Tashi Wangyal (Bhutan) | Yeliang Xia (China) | Hany Ibrahim (Egypt) | Ekaterina Beridze (Georgia) | Ferdos Majeed Mohammed Ameen (Iraq) | Faniya Mussayeva (Kazakhstan) | Grace Githaiga (Kenya) | Karambu Ringera (Kenya) | Timurlan Baiserkeev (Kyrgyz Republic) | Maya Najm (Lebanon) | Manuela Igreja (Mozambique) | Nkiru Celine Okoro (Nigeria) | Syed Ali Raza (Pakistan) | Oleg Kozlovsky (Russia) | Madina Vagapova (Russia) | Manar Rachwani (Syria) | Vasyl Marmazov (Ukraine) | Armando Armas Cauartin (Venezuela) | Loan Khong (Vietnam) | Joseph Mungwari (Zimbabwe)
Tashi Wangyal is a Member of Parliament in the National Council of Bhutan. Prior to taking this position he worked at the Royal Education Council, an autonomous organization established to initiate educational reforms in the country. Wangyal began his career in the civil service working as an economist in the Ministry of Finance (2000-2004) and as a research analyst at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2004-2005). In 2005, he resigned from the civil service to work as an independent researcher and consultant, specializing in macroeconomics and trade policy issues. At the time, he also held concurrent positions as an advisor to the Planning Commission and as a trade negotiator for Bhutan’s accession to the WTO. Wangyal has also served as a director on the Board of Bhutan National Bank and volunteered his service as an executive committee member of the Tarayana Foundation. In addition, he has authored several publications for the Royal Government of Bhutan and major international agencies on topics ranging from development economics to trade and politics, and contributes to academic journals. Wangyal has also participated in major conferences, seminars and workshops within Bhutan and abroad.
Wangyai studied at Punakha High School, Bhutan followed by education abroad at the Lester B. Pearson United World College, Victoria, Canada; Trent University, Ontario, Canada; and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Yeliang Xia is a professor of Economics and the deputy director of the Research Center for Foreign Economic Theory at Peking University, as well as the deputy director of the Research Institute of Public Policy at the China Society of Economic Reform. He has received much recognition for his intellectual achievement; including, being listed as one of the 60 leading economists inChina, one of 15 leading economists inChina, and one of 100 leading intellectuals of public opinion. In the past, Xia worked in the foreign affairs office of the Anhui provincial government, served as the chief of the research and development department at the Anhui Management Development Center, and was the division chief for research at the Anhui Institute of Management. Xia is also a signatory of Charter 08, a document demanding social and political freedoms in China.
Xia received a B.A. from Anhui University, China; a certificate for studies in the Faculty of Management from the University of Toronto and the University of San Francisco, and an M.A. and PhD. in economics from Fudan University, Shanghai.
Hany Ibrahim is the co-founder of an Egyptian NGO, El-Mashreq Foundation for Development and Population and is the founder of the Resources for Development Center (RDC). For the past ten years, Ibrahim has worked with national and international organizations such as CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, and the International Republican Institute. In 2009, he was recognized as one of the Top Ten People Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics by PoliticsOnline and World E-Democracy Forum for his innovative online activities in the areas of voters' education, peace building, and anti-corruption.
Ekaterina Beridze is a journalist for the independent TV Company “MAESTRO”, located in the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi. The company’s new management team has renewed the channel and is planning to build the most independent and objective news channel in Georgia. In addition to working, Beridze is also an MBA student at the Free University of Tbilisi.
Ekaterina began her career at the television company – Ibervizia- as an editor, then as a reporter and later as a presenter of a news program. She has also worked as both a presenter and a producer at a number of other television companies, including Audiencia, Rustavi 2, TBC TV and Mze. In 1994 and 1995 Beridze was recognized by MANA - a TV festival - for her work as a journalist, specifically for being the best presenter of news in Georgia and for having the best analytical program.
Before becoming a journalist, Beridze obtained a BA in philology from the Tbilisi State University.
Ferdos Majeed Mohammed Ameen
Ferdos Majeed Mohammed Ameen is the program officer of the Women’s Program of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Erbil, Iraq. In this capacity, she spearheads the creation of coalitions of Iraqi women’s NGOs, builds the capacity of these NGOs on policy advocacy, fundraising, designs NDI’s programming based on needs assessments of women’s civil society organizations in Iraq, and monitors and evaluates the impact of NDI's programs. Ameen also acts as a liaison between NDI, government officials, political parties, and civil society, raising awareness on the new constitution and the process of drafting laws for Iraq’s Transitional Assembly members. Prior to joining NDI in Erbil, she served as the program assistant for the Governance Program at their Baghdad center, where she evaluated Iraqi government institutions, designed and developed NDI governance programming, formed a database of international experts on governance, led workshops for government officials on good governance, and coordinated study missions to Canada and Spain for them. In 2009, Ameen participated in the Andi Parhamovich Foundation’s fellowship program in Washington, and attended the UN commission on the Status of Women.
Faniya Mussayeva is currently the Social Policy Development and Participatory Governance officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),Kazakhstan. Since 2000, she has worked on a number of projects aimed at strengthening democracy and protecting human rights in Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region for a number of organizations; including, the Sociological Resource Centre, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR). Specifically, Mussayeva has experience and expertise in the following areas: political party building; elections; the abolition of the death penalty and introduction of life imprisonment; human rights monitoring; capacity building of NGOs; strengthening the bar, judiciary and penitentiary institutions; human trafficking; the freedom of religion; the protection of children’s and women’s rights; and the promotion of good governance in Kazakhstan.
Mussayeva holds two B.A. degrees in international relations and in law, and an M.A. in theory and practice of human rights, all from the University of Essexin the UK. She has also written several articles and given presentations on human rights and democracy.
Grace Githaiga is an associate of the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), a platform for people and institutions interested and involved in information and communications technology policy and regulations that aims to reform the sector and enabled growth and development. She is also associated with the Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa (MEDIeA) Research Programme, a collaborative research program between Roskilde University (Denmark), University of Nairobi (Kenya), and University of Dar es Salam (Tanzania).
Prior to joining KICTANet and MEDIeA in 2009, Githaiga was the executive director of EcoNews Africa, a sub-regional NGO in East Africa, as well as the Africa President of the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC). She is also a founding member of the Kenya Community Media Network, through which she has provided consultation on the role of communication and media in development to a number of organizations, including: UNESCO, the World Bank, the International Institute of Education and Development, and Global Integrity. Githaiga was a 2008/2009 Hubert Humphrey fellow at the University of Maryland.
Githaiga holds a B.A. in communications with a minor in community development, an M.A. in international relations, and is currently a PhD candidate in a joint program between the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi and Roskilde University in Denmark.
Dr. Karambu L. Ringera
Karambu Ringera is the founder and executive director of International Peace Initiatives (IPI). IPI is a U.S. and Kenya-based organization that is dedicated to supporting and funding initiatives that mitigate the effects of war, disease, poverty, and discrimination. IPI provides housing for orphans and vulnerable children, teaches peace education, and supports African grassroots organizations and community leaders. Ringera’s role is to oversee IPI’s economic projects and other work with over 20 community-based groups. Beyond her work at IPI, Ringera is an intercultural communication consultant, peace trainer and lecturer in Africa. She is also a peace activist working with grassroots groups to highlight the effects of HIV/AIDS and war on women and the impact of women’s grassroots peace initiatives on communities in Africa. In 2005 and again in 2009, Ringera convened a Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congress in Kenya to address the role of grassroots women’s peace-building in Africa.
Ringera received a bachelor of education in mass communication from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, an M.A. in media from Natal University, South Africa, an M.A. in theological studies from the Iliff School of Theology, Colorado, as well as a Ph.D. in human communication from the University of Denver, Colorado.
Timurlan Baiserkeev is the founder and director of the non-profit advocacy organization “Atuul”. In this capacity, he has managed the organization expansion into a nationwide implementer of award-winning advocacy projects, funded by grants from the U.S. Democratic Commission, World Bank, Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan and others.
Prior to joining Atuul, Baiserkeev was the director of the Karakol Information Center for Democracy of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He was responsible for leading projects to create a national dialogue on civil and human rights by countering the absence of information and empowering communities to participate more actively in civic life.
Baiserkeev is an alumni of highly selective fellowship programs funded by the U.S. State Department and others. He completed his master’s degree in public administration at Cornell University as a joint Japan/World Bank graduate scholarship program scholar in August 2012.
Maya Najm works at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi as a program management specialist for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Previously, Najm served as senior advisor for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) Lebanon where she managed an anti-corruption program aimed at advancing transparency and the rule of law in Lebanon. From 1999 to 2008, Najm worked with the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, first as political affairs specialist then as program management specialist for MEPI. There she oversaw programs to promote human rights, democratic and electoral reform, and women and youth empowerment. Najm is also an elected member of the MEPI Alumni Steering Committee and a founding member of a newly established think tank, Research and Policy Studies Society of Lebanon (RPSSL). RPSSL aims to influence national policy and decision-making on key issues; including, women's empowerment, educational advancement, ICT development, and the environment. On several occasions, Najm has lectured in conferences, organized workshops, and participated in radio and television programs.
Manuela Igreja has been a lawyer and researcher at Associação Esperança Para Todos (AEPTO) since 2000, specializing in human rights, gender issues, transitional justice and democracy in the aftermath of the civil war. Igreja also works as a public auditor in the Mozambican Administrative Tribunal, specifically in the Auditor General Office (AGO). In this capacity, she analyzes how the absence of political legitimacy erodes institutional legitimacy and creates a culture of impunity.
Igreja has served as an international volunteer for the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste in Aileu district. As an electoral advisor she engaged in voter education activities, promoted initiatives to encourage first time voters to cast their vote, and promoted dialogue among different political representatives. Igreja also established projects to promote rural women and girls participation in political processes and environmental protection. Aileu was the first district in Timor Leste to successfully announce provisional results and the elections were held in a peaceful manner compared to other districts.
Igreja was granted a fellowship by the Australian Government Overseas Aid program to complete an MA in public administration at the Australian National University.
Nkiru Celine Okoro
Nkiru Celine Okoro is the founder and executive director of the Center for Organizational Development (COD) Nigeria, a registered non-governmental, non-political, not-for-profit, and gender proportionate organization that seeks to redress the existing imbalances in women’s access to credit in Nigeria. The COD does this by offering cost-effective and efficient management, leadership, human rights and organizational development training mostly to women of the poor and lower middle class. While attending the 54th Session of the 2010 United Nations Commission on the status of Women in New York, Okoro was appointed managing partner of The African Sun Times, America’s oldest and only African weekly newspaper on the newsstand. Until December 2004, she was the country coordinator of Africawoman, a regional internet-based newspaper operating in eight African countries.
Okoro is an aspiring PhD student in development and gender studies at the University of Abuja. She holds an M.Sc. in international relations from Obafemi Awolowo University, IleIfe Osun State, and a B.Sc. in political science and public administration from University of Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
Syed Ali Raza
Syed Ali Raza is a practicing lawyer and rule of law expert in Lahore, Pakistan. As an advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan and a special government pleader, he frequently appears before various courts and tribunals representing individual clients as well as the provincial government in various legal matters. Raza is a legal advisor to the chief minister of the Punjab High Level Task Force on Prisons Reforms, and is currently advising the highest levels of the Punjab provincial government on various public policy and reform initiatives. As the former Youth Minister of Law and member of the first Youth Parliament of Pakistan, Raza led the drafting of the legal and policy frameworks for the proposed provincial autonomy policy for Pakistan’s provinces, as well as coordinated the drafting and advocating of Pakistan’s Youth Policy. In 2009, Raza also worked as a forum assistant for the Supreme Court of Singapore’s Asia Pacific Judicial Reforms conference. In recognition of his successful legal reform work, the United Nations Development Program selected Raza to represent Pakistanin its prestigious Young Leaders in Governance Program in Bangkok,Thailand. As one of the youngest human rights activists in Pakistan, he has also received an award from the Punjab Bar Council for his leading role in the 2007 Lawyer’s Movement of Pakistan. Finally, he is a freelance writer who has contributed to legal and public policy debate inPakistanandSouth Asia.
Oleg Kozlovsky is a coordinator for the Russian youth democratic movement Oborona (“Defense”), whose aim is to defend democracy and civil rights by non-violent protest. Kozlovsky also works for the Student Discussion Programs at Higher School of Economics Anti-Corruption Policies Lab in Moscow. In addition, Kozlovsky serves as a member of Bureau of Federal Board of Solidarnost (“Solidarity”) united democratic movement, which united almost all liberal democratic opposition forces in Russia. Previously, he was the Moscow Group’s spokesperson for Amnesty International, and was involved with the SPS (“Union of Right Forces”) liberal political party as both co-chairman of SPS Moscow Youth and a member of the party’s Moscow Board. Kozlovsky was also a member of the executive committee of the Other Russia opposition coalition and was an organizer of Dissenters’ Marches and Dissenters’ Days, Russia’s largest protest rallies. For his involvement in non-violent protest, he has been arrested dozens times and served several short terms in jail. In 2007, Kozlovsky was drafted illegally into the army to isolate him until the presidential elections, and since 2006 he has been banned entry into Belarus. He has subsequently been awarded the Human Rights Award 2008 from Human Rights First.
Madina Vagapova is currently a student in the LL.M. Program in Public International and Human Rights Law at the Riga Graduate School of Law in Latvia. Prior to pursuing further studies, Vagapova was a protection assistant working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the North Caucus. In this capacity, Vagapova organized UNHCR training programs, preparing monthly protection reports, monitoring the work of 14 Legal Counseling Centers (LCCs) supported by the UNHCR, assisting LCC attorneys in addressing issues affecting internationally displaced persons and returnees, and maintaining a database of verbal and written legal consultations provided by LCC attorneys. Vagapova has served as an assessment mission translator and interpreter for the HALO Trust, as an assistant relief coordinator for the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation, and as a translator and interpreter for Medical Emergency Relief International, all in Grozny,Chechnya. She also taught English at the Chechen-Ingush State University from 1992 to 1994.
Manar Rachwani is a researcher and journalist based in Amman, Jordan. Between October 2009 and February 2010, he was an Atkin Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) at King’s College, London. Rachwani previously worked as an editor of Art and Culture; an op-ed editor and columnist at Al Ghad, a daily newspaper based in Jordan; and as the director of the Research External Relations Department at Al Arab, a daily Newspaper based in Qatar. At Al Arab Rachwani’s responsibilities included the following; editing op-ed articles and international media pages, overseeing 20 correspondents in 15 countries, conducting interviews with foreign politicians and activists, and working on special supplements that give readers in-depth knowledge of political, economic, and social issues. Previously, he served as a producer at ATV and was head of the Jordanian Affairs Unit at Al-Umma Studies Center, both in Amman. Rachwani has written several articles about the ongoing Arab Spring.
His published works include, “Making Peace Work: Bridging the Gap between Hopes and Deeds,” “Structural Adjustment Policies and Political Stability inJordan,” “Economic Reform and Democratization in the Arab World,” “Professional Associations inJordan: Professional and Political Roles,” and “Particularity Creation and Human Rights in the Arab World.”
Vasyl Marmazov is the ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Korea. He also covers relations between Ukraine and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He was previously the deputy minister of the interior charged with overseeing international relations, international legal cooperation of the ministry, law enforcements and immigration. He worked to introduce international standards for policing compliance with the international human rights obligations undertaken by the government of Ukraine. He has acted as the deputy dean of the faculty of law at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University and practiced law as a partner at Yuris Law Offices. Throughout his tenure as a professor, Marmazov has concentrated his efforts on democratic reform in Ukraine and transposing fundamental human rights principles in the Ukrainian legal system.
Marmazov received his law degree and a PhD in law from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
Armando Armas Cuartin
Armando Armas Cuartin is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Center for the Study of Local Development and Innovation (Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Innovacion Local). In his capacity at the Center, Armas designs the programs, prepares the budget, and leads the monthly meetings. Armas is also a social and political activist for the Venezuelan political group Voluntad Popular, where he volunteers his time to organize workshops on non-violent struggle. Previously, Armas volunteered for the Primero Justicia political party through which he provided legal assistance to the poor, conducted lectures and workshops about political theory and basic constitutional law, and worked on the logistical processes of each stage of the election. Later, Armas worked for Un Nuevo Tiempo, another political party in Venezuela for which he was a promoter as well as a member of the party’s center for ideological training, Centro de Formacion Politica y Ciudadana (CFPC). From October 2008 to April 2009, he lectured on constitutional law at Santa María University in Barcelona, Venezuela.
Loan Khong is a reporter for the Tuoi Tre Daily Newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City. She is also a visiting lecturer in the Journalism department at the Ho Chi Minh City Society and Humanity University. Previously, Khong has been the Sub-Editor for Vietnews, the online English version of the Tuoi Tre Daily Newspaper, an intern for the Independent Newspaper and BBC Vietnamese in London, as well as a reporter for the Ba Ria Vung Tau Newspaper in the Ba Ria Vung Tau province in Vietnam.
Joseph Mungwari is the head of the Private Office in the Office of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai. The office provides strategic, gate-keeping functions for the prime minister on key decisions, including whom the prime minister sees and places he visits. Mungwari’s functions include day-to-day management and administration of the entirety of the prime minister’s private office. It also involves undertaking preparatory work for the prime minister’s official international visits. Mungwari has a background in business management, international relations, and political communications, which he used in his previous roles before joining the inclusive government that was established in February 2009. Mungwari participated in the landmark March 2008 political elections that gave the main opposition a victory. Party to the political negotiations, Mungwari was instrumental in establishing the Office of the Prime Minister, specifically the Private Office.