Associate Director

Briar Smith is the Associate Director at the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Director of the Iran Media Program and the co-author of the Iran Media Program’s ‘Finding a Way: How Iranians reach for News and Information,’ ‘Will Politics be Tweeted? New Media Use by Iranian Youth in 2011’ (in New Media and Society), and other CGCS/partner publications. She has presented on research conducted under the auspices of the Iran Media Program, as well as on research methodologies in complex political environments at Central European University’s Summer Program on Online Civil Society, Annenberg-Oxford’s Media Policy Summer Institute, as well as Annenberg’s Milton Wolf Seminar Series. In her position at CGCS, Smith oversees international initiatives and projects and manages programs, conferences, and trainings in East and Central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

While a graduate student at Annenberg School for Communication, Briar worked closely on a number of CGCS’s initiatives, including teaching at the Penn-in-Beijing summer school and authoring a chapter in Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China. Her research interests include international cultural communications with particular focus on China and the Middle East, and the cultural politics of the body in contemporary Islamic contexts. Briar has a Master’s degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Chinese Language and Literature and Psychology from Swarthmore College.

Research Project Manager

Laura Schwartz-Henderson serves as the Research Project Manager at the Center for Global Communication Studies. In this position, Laura manages domestic and international projects, the annual Annenberg-Oxford summer program, CGCS courses, and graduate student outreach. Laura obtained her BA in International Development and English at McGill University, concentrating her studies on media policy and development. Her honors thesis focused on broadband infrastructure development in sub-Saharan Africa. She has worked in finance and communications for several political campaigns, the San Francisco-based nonprofit One World Children’s fund and the public diplomacy sector of the U.S. Department of State.

Program Coordinator

Alexandra Esenler serves as the Program Coordinator at the Center for Global Communication Studies. Alex previously served as the CGCS Media Policy Fellow. She obtained her BA from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, with a major in History and dual minors in Communication Studies and Marketing. While at McGill, Alex co-directed the campus chapter of, an international organization working to maintain the openness of the internet. She was also a Research Assistant in the Communication Department and an intern at the Canadian Association of community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) . Her interests include digital citizenship, and internet governance and policy.

Arielle Panitch
Media Policy Fellow

Arielle Panitch currently serves as the Media Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a concentration in Arabic and Islamic Studies. As part of her studies, she has analyzed media in Arabic and Farsi. While at Penn, Arielle chaired a Model United Nations Conference in Beijing, led a fundraising and volunteering trip to Rwanda, and interned with President Shimon Peres in Tel Aviv. She has also worked in finance and field for several political campaigns.