Maryann Nolan Chong (2007)
Program Operations Specialist, USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
Maryann knew at the beginning of college that she would apply for the Peace Corps after graduation. She left in July of 1999 to serve in the Youth and Families at Risk Program in Chone, Ecuador for two and a half years. After returning home and before entering William & Mary Law School in the fall of 2004, Maryann worked in both the public and private sectors, as an Intelligence Research Specialist for the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network investigating money laundering schemes and terrorist financing operations, and as a Critical Infrastructure Protection Analyst as part of a contract with the Department of Navy Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, assisting in the development and publication of the Department of Navy’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Manual.
William and Mary Law School provided Maryann with the opportunity to extend her international and work experience into the justice sector. During the summer after her 1L year, Maryann studied EU Law and Politics in Madrid, Spain as part of William & Mary Law’s Study Abroad Program. In her second year of law school, she studied legal protection and human rights in the EU and post conflict justice resolution. During her internship with the Center for Human Rights and Environment in Cordoba, Argentina after her second year of law school, she drafted an environmental debt swap program and worked on the research and development of two chapters for a publication on international legislation and legal precedent relating to paper and pulp mills. As a third year law student, Maryann had the opportunity to study non-profit law practice, human rights and Islamic law while she continued to delve deeper into post-conflict justice issues. After graduating from law school, she completed a Post Graduate Fellowship with International Bridges to Justice in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As an International Bridges to Justice Fellow, she had the opportunity to visit clients in prisons in Phnom Penh and around the country and provide legal support to indigent clients.
After returning to the U.S., Maryann took a position with the International Programs Division of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) as a Program Manager, working on a USAID project, the Kosovo Justice Support Program (KJSP). Working with NCSC gave her the opportunity to work on the KJSP project, where she learned more about rule of law and access to justice programs and their practical implementation. In addition, she contributed to justice sector development projects and human rights projects in Egypt, Japan, Korea, and Lebanon. She also had the opportunity to hone her research and writing skills by aiding in the development of proposals for projects in Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Liberia, Mexico, Pakistan, and Rwanda. Maryann worked with Ministry of Justice officials from many countries, both in Washington, D.C. and while abroad, and guided the implementation of USAID and State Department projects.
Maryann joined East-West Management Institute as a Senior Program Manager in May 2010, focusing on the implementation of USAID's Strengthening Ecuadorian Justice Project. Working on project start-up and implementation was a great opportunity for her to exercise practical legal skills (for example application of U.S. and foreign employment law and property law, and USAID Acquisition Regulations and Federal Acquisition Regulations) while working in the international development field. This work allowed her to balance legal skills work with research and writing on rule of law, access to justice, and human rights issues, working with U.S. and foreign officials as well as international justice sector operators.
Currently, Maryann is a Program Operations Specialist with USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), within the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). OFDA is responsible for leading and coordinating the U.S. Government's response to disasters overseas. OFDA responds to an average of 70 disasters in 56 countries every year to ensure aid reaches people affected by rapid on-set disasters—such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods—and slow-onset crises, including drought and conflict. OFDA experts worldwide and in D.C. help countries prepare for, respond to, and recover from humanitarian crises. When disaster strikes, OFDA sends regional and technical experts to the affected country to identify and prioritize humanitarian needs. In the wake of a large-scale disaster, OFDA can deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to coordinate and manage an optimal U.S. Government response, while working closely with local officials, the international community, and relief agencies. Maryann's role in OFDA is to work on finance, budget, and appropriations issues, collaborating with OFDA's financial stakeholders, such as the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department’s Bureau for Foreign Assistance, DCHA’s Office of Program, Policy, and Management, and Congress.