2015 Tillman Scholar

Annie Kleiman

Air Force
Tufts University
MALD, International Affairs

“The biggest impact is sometimes made by adults willing to share their time and knowledge with the youth of their community.”

Annie fell in love with the military at the age of 11. As a cadet in Civil Air Patrol (the official Air Force auxiliary), she learned how to wear a uniform, perform drill and ceremonies, and lead dozens of her peers. For Annie, she saw enlisting in the Air Force as an opportunity to be part of something bigger than herself, to make a positive difference in the world while doing something she enjoyed. Deploying to Afghanistan in 2012 as a Cultural Support Team member, Annie’s job was to engage with women and children during “outside the wire” missions – ultimately sparking her interest in the role of women in conflict, not simply as victims but actors who can make positive impacts in conflict reduction and prevention.

Instead of the stability of a guaranteed military retirement, Annie chose to make a drastic change and go to graduate school in order to further contribute to this field. Whether she becomes a diplomat supporting the United States’ outreach efforts, a field researcher finding the ground truth, or a think tank analyst seeking to inform public policy it won’t be a standard career path for Annie, as her military service gave her the guts to make that change.

As a first year Masters student at Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Annie is interested in women’s roles in the security sector, both as operators and as community members. Annie feels the imminent integration of women into ground combat units presents a chance to study history as it unfolds. Additionally, she is interested in investigating how empowering women economically, socially, and politically can help society as a whole and the implications this carries for future U.S. military operations.

Upon graduation, Annie hopes to continue to serve in the public sector or at a think tank, to translate her research into actionable policy recommendations that can achieve tangible results while at the same time, recognizing that while high-level strategic thinking is important, some of the most important impacts are made by adults willing to share their time and knowledge with the youth of their community – not only making a positive impact on U.S. policy on the world stage but also in local communities.