Class of 2019 Bios

Simidele Adeagbo photo

Simidele Adeagbo

Simidele Adeagbo is a trailblazing Olympian, passionate advocate, and inspirational speaker focused on building a better world through sport. Simidele made Olympic history at the 2018 Winter Games, becoming the first Nigerian Winter Olympian and the first African and Black woman to compete in Skeleton at the Olympics.

For more than fifteen years, Simidele led innovative marketing campaigns at Nike and now helps audiences unlock the power they have as change makers. Through her signature master classes, Simidele also helps girls across Africa build their leadership skills through the uplifting power of sport.

An Obama Foundation Leader and Malala Fund supporter, Simidele has appeared in prominent media outlets such as CNN, NBC, ESPN, USA Today, Essence, Forbes, and Sports Illustrated, and was hailed by the New York Times as “a role model for Africa and beyond.”

Ahmed Albasheer photo

Ahmed Albasheer

Ahmed Albasheer is an Iraqi comedian, journalist, director, and host of The Albasheer Show, a weekly political satire program that humorizes Iraqi politics. Heavily influenced by comedians Jon Stewart and George Carlin, Ahmed began the show in 2014 as a tool to fight corruption, sectarianism, extremism, and terrorism in Iraq and the surrounding region. Having been banned from Iraqi television station, the show is recorded in Jordan and Turkey and broadcast weekly YouTube, Facebook, and Deutsche Welle’s Arabic channel. It reaches a weekly audience of over 7 million people, the majority of whom area under age 30.

Ahmed was born and raised in Anbar, Iraq, fleeing the country in 2011 after suffering injuries by a suicide bomber. He trained as a traditional journalist before switching to political satire, believing the latter to be a more effective tool of communication and influence. Ahmed has been named one of the twenty most influential people in the Arab World by Swiss-based Global Influence Research Centre.

Onur Burçak Belli photo

Onur Burçak Belli

Onur "Burçak" Belli is a Syrian-Turkish journalist. For most of her career, Burçak has focused on conflicts in Turkey, where she has been based for the past five years, working for Die Zeit, a German weekly newspaper, covering conflicts and crises in Turkey and the broader region. With 13 years of experience writing for international media outlets, her reporting is often through a lens of comprehensive rights and freedoms, writing in feature, long-form, or non-fiction storytelling styles. In 2010, Burçak was based in Damascus covering Syria’s reform plans and the Sunni-Alawite divergences amongst the ruling elite. She then moved London, working for the BBC as a broadcast journalist, before returning to Turkey in late 2013.

Her current work reports on a variety of issues including the Kurdish conflict, war in Syria, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, refugees, migration, Turkish foreign policy, EU, civil movements, sexual and bodily rights of women in Muslim societies, nature conservation and water policies, trans-boundary water conflicts, and environmental policies in conflict zones in the Middle East.

Burçak is also the co-founder of the Press Research Centre (BAM), an independent civil society organisation, dedicated to strengthening and promoting freedom of the press. As part of her work at BAM, she has been running a database called Press In Arrest, a documentation and collective memory work concerning journalists prosecuted in Turkey.

Burçak was the 2018 Feuchtwanger Fellow of Villa Aurora and Reporters Without Borders Germany and speaks English, Turkish, and Arabic.

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Katrin Eggenberger

Katrin Eggenberger is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Culture to the Principality of Liechtenstein. Previously, she headed the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chairpersons, which is comprised of over 100 of the world’s most influential chairpersons of large corporations who meet to discuss in an informal and trusted manner the key challenges they face today.

She worked closely with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, on a new global platform for start-ups, tech entrepreneurs, businesses, NGOs, governments, and universities for the purpose of serving sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. In her capacity as Chief of Staff, she has accompanied Professor Schwab on travel to over 25 countries.

Prior to these roles, Katrin was Visiting Researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and joined the LISD (Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination) at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her PhD dissertation, “Solving Corporation Problems over International Taxation: Power, Legitimacy and Sovereignty,” was supervised by Joseph E. Stiglitz. She previously worked at several financial institutions in Liechtenstein and Switzerland and competed for years in team sports internationally.

Feng Gao photo

Feng Gao

Feng Gao is the co-founder and managing director of Open Data China, the first civic group and social enterprise in China working on data transparency and digital rights. Under Feng’s leadership, Open Data China actively advises governments and other data holders on how to build an open and transparent data agenda. Open Data China also sets up a community for data users to make their voices heard. In 2015, Open Data China co-launched Shanghai Open Data Apps (SODA), a competition-based open data innovation model.

Since then, Feng leads the daily operation of SODA and its sister programs in Chongqing, Shenyang, and other cities in China. The SODA model unlocks more than 60 datasets from 30 government agencies and private companies, generates nearly 1000 prototypes and applications, and cultivates several startups with over 100 million CNY investments.

Feng’s publications and talks on open data are featured in Paris Innovation Review, Financial Times China, and at the International Open Data Conference. He was nominated and selected by the U.S. Department of State to be part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2016.

He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Southampton, and a BE in Computer Science from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.
 

Beverly Lorraine C. Ho photo

Beverly Lorraine C. Ho

Beverly “Bev” Lorraine C. Ho is Chief of the Health Research Division of the Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau in the Philippine Department of Health. She works to provide the evidence needed to support health system reforms by designing innovative research grants and building institutional capacity for policy research.

These efforts have significantly contributed to the passage of key legislation on sugar-sweetened beverage tax, universal health care (UHC), and the institutionalization of the health technology assessment process in the Philippines. Because of her instrumental role in the UHC Act, she was designated Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health for UHC.

Prior to this, she worked with various international development agencies providing technical assistance on health financing, maternal and child health, and health impact assessment to the Philippines and the Greater Mekong Subregion. She co-founded Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes, a non-profit NGO, working to raise the profile of public health and develop a critical mass of public health professionals in the Philippines.

Bev is a fellow of the Equity Initiative, an IAMP Young Physician Leader and a Fulbright scholar. She holds a MD from the University of the Philippines and an MPH in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Nikita Lalwani

Nikita Lalwani is a student at Yale Law School, where she has served as an Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal and as a team leader in the Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic. She has also served as co-president of the Yale Law National Security Group, co-director of the Yale chapter of the International Refugee Assistance Project, and as a Kerry Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. In Spring 2020, she is co-teaching an undergraduate seminar at Yale College on writing and foreign policy; her own writing has appeared in publications including The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Los Angeles Times, NewYorker.com, The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Washington Post.

Before law school, she worked as a staff editor at Foreign Affairs in New York, where she commissioned and edited articles on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs, and helped teach a course at Columbia Journalism School on gender and migration. She also spent a year reporting for The Wall Street Journal in New Delhi, India, covering politics, global health, and women's and LGBT rights. In May 2013, Nikita received her undergraduate degree from Yale, graduating magna cum laude and with distinction in English. She also has an M.Phil. in American History, with first-class honors, from the University of Cambridge, where she wrote a dissertation on U.S. refugee policy during the Cold War. Nikita grew up in California and New York, and in her free time enjoys rock climbing, tennis, and watching Netflix.

Nicolás Massot photo

Nicolás Massot

Nicolás Massot is a politician and economist from Argentina. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Banco Ciudad de Buenos Aires, the third largest public bank in the country.

After working in corporate finance in the shipping industry for four years, he joined the Propuesta Republicana (PRO) political party in 2011 and served as General Director of Political Reform in the Buenos Aires city government. He simultaneously joined Mauricio Macri’s 2015 presidential campaign team, leading campaign efforts in Córdoba Province. In 2015 he was elected National Deputy at the House of Representatives, where he was also chosen by his peers as Majority Leader for President Mauricio Macri’s party, PRO, at the age of 31, the youngest majority leader in Argentine history.

Nicolás holds a degree in economics with a minor in history from Universidad Torcuato di Tella and Université de Paris IX (Dauphine).
 

Wanjiru Mukoma photo

Wanjiru Mukoma

Wanjiru Mukoma has spent most of her career working to improve health and wellbeing in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in HIV prevention and care, and cross-cutting issues of human rights, sexual, and gender-based violence. She was formerly Executive Director of LVCT Health, a Kenyan NGO and one of the country’s leading implementers of HIV and gender-based violence programs.

A researcher, program implementer, and advocate, she has worked in academia and the non-profit sector for the past 15 years. Wanjiru is as comfortable working at the grassroots community level as she is in policy advocacy, championing the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized, especially children, adolescents, young women, and sexual minorities. She has supported the growth of many community organizations, influences national policy reforms, and is an active leader in many civil society networks in Kenya.

Wanjiru has a PhD in Psychiatry and Mental Health from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Alex Muñoz Wilson photo

Alex Muñoz Wilson

Alex Muñoz Wilson is National Geographic's Pristine Seas Director for Latin America. He has been the driving force behind the creation of the seven largest fully-protected marine reserves in Latin America, covering 1.2 million square kilometers of ocean. He has also led many important ocean policy changes in Chile, including making it the first country in the world to legally protect all of its seamounts from destructive fishing; reforming Chile’s fisheries law to require science-based quotas and reduce incidental mortality of species; stopping coal-fired power plants from destroying marine habitats and fishers’ livelihoods; protecting vast areas of Patagonia from salmon farming; establishing the first regulations to reduce antibiotic use and salmon escapes in Chilean salmon aquaculture; and banning shark finning in the country.

Alex also put together the first Latin American fellowship course on transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption. He was the first Chilean to win a case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, resulting in the Court’s first ruling on freedom of expression in the Americas.

Alex received a law degree from the University of Chile and a Master’s degree in international and comparative law from George Washington University.

Geng Ngarmboonanant photo

Geng Ngarmboonanant

Geng Ngarmboonanant is a J.D. Candidate at Yale Law School, where he is Co-President of the Yale Law Democrats, Vice President of the National Security Group, and Executive Editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Technology. He is also a member of the Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic, which is engaged in federal litigation on the 2020 Census, and he was co-lead of the technology policy team for Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign.

Before law school, Geng served as a legal fellow at the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he drafted bills, memos, and speeches on issues ranging from social media regulation to the Special Counsel's investigation into Russian electoral interference. Previously, Geng worked as an associate consultant at Bain & Company, where he co-founded the New York office's Public Policy Discussion Group. He was also a fellow at New America, a research intern at Brookings, and has published over 30 editorials in the Washington Post.

In May 2015, Geng received his undergraduate degree from Yale, where he graduated cum laude with distinction in Ethics, Politics & Economics. Geng grew up in Bangkok, Thailand and immigrated to the United States at age 14.

 

B. Elias Shoniyin photo

B. Elias Shoniyin

B. Elias Shoniyin is an international affairs, development, and policy professional, with over nineteen years' experience in nonprofit and public service, in multiple senior positions where he has made significant contributions to the post-war recovery and development of his native Liberia. He served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia in two successive administrations and intermittently serves as Acting Foreign Minister in the absence of the Minister. An important part of his work was administering the Liberian Foreign Service. Elias’ leadership has inspired strategic reforms in all spheres of the Foreign Ministry and the diplomatic service of Liberia.

He played a pivotal role in deepening Liberia’s post-conflict cooperation with friendly nations and exploring cooperation opportunities on new frontiers. He coordinated Liberia’s resource mobilization efforts during West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, drawing urgent global attention to the health crisis, resulting to the effective containment of the virus in Liberia. He led Liberian delegations to many high-level international conferences and negotiations, including serving as Advisor to the Liberian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

He is also a part-time lecturer in International Relations at the University of Liberia graduate school and founder of the B. Elias Shoniyin Education Empowerment Foundation.

Olena Sotnyk photo

Olena Sotnyk

Olena Sotnyk is a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, and human rights defender. As a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, she is a well-known legislator and public policy maker in areas such as rule of law, judicial system reform, anticorruption, and youth policy.

Olena also represents Ukraine in the international arena and is one of the leading the voices of Ukrainians against Russian aggression. She holds prominent positions in the working bodies of several international organizations, including the Council of Europe, and focuses on issues including Euro-integration of Ukraine and female empowerment.

Prior to her political career, Olena was a lawyer and served on the board of The Ukrainian Bar Association and Aspen Ukraine Alumni. She has degrees pertaining to law, economy, and psychology.

Rebecca Sullivan photo

Rebecca Sullivan

Rebecca Sullivan is a sustainable-living advocate residing in a straw bale home off the grid on a 90 acre eco-farm in the Clare Valley, South Australia. She is a self-taught cook and has worked with some of the world’s best food producers, academics, activists, and chefs.

She is a food curator, consultant, TV presenter, activist, author, regenerative farmer, and social entrepreneur. Rebecca has worked on many global sustainability projects including the Real Food Festival in London and serving as Taste Curator on Slow Food Nation in San Francisco.

Her current work includes writing three more books, presenting on green living, hosting workshops, running her social enterprises Warndu and the Granny Skills Movement, serving as Festival Director on Eco-Farming & Food, writing about natural living for many publications, and setting up an ethical food and farming school at her farm in Australia.

She completed her Masters in Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University in Gloucestershire, UK in 2010.

Diego A. Tituaña photo

Diego A. Tituaña

Diego Tituaña, a Kichwa Otavalo from Ecuador, is a diplomat in the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations from 2014 to 2019 and was in charge of human rights, disarmament, and international security agendas.

Diego has multilateral experience in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and was the Facilitator for the United Nations Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2014 to 2019. Under his leadership, the United Nations started two important actions for the indigenous peoples of the world: the process of enhancing their participation at the United Nations and the Proclamation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. These initiatives seek to combat discrimination, and strengthen identity and the traditional knowledge.

Diego represented developing countries as Coordinator of the Group of 77 in the negotiations for the United Nations resolution on the World Summit for Social Development in 2016. He also led other relevant processes relating to social and human rights affairs under the Ecuadorian Chairmanship of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in 2015.

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Nizam Uddin

Nizam Uddin is Senior Head of Mosaic and Community Integration at The Prince’s Trust, where he leads on the organization’s social integration and cohesion activities and heads up Mosaic, an initiative founded independently by HRH The Prince of Wales to help young people from disadvantaged Muslim communities and since other isolated communities, to relatable role models to help improve their chances of fulfilling their potential.

Nizam has a strong interest in social mobility for young people and addressing the challenges and obstacles that prevent minority communities from having an equal stake in society and the economy. He has worked for the University of London and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education; was previously the elected President of the University of London Students’ Union; and helped found The Patchwork Foundation.

Nizam is currently a Trustee at SOAS University of London, a member of the Mayor of London’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, and a School Governor of Mulberry Academy Shoreditch.

Cristina Vélez Valencia photo

Cristina Vélez Valencia

Cristina Vélez Valencia is currently the Vice president for Public-Private Partnerships of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá and is in charge of programs to foster regional integration and economic development, as well as the Chamber's knowledge management among other programs involving public and private sectors.

Until June 2019, she served as the Secretary for Social Integration in the Mayoralty of Bogotá. She oversaw a department with over 9500 employees and a budget in excess of $360 million. The department defines and implements social policy in a city of over 7 million residents and is responsible for comprehensive programs for early childhood, aging populations, homelessness, youth, people with disabilities, and LGBT communities. She was in charge of defining and implementing programs for the Venezuelan migration crisis, as the city of Bogotá has received 30% of the almost 1,5 million migrants that have reached Colombia. Cristina previously worked as the Secretary of Women’s Affairs in the city of Bogota and participated in the design of a teenage pregnancy reduction program that reduced teenage pregnancy by 31% in three years.

Cristina has worked in both academia and the national public sector with a few stints in consulting. She has been adjunct professor at Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica, a regional public university, and in the Department of Management at both Universidad de los Andes and CESA. Cristina is a historian and holds a MSc in History and a PhD in Management, both from Universidad de los Andes.