Alumni (National Fellow)

Vanessa Walker

National Fellow
B.A. Whitman College (2000)
M.A. University of Wisconsin (2004)
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin (2010)
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
Jeremi Suri
University of Texas, Austin
Fields of Interest:
Foreign Policy
Human Rights
Region: Latin America


Vanessa Walker is the Morgan Assistant Professor in Diplomatic History at Amherst College. Dr. Walker’s primary areas of interest are the history of U.S. foreign relations and the history and politics of human rights. Walker approaches foreign relations in broad terms to engage ideology, race, gender, culture, and (of course) policy, as important forces in shaping the United States’ global interactions throughout its history. Moreover, she likes to explore how foreign entities - both governmental and non-governmental - have shaped the country domestically, influencing American ideals, identities, society, and government institutions.

Thesis Description:

Ambivalent Allies: Advocates, Diplomats, and the Struggle for an ’American’ Human Rights Policy
Walker’s dissertation examined the interactions between advocacy groups and foreign diplomats in the 1970s and early 1980s, revealing the way human rights policy was conceptualized, implemented, and evaluated. Highlighting the role that Chilean and Argentine advocates played in catalyzing the emerging human rights movement in Washington, D.C., her dissertation sought to place this advocacy-diplomacy relationship in its proper international context. More broadly, Walker considered how the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations approached human rights as a component of the U.S. relations with Latin America. Her dissertation placed particular emphasis on the Carter administration’s relations with Chile and Argentina, and reevaluated its successes and failures in the context of a larger human rights moment, and its objectives to redirect U.S. foreign policy away from Cold War containment and intervention.

Connect with our community

View Alumni



The Jefferson Scholarship and the Walentas Scholarship are the premier undergraduate scholarships at the University of Virginia.

Read more


Learn more about the Foundation’s Professorship Program.

Read more


The Foundation supports world-class graduate students through Jefferson Fellowships and National Fellowships.

Read more