Main content

Distinguished Alumni Award: Janette Yarwood ’96

Janette Yarwood, PhD ’96 (anthropology) currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of African Affairs at the Department of State in the Biden/Harris administration.

Previously, she was the Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International organizations.

In this role, Yarwood spearheaded a comprehensive foreign policy agenda for the chair including managing subcommittee activities, arranging Congressional hearings, drafting legislation, and conducting oversight missions.

Prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Yarwood was at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute where she was the Chair of Sub-Saharan Africa Area Studies. In that role, she was responsible for all aspects of the program including developing the curriculum for regional training for the Department of State and other US government employees preparing for an overseas assignment across Africa or covering Africa from the United States.

Before joining the Department of State, she was a Research Staff Member in the Africa Program at the Institute for Defense Analysis where her work focused on U.S. foreign policy and national security issues relating to sub-Saharan Africa.

Yarwood is a Fulbright Scholar and holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Yarwood credits the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) for helping to lay the foundation for her future academic and personal success. She notes, “The Director at the time Renneth Sorhaindo, along with his staff including current Director Paul Nicholson and counselor Mary Garcia and many others took the time to invest in me enough to make me believe in myself.”

Yarwood has returned to campus on numerous occasions. Her presentations and engagement are an inspiration to our students.