DINA BASLAN CO-FOUNDER
Dina has over nine years of experience in the humanitarian/development field. She has written & conducted research on topics related to media, displacement and migration, often focusing on areas where the three disciplines intersect. She has over 5 years of holding full-time regional positions in the humanitarian/development industry (UNOPS, ECHO, Open Society Foundation, UNESCO, BBC Media Action). Dina has formed her understanding of the political, social and economic realities in the Middle East & North Africa and neighboring regions through engaging in personal narratives, where she believes the essence of this reality lies. Since June 2015, she has been working as a freelance research consultant and advocacy expert (FAFO, NTNU, UNICEF, Q Perspective, Caribou Digital) analyzing service provision, living conditions & needs of minority refugees in Jordan, namely of Sudanese, Somali and Yemeni origins. Dina has co-authored a guest series on the conditions of Sudanese refugees in Jordan with the Mixed Migration Platform (MMP) and is a contributor to Jadaliyya, an online magazine focused on the Middle East.
AARON WILLIAMS CO-FOUNDER
Aaron has worked in the Middle East and North Africa for over eight years. In that time, his work has taken him to Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon where his work has spanned from human rights advocacy, refugee assistance, and grassroots capacity development, as well a stint in Benghazi, Libya during the 2011 revolution helping support Libyan health infrastructure. Aaron also spent five years working in documentary film and journalism (Jaha Media, Al Jazeera America, Foreign Affairs Magazine, and Syria Direct) where he specialized in human rights, race, human resilience in times of conflict, the Arab world’s creative scenes, and personal narrative driven content that challenges stereotypes. He is the founder of Jaha Media - A collective of storytellers, filmmakers, and everyday people who want to help reshape the way the international community looks at the Arab world. Aaron has reported on the vulnerability and living experiences of African refugees in the Middle East and has frequently advised a variety of UN, humanitarian, and Jordanian civil society organizations on the conditions and living experience of African refugees in Jordan.
Board of Advisors
MOHAMMED H. AL TARAWNEH LEGAL ADVISOR
Mohammed is an international lawyer and entrepreneur who has been involved in the founding of many organizations in his home country of Jordan including the Blue Umbrella Group, Al Tarawneh Law Firm, and the Youth for Youth Association. His most recent project the Blue Umbrella Group was founded in Jordan to face head on the negative effects of the refugee crisis. Blue Umbrella presently implements projects that benefit rural societies with specific interest in the empowerment of women, creating opportunity for youth and sustainable living experiences for refugees. He has worked in the development of local communities, civil society organizations and youth since 2006.
Mohammed was recently selected to The Next Generation program at The McCain Institute for International Leadership-A program that aims to identify the tangible steps and actions the selectees will take to bring about positive change in their home societies. He has studied at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a graduate of the Yarmouk University Law School.
MANASIK ABDALLA MOHAMMED AHMED
Manasick is a proud native of Darfur. She is a graduate from the Omdurman Alahlia University where she completed a degree in English language in 2012. Manasick has worked extensively in IDPs camps (most notably with CDF and UNICEF in the Kalma and Ottash camps in Southern Darfur) teaching and supporting children trying to recover from war trauma. She has worked in the field of rural development for the Jebel Marra Charity organization (JMCo) as both a field and livelihood officer and has worked with Oxfam America on a resilience project called the"Taaduod Project".
Manasick loves helping others. Since arriving in Jordan she has constantly been involved in volunteering in helping the Sudanese and other minority refugees in Jordan.
Chris is currently an open source analyst based in Washington, DC, focusing a wide range of MENA-related issues. Chris has experience researching immigration policy and human rights issues in the U.S. and Jordan and moonlights as a freelance translator in support of local U.S.-based refugee resettlement organizations. Chris was involved in the initial volunteer relief efforts to support Sudanese refugees in Amman after their deportation from Jordan in December 2015.
Chris received his BA in International Relations and Spanish from Tufts University.
TARAF ABU HAMDAN
Taraf is an environmentalist and community empowerment professional with significant experience in multinational organizations in the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and North America. She holds an MPA in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Columbia University, and a BSc in Environmental, Soil, and Water Sciences from the University of Arkansas. Her expertise are in development, environmental sciences, impact assessment, policy design and analysis, humanitarian relief, livelihoods and social entrepreneurship. Taraf was involved in the initial relief efforts following the December 2015 refoulment of Darfuri refugees from Jordan and was a co-founder of the grassroots community-led volunteer group that inspired the eventual creation of Sawiyan. Taraf worked with Aramex International Ltd. as a sustainability leader, mangaing projects on carbon emissions reduction, entrepreneurship, and youth education. She supported Ruwwad Development establish an alternative tourism project in Beidha, Jordan to create livelihoods for the community, and worked on a project building houses from eco-friendly materials in Thailand.
BASSEM ZRAIKAT FINANCE ADVISOR
Born in Jersualem and raised in Bethlehem, Bassem is a proud native of Palestine. He is currently the President and Co-Founder of The Bend Group, a corporate and retail branding company. Bassem has over 24 years of experience in business leadership, banking, and finance in both North America and the Middle East. He started his career in banking at Bank of America where he worked for over 13 years. In his time with BoA he occupied a number of various roles within retail/ small business, premier and investment banking concluding his career with Bank of America as Vice President/Consumer Regional Manager. In 2005 Bassem made the transition to the Middle East when he joined Bank Elitihad as the Assistant General Manager/ Head of Retail Banking where he helped transform the bank into a world class, innovative financial institution. Bassem contributes his success on empowering people to reach their full potential in a simple and proven humanistic approach “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. In his spare time Bassem focuses on giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate by working with humanitarian organizations and educational programs specifically gearing towards the future of this world--- “the youth”.
Khater has over 5 years of experience in humanitarian assistance, medical training, public health, and translation. He has worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Jordan where he coordinated JRS' home visit program and informal educational programs. Additionally, he has worked with International Relief and Development(IRD), Hope and Trust and the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Khater was also a member of the student Refugee program (WUSC Local Committee) of the University of Ottawa in 2017. Khater, was a part of the initial volunteer relief efforts to support Sudanese refugees in Amman after the Sudanese deportations from Jordan in 2015. Currently he is in Canada pursuing his degree in Public Health.
Rochelle has been engaged with Sudan and Sudanese since 2001 as a humanitarian worker, peace builder, educator and researcher, a relationship she hopes lasts the rest of her life. Rochelle has worked with communities affected by violence in Eastern Africa, the Middle East and North America for the past 19 years, mostly in collaboration with children and youth. In leadership and technical roles, working for a range of international organizations, NGOs, governments and academic institutions, she has delivered expertise and programs on protection, child rights, gender, informal education, livelihoods, peace building, monitoring and evaluation, social innovation and advocacy. Having facilitated and documented youth-led and parent-led movements in nine countries, Rochelle is a passionate advocate for participatory process. Her research pioneers the use of relational methods to understand and engage with complex and power-laden systems, from the internal and micro, to the global. As an educator and advocate she works towards the decolonization and indigenization of humanitarian, development and human rights work. For her PhD she researched how Sudanese and Canadians stand by and do nothing about genocide in their own countries.
Anna is a former humanitarian worker and researcher focussing on the rights, living conditions and experiences of refugees, and the institutional responses to displacement. For the past 7 years she has been based in Jordan, working as a Protection and Programme Officer for UNRWA, and conducting research amongst Iraqi, Sudanese, and Palestinian refugee communities (Fafo, NTNU Social Research, University of Bath). Anna is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Bath where her research focusses on the governance of the humanitarian response in Jordan.