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Pt. 2, 30 Spotlights for 30 Years


Photograph by Bradley H. Slade


Analyst > U.S. Department of State, Utah

The woman who has trained both children and foreign officials

Elizabeth Crook got the international career she had always wanted—but it wasn’t until she was forty-five. But that was OK by her because that meant she also got the family she had always wanted too.

When her six children were old enough, Crook started working as an analyst for the U.S. Department of State, writing papers for U.S. policymakers. Then she began traveling around the world teaching foreign civil servants, military officers, and intelligence officials important analytic skills to help them better evaluate problems and make wiser decisions for their countries. She also worked with the National Counterterrorism Center in DC and taught a course on counterterrorism.

Now retired, Crook and her husband, Fred—who met in the ’60s while representing Taiwan at Model United Nations—spent the last three years in China as humanitarian missionaries for the Church. They oversaw the distribution of about 18,000 wheelchairs and worked on sanitation projects.

Having recently returned to Utah, Crook is still filling her passport with stamps and keeping up on world affairs. A global perspective is about having “an attitude of being interested in other peoples and other cultures,” she says.


Counterterrorism officer > Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Austria

Transnational security is his game

A counterterrorism officer in the Action Against Terrorism Unit for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Paul Picard works to prevent terrorists from moving through international borders. Before his first assignment, in Tajikistan, Picard had been a missionary in Armenia and Russia and then served three years in the French Army, where he was deployed three times to Kosovo and twice to Afghanistan—all while studying at BYU and supporting a wife and two children.

How did he manage his time? “Despite a very busy life, I never studied on Sundays,” he says. “Numerous times I was miraculously blessed in my schoolwork because I kept the Sabbath day holy no matter what urgent projects I had to deliver on Monday morning.”

Picard’s 2008 international relations degree “shaped me into what I am today,” he says. “The knowledge I gained has given me a decisive advantage in my various assignments abroad. . . . These skills help me every day to understand and analyze current affairs and to foresee emerging threats in the context in which I work.” [Illustration by Joel Kimmel]

Courtesy Alexander Struk


associate consultant > Bain & Company, London

The up-and-coming changemaker

Browsing through the magazines in his high school library, Alexander Struk came across an issue of the Atlantic Monthly—which led him to find The Economist and then World Affairs. “There were all these things going on in the world that I had no idea about,” he says. “Flipping through these magazines made me feel like the world was a rich, interesting, and exciting place.”

That global interest led Struk to the Kennedy Center. He interned at the human rights NGO Geneva Call, studied abroad at Cambridge, edited the BYU Political Review, participated in Model United Nations, and graduated with a double major in international relations and philosophy in 2011. Struk then earned a master’s at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was introduced to management consulting.

Originally from Canada, Struk has been working in management consulting at Bain London since graduating. Though he isn’t sure what the future holds, he is enjoying the incredible diversity of London and learning skills that he hopes will give him the ability to be constructive in the world and put him in a position to improve people’s lives.


Vice president and general counsel > Perry Homes Inc.; Adjunct faculty, BYU, Utah

Democracy’s devoted advocate

As a new law student with a BYU international relations degree in his pocket, Bill Perry attended the 1997 UN Conference on Human Settlements in Nairobi to lobby family-related issues. What he learned surprised him: international law isn’t necessarily created democratically.

Fifteen years later, that experience influences the way he coteaches the Kennedy Center’s Model UN class. “I want students to critically think about the way international law is created,” he says, “to understand that I think there’s a better way.”

In addition to teaching, Perry is vice president and general counsel for the family business, Perry Homes—a real-estate development company in Salt Lake City. He is also a member of the Utah Land Use and Eminent Domain Advisory Board and the Utah Commission on Civic and Character Education, the principal sponsor of the GettyReady campaign to increase civics and character in the community.

Though the majority of Perry’s work is focused locally, he keeps an international outlook. “All aspects of our economy are now global,” he says. “It’s impossible for us to think we’re going to be successful without having an international perspective.” [Illustration by Joel Kimmel]


Policy and markets analyst > NY Fed, New York City

Financial-markets analyst for policymakers

The guy behind the guy behind the policymaker, Paul Dozier is also the guy who never stops talking about his international coverage areas—Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and his next overseas adventure. Dozier came to work at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2009. “I was asked to cover euro-area markets and was one of the primary coverage analysts when the euro-area fiscal crisis hit,” he says. “It was stressful and invigorating.”

Back in 1994 as a BYU student, Dozier represented the United States at the national Model UN competition, taking home first place with his team. He has since joined with the Kennedy Center to cohost presentations by luminaries in international affairs, politics, media, and business.

As a policy and markets analyst Dozier watches and reports on European financial, political, and economic developments. “I like digging into complicated issues and figuring out what really drives markets and how policymakers can address issues,” he says. “And I really like that our objective here is to formulate solutions that will ideally allow the economy to grow.” [Illustration by Joel Kimmel]

Courtesy Joel Wiest


Senior vice president of finance > Toys“R”Us, New Jersey

In the business of fun

Working in the toy business is like being dealt a hand of wild cards—it’s fun and “the rewards are endless,” says Joel Wiest, senior vice president of finance at Toys “R” Us and a BYU international relations graduate. “Our company exists to bring joy and happiness into the lives of children.”

More than 35 years ago Wiest was convinced a career in international relations wouldn’t earn him a living, so he went to business school and wound up in retail—and eventually in toys. But with more than half of “R” Us stores outside the United States, he gets to do his share of international work.

Wiest’s IR degree also taught him an important lesson: “Seek to understand where people are coming from and realize that when there are differences they aren’t necessarily adversarial.” To maintain that perspective, he leaves the ivory tower at least quarterly and spends time in the stores observing people. “It’s important to get out and kick the tires and understand how hard people work,” he says.

Photograph by Bradley H. Slade


Cofounder and copresident > USNC for UN Women Utah Chapter

Advocate for the under-privileged

If Nikki Eberhardt were one word, she would be empowerment. But she isn’t just one word: she is brimming with them. “My life goal is to help others—particularly the disadvantaged and silenced—find voice and joy,” says Eberhardt. And she lives her life by those words.

Eberhardt was taught from a young age to be cognizant of others—specifically people in difficult circumstances. While earning her MA in international development from the Kennedy Center in 2001, she took her thesis to Bolivia with Choice Humanitarian. There she taught the indigenous staff how to make their projects more effective. Not long after, she says, “I realized that [my efforts] could be scaled up to work on global issues; I could be an instrument to help catalyze the social movement to end extreme poverty. I also wanted to contribute to economic and political change in the United States for disadvantaged groups.”

Knowing she couldn’t effect global change alone, Eberhardt turned to the rising generation. After teaching for four years at Salt Lake Community College, she dove into a PhD program at the University of Utah. As an adjunct professor, Eberhardt requires her students to do community development work each semester. “It’s a way for me to expose millennials to the inequality of society but, more important, to empower them to be change makers,” she says.

As the cofounder and copresident of the Utah Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women, Eberhardt promotes local awareness, advocacy, and fund-raising to reduce global inequality and empower women and girls in developing countries. In May the chapter addressed the topic of girls’ education and signed a petition to help return Nigerian girls back to their families. Eberhardt also works closely with United Way to improve refugee youth education outcomes. She manages a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and was business development and event manager for the Global Poverty Project. And she’s a wife and a mother of three.

Eberhardt’s next endeavor has to do with the words collective impact. “We have to work together in order to make significant change,” she says.

Photograph by Dodge Billingsley


Executive director and founder > Digital Harbor Foundation, Baltimore

Advocate for teen well-being

Andrew Coy’s first nonprofit experience was as a BYU student in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami. He and his brother noticed organizations rebuilding houses but not emotional infrastructure. “When you lose a house, you lose memories,” Coy says. “Our idea was to teach young people affected by the tsunami to document things they cared about.”

A critical connection formed when the brothers met with Cory Leonard, assistant director at the Kennedy Center. “Cory gave us some good pointers and helped us get initial funding,” Coy says.

Coy is now executive director and founder of the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), a nonprofit tech center for youth based in Baltimore. DHF formed as Coy was helping students create websites for clients after school. When more students became involved, his after-school project turned into a full-fledged center.

DHF has been operating for fourteen months and has involved more than 350 students. One of its purposes is to level the playing field and make success a product of hard work rather than zip code, so students are admitted based on interest and commitment rather than test scores. “[Students] need a hand up, not a handout,” Coy explains. “They need someone to give them an opportunity.”

The center’s core consists of about fifty high school students who come two or three times a week to work on projects ranging from 3-D printers to game creation. Students even compete in teams to build websites for real clients. “Learning how to learn and learning to love learning are the two skills I want young people I work with to leave this space with,” Coy says.

“When I came here the kids I taught needed a pathway,” he says. “That is one thing I feel the Kennedy Center did for me as a student. The idea was don’t just learn about what’s going on in the world, play a role, make a difference, give back—and do so on a global scale.”


Finance director > Best Buy Mobile China and Five Star Appliance, China

The proactive financial planner

A specialist in financial planning and analysis, Betty Yang currently works in China as the finance director of Best Buy’s Chinese subsidiaries, Five Star Appliance and Best Buy Mobile China. Yang has fourteen years of experience working in Big Four audit firms, SOX, and FP&A and gaining global experience within multinational Fortune 500 companies in the United States and China.

Yang received an MA in international and area studies from the Kennedy Center in 2001. “University experience then was quite different in the U.S. than in China,” she says. “Students in the U.S. had much more freedom and much more responsibility. So I learned the proactive approach of taking charge of my own training, which continued into my career when I decided to learn and improve myself continually.” She received the BYU University Research Fellowship for her thesis.

For those still on the path to their careers, Yang advises to “learn how to study and seek answers from various channels, such as professors and other students. That will last lifelong and will help you in your careers.” [Illustration by Joel Kimmel]

Photograph by Bradley H. Slade


Partner > Public Development Partners, Utah

Spearheading value

Off the coast of the ancient maritime town of Lagos, Portugal, thirteen-year-old Nuno Battaglia took his first dive into the clear ocean waters. “I remember borrowing my brother’s friend’s freediving equipment—a pair of fins, a snorkel, a mask, and a spear,” he says. “I was in the water for fifteen minutes, and it changed my life.”

With that borrowed equipment, Battaglia and his brother began their own freediving and spearfishing business. Eventually they saved enough to buy their own gear, then wetsuits, then a boat, and then a trailer and a car. “Business was always in my blood,” he says.

Education, however, wasn’t really an option for Battaglia, who grew up among political oppression and civil war in Angola and Portugal in the 1960s and ’70s. But after his family accepted the gospel when he was thirteen, he made education a priority and set a goal to come to BYU. He saved money from the spearfishing business, served a mission in Portugal, and then spent two years in the Portuguese military, where he became a lieutenant with 400 men under his charge. He first attended Ricks College, where he met his wife, Carene, and then arrived at BYU.

Finding a home in the Kennedy Center, Battaglia majored in international relations because he wanted to do international business. He added an MBA from BYU in 1997. Straight out of business school he landed a job with Leucadia, an international holding company that invests in a diverse range of businesses, scouting out global investment opportunities. In 2002 he cofounded HealthEquity—the nation’s largest nonbank custodian of health savings accounts—which just filed for an IPO. He now has a company in Utah that develops commercial real estate and makes private equity investments.

For Battaglia, who is on the Kennedy Center Advisory Council, business isn’t really about money: “I would like to think that I’m a creator of value—whether that be in business or in family or in any situation I find myself in. That’s what I’d like my legacy to be.”

And his passion for freediving and spearfishing remains. Battaglia occasionally participates in freediving spearfishing tournaments and in 2006 was on the two-man team that won the U.S. national freshwater championship.

Visit our Facebook and LinkedIn feeds for additional content about our Thirty for Thirty—photos, filmed interviews, and more. And please send us a note or write a post: we want to hear about your experiences, journeys, and connections and how you have been influenced by the Kennedy Center.

See Pt 1 and Pt 3 for more Spotlights from this issue.