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Beloit College

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Adam Koons'76

Name: Adam Koons
Class: 1976
Employer: International Relief & Development (IRD)  

 Career path.  Country Director for Sudan at Save the Children, Regional Coordinator for Kenya at CARE, and Director of Monitoring & Evaluation for Haiti at CARE.  Current position:  Director of Relief & Humanitarian Assistance at International Relief and Development (IRD), one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world, where he assists disaster victims, internally displaced people, and refugees in countries that have suffered natural disasters or manmade emergencies and humanitarian crises. 

Adam Koons in the FieldWhere he’s been:  30 countries to live and work.

What he studied:  Anthropology major at Beloit College, Ph.D. in Applied & Economic Anthropology from American University.   

Courses that got him where he is:  anthropology, literature, science.  Course in disaster relief where he was exposed to applied methods and techniques.  

Value of Beloit’s liberal arts education:  the humanistic perspective that helps him understand the world with a sense of well-roundedness.  Interacting with international students to gain a broader perspective on current events and global inequalities.  

 Key educational and professional experiences post-Beloit:  earning a PhD, going overseas to live in West Africa, and becoming more familiar with how others lived.  Exposure to poverty and human rights issues related to social justice and democracy in places where people lacked a sense of dignity.           

Advice for students interested in the kind of work he does:  gain experience in communities that lack basic human rights, such as Appalachia or in other countries.  See, feel, taste this deficiency in human rights, and spend time in places, not books.  Focus on a special skill, such as gender, child protection, refugee camp management, or technical services, such as income generation or clean water, while also gaining training on governance and democracy.  Develop a regional specialty and skills in a foreign language. Volunteer or intern.  Get AmeriCorps or Peace Corps experience.