Meet John

John Chappell with 1964 Freedom Summer Alumnus - 2018
John Chappell with 1964 Freedom Summer Alumnus – 2018

I am currently a joint J.D./M.S. in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University, where I study U.S. foreign policy. I hope to build a career where I can help redefine the United States’ role in a rapidly changing world. I want to push my country to pursue diplomacy over domination, prioritize human needs over corporate profits, and cooperate with allies and rivals alike to solve global challenges like climate change and nuclear proliferation. I am interested in working on teams dedicated to shaping foreign policy decisions and conversations, whether in government, on Capitol Hill, or in the advocacy sphere.

John Chappell with friends in Tunisia 2018
John Chappell with friends in Tunisia – 2018

I first became interested in U.S. foreign policy as a student ten years ago, when I began learning Arabic from a Syrian teacher at the onset of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Now, a decade later, I’ve lived, worked, and traveled throughout the Middle East and North Africa, seeing firsthand the human costs of decisions made in Washington.

Before moving to Washington, DC, I learned about grassroots activism, race, and injustice as a political organizer in Mississippi. Working alongside young activists and veteran civil rights leaders alike, I co-founded a voting rights nonprofit, advised political campaigns, launched a successful racial gerrymandering lawsuit, and advocated for the removal of a Confederate statue. My experiences in Mississippi taught me the importance of popular movements in actualizing our democracy and showed me the deep-seated, structural inequalities that pervade our nation.

Participating in the Model International Criminal Court, Berlin 2015

I earned my undergraduate degree in Arabic and International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.

I’m a proud New Mexican with roots in Albuquerque, Taos, and Roswell, a student of Mississippi’s long struggle for freedom, and a resident of Washington, DC, where you can find me searching for the capital’s best tacos.

What I’ve done

National Security Action

Summer Fellow

I crafted public-facing strategic messaging for weekly press releases critiquing Trump’s foreign policy decisions, created messaging fact sheets based on a spring 2020 NSA poll on swing voters’ perceptions of Trump’s foreign policy, and wrote toolkits to guide Congressional campaign staff on messaging around COVID-19 and ending the forever war. I also performed quick-response research on foreign policy topics to inform press releases, videos, and social media posts and tracked developments in over 100 House and Senate races, especially with regard to national security issues.

Washington DC, May – August 2020

Foreign Policy for America

Spring Policy Fellow

I researched and wrote daily news brief and weekly forecast emails for FP4A members. I also assessed over 500 congressional candidates’ viability, foreign policy positions, leadership potential, and personal background to identify potential endorsements and regularly crafted concise backgrounder memos on congressional candidates under consideration for endorsement. Finally, I performed quantitative analysis of voting patterns and political variables for a report on Congressional nuclear policy and created quantitative tools to assess voting records relative to constituencies and inform the endorsement process.  

Washington DC, January – May 2020

Middle East Institute

Project Coordinator

I oversaw four high-profile events associated with the grand opening of MEI’s new headquarters and art gallery, which required coordinating between ten team members. I also wrote and edited grants, promotional materials, donor profiles, and other products to support the grand opening of MEI’s headquarters and the launch of the organization’s art gallery.

Washington DC, June – August 2019

University of Mississippi Intensive Arabic Program

Teaching Assistant & Tutor

I taught lessons to a class of twelve incoming freshmen in an intensive, two-month-long Arabic course consisting of four hours of instruction every weekday. I now individually tutor Arabic Flagship students in need of additional instruction.

Oxford MS, June – July 2017, October 2018 – May 2019

University of Mississippi College Democrats


I researched, co-authored, and advocated for a student senate resolution to move a Confederate monument from the heart of campus to a Confederate graveyard. The resolution passed in the student senate with unanimous affirmation and progressed through the university’s three other governing bodies, receiving coverage from national and international media. I also led weekly meetings, set long term goals, and liaised with candidates for office.

Oxford MS, February – April 2019

Lafayette County Blue Wave Working Group

Steering Committee Member

I designed a Lafayette County (MS) voter engagement strategy for a coordinated campaign between three Democratic nominees in national races. Using Votebuilder, I targeted likely voters, created turfs for canvassing, managed phone banks, and generated mailing lists. I also trained 30 volunteers in using political data and 50 others in best practices of political organizing. In August, I arranged a roundtable with university students and Senate candidate Mike Espy to discuss policy priorities. In the November 6 election, we achieved a Democratic victory in Lafayette County, which typically votes Republican. Lafayette’s turnout reached a record 53.5% during the 2018 midterms, or about 90% of 2016 turnout.

Oxford MS, June – November 2018

Middle East Institute

Development Intern & Grant Writer

I crafted a $200,000 proposal for an undergraduate policy competition focusing on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. I conducted in-depth research on prospective and established donors and summarized findings in written and oral formats.

Washington DC, June – October 2018

Mississippi Votes

Co-Founder & Deputy Director

I co-founded the only statewide nonprofit in Mississippi that focuses on civic engagement for young people. As deputy director, I designed and implemented educational and field-based programs to engage inactive voters in the democratic process, cultivated a volunteer base of over 100 people, created and maintained structures to track volunteer participation and performance across programs, directed seminars to inform voters about challenges in Mississippi’s voting process, and taught techniques for organizing communities around civic engagement. In the course of this work, I discovered and presented a case of racial gerrymandering that resulted in a successful Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the state of Mississippi. As a project coordinator in 2018, I arranged part of a visit of 1964 Freedom Summer veterans to volunteer for Mississippi Votes, resulting in coverage by the New York Times.

Oxford MS, January – September 2017

Baskets of Africa, Inc.

Procurement Specialist

I coordinated the procurement of over 2000 pieces of fair trade artwork with Arabic-speaking artisans and merchants from around Morocco. I established quality standards with artisans to ensure a supply of high-quality work to be sold internationally, and arranged the importation of Moroccan damascene silver jewelry, allowing it to be sold for the first time in the United States.

Meknes, Morocco and Oxford MS, April 2016 – February 2017

University of Mississippi Department of History

Research Assistant

I compiled two bibliographies of 250 primary sources in English and Arabic for projects on modern Egyptian political history, and analyzed and summarized the memoirs of an early 20th century British anti-imperialist activist involved in Egypt’s nationalist movement.

Oxford MS, January – December 2016

Rebel Global Connections

Board Member & President

I led a student organization that brings international and American students together to plan educational events teaching about world cultures in Mississippi schools. I coordinated and carried out events that reached over 200 elementary students, engaging a team of 20 volunteers.

Oxford MS, September 2015 – May 2017


Oxford Group Leader

I led a team of seven student advocates engaged in citizen lobbying for international development policy in the US Congress. I also organized talks attended by approximately 80 people at the University of Mississippi by global health advocates from Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Oxford MS, September 2015 – May 2016

Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias and Ward PA


I performed legal research for local and international cases while working with internationally recognized criminal defense and civil rights attorney Nancy Hollander.

Albuquerque NM, April 2015

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What Progressives Can Learn From Martin Luther King’s Vietnam Speech

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about morality and strategy in US foreign policy. After reading Ben Rhodes’ book The World As It Is, I decided to read some of the most significant foreign policy speeches of the last century, ranging from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech of 1918 to Barack Obama’s “A …

Speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford

It was an honor to speak about defending Mississippi’s democracy at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford at their January 20 service, just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I had never attended a UU service before, but I received a warm welcome from a vibrant community of Oxonians who, instead of following a single …

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