Who I Am

My name is Ianthe (Ee-On-ThEE) and I invent creative ways to bring about change in whatever task or persons are under my charge.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois; raised and cultivated by a single mother in Houston, Texas; received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2014); obtained a Masters of Arts in International Policy and Development at Middlebury Institute for International Studies (2019); and currently actively seeking a PhD in Sustainable Development hopefully at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

Over the past two-years, that I have lived in Monterey, CA, attending Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) acquiring my MA –International Policy and Development , my focus in career and educational endeavors has become clear and because of this intentionality, I am unearthing those findings to you.

(Asked by Middlebury to represent Middlebury’s International Policy+Development Program as well as my experience at MIIS during my first year; April 2018, director of photography Christopher Spencer & his work)

My Focus & Skill

I hope to focus on developmental issues that require policy to be enacted in order to create more equitable societies and standards of living for individual peoples, communities, governments, countries, and all those under my charge. Throughout these two-years I have been combining my love of the arts with my field of study and exploring the depths of my creativity by visually documenting my journey through the development world and inserting my vision and my ideals within the field I believed lacked my perspective.

I began utilizing my documenting abilities through visual, written, and digital platforms in order to tell the stories about developmental issues and highlight policy practices that needed change. Primarily, I’ve been exploring filmmaking and realizing how impactful visuals can be and how effectively visuals have forcibly created change in the world and I dare to be apart of that movement by allowing my lens to document truths, unearth realities, and cause change. I want to work within the development field and use documentary photography and filmmaking to further my reach and shed light on these issues by creating video/photo documentaries to effect the very policy/development issues that need to undergo change and transformation.

(Havana, Cuba, January 2018. My first trip to Cuba with Prof. Jan Black to research Cuba’s history and present with sustainable development being my primary focus)

Over the course of my two-year graduate school experience, I focused my attention on Cuba as my country of expertise and furthered research. Through MIIS, I was able to conduct research in Cuba twice (Jan. 2018 & March 2019) focusing on sustainable tourism, with an ultimate goal of creating a more equitable society within Cuba by working with government & grassroots organizations to create tourism practices that are beneficial to people of the receiving country as well as the tourist and thus my research in this area has been my primal educational focus. I hope to use Cuba as my first country to effectively change policy and government in country, by using sustainable tourism trips to break barriers, cause international conversation, and hopefully cause a ripple affect within other countries, primarily “developing” ones.

(Old Havana, Cuba, Tourist in Cuba. Photo take March 2019 by Ianthe)

What I Will Do & How

My dream occupation would be to work as either an NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) or GOs (Governmental organizations) with governments of developing countries, primarily those who are struggling for growth, who could use tourism as a means for development in all avenues: economic, political, social, etc. My goal would be to come in and strategize with these governmental bodies and figure out solutions towards how we can utilize tourism in beneficial ways; as to not overwhelm the country’s resources, both natural and synthetic, but also how we can bolster the economy so that it is equitable. I’d like to look at the statistics and the numbers over the years to see how tourism has positively and negatively affected the country’s economy and/or whether there has been an impact (negatively or positively) on the country’s infrastructure, in order to see how myself and my team can assist in developing sustainability within the country. Also, my hope would be to create long-term sustainability in all areas of development as it relates to the country’s growth, but I want to utilize tourism as a means to navigate the country into a better place within world affairs. The goal is also to increase exports and decrease imports or at least to create balance between the two. We want to create countries that are not led into dependency due to the lack of resources and this will take a plethora of changes in government, policy, standards of living, and etc.  

The goal is to create sustainable tourism (ST) practices in countries across the world by working with governments to adopt these ST practices and begin to actively participate in the equitable development of the most vulnerable persons within their society and under their charge. ST would be apart of current tourism practices, but would allow for tourist who are visiting these countries to openly affect positive change in the lives of the most vulnerable within that country and positively engage in equitable development. For example, providing the option of staying in private homes (think airbnb or casa praticulares) or taking tourist to local restaurants owned by small business owners vs large chain restaurants or establishments that everyday people couldn’t afford or wouldn’t have access to this is the goal of sustainable practices; we make sure it is beneficial to those who need it the most. We do not simply go into countries as tourist to “visit” we go to impact the lives of the people who may not have the option of “going on vacation” thereby contributing towards social, political, and economic growth.

On a larger scale, these trips can also focus on politics/government primarily and can include persons within that area to exchange ideas and thought about how governments can work together. These types of trips can have many avenues and topics, but the primary goal is creating more equitable societies by taking small steps and adopting more sustainable practices.

On my last trip to Cuba in March of 2019, I was able to rent this equipment and released how much of an impact it had on my documentary filmmaking abilities, and realized this is the next step for me. For my required independent practicum course, of which I filmed, edited, and narrated for, entitled “It’s For La Gente,” an exploratory documentary about the effects of sustainable tourism in Cuba. I also utilized this film as my interest letter/application for the fellowship. (Please watch it and be informed, but also see my filmmaking ability and the direction I am headed in). I am very pleased with the outcome and this being my very first of many films outing development issues and things that need to change.

I am Ianthe and I am looking to utilize all that I am to create sustainable change in this world, while greatly impacting and heavily influencing the development as I become a leader. I invite you to be apart of the journey as we work together.

(Old Havana, Cuba, April 2019. Ianthe in Cuba, understanding Cuba as a Cubana.)


News, Highlights, & Accomplishments:


Article written about Ianthe’s second trip to Cuba with Prof. George Henson, MIIS professor, 10 Middlebury Institute students, one alumna, and one faculty member, while we studied various disciplines and conducted research. I filmed my documentary about sustainable tourism on this trip. Please click the link to read more.



The Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry highlighted and interviewed Ianthe about her use of MiddCreate as a student and Lead-Intern at the Digital Learning Commons at Middlebury, as she worked with the offices of DLINQ. Please click the link to read more.


“The Institute’s first-ever Intercultural Arts and Leadership Series kicked off at the end of February with a week-long celebration of Africa, followed by a week dedicated to movement and dance. Another full-house audience attended the staged readings of six African authors by six Institute students at the library. The culmination of many people’s efforts, the project was directed by Cheryl Faraone, professor of Theatre at Middlebury College, who guided an intense three-day rehearsal period with the six participants for Celebrating African Women’s Voices in Leadership: Degfay, Francesca Aka MPA ’18, Ianthe Duncan-Poole MAIPD ‘19, Eunice Deha MAIPD ‘18, Shinae Meylor MAIPD ‘19, and Elizabeth Watiri MAIPD ‘18.” –read more by clicking the photo for the link.


Podcasting about Being Black in areas that lack Blackness, thoughts on Black History Month.
This podcast, I co-hosted with student council members at my graduate program, Middlebury Institute for International Studies MIIS” and a chosen cast of black women who I believed would have various views on this subject. See the views and understand our passions.

MIIS Radio Podcast, Episode 2: Black History is American History