Twenty-seven Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development announced for 2007

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University is pleased to announce its new class of Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development. This year's fellows - 27 outstanding civic, political, and economic leaders from 22 countries in transition - have been selected from more than 500 applications.

Fellows's Biographies

David Abesadze, Republic of Georgia, is the head of policy analysis division in the Political Department of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is also an assistant professor of social and political studies at Tbilisi State University, where he teaches a graduate course on the politics of development. Through the SSFDD program, he hopes to broaden his theoretical knowledge of development by examining influential works in the field, and to explore how case-specific methodologies and policies have been used to solve development problems.

Huda Ahmed, Iraq, 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. At SSFDD, she is interested in learning more about international conflicts, international law, human rights reporting, media and cross cultural research.

Jafar Alshayeb, Saudi Arabia, 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. Alshayeb, a founding member of human rights and NGOs, has also led charity foundations and youth programs dedicated to social development, and participated in the National Dialogue Meetings in Saudi Arabia. Through SSFDD, he would like to explore new ideas and exchange experiences in the fields of social development and democratic transformation.

Dr. Abduljalil Al Singace, Bahrain, is the media director of the Bahrain Academics Society and an Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bahrain. Abduljalil 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. At SSFDD, Abduljalil is interested in learning more about the use of media in democratic development.

Dr. Donya Aziz, Pakistan, 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. During her time at SSFDD, Donya hopes to learn more about how she can contribute to a future where Pakistani women are able to fully exercise their democratic, political, and professional rights.

Dr. Mohammad Azizi, Afghanistan, is the economic adviser to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo and the chairman of 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 and received the Most Active Young Afghan award in 2005, by the New York- based organization Afghan Communicator. Mohammed is particularly interested in democracy promotion in Afghanistan.

Kingsley N. T. Bangwell, Nigeria, is the founder and executive director of the Youngstars Foundation, an organization mobilizing youth participation in democracy and development in Nigeria and Ghana, where 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, he 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.

Alina Belskaya, Belarus, was forced to flee her country under threat of imprisonment for her involvement in demonstrations against the authoritarian regime of A. Lukashenka. In Belgium, where she currently lives, she works for the German Marshall Fund on issues related to the Euro-Atlantic integration of Belarus and the wider Black Sea region. A member of the Crisis Management Initiative, she also sits on the board of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association. Alina would like to learn more about the role of NATO in democratization and the role of grass roots movements in improving socioeconomic conditions of communities.

Jay P. Chaudhary, Nepal, 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, Jay has implemented several democracy promotion programs in Nepal as Manager of Media and Democracy Projects of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Jay is interested in learning more about how to sustain a grass roots movement to institutionalize democracy in Nepal.

Garrett J. Cummeh III, Liberia, is 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. He is presently the Executive Secretary of the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Liberia. During the SSFDD program, Garrett would like to learn more about post conflict governance and rebuilding, as well as strategies to strengthen Liberia's compliance with and implementation of measures against corruption.

Maria Eismont, Russia, 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, this program provides training and consulting to the staff of independent regional newspapers. Previously, Maria worked as a journalist in several Russian leading publications and covered the regions of Chechnya, Kosovo, and Central Africa for the Reuters news agency. Maria is interested in learning and sharing information on developing a free press.

Rabih El Chaer, Lebanon, is the advisor to the minister of public works and transportation and counsels on public policy, crisis management, legislative proposals, image building and political strategy. As a human rights activist, Mr. Chaer founded the Maharate Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting freedom of expression and media accountability in the Arab region. He is a regular contributor to An-Nahar, Lebanon's leading Arabic language daily newspaper. Rabih has been a regular guest on television news programs since 1993 and is known for his outspoken advocacy of democracy, freedom and political reforms. At Stanford, he wants to gain more substantial knowledge of US electoral campaigns, political party organization, and lobbying.

Safinaz El Tarouty, Egypt, 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. Safinaz is particularly interested in issues dealing with political parties, elections, women electoral participation and judicial supervision of elections.

Iulian Fruntasu, Moldova, 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, he is known for his insightful political commentary on democratic development and international relations. Iulian is interested in exploring issues dealing with development and democracy assistance and internet media regulations.

Giao N. Hoang, Vietnam, 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. He manages about thirty projects to promote the rule of law, good governance, and democracy at the grassroots level in over twenty provinces in Vietnam. He comes to SSFDD hoping to learn more about the relationship of political parties to governments in democratic countries and how to prevent parties from abusing the government's power.

Franck Kamunga Cibangu, DRC, is a human rights and humanitarian law activist currently based in Kenya. He is the director of the Droits Humains Sans Frontières NGO, and coordinator of the Africa Democracy Forum, a pan-African network of 300 NGOs and activists working together on democracy, governance, and human rights. He also does research for the United States Peace Institute and the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the African Migration Alliance, which focuses on migration issues in Africa. In the past, he has served as legal adviser at the Independent Electoral Commission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His areas of interest for SSFDD include judicial training in electoral systems, conflict resolution, and human rights advocacy.

Maina Kiai, Kenya, is the first chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, an independent state institution established by the Parliament to lead in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Kiai was the Africa Director for the International Human Rights Law Group in Washington, DC. From 1999-2001 he was the Africa director of Amnesty International in London, UK, which he joined from the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, and NGO where he was executive director. Mr. Kiai was described by the New York Times as Kenya's leading human rights activist in 1997. He hopes the summer program will assist him in developing strategies for effective redress and promotion of human rights, and advancing the development of independent media.

Hasmik Minasyan, Armenia, 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, she organized the MDG Celebrity Concert, which mobilized more than ten thousand people. Her primary interests at SSFDD are the development of civil society and democratic political institutions in transitional countries.

Yang Peng, China, 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 to promote civil rights protection activities and has become one of China's most important democratic intellectuals. He was also the chief designer of the Alxa Ecological Protection Association, now the largest and most influential environmental NGO in China. He is interested in peaceful democratic transition problems and design of democratic institutions.

Aasiya Riaz, Pakistan, is joint director of 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. Aasiya has worked with the mainstream press and electronic media in Pakistan as well, as serving as the editor of the international monthly magazine Pakistan Calling. During the SSFDD program, she would like to focus on strengthening democracies in transition and civil-military relations.

Kate Sam-Ngbor, Nigeria, 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. She has also founded and/or helped to organize a number of NGOs on topics from sustainable development to women's rights. She comes to SSFDD to learn about judicial integrity, respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press, among other interests.

Zvisinei Sandi, Zimbabwe, 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. She hopes to use her time with SSFDD to become a more effective human rights advocate and observe the approaches different countries take to the teaching of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law.

Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine, 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, Mr. Shevchenko has drafted a number of influential pieces of legislation that have became laws in Ukraine. He looks forward to the great opportunity of establishing professional relations with his counterparts from other countries as well as experts on democracy, economic development and the rule of law in transitioning economies.

Majid Tavallaei, Iran, is the managing director of Nameh Research and Information Institute, which aims to provide novel approaches to achieving non-violent transitions for a democratic Iran. As the editor-in-chief of the monthly journal, Naameh, which the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned, he has contributed over 40 articles on pertinent social-political issues in Iran. He is also one of the founding members of the Iranian People's Liberation Party (IPLP), a social democracy platform that promotes new civic movements. He hopes his time at SSFDD will help develop further his understanding of effective political activism.

Vera Tkachenko, Kazakhstan, is a lawyer and currently a candidate for an MSc in Criminal Justice Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For the last 6 years, as one of the regional directors of the international NGO Penal Reform International, she has been working on criminal justice reform issues in Central Asia. Her main interests pertain to the effective development of criminal justice systems with sustainable institutions, traditions and legal frameworks, and mainstreaming and actualizing the legal reform as part of a broader democratization process.

Roya Toloui, Iran, is a clinical pathologist, feminist, journalist, and human rights activist from Kurdistan, Iran. Roya has promoted social activism through the Kurdish women's magazine, Rasan, as editor-in-chief and the Kurdish Women Supporting Peace and Human Rights in Kurdistan, as a founding member. She was arrested on August 2, 2005 for her outspoken criticism of the authorities and upon her release on bail she fled to Iran and sought refuge in the United States. In November 2006, she won the Freedom of Expression Award from international PEN and OXFOM/NOVIB. During her time at SSFDD, Roya hopes to join other activists to form solidarity and support in the struggle for democracy.

Dr. Hossam Youssef, Egypt, 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, he 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. At SSFDD, Hossam hopes to learn more about how the mechanisms of the American legal system are used to protect human rights and preserve the rule of law.