Class of 2020 Bios

Sally Abi Khalil photo

Sally Abi Khalil

Sally Abi Khalil is a humanitarian and development practitioner with twenty years of experience in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. She is currently Country Director of Oxfam in Lebanon and has served as chair of the Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum. As the first Lebanese woman to run a major international NGO within the Syria Response in Lebanon, she has led humanitarian response programming, programs supporting youth and women with social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiatives, promoted the right to decent work, worked for the establishment of civil society networks, and promoted feminist approaches towards leadership and collective action.

Sally’s career has followed the trajectory of civil unrest in the Arab region where she played various roles in shaping civil society development and organizational leadership. She began her career at UNDP in Lebanon and went on to co-direct the Tharwa Project, an independent initiative launched in Syria to foster new avenues for communication and activism in the Arab region. Following the Cedar Revolution of 2005, Sally joined the National Democracy Institute (NDI), where she managed Citizen Lebanon, a nation-wide civic education and advocacy program. During the Arab Spring she worked on the Maghreb Youth Political Party Leadership Program in Tunisia and in the region and then went on to lead NDI’s Syria country program focusing on youth political leadership development and political party development.

Sally is a Chevening Scholar and holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the American University in Beirut.

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Ambroise Brenier

Ambroise Brenier is Wildlife Conservation Society’s Country Director for Papua New Guinea. He leads the largest field conservation program in a country home to the third largest tropical rainforest in the world and surrounded by the world’s most diverse coral reefs. Ambroise and his team are working with the government and hundreds of indigenous communities around the country to triple Papua New Guinea’s marine protected areas coverage, preserve intact forests, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, and improve people's livelihoods.

Prior to this role, he led the Wildlife Conservation Society’s marine conservation efforts in Madagascar, including the creation of three marine protected areas—doubling the country's marine protected area network; the creation of the country’s first shark sanctuary; the development of a fisheries co-management plan, and the creation of dozens of community-managed fishery zones for Madagascar’s largest bay, the latter which was awarded the United Nations Equator Prize in 2014.

Ambroise also served as the program manager for a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of marine life in West Africa, and he studied coral reefs and coastal fisheries in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Madagascar as part of his Master's and PhD research.

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Stephanie Busari

Stephanie Busari is a journalist and editor at CNN Worldwide. She heads up CNN's Nigeria bureau where she pioneered CNN's first digital and multiplatform bureau. She also reports on-air for CNN International and led the network's 2019 Nigeria presidential election coverage. Stephanie oversees CNN Africa's digital editorial and operational strategy, crafting a new narrative for Africa and chronicling the continent's changemakers and innovators.

In April 2016 Stephanie exclusively obtained the ‘proof of life’ video that showed that the missing Chibok schoolgirls were still alive. This video kickstarted crucial negotiation talks with Boko Haram that led to the eventual release of more than 100 of the kidnapped schoolgirls. She was also an instrumental member of the CNN team that won a Peabody Award in May 2015 for the network’s coverage of the missing Nigerian schoolgirls. Stephanie won a Hollywood Gracie Award in 2017 for her persistence in covering this story and is also a previous recipient of the Outstanding Woman in the Media Awards.

A passionate and adept public speaker, Stephanie is regularly invited to share her insights and moderate panels; she has spoken at TEDGlobal, UN Women, Said Business School, Oxford, and UNESCO among others.

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Hamish Falconer

Hamish Falconer is a member of Britain’s diplomatic service. He has led the Foreign Office’s Terrorism Response Team, UK efforts to start a peace process in Afghanistan and served in Pakistan and South Sudan. He has worked for the UK's Department for International Development and National Crime Agency on humanitarian response, state building, and human trafficking investigations. Before joining government service Hamish was a campaigner and activist. He studied at Cambridge University and Birkbeck University. He runs access events to the Foreign Office for teenagers from inner-city London schools.

Ying Lun “Allen” FUNG photo

Ying Lun “Allen” FUNG

Ying Lun “Allen” FUNG is Political Assistant to Secretary for Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Before joining the government in 2014, he served as a personal assistant to Mr. CY Leung from 2006 to 2012 and advised on his successful Chief Executive election campaign. Allen has extensive experience in politics and public administration in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland. He is a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies and the All China Youth Federation, and Standing Committee Member of the Guangdong Youth Federation. He was Vice President (External) of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union and Chairman of China Study Society, HKUSU, while he was an undergraduate.

Allen has a BA degree in History and Political Science and an MPA from the University of Hong Kong. Beside his work in the public administration sector, he has profound interest in history of China and the world, especially in Chinese philosophy and literature and the modern world system. As a Chinese national born, raised, and educated in Hong Kong, Allen has a unique angle in comprehending contemporary international affairs and is keen on building a bridge between China and the world that is based on mutual understanding and trust.

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Katrin Hett

Katrin Hett is a Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations. She joined the UN in January 2010 in the Department of Political Affairs as Political Affairs Officer, first in the Europe Division and then in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. She has also served in the Secretary-General’s transition team from October to December 2016. Previously, Katrin worked as Regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans in Public Diplomacy at NATO HQ, Senior Democratisation and Public Administration Reform Advisor at OSCE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was Deputy Project Manager for Conflict Management at GTZ in South Africa.

Born in Germany, Katrin holds degrees in International Relations and European Studies from the London School of Economics, King’s College London, and Sciences Po Paris.

Mohammad “Musa” Mahmodi photo

Mohammad “Musa” Mahmodi

Mohammad “Musa” Mahmodi is a human rights lawyer and defender based in Kabul, Afghanistan. He served as Executive Director of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for ten years, providing strategic direction for programs and activities to monitor, protect, and promote human rights in a conflict-affected country. As part of his work, he focused on transitional justice, women rights, children rights, human rights education, and investigations of human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict. Musa also advocated for reviews of laws and policies of Afghanistan to comply with the international human rights instruments. He previously worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, whereby he led and ran programs strengthening democracy and political parties in Afghanistan. Musa holds a law degree from Kabul University and in 2007 was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University for his Master’s degree.

Evan Mawarire photo

Evan Mawarire

Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean clergyman who founded #ThisFlag Citizen’s Movement to challenge corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. The movement empowers citizens to hold government to account. Through viral videos, the movement has organized multiple successful non-violent protests in response to unjust government policy. Evan was imprisoned in 2016, 2017, and 2019 for charges of treason, facing 80 years in prison. His message of inspiring positive social change and national pride has resonated with diverse groups of citizens and attracted international attention.

Evan has addressed audiences around the world, and Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 100 global thinkers of 2016. The Daily Maverick Newspaper of South Africa named him 2016 African person of the year. Evan is a 2018 Stanford University Fellow of the Centre for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law. He is a nominee of the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards and the 2018 Swedish government’s Per Anger Prize for democracy actors.

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Mauro Mondello

Mauro Mondello is a freelance reporter, war correspondent, documentary filmmaker and the co-founder of Yanez, an online long-form journalism magazine. Often focusing on human rights and freedoms, his reporting strives to garner dignity and respect for all cultures and religions and to foster an open society that provides shelter for refugees and space for all humanity. He began his journalism career as a staff journalist in Italy and was based in South America between 2008 and 2011. He then moved to Tunis to report on the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. From 2013 to 2019, he was based in Berlin, Germany.

Mauro's current work reports on a variety of issues, including refugees, migration, human rights, EU foreign policy, civil movements, mafia and Italian criminality, nuclear waste and climate change. His documentaries include “Lampedusa in Berlin,” a report about the eviction of migrants in Berlin, filmed in 2015.

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Edwan Ngum Tah

Edwan Ngum Tah is an attorney and civil litigation expert working in Cameroon. She is also the Executive Director of the Center for Public Interest Law, Cameroon and has partnered with the Center for Democracy and Development, West Africa to document cases of human rights violations by state and non-state actors in their fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin. Throughout her career Edwan has fought for the rights of marginalized communities and juveniles, conceiving the Juvenile Detention Project which aims to secure the release of many young people awaiting trial in prisons and police cells. She also offers legal services on a pro bono basis to victims of gender-based violence and is part of a team of legal experts working on a draft law on child marriage in Cameroon, which has been tabled before the National Assembly for adoption. Edwan’s career has focused on breaking gender-related obstacles and improving the rights of women and minorities through Training of Trainers initiatives within civil society organizations.

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Hyppolite Ntigurirwa

Hyppolite Ntigurirwa is an artist, activist, and founder of Be the Peace, an organization focusing on the use of art to halt the intergenerational transmission of hate and to promote the power of cross-generational healing. A child survivor of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Hyppolite continues to promote reconciliation and peace throughout Rwanda. In 2019, he envisioned and conducted the “Be the Peace Walk,” a 100-day performance piece in which he walked across the country in commemoration of 25 years since the end of the genocide.

Hyppolite was an international Artist in Residence with Arts Connect International in Boston in 2016. Since then he has worked as Arts Program Manager for the British Council in Rwanda, focused on disability rights and societal inclusion. He is a Peace Ambassador for One Young World, Peace Scholar and his work has been covered by global media including BBC, NPR, SABC, and Dutchwelle.

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Jorge Soto

Jorge Soto is the chief technology officer and co-founder of Miroculus, a biotechnology company that seeks to democratize access to complex molecular tests for treatment and prevention of diseases. Jorge founded Miroculus with the vision of reducing the entry barrier in cost, development, complexity, and increasing access to genetic sequencing, synthetic biology, and genetic editing to help advance science and improve lives.

Previously, he was Deputy Director General of Civic Innovation at the Coordination of National Digital Strategy of Mexico, where he led strategies and projects that promote citizen participation and innovation in the country through the use of technology. In particular, he was part of the team that developed the strategy, standards, and tools for Mexico's open data policy so that public information could be shared between agencies and to citizens in readable and accessible formats. From 2009 to 2012 Jorge was the founder and chief technology officer of CitiVox, a platform that allowed government officials and development agencies to receive and analyze citizen reports and convert them into actionable information.

Jorge has a degree in Electronic Systems Engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey and has been recognized as an Endeavor entrepreneur, MIT TR35, and Technology Pioneer of the World Economic Forum.

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Jovitta Thomas

Jovitta Thomas is a community development expert from India, specializing in development work in fragile and conflict states. In her over 20 years of international work, largely in the Balkans and Afghanistan, she focuses on helping new/ transitional governments design and implement very large development initiatives covering the sectors of local governance, poverty reduction, community development, conflict management, emergency support, and core public services. Her expertise is focused on implementing projects in highly volatile environments and adapting international best practices to local contexts.

In the Balkans, Jovitta worked to remove parallel structures and integrate minorities into the judicial system of the newly independent Kosovo. In Afghanistan, she was first Deputy Director and later Advisor for the Government’s flagship ($2.7 billion) National Solidarity Program covering 35,000 communities in all 34 provinces, including many outside the control of the Government. She was part of core teams designing several national priority programs, and, until recently, served as Program Expert to the Ministry of Economy, and Senior Advisor to the Deputy Ministry of Municipalities in the Independent Directorate of Local Governance in the Afghan Government. Jovitta has just joined the World Bank's Social Development sector, supporting, among other programs, the Covid-19 socio-economic response projects in Afghanistan.

Ann Thomas photo

Ann Thomas

Ann Thomas leads the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme at UNICEF Indonesia. She is an environmental engineer with over two decades of development experience, within the UN system and aid organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Her passion is driving strategic policy decisions in the WASH sector – an often-overlooked investment-multiplier in emerging economies – that translate directly to improved health and economic development outcomes. Ann has served as advisor to national governments across Africa and Asia, aligning national strategies for water and sanitation with global best practice, climate change considerations, and innovative financing opportunities.

Ann’s work is motivated by front line experiences in disasters and cholera outbreaks, witnessing the disproportionate vulnerability of populations without access to basic WASH services. Working in one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations, recognizing the enormity of the gap between resources and needs, Ann considers partnerships and coalition building as foundational to accelerating progress. Ann has advocated new financing and community engagement models with Islamic financing agencies in Indonesia, resulting in scalable and culturally relevant programs for the poorest, and at the same time has worked with multinationals to innovate and test market solutions to identified gaps.

As part of the Government of Indonesia’s COVID response, Ann develops protocols which are deployed nation-wide in a variety of settings, to support infection prevention and control, monitoring of behaviors, reopening of schools and continuity of municipal services – while advocating for the centrality of WASH in mitigating further outbreaks.

Ann holds degrees from McGill University and Johns Hopkins University.