Underreported issues that matter

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 underreported aspects of what’s going on in the world. 

We aim to spark discussion on issues that the front pages are ignoring. 

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.

Behind The Mic

Opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers alone. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of their employers.

Kevin Fairdosi


I’m a native of Texas, where I studied French and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas. I came to DC for a MA program in international affairs, and stayed here for work in refugee affairs. My academic interests include refugee/immigration policy, conflict resolution, international security,  and foreign languages. I love to travel – to learn about and experience different cultures. I’m passionate about the power of cultural exchange to build international bridges and to foster international understanding.

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Lacey Bruske


I received my MA in international affairs from GWU’s Elliott School. I have worked at the Department of Justice as an advocate for victims of sex trafficking and a legal assistant on drug trafficking crimes. I graduated from Utrecht University in The Netherlands with a BA in International Law and Foreign Relations. My travels have taken me throughout Europe, but I hope to broaden my scope to South America soon. My academic interests include organized crime and trafficking of weapons, drugs and people.

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John Blaha


I received my MA in international affairs from The George Washington University’s Elliott School. I serve as Matters of State’s Director of Outreach and also contribute regularly on episodes. Originally from Central Texas, I earned a BA in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. I lived in South Korea for nearly three years, teaching English on Jeju Island before studying Korean in Seoul. My academic and professional interests are international security and East Asian affairs.

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Bobby Shields

Contributor, Writer

I received my MA from the George Washington University’s Elliott School, where I studied Security Policy with a dual focus on cybersecurity and energy security. I am a regular contributor on episodes and also write show notes for the podcast. Prior to attending GW, I worked as a legal assistant for the government contracts practice of a DC law firm. I earned my BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

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Jean-Bernard Latortue

Contributor, Writer

I also received my MA in international affairs from GW’s Elliott School. I focus on nuclear policy and international security studies. Before enrolling in the MA program, I also worked on Capitol Hill and for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, DC. I am a contributing writer to the International Affairs Review. I received my BA in History and Political Science from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida.

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Lindsey Spanner

Public Relations, Social Media

I received an MA in Global Communication from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. Currently, I work in communication and new business development at an international development consulting firm. My specific areas of interest include gender and social inclusion, indigenous populations, and communication for development, with a regional focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.

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