STEPHEN M. RIVERS FELLOWSHIP

The Stephen M. Rivers Memorial Fellowship is devoted to cultivating the next generation of activists to promote engagement, mutual respect, and dialogue in U.S. foreign relations. Applications for the 2018 period are due March 15.

This is a paid, full-time, year-long position in Washington, D.C. for a uniquely qualified applicant with a special interest in Cuba, a thirst for activism, and an interest in pursuing a professional career in the foreign policy NGO community. We accept applications from qualified undergraduates, recent graduates, or Master’s students.

The Rivers Fellow will spend one year working side-by-side with CDA staff on projects and ideas that advance our goal to promote a U.S. policy toward Cuba based on engagement and recognition of Cuba’s sovereignty.

The duties of the Rivers Fellow include:

  • Assisting CDA staff with research and policy analysis
  • Informing policymakers about what is happening in Cuba and how U.S. policy should change
  • Organizing and possibly participating in travel to Cuba with U.S. policymakers
  • Helping to research and write our weekly Cuba Central News Blast and maintain our social media presence
  • Ensuring the sustainability of the Rivers Fellowship by consulting with Stephen’s friends about fundraising and program support

Candidates should be able to demonstrate a high level of knowledge of U.S.-Cuba relations, proficiency in Spanish (written and spoken), strong organizational and time management abilities, and outstanding analytic and writing skills.

How to Apply

Candidates may begin the application process by submitting the following:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Resume including references
  3. Short writing sample: 3-5 pages, content should be relevant
  4. Transcript(s): may be unofficial, and may come separate from or later than the rest of your materials
  5. Recommendation letter(s): may come separate from or later than the rest of your materials

The application deadline is March 15, 2018. The candidate would start working at CDA in May. CDA will pay a stipend of $2,000 per month.

Please email your application materials to Joey DeMarco at info@democracyinamericas.org.

Stephen was a remarkable friend, a renowned publicist for Hollywood celebrities, a political activist, and someone who devoted much of his professional life to building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba. Over the span of his career, Stephen represented some of the most recognizable names in entertainment, including Richard Dreyfuss, Oliver Stone, Anna Deavere Smith, Jane Fonda and former super-agent Michael Ovitz.

Stephen helped to organize events for the Middle East peace organization Seeds for Peace, the Magic Johnson Foundation and the music industry’s Rock the Vote initiative.  As an activist, Stephen is best remembered for his fierce dedication to changing U.S. policy toward Cuba and his work as a relentless bridge-builder who brought new people together, particularly young people, from Cuba and from here, to help champion the cause.

At CDA’s 6th annual event in 2012 honoring the “Unsung Heroes” of efforts to change U.S. relations with Latin America, we gathered Stephen’s family, friends, and colleagues to honor his work and to announce the founding of the Stephen M. Rivers Memorial Fellowship. With this fellowship, which is supported by a friends of Stephen and CDA, we hope to honor and continue Stephen’s legacy and foster young activists passionate about changing Cuba policy.

Recent Rivers Fellows


Sara Baker
 served as a Stephen M. Rivers Memorial fellow for 2015-2016. Sara received her Master’s in International Affairs from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Her thesis, “Alternative Futures for the Civil Military Relationship in a Post-Castro Cuba,” was awarded the “Best Work of 2014” in her program.  It was also published on the Director of National Intelligence’s Virtual Americas Network, and widely circulated in the White House and the Department of Defense. Sara completed her undergraduate work at Washington University in St. Louis with a focus on visual culture and gender relations in the Mexican drug trade.  Sara majored in Spanish and speaks beginning Portuguese.


Emilia Gore
, a Washington native proud of her Cuban and Mexican heritage, joined CDA in August 2015 as a Stephen M. Rivers Memorial fellow, eventually becoming CDA’s Cuba Travel Program Manager. In 2014, Emilia spent seven weeks in Cuba studying small-scale agricultural practices and helping to implement a permaculture garden project led by Fundacion Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre and the Urban Farmer at a University in Sancti Spiritus.  She previously interned at the US Department of Agriculture, Engage Cuba, and La Fundación Para La Paz in the Dominican Republic. She graduated from the University of Virginia, after completing a unique distinguished majors program in Political and Social Thought.

Past Rivers Fellows

cullenCullen Moran, CDA’s third Rivers fellow, graduated from American University, where he studied International Relations with a focus on Global Political Economy.

His research on economic sanctions was named “Best Undergraduate Research Paper” by the American University Library. Before starting his university studies, Cullen spent a year traveling and working in Central America. During his time as a student, he traveled to Cuba three times on student-organized cultural exchange trips, two of which he led.

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Jaime Hamre, CDA’s second Rivers fellow, has worked for Reuters in Havana and for Insight Cuba, an NGO that leads people-to-people delegations to Cuba.

“Meaningful opportunities for young, ambitious people, thirsty for knowledge, experience, and change are few and far between. The Stephen M. Rivers Memorial Fellowship is a truly special opportunity that gave me the tools to translate the passion I cultivated in college to action in the real world. My time with CDA, learning from Stephen Rivers’ legacy and growing under the guidance of those who keep it alive, solidified my commitment to justice, which is now something I’m prepared to work toward for the rest of my life, as Stephen did.

Since leaving CDA, I’ve continued leading delegations of Americans to Cuba, helping to bridge the gap between the two nations. I am now pursuing a career in journalism, where I hope to shed light on injustices and the faces behind the issues. Into this field, I carry with me the importance precision, integrity, and objectivity instilled in me as a Rivers Fellow. 

I am forever grateful!”

CDA StaffEmma Stodder was CDA’s first Rivers Fellow. She went on to work as  CDA’s Research and Communications Associate.

Although I was not in school while I was a Rivers intern, CDA became a classroom of its own. My internship was most of all a learning experience, and gave me a unique perspective on my academic work studying twentieth-century Latin American history, making me all the more conscious of the great complexities at play in every moment of history, most of all in moments of great historical change, like the one we see taking place in U.S.-Cuba relations right now.

My experience at CDA–whether on the Hill, or watching Obsesión perform as we celebrated courage in 2013 next to the Supreme Court, or in the office working on the newsblast with the inspiring, driven people who make CDA great–gave me the tools with which I hope to begin a career of activism in this field: the blend of optimism and understanding of the realities at work in Washington that those who worked with Stephen Rivers recall with such admiration.”

Support the Fellowship

Help us encourage youth engagement on U.S.-Cuba policy by donating here.