Diplomatic deployment: Stevensville native sees the world as independent consultant

Stevensville native Kari Kietzer poses for a photo in a bunker in Kuwait. Kietzer is an international independent consultant who has worked on projects with NATO and the U.S. military.

Stevensville native Kari Kietzer poses for a photo in a bunker in Kuwait. Kietzer is an international independent consultant who has worked on projects with NATO and the U.S. military.

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — A Lakeshore High School graduate and Stevensville resident’s time as a consultant has taken her to various places across the globe.

As an international independent consultant, Kari Kietzer develops and writes anti-corruption curricula and reports for the U.S. military, NATO and international non-governmental organizations.

She received her master’s degree in international relations in 2011 at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. At that time she became a member of the program design team at the U.S. Army War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute in Carlisle, Pa. She then played a role in the creation of anti-corruption training courses for deploying military and civilian personnel to Afghanistan.

Kietzer’s career has taken her from the U.S. Congress to managing a $20 million mega yacht off the South of France. In her spare time, Kietzer serves on the board of The Economic Club of Southwest Michigan.

Herald-Palladium Staff Writer Tony Wittkowski caught up with Kietzer to hear some of her interesting stories across seas.

What does an independent consultant do?

One of my more recent assignments was consulting for NATO and the U.S. military on anti-corruption. I had a study published on anti-corruption on the civil war in Mali, Africa. I’ve consulted NATO on their initial mission in Afghanistan. I also worked with the joint force command to help draft the next stage of the war. It’s a little obscure, but a lot of that stuff I can’t talk about.

How did you get into this field?

I went to grad school thinking I wanted to go into the State Department. I was getting to the end of my master’s when I was told to apply to a free internship at the U.S. Army War College. I worked on a project for them, but it was supposed to be a three-month internship. I ended up being put on a project full-time and created a military task force to reduce corruption in Afghanistan. It was the first task force of its kind in a military war zone. I did work for the task force for seven months with the think tank. From there I was asked to come to Afghanistan and continue my work.

Did you picture yourself doing this after grad school?

I thought I was going to the State Department to be a nice little diplomat. Because I was doing the engagement with civil society, I was still in a quasi-diplomatic situation. I used my education in a way I didn’t know existed.

How many countries have you been to? Among them, what one was the most interesting?

I’ve been to more than a dozen countries. Norway was interesting. In Stavanger, Norway, I was at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre. My work location was in a bunker in the center of a mountain that (Adolf) Hitler built in World War II. When you get there, you get your meal cards and watch a safety video. When I was in Norway, it was also the time of year when you only had two or three hours of night time. I would be working all day and then go outside and it would still be light out.

Where do you live now?

I’m staying at my mom and dad’s house. I’m in between projects right now. Before, I have lived in France and London. I either work from home or in-house. This is my hometown and I haven’t spent a lot of time with my folks.

Having been to places like France and Afghanistan, does it feel weird coming back to Stevensville?

I’ve traveled all over the world. But it is pretty neat to come back here. We have an international flavor with Whirlpool being here. You do have that small town feel though. I’m a farmer’s kid. There’s a wholesome quality to having grown up here.

What have you enjoyed the most about your career?

The diversity. I have had the opportunity to come in contact with people from all walks of life. The cultural differences and similarities are always impressive to me. I’m a Francophile and a history buff, so my travels have suited me well. It’s the people you meet along the way that make the journey for me so fantastic.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 4, 2016)

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