Interview: Daniel Doktori, Editor in Chief (2006-2007)

Why did you get involved in the Journal

I knew I wanted to be involved in the Journal from day one, my application even included reference to JIA. I love writing and scholarship and the opportunity to build something; all of those things found themselves in one place at JIA so it was a natural fit. 

What was your role on the Journal, what did that entail?

I served as the editor-in-chief. That meant overseeing all aspects of the issue topic selection, managing the editorial team, recruiting cite checkers, producing the issue itself, and planning for the next issue.

Were there any particularly memorable moments or accomplishments during your time at the Journal?

Working with the JIA was the defining experience of my time at SIPA. There were many memorable experiences, but the thing I will most cherish was the so-called "hell week" of issue editing and production where we found ourselves together night after night ensuring the issue was ready to go to print. Those were the moments when we most felt like a team and realized we were contributing to something bigger than ourselves.

The great achievement of our editorial team was the 60th Anniversary Iran issue (2007). Everything came together spectacularly for the issue and it remains a source of great pride to this day. More than a decade later, the authors of those articles remain key players in a volatile part of the world. Javad Zarif became the Iranian Foreign minister and negotiated the Nuclear Deal with the US and the EU; Karim Sadjadpour remains a go-to analyst and thought leader on all issues Iran, and Ian Bremmer rose to international prominence as a political risk analyst with regular appearances in TV and print media. And that's not to mention contributions from giants in their field Nikki Keddie, Scott Sagan, and Kenneth Waltz. 

The most memorable single moment of my JIA experience was when we held a live debate between Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz on the topic of a nuclear Iran. Sagan and Waltz co-wrote the well-known and widely-assigned book The Spread of Nuclear Weapons and agreed to update their discourse on the topic of Iran. The lead-up to the debate enjoyed a school-wide buzz and the event itself was standing room only with a long line of people unable to gain admission. It was as close to a rockstar moment you get as the editor of an academic journal, so I relished it! 

Describe your current occupation, including title and actual duties.

I'm the chief of staff and general counsel of Credly (, a software company that helps organizations recognize achievements, skills and certifications of their employees, students, users etc. I am one of three team members responsible for general management of the company.

How did you go from JIA/SIPA to where you are now? (Thinking back to graduation, is this where you thought you would be in life?)

Funny, and long, story. Upon graduating SIPA, I realized I needed a job. I had two real opportunities. One was to continue my work in international affairs by joining a presidential campaign as an unpaid staffer on the nascent foreign policy team. The other was to join the New York State Governor's office. This was May 2007. Eliot Spitzer had recently been inaugurated as the New York State governor with the largest-ever electoral majority in New York State. The presidential campaign was, of course, Barack Obama's, but, being a New Yorker, I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee. So I went with the "sure thing," moved to Albany, New York and joined the Spitzer administration. Ten months later, Obama was the Democratic nominee for President and Eliot Spitzer was resigning as governor in the wake of a sex scandal. I had been working on higher education matters as Special Assistant to the Senior Advisor and received a battle-field promotion to Director of Higher Education for the Governor of New York in the wake of the scandal. My life would never be the same.

I got excited about education and about the knowledge economy. I served as executive director of a task force on industry-university relations that focused on how universities could transfer technology and promote entrepreneurship on campus. That work turned me on to the startup scene.  I became convinced that we were entering a world where people would cobble together their education from a variety of sources (instead of a single college or graduate school) and, in that future, the learner would have a communications problem: "how can I tell someone else what I know?" Instead of pursuing that idea as an entrepreneur myself, I decided to go to law school, where I established myself as the "startup guy," including founding the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project ( 

Following law school, I went to work for a big firm where I represented startups in all manner of transactions from incorporation, to hiring and firing, to raising money to partnership agreements with big companies. All the while, that old idea about communicating your knowledge and skills to someone else kept rattling around in my brain. I decided to pursue it and discovered there was a company out there called Credly. I cold-emailed the founder, we met, hit it off, and I joined the company in February of 2016. We were about 5 people then. Now we are more than 50. It's been an awesome ride. 

In what way, if at all, did your time at JIA affect your post-SIPA life?

Management is a skill. I learned it first at JIA and those core lessons around organization, leadership, feedback all still resonate. I also remember the mistakes I made, perhaps better than the skills. Those continue to haunt (and teach) me to this day. 

Do you still maintain ties to other Journal members? 

Yes.  I still share an occasional email with some of the senior editors. I remain close with Grace Hong who recruited me to join the board of The Center for Responsive Politics ( which I indeed joined in September 2017. It's a fantastic organization and an opportunity I wouldn't have secured without my JIA ties.

What advice—life, career, or otherwise—do you have for current Journal (or SIPA) students?

If you want to do something great, be great at what you do. You can't predict what will happen to you, but you can control your own effort and work product. If you work hard and do good work, opportunity will find you.