Kirsten Gelsdorf

Senior Lecturer and Director of Global Humanitarian Policy
Email Address
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett L028
Curriculum Vitae
Education & Training
Master of Law and Diplomacy in Humanitarian Affairs and Food Security, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
B.A. in History/Asian Studies and International Environmental Affairs, Dartmouth College
Courses Taught
Introduction to International Humanitarian Affairs
Operational Disaster Response
Policy Development in International Humanitarian Assistance
Professional Engagement

As Director of Global Humanitarian Policy, Kirsten brings 19 years of experience working in the humanitarian sector; most recently serving as the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Innovation section at the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Her career includes long-term field postings and operational deployments to numerous emergencies including the international responses to Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, the Ethiopian Famine, the South African Regional Food Crisis, the Liberian War, the Tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan Earthquake, the Timor-Leste Security Crisis, the Global Food Crisis and the Haiti Earthquake. She also served as a humanitarian advisor to President Clinton in his role as the UN Special Envoy for Haiti and as a policy advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the global food crisis in 2008. 

She has led major policy processes and authored numerous high-profile policy reports documents that have been implemented by Member States and adopted in key UN resolutions. She has been the guest editor of Journal special editions and a Senior Researcher for Tufts University. 

She has taught courses at UVA for the Batten School, Global Studies, and Liberal Arts Seminars. She has also taught as an Associate Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. 

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a Master degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.