Tamara Alrifai– Advocacy and Communications Director, MENA region, Human Rights Watch[break]Tamara Alrifai is the Director of Advocacy and Communications for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch (HRW). She works closely with the media and opinion-makers on exposing Human Rights abuses and contributing to the development of a Human Rights culture within civil society. Tamara regularly appears on national, regional and international news outlets to give a Human Rights perspective on current and political affairs. She publishes opinion articles in major dailies and focuses on rights issues, including political rights and women’s rights. Her work in advocacy focuses on encouraging states to adopt legislation in line with international human rights standards. Before joining HRW, Tamara had worked for over a decade with the International Committee of the Red Cross in various positions, most recently as their Delegate and Spokesperson for the United Nations, in New York, and prior to that as Head of Media and Communications in Sudan, Head of Regional Communications in Cairo, and Spokesperson in Geneva. Tamara received her BA in Political Science from the American University in Beirut and her MA in International Studies from the University of Birmingham. Tamara is a native of Syria and is married with two children.
John Akker- Global Higher Education and Employment Specialist [break] John Akker is a global higher education and employment specialist with 30 years of experience. He is CEO of an international NGO/Charity founded in 1933 to provide practical assistance to academics that have fled because of persecution (Council for Assisting Refugee Academics); also as founding Executive Director of global network to protect academic freedom (Network for Education and Academic Rights). John is also representing higher education on the Steering Committee for the Global Coalition for Protecting Education from Attack (with International NGO’s and UN bodies). He has held senior positions in UK higher education representative organisations (Association of University Teachers/National Association of Teachers in Higher and Further Education) both now UCU; expert advisor to UNESCO and EU; extensive experience of international issues relating to intellectual freedom. Significant profile in a wide range of university systems. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, at the University of Essex.
Reem Al-Assil- Co-founder and Manager at Free Syrian Translators [break]Reem Al-Assil had her master’s degree in Biotechnology; worked as a Lecturer in different universities in Syria. She is the Co-founder and manager of the Free Syrian Translators (FST), an independent media group established in September 2011. Reem is a member of the “Syrian Nonviolence Movement” (SNVM) and was the head of its Media department between March and September 2012.
SNVM, an NGO founded in the beginning of the Syrian popular uprising in 2011 is considered one of the most influential work-groups advocating civic activism and nonviolent resistance as means of change in Syria. She is also a member of “Freedom Days” since the founding of the group and a member of the Syrian National Council since October 2012.
Kinan Bahnassi– Project Director, Labour Market Observatory at United Nations Development Programme[break]Kinan Bahnassi completed his education at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Syria as a Project Director to the “Labour Market Observatory.” His career achievements have centered on various roles, managerial, research, and academic university teaching. He has conducted and managed numerous national projects and research activities, addressing issues pertaining to the labour market, entrepreneurship, decent employment, vocational training, and the higher education sectors. He has also worked as a resource figure for the Summer School of Labour Economics at the International Labour Organization (ILO). Bahnassi is strongly committed to community and society development issues; in addition, he actively participates in the national and regional social and economic developmental plans and has had notable involvement in economic and social dialogues.
Alexandra Chen- Regional Conflict & Child Protection Advisor at Mercy Corps’ [break] Alexandra Chen is a child protection and psychosocial specialist from Hong Kong working with refugees in conflict and post-conflict zones. Alexandra has worked extensively with vulnerable populations throughout Africa and the Middle East, most recently for UNICEF, UNESCO, UNRWA to advance education and peace-building in humanitarian settings. She is currently serving the Syrian refugee community as Regional Conflict & Child Protection Advisor to Mercy Corps’ child protection and psychosocial programmes funded by UNICEF in Jordan and Lebanon.
Prior, as International Ambassador for the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Alexandra designed peace education curricula, facilitated trauma therapy workshops for youth, and trained UN front line staff in conflict management. She has also evaluated child development programmes for orphans in Ethiopia, mapped community-based protection mechanisms in Somalia, developed citizenship education and peace-building curricula for Iraq, and researched the role of Islamic law in nation-building and constitutional reform in Egypt.
Alexandra holds a B.A. with Honors from Harvard College and an M.A from Harvard University in Jewish & Islamic Law, where she was awarded the Harvard Foundation Insignia Award “for outstanding contributions to intercultural and race relations.” She speaks 10 languages, including fluency in Chinese, Arabic and French.
Abdulsalam Haykal- CEO at Haykal Group [break] Abdulsalam Haykal is CEO of Haykal Group, with activities in print and online media; software, mobile, and payment technology; and commercial representation. Haykal serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, and of University of Kalamoon in Syria, and on the President’s Advisory Board of the EARTH University in Costa Rica. In 2009, Haykal was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. In 2010, he represented Syria at President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit. Haykal is the co-founder and president of the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association, and helped start several other NGOs focusing on education and youth empowerment. In 2013, he took part in starting Syrian Entrepreneurs Worldwide, a virtual eco-system to help Syrian entrepreneurs relocate and start up in their adopted home. He holds a BA in Political Science from the American University of Beirut and an MA in International Relations from SOAS/University of London, and attended Harvard Kennedy School executive education.
Mary Kaldor– Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics[break]Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit at the London School of Economics. She is the author of several books, including The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the Changing Rules of War and Peace, New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era, and Global Civil Society: An Answer to War. Professor Kaldor was a founding member of the European Nuclear Disarmament and the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly. Mary is also convener of the Human Security Study Group, which reported to Javier Solana, and currently reports to Cathy Ashton.
Massa Mufti-Hamwi– Education Management Consultant[break]Massa Mufti-Hamwi is currently a consultant in education management and development, engaged in educational research and initiatives that address partnership between Formal and Non-Formal Education, Interactive and Museum-based Learning, Citizenship Education and Life-long Learning. She was formerly the Chair of the Steering Committee of MENIT, the GIZ funded initiative of Middle East Network for Innovative Teaching and Learning. As a consultant to MASSAR Project, she provided continuous services and support to the development of the exhibition design process. While working as a Teacher assistant in French at US universities, she developed her progressive teaching methodology and worked on relating it to her studies on educational reform and leadership. Massa is certifiably trained in numerous fields, including Project Management and Logframe, Public Speaking, and Leadership from Harvard Business School. She has attended ESCITE conferences in Toulouse, Warsaw and the NAMES conference in Kuwait. Massa obtained her Masters Degree in French Literature from The Catholic University of America, as well as, completed Ph.D. coursework in French Literature from the University of Maryland. In addition, she has a Masters Degree in Education Policies and Leadership from The American University of Beirut.
Susan Nicolai- Head of Project, Development Progress, ODI [break] Susan Nicolai is Head of ODI’s Development Progress, a project which aims to better understand what works in development and why. As a flagship, and drawing on expertise across the institute, this research features a series of case studies exploring how countries have advanced in specific areas such as health, education, environment, political voice, employment, material wellbeing, social cohesion and security. Further analysis takes this and other evidence to delve more deeply into questions around measurement, political economy and financing of development. Susan has previously worked with the UN SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict, Save the Children and UNESCO IIEP. Her own policy work and research has focused on basic services – particularly education – as a foundation of development and in relation to peace and security in crisis affected countries.
Fadi Salem- Director of Governance and Innovation Program at Dubai School of Government [break] Fadi is the Director of the Governance and Innovation Program, and Fellow, at the Dubai School of Government (DSG); Fellow with the I+I Policy Research Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (LKYSPP); and, a former Associate with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). His areas of expertise include new models of governance and citizen engagement, and their impact on social development, including ICT and reform, e-government, social media and citizen participation in the Arab region. He has been involved in numerous projects with government and private sector entities in the Arab region, as well as with international organizations, including the OECD, United Nations, WEF, World Bank and the European Commission. Prior to joining DSG, he worked in The Executive Office, where he advised senior government leaders in Dubai. He also previously worked as an editor of two pan-Arab publications.Fadi is a graduate from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the School of Engineering, Aleppo University. He is the author of numerous publications in peer-reviewed publications and media, and co-author of several proceedings and books, including the Arab Social Media Report series and the recently published “From Electronic Government to Information Government” book in Arabic.