Charisse grew up in Cold War Germany, in a multicultural home. This straddling of three cultures – German, American and Austrian – taught her how to operate in different cultural contexts and reconcile people with different cultural perspectives. She eventually moved to the U.S. and obtained a Bachelors with a double major in Government and in Philosophy at The College of William and Mary, followed by a Masters Degree in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. Shortly afterwards she married and also became a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, beginning what would become 40 years working for the U.S. Department of State. She eventually lived and worked in Mexico, Central and South America, Western and Central Europe, and India while raising two sons. Through her career Charisse gained expertise in migration; crisis leadership; public speaking and public diplomacy; counternarcotics and law enforcement; negotiation and foreign assistance. She earned numerous awards for her leadership achievements.