Class VIII (2010-2011)

6. Jake Kurtzer

Sponsor Club: Capitol Hill, Washington DC, USA, District 7620

Prior to arrival at the University of Queensland, Jake Kurtzer served as the Congressional Advocate at Refugees International, a non for profit, privately funded humanitarian advocacy organization based in Washington DC.  Jake represented RI on Capitol Hill, advocating on behalf of conflict refugees around the world. While at RI, Jake conducted humanitarian assessment missions to Burma, Colombia, Somaliland and the Middle East.  On these missions, Jake met with displaced civilians and analyzed the humanitarian conditions in order to make recommendations to the international community for an improved humanitarian response. Previously, Jake worked as a legislative assistant to Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida. His responsibilities included advising the Congressman on a wide range of legislative issues, including foreign affairs, natural resources, criminal justice policy as well as representing the Congressman in meetings with constituents, advocacy groups and the media. While working for Congressman Wexler, Jake was the lead staff for the Congressional Indonesia Caucus, and participated in Congressional staff delegations to Haiti, China, Taiwan and Egypt. During this time, Jake also served as an election monitor for the 2004 presidential election in Indonesia as part of the Carter Center’s delegation, monitoring the electoral process in solo, Indonesia. 

While at UQ, Jake has served as a tutor for undergraduates for two semesters. He conducted his applied field experience in Tel Aviv, Israel working at Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. At Gisha, Jake worked with Israeli and Palestinian human rights lawyers, seeking to promote the right to freedom of movement for all Palestinians living in Gaza.

Jake was born in Manhattan, NY, and immediately moved with his family to Cairo, Egypt. After spending three years in Cairo, Jake moved to Herzeliya, Israel where he lived until moving to the Washington DC metropolitan area at age 7. Upon graduating high school, Jake moved back to Mevaseret Zion, Israel, where he spent a year in a seminary studying Jewish law and history.  He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in philosophy and a citation in religious studies.  While at the University of Maryland, Jake participated for two years in the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Seminar. He also served a legislator in the Student Government and had his own radio show on WMUC.  Jake also started the University or Maryland chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. During his studies, he volunteered for a semester at the American Anti-Slavery Group, in Boston, Mass.  Jake also studied abroad at the American University in Cairo, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While living in Washington, DC, Jake was the President of the Dorchester House tenants association, and served as a reading mentor for local elementary school students as part of the Everybody Wins! program.