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Sarah Jonson

Master of Public and International Affairs (2016)

Sarah Jonson is the Technical Advisor for Youth Agency and Engagement at
the International Youth Foundation (IYF), a Baltimore-based nonprofit whose
programs focus on strengthening youth agency, expanding youth economic
opportunities, and facilitating more youth-inclusive systems. She is
responsible for providing strategic leadership and supporting existing
projects and business development efforts in the areas of youth agency,
leadership, civic education, and meaningful youth engagement. Sarah is also
charged with ensuring that IYF designs and implements holistic, positive
youth development programming that is socially inclusive and promotes
greater equity for communities experiencing marginalization or
disenfranchisement. A tall order, she translates and internalizes this role
as having the honor and serious duty of holding IYF accountable for
implementing programming by, for, and with young people.

A 2016 SPIA graduate, Sarah’s Virginia Tech studies and work experiences
heavily influenced her professional interests and trajectory. She started
as a part-time graduate student and full-time assistant lacrosse coach in
the athletics department before accepting an assistantship with the Center
for International Research, Education, and Development’s Women and Gender
in Development program. During her time in Blacksburg, she was also an
active member of the Institute for Policy and Governance’s Community Change
Collaborative. She carried the knowledge, skills, and passion she gained
for inclusive development approaches into her Peace Corps service in
northern Namibia where she worked at a vocational training center as a
community economic development advisor. Sarah’s master’s thesis, chaired by
Dr. Max Stephenson, focused on occupational segregation in Namibia,
particularly women’s experience training for and working in male-dominated
construction and manufacturing industries.