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Sterling David Tilley, Jr., Program Director
Sterling David Tilley, Jr., a native of Baltimore, Maryland, is a retired Foreign Service Officer. With over 30 years of experience in the areas of defense, national security, and international affairs, Sterling has served his country in a wide variety of roles. Before retiring, Sterling was the Acting Director in the Office of Technical Programs and Operations Policy in the Bureau of Counterterrorism. In this capacity, he managed a nine-person team on matters pertaining to strategic counterterrorism policy initiatives, Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), military time-sensitive crisis response activities, irregular warfare R&D and activities, coordination of Special Operations Forces at US Missions, and the management of five bilateral technical counterterrorism agreements.
Sterling joined the Foreign Service in March 2002 and served in the Republic of the Philippines, Paraguay, Iraq and Nigeria and has represented the United States in more than 20 countries during bilateral and multilateral events or meetings. In addition, he served as Deputy Team Leader for Countering WMD Interdiction and the Proliferation Security Initiative in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; separately as the Press Team Chief/Spokesman in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; as the Director of the Western Hemisphere in the Bureau of International Information Programs; the Afghanistan Advisor in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, and as the Political-Military Officer in the Office of Cuban Affairs.
Before joining the State Department, Sterling worked for a prominent defense contractor at the Pentagon, the U.S. Congress, and at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a decorated Persian Gulf War veteran. Sterling speaks Spanish and some Tagalog. Sterling holds a Master’s of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Public Policy from Howard University and a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University. Mr. Tilley has a lovely wife, Eurona, and three children, Arianna, Sterling III, and Olivia.
Robert C. Petish, Deputy Director
Before joining Howard University, Robert C. Petish worked at the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). As Senior Field Operations Officer, Robert provided legal, security, and operational support for the organization’s network of international offices. Before joining IREX’s Operations team, Robert served as Senior Program Officer for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI). In his role, Robert supported programming for the Public Policy track working with university and business partners to provide professional development opportunities for YALI Fellows.
Robert previously worked with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a Senior Program Officer managing a federally funded STEM-focused fellowship supporting doctoral-level scientists to contribute their talents throughout the executive branch of the U.S. Government. Before joining AAAS, Robert served as the Senior Business Processes Manager at the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Council for International Exchange of Scholars. From 2007-2011, he managed the technical and operational projects needed to run Fulbright U.S. and International Programs. Also, during his time at IIE, Robert worked as a Senior Program Officer with the KAUST Scholars Fellowship with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is a fluent French speaker and lived in Fukuoka, Japan, for three years teaching English. He holds a bachelor’s degree in French, Foreign Language Education from the University of Central Florida.
Bukola Anifowoshe, 2021 Thomas R. Pickering Fellow
As a 2021 Thomas R. Pickering Fellow, Bukola is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a Master's in Development Practice. At Berkeley, she is focused on economic development and data analytics, with a mission to promote data-driven decision-making. Currently, she is interning with the Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
Previously, Bukola studied international development and demography at Cornell University. She gained experience in program implementation through her work in Egypt (humanitarian efforts), Ghana (educational equity), and India (agricultural resource economics). Upon graduating, she worked at Oxfam America on the Aid and Development Finance team, where she dedicated her time to strategic planning, bilateral and multilateral advocacy, data visualization, and the monitoring and evaluation of global programs. Bukola speaks French and is committed to learning Arabic and Spanish.
In addition to her work experience, Bukola is always open to conversation about her dog, meditation practices, travel, hiking; anything really!
Thank you to BPIA member and Pickering Fellow'21 Lesley Ells for helping to coordinate this event!
BPIA membership is open to all applicants who support our mission and goals without regard to race, religion/creed, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual preference or identity.
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