Isaac Cudjoe, MA COEX’18: The new Heller Alumni Association Board president

February 06, 2023

Isaac Cudjoe, MA COEX'18, illustration by Tal Friedlander
Illustration by Tal Friedlander

When Isaac Cudjoe, MA COEX’18, graduated from Heller, he always had the feeling he’d be back. “Heller is like a home with its light on, welcoming intellectual thought, new ideas, and creativity,” he says. “You may have left home, but home is still always there for you.”

Cudjoe, who now serves as the Alumni Association Board president, left Heller armed with knowledge and skills in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and international development, which allowed him to tackle his goals head-on. In 2019, Cudjoe co-founded Brothers With Books, a community action group cultivating literacy. “I remembered my teachings at Heller — about how important it is to be immersed in your community, about how important it is to listen to stakeholders’ opinions, about how important it is to build things with your neighbors. I put the skills I learned into practice on a very local level.”

Cudjoe went on to earn a second master’s degree, and eventually a doctorate in public policy, from Walden University. He wanted to truly understand the policies that kept detrimental systems in place so he could help to change them from the ground up.

Recently, Cudjoe became the co-CEO of Peace First, a global organization that empowers young people around the world to be peacebuilders and changemakers. He is proud to be a part of such a powerful movement and feels that his experience at Heller prepared him for this role. “Peace First feels like the embodiment of the action Heller was nourishing me for,” he says.

He hopes to continue inspiring young people around the world to be active in their communities and manifest the change that’s desperately needed to bring resources and opportunities to marginalized populations.

Cudjoe credits the COEX program in particular for opening his eyes to the perspectives of people who grew up in conflict regions. “It wakes you up. You learn not to take your life for granted,” he says. “You realize that there are people who are more experienced, better poised, and smarter who should be leading decision-making about how we resolve conflict. When I left Heller, I realized it’s such a unique place.”