Felsman Program Pairs Grads with Humanitarian Groups Abroad to Aid Children
Four Duke graduates arrived in Jordan and Turkey on Feb. 1 as the first participants in the newly created J. Kirk Felsman Program on Children in Adversity. The Felsman Fellows are focused on Syrian refugee girls’ education and are working in urban and refugee camp settings with Save the Children in Amman, Jordan, and a local NGO, YUVA, in Turkey.
The fellowship was established in honor of Dr. Kirk Felsman, accomplished humanitarian professional, former director of the Hart Fellows Program and Sanford professor , who died in 2011. He had dedicated his life to advocating for children living in the most adverse environments around the world, including war zones, HIV-affected communities and chronic poverty.
The program pairs graduates from the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFA) programs with international humanitarian organizations dedicated to the care of vulnerable children. The fellows spend up to10 months in the field collaborating with the partner organization to create meaningful change for children through both direct programming and participatory documentary methodologies.
The pilot Felsman Program is funded in part by WomanOne, a nonprofit dedicated to providing quality education to girls and women globally. Building on the models of the Hart and Lewis Hine Fellowships, which Felsman created, the Felsman Fellows work on a particular policy issue and showcase their research and documentary work in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.
The first cohort of 2014 Fellows is an impressive group with a wealth of experience in fine arts, law and policy. Laura Doggett MFA recently worked on a series of portraits of young women documenting transitional moments in their lives. Stephanie Dorman MPP’13 served as a Clinton Fellow in India, working with an NGO to develop and launch an English curriculum in primary schools.
Braxton Hood MFA has produced commercial and educational media projects in the United States and Turkey. Hardy Vieux T’93 was a criminal appellate defense counsel in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and is a frequent commentator on military justice issues on NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Vieux also serves on the Sanford Board of Visitors.
The Felsman Program was established by his family and colleagues at Duke, in collaboration with the Sanford School of Public Policy. It is directed by Duke alumna Amy Hepburn AB’97, MPP’01, a former student and colleague of Felsman and a former Hart Fellow. Felsman taught at Sanford from 1995 to 2005 and worked for more than 30 years with nongovernmental organizations such as Save the Children, U.N. agencies and USAID.
The website for the Felsman Fellows Program is felsmanfellowship.org.