Ghizaal Haress is the only female member of the Afghanistan Independent Commission on Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, where she leads their efforts to examine and interpret provisions of the constitution. A constitutional law expert, Haress also serves as an assistant professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan.
Haress has over 14 years of professional experience in Afghanistan that focuses predominantly in the legal sector. Her experience in Afghanistan includes working in the areas of human rights, economic rights/empowerment, support to legal professionals, women’s political participation, strengthening political parties, governance and election monitoring. Prior to her role with the American University of Afghanistan, Haress worked as the executive director for the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program, a National Priority Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
She is a Chevening scholar and holds an LL.M. degree from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies and a bachelor of law from the Law Faculty, Kabul University.
Belabbes Benkredda is an award-winning social innovator and the founder of the Munathara Initiative, the Arab world’s largest online and television debate forum highlighting voices of youth, women and marginalized communities. Operating in 11 Arab countries, Munathara’s monthly prime-time TV debates are the only civil society-run, independent political talk program on Arabic television.
Previously, Benkredda worked for the German Foreign Office, the Arab League and the Council for Arab-British Understanding. After moving to Dubai in 2005, he was a government consultant specializing in public diplomacy, a frequent television commentator, and op-ed columnist for the region’s leading English daily. In 2013, he was recognized with the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award for his work in fostering citizen participation in the Arab public sphere, and in 2016 Benkredda was named a Yale World Fellow.
He studied international relations and jurisprudence in Frankfurt, Germany, and holds an MA in Middle East politics from Exeter University, United Kingdom.
Rafael Marques de Morais is a multi award-winning journalist and human rights activist in Angola working to investigate corruption and abuse of power by the country’s ruling family. He founded Makaangola in 2009, a watchdog website dedicated to exposing corruption and human rights abuses in the country.
Morais has authored various human rights reports, including a book titled, Diamantesde Sangue: Corrupção e Tortura em Angola (Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola), in which he exposed corruption and human rights abuses in the diamond industry. He was a visiting scholar (2012) at the African Studies department of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies University, and a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow (2011) at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C.
Morais holds a BA with honors in anthropology and media from Goldsmiths, University of London and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford.
Lucila Crexell is a national senator of Argentina and represents the province of Neuquén, located in the Patagonia region. She has two decades of experience working in different areas of public administration - both at the national and local level.
As a senator, she defends the decentralization of power and the protection of provincial autonomy. She serves as a member of several committees including constitutional affairs, general law, environment and sustainable development and foreign affairs. She has been the author of bills related to environment, education, regional economies, tourism and foreign service, among other matters.
Crexell holds a degree in public relations from the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE), Argentina. She is currently completing a law degree at UADE and a master’s degree course in public administration at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Edmon Marukyan is a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and serves as the chairman of the Council of Bright Armenia, an opposition party. Before assuming public office, he worked as a human rights lawyer helping to strengthen democracy and civil society in Armenia. Marukyan served as the chairman of the Center for Strategic Litigations, a human rights NGO, and also worked as a consultant at Human Rights Watch from 2010-12.
He holds a master's degree in jurisprudence from the Public Administration Academy of Armenia and an LL.M. with a concentration in international human rights law from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Jana Macedo is a public policy manager at the Brazilian Federal Government where she works at the Ministry of Planning, coordinating initiatives on participatory planning and civic engagement.
Previously, Macedo worked on human rights issues, which gave her a multidisciplinary perspective to develop public policy serving vulnerable populations. In 2014, while serving at the Ministry of Justice, Macedo coordinated the First National Conference on Migration and Refugees. This was the first time the government of Brazil gave an open floor to hundreds of migrants in order to receive proposals to improve migration policies. Macedo also worked at the Human Rights Secretariat at the Presidency of the Republic. She contributed to a monitoring methodology for the National Plan for the Eradication of Slave Labor that aimed to eradicate slave labor in Brazil. She is a member of the Bertelsmann Foundation Network of Transformation Thinkers, which is composed of young leaders from different countries who are committed to democracy.
Macedo holds an MSc in public policy from University College London, United Kingdom.
Wai Wai Nu is the director and founder of Women Peace Network-Arakan, an organization building a platform for peace and understanding among Burma’s diverse ethnic groups. Nu was a political prisoner for seven years under the Burmese military government, and emerged to serve as a national – and international – voice for Burma’s human rights and democracy movement.
In 2014, she founded Justice for Women, which operates as a network of female lawyers providing legal consultation and education for the women of Burma. She also organized a campaign - “My Friend Campaign” - with youth from different communities to promote tolerance and to reduce discrimination among diverse groups. Nu was awarded the 2015 Democracy Courage Tribute Award by the World Movement for Democracy. She was also recognized as one of the 100 inspiring women by Salt Magazine, one of the 100 World Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2015, and selected as one of the “100 Top Women” by BBC in 2014.
Nu holds a law degree from Yangon East University, Burma.
Astère Muyango is a human rights lawyer working to strengthen the rule of law in Burundi. Since 2009, he serves as the country program director of International Bridges to Justice, an NGO headquartered in Geneva, which focuses on legal and human rights challenges, the development of effective and fair criminal justice systems and protection of basic legal rights of citizens.
Along with other human rights defenders in Burundi, Muyango founded the Burundi Bridges to Justice, a local civil society organization that represents indigents accused of crimes, and has represented many of the young protesters who were arrested during Burundi’s recent political violence. He has consulted in drafting policies, laws and regulations pertaining to children and women’s rights, and intellectual property.
In recognition of the impact of his work, Muyango was awarded the 2015 East Africa Law Society Young Lawyer Award.
Maria Llorente is a Colombian political scientist with over 25 years of experience working on peace and security issues. She serves as the executive director of the Fundacion Ideas para la Paz, an independent think tank involved in the peace process in Colombia. Her work has contributed to evidence-based policy recommendations to increase citizen security and the reform of the Colombian police. She has been designated by the government to serve on several high-level advisory commissions on police reform, criminal justice and drug policy reform.
Llorente is also involved in Reconciliación Colombia (Colombia Reconciliation), a platform that connects and engages more than 100 civil society organizations and companies aiming to build peace at the local level. Llorente also serves on the board of several philanthropic organizations including the Asociación de Fundaciones Empresariales (Association of Corporate Foundations) that convenes the leading business foundations in Colombia.
Mauricio Alarcón Salvador is an Ecuadorian lawyer, and human rights and transparency activist. He is currently the executive director of Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo, a non-profit organization that works on citizen participation and transparency, and serves as the program director of Fundamedios, Ecuador’s leading organization in the promotion and defense of freedom of expression.
For over 10 years, Alarcón Salvador has worked in civil society promoting democratic values in Ecuador and across Latin America. He was an alternate member (2007-08) of the Constituent Assembly, participating in the process of drafting a new constitution. He had also presented proposals on constitutional justice and the institutionalization of transparency in the public sector. In 2013, the National Endowment recognized Alarcón Salvador for Democracy as one of the 30 most inspiring young activists from around the world working for a democratic future.
He obtained his law degree from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador, and is currently completing a MA in public management at Universidad Internacional Meléndez Pelayo, Spain.
Abdelrahman Mansour is an Egyptian political activist and entrepreneur in the field of media and journalism. He has played a key role in several Egyptian and Arab initiatives committed to advancing citizen’s rights to knowledge and access to information. He founded raqeb.co which translates the knowledge produced by the global research community on Arab affairs into Arabic. He is also a co-founder of MoviePigs.com, which is a cinema platform for Arabic and independent cinema targeting the US and Europe.
He was the co-administrator of “We are All Khaled Said”, the largest political Facebook page in the Middle East, which called for the January 25 revolution in Egypt. Mansour is also the co-founder of Hizb el-Dustor, The Constitution Party. He has written about the violations of civil liberties and the aspirations of young Egyptians for Oxford HandBooks, Al Jazeera English, and Jadaliyya.
He was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois’s Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership where he researched youth and democracy in the Arab region.
Atishi Marlena is a young Indian politician, who is part of the Aam Aadmi Party, which emerged from a nationwide anti-corruption movement in January 2015. She is a member of the highest decision-making body within the party, the National Executive.
She serves as the advisor to the Deputy Chief Minister working on educational reform and participatory governance efforts in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, where the Aam Aadmi Party is in power. Before joining politics, Marlena gained a wide range of experience in the social sector including teaching courses in public policy, working with rural communities in central India and organic farming.
Marlena was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship (2005-06) to study education at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. She also studied history at Oxford as a Chevening Scholar (2001-03).
Rajamanohar Somasundaram is a technology entrepreneur from India who co-founded Hexolabs Interactive, a company building technology solutions for basic mobile handset users in emerging markets. Somasundaram pioneers the use of mobile technology for the development of healthcare, education and governance services to support inclusive development for the bottom of the pyramid.
Somasundaram is also the founder of Kaasu, a peer-to-peer lend and borrow platform for micro loans to enable easy access of funds for individuals and local businesses. He serves on the advisory boards of emerging startups in Asia, Africa and Latin America. With his team he created MamboTalk, the first ever voice blogging service for rural communities in India and Africa that allowed users to record and broadcast messages to a large audience using a basic phone. MIT Technology Review named them among the Top 35 Young Innovators in India. The venture was also awarded the 2012 Social Innovator of the Year by MIT Tech Review India.
In 2012, the World Economic Forum recognized Somasundaram as a Young Global Leader for his leadership and contribution in the field of mobile communication and information services. He holds a graduate degree in industrial design from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India.
Asos Askari is a lawyer who serves as a legal advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, drafting new laws and regulations to govern natural resources, human rights and public sector reform. He co-founded and taught the inaugural course of the Iraq Legal Education Initiative, a partnership between the American University of Iraq Sulaimani and Stanford Law School, which seeks to advance legal education in the Kurdistan region.
He has contributed to several projects in the Kurdistan region, including a project documenting the human rights abuses and war crimes of the Baath Party against the Kurds in Iraq. His main areas of focus include; democracy, human rights, commercial law and the implementation of the rule of law in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Askari holds a bachelor's degree in law and politics and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Manchester. He is also a qualified solicitor of England and Wales. Askari is currently completing a PhD on the oil and gas laws of the Kurdistan region from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Giorgi Kadagidze is a professor at Ilia State University, one of the leading research and educational institutions of Georgia. He delivers lectures in the field of finance, banking and the economic development of emerging economies.
From 2009-16, Kadagidze served as Chairman of the Board and Governor of the Central Bank of Georgia, leading the country’s economic transition from a planned to a market-based economy. In addition, he simultaneously was the International Monetary Fund Governor for Georgia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Alternate Governor for the country. The Financial Times Group’s magazine “The Banker” named Kadagidze the 2014 Central Banker of the Year for Europe.
Kadagidze holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. He is a graduate of Tbilisi European School of Management and Preston University, holding a dual degree in business administration.
Glowen Kyei-Mensah is the managing director of Participatory Development Associates, a development consultancy working to support governance and community development in Ghana. She brings over a decade of experience in the development sector, leading nationwide research projects with considerable impact on social and policy reform.
She has also worked as a lecturer at the Regent University of Science and Technology in Accra, Ghana. Kyei-Mensah’s work experience spans from the grassroots to the national and international levels, and includes the use of rights-based approaches and participatory methodologies in research, policy advocacy, sustainable livelihoods, participatory monitoring and evaluation, training and facilitation.
Kyei-Mensah holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Edinburgh Business School in the United Kingdom and is a doctoral candidate at the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.
Oluseun Onigbinde is a social entrepreneur in Nigeria and co-founder of BudgIT, which develops civic technology tools to advance greater public sector transparency and accountability. Their technology campaigns have reached over 750,000 Nigerians on issues of public sector accountability.
Prior to founding BudgIT, Onigbinde worked with First Bank PLC as part of their operations, business development and corporate development teams. He is a recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship, Aspen New Voices Fellowship, Future Awards and the International Center for Journalists Knight Fellowship. Onigbinde is a member of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, and also sits on ONE Africa Policy Advisory Board.
He holds a degree in engineering from the University of Agriculture, Nigeria. In 2014, he completed Stanford University’s Executive Program on Social Entrepreneurship.
Elizaveta Osetinskaya is a media manager, editor and business journalist. She was responsible for the editorial operations at RBC Media Holding until May 2016. RBC Media Holding is the leading independent Russian media outlet, which includes a TV channel, the largest news portal in the country, a newspaper and magazine.
Osetinskaya worked at Vedomosti (1999-11), a joint venture between the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, starting as a correspondent and culminating as editor-in-chief. Since 2013, Osetinskaya has been a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum at Davos. From 2011-13, Osetinskaya led editorial operations of the Russian edition of Forbes. She will be beginning a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in the 2016-17 academic year where she plans to explore business models for digital media, which would help protect journalism from political pressure and censorship.
She completed her BA in economics from Moscow Lomonosov State University, Russia and holds an MBA from Kingston University, United Kingdom.
Natalia Yudina is a researcher and vice-director at the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a Russian-based nonprofit organization that conducts research on nationalism and racism, relations between the churches and secular society, and political radicalism. The center also focuses on the government’s misuse of counter-extremism measures.
Yudina’s work has contributed to a growing awareness of the government’s anti-extremist measures on the Internet and how these actions harm freedom of expression. Her fieldwork and research focuses on nationalism, racism, hate crimes and counteraction to racism in Russia, as well as protection of civil liberties from misuse of anti-extremism policies. She is the author and co-author of the SOVA Center’s reports, including those on the activities of far-right groups in Ukraine’s Donbass area. She plays a key role in the SOVA Center’s participation in Football Against Racism in Europe and International Network Against CyberHate’s networks.
Chandralal Majuwana is a human rights lawyer in Sri Lanka. He serves as the head of the Human Rights Program for the Forum for Human Dignity, a Colombo-based NGO. The program provides legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses and focuses on education and advocacy.
Majuwana is one of the founding members of the People's Movement for the Rights of Patients, the largest patient rights organization in the country, which advocates for patient-centered health policies. Previously, he worked in the Ministry of Social Services as the coordinating secretary to the Minister where he provided welfare and legal assistance to internally displaced people due to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.
He completed his legal education at Sri Lanka Law College and holds a master’s degree in social work from the National Institute for Social Development, Sri Lanka.
Houssem Aoudi is an entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in media, civic engagement, and social innovation. His work specializes in bringing together diverse stakeholders to tackle today's most pressing issues. He is the co-founder and CEO of Cogite Coworking Space, Tunisia's first coworking community and Wasabi, a company that endeavors to create platforms for public debate, community building and open expression.
Aoudi was appointed to serve as director of the Media Center for the Independent High Authority for Elections, a government agency in charge of organizing and supervising elections and referendums in Tunisia. In this capacity, he successfully presented the process and outcomes of Tunisia’s historic 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections to the world -- democratic elections internationally hailed for their openness and transparency.
In 2010, Aoudi co-founded TEDxCarthage, the country’s first and largest annual TEDx event. He later went on to work with TED to launch a major international summit in Doha, Qatar for TEDx organizers from around the world. He launched the Afkar "Think and Action Tank” in 2015, which gathers a conclave of key stakeholders around an issue and provides an action-oriented format in which participants develop timely, implementable solutions.
Kasha Nabagesera is the executive director of Kuchu Times Media Group, the first LGBTI media platform in Africa. She is known as the “founding mother” of the LGBTI movement in Uganda - where homosexuality is illegal - advocating for equal rights and the eradication of all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In 2010, Nabagesera and her colleague sued the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone, which published their names and photographs along with others who the tabloid claimed to be gay under the headline “Hang Them.” The case set a benchmark for human rights in Uganda and a precedent as an attempt to protect the privacy and the safety of members of the LGBTI community from the incitements of violence against them. In 2010, Nabagesera opened Uganda's first and only LGBTI bar, located in a suburb of Kampala.
In May 2011, Nabagesera was the first gay rights activist awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders for her passion to promote equality and courage in the face of discrimination and violence against LGBTI people in Uganda.
Olga Aivazovska is head of the Board of the Civil Network OPORA, a civil society organization catalyzing change in Ukraine by engaging citizens in decision-making, and fighting for the protection of voting rights and transparent electoral processes. An active participant in Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, Aivazovska has been working to transform Ukraine into a democratic and prosperous country.
From 2010-16, Aivazovska was a director of national nonpartisan observation missions in Ukraine with over 20,000 activists. She has participated in electoral observations in more than 10 countries across Europe. Aivazovska represents Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine-Russia-OSCE) addressing the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. She is a member of the National Unity Council under the President of Ukraine, and a board member of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels, Belgium.
She was nominated as one of the top 100 most influential and successful women of Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 by Focus Magazine and the Novoe Vremia. Aivazovska often participates in political TV programs, and publishes articles on electoral legislation reform and democracy promotion.
Lisseth Boon is an award-winning Venezuelan investigative journalist with over 20 years of experience in print, broadcast and digital media. She is an investigative reporter at RunRun.es, an independent news website currently operating in Venezuela’s threatened media environment.
Boon won the national investigative journalism award from the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad for five consecutive years for her pieces on fraud, abuse and the mismanagement of government funds. As part of an investigative team, Boon also won the Gabriel García Marquez International Journalism Award in 2014 and the Latin American Press and Society Institute Award in 2015.
Boon earned a BA in journalism and a MA in political science from Catholic Andres Bello University and Simón Bolívar University in Caracas. She also holds a MA in social communication from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain.
Nguyen Thanh is a Vietnamese economist and president of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), a think tank that advocates for market economy reform, civil society empowerment and the implementation of the rule of law.
Thanh was a member of the Economic Advisory Group to the Vietnamese Prime Minister from 2011-16. He has been publishing extensively in academic journals and is actively involved in the country’s policy debates. He is the founder and chief editor of the influential Vietnam Annual Economic Reports, which has been annually published by VEPR since 2009.
He has been a member of Eisenhower International Fellowships since 2015. Thanh is a member of the East Asian Economic Association, and serves as an adviser to several policy research programs, business associations, commercial banks, and TV channels. He holds a PhD in development economics from National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan.