Andrea Walther-Puri

Andrea Walther-Puri


Fields of Study

  • International Security Studies
  • Self-designed Field of Study: Africa
  • Southwest Asian and Islamic Studies


United States

On choosing Fletcher

My mentor and former boss was a Fletcher alum. Over the course of a winter blizzard car ride, he convinced me I needed to take a step out of my professional career and invest in a graduate degree. I chose Fletcher specifically because it was not in Washington, DC, or New York where I knew I would feel pressure to find an internship while in school. I really wanted to be able to step into academia and have the time and space to think about things fully. I really liked that Fletcher was considered a practitioner school, full of students who come from countries on all continents to spend time together in Medford, and then head back out all over the world to get stuff done. I didn't find the same approach and student body type at the other APSIA schools. Finally, being in Boston I took full advantage of being able to cross-register for courses at the other schools in the area (Harvard Kennedy School, MIT, etc.).

On the MALD and PhD

The MALD provided the perfect balance of academic depth and breadth. Coming back now for the PhD has been a very strategic decision. Being a woman in a rank-conscious military community, I see a PhD as an important next step in validating my work experiences to date. Furthermore, I had spent six years working on counterterrorism issues in Africa and needed to step back. I felt I needed to create some time for myself to re-think the US's approach and analyze the effects of current policies, so that the US government can learn from this experience. I also regretted not taking the Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation series with Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and had kicked myself each day after graduation regretting this decision as the skills were so valuable to my work, so I am now finally taking those courses!

On the strength of the Fletcher network and community

We don't call it the Fletcher Mafia for nothing: during the second year of my MALD I had gained funding to attend a US counterterrorism regional training event in Bamako, Mali. I met a Fletcher alum the first night, and it totally changed the experience of the trip and what I was able to get out of it. That person has now grown into a dear friend and colleague. Every job I have gotten since graduating in 2009 has been through a Fletcher connection. I have hired (or recommended to be hired) multiple Fletcher students onto my teams in each of my jobs. If I needed to get stuff done amidst the morass that is the bureaucratic federal government, I found it most effective to reach out first to my Fletcher network of people in the offices/organizations to figure out how to do it most effectively. It is an incredible, incredible network if you choose to use it. Moreover, my favorite thing about Fletcher is the students. When you meet a Fletcherite, the first questions that tend to be asked do not center around where or with whom you previously worked, but around who you are as a person and what makes you happy. People have done absolutely incredible things - founded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), overseen teams in the field at a young age, or started their own successful companies - and you would never know it. People are kind, caring, thoughtful and incredibly humble. Fletcher is really a large family that provides an immense amount of challenge, encouragement and support. Finally, I will forever be thankful to Fletcher for introducing me to my husband, Munish Puri, who I met while getting my MALD!

Activities involved in at Fletcher

  • Fletcher Students in Security
  • Women in International Security
  • WILD

Education before Fletcher

  • Bachelor of Arts, International Relations, Tufts University
  • Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, International Security Studies and Southwest Asian and Islamic Studies, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

Experience before Fletcher

  • Military Counterterrorism Programs Coordinator, US Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, Washington, DC
  • Regional Counterterrorism Program Manager for Africa, US Department of State, Bureau of Counterterrorism, Washington, DC
  • Chief of Party, Civil Military Operations Training, DAI, Bethesda, MD



French, German, English