Kirsten Gelsdorf

Kirsten Gelsdorf

Professor of Practice of Public Policy, and Director of Global Humanitarian Policy
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

As Director of Global Humanitarian Policy, Kirsten brings almost 20 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 written peer-reviewed articles been the guest editor of Journal special editions focused on humanitarian crises, and in 2019 co-authored the book Understanding the Humanitarian World. She currently co-leads a large research initiative bringing together scholars, global practitioners, and students to develop research and engagement that contributes to supporting the needs of vulnerable populations caught in humanitarian crisis.

She is also the winner of the State of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, University of Virginia All-University Teaching Award, and the Batten School Excellence in Engagement in Public Policy and Leadership Award.

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