Bernadette Stadler March 24, 2017
Bernadette (far right) with other current and former fellows at the Carnegie Conference
I should say up front that attending the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference is not quite the typical day in anyone’s life. The conference, which is fondly referred to as “Nuke Fest,” happens once every two years and draws over 800 participants from different countries and career paths,
including numerous current and former Scoville Fellows. It was clear from the tweets that were posted during the opening hours of the conference that nuclear policy nerds eagerly anticipate it. And it’s no wonder; the conference is an incredible chance to learn about nuclear issues from the experts and to meet leaders in the field.
I particularly enjoyed participating in the conference’s Young Professional’s track, which included two extra days of programming and allowed me to meet people who are at a similar stage in their career as I am. I didn’t know many of the other participants, so the Young Professional’s track provided a good opportunity to expand my network. Other conference highlights included listening to keynote speakers Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU, and Senator Tim Kaine; seeing my Scoville board mentor, Ambassador Susan Burk, in a panel about Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (which commits nuclear states who sign the treaty to disarming); and attending a “Women of Mass Destruction” side meeting to discuss challenges that women face in the field.
The Women of Mass Destruction meeting combined two things that I’m passionate about: women’s empowerment and the nuclear field. The nuclear field has historically been male-dominated, and most of the older participants remembered being the only woman in the room at the start of their careers. While we’ve made tremendous leaps forward, as evidenced by the large number of women at the meeting, we still have a long way to go.
Possibly the most exciting moment of the conference was when I met Togzhan Kassenova, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who studies nuclear issues in Kazakhstan. Before I began my Scoville Fellowship, I studied abroad in Almaty, Kazakhstan and conducted independent research on the country’s decision to forgo nuclear testing and nuclear weapons. This is a relatively under-researched topic, and I relied heavily on Dr. Kassenova’s excellent work. I was beyond excited to have the chance to talk with her during one of the breaks.
Although attending the Carnegie conference was an out-of-the-ordinary experience, meeting people whose work and careers I deeply respect has been a consistent part of my Scoville Fellowship. For instance, my Scoville board mentor, knowing that I’m interested in becoming a Foreign Service Officer, introduced me to Ambassador Laura Kennedy, whose long and distinguished career in the Foreign Service includes her ambassadorship to Turkmenistan. I’m fortunate that Scoville has given me so many opportunities to interact with and learn from such highly accomplished people.