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Washington D.C.
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Michael R. Vandelune, Ardian Shajkovci, and Allison McDowell-Smith

Michael Vandelune is a Research Fellow at the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI). Michael pursues research on the transnational capabilities of the far-right, focusing on how groups share training, weaponry, and support across borders and sub-cultures. His personal research focus is far-right extremism and ethnic-based conflict in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet world. Michael is currently a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York, studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in both Political Science and Psychology and an attached minor in Russian language. He has worked in foreign policy and international relations academia through two university-sponsored undergraduate research positions, contributing to two forthcoming books from professors Benjamin Banta (RIT) and Sarah Burns, Ph.D. (RIT), respectively. He has pursued further career experience through volunteering abroad and a certification program in post-conflict reconstruction taught by NATO and UN-affiliated instructors at the Frederick C. Cuny Center for Peace and Conflict Studies in Pristina, Kosovo. Michael’s undergraduate academic and published works have been featured in RIT’s Dept. of Political Science and College of Liberal Arts. Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D., is Director at the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI). Ardian is a counter-terrorism researcher, lecturer, and security analyst. He has been conducting research on terrorism and violent extremism in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Western Europe, the Balkans, Kenya and Central Asia, Somalia, and Ukraine. Ardian serves as a visiting lecturer and adjunct faculty, including at Nichols College, where he is teaching CT and P/CVE courses in the MSC Counterterrorism Program. Ardian obtained his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security Policy, from Walden University. He obtained his M.A. in Public Policy and Administration, from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in International Relations and Diplomacy from Dominican University. Ardian has authored and co-authored numerous scientific and professional publications on the subject of violent extremism and terrorism. He has written for, and his work has been quoted by, The New York Times, The Hill, Homeland Security Today, New York Post, The Washington Times, Euronews, The Daily Beast, Le Figaro, Washington Examiner, AFP, Daily Caller, Fox News, and others. Allison McDowell-Smith, Ph.D., is Deputy Director at the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI). Allison is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Director of the Graduate Counterterrorism Program, Chair of the Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs, and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism at Nichols College. She has launched the Nichols Master of Science in Counterterrorism (MSC) Program, the first graduate program in the United States with a focus on Violent Extremism (VE) and leadership for those pursuing careers in the fields of security, intelligence, and public policy. Prior to her academic life, she worked in the non-profit sector, most recently as a Senior Research Fellow for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), where she conducted research on ISIS recruitment strategies, de-radicalization processes, and counter-messaging. She obtained a Ph.D. from Northcentral University focused on Homeland Security, Leadership, and Policy; an M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration from Northcentral University; and a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Rochester Institute of Technology.
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