Two women standing outside behind a table.
W3D welcomes new members at the Student Organization Fair in September.

Who we are

W3D: Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development is a student organization at the Harvard Kennedy School that aims to elevate the visibility and impact of women at the Kennedy School interested in pursuing careers in the fields of security, diplomacy, and development.

Our mission is to:

  1. Cultivate women leaders
  2. Build professional development
  3. Foster community

We want to create a welcoming network for students who are interested in breaking into male-dominated fields or advancing within them. Our aim is to give women a chance to get more involved in these fields at HKS and beyond. We’ve teamed up with a network of Harvard alumnae who are leading in these fields in D.C. and around the world.

What we do

We are among the most engaged student organizations on campus. We collaborate and organize many events with staff and fellows from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Center’s Intelligence, Defense, and Future of Diplomacy projects. 

This academic year, we have hosted over 40 events! Here is a small sample of the events we’ve hosted in the last year:

  • In September, we hosted Maryum Saifee, senior advisor in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the U.S. Department of State, for an Ask Me Anything event. Saifee shared insights on current diversity and inclusion initiatives at State and the importance of women’s leadership at all levels of foreign policy.
  • In November, we hosted Intelligence Project Fellow Kristin Wood and Kelli Holden, two former CIA senior officers, for a discussion on careers in intelligence.
  • Most recently, we celebrated International Women’s Day with the Women’s Caucus and Women of Color: Working Beyond the Margin Caucus on campus to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

We also love hosting community events that bring students together. We organize regular happy hours, holiday celebrations, and networking events. We believe we can learn just as much from each other as from accomplished professionals.

Three women standing behind a table.
Members of W3D celebrate International Women’s Day in the Sunshine Lobby.


How to get involved

As an HKS student, there are many different ways to get involved with W3D.

  • Attend speaker series with leading practitioners in defense, diplomacy, and development.
  • Help coordinate an event or serve as a moderator for a panel discussion.
  • Serve on the W3D leadership team to gain organizing, event planning, public speaking, and leadership experience (apply in September).
  • Network and connect with other students at our happy hours, holiday celebrations, and other community events.
  • Participate in our annual W3D mentorship program, which provides an opportunity to connect with accomplished Harvard alumni in the 3D fields. This year, we connected 75 Harvard alumnae mentors with HKS students to exchange knowledge, learn from each other’s experiences, and develop the necessary skills to support their career growth.
Image Credits

Photos courtesy of W3D Co-Chair Bethan Saunders MPP 2023

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