Rachel MacKnight founded Sycamore Strategies to build understanding between the people and governments of the United States and Asia, particularly China.
Through Sycamore Strategies, she established and executed an exchange program bringing emerging women leaders from Mongolia to the United States for leadership, democracy and campaign training to strengthen civic traditions in Mongolia’s young democracy and encourage women to run for office. Ten women graduates of the training program ran for Parliament. Two won their elections and now serve in the Mongolian Parliament. She also has organized and staffed official Congressional Member Delegations to China.
Rachel also developed a Congressional outreach and engagement strategy for the leading nonprofit focused on US-China relations to leverage its existing leadership and programs, further its educational mission, burnish its brand, and deepen its engagement with federal decision-makers. And Rachel is currently establishing an empowerment, educational and exchange program for China’s rural frontline care providers, almost exclusively women, to both provide the frontline care providers with career development and create a window to improve US-China relations.
Rachel moderates and speaks on panels to brief Congressional staff, incoming Asian delegations, and Washington-based Asian diplomats. She mentors Thai-American and Filipino-American women college students and professionals who are seeking to become civically engaged. She also mentors women who have recently graduated from college through the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
A veteran of Capitol Hill, she previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, where she helped shape and lead policy and communications priorities among personal office, committee and leadership staff. As a Senate staffer, Rachel worked for equal pay for equal work, affordable childcare, and a level playing field with equal access to health care, education and jobs.
On the foreign policy side, Rachel worked closely with Sen. Mikulski’s Intelligence Committee designee to support key foreign policy and national security goals, including advancing cybersecurity protections, releasing the torture report, supporting safe passage of Syrian refugees, and fighting for the return of the Chibok girls. Rachel is dedicated to a U.S. foreign policy that reflects the best of our domestic policy, with a focus on equity and inclusion, including actively supporting the operationalization of a feminist foreign policy.
Off the Hill, Rachel has held positions at the Oregon Health & Science University, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in strategic communications and issues management.
Rachel holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia, has completed graduate coursework in international relations at Georgetown University, and was a Wilson International Center for Scholar’s Congressional Foreign Policy Fellow.
She currently serves on the Leadership Circle of Foreign Policy for America and as the Vice-Chair of the Congressional Circle at the US-Asia Institute. She is a member of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security, the Association for Women in International Trade, the National Committee on US-China Relations and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.