Careers at USAID & International Development

Thursday, February 25, 2021
3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Careers at USAID & International Development

USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people progress beyond assistance. 

Join alumni currently working for USAID to learn more about the organization and potential career paths. 


Tiara Barnes

Tiara Barnes is a Communications Specialist supporting USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning as an Institutional Contractor. 

Tiara supports USAID by producing internal and external communication materials, event planning, and marketing campaigns to enhance awareness of Agency objectives among the development community.

Tiara holds a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University and a Masters in International Affairs from Penn State University.

Gretchen Birkle

Gretchen Birkle joined the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Middle East Bureau in January 2021 where she serves as deputy director for religious and ethnic minorities programs. From 2017-2020, Gretchen was the deputy assistant administrator in the Europe and Eurasia Bureau. In this capacity, she led U.S. development policy in the Western Balkans and a portfolio of bilateral and regional programs in democracy and governance, energy security and economic growth. Ms. Birkle brings more than 25 years of leadership and management experience in both the public and private sectors to her work in international development.

Prior to USAID, Ms. Birkle served 16 years overseas and at Washington, DC headquarters with the International Republican Institute (IRI), a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing democracy. At IRI, Gretchen advanced the Institute’s first global initiatives on women and youth, served as chief of party in Kabul, Afghanistan and was deputy director of the Eurasia and Middle East North Africa regional divisions, among other leadership positions.

Ms. Birkle’s government service includes senior coordinator with the Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and as a board member representative to the Millennium Challenge Corporation. From 1997-1999, Ms. Birkle was a legislative assistant to Senator Arlen Specter, where she covered foreign affairs, defense and foreign operations appropriations subcommittees, and energy issues. Ms. Birkle graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with a MA in Soviet Studies and International Economics, and from the Pennsylvania State University with a BA in International Politics and a minor in Russian Area Studies.

Brianna Smith

Brianna Smith joined the USAID Africa Bureau Health Team as the Africa Regional HIV/AIDS Advisor in 2016. Brianna supports the agency’s work with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, focused primarily in Southern Africa. Prior to joining USAID Brianna worked  for the Department of State for 5 years in various roles; as the Acting PEPFAR Coordinator in Uganda, Deputy PEPFAR Coordinator in Botswana, and as a Multilateral Diplomacy Advisor in Washington, DC with the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator. Before joining the State Department Brianna earned her Master of International Affairs degree and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer working with the Early Childhood Care Development centers in Butha-Buthe, Lesotho. Brianna received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from the Pennsylvania State University, and spent one semester studying on a ship while circumnavigating the globe. Brianna enjoys hiking, biking, camping, dancing, and reading.

This event is sponsored by the College of the Liberal Arts, School of International Affairs, and Schreyer Honors College. If you have any questions, please contact

Zoom link available in Nittany Lion Careers.

Virtual Event