Claire Sneed ’96 is a Foreign Affairs Officer with the Bureau of
Conflict and Stabilization Operations in the U.S. Department of State. Her Randolph-Macon
College education helped prepare her for a career that is dynamic, challenging,
“My professors nurtured my intellectual curiosity,” says Sneed, who majored in international relations and
French and minored in political science.
“The late Bruce Unger encouraged me to apply for a post-undergrad scholarship,”
says Sneed, “and that fellowship placed me with a foreign affairs think tank in
Prague, Czech Republic. Michael Fischbach brought history
to life, Aouicha Hilliard and Amy deGraff opened the world of French language and
literature to me, and Howard Davis was an inspiration to those of us who had the
privilege of participating in the Honors Program.”
Sneed met with a Tajik elder while on assignment in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2011.
During her two-year stint in Prague, Sneed learned Czech, conducted research and
organized conferences on Central European integration into NATO and the European
Union. “That experience catalyzed my career, and for that I will always be grateful
to R-MC,” she says.
As a senior, Sneed held an internship
at the United Nations in New York City. There she conducted
research for her senior thesis on female political and civic leadership
in Algeria. R-MC Trustee Dr. Elizabeth Wyatt hosted Sneed in her Brooklyn home.
“I have always been passionate about the role of women as agents of change,” says
Sneed. “In my current role with the State Department, I push policy makers to understand
problems and find solutions in conflict-affected and transitioning countries through
the perspective of local people, particularly women.” Sneed went on to earn her
master’s degree from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Her
specialization is in development economics and public international law.
Sneed cherishes her free time—what little she has, that is.
“With the amount of traveling I do, hobbies are hard to maintain, but when I can
find the time, I play tennis, go on long bike rides, and enjoy books, plays and
films, particularly on topics of history and international intrigue,” she says.
Living overseas for many years made it difficult to stay connected to fellow alumni,
but she hopes to change that.
“My oldest and dearest friends are from freshman year in Mary Branch dormitory—three
of them just traveled to Hawaii to be part of my wedding,” says Sneed, who will
soon move to England with her husband. “I try to keep up with my wonderful friends
from Delta Zeta
and the Honors Program, and I hope one of these days to even make it to Homecoming!”
Wherever she lives, Sneed carries with her an unmistakable Yellow Jacket pride.
“My advice to current students is simple,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to ask for
guidance from the faculty. The professors and staff can be your greatest allies.
They have a universe of contacts who can guide and help you to navigate an increasingly
difficult job market. There is some truth to ‘it’s who you know,’ so it is never
too early to start building your personal, academic and
professional networks. The dedication to students that R-MC professors and
staff demonstrate is the school’s greatest asset.”