Assistant Director Meagan Doll to begin PhD program in Seattle

After nearly six years of service to the African Studies Program, Assistant Director Meagan Doll will begin a new chapter at the University of Washington in Seattle in fall 2019.

Meagan has been accepted into the PhD program in the Department of Communication where she will study the relationships between journalism and the mobilization or de-escalation of mass atrocities, with a regional focus on central and east Africa.

Meagan began her work in the African Studies Program office in 2013 as an undergraduate administrative assistant. Her interest in the position came on the heels of a 2013 summer field study in Kigali, Rwanda where she and a small team from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. studied post-conflict approaches to reconciliation and methods for English language learning education.

“To start working at the African Studies Program as an undergraduate was a dream,” she said. “I had no idea how that experience would guide my professional trajectory or interests at the time.”

Former Assistant Director Catherine Reiland, former Associate Director Jim Delehanty, and former Faculty Director Neil Kodesh, quickly noted Meagan’s talent and moved to increase her responsibilities within the program. Meagan coordinated visits by Africa at Noon speakers and assisted with event planning and administrative work. Drawing upon her experience as a journalism major with certificates in African studies and global health, Meagan expanded African Studies Program’s communications, producing profiles and original content pieces and spearheading the development of a social media presence.

After conducting a maternal health reporting project in south-central Uganda in 2015 and just ahead of her 2016 graduation, Meagan accepted a full-time position with the African Studies Program as the inaugural program coordinator of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at UW-Madison.

The African Studies Program was selected to host the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Fellowship for the first time in 2016. The program, now in its fourth year, brings 25 young African leaders to campus for six weeks of leadership and community-oriented programming over the summer. While in the spring semester of her senior year, Meagan developed the campus and community partnerships that ultimately assured the fellowship’s lasting impact.

Meagan (bottom left) poses with the 2016 cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows in Columbus, Wisconsin (Catherine Reiland / UW-Madison).

“Meagan developed an immensely successful and high-profile international exchange program that challenged us to expand our understanding of what constitutes the exploration of African Studies both on campus and in the community,” said Associate Director Aleia McCord. “She orchestrated the inaugural Fellowship while also balancing the demands of an academically rigorous course schedule at a time when African Studies and the other area studies programs experienced a massive institutional reorganization and leadership transition. I honestly don’t know how she pulled it off; she’s just that talented.”

Following her graduation, Meagan accepted the position of Assistant Director for Operations and assumed additional center responsibilities, including administration of Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, overseeing external communications, and coordinating major events and special projects at the center.

“We’re so grateful that Meagan chose to spend her first few post-graduate years working to build the African Studies Program at UW-Madison,” said McCord. “We wish her the very best of luck at the other UW [Washington], and can’t wait to hear where her interests and passions lead her next.”

For all Meagan has devoted to the African Studies Program, she says the office and broader African Studies community in Madison has given her tenfold.

“I can’t thank the UW-Madison African Studies community enough for giving me such a welcoming and esteemed place to nurture my academic interests,” she said. “I am excited to get started in Seattle, but I confess that my first UW [UW-Madison] will always have my heart.”

The African Studies community still has time to wish Meagan well on her next adventure. She will still coordinate the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship which will take place on campus between June 19-July 28, 2019, before departing for Seattle in the fall.

“I am thrilled to leave on such a high note, and anyone who has been a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Wisconsin knows that having the Fellows on campus is just that,” she said. “Our team is looking forward to the best summer yet.”