Dr. Jessica Piombo is an associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), where she teaches courses on African politics, U.S. foreign policy, comparative politics, and ethnic politics and conflicts. My teaching and research focus on political transitions, transitional regimes, and post-conflict governance; institutional ways to channel and shape political identities; mechanisms to manage ethnic conflict; U.S. foreign policy towards Africa; the U.S. military’s role in reconstruction and stabilization; and international peace negotiations in Africa. In 2012, I was on sabbatical to research how styles of international mediation influence the substance of peace negotiations in South Africa and Burundi.
In 2013, together with three colleagues I won a Minerva Award to conduct a study examining the relationship between state-building and peace-building through the lens of public service delivery at the subnational level in Cambodia, Laos, and Uganda. In 2015, we added Rwanda and research continued through the end of 2018. The team wrote two journal articles from the research and are individually producing additional outputs. .
Together with Pierre Englebert (Pomona College and The Atlantic Council), I won a second Minerva award in 2017. This project, titled "All Intervention is Local," explores how domestic political dynamics shape international interventions to build state security capacity, focusing on case studies in eastern Africa, western Africa, and the Sahel. The project began fieldwork in 2019. Field research is currently suspended due to COVID 19.
While at NPS, I have sought to be a mentor and leader, serving on many departmental and univeristy committees. I've been a member of our faculty governance organization, the Faculty Council, and in 2019 was the Chair of the Faculty (an elected position). In this role, I was the voice of the faculty and represented the faculty to the university administration. I've been on the executive board of the Faculty Council since 2016. I've participated in the search for an NPS Provost and Academic Dean (2020), chaired multiple school-wide award committees, been involved in revisions for the Faculty Handbook and Faculty Council Bylaws, working on improving contracting and budgetary processes, and consistently served on departmental program, evaluation and hiring committees. I'm both a team player and a leader. Through these experiences, I've honed a leadership style built on authenticity and empathy, yet which is also organized and focused on efficiency and achieving concrete outcomes.
Prior to joining NPS, I completed my Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My dissertation and early work focused on South African politics and elections, and I have been a visiting scholar at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, the University of the Western Cape (Department of Political Studies), the University of Cape Town (in the Centre for Social Science Research and the African Studies Centre), and at the Center for African Studies at Stanford University.
I am open to inquiries for consultancies and evaluations, especially contract research, teaching opportunities, election monitoring and program evaluations. With the right opportunity, I would consider a change of full-time employment.