John Sexton
SMSP Principal Instructor

  • BA in History (1963) from Fordham College
  • MA in Comparative Religion (1965)
  • PhD in History of American Religion (1978) Fordham University
  • JD (1979) from Harvard Law School, graduated magna cum laude
NYU President John Sexton at NYUAD Commencement Exercises on Saadiyat Campus on May 24, 2015.

John Sexton, President Emeritus of New York University, is a SMSP Principal Instructor. He teaches “The U.S. Supreme Court’s Treatment of the Relationship Between Church and State". Before becoming New York University’s President, President Emeritus Sexton was a professor at NYU Law School. He was named the Law School’s Dean in 1988 and became the University’s President in 2001, a position he held through 2015. President Emeritus Sexton has a

Before coming to NYU, President Emeritus Sexton served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger of the United States Supreme Court (1980-1981), and to Judges David Bazelon and Harold Leventhal of the United States Court of Appeals (1979-1980). For ten years (1983-1993), he served as Special Master Supervising Pretrial Proceedings in the Love Canal Litigation. From 1966 to 1975, he was a Professor of Religion at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, where he was Department Chair from 1970 to 1975. President Sexton is passionate about teaching; indeed, he may be the only university president who taught a full faculty schedule during his tenure as president.

James Traub
SMSP Principal Instructor

James Traub is a journalist and scholar specializing in international affairs. He is a columnist and contributor to the website foreignpolicy.com. He worked as a staff writer for The New Yorker from 1993 to 1998 and as a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine from 1998 to 2011. He has also written extensively about national politics, urban affairs, and education. Among his recent books are The Freedom Agenda, on the American policy of democracy promotion, and The Best Intentions, on the UN under Kofi Annan.

James Traub, SMSP instructor

His new book, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit, was published in March by Basic Books. He teaches classes on American foreign policy and terrorism at NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, as well as a class on the political essay at NYU’s main campus in New York. He is a fellow of the Center on International Cooperation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Diane C. Yu
Executive Director, SMSP Principal Instructor of Leadership and Public Speaking and Public Presentations

Diane C. ​Yu is​ ​​the Counselor to Leadership at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Executive Director of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Community Programs at NYUAD, which currently consist of the NYUAD ​Summer Academy, a college preparatory program for Emirati high school students, and the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program (SMSP) for top UAE university students. She teaches leadership classes at NYU New York and in the Summer Academy and SMSP, and public speaking classes for SMSP and NYU Shanghai.

Diane C. Yu, Executive Director and SMSP Principal Instructor speaks at the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program (SMSP) graduation ceremony on April 24, 2016.

Previously she was the Deputy President of New York University, ​Managing Counsel at a Fortune 500 company, State Bar of California General Counsel (for whom she won a case in the US Supreme Court), a White House Fellow, and a California Superior Court Commissioner. She attended Oberlin College (BA) and UC Berkeley School of Law (JD). She sits on ​a number of ​boards​, including​ Oberlin College, American Management Association, ​Oregon Shakespeare Festival, ​and the Association of Governing Boards. She served as the White House Fellows Association President and chaired the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Women in the Profession and the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Among her numerous awards are Ten Outstanding Young Women of America, Women’s Leadership Award from the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and an honorary doctorate from City University of New York.


Jennifer Gerrard
Senior Director, SMSP Principal Instructor of Critical Thinking and Persuasive Writing

Jennifer Gerrard is the incoming Senior Director for both the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program and the NYUAD Summer Academy. Prior to joining NYUAD, Jennifer was the Director of the Executive MBA Global Network at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, overseeing the school's five international joint degree programs in North America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Jennifer has spent the majority of her career in the field of international education and has held roles focusing on international student program management, academic advising, and the re-building of legal institutions in post-conflict zones at universities such as DePaul University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition, she has worked at non-profit organizations, including AMIDEAST in Cairo, Egypt. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Political Science and Women's Studies from DePaul University and an MA in Social Sciences with a concentration in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Katy Bartelma
SMSP Instructor

Katy Bartelma is an Instructor for the course on the relationship between church and state taught by John Sexton. She is also a Critical Thinking and Writing Instructor for the NYU Abu Dhabi Summer Academy. Katy previously served as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and prior to that, completed clerkships for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Federal Claims. She received her law degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and her AB in History from Harvard University.

Rachel Jamison
SMSP Instructor

Rachel comes to NYUAD from Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China, where she spent two years as a law instructor for courses on legal research and writing as well as human rights and humanitarian law. Prior to that, she worked for human rights NGOs in Washington DC, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. She holds a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in history from the University of Minnesota.

Peter Vining
SMSP Instructor

Peter joined SMSP as an Assistant Instructor for US Foreign Policy. He is currently a PhD student in New York University’s Department of Politics and a National Science Foundation GRFP Fellow. Prior to this he completed his MA at Duke University in Political Science and BS/BA in Security and Risk Analysis and International Politics at The Pennsylvania State University.

Jonathan Marsh
Academic and Student Affairs Specialist and Instructor of Critical Thinking and Persuasive Writing

As a member of the first team of employees on the NYUAD campus, Jonathan has served the student community in a variety of academic and residential life roles: Graduate Resident Assistant, Senior Global Academic Fellow, Academic Resource Center tutor, teaching assistant, and English proficiency assessment consultant for Admissions' Candidate Weekend process. Now, as a member of the NYUAD Community Programs' team, he works with the New York-based office staff to support alumni programming and academics at NYU-NY, serves as Instructor in the SMSP Critical Thinking and Persuasive Writing course, supports Executive Director Diane Yu in her NYU Shanghai Public Speaking in a Leadership Role course, and assists Summer Academy students with English and Critical Thinking and Writing coursework as an Academic Fellow. Jonathan earned his bachelor's degree in film from NYU and his master's in mental health counseling from NYU Steinhardt.

Fatima Al Hammadi
Assistant Instructor of Leadership and Public Speaking and Public Presentations

Fatima Al Hammadi worked as a Research Assistant in the Division of Social Sciences at NYUAD. She previously worked as a program coordinator for the SMSP and the Summer Academy program at NYUAD. Fatima is also an Alumna of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Scholars Program Class of 2013-2014. She holds a bachelor's degree in Integrated Strategic Communication from Zayed University. Fatima recently completed a summer program at University of Cambridge where she enrolled in courses related to economics and public policy.

Brittany Baker
Academic and Student Affairs Specialist, Assistant Instructor, Leadership and Public Speaking and Public Presentations

Brittany Baker is an Academic and Student Affairs Specialist for the Sheikh Mohamed Scholars Program and the NYUAD Summer Academy. In this role, she supports both groups of students with their academic endeavors. Additionally, she assists students with their application process for undergraduate and graduate admissions and is also an Instructor in the Sheikh Mohamed Scholars Program. Prior to this role, she worked as an Academic Coach for the NYUAD Summer Academy and a graduate assistant for NYU's Office of Global Programs in New York. She holds a Master's Degree from New York University in Higher Education and Student Affairs and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago.