In the ongoing celebration of NSLI-Y’s 10th Anniversary, NSLI-Y administrative staff continues the alumni webinar series, “Making a Worldwide Difference.” The second webinar in the series, “United States Institute of Peace: Service and Careers in Peace Building,” took place on December 1, 2016 at 4 PM EST. Two USIP representatives, Allison Sturma and Melissa Nozell, spoke on their work with and resources for students, how to connect where you are now as a NSLI-Y alum to career possibilities in peace building, how peace building can be incorporated into other careers and academic disciplines, and how USIP engages with other USG agencies.

In particular, Allison spoke about resources for students such as the USIP’s Peace Club Starter Kit, Peacebuilding Toolkit, and the Peace Day Challenge. She also explained the background and mission of USIP, the types of opportunities available at the organization, and the diverse backgrounds of its staff members.

Melissa spoke on the ways her team works with religious ideas, institutions and actors to promote peace. One example was a program that brought twenty eight youth leaders from conflict zones around the world to meet with the Dalai Lama to discuss how to promote peace.

Speaker Bios

Allison Sturma

Program Coordinator, Global Peacebuilding Center

Allison Sturma serves as program coordinator with the Institute's Global Peacebuilding Center. Allison's focus is on engaging young people in USIP's work through educational programs and initiatives, Peace Clubs and online activities. She previously served as senior press officer at USIP, coordinating media outreach and promoting the Institute's work. Allison has also served as the senior external relationship specialist in the offices of congressional relations and public affairs at USIP.

Between her educational experiences, Allison worked as a program instructor with the Close-Up Foundation and a faculty adviser with the Global Youth Leadership Conference. She has a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Union College and a master’s degree with merit from the University of Glasgow focused on the role of China in the international arena. (

Melissa Nozell

Program Specialist, Religion and Inclusive Societies

Melissa Nozell is a program specialist for religion and inclusive societies at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP in August 2014, Melissa spent seven months in Jordan, volunteering with several organizations, including NuDay Syria and Mercy Corps, to help Syrian refugees through humanitarian aid efforts and mediation. She has experience conducting research on religious trends in the U.S. and Middle East through the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, where she focused on Arab Christian-Muslim relations and faith-based diplomacy, and the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, where she updated and composed reports for the online edition of On Common Ground: World Religions in America. She also worked as an educator in Abu Dhabi. Her interest areas include the implications of religious identity in pluralistic societies, and the ways in which religion can be used as a tool through which to teach human rights in conflict-prevention and reconciliatory capacities, particularly in the Middle East. Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Asian Studies from Colgate University, and a master of theological studies from Harvard University. (

To view the first webinar in this series on The Peace Corps Experience, click here.