Content Block Preview: Speaker Bios: HBCU Influencers Roundtable of Professors, Career Counselors

Speaker Bios:


Barbara Alston, (moderator) Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Global Public Affairs 

Barbara Rascoe Alston is a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs in the Office of the Executive Director. She currently directs strategy, communications, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, and employee engagement plans to help the Bureau achieve its mission to effectively communicate the Department’s foreign policy objectives to domestic and foreign audiences. Her Department of State career began in 2008 in the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the Office of Children’s Issues. Throughout her career at State, Barbara has developed communications campaigns and strategies to engage Congress, the American public, State employees, intercountry partners, and interagency stakeholders to promote and advance the work of the Department. Barbara joined the Bureau of Public Affairs Office of Public Engagement where she served as Lead Public Affairs Specialist spearheading outreach efforts to engage American audiences to build an understanding of how the Department advances foreign policy objectives at home and abroad. She coordinated and led many programs to engage diverse communities including women, states outside the Washington, D.C., area, economic forums and coordinated the Department of State’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Foreign Policy Conference for several years. Her efforts raised the profile of public programming among internal and external stakeholders. Through her experience at State and in the private sector, she’s gained expertise in creating and executing strategic communications campaigns, designing web content, managing social media platforms, engaging press, and promoting public information exchange and forums. Barbara is passionate about developing the strategic direction of organizations, managing teams, inspiring the next generation to lead, and leading people through change. Barbara is also a graduate, advocate, and ally of HBCUs. She has a B.S. in Communications from Jackson State University and has done graduate study at George Mason University’s School of International Commerce and Policy and the University of Memphis Graduate School of Communications.   


Yolonda Kerney, Diplomat in Residence, Bureau of Global Talent Management

Yolonda Kerney joined the United States diplomatic corps as a Foreign Service Officer in 2004. She served as Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica; Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon; and Economic Officer and Chief Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Guinea. She is the recipient of several Department of State Meritorious Honor and Superior Honor awards, and the Lois Roth Award for Excellence in Cultural Diplomacy. Yolonda is a proud alumna of Howard University, where she earned undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in music history and literature, and religious studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, she served as a music historian at the United States Library of Congress.


Dineo Brinson, Academic Exchange Specialist, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Dineo Brinson is a seasoned, bilingual international affairs leader with 25 years of expertise in federal government, academia, and nonprofit settings. Dineo serves in the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Academic Exchange Programs as an Academic Exchange Specialist for the Fulbright Program, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021. Dineo is a proud graduate of an HBCU. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Spelman College and studied abroad in the Dominican Republic. After serving as an investigator with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for four years and as associate director of Alumnae Affairs at Spelman College for over a decade, she decided to pursue her Master of Science degree in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. As a graduate student she had the opportunity to serve the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Panama in the Public Affairs Section. In service to others, Dineo has also hosted many international scholars and professionals for Department of State programs, including the Fulbright Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Young African Leaders Initiative. She mentors students and young professionals connected through Spelman College, the NAFSA Association of International Educators, and the Society for International Development, Washington Chapter. Dineo strongly believes in the transformational power of language, education, and international exchanges and has traveled to over 17 countries (and counting) to experience the diverse cultures of the world we inhabit.


Sherry Young, Academic Programs Branch Chief, Bureau of Global Talent Management

Sherry Young started her career with the Department of State in 2009 in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. She worked directly with the recruitment and program management of Personal Services Contractors until moving to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2011 to work with the Bureau of Global Talent Management, Office of Talent Services. Since moving to Charleston, Sherry has held several positions across the office, ranging from Recruitment and Staffing, Pathways Internship Program, Leave Bank Programs, and the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps before landing her promotion to Supervisor over the Academic Programs Team in early 2020.