Meet 2017 Forward under 40 Award recipient Katherine Himes Mba’01
UW Major: Management and Human Resources (Entrepreneurship Concentration)
Age: 39 | Olympia, Washington
Foreign Policy Scholar and Freelance Author
From 2011 to 2015, Katherine Himes held a dual role as a “scientist-diplomat” when she was a valued adviser to government ambassadors and policymakers.
As an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) science and technology policy fellow and science adviser, she served the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State. She supported some of the world’s most necessary foreign policy solutions by blending the intricacies of the neuroscience she absorbed while earning her PhD at the University of Minnesota with the principles of entrepreneurship she learned at the UW.
“My strongest personal value is the transformative power of higher education.”
“The Wisconsin Idea revolutionized my approach to science,” Himes says.
She helped create international development partnerships with an impressive range of collaborators, from the World Bank to the United Nations. Based in Washington, DC, and then Kazakhstan, she earned four USAID merit honors for her counsel to policymakers in Washington, Afghanistan, and five countries of the former Soviet Union. She spoke at many international meetings, including a major presentation at the World Water Forum, and she worked with students on a Model United Nations.
Her work has also influenced water management, technology transfer, and higher education in nations such as Morocco, Nepal, and Pakistan. Today, Himes is a freelance foreign policy scholar, author, and adjunct faculty member who shares insights about science and environmental policy as well as her service in Central Asia. She has judged the prestigious precollege Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and proposals for the Egypt-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program.
Himes is also an accomplished marathon runner, rock climber, cyclist, and Nordic skier — all fueled, she says, by the intensity and power of positive thinking that she acquired as part of the University of Wisconsin Running Club.
And she’s endowed UW–Madison scholarships to honor her late father and uncle, who were fellow Badger alumni.
“Both impressed upon me with stalwart conviction that the benefits of a diploma must be shared beyond the individual,” Himes says. “My strongest personal value is the transformative power of higher education.”
Q&A with Katherine
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Education is the single most important investment in the future.
What are you reading now?
Paris 1919. I am extremely interested in how international boundaries were altered following World War I, and the long-lasting implications of these diplomatic decisions.
What five items would you take to a desert island?
Star charts to escape, a boat-building kit, sunblock, a saltwater purifier, and food. I do not want to remain on that island.
What is the one thing every UW student must do?
Walk to the end of Picnic Point and back, with no electronic devices, listening to the sounds of nature, preferably at sunrise.
What advice would you offer to graduating seniors?
Use the power of your diploma to help others.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Travel — as often and as much as possible. Understanding cultures and places is essential, and experiencing wilderness is restorative.
What occupies your free time?
“Silent” sports, books, volunteer public service, travel, and nature.
What was your first job?
Volunteering at the local public library.
If you could trade places with any person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
A U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Imagine listening to and participating in the conversations and research behind the decisions.
What is your favorite quote?
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? —Robert F. Kennedy