GMF is delighted to congratulate our 2023 fellows for successfully completing the Marshall Memorial Fellowship (MMF) program and looks forward to welcoming them into our 2,650-strong alumni community.  

This year’s program brought together 56 fellows from 13 European nations and 12 US states, and featured a gender split of 59% women vs. 41% men.  The fellows ranged in age from 32 to 48 and hailed from the private, governmental, nonprofit/NGO, multilateral, media, legal, educational, and finance/banking sectors. 

Following six months of virtual learning including educational and logistical briefings, the participants began the in-person segment of the fellowship in Washington, DC. Over three days of programming, they met GMF experts, explored the salient challenges impacting the transatlantic alliance, and, most importantly, built peer-to-peer connections with each other.  

US-based fellows were divided into small groups, each of which visited three European cities such as Athens, Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Chisinau, London, Madrid, Paris, and Yerevan. Simultaneously, the European fellows traveled to three American communities including Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Providence, Seattle, and Spanish Fork (Utah). 

In each city, MMF coordinators created a multi-day program focused on the following themes: leadership, diplomacy and security, democracy and civil society, economy and sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Activities included interactive dialogues, site visits, networking opportunities, and meetings with MMF alumni. 

The program concluded with all fellows gathering in Brussels for two days to reconnect with their peers and share ideas and experiences.  

Many fellows put pen to paper to record their journeys.  


G. Nagesh Rao (MMF ’23): “It was truly a journey of self-reflection and personal growth, after a tumultuous few years to determine what type of inclusive leader I strive toward as I soon approach the 20-year mark of public service. Traveling with my fellow American participants, I embraced the GMF motto of ideas, leadership, and hope. My personal main foci of learning were cybersecurity, national security and globalization, as well as manufacturing and public policy, given my recent career pivot. In my estimation, like America, Europe needs to embrace reshoring, workforce development, stem education, immigrant workforce and diversity and inclusion to move resilient and sustainable economies forward. … I also found myself constantly drawn to the notion of identity and the surrounding debate of the concept. What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to be European? What does it mean to belong or to be deliberately excluded? This year’s cohort of … fellows was one of the most diverse. We all wanted to understand the world and play our citizen role of engagement and support.” 


Nadiya Bilous (MMF’23): “Today ... the world order is being challenged on a daily basis, values are under pressure, and humanitarian law is not necessarily protecting but requires protection. … Getting to new challenges, experimenting with your inner beliefs [fuels us] to become better leaders through thinking, provoking and being provoked, diplomacy and engagement, self-development and [offering feedback] to others. [This strengthens] the value chain of transatlantic cooperation.” 

Tiffany Tavarez (MMF’23): "There is no sound, song, dance, affection, music, or breath I can produce that would articulate a level of thanks that goes beyond language. Nonetheless, the gratitude for my experience as Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States is like a galaxy: vast, immense, overwhelming, and limitless. All of the people I have met on this journey are stars. I see their sparkle one by one, and yet it is their collective light that shines the most. I repeatedly heard that states are born out of a common history and at times, a common enemy. What about the communities within those states? Are we born out of the human need to bond, to love, and, at times, a common sense of survival, to find safety? Liliana Rotaru said it best: "Dignity is underfunded, and yet it is the greatest need." Whatever we are born out of, however, those elements secure the idea that our lives count, no matter our identity, history, and practice. I was able to garner [this] from this extraordinarily beautiful, exhausting, inspiring, and challenging experience.”. 

Beniamino Pagliaro (MMF’23): “The gift belongs to the one who receives it, but credit goes to the one who gives it. … As I write, I have images of the journey in my mind, pages and pages of notes, stories that will be told. Maybe that guy who initially exaggerated about life-changing experiences was somewhat right after all.”. 

Hector Mujica (MMF’23): “This experience put into perspective what’s at stake not just in Europe but also here at home. A nationalistic America that turns its back on Europe would put at risk the promise of a free, democratic world for everyone. People-to-people exchange has the power to create proximity, affinity, and deeper empathy for the shared problems of different communities. In the spirit of proximity, this fellowship is fostering leaders who will be more inclusive, thoughtful, and engaged with diplomacy and the importance of building cultural bridges between the US, Europe, and the world.” 

More reflections and impressions from fellows are below.  

Jamaal Glenn 

William Canestaro 

George Plevris 

Irene Onyeagbako Mofunanya 

James Hunter 

Seren Selvin Korkmaz 

Nino Tvaltvadze 

For more insights, check out the hashtag #GMFMMF on LinkedIn! 

The 2023 Marshall Memorial Fellowship program was made possible through the generous support of KfW Development Bank, Cleveland Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Romanian American Foundation, and Phokion Potamianos. 

Program Experts

Program Experts