Mohammad Azizi (Afghanistan) | Hasmik Minasyan (Armenia) | Abduljalil Al Singace (Bahrain) | Alina Belskaya (Belarus) | Yang Peng (China) | Safinaz El Tarouty (Egypt) | Hossam Youssef (Egypt) | David Abesadze (Georgia) | Huda Ahmed (Iraq) | Vera Tkachenko (Kazakhstan) | Maina Kiai (Kenya) | Rabih El Chaer (Lebanon) | Jasper Cummeh III (Liberia) | Iulian Fruntasu (Moldova) | Jay Chaudhary (Nepal) | Kingsley Bangwell (Nigeria) | Kate Sam-Ngbor (Nigeria) | Donya Aziz (Pakistan) | Aasiya Riaz (Pakistan) | Maria Eismont (Russia) | Jafar Al-Shayeb (Saudi Arabia) | Taras Shevchenko (Ukraine) | Giao Hoang (Vietnam) | Zvisinei Sandi (Zimbabwe)
Dr. Mohammad Azizi
Dr. Mohammad Azizi is the economic adviser to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo and the chairman of the Center for Policy Priorities (CFPP) in Afghanistan. As a human rights activist and advocate for the empowerment of people in public decision-making, he frequently delivers lectures on international economics, public policy, and macroeconomics. He received the Most Active Young Afghan award in 2005 by the New York-based organization Afghan Communicator.
Hasmik Minasyan is the policy officer of the Right to Be Heard Program of Oxfam GB, where she works on issues related to poverty reduction. As part of this position, she coordinates the Civil Society Partnership Network, a network of twenty-six NGOs working on poor development in Armenia, and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) Armenia National Coalition. In 2006, Minasyan organized the MDG Celebrity Concert, which mobilized more than ten thousand people.
Dr. Abduljalil Al Singace
Dr. Abduljalil Al Singace is the media director of the Bahrain Academics Society and an associate professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bahrain. Dr. Al Singace co-founded the Movement of Liberties and Democracy (HAQ), where he is responsible for media communications, human rights reports, and the establishment of relationships with international organizations. He is a leading human rights activist and defender in Bahrain.
In 2010, Dr. Singance was arrested by the Bahraini authorities and imprisoned where he was subjected to tortuous conditions because his opposition political party, HAQ, boycotted the parliamentary elections. After being released from prison in February 2011, he was re-arrested the following month and along with 13 other defendants, sentenced to life in prison by a military court.
Alina Belskaya is the reporting and information officer at the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia where she provides analysis, reporting and operational input to the Mission’s senior political and operations management. The E.U. deployed the Mission in the aftermath of the Russian- Georgian war in 2008 to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire signed between the two countries on August 12, 2008. The Mission’s mandate focuses on stabilization, normalization and confidence-building as well as objective reporting to inform the E.U.’s policy-making and engagement in the region.
Belskaya has worked on the South Caucasus for the past eight years. Before joining the EUMM she was the South Caucasus analyst for the International Crisis Group, a leading international think tank that provides non-partisan and field based research, analysis and advice to governments and international organizations. She also worked for the E.U. Special Representative for South Caucasus, focusing on democracy-building, conflict management and rule of law.
Updated December 2013
Yang Peng is the general secretary of the China Center for Public Policy in Beijing and the director of the China Beijing Enterprise Culture Institute. A highly accomplished scholar, he also helped promote civil rights protection activities and has become one of China's most important democratic intellectuals. Peng was also the chief designer of the Alxa Ecological Protection Association, now the largest and most influential environmental NGO in China.
Safinaz El Tarouty
Safinaz El Tarouty is an assistant lecturer in the Political Science department of the British University in Egypt, and a researcher at Partners in Development (PID), a think tank where she organizes forums on various aspects of constitutional reform in Egypt. Her master's thesis was the first academic study on the issue of reform within the National Democratic Party in Egypt and her current Ph.D. dissertation at Cairo University examines the social changes and transformation in Egypt's ministerial elite.
Dr. Hossam Youssef
Dr. Hossam Youssef is a commissioner judge at the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court. He is also a lecturer at the Cairo University School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law and Contracts under both the American and Egyptian legal systems. Additionally, Dr. Youssef is a member of the board of directors at the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority, and is a legal advisor to the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum, advising the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum on oil and gas concessions.
David Abesadze is the senior counselor at the Mission of Georgia to the European Union where he focuses on political-security issues. His areas of interests include foreign policy, national security, politics of development and the relationship between religion and politics.
Previously, he served as the head of policy analysis division in the political department of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was an assistant professor of social and political studies from 2005-2010 at Tbilisi State University, where he taught a graduate course on the politics of development. He is also the author of several publications, among them "Transformation of Religious Parties: Comparison of Turkey and Western Europe", and “Georgia’s Black Sea Policy: Forging Black Sea Identity”.
He holds MA degree from the Central European University as well as BA, MA and PhD degrees from Tbilisi State University. He has been a fellow of non-degree programs at Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University. In 2004-2005, Abesadze was a visiting scholar at George Washington University.
Huda Ahmed is the 2006-07 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow of the International Women Media Foundation at M.I.T., an intern at the US National Public Radio, and also a reporter for Knight Ridder in Baghdad. Prior to joining Knight Ridder, she worked as a reporter for the Washington Post in Baghdad, and translated for both The Daily Baghdad Observer and Al Jumhurriya Daily under the former regime. Ahmed's s work has ranged from portraying the heart-rending struggles of women and children in war and politics, to documenting human rights abuses by police and occupying forces.
Vera Tkachenko is the international project manager of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime in Kyrgyzstan with primary responsibilities for crime prevention and criminal justice reform area.
Tkachenko has served as the director of the Legal Policy Research Center, a nonpolitical, independent research institute that works to strengthen the rule of law through engagement with policy-makers. She has also served as the director of Penal Reform International for Central Asia, a leading organization on penal and criminal justice reform worldwide.
She was a Chevening scholar and received an MS in criminal justice policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2007.
Maina Kiai is a United Nations special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. He took up his functions on May 2011, for an initial period of three years. He also currently serves as the director of InformAction, a non-profit organization that does community organizing using documentaries and films.
A lawyer trained at Nairobi and Harvard Universities, Kiai has spent the last twenty years campaigning for human rights and constitutional reform in Kenya – notably as founder and executive director of the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission, and then as the first chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission (2003-2008), an independent state institution established by the Parliament to lead in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. At the Commission he won a national reputation for his courageous and effective advocacy against official corruption, in support of political reform, and against impunity following the violence that convulsed Kenya in 2008.
From July 2010 to April 2011, Kiai was the executive director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy, a Geneva-based think-tank. Kiai was also the director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, and the Africa director of the International Human Rights Law Group. He held research fellowships at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington), and the TransAfrica Forum (Washington).
Rabih El Chaer
Rabih El Chaer serves as the political and media advisor to the Kuwaiti Minister of Information and Youth, advising on speech writing, image building, strategic planning and
public affairs programs.
El Chaer is the founder of the Human Rights Center at the University of the Holy Spirit in Lebanon and remains a lecturer in constitutional law at the University. He has served as the managing director of the Transparency International Lebanese chapter and as a political and legal advisor to the Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities.
He is a graduate of the National French School of Public Management and holds a master’s degree in human rights from ParisX-Nanterre University and in public law from Poitiers University in France.
Jasper Cummeh III
Jasper Cummeh III an activist, researcher and mentor to young civil society activists working on issues of transparency and accountability, policy analysis and advocacy. Cummeh is the senior policy director of Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA), a civil society organization in Liberia that is working to promote citizen participation, promote good governance and increase transparency in fiscal policy management. Cummeh also serves as chair of the Liberia Freedom of Information Coalition. He recently contributed towards the 2012 Liberia Corruption Perception Index, a report that captures the perceptions of both experts and ordinary people about the level of perceived corruption in Liberia.
Prior to AGENDA, Cummeh served as executive secretary of the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Liberia. He was also the director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), a research-based local advocacy NGO, dedicated to promoting the tenets of transparency and accountability. Since 2004, he has worked on transparency issues by forming the Campaign Monitoring Coalition (CMC), which carried out the first ever Campaign Finance Monitoring in Africa during the 2005 transitional elections in Liberia.
Iulian Fruntasu is the director of European Initiatives Program of the Soros Foundation-Moldova, which provides assistance with the implementation of the Moldova Action Plan in grant-giving to operational projects. He was also a former diplomat involved in arms-control issues and a member of missions of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. As a noted author of several books and articles, Fruntasu is known for his insightful political commentary on democratic development and international relations.
Jay P. Chaudhary
Jay P. Chaudhary, popularly known as Jay Nishaant, is the television producer and host of the TV program Tatastha Tarka (the "Independent Argument"). This weekly political and current affairs talk show on Nepal's largest private sector channel Kantipur Television Network is one of the most widely viewed prime time talk shows in the country. In the past, Chaudhary has implemented several democracy promotion programs in Nepal as manager of Media and Democracy Projects of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Kingsley N. T. Bangwell
Kingsley N. T. Bangwell is the founder and executive director of the Youngstars Foundation, an organization mobilizing youth participation in democracy and development in Nigeria and Ghana. His most recent undertaking was a three-part youth training project on good governance and civic participation in several provinces across Nigeria. In the past, Bangwell has served as the Nigerian representative in the World Youth Alliance and as a consultant for the British Council on a youth publication project, which he co-authored. He intends to discover the best ways to foster active youth involvement in good governance and political participation in fledgling democracies.
Kate Sam-Ngbor is the public policy advisor of the Rivers State government. She was instrumental in the design of the popular "Democracy and Good Governance" pilot program by USAID, which played an influential role in the eventual return of democracy to Nigeria. A journalist by trade, she was the chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists and later the chairperson of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. Sam-Ngbor has also founded and/or helped to organize a number of NGOs on topics from sustainable development to women's rights.
Dr. Donya Aziz
Dr. Donya Aziz is a member of Pakistan's National Assembly and the joint secretary of the country's majority party, the Pakistan Muslim League. She currently serves as the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Population Welfare and sits on various National Assembly committees including defense, health, and foreign affairs.
Aasiya Riaz is joint director of the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), an independent research and training institution strengthening democratic governance in Pakistan. She was also a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy where she worked on subjects such as US think tanks and civil-military relations. Additionally, Riaz has worked with the mainstream press and electronic media in Pakistan serving as the editor of the international monthly magazine Pakistan Calling.
Maria Eismont is the director of the independent Print Media Program of the New Eurasia Foundation. The Program aims to increase the quantity and quality of independent newspapers in Russia's regions. In an effort to improve both business and editorial practices of the regional press, the program provides training and consulting to the staff of independent regional newspapers. Previously, Eismont worked as a journalist in several of Russia's leading publications and covered the regions of Chechnya, Kosovo, and Central Africa for the Reuters news agency.
Jafar Al-Shayeb is the elected Chairman for the Qatif Municipal Council and a regular political commentator for many local and international media channels. He sponsored the "Tuesday Cultural Forum," a weekly gathering of community leaders and activists that promoted dialogue on social and political issues. Al-Shayeb has also led charity foundations and youth programs dedicated to social development, and participated in the National Dialogue Meetings in Saudi Arabia.
Taras Shevchenko is the director of the NGO Kyiv Media Law Institute and a lecturer at the School of Journalism at the Kyiv National University.
As a member of several governmental advisory bodies and the secretary of the Public Council on Freedom of Speech and Information, Shevchenko has drafted a number of influential pieces of legislation that have became laws in Ukraine. He is the co-author of the Ukrainian Law On Access to Public Information adopted in 2011. The law provides possibilities for opening larger amounts of information from local governments, and requires public bodies to promote open government and publish certain types of information without any individual requests.
Giao N. Hoang
Giao N. Hoang is the vice director of the Center for Legal Research & Services, senior lecturer at Vietnam National University Law School, and chairman of the Center for Research and Consulting on Policy, Law, and Development. He teaches public international law and human rights law, and researches issues related to the rule of law and reform in Vietnam. Hoang manages about thirty projects to promote the rule of law, good governance, and democracy at the grassroots level in over twenty provinces in Vietnam.
Zvisinei Sandi is a lecturer at Masvingo State University and founder and secretary general of the Senior Society for Gender Justice. She is a journalist and an academic who has worked for the state-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers Group and later for the independent Financial Gazette. Since graduating from the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program, Sandi went on to become a Scholar Rescue Fellow at CDDRL, staying at Stanford for the 2007-2008 academic year.