Trailblazer Series: Kelsey Suemnicht of The Foreign Policy Project
This week we sat down with Kelsey Suemnicht, founder of The Foreign Policy Project, an international relations career mentorship program, which is home to the Women in Diplomacy podcast. Suemnicht was initially inspired to launch her own project when she saw how difficult it was for her and her female peers to establish themselves in the field of foreign policy. Suemnicht noticed a trend in which “some of the most talented and dynamic professionals who are so ready to contribute to the world” are struggling to find a foot in the door to a career in international relations. “The one field that should be reserved for changemakers, that should be the place where we go to make a difference in the world, is where some of the most willing and ready people aren’t feeling welcomed.”
So Suemnicht decided that if the structure of the foreign policy field was going to hamper women’s career aspirations, she was going to do something about it. Currently, she’s using her Women in Diplomacy podcast to highlight the work of women in foreign policy-related roles. In her interviews, Suemnicht discusses each woman’s professional goals and personal journey, meaning each episode is always infused with career advice and wisdom. Suemnicht notes that the most common response she receives when asking to interview someone is “No, you don’t want to interview me. I’m not qualified enough, or my career hasn’t been specific or special enough.” But she’s ready to put an end to that line of self-doubt. “We are all special in our own unique way, and we all have role model potential and qualities,” she says.
Eventually, Suemnicht hopes to turn the Foreign Policy Project into a thriving mentorship program so “young people can be inspired about international relations and discover different parts to play or places where they can contribute to the diplomacy and policy.” The benefit, she notes, is not just that younger people can have some guidance when beginning their careers, but that established leaders in the field could constantly be exposed to new ideas.
When asked what a feminist foreign policy looks like to her, Suemnicht says that “a feminist foreign policy is one where all voices are represented equally and all voices are taken into account in the decision-making implementation and evaluation process, particularly for foreign policies. I hope that one day we don’t need a feminist foreign policy because that’s just how we govern. I hope that we govern with a lens of equality because the world we build should be a world for all of us, not just for a few of us.”
Interview and article by Marissa Conway.