Public Service Weekend: Advancing Equity Through Inclusive Leadership and Policymaking

Group of students from PPIA 2018


student group photo from 2019 public service weekend


group of students from 2018 public service weekend


This free, virtual conference will highlight the practical skills necessary for success in a public service career at home and abroad, while also emphasizing inclusive leadership and decision making.

Program at a Glance

This virtual conference, hosted by George Washington University's (GW) Elliott School of International Affairs and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, will offer opportunities for you to learn from and network with leading scholars and policy experts in the field of domestic and international affairs. Through this interactive program, you will work in small teams to develop policy recommendations, while receiving coaching from Elliott School Professor Laila Sorurbakhsh and Trachtenberg School Professor Elizabeth Rigby. You will also learn more about careers in public policy and international affairs and learn more about the opportunities for graduate education at GW.

Key Topics

  • Careers in Public Service
  • Applying and Financing Graduate School
  • Writing for Policy Maker
  • Inclusive Leadership Skills

Public Service Weekend Staff

Headshot of Gregory Nelson

Gregory Nelson

Lead Student Services Specialist, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

Sebastian Reyes

Sebastian Reyes

Operations Lead, LEAP Initiative, Student Services, and Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, Elliott School of International Affairs

Headshot of Carese Bates

Carese Bates

Program Manager, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Elliott School of International Affairs



Headshot of Laila Sorurbakhsh



Professor Laila Sorurbakhsh

Laila Sorurbakhsh is a Public Service Weekend Faculty Advisor and is currently an assistant professor of international affairs at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, where she also holds positions as associate director of the Master of International Policy and Practice program, and director of online education.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Houston with specializations in Comparative Politics, American Politics and Quantitative Methods. Her dissertation, entitled “Feedback in the EU Advocacy System,” studies how institutional, environmental, and structural changes to the European Union have impacted interest group populations via their levels of competitiveness and survivability.


headshot of Elizabeth Rigby 



Professor Elizabeth Rigby 

Elizabeth Rigby is a Public Service Weekend faculty advisor and is currently an associate professor in the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Her research examines the interplay of politics, policy, and social inequality. In current projects, Rigby studies the representation of the poor across state legislatures, public opinion regarding health disparities, and other forms of social inequality, and the political dynamics surrounding enactment and implementation of federal health care reform. 

Her research has been published in a range of journals including: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Policy Studies Journal, and, Political Research Quarterly. Rigby holds a Ph.D. (with distinction) in Politics and Education from Columbia University. In addition, she received post-doctoral training in population health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar.


Headshot of Jennifer Brinkerhoff



Professor Jennifer Brinkerhoff

Jennifer Brinkerhoff is a Public Service Weekend facilitator and a professor of public administration and international affairs at the George Washington University. She holds a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and an MPA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She teaches courses on public service, international development policy and administration, development management, and organizational behavior. She is particularly keen on encouraging people to pursue service careers, thoughtfully grounding their commitment to change in self-awareness and working in communities. To that end, she and her husband, Derick W. Brinkerhoff, published Working for Change: Making a Career in International Public Service (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005).\; and she worked with Aaron S. Williams and Taylor A. Jack to write The Giants who blazed the Trail: Lessons for the Next Generation of Black American Foreign Policy Leaders (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2022).

Building on the lessons from The Young Black Leader’s Guide, she leads the Generations Dialogue Project (GDP) for supporting a more representative American foreign policy. GDP aims to increase the number of under-represented youth who pursue and succeed in American foreign policy careers by connecting young Americans with giants who blazed a trail in American foreign policy and international affairs. We seek to: increase the number of participating high school students who pursue university study related to international affairs; increase the number of participating undergraduate students who pursue graduate study related to international affairs; create for all participants an informational and support network for careers in international affairs; and demonstrate a model for generating pipelines of under-represented groups and supporting them to successful American foreign policy careers.

Dr. Brinkerhoff received the Fred Riggs Award for Lifetime Achievement in International and Comparative Public Administration, and is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Her applied work encompasses partnership, civil society, institutional development, development management, and training methodologies, and includes work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands; and in Africa, China, Mongolia, Central Asia, and Russia for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank. Related to diasporas and development, she provided policy advice to the U.S. State Department on its diaspora engagement strategy and conducted diaspora-related commissioned research for USAID, the Asia Development Bank, the Migration Policy Institute, the Nordic Africa Institute, the United Nations, and the World Bank.