〉

Meeting ID: 824 6027 8987

Passcode: 955411