Our Mission

Matters of State is a lively international affairs analysis podcast written, hosted, and produced by a group of young professionals in Washington, DC. With each episode, the Matters of State team mixes together their fresh perspectives on the under-reported aspects of what’s going on in the world. While drawing on our diverse sets of personal, academic, and professional experiences to understand the trends discussed on the show, we all try to learn as much new information about each topic as possible. Join us as we have in-depth conversations about the issues that matter and learn from each other.
Kevin Fairdosi

Kevin C. Fairdosi

Director, Contributor
Kevin received his MA from the George Washington University's Elliott School, where he studied International Affairs with a dual focus in conflict resolution and security. He is the Director and a contributor to Matters of State. Kevin is passionate about the power of cultural exchange to build international bridges and foster international understanding. While he is interested in issues across the globe, he focuses on the Middle East.
Lacey Bruske

Lacey Bruske

Moderator
Lacey Bruske is a graduate from the George Washington University's MA program in International Affairs. She hails from Portland, Oregon. Prior to attending GWU, she worked at the Department of Justice as an advocate for women who were victims of sex trafficking crimes and a legal assistant on drug trafficking crimes. She graduated from Utrecht University’s University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, The Netherlands with a B.A. in International Law and Foreign Relations. Her travels have taken her throughout Europe, but she hopes to broaden her scope to South America soon. Her academic interests include organized crime and trafficking of weapons, drugs and people.
John Blaha

John Blaha

Director of Public Relations
John is a graduate student in International Affairs at The George Washington University and serves as the Director of Public Relations for Matters of State. Originally from Central Texas, John earned a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. He lived in South Korea for nearly three years, teaching English on Jeju Island before studying Korean in Seoul. John’s academic and professional interests are international security and East Asian affairs.
Nicole Sbitani

Nicole Sbitani

Social Media Manager
Nicole is an alumna of the Global Communication M.A. program at George Washington University, with concentrations in Information Technology in International Affairs and Middle East Studies. She holds a B.A. in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law from the University of Virginia. Her interests include public diplomacy, technology policy, interfaith initiatives, and the media.
Bobby Shields

Bobby Shields

Writer, Contributor
Bobby is a second-year MA candidate in the Security Policy Studies program at the George Washington University's Elliott School. He serves as the Show Notes Writer for Matters of State. Prior to attending GW, Bobby worked as a legal assistant for the government contracts practice of a DC law firm. He earned his BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Notre Dame. His academic and professional interests are cyber security and energy security policy.
Pengqiao Lu

Lu Pengqiao

Contributor
Pengqiao is the Editorial Assistant with the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Pengqiao earned his master’s degree in Asia security from the Elliott School of International Affairs, as well as a BA in international trade and economics from Shanghai International Studies University. His research interests include East Asian regionalism, Japanese politics, and Cross-strait relations.
Jean-Bernard Latortue

Jean-Bernard Latortue

Contributor
Jean-Bernard is a second-year graduate student in the International Affairs MA program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He focuses on nuclear policy and international security studies. Jean-Bernard is a contributing writer to the International Affairs Review. He graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida with a BA in History and Political Science. Before enrolling in the MA program, he interned on Capitol Hill and worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, DC.