Draper Hills Summer Fellows Class of 2013

Listed below are the public profiles for the 2013 class of Draper Hills Summer Fellows.

Hugo Alcondada Mon (Argentina)      |     Fernando Straface (Argentina)      |     Lilit Petrosyan (Armenia)      |     Aliaksandra Dyn'ko (Belarus)      |     Pelden Wangmo (Bhutan)      |     Darko Brkan (Bosnia and Herzegovina)      |     Zin Mar Aung (Burma)      |     Nai Kasauh Mon (Burma)      |     Gu Qing (China)      |     Gina Romero (Colombia)      |     Nino Evgendize (Georgia)      |     Dala Misbah Ghandour (Lebanon)      |     Nidal Sawehli (Libya)      |     Fouzia Saeed (Pakistan)      |     Denis Volkov (Russia)      |     Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (Rwanda)      |     Birame Diop (Senegal)      |     Emmanuel Saffa Abduali (Sierra Leone)      |     Abdelgadir Mohammed (Sudan)      |     Jamila Sulu (Tanzania)      |     Sergii Leshchenko (Ukraine)      |     Sultan Al Qassemi (United Arab Emirates)


Hugo Alconada Mon 


Hugo Alconada Mon is an investigative editor for the Argentine national newspaper, La Nación. He heads the investigative unit which focuses on issues related to transnational crimes, money laundering, corruption, and other white-collar crimes. He has previously held the position of Washington correspondent for La Nación, covering the U.S. legislative and presidential elections, the U.S.-Mexican border, Guantánamo, and Hurricane Katrina, among other events.

Having worked in almost 20 countries throughout his career, Alconada Mon has published articles in regional and national media in the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina. From 2009 to 2012, he won some of the most important regional and national awards for investigative reporting for his work uncovering wrongdoings by the Argentine and Venezuelan governments, as well as multinationals and banks.

Alconada Mon completed his law degree from the University of La Plata in Argentina, a master's degree from the University of Navarra in Spain, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Missouri – Columbia.


Fernando Straface


Fernando Straface is a specialist in good governance with 15 years of experience. He is the co-founder and executive director of the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equality and Growth (CIPPEC), a non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting justice and democracy in Argentina. Ranked as one of the top organizations in the country and one of the top five in the region by the University of Pennsylvania, CIPPEC is engaged in the analysis of education, health, fiscal, political, and judicial policy.

In 2011 Straface led the CIPPEC team to develop the Presidential Agenda Initiative, a project to foster programmatic politics and policy debate during the presidential election in Argentina. Prior to his role leading CIPPEC, Straface worked for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. as a good governance specialist serving 13 countries in Latin America.

He obtained his MA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA in political science from the University of Salvador in Argentina.


Lilit Petrosyan


Lilit Petrosyan is a commissioner of the Ethics Commission of High-Ranking Officials of Armenia. She was nominated to the position by the Chairman of Parliament and appointed by the President of Armenia. The Ethics Commission was set up in 2012 in order to promote ethical standards in the public sector of Armenia, ensure transparency of high-ranking officials’ asset declarations, and strengthen public trust in the state. In this capacity, Petrosyan is responsible for designing and implementing reform initiatives in ethics, anti-corruption, and integrity in Armenia. She is also responsible for coordinating with international donor organizations.

Previously, Petrosyan worked for the Office of the President of Armenia as an advisor to the analytical research department working to advance socio-economic reform. She was responsible for preparing recommendations on legislation related to public administration reform and conducting research on international best practices. As a 2013 John Smith Fellow, Petrosyan explored U.K. anti-corruption policies and regulation of ethics and corruption, which she will be introducing in Armenia in order to build more sound structures of democracy and development.

In 2005, Petrosyan became the first Armenian to receive the British Chevening Fellowship for governance and reforms at the University of Bradford in the U.K. She holds an MA in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.


Aliaksandra Dyn'ko


Aliaksandra Dyn'ko is a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an international news and broadcast organization that promotes democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where free press is banned by the government or not fully established. The journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate. Dyn’ko reports on justice, organized crime, internet media freedom, and gender equality issues.

Dyn’ko is the founder and CEO of the digital publishing house “ByBooks,” which allows authors - who would not be permitted under the atmosphere of censorship in Belarus - to be published. Due to the state controls on media and restrictions on the freedom of expression, Dyn'ko’s independent publishing house provides an important form of civic, cultural, and intellectual activism.


Pelden Wangmo


Pelden Wangmo is one of three female judges in Bhutan. She is currently serving as a district judge in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Wangmo served as the first woman Registrar General of the High Court before her appointment as a judge.

In 2008, she was awarded a certificate for recognition and appreciation for her contribution in drafting the Constitution of Bhutan. Wangmo also contributed towards the drafting of other legislation, including the Judicial Service Act and the Civil Society Organization Act.

Wangmo was awarded the meritorious Government of India Scholarship and completed her law degree (with honors) at the Pune University in India. Wangmo completed her LLM at Ohio Northern University.


Darko Brkan


Darko Brkan is the founding president of Zašto Ne (Why Not), a Sarajevo-based non-governmental organization that promotes civic activism, government accountability, and the use of digital media in deepening democracy. In addition, Brkan is a founding member of Dosta! (Enough!), a prominent citizens’ movement in Bosnia dedicated to social justice and government accountability.

Brkan was a 2012 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where he explored the use of technologies, online tools, and new media by civil society. He also completed the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program in 2009. Brkan sits on the board of the U.S. Alumni Association in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Center for Election Studies. He has won several awards in the field of innovation, including the 2011 U.S. Alumni Innovation Award.

Brkan is an alumnus of the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict. He graduated from the faculty of electrical engineering in Sarajevo, with an MA in information technology and is an MBA candidate in strategic information management at the School of Economics in Sarajevo.


Zin Mar Aung


Zin Mar Aung is the founding board member of the Yangon School of Political Science. The school’s mission is to educate community leaders on the principles of democratic change and political science. In addition, Aung serves as township level executive for the National League for Democracy where she organizes internal elections to restructure the political party.

A political prisoner for 11 years for her student activism, Aung co-founded a number of different organizations after her release. These include: a self-help association for political prisoners; the Cultural Impact Studies Club, which promotes the idea that democracy is compatible with Asian culture; and a women’s empowerment group to advance women’s role in a patriarchal society.

In 2012, Aung received the International Woman of Courage Award by the former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.


Nai Kasauh Mon


Nai Kasauh Mon works to defend the rights of those in ethnic regions of Burma who have historically been subject to unjust treatment by the military regime. He is from the ethnic Mon minority in Burma, a country which has been under armed conflict for decades. In 1988, Mon escaped from his hometown when the military regime brutally suppressed the pro-democracy uprising.

Mon serves as the director of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), an organization he founded in 1995 that aims to promote democracy and human rights in Burma. HURFOM actively documents human rights violations committed by the regime against the ethnic Mon minority and disseminates the information to the international community as a way to increase pressure to stop abuses and advance international advocacy efforts. Mon also leads the Independent Mon News Agency providing media services to local and international audiences. His organization works to advance freedom of expression, association, assembly and information.

In recognition of his work to defend human rights, Mon has received various certificates in public administration, community management, and international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2012, Mon completed his BA in communication from Griffith University in Australia.


Gu Qing


Gu Qing manages the governance and rule of law portfolio at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in China. The programs support China’s development in democratic governance, public administration, reform, rule of law and civil society. Her work engages the Chinese government, think tanks, civil society, and the private sector.

Prior to her position with UNDP, Qing served as the division director responsible for international cooperation for the Department of Judicial Assistance and Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Justice in China. In 2006 and 2007, she assisted with research on organized crime at the Center for Criminology at Oxford University.

Qing was a Chevening scholar and received her master's degree with distinction at the faculty of law at Oxford University.


Gina Romero


Gina Romero is a founding member and the deputy general coordinator of the Latin American and the Caribbean Democracy Network (RedLab). The organization is designed to defend and promote good democratic governance, the rule of law, human rights, and civil society in the region. As of September 2012, Romero also serves as a member of the steering committee for the World Movement for Democracy, a global network committed to the promotion of democracy.

She has experience directing, coordinating, and administering dozens of projects related to youth empowerment and democracy. Romero is a member and assessor of a Colombian NGO dedicated to fighting corruption and strengthening democracy called Corporación Ocasa. She co-founded the Global Youth Network against Corruption and the Latin American Network for Democracy. She is an adviser of the World Youth Network for Democracy and is currently an advisor to the Bogotá's Mayor Office for education in international affairs. Previously, Romero was a professor at the Externado University of Colombia.

Romero has degrees in government and international relations from the Externado University of Colombia.   She is currently working towards an MA in the analysis of politics, economic, and international contemporary issues at Externado University of Colombia’s Institute of High Studies for Development.


Nino Evgenidze


Nino Evgenidze is the executive director of the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) in Georgia. EPRC aims to improve the economic policy environment in the country through evidence-based policy advice and guidance, capacity-building of key public institutions, and monitoring government actions and policy commitments. Since 2004, Evgenidze has been managing the implementation of various EPRC projects funded by international donor organizations.

Evgenidze has extensive experience working in both the governmental and non-governmental sectors. She has previously worked for the Georgian national Anti-Corruption Council, the Center for Economic Reforms at the State Chancellery of Georgia, and the Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Missions at the Council of Europe. She was a Nuffic Fellow for the Netherlands government and was awarded the Chevening Scholarship by the U.K. government.

Evgenidze graduated from the Joint Vienna Institute and has a diploma from Maastricht University in the management of international projects. She holds an MA in economic policy management from the London School of Economics and a doctorate in philology from the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.


Dala Misbah Ghandour


Dala Misbah Ghandour is a Lebanese family lawyer who works on issues relating to Sharia law, with a specific focus on women’s rights. Ghandour is the current head of the Lebanese Mediation Center at the Chamber of Commerce of Beirut. She is a certified mediator since 2009 and works with underprivileged groups and families in North Lebanon to resolve disputes through the process of mediation and reconciliation.

Interested in empowering youth and women to be engaged in public service, she ran as the youngest independent candidate for Beirut municipality elections in 2010. She is the editor and one of the contributing writers of Revolution by Love: Emerging Arab Youth Voices, a book that compiles 13 stories of young activists from the Middle East and North Africa. She was selected in 2012 for the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Leaders for Democracy Fellowship Program and was a 2011 United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Fellow.

Ghandour holds a degree in public and private law and a master’s degree in management from Lebanon and France.


Nidal Sawehli


Nidal Sawehli is a consultant for the Libyan Prime Minister’s Office. As part of his work with the Decision Support Office, Sawehli is responsible for the economic policies that are tied to the political transition process following the February 2011 revolution. The Decision Support Office reports to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on all issues related to the transitional government.

In 2012, Sawehli founded Diwan Marketing Research, a company that provides quantitative and qualitative research services to both commercial and non-profit organizations. After the revolution, he was part of the Temporary Financing Mechanism which channeled international funds to the new authority after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Sawehli was previously awarded the Chevening Scholarship from the U.K. government and the Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. government.

He graduated with a BA in economics from the American University in Egypt, an MA in economics planning from the University of Glasgow in the U.K., and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.


Fouzia Saeed


Fouzia Saeed is a social activist and community leader with over 30 years of work experience in the field of gender, human rights, and democracy. She is the chairperson of Mehergarh, a Pakistan-based human rights and democracy center that works on women’s rights, youth empowerment, and strengthening of democratic rule in Pakistan.

Saeed was formerly the Pakistan country director for Action Aid, focusing on gender and governance at the regional level. Her work on sexual harassment and its criminalization in Pakistan won her national recognition. She has authored a number of books including Working with Sharks: A Pakistani Woman’s Story of Countering Sexual Harassment in the United Nations, Taboo: The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area, and Forgotten Faces.

Saeed completed her PhD in education from the University of Minnesota. She currently lives in Washington D.C. as a Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.


Denis Volkov


Denis Volkov is a researcher at the Moscow based Levada Center, a Russian independent polling agency that tracks socio-political trends in the country. The Levada Center - named for its founder Yuri Levada, a renowned Russian sociologist - aims to provide the Russian public and activists with timely insight on pressing social issues. Volkov studies civic activism, protest activities, and new media in Russia at the Center.

His recent analysis entitled, “Protest Movement in Russia in the end of 2011-2012” and “Prospects of Civil Society in Russia,” received press coverage and were recognized by experts and activists. Volkov is also a public commentator who discusses problems and challenges facing Russian civil society in the media. 


Emmanuel Ugirashebuja


Emmanuel Ugirashebuja is the dean of the Faculty of Law at the National University of Rwanda where he teaches courses on constitutional law and environmental trade law. Ugirashebuja also serves on the board of the first Legal Aid Clinic in Rwanda, which offers free legal advice to disadvantaged members of the society.

Ugirashebuja is a lawyer who possesses comprehensive knowledge of the civil and common law traditions, East African law, international law, international economic law, and environmental law. He has served on a regional team of experts on East African integration and worked as a legal advisor for the Rwandan Constitution Commission to consult on the drafting of the 2003 Rwandan constitution. He has also served on the Rwanda Environment Management Authority, among other organizations.

Ugirashebuja completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh.


Birame Diop


Birame Diop is the director of Partners Senegal, which provides Senegal and West Africa with a leading conflict resolution and change management center. Based in Dakar, the center promotes stability and progress in Senegal and throughout the region through connecting, educating, and integrating the government, security-sector, and civil society. Diop designs and implements security sector reform and civil-military projects throughout West Africa.

As a colonel in the Senegalese Air Force, Diop has an extensive background in advocating for military reform, facilitating the dialogue between civilian and military leaders, and leading defense forces in peacekeeping operations. Currently on secondment from the Senegalese Air Force, he most recently served as adviser to the Chief of Staff. Since 2006, he has participated as a facilitator and expert in numerous events with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, including the Program for the Next Generation of African Military Leaders. The center supports democratic governance in Africa through academic and practical programs for African leaders.

Diop was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as a Public Policy Scholar Fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. He attended the French War College, Air Command and Staff College, the Royal Air Academy, and the Junior Military School.


Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai


Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai is a human rights lawyer in Sierra Leone. He is the founder and executive director of the Society for Democratic Initiatives, a non-governmental organization that aims to promote, protect, and enhance democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Abdulai has undertaken impact litigation at the Economic Community of West African States sub-regional court and the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone challenging the compatibility and constitutionality of laws and policies of various governments in Sierra Leone.

In addition, Abdulai has served as a legal adviser on international humanitarian law for the International Criminal Tribunal and was chairman of the Sierra Leone Freedom of Information, a network of civil society organizations working on access to information law. He is also the founder of the African Lawyers for the Defense of Civil Society, a network of lawyers providing free legal aid to civil society defenders in Africa, and the Africa Centre for Democratic Studies, a regional think tank working on democratic issues in Africa.

Abdulai was an Open Society Fellow in 2005 at University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-legal Studies and in 2007 at the Central European University. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Reagan Fascell Fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy. Abdulai was also honored in 2012 as the Firoz and Najma Lalji Fellow at the Program for African Leadership at the London School of Economics. He holds a BA degree in English and sociology, a LLB in common law, and an MA in international human rights law.

 Abdelgadir Mohammed


Abdelgadir Mohammed is a Sudanese freelance journalist and human rights analyst based in Khartoum. Mohammed is the founder and director of Nida’at Press Center which works to promote freedom of press and expression. He has authored several reports on human rights in Sudan as well as two books documenting a wide-range of violations of press freedom committed by Sudanese authorities. In 2012, Mohammed was awarded the Hellman/Hammett Grant from Human Rights Watch for his commitment to free expression and his courage in the face of political persecution.

He holds a bachelor degree in education from Sudan University of Science and Technology as well as a diploma in journalism from University of Khartoum.         


Jamila Sulu


Jamila Sulu is an investigation officer with the Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG). As an independent government department, CHRAGG aims to promote and protect human rights and principles of good governance. Sulu investigates alleged human rights abuses and more generally monitors the human rights situation in the country.

Sulu serves as the Commission’s focal person for Universal Periodic Review - a new mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council to review the human rights records of the U.N. member states. Sulu is a member of the National Coordination Committee that works to establish a National Human Rights Action Plan, a five-year comprehensive plan centered on promoting a  rights-based approach to development. Previously, Sulu worked as a journalist and press officer for Amnesty International’s Tanzania chapter.

She studied international relations and diplomacy at the Centre for Foreign Relations in Tanzania and has also received journalism training in the country. She has taken several short courses including an advanced course on human rights from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a human security advocacy course at the Institute of Security Studies in Ethiopia.


Sergii Leshchenko


Sergii Leshchenko is a Ukrainian journalist and civil society activist. He specializes in anti-corruption investigations and political issues. Since 2000, he has been working for the independent online newspaper, Ukrainska Pravda. Leshchenko has covered hundreds of investigations covering fraud by high level government officials.

He is a founder of several influential civic initiatives in Ukraine including: the movement “Stop Censorship," which promotes freedom of press and fights censorship in Ukraine; and “Chesno (Fair),” a public campaign that monitors candidates and members of the parliament. Leshchenko was one of the initiators of the lobbying campaign for the law on access to public information in 2010. This year he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against Ukrainian authorities that refused to disclose important public information. Leshchenko was a 2012 fellow at the London-based John Smith Memorial Trust. In 2013 he was announced as a winner of the Press Prize established by the Norwegian Fritt Ord Foundation and German ZEIT Foundation.

Leshchenko graduated from the Institute of Journalism at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.


Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi


Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a United Arab Emirates based columnist and non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government. Al Qassemi’s work revolves around the Arab world, with a focus on the Arab Gulf states. He has written about the rights of women, minorities, and children in the Arab world as well as enshrining civil liberties in the Gulf state's constitutions. Al Qassemi has written for Middle East-based newspapers as well as Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Financial Times and Open Democracy.

During the Egyptian Revolution, he played a key role in serving as a mouthpiece for activists’ messages to the Western media. Al Qassemi delivered various lectures on the Arab uprisings and the rights of Arab youth at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, and Indiana University’s School of Journalism, amongst others. Al Qassemi has volunteered for a number of organizations including Young Arab Leaders, a UAE-based youth initiative.

Following his efforts in chronicling the Arab uprisings online, Time magazine chose Al Qassemi’s Twitter feed amongst its 140 Best Twitter Feeds list of 2011.



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