Class of 2015 Bios

Rahimah “Ima” Abdulrahim photo

Rahimah “Ima” Abdulrahim

Rahimah "Ima" Abdulrahim is the Director of Public Policy for Southeast Asia (Established Countries) for Facebook Asia Pacific. Prior to this, she served at The Habibie Center, one of Indonesia’s leading think tanks focusing on democracy and human rights, for 19 years, serving as their executive director for 9 years (2010-2019).

She has 20 years advocating for peace and democracy in Indonesia and travels extensively to speak about good governance, democratization, and the role of civil society in Southeast Asia. In 2017, Ima co-created, with World Fellows Stephen Shashoua (2015) and Abdul-Rehman Malik (2017), CERITA (Community Empowerment for Raising Inclusivity and Trust through Technology Application), a project using the art of storytelling to fight discrimination, promote inclusivity and build trust. The pilot phase reached 150 young influencers in five Indonesian cities, training them to act as facilitators and storytellers in their own communities. In her free time Ima advocates for survivors of gender based violence and abuse through the non-profit Lentera Sintas Indonesia. She also helped start the Jakarta-based program Drive Books, Not Cars, getting free books into the hands of kids who need them.

Ima is a 2018 Stanford – Draper Hills Fellow, a 2017 University of Hong Kong AsiaGlobal Fellow, a 2010 MIT IDEAS Indonesia Fellow, and a 2001 Asia Foundation APSA Congressional Fellow (where she worked in the Office of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald of California). She holds a Bachelors of Human Science in Political Science and Islamic Studies from the International Islamic University Malaysia, and an M.A. in International Studies and Diplomacy from University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Mina Al-Oraibi photo

Mina Al-Oraibi

Mina Al-Oraibi is a journalist and political analyst focused on the Middle East. Since 2017, Mina has been the Editor-in-Chief of The National, a daily English-language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi and covering regional affairs.

Previous to that, she was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for State Effectiveness where she focused on the state in Iraq, Syria, and the wider Middle East. Earlier, Mina was Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Alawsat, an international daily pan-Arab newspaper. From 2009-2011, she served as Washington D.C. bureau chief for Asharq Alawsat. She has covered the Geneva talks on Syria, Iraqi refugees, and American and European foreign policies towards the Middle East and North Africa region.

Mina has conducted many high-profile interviews, including most recently with Iraqi President Barham Salih, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and had the last interview with Christine Lagarde before she left her position as Managing Director of the IMF.

She is a member of the International Media Council and was named by the World Economic Forum a Young Global Leader. She is a member of the board of trustees for the American University in Iraq – Sulaimani.

An Iraqi-Briton, Mina was born in Sweden and raised in Iraq, Australia, and Saudi Arabia before moving to the United Kingdom. She was awarded a distinction for her MA history dissertation on the 1958 coup d’etat in Iraq from University College London, where she also completed her Bachelor of Arts in history. 

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Pablo Bereciartua

Pablo Bereciartua is Argentina's Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Water and is Founder and CEO of Bereco SA & Bereco Labs, Inc., a company focused on innovation, technology, and management. He is also the founder of other technology based companies such as B3 and Agro Appgrade SA.

In the public sector, he has served as the director of infrastructure for the city of Buenos Aires, where he faced both enormous challenges and opportunities to apply new technologies to city and regional infrastructure. Pablo is a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and former dean at the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, where he focused on teaching and researching the link between technology, infrastructure and social and economic impact. Pablo also serves as vice president of the Argentinean Social Forum, and has shared his ideas on innovation, education, technology, the future of mobility and cities across media platforms in Argentina.

A trained engineer, Pablo holds degrees from Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina, University of California at Berkeley and the UNESCO-IHE Institute in Delft, The Netherlands. He has earned fellowships from Fulbright, Eisenhower and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

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Tania Bruguera

Tania Bruguera is a political performance artist who explores the relationship between art, activism, social change, and political and economic power. Born and raised in Havana, several of her exhibitions have interrogated and “re-presented” events in Cuban history. Tania explores both the promise and failings of the Cuban Revolution through performances that provoke viewers to consider political realities masked by government propaganda and mass-media interpretation.

In 2011, Tania started Immigrant Movement International, a multi-part artwork that will ran through 2015. She spent a year living in a small apartment in Corona, Queens, with five undocumented immigrants and their children. Engaging both local and international communities, as well as working with social service organizations, elected officials, and artists focused on immigration reform, Tania examined growing concerns about the political representation and conditions facing immigrants. As part of the work, Tania launched an Immigrant Respect Awareness Campaign and an international day of actions on December 18, 2011, which the UN designated as International Migrants Day.

From 2003-2010, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Chicago and is an invited professor at the University IUAV in Venice, Italy. Tania studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and then earned an M.F.A. in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She now lives and works between New York and Havana.

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Taz Chaponda

Taz Chaponda is the CEO of Malawi Agricultural and Industrial Investment Corporation, a government initiative but private sector-led development finance institution, launched by Malawi President Peter Mutharika. Taz is a development economist with extensive experience across Sub-Saharan Africa, having worked in the major economic centers of Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg.

Previously, he was a public financial management specialist at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. and a partner at Genesis-Analytics – a South African economic advisory firm working in emerging markets. Prior to Genesis, Taz was the head of the South African Budget Office, responsible for the national and provincial budget framework. He was also head of infrastructure finance within the government’s central PPP Unit, where he led negotiations on a number of flagship projects in the transport and power sectors. This expertise took him to Nigeria where he served in the Lagos State Governor's Office.

In his home country of Malawi, Taz was the World Bank’s country office economist working on private sector development, public expenditure management and poverty reduction strategies. Taz is regularly called upon to lead capacity-building programs in various African countries to strengthen planning and project appraisal systems and so enable better quality public services.


Shuaihua "Wallace" Cheng

Shuaihua "Wallace" Cheng is a senior economist at the UN World Food Program, responsible for rural transformation, digital economy, and food security. He has over 15 years' research and policy advisory experience with UNCTAD, International Trade Centre, German Development Institute, ICTSD, and Shanghai Municipal Development Research Center in the areas of macroeconomy, trade and investment, innovation and digital economy, international development, food security, and climate change.

Wallace is also an author for the Agenda of World Economic Forum, a member of Advisory Board of Asia Society's Asia 21 Young Leaders, and Adjunct Professor at the University of International Business and Economics. Wallace holds degrees from Fudan University and the University of Oxford.

Arshi Saleem Hashmi photo

Arshi Saleem Hashmi

Arshi Saleem Hashmi specializes in religious violent conflicts, counter-violent extremism and conflict resolution with special focus on South Asia. She currently heads the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad.

Arshi has been an Academic Fellow at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies at the University of Oxford. She has also been a South Asia Leadership Fellow for Counter Terrorism Studies at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Rotary International Peace Fellow. She was Kodikara Fellow at RCSS that resulted in a book titled Conflict Transformation from Ethnic Movement to Terrorist Movement. Arshi is a member of Women without Borders (WwB) Vienna and its project "Sisters Against Violent Extremism." She has been a speaker at TedxWomen and Omega Women Conference in New York. She has worked with the United States Institute of Peace, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.

Arshi is widely published in national and international journals and has presented her papers at both national and international conferences. She often appears as a political analyst on national and international media. She gives lectures at Staff colleges of the armed forces, Defense Services Intelligence Academy and Intelligence Bureau. She is also a member of Committee of Experts at National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Government of Pakistan.

She has studied International Peace and Conflict Studies at the School of International Service, the American University in Washington, D.C., Conflict Management at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, and at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.

Idayat Hassan photo

Idayat Hassan

Idayat Hassan is Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an Abuja based policy advocacy and research organization with a focus on deepening democracy and development in West Africa. Her interests span democracy, peace and security, transitional justice, and ICT4D in West Africa.

As the Director of the CDD, she oversaw CDD's rise from not being ranked in 2013 to 16th out of 94 think tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the 2019 University of Pennsylvania Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. Under her leadership, CDD became a mover in the civic tech space. She has subsequently strengthened CDD's position as a civic tech leader with a portfolio of projects, including but not limited to: analyses of the relationship between social media platforms, election processes and electoral outcomes, using an app to identify electoral fraud and analyzing the use of personal data in political campaigning in Nigeria. Her work on social media has gained widespread popularity, including her being cited by the Economist, BBC and in scholarly publications.

Idayat has consistently provided thought leadership at different phases of Boko Haram's development. She was involved with Operation Safe Corridor (OSC) from its inception, providing foundational ideas and operational advice. She provided conceptual clarity on the Boko Haram phenomenon during its heyday, presenting analyses of the group's motives and methods at, among others, conferences in Nigeria and globally. She then turned her efforts to proffering robust pathways to sustainably mitigate Boko Haram's threats. Her work revolved around three approaches to counterinsurgency: a de-centralized, bottom up approach, a de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration approach, and a transitional justice approach. Her recent work sees her continuing to provide conceptual clarity and engage in mitigation.

Idayat frequently appears in international and local media as an expert on Nigeria/West Africa. Media outlets including BBC, CCTV, RFI, VOA, NTA, AIT, Bloomberg, VOA, Washington Post, Financial Times, Guardian, and DW, among others, routinely quote her.

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Zeena Johar

Zeena Johar is Senior Vice President, Business Operations at Advantia Health. Previously, she was Founder and CEO of SughaVazhvu Healthcare (SVHC) and IKP Centre for Technologies in Public Health (ICTPH), which helped create a primary care delivery network through rural clinics in India.

Zeena returned to India in 2007 after earning her PhD in molecular diagnostics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and she spearheaded ICTPH’s academic alliance with University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. This partnership helped develop India’s first certificate program for Indian medical practitioners, empowering them to practice evidence-based protocol driven primary-care medicine. SVHC was awarded the NASSCOM Social Innovation Honor 2014, and is a part of the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery Network (founded by McKinsey & Company, World Economic Forum and Duke University). SVHC is also a part of the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke University.

Zeena is a member of Confederation of Indian Industry’s National Council on Public Health, and the Governing Board at Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore. She has published in numerous journals and completed the Program for Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School. Zeena was an Ashoka Fellow in 2013, an Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellow in 2014, and one of Asia’s 100 Pioneers by Purpose Economy in 2014.

Gemma Mortensen photo

Gemma Mortensen

Gemma Mortensen is an award-winning social entrepreneur and thinker and practitioner interested in transformative, systemic change. She is Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of More In Common and a Trustee of Bite Back 2030 and The HALO Trust. She is currently working on The New Constellation, a project to help people make transformational leaps towards regenerative social, political, and economic models.

Gemma was previously Chief Global Officer at, the world’s largest platform for social change, CEO of  Crisis Action, an organization that won the MacArthur Award and Skoll Award for its innovative systems model, and she co-chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on systems leadership. She has also worked in the European Commission, at the UN and as a journalist. She was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011. She holds a first-class degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University and a Master's degree in human rights and democratization.

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Finbarr O’Reilly

Finbarr O’Reilly is an author and photographer who has spent the past 15 years living and working mostly in Africa and the Middle East. He began his journalism career as a writer in Canada and was based in West and Central Africa for Reuters between 2001 and 2012, covering conflict and social issues across the continent. He turned to photography in 2005 and in 2006 was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year.

Finbarr has since won numerous top industry awards for his multimedia work and photography, which has been exhibited internationally. In 2019, he was the Nobel Peace Prize for exhibition photographer. He has published long-term projects on Congo and Afghanistan and is among those profiled in Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, a documentary film about the psychological costs of covering war. The film won a 2013 Peabody Award and was shortlisted for a 2012 Academy Award. He was the Reuters senior photographer for Israel and the Palestinian Territories in 2014 and covered the July-August war from Gaza.

Finbarr was a 2013 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he spent a year studying psychology, and he is a 2014 Ochberg Fellow at the Columbia University’s DART Center for Journalism and Trauma. He is the co-author of Shooting Ghosts, published by Viking/ Penguin/ Random House in 2017.

Akisa Omulepu photo

Akisa Omulepu

Akisa Omulepu is an Emmy-nominated documentarian, director, and producer. She is the founder of Emerge Omnimedia. Emerge’s mission is to create and tell stories that explore, investigate, and celebrate the experiences of people from the African Diaspora.

Most recently she directed and produced a documentary short for PBS. 'A Dream Deferred, The Broken Promise of New York City Public Housing' was nominated for two Emmys. Her documentary short, ‘Crowned,’ debuted and had a limited engagement at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. The film explores the lives of three young African-American women navigating their way from high school to college.

A native New Yorker to Panamanian and Kenyan parents, Akisa decided to move to Nairobi, Kenya and fully immerse herself in reporting and producing internationally. While in Kenya, she Executive Produced and hosted a weekly television show and was a part of the NBC Nightly News production team that covered the Westgate Mall terror attack, among other things.

Akisa started her career in academia teaching mathematics in a public school in the South Bronx and at the City University of New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The National Association of Black Journalists.

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Rahul Pandita

Rahul Pandita is a journalist and an author based in New Delhi. He is currently the deputy editor of the weekly news and current affairs magazine, Open. Earlier he was the opinion and special stories editor of The Hindu, one of India’s leading English-language newspapers. He has reported extensively from various theaters of war, including Iraq and Sri Lanka. In India, Rahul is mostly known for his reportage on Maoist insurgency in central and eastern India, and on the turmoil in Kashmir in northern India.

He is the author of three bestselling books: Our Moon Has Blood Clots: A Memoir of a Lost Home in Kashmir; Hello, Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement; and The Absent State: Insurgency as an Excuse for Misgovernance [co-authored]. He is the recipient of the International Red Cross Award for conflict reporting and has been a speaker at international forums such as the Carnegie Endowment Center, Stanford University, Brown University, the State University of New York, the University of Michigan, and the World Affairs Council. In Fall 2014, he was a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI).

He belongs to the minority Hindu community of Kashmir called Kashmiri Pandits who were forced into exile in 1990. Through his work and advocacy of truth and reconciliation, he aims to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against the Pandit community and also bridge the chasm between the Pandits and the majority Muslim community in his homeland. Rahul is also the co-writer (along with one of India's leading filmmakers, Vidhu Vinod Chopra) of the film, Shikara (2020).

Stephen Shashoua photo

Stephen Shashoua

Stephen Shashoua is Co-Director of the Caravanserai Collective and Founder of Plan C – Culture & Cohesion, working through the arts, conflict transformation, and organizational development, engaging with themes of identity and social cohesion primarily in the NGO, academic, commercial, and policy sectors through spaces, research, and programming. The Caravanserai Collective's flagship storytelling and dialogue program is CERITA, which has been running in Indonesia, the UK, and the Netherlands. He is also Interim Director of the UK Charitable Trust, The Pointline Foundation.

Having led the UK-based 3FF – Three Faiths Forum (now Faith & Belief Forum) for more than 10 years, turning it into one of the UK’s largest interfaith and intercultural organizations, Stephen is seen as having been central in changing the landscape of work in the field. Stephen built 3FF to a team of 20 to design and deliver a wide portfolio of award-winning social cohesion programs that encourage interaction and learning between people of different faiths and beliefs in the UK and internationally.

Stephen is a KAICIID International Fellow, a member of the Standing Together Against Domestic Violence SAFE Advisory Group, a Strategic Advisor to New Horizons in British Islam, an Advisor to the Lived Religion Project, and a UNAOC Global Expert. Having moved to the UK from Canada in 2003, Stephen is now based in Lisbon, Portugal and works internationally.

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Njoya Tikum

Njoya Tikum is Manager of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Office for West and Central Africa-Dakar-Senegal. Prior to this, he served as Regional Manager for East and Southern Africa at United Nations Volunteers (UNV). Njoya led the UNV's East and Southern Africa organizational transformation and established an entirely new and effective regional team and operation in 23 countries. Before this, he served with UNDP in different capacities, including as Regional Policy and Programme Advisor on Anti-Corruption and Economic Governance and as Regional Youth Programme Coordinator at UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.

Njoya served ad-interim in UNDP Liberia, in South Sudan as Country Programme Specialist in the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, and as Policy Specialist and Special Assistant to UNDP's Director for the Democratic Governance Group in the Bureau for Development Policy in New York. Before joining UNDP, Njoya worked as an attorney and served as a Senior Human Rights Fellow at the Human Rights Institute, Columbia University School of Law. He also served as Legal Associate at African Services Committee and as Co-founder and Director for the Centre for Public Interest Law in Cameroon.
Njoya holds an LLM in International Contracts and Human Rights Law from Columbia University School of Law, an LLM in International Business Law from the Central European University, and a Licence and Maitrise en Droit from the University of Yaoundé II SOA.


Svyatoslav "Slava" Vakarchuk

Svyatoslav “Slava" Vakarchuk is a social activist and lead vocalist for Okean Elzy, the most successful rock band in Ukraine. As an activist, Slava supported the Orange Revolution and is founder of the non-profit “Lyudi Maybutnyogo” (People of the Future). People of the Future’s programs include: “Knyga Tvoryt’ Lyudynu” (A Book Creates A Man), “Osvita Krainoyu” (The Country’s Education), “3-D Proekt. Dumay, Diy, Dopomogai” (3-D Project. Think, Act. Help.). Alongside members of his band, he actively supported MTV and the UN International Organization for Migration’s campaign “People Are Not For Sale.”

In 2003, Slava became an Honorary Ambassador of Culture in Ukraine. In 2005 he was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme and became a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information. In September 2008, he renounced his seat in the Verkhovna Rada party due to a corrupt political climate. In parliamentary elections in 2007, he appeared as an independent candidate on the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc's list. The Ukrainian magazine Korrespondent ranks him as one of the 100 most influential people of Ukraine.

Slava holds a degree in theoretical physics and has released eight studio albums with his band.