A World-Traveling Alum Returns to Steward

Class of 1991 alum and new member on Steward’s Board of Trustees reflects on Steward’s early influence on his path to international relations.

Edmund Rhoads ’91’s international aspirations have taken him all over the world, but they first came to life right here at Steward.

Mr. Rhoads, currently the Washington, D.C. director of Kreab, a communications and public relations firm headquartered in Stockholm, says his favorite subject while at Steward was World History. “I was very fortunate to participate in a school trip to Europe led by Steward’s dynamic history teacher, Norva Meyer,” Mr. Rhoads said. “It was a remarkable experience and piqued my interest further. I also enjoyed foreign language courses at Steward and participating on the school Model United Nations team.”

That early interest in foreign languages and history led Mr. Rhoads to double major in international relations and Russian language at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. “I spent a semester studying Russian language and literature at a school in St. Petersburg, Russia not long after the fall of the Soviet Union,” he said.

Mr. Rhoads’s career path after college would soon take him back to the former Soviet Union. While working for an international organization called the National Democratic Institute (NDI) based in Washington, D.C., Mr. Rhoads was sent to work in its office in Armenia for almost two years and traveled often to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

“I helped government institutions, political parties and associations in the developing world learn from western experts how to operate more effectively in a democratic system,” Mr. Rhoads said. “I worked on some interesting projects to conduct public opinion research in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to help elected and political officials better understand and represent their citizens’ interests. The research findings influenced numerous government decisions and actions. They were also of use for U.S. government policymakers to better understand these countries and so I found myself using the data to brief representatives of the U.S. State Department, Congress, and the White House.”

After years of international relations work with NDI, Mr. Rhoads made the decision to focus his career on the communications and outreach aspects of his work, which led him to take the job at Kreab.

“Much of my work at Kreab has focused on helping international businesses analyze the political and economic threats to their investments in various countries and how best they can minimize risks through various communication and outreach efforts,” he said. “I’ve also assisted international businesses in reaching out to U.S. government institutions regarding U.S. laws and policies that might impact their business.”

Mr. Rhoads credits his ability to adapt to challenges and get outside his comfort zone to his time at Steward. He cites Steward’s small size and encouraging community as the reasons he tried extracurricular activities he never would have otherwise. “I was initially terrified to try some of these extracurriculars, but ultimately found a real sense of camaraderie and confidence that came from them,” he said. “That experience has served me well in life, whether it’s in learning new languages, visiting new countries, engaging with different people, or accepting a challenging new project at work.”

Mr. Rhoads just recently joined Steward’s Board of Trustees. When asked what inspired him to take this step and become a member, he said he wants to be a part of helping students realize their potential at Steward the way he did.

“I’ve never forgotten my experiences at Steward, which laid the foundation for where I am today,” he said. “I remain very grateful for my time at Steward and have always thought how I’d like to go back and reconnect with the school. Some of my Steward friends are now teachers there or board members or parents of students, which I think is a testament to how special the school has been to many. As a board member, I’d like to see the school continue to develop, but never lose, its unique character for inspiring students to realize their potential for the contributions they can make in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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