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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS)

The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) was created in 2013 and joined Northwestern Buffett last year. This summer, as with any summer, OGSS was busy supporting both outbound and inbound students on their study abroad experiences. With support from OGSS, the Northwestern Students studying in Hong Kong during the Summer quarter safely settled in, and all of the students spending their summers or falls at locations in the Caribbean have been kept up-to-date on the busy Atlantic Hurricane Season.

OGSS Director Julie Anne Friend answered a few questions about the Office’s work:

What does OGSS do?
It’s our job to apply an institution-wide approach to risk management. That means that we look at [the University’s] international programs and activities, then think about all the things that could go wrong and how we could prevent them from happening—and even when things do go wrong, how to manage them. Many think of us only as crisis managers, but a lot of what we do is routine, but important, healthcare management [for pre-existing conditions]. This occurs at both pre-departure and when students are abroad. I think most people would be surprised at how many students ask for and receive counseling during a travel program—it’s a benefit that’s included in the GeoBlue for Students plan. I use the term “travel program” because we support many more travelers than just those studying abroad, including graduate students traveling individually or in groups –all with university sponsorship or support.

What does day-to-day work look like for your team?
We are keenly clued into the news every day. Each of us is listening to the news from the moment we get up and get into the office. Sometimes we have to consider an incident or overseas event and what the impact is on our travelers, so [Program Coordinator — Global Safety Data Analyst] Pat Maloney’s first priority of the day is to issue the Daily Intelligence Report. Pat and [Assistant Director] Beth Osterlund will discuss concerns and decide whether we need to message advice travelers or take more aggressive action, such as suggest sheltering-in-place.

How has the work changed since coming under Northwestern Buffett?
We now have increased exposure to units and departments that sponsor graduate student travel. We are
excited by the opportunity to build in-depth and sustainable relationships with departments that enable them to rely on our expertise and fill any gaps in knowledge they may have.

Julie Anne Friend has worked in the field of international education for over 20 years. As the Director of the Office of Global Safety and Security at Northwestern University, she is charged with developing a comprehensive, university-wide approach to international risk management. In 2014, she was named Technical Analyst of the Year by the U.S. Department of State for her leadership in advancing the international safety and security interests of the academic community.


Ms. Friend has traveled in over thirty countries and has lived in both France and Zambia. In addition to earning a Juris Doctor in Law and a Master of Arts in English from Michigan State University, Ms. Friend has a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications from Syracuse University. She is also a licensed attorney in the state of Michigan, and currently lives in Evanston, Illinois. •