Class of 2014 Bios

Biola Alabi photo

Biola Alabi

Biola Alabi is an African media expert with over 25 years of local and global media experience. She is currently CEO at Biola Alabi Media Consulting, a content creation based in Lagos, Nigeria working across the world in broadcast, telecommunications, and digital industries.

Biola was listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa by Forbes in 2013. She previously worked with leading brands DSTV, Africa's biggest pay-tv operator, Sesame Street, Bigwords.com, and Daewoo Motors. She oversaw the launch of AfricaMagic Hausa and Yoruba in 2010 and AfricaMagic Swahili in 2011: channels that have made considerable contributions to the promotion of indigenous languages and cultures in Africa. She also oversaw four editions of the popular reality series Big Brother Africa, and created the Face of Africa Finale in Lagos in 2010 and the first ever Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards in 2013.

Ahmad

Ahmad "Rafay" Alam

Ahmad “Rafay” Alam is a Pakistani environmental lawyer and activist. In 2013, after over a decade of practicing corporate and constitutional law, Rafay co-founded Saleem, Alam & Co., a firm that specializes in the energy, water, natural resources, and urban infrastructure sectors. As one of Pakistan's leading environment lawyers, Rafay regularly advises the federal and provincial governments, the World Bank, ADB, IFC and a number of INGOs on issues of policy and strategy in these sectors, and he provides corporate clients strategic sustainability insights.  

Familiar with how government functions in Pakistan, Rafay has served as Chairman of the Board of two public sector utilities: the Lahore Electric Supply Company and the Lahore Waste Management Company; and as founding Vice-President of the Urban Unit he over saw the growth of the Punjab's only public sector urban think-tank. Rafay also serves as a Member of the Pakistan Climate Change Council, the Punjab Environment Protection Council, the Hisaar Foundation’s Tank on the Rational Use of Water, and as Advisor to Air Quality Asia.

He is a passionate advocate for climate action, air quality improvement, and food sovereignty, and he works with a number of local, regional and international civil society organizations to carry this agenda forward. In September 2019, he and his family helped organize #ClimateStrike marches in over 45 cities throughout Pakistan.

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Thora Arnorsdottir

Thora Arnorsdottir is Managing Editor at Iceland's Kveikur, RUV TV, a television program focused on investigative journalism. In addition to being a renowned media personality and documentary filmmaker, she was also a 2012 candidate for the Presidency of Iceland. Although she lost the election by a narrow margin, Thora sparked international debate on gender roles and equality: she was 8 months pregnant with her third child when she announced her candidacy.

Thora has worked at Icelandic National Broadcasting Service as a news editor and journalist, and she is Founder and Owner of Hugveitan, a documentary production company that has created films including Outlaws: The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Society in India (2009) and At the Bottom of the Fiord: The Last Farmers in Ísafjardardjup (2013).

She has held a lecturer position at the University of Iceland on International Relations, and she holds degrees in Philosophy and International Economics and Development from Universities in Iceland, Italy and Washington, D.C., where she was a Fulbright grantee.

Shu

Shu "George" Chen

Shu "George" Chen's career spans international media, academia, and now public policy. George joined Facebook in January 2016 as the company's first-ever Head of Public Policy for Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mongolia. In this role, George works with the governments, legislators, and other stakeholders on a wide range of policy issues from online safety to data privacy, and free expression to digital economy.

Prior to Facebook, George worked in the media sector for about 15 years, including being managing editor of the South China Morning Post. He also held editor and project manager positions at Reuters and Dow Jones in Hong Kong and Shanghai. George has been a five-times judge (2014-2018) for journalism awards of the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA).

An award-winning journalist, George has authored and edited three books: The Next Big Thing – How China Challenges Silicon Valley And Changes Global Landscape (2015); This is Hong Kong I Know (2014); and Foreign Banks in China (2011). George currently sits on the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

George was a 2015 fellow of the US State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program. He earned his Master's degree (distinction) for international and public affairs at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), with a concentration on the triangular US-China-Taiwan relations. He is also a doctoral candidate for public administration at HKU.

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Nandita Das

Nandita Das is a filmmaker, actor, and social advocate. She has acted in more than 40 feature films in 10 different languages. Her directorial debut feature film, Firaaq, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008 and has travelled to over 50 festivals and won more than 20 awards.

Nandita was a member of the main jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 and 2013 and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2007 amongst others. She also wrote, directed and acted in the play, Between the Lines, in 2012, that dealt with the subtle gender inequalities that exist amongst the affluent, educated, and urban couples. Nandita's second directorial venture, Manto, based on the life and works of the short story writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, the only Indian film to be in the main two sections. After traveling to various festivals around the world, it began streaming on Netflix. She chronicled her 6-year long journey of making the film in her first book, Manto & I.

Nandita has a Master’s degree in social work and worked with various NGOs before films gave her an opportunity to expand her role as a social advocate. Nandita continues to campaign on social issues concerning women, children, and marginalized communities. She was the President of the jury for the 2018 edition of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, and she continues to campaign on issues of human rights and social justice.

In 2010 Nandita was nominated as a Youth Global Leader to be part of a dynamic global community, initiated by the World Economic Forum. In 2011, she received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award from the French government. She was the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the International Women’s Forum.

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Susana Edjang

Susana Edjang is an international development, global health, and policy expert currently serving as Policy & Advocacy Specialist at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Liaison Office to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Previously, Susana worked for over five years at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations, as Economic, Social and Development Affairs Officer and as Project Manager for his signature movement Every Woman Every Child. Before that, she was H4+ (UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women, WHO and the World Bank) Coordinator at the UNFPA to advance the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015, as set by the United Nations, was a parliamentary advisor on global health and climate change at the UK Parliament, and promoted the institutional partnership between UK health institutions and their counterparts in Africa and Asia at THET, a UK NGO.

Originally from Equatorial Guinea, Susana has co-founded and participates in various initiatives on global health and African Diaspora community innovation in Africa, Europe and Latin America. She is co-author of Working in International Health.

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Salvatore Iaconesi

Salvatore Iaconesi is a designer, robotics engineer, artist, hacker, and Principal and Co-Founder of Art is Open Source, an interdisciplinary research laboratory focused on merging artistic and scientific practices to create better communities in the advent of emerging technologies. He is also President at the Human Ecosystems Relazioni Research Center, and Co-Founder of Nefula, Italy's first Near Future Design studio. A TED Fellow (2012) and an Eisenhower Fellow (2013), his work explores the growing intersection between sciences, technology, and art.

As a way of commenting on and interacting with an ever-changing world, Salvatore has produced video games, artificial intelligence, expert systems for business and scientific research, entertainment systems, mobile ecosystems, and interactive architectures. Though based in Italy, his artwork and performances have been featured worldwide.

Salvatore teaches digital design at La Sapienza University of Rome and at ISIA Firenze and actively participates in global discussions and actions around themes of freedom of expression, big data, and on potential future scenarios for our planet.

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Christopher Lockyear

Christopher Lockyear is Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), where he directs MSF's offices around the globe. Before this he was Director of Operations for Action Against Hunger, the leader of the global movement to end life-threatening hunger. Previously, he was Operations Manager at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) where he was responsible for the strategy and implementation of MSF’s humanitarian response and staff in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and South Sudan, managing around 3000 people.

Chris started his humanitarian career in 2005 as a Water and Sanitation Engineer in Darfur, Sudan. Since then, he has lead operations across Africa and Asia including in Somalia, Pakistan, South Sudan, Chad, and the Philippines. He is interested in developing new strategies for relief programs, including how best to consult with beneficiary groups, techniques for negotiating humanitarian access in highly politicized settings, and how to most effectively manage large complex humanitarian operations.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Chris has degrees in Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

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Paula Moreno

Paula Moreno is Founder and President of Manos Visibles (Visible Hands), a Colombian NGO that implements development strategies to strengthen urban youth organizations and communities of women, with an emphasis on high-risk ethnic communities. Since 2010, Visible Hands has reached more than 500 community leaders and organizations that influence more than 25,000 Colombians.

Paula is the former Minister of Culture of Colombia, the youngest woman and first Afro descendant to be appointed as a cabinet minister in the country's history. For her service to the Government of Colombia and the nation as Minister of Culture, Paula was awarded the Order of Saint Charles in 2010 by President Uribe, and in 2011 she was awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by President of Mexico Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa for her contribution to the improvement of Colombia/Mexico relations during her term as Minister of Culture.

In 2010 she was selected by the Council of the Americas as one of the most influential young leaders in the region for her work on effectively understanding diversity. She received the Unita Blackwell Award in 2009 from the National Conference of Black Mayors of the United States as one of the most influential Black leaders in the world.

Paula has been project manager and advisor for several international organizations including the Inter-American Development Bank, UNESCO, and the European Union. She holds a Master's Degree in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge and was a United States Fulbright scholar for the program of urban and regional planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Vivianne Naigeborin

Vivianne Naigeborin is a pioneer in social impact investing in Brazil and serves as Strategic Advisor for Potencia Ventures. Potencia is an international organization that invests in emerging global markets to support an enabling environment for businesses contributing to poverty reduction. Potencia was the first investor and principal strategic partner for a half-dozen key initiatives for businesses with social impact in Brazil, including Vox Capital, the first Brazilian impact investing venture capital firm, and Artemisia, a pioneer organization in the dissemination, promotion. and acceleration of impactful businesses in Brazil.

Prior to Potencia, Vivianne worked as a strategic consultant for companies, funds, individuals and citizen sector organizations in the field of business with social impact. From 2000 to 2007 she was International Director for Strategic Partnerships and Latin-America Integration at Ashoka Innovators for the Public.

Vivianne is also part of the group that launched the first Brazilian MBA in Socio-Environmental Business in 2012, a partnership among Artemisia, University of Sao Paulo and IPE, and she is a board member of several Brazilian civil society organizations.

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Rami Nakhla

Rami Nakhla, also known by his alias Malath Aumran, is a long time democratic advocate who works on political reform in Syria and the Middle East since the mid-2000s. In 2012 and due to the increased dominance of Islamic radicals in the Syrian uprising, Rami resigned from all his political positions to focus on a nonpartisan pursuit of peace and democracy in Syria. Currently, he is working with tech companies to leverage disruptive new technologies and channel them toward positive social impact.

Rami has played a prominent role in the leadership of the Syrian democratic movement, serving as a spokesperson for the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria and as a founding member of the Syrian National Council. He previously served as Program Specialist at the US Institute of Peace, coordinating “The Day After” (TDA) project on the institute’s behalf. The Project produced a transition roadmap for post-conflict Syria. He later became TDA’s Executive Director working to implement the transition plan.

Between 2015-2017 Rami served as the country director of the Syria and Turkey office of the INGO No Peace Without Justice where he focused on documenting war crimes committed by all parties involved in the conflict in Syria.

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Dayo Olopade

Dayo Olopade works at the intersection of media and technology, with more than a decade of content, strategy, product, communications, partnerships, contracts, and change management expertise. As Partnerships Lead at YouTube, she structures and negotiates product and licensing deals with video storytellers–major TV broadcasters and cable networks, sports leagues, movie studios, digital native publishers, and fresh, individual voices. She gets to do this across Africa, where the content industry is dynamic and creative problem solving is fundamental.

Dayo began her career as a reporter in Washington covering politics, policy, and the Obama administration. She spent two years in Nairobi as a New America Foundation fellow, reporting The Bright Continent, a book on innovation, technology and opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa published in 2014 and adapted for film in 2016.

While attending graduate school as a Knight Law and Media Scholar, Dayo worked with startups and at Reuters, and helped build and grow the pathbreaking "NYT Now" mobile app at the New York Times. As a Partnerships Manager at Facebook, she led high touch business strategy and innovation practice with US media brands, and products like Facebook Live, Instant Articles, and 360 Video. She managed international growth programs, including engagement for Mark Zuckerberg’s first trip to the African continent.

She is an occasional guest speaker and advisor to businesses and schools. She is a member of the African Leadership Network. A graduate of Yale College, Yale Law School, and Yale School of Management, she lives in London.

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Alejandro Pacheco

Alejandro Pacheco is currently the Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Colombia. Previously, he served as Strategic Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean, after having led the poverty and inequality area of UNDP Haiti and managed the Government's flagship early recovery and reconstruction program.

Alejandro served as Private Sector Specialist for UNDP El Salvador and Belize, as well as Country Adviser for Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Venezuela for the same organization. He has supported the creation and implementation of public policies in developing countries with impact on thousands of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises.

Previously, Alejandro worked as a consultant for the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade from 2003 to 2006, coordinating investment portfolios for Spanish companies in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, China, and India. Originally from Spain, he's lived in more than ten countries on four continents and speaks five languages.

Alejandro has a business degree from the University of Madrid and Masters or Specialist degrees in Finance (Universidad Carlos III) and Humanitarian Aid (Universidad de Comillas).

Miguel Pulido Jiménez photo

Miguel Pulido Jiménez

Miguel Pulido Jiménez is an attorney that focuses on citizen security, politics and law, and government accountability and transparency. He is Founder and Director of CREATURA, an international consultancy organization focused on social change through political and legal sectors.

Miguel is formerly Executive Director of Fundar, Center for Analysis and Research, one of Mexico’s largest and leading human rights NGOs. He has been a member of the Citizen Council to Prevent Discrimination in Mexico and served on the board of the conservation organization Reforestamos Mexico.

He has authored three books on human rights and citizenship, writes for Aristegui Noticias, the most visited website in Mexico, and has taught a course titled “Right to Information” at Universidad Iberoamericana.
 

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Mara Redlich Revkin

Mara Redlich Revkin is a political scientist and legal scholar conducting empirical research on legal systems during and after conflict with a regional focus on the Middle East. Currently, she is the National Security Law Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of criminal law and procedure, international law, human rights, and transitional justice.

She has conducted fieldwork in Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Oman using qualitative and quantitative research methods including large-scale household surveys, interviews, and event data based on newspapers and social media posts. Her current research aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based strategies for strengthening rule of law and state legitimacy after war. She has conducted research with several United Nations organizations (United Nations University, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Development Programme) on issues including security sector reform, recruitment of children by armed groups, and post-conflict transitional justice in Iraq and Syria.

Before entering academia, she was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Middle East Program), a Critical Language Scholar in Jordan, and a Fulbright Fellow in Oman. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Arabic from Swarthmore College and a JD/PhD in Political Science from Yale University.

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Parmesh Shahani

Parmesh Shahani is Vice President at Godrej Industries Ltd. and the founder of the award-winning Godrej India Culture Lab in Mumbai, which sparks conversations and collaborations about the changing face of contemporary India. Parmesh is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India and has guided many of the country’s leading companies on their inclusion journeys.

Parmesh's first book, Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (Sage), was originally released in 2008 and re-released in 2020. His second book Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion at the Indian Workplace (Westland Books) was also released in 2020.

He is a member of the FICCI taskforce on diversity and inclusion and a board member of Khoj International Artists’ Association. Parmesh holds an MS in Comparative Media Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a TED Senior Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

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Alexander Verbeek

Alexander Verbeek is a Dutch environmentalist, public speaker, diplomat, and former strategic policy advisor at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the past 30 years, he has worked on international security, humanitarian and geopolitical risk issues, and the linkage to the earth's accelerating environmental crisis, currently serving Policy Director at the Environment & Development Resource Centre.

Alexander also works internationally as an expert speaker and advisor on planetary change to academia, global NGO's, private firms, and international organizations. He is an associate or fellow at a number of international think tanks, a Visiting Fellow in the Peace and Conflict Department of Uppsala University in Sweden, and is on the board of advisors of several international environmental initiatives. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

Alexander is recognized online as an influential leader to follow on climate change, with more than 250,000 social media followers.

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Amira Yahyaoui

Amira Yahyaoui is a Tunisian human rights advocate and founder of the award-winning Al Bawsala, a public policy and accountability NGO. Al Baswala monitors the work of the Tunisian Parliament, the Constitutional Assembly, and Tunisian city halls, using technology to make information accessible to citizens.

When she was a teenager, Amira was banned from her homeland for her human rights activism and fled to Paris as a refugee. After the Arab Spring, Amira returned to Tunisia for the political transition and writing of the new Tunisian constitution. She won a Vital Voices Global Trailblazer award in 2012 for women transforming the Middle East and was named top 100 most powerful Arab women by Arabian Business Magazine.

Amira recently founded a technology startup, Mos, that assists college students in finding financial aid. Passionate about civic education, Amira hopes Mos will help decrease American student debt and provide students an easy way to navigate multitudes of antiquated financial aid forms. Moving forward, she hopes her story will encourage other venture capitalists to use their money for good.