An interview with Caitlin Poling, Political Assistant for the Multilateral and Technical Affairs Section of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (UNVIE).
I met Caitlin the summer before my freshman year of college on a long bus ride from Ashland, OH to Knoxville, TN. She was on the University's cheer team, I was on the dance team, and we were headed to our respective cheer/dance camps at University of Tennessee. While we didn't have time to get to know each other during the hectic, four-day schedule; as luck would have it, we were also both in the honors program and had been automatically enrolled in Heuristic Problem Solving together on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We bonded over logic problems, economic models, and a love of fashion. Over the years, Caitlin has not only been a loyal friend she's also been a source of inspiration for me thanks to her incredible work ethic, high standards, and intellect. She can tackle any obstacle or problem, make the best of a less-than-ideal situation, and positions herself for success through over-preparation.
On this podcast episode, I interviewed Caitlin to learn more about how she started her career in politics and government, how she pivoted to a new role when her husband was posted overseas, and why she now relentlessly over-prepares for everything.
Disclaimer: views expressed here are Caitlin's own and are not representative of the State Department or U.S. Government.
More about Ms. Poling:
Ms. Caitlin Poling serves as Political Assistant for the Multilateral and Technical Affairs Section of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (UNVIE), where she assists with the peaceful uses of outer space and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization portfolios. Upon moving to Vienna with her husband in the Foreign Service, she worked remotely as a Senior Advisor to a U.S. Senator from Georgia providing research and counsel on foreign policy, trade, and defense issues and drafting legislation to counter Chinese economic statecraft. Prior to her move overseas, she served as the senator’s National Security Advisor. In this role, her portfolio included foreign relations, defense, cyber security, and international trade issues, for which Ms. Poling drafted the senator’s speeches, legislation, and hearing materials related to his tenure on the Armed Services Committee. During the 114th Congress, she managed the Senator’s subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development and staffed the senator for his work on the Foreign Relations Committee. Previously, Ms. Poling served as Director of Government Relations at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a DC-based think tank, where she also wrote on Africa and terrorism policy. Her work has been published in U.S. News and World Report, The Weekly Standard, Huffington Post, and e-International Relations. She also contributed a chapter on Boko Haram to “Counterterrorism: Bridging Operations and Theory: A Terrorism Research Center Book.” Ms. Poling spent four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, most recently working on foreign policy, homeland security, and immigration for the U.S. Congressman representing the Fourth District of Kansas.
Ms. Poling graduated with honors from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in international security studies in 2012. She wrote her master’s thesis on Boko Haram and affiliated terrorist groups in the Sahel. Caitlin graduated summa cum laude from Ashland University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, International Studies, and French (minor: International Business) and was a John M. Ashbrook Scholar. She has received three Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. State Department for her work at UNVIE. Ms. Poling was featured in Diplomatic Courier’s “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders” in 2013 and in Red Alert Politics’ “30 Under 30” in 2014. Ms. Poling participated in several foreign policy leadership programs, including the Council on Foreign Relations Congressional Foreign Policy Study Group 2018; The Heritage Foundation’s Marshall Fellows Program 2018; Foreign Policy Initiative’s Future Leaders class of 2016-2017; Atlantik-Brüecke Young Leaders 2016; and Partnership for Secure America’s Congressional Partnership Program 2012.