Board of Advisors
Justin Alexander has been visiting Iraq for a decade, working with a range of organizations. He is currently based in Doha, Qatar, working as the senior international economist for Qatar National Bank. Before this he was a Middle East editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, producing regular political and economic analysis on Iraq and other countries in the region. His involvement with Iraq began in the late 1990s, campaigning against the humanitarian impact of the sanctions regime, and Alexander first visited Iraq in 2001 on a sanctions-breaking delegation. After the 2003 invasion he founded Jubilee Iraq, an NGO which worked with Iraqi and international partners to advocate for the cancellation of Iraq’s debts (a large part of which were written of by the Paris Club of creditors in 2005). He later volunteered with Christian Peacemaker Teams, living in Baghdad and travelling from Basra to Fallujah, accompanying families trying to get access to detained relatives and supporting cross-sectarian reconciliation initiatives. In 2005-06 he worked with UNAMI to provide technical support to the Iraqi parliament in the drafting of the new constitution and encourage civil society involvement in the process. A highlight was guiding a group of Iraqi MPs on a study tour of South Africa, to learn about its transition from authoritarian rule and experiences of reconciliation.
Johan Bergenas is the deputy director of the Managing Across Boundaries program at the Stimson Center, which looks for innovative government responses–at the international, national, and regional levels–and for smart public-private partnerships to mitigate transnational security threats and ameliorate development challenges. His areas of expertise includes the nexus between security and economic development, public-private sector partnerships, strategic communications, media and public affairs. Prior to joining the Stimson Center, he worked for the Monterey Institute. Before then, he was a member of Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy and communications teams, covering development and conflict issues in the Middle East and Africa. At Oxfam he was also part of several grassroots student organizing efforts. Bergenas has been a reporter and a freelance journalist for numerous publications, covering a wide range of international and U.S. domestic issues.
Willroy Grant is the Peacebuilding Coordinator for Collaboration at World Vision International. World Vision is one of the largest international relief and development non-governmental organizations, on-the-ground in more than 100 countries, and has a world-class peacebuilding team. Grant is based in his native Costa Rica and has global responsibilities. His previous assignment with World Vision was supporting the agency’s emergency response to the Haiti earthquake in January 2010.
Grant has spent much of his professional life as a peacebuilder. Since 1995, he has worked in Latin America as a family conflict mediator, counselor, consultant, and trainer on conflict resolution issues. He recently was a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and for the Foundation for Peace and Democracy as a senior conflict resolution trainer on protected land issues in Costa Rica. Grant has especially enjoyed working with church youth ministries. He received his B.A. from the University of the Ozarks and his M.A. in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University. Grant works fluently in English and Spanish.
Pierre Habshi is a business entrepreneur and international development consultant with extensive field experience. Habshi is the founder and former CEO of a leading e-commerce venture in Thailand, and current board member and ongoing advisor of the company’s strategic planning, operations, and investor relations. He has consulted and managed development projects in Afghanistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, and East Timor. Habshi has also served as an elections monitor, analyst, and coordinator of civil society initiatives in Haiti, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the Palestinian Territories, and most recently in Tunisia following the country’s successful pro-democracy revolution in 2011. His connections in Iraq run deep. From 2001 to 2003, Habshi worked with UNICEF in Baghdad as an analyst and reports officer, monitoring the delivery of humanitarian goods under the UN Oil for Food Program. In 2003, he coordinated UNICEF’s emergency response to the Iraq War in Amman, Jordan as the country received tens of thousands of refugees from Iraq. Later that year, Habshi returned to Iraq to head Creative Associate’s South/Central Iraq office. With 30 Iraqi national employees who he recruited and trained, Habshi managed $1.8 million in small grants and successfully rehabilitated more than 200 schools. He has a Master in Business Administration (INSEAD), a Master in International Public Policy (SAIS), and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (UC Berkeley).
An Oxford graduate and solicitor, Maysa Ibrahim understands the importance of art in Iraq. In order to nurture Iraq’s most talented and to revive the art scene in the country, Maysa founded The Young Mesopotamians. Through this charity, she provides gifted individuals in Iraq with unmatched educational opportunities. Her mission is to allow the next generation of young Iraqi artists to reach their potential and become a source of inspiration throughout the Middle East and the world. What is the significance of art and what can it do for Iraq? In her talk at TEDxBaghdad 2011, Maysa explores the influence of art on a war-torn nation and its people, shedding light on past and recent Iraqi artists and how to create the mechanisms to foster the creativity of the Iraqi people.
Kerry Constabile is currently Specialist, Urban Planning and the focal point for climate change, environmental sustainability and urban work in UNICEF’s Division of Policy and Strategy. She focuses on developing climate change and urban programmes and on formulating policies for UNICEF Country Offices. Prior to joining UNICEF, Kerry focused on economic development, natural resource management and environmental finance in the private and public sectors. She began her career with the ecological science division of UNESCO, and has since worked with the the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Office of International Affairs, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Mozambique, the Eurasia Group and the sustainable investment firm Sarasin & Partners.
Kerry holds a Masters in International Affairs from School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). While at SIPA, she participated in the Energy Workshop with the UNDP Energy and Environment group, interned with Citigroup Microfinance, and was a research fellow for the Columbia Business School program on Environmental Protection through Incentives and Commerce (EPIC). She received the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship from the Institute of Latin American Studies, and studied political science and art history as an undergraduate at Columbia University.
Adrienne Dunsing is Senior Development Officer at the Stimson Center, a non-profit, nonpartisan institution devoted to enhancing international peace and security. At Stimson she manages the organization’s development timeline, writes institutional and corporate proposals and reports, and orchestrates high-profile events.
Prior to working at Stimson, Adrienne worked with the US Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA for UNHCR), a non-profit organization raising money for the UN Refugee Agency’s humanitarian work around the world. At USA for UNHCR she helped develop Aid Darfur, a campaign with Meryl Streep and Tony Bennett that brought increased American support for UNHCR’s work in Darfur, Sudan and Eastern Chad. Adrienne received a BA from the University of Connecticut in 2003.
Idriss Al Rifai is a Dubai-based consultant with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world’s leading consulting firms, in their Public Sector practice area in the Middle East. As a core member of the Public Sector team, he advises governments in the region. Al Rifai has nurtured a passion for Iraq for years: He was born, and spent his early years, in Baghdad. Prior to joining BCG, Al Rifai worked for more than six years at the French Ministry of Defense, focusing on security matters in Africa and the Middle East. He spent several of those years on the ground in multiple countries, doing political and macro-economic analysis. He later joined the Defense Ministry’s Delegation for Strategic Affairs at the Crisis Desk and provided Minister-level guidance on French engagement with Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Rifai has degrees from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Nathaniel Rosenblatt coordinates activity for two centers of research at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Nathaniel received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and a Master of Arts (MA) in International Economics and International Relations with a Middle East concentration from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. Nathaniel wrote his graduate thesis on Syrian politics, participated as an international elections observer in Iraq’s national elections in March 2010 and is the author of a paper on the Turkish national elections in 2007.
Though raised in Texas, Leah played basketball collegiately at the University of Oklahoma. After graduating in 2007, she began playing professionally in the WNBA and with several teams throughout Europe and Australia. Because of the success she’s had as an athlete, opportunities to be involved in various humanitarian and development projects resulted. She believes in the positive effects of sport and the power it has to engage individuals and communities because she has seen it in action. Rush has worked with numerous organizations and causes, concentrating on youth development, health and education promotion, environmental conservation, and community building. Leah recently finished her master’s degree in Development Anthropology from the University of Durham in the UK and plans to continue working in the international development and aid sector long after she finishes her basketball career. Since 2007, Leah has lived and worked in multiple countries across the globe; for now, when she’s not traveling, she can be found in Washington D.C.
Polly Aris Stamatopoulos has been working in all areas of resources development and non-profit management since 1991. She is currently the CEO of The Rainmakers Group.
Stamatopoulos has previously held the position of Director of Development at numerous DC-area and national non-profit organizations, including Women Empowered Against Voiolence (WEAVE) and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). She is a long-time champion of women’s rights, peace and social justice and has chosen to work with organizations that help her pursue her personal and professional goal—advocating for the under-served. In striving to achieve her goals, Stamatopoulos has gained extensive experience working with and on behalf of people with mental illness, victims of crime, women and children, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor and/or homeless.
Paul L. Heck is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in Georgetown University’s Department of Theology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His scholarly interests focus on the history of skepticism in Islam, mysticism and the role of spirituality in Muslim society, views on martyrdom in the three monotheist traditions, the phenomenon of religious humanism, and questions of political theology. His most recent publication, Common Ground: Islam, Christianity and Religious Pluralism (2009) looked at some of these themes. Overall, he aims to bring sharper insight to our knowledge of the phenomenon of religion and its role in both scholarship and society in general.
As a founding director of the Study of Religions across Civilizations (SORAC), a joint project between Georgetown University and Muhammad V University (Rabat, Morocco), Heck has worked to bring together the future teachers and leaders of religion from different cultures to study religious concepts in friendship with one another. He has also spent two years in Jordan where, in addition to academic work, he organized and led Outward Bound-style hikes in the countryside, bringing together people of different cultural and religious backgrounds to share in their enjoyment of the environment.
Kristien Zenkov, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education, College of Education and Human Development. Zenkov earned his BA degrees in Liberal Studies and English writing from the University of Notre Dame, his MA in Education from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His areas of expertise include literacy education, teacher education in intensified settings, visual sociology and research methods, social justice education, portfolio assessment, and conflict resolution in education. He is the author and editor of more than seventy articles and book chapters and three books, focusing on teacher education, literacy and language arts pedagogy and curricula, and professional development schools. Zenkov is the co-director of “Through Students’ Eyes,” a project based in Cleveland, northern Virginia, Haiti, and Sierra Leone which asks youth to document with photographs and writing what they believe are the purposes of school. Zenkov has served as the Co-Director of the Master of Urban Secondary Teaching (MUST) Program and coordinated partnerships with high schools in four urban school districts. He currently serves as the Chair of the AERA Professional Development Schools Research SIG and as senior editor of School-University Partnerships, the journal of the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS), and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Teacher Education, Urban Education,and Equity and Excellence in Education.
Jacob Colie is the President of Stagecoach Digital LLC. He helps nonprofits, colleges and universities, and small businesses take advantage of the internet. With 12 years of nonprofit experience, Jacob raised over $68 million from 200,000 supporters. He pioneered many key digital fundraising tools and marketing methods. He is passionate about leveraging technology to raise money, improve returns on investment, engage supporters, advocate and raise awareness.