Anna Batie graduated from Whitman College in 2004, and just finished her MA in Sociology at the University of Washington. After her adviser gave her a book to read about Serbian nationalism, Anna was hooked. She has since visited the former Yugoslavia three times, has lived in Serbia, and has fallen deeply in love with Belgrade's vibrancy, grittiness, and underground cafe-bars. Anna speaks Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, and will begin learning Slovenian while in the REECAS program. She plans to focus on how political cartoons and visual propaganda were used by different ethnic groups in both mainstream and alternative media during the breakup of Yugoslavia. After REECAS, Anna wants to continue her studies of the Balkans by getting a PhD in history and becoming a history professor.
Alexey V. Belyayev is a native of Omsk, Russia. He came to the United States in 2004 with his family, gained US citizenship, and received his BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He began his first year at the Jackson School of International Studies, REECAS in 2011 and is currently focusing on trade between Russia and the United States.
Eric Damiana graduated from Goucher College with a major in Russian in 2010, and immediately went into the REECAS program. He studied human rights and American-Russian relations while abroad at Smolny Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2008. He is interested in gender and sexual identity in Russia from a historical vein, and problems of human trafficking in Eastern Europe in a more contemporary context. His true love, however, is language itself, and he aspires to work in translation at some point after graduation. He also appreciates nonverbal communication, and as a result spends more time in the Seattle tango community than his coursework should allow.
Indra Ekmanis graduated with a BA in global studies and a minor in German from Arizona State University in 2011 and jumped right in to the REECAS MA program. Born in Germany to Latvian and American parents, Indra grew up with a strong appreciation for cultures and languages. This passion has manifested itself in her desire to study Latvia and the Baltics, as well as her love of Latvian folk dancing. Indra spent two months in 2010 as an intern with the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riga while conducting interviews for her undergraduate honors thesis on the Latvian Singing Revolution. Indra hopes to return to Latvia this summer to study the impact of nationalism on youth and politics.
Jason Flint received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Cum Laude, with Honors in his major of History and a minor in Russian and Slavic Literature from the University of Washington in 2011. After spending three months in Vienna, his appreciation for the history of the Habsburg Empire became his central focus in his studies, specifically during the reign of Franz Josef through the disintegration of the empire after World War I. He speaks German, some Russian and is studying Czech. Currently Jason is studying how the particular breakup of the Habsburg Empire set the stage for cyclical bouts of radical right wing extremism in the former Habsburg lands throughout the 20th century up until the present day. After graduation, he intends to continue on for his PhD in History. He loves reading (especially Central European and Russian history), listening to a variety of music, and enjoying a perfect cup of Viennese Melange while relaxing on the Ringstrasse.
MAJ Joseph Hess earned his commission in 2000 from the United States Military Academy and graduated with a Bachelors of Science. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps and following graduation, he attended the Quartermaster Officer's Basic Course at Fort Lee, Virginia. He was then assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington where he has served in various staff and command positions to include with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). In 2007, he deployed to Iraq on a Military Transition Team. In 2009, he graduated Logistics Captains Career Course and continued with school in the Czech language training at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA. Upon completion, he moved to the Czech Republic and conducted In-Country Training for the U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer program. He is currently working toward a REECAS MA. MAJ Hess was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in the local suburb Auburn. In 2006, he married the former Danielle Morris, and together they have a beautiful 3 year-old daughter, Amira Joy. They currently live in Tacoma.
Jessie Jenkins is currently a Masters Student at the University of Washington, in the Jackson School REECAS program. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in European Studies, with a focus on Russian security and Nuclear issues. In the REECAS program she intends to focus on Russia and its security, nuclear relations in the Middle East, specifically Iran. She has traveled abroad widely from South East Asia, Turkey, and Russia. She speaks Russian fluently and has a year of French. After graduate school, she intends on working for the State Department or some other government agency.
Originally from Texas, Vivian Lee spent most of her early years in Hong Kong and Vancouver, Canada. She became fascinated with Russia when studying the 1917 Russian Revolution for her A-Level exams. Returning back to Texas, she graduated with a BA in History from the University of North Texas in 2010. At the REECAS program she plans to study Russian history and political science, in particular foreign and military policies of the Soviet Union. She speaks Chinese, can read elementary French and Spanish, and is learning Russian. Although she frequently complains about the travelling, she really is fond of visiting new countries, experiencing new cultures, meeting interesting people, and learning about the odd fact now and then.
Laura Lucht discovered Russia while reading Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov on the school bus in the ninth grade. After earning undergraduate degrees in Linguistics and in Russian & Soviet Studies from U.C. San Diego, she decided to take her learning outside the classroom before pursuing graduate study. In this quest for life experience, she worked for two years on a sociolinguistic survey of minority language communities in Azerbaijan, and served for three years as an academic counselor at a private university in California. She now weaves together her academic and professional interests by considering scholarship as a force in ancient, recent and modern migration throughout the Silk Road region. She hopes that her current study of Kazak language will open future opportunities to facilitate student and scholar exchange to and from Central Asia.
Catherine Mangum graduated with distinction from Sonoma State University in 2007 with a BA in Global Studies, minor in German and a concentration in Eastern Europe. There, she studied Russia, Germany, and volunteered with the Alliance for the Studies of the Holocaust, an educational non-profit. After graduating, she took a position teaching English at a private language center in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Catherine's research focuses on Information Communication Technology development in Russia.  
Natalia Martinez-Paz is a concurrent degree student with the Evans School of Public Affairs and the REECAS program. She graduated in 2005 from the University of Washington with a degree in International Studies focusing on the Middle East. After studying ethnic conflict and post-conflict reconstruction in Cyprus, Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia, she is now focusing on comparing Bosnia's and Cambodia's experiences. She is a native speaker of Spanish and English, also speaks French and is learning Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian in order to reach her goal of 8 languages. She hopes to go pursue an academic career because she is a glutton for punishment. You can usually find her in the mountains on the weekends and in the summer (unless she's in some random country).
MJR Robert Patterson, a first year REECAS grad student, most recently completed a one year, in country training (ICT) program at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany. During the program at the Marshall Center he worked as a Military Representative at the US Embassies in Sofia, Bulgaria and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Prior to being assigned to the Marshall Center, he completed the Russian Basic Course at DLIFLC in Monterey. His last assignment prior to being assessed into the Foreign Area Officer branch was as the assistant professor of Military Science at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon, ROTC. Major Patterson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies at the University of Portland. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses.
Justin Paulsen hails from Kingwood, Texas, “The Livable Forest”! He first came in contact with Russia through a two-year church mission, living in Orenburg, Saratov, Togliatti, and Engels. He has not been able to give it up since, finishing a double Political Science and Russian major at Brigham Young University, then coming straight to the UW for master’s work, and even reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot for the third time this summer. In addition to the REECAS program, he is pursuing an MPA at the Evans School, where he also works as a research assistant for the Evans Policy Analysis and Research group doing research for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is happily married and has a little boy and baby girl to keep him busy and happy!
Aleksander Schilbach grew up as Sascha,a first-generation American hailing from Mukilteo, Washington. Strangely befitting of his first name, Sascha developed a fascination with all things Russian from an early age despite not having any Slavic heritage. While still a student at Willamette University, he studied Russian language at Tavrida National University in the Crimea, Ukraine, and Eastern European politics and economy at the University of Tartu’s EuroCollege in Estonia. He graduated in 2010 from Willamette University with a BA in International Studies with a focus on Russia and a BA in Russian Language. After a dicey situation in the Crimea involving Stalin-era flat, his botched attempt to fix a natural gas-powered hot water heater and his enraged Ukrainian host mother Luda, Sascha became interested in Russian energy security in Eastern Europe. Having arrived at the Jackson School after spending the summer working on Sakhalin Island, Sascha will focus his studies on Russian energy security and Russia’s Arctic policy. If he is not drinking espresso or studying, you’ll find him cleaning his bilge and tinkering with the sailboat he calls home.
Haley Sides grew up in Raymond, WA. After serving four years in the U.S. Air Force, she returned to college and earned her BA in Russian and Eurasian Studies at The Evergreen State College. During her last summer as a student at Evergreen, Haley traveled to Central Asia as part of an in-depth study of the history, culture, geography and politics of this fascinating region. This invaluable experience solidified her decision to pursue her Master’s degree in Russian and Central Asian Studies. Haley is interested in human rights activism and the relationship between environmental degradation and conflict within Central Asia. In her free time, she loves to read Russian literature and poetry, spend time with her five-year-old daughter, kayak, play volleyball, and to attempt, time and again, to master the art of cooking plov.
John Simeone John Simeone grew up in the Hudson River valley of New York state. Prior to college, John spent an academic year living in Vladimir, Russia (2002-2003). In 2007, he received his BS from Cornell University in Natural Resources and Development Sociology. In 2008, John enrolled in Middlebury College’s Summer Language School for Russian, and in June of 2010 he was the Resident Director for an ACTR (American Councils) 'Golden Ring' program in Vladimir. At the University of Washington, John is researching the ecological effects of Russia’s timber trade with China for his MS in the School of Forest Resources and export tariffs on Russian timber affects property rights and investment in the Russian Far East for his MA in the Jackson School. His non-academic interests include walking in the woods and mountains, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, and playing the Scottish Highland Bagpipe and Irish flute.
Suzanne Skaar graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2000. While at Evergreen, she focused on Eastern European Studies and Print Media. After college, she worked in the field of education in various roles, including teaching ESL in Japan. As a REECAS student, she has had the opportunity to serve as Research Assistant for the UW Center for Human Rights and Teaching Assistant for the UW Winter 2011 Athens Study Abroad Program, and briefly studied at the CLS Institute in Ufa, Bashkortostan, in Summer 2011. She's planning a career working with social justice issues after graduation.
Karl Starns was born and raised on the Mississippi Delta, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In between eating gumbo, crawfish and surviving hurricanes, he studied history and German at Louisiana State University which fostered his interest in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. His current study interests include Russian and German relations, Russian relations with the Ottoman Empire, Great power politics in East Europe and the Balkans, and Russian foreign policy. He speaks German, can read elementary French and learns Russian. He hopes to pursue an academic career. He enjoys learning languages, good histories, good people, good conversation, good food, good comics and good times.
Anne Thorsteinson is originally from Juneau, Alaska and graduated from the University of Washington in 2006 with a degree in Russian Language and History. After teaching English abroad in Budapest, Hungary and traveling through Eastern Europe, she returned to Seattle to work in the travel industry, designing private tours to Russia and the former Soviet countries. She plans to perfect her Russian language skills and to study economic and natural resource management issues in Russia and Central Asia while in the REECAS program.
 MJR Kirill A. Tsekanovskiy is a native of Nikolaev, Ukraine. After moving to Chicago in 1994 and receiving his B.A. in History from DePaul University in 2001, he joined the United States Army and spent the next seven years serving in Germany. Originally commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer, he has been selected to become a Foreign Area Officer. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and enjoys spending his free time with his wife Anna and daughter Nega. His research focuses on the modern history of the Russian military clergy.
Ilissa Velez graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in Geography. She applied to the Jackson Schools REECAS program to further her specialization in Russian area studies. Her interests are Russian crime, criminal justice, and law enforcement. She is also continuing studies in the Russian language. Since moving to Seattle from Texas, she is enjoying the change in climate and adores exploring the surrounding nature. Other pleasures include exploring foreign cities, Italian food and her family back in Texas.
Irina Vodonos is a native of Moscow, Russia. She received her BA degree from Barnard College and is pursuing an MPA from the Evans School of Public Affairs in addition to her REECAS studies. Irina is focusing on special education policy in Russia. Her past work experience includes stints at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Society and Medicine and at the Rainforest Alliance, and she currently works as a grant writer at WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents), a non-profit adoption and child welfare agency. When not studying or writing grants for WACAP, Irina can be found teaching Russian cooking classes, reading, gardening, or hiking.

Elizabeth Zherka is a UW alumna, having earned her Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, in European Studies from the Jackson School in 2008. Her minor was Women Studies and she received a Certificate in European Union Studies from the Center for West European Studies. Elizabeth is a dual citizen with the UK and the US, and has traveled extensively in Europe. She is currently pursuing her MAIS, as well as a certificate in International Development Policy and Management from the Evans School of Public Affairs. She has held TA positions in the Jackson School and the Political Science department, and is teaching a course on modern European culture in the Experimental College in 2012. Elizabeth was awarded the Boba fellowship for the summer of 2011, which helped support her costs to travel to Kosovo, where she conducted empirical research for her thesis as well as held an internship with Iniciativa Progresivë. Elizabeth holds a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year in Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian. Her thesis is focused on post-conflict civil society and capacity building in the Former Yugoslavia, specifically whether local women’s non-governmental organizations in post-conflict Kosovo have built human security.

The Ellison Center
REECAS Program
Box 353650
203B Thomson Hall
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-4852 phone
(206) 685-0668 fax