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The Young Black Leader’s Guide to a Successful Career in International Affairs: What the Giants Want You to Know

Aaron S. Williams, Taylor A. Jack, and Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff
The Young Black Leader’s Guide to a Successful Career in International Affairs: What the Giants Want You to Know
ISBN: 978-1-955055-56-7
ISBN: 978-1-955055-57-4
ISBN: 978-1-955055-63-5
2022/291 pages/LC: 2021062896
No examination copies
Watch an enlightening video addressing some of the challenges that young people of color encounter when considering a career in international affairs, as well as practical pathways forward and inspiring reasons to persevere.

"International affairs is not something I can really critically discuss with my parents or other family, but after reading this book I feel as though I am part of a whole new, much larger family of aunts and cousins and uncles who are all rooting for me. It's the affirming power of being seen and being heard that resonated with me the most. The book is extraordinarily authentic, real, riveting, and heartfelt." —Hannah Jackson, cofounder of the Elliott School of International Affairs Young Black Professionals in International Affairs student organization

"The authors have done a tremendous service for enhancing diversity in the field of international affairs. Presenting and drawing on insights from many of the African Americans who have played a critical role in the diplomatic arena, they offer lessons that are important for all who are aiming to ensure that the demographic composition of the diplomatic core truly is reflective of the nation as a whole. I wish that I had had this book when I was an undergraduate student." –-Kyle Farmbry, Guilford College

"Provides practical advice and personal reflection for African Americans considering a career in international affairs.... There are lots of tips that will be useful not only to those looking for a job, but also to those at the early career stage. And as a plus, much of the information would be very helpful to people of color in general." —Msia Kibona Clark, Howard University

"This book is rich with observations from amazing leaders in global affairs. The experts' insights are relevant for all who aspire to work around the world as diplomats, development professionals, or business people." —Carla Koppell, Georgetown University


Young people of color confront a myriad of challenges that deter them from considering, pursuing, and succeeding at careers in international affairs. The authors of The Young Black Leader’s Guide address these challenges, drawing on the experiences of Black American giants in the field to provide systematic, practical advice.

From getting started to learning to lead, from overcoming imposter syndrome to acing performance reviews, from dealing with racism to knowing when to say no, the invaluable tips and hard-earned wisdom in the book go beyond standard resources to provide an essential guide for Black Americans seeking to play a much-needed role in the global arena.


Aaron S. Williams has extensive experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including posts as USAID mission director for South Africa, vice president of the International Youth Foundation, executive vice president of RTI International, and director of the US Peace Corps (2009–2012). Taylor A. Jack is a program manager in the East and Southern Africa Division of Chemonics International, an international development consulting firm. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff is professor of public administration, international affairs, and international business at George Washington University.


  • Foreword—Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley.
  • Invitation to a Meaningful Career.
  • Starting Out.
  • Building Confidence
  • Seeking the Support of Others.
  • Navigating Your Career.
  • Knowing When to Fight.
  • You Are Not Alone.
  • Being All You.
  • The Triumphs and Challenges of Leadership.
  • The Gift and the Charge.