Alumni are an integral part of the Robertson Scholars community, offering valuable contributions that strengthen the program and create meaningful experiences for scholars. Alumni continue to embody the program’s values of purposeful leadership, intellectual curiosity, strength of character, and a collaborative spirit through their work in the world and are encouraged to share their accomplishments, experiences and resources with the broader community as they grow and develop professionally and personally.
RSLP has extended it's partnership with NOLS to offer an alumni-only expedition to gain new wilderness and leadership skills. This year, alumni took part in an alumni-only sea-kayaking excursion in Alaska. The is geared up to become an annual event offered to Robertson Alumni!
The curriculum focuses on the exploration and practice of a sea kayaking skills progression and the NOLS leadership model, time to appreciate the extremes of the local natural environment, and the practice of minimum impact camping and outdoor living skills & camp craft; everyone was encouraged to be their authentic selves as they experienced the grandeur and challenges of living and traveling in the Alaska wilderness.
In order to further facilitate organic relationships between Robertson Scholars and Alumni, the Alumni Council Robertson Hangouts, a series of informal virtual meet-ups centered around specific topics and moderated by notable Alumni. The Scholars and Alumni who participate are able to share ideas and hear new perspectives on topics of shared interest such as professional challenges and political/social issues.
Previous hangout have included the following topics: Bridging political gaps. Being a civil servant during uncertain times. What it's like to work in the Foreign Service for the US Government. Artists as social changemakers. Making space for impact in the workplace. And even an event with our benefactor, Mr. Julian Robertson!
The Robertson Alumni Council serves as a community-driven programming and advisory body for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. The Council supports Robertson alumni community building, contributions, and ongoing leadership development programs, and acts as a sounding board for the Robertson Program’s Staff and leadership. If you have questions related to the Council or have ideas for alumni programming, please e-mail email@example.com.
Alumni Council Co-Chairs: Chris Edelman, Chinmay Pandit
Alumni Council Members: Alexis Dennis, Amy Kramer, Georgia Lala, Kat Tan, Niharika Vattikonda
Christopher Edelman (Duke 2011) is a Trial Attorney at the Department of Justice in the Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch in Washington, D.C. where he represents U.S. government agencies in civil litigation in district courts throughout the United States. He focuses on matters involving constitutional law and national security. Prior to his work at the DOJ, Chris worked for multiple Big Law firms and also clerked on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He also worked for the Arias Foundation--an NGO in Costa Rica focused on developing peace and security. Chris received a masters degree in international relations at the University of Cambridge and a JD at Stanford Law School. At Duke, Chris majored in Decision Science and received a certificate in Latin American Studies. He spent his Robertson summers in New Orleans at New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation and pursuing a combination of research, NGO work, language learning, and tango practice across Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. You are likely to find Chris playing with his infant son, traveling, running, cooking, or cheering on his Chicago Cubs!
Chinmay Pandit (Duke 2018) is currently at Harvard Law School pursuing his Juris Doctor degree. Prior to law school, he lived in New York City where he worked at The Blackstone Group as an investment associate on the real estate team, focusing on a range of projects related to commercial real estate debt. At Blackstone, Chinmay helped introduce and lead various philanthropic and public engagement initiatives, including fundraisers and fireside chats with organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative (through a collaboration with fellow Alumni Council representative, Trey Walk) and the Bard Prison Initiative. Throughout his time on-campus as a Robertson, Chinmay spent summers teaching middle school math at the Sunflower County Freedom Project in Mississippi (which inspired his current work with Harvard’s Mississippi Delta Project) and teaching high school economics at the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in rural south India. As a Coloradoan, born and raised, Chinmay loves hiking, running, and any other activity that involves being outdoors. Chinmay currently resides in Cambridge, MA with his partner Miriam (who was also a Duke Robertson 2018!).
Alexis Dennis, PhD, MPH (UNC 2011) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Her research examines how and why structural and social inequality generate racial and ethnic disparities in health and wellbeing across early portions of the life course. Much of her work specifically examines disparities in mental health. She teaches courses in the Sociology of Mental Health, Medical Sociology, and Race and Ethnicity as well. Prior to her current role, Alexis worked on Affordable Care Act implementation in California at the Greenlining Institute as a Health Policy Research Fellow, and researched HIV, reproductive health, and maternal and child health at FHI 360 and the Duke Global Health Institute. Alexis earned her PhD in Sociology and her MPH in Health Behavior from UNC Chapel Hill in 2022 and 2014, respectively. As a Robertson Scholar, she earned her BA in Communication Studies and a Certificate from Duke University in Documentary Studies. Alexis spent her Robertson summers in the Mississippi Delta; Durban, South Africa; and Washington D.C.
Amy Kramer (Duke 2018) is currently a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of the Army, supporting a wide range of special projects largely focused on personnel policy and quality of life issues. Amy began her government civilian career with the U.S. Army in 2020 as part of the first cohort of McCain Strategic Defense Fellows. As a fellow, across various rotations, she supported some of the largest human capital portfolios, including recruiting & retention policy and diversity and inclusion efforts. Amy also helped to set the conditions for the creation of the Army’s Women’s Initiatives Team and served as the lead project manager for the Army’s comprehensive parenthood, pregnancy, and postpartum policy change effort published in 2022. Amy is particularly passionate about the intersection of gender and national security and has previously researched the role of women’s empowerment in conflict resolution in Rwanda (#exploration summer), Israel, Vietnam, and China, as well as the role of female leaders in Army ROTC programs at Fort Knox in 2017 (#launch summer). While earning her Master’s degree in Beijing as a Schwarzman Scholar, Amy traveled extensively to 24 Chinese provinces and studied the impact of female soldiers in peacekeeping operations. Before starting her government career, Amy previously worked as a Research Assistant in the Duke Office of Government Relations and was a member of the Duke Board of Trustees for two years. While at Duke, Amy earned her BA with highest honors in Public Policy and Political Science. In her free time, she plays bassoon in a DC-area orchestra and is active in the Duke in DC alumni network.
Georgia Lala (Duke 2020) specializes in defense policy for the New Zealand Government. Outside of work, Georgia is Deputy Chair for the Board of Directors of UN Youth New Zealand, a youth-for-youth non-profit organization that delivers civics education outside the traditional classroom context. At Duke, Georgia studied Political Science with a major in Security Peace and Conflict, and was Duke Student Government’s Chief Justice and Co-chair of the Undergraduate Board of Conduct. Georgia spent her Exploration Summer travelling across Europe conducting research on the European Refugee Crisis, and her Launch Summer in New Zealand working for the Helen Clark Foundation on drug policy reform.
Kat Tan (UNC 2019) is a poet and performance artist pursuing her medical degree in the American Midwest. She brings her interdisciplinary training in ethics and social innovation to the Council in hopes of building a common narrative among Robertson alums and a culture of mutual aid.
Niharika Vattikonda (UNC 2022) is a technology policy researcher and has worked at the Future of Privacy Forum and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Niharika’s research and advocacy focuses on data privacy rights, and much of her current work focuses on health data privacy and generative AI. As a Robertson Scholar, Niharika double-majored in Business Administration and Economics and was the first student to graduate from Duke’s Digital Intelligence Certificate. Niharika spent her Community Summer volunteering with Dress for Success in New Orleans, Exploration and Launch Summers working in investment banking and private equity, and Transition Summer studying technology policymaking in Tel Aviv. Niharika is currently based in Washington, D.C. and will be attending Harvard Law School through the Junior Deferral Program.