Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini is the Co-founder and Executive Director of ICAN. For over two decades she has been a leading international peace strategist. In 2000, she was among the civil society drafters of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. In 2011, Ms. Naraghi-Anderlini was the first Senior Expert on Gender and Inclusion on the UN’s Mediation Standby Team. She provides guidance and training to senior personnel in UN agencies, governments and NGOs worldwide, and has worked in conflict affected countries globally, including leading assessments in Maoist cantonments in Nepal.
Between 2002 and 2005, as Director of the Women Waging Peace Policy Commission, Sanam led ground breaking field research on women’s contributions to conflict prevention, security and peacemaking in 12 countries. Between 2008-2010 she led UNDP’s 10-country action research on men in crisis settings. She has served on the Advisory Board of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), and was appointed to the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) on Resolution 1325, chaired by Mary Robinson in 2010. Since 2013, she has served in the Working Group on Gender and Inclusion of the Sustainable Development Network.
Ms. Naraghi-Anderlini is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and between 2004-15 she was Research Associate and Senior Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies. She has published extensively on peace and security issues, including Women building peace: What they do, why it matters (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007). She was the 2014 recipient of the UN Association of the National Capital Area Perdita Huston Award for human rights and the 2016 Greeley Peace Scholar at the University of Massachusetts. Ms. Naraghi-Anderlini holds an M.Phil in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University. Iranian by birth, she is a UK citizen, and has twin daughters.
Sussan Tahmasebi is the Director of the MENA/Asia region program at ICAN, which she co-founded in 2006. Tahmasebi’s expertise includes: women’s movement building, especially in the MENA region and in contexts where civil society space is shrinking; women’s rights advocacy in Islamic contexts; civil society capacity building; supporting women human rights defenders; and preventing sexual and gender-based violence against women, including violent extremism.
Prior to her work at ICAN, Ms. Tahmasebi worked in Iran to promote women’s rights and strengthen civil society for over ten years. Tahmasebi is a founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grassroots effort which promoted broad awareness on women’s rights through collection of signatures of Iranians who support an end to gender-biased laws. She played an important role in strengthening the capacity of Iranian civil society to affect positive change, by co-founding the Iran Civil Society Training and Research Center. In this capacity she also spearheaded a number of South-South cooperation programs between women activists in the MENA and Asia regions. Tahmasebi is an experienced trainer and has published numerous articles on the status of Iranian civil society, including religious charity organizations, the Iranian women’s movement and the situation of women in the MENA region.
In 2010 and 2011, Tahmasebi was honored by Human Rights Watch with the Alison Des Forges Award for extraordinary activism, HRW’s highest honor. In 2011 she was named by Newsweek as one of 150 women who “Shake the World.” In 2016 she was awarded the Power to Inspire award by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta Georgia, where her work as an advocate of women’s rights is featured.
Rana Allam is an advisor and editor to the International Civil Action Network (ICAN) and the Women Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) organization. She has extensive knowledge of the political scene in the Middle East region with a particular focus on Egypt.
Rana is the former chief editor of Daily News Egypt (DNE) newspaper in Cairo, and managed both the daily print paper as well as the website. She began her journalism career in 1995 and currently serves as a commentator on Egypt’s political affairs and human rights issues in the region.
Olga Andrew is the Finance Officer at ICAN. She has been with ICAN since it began its operations in 2008. Ms. Andrew holds a Certified Public Accounting Certificate from the State of Virginia. Olga also has a MBA from George Washington University, as well as a Graduate Certification in Advanced Taxation from American University. Olga has worked as an accounting and financial consultant to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals for 12 years. Olga has in-depth knowledge of non for profit accounting. Her work experience includes several consulting projects for Raffa (a local CPA firm that specializes in nonprofit accounting) as well as being a part-time Controller for local nonprofit organizations. She is originally from Russia and moved to the United States in 1999.
France is an attorney and the Grant Officer and Program Coordinator for Partner Support at ICAN. She works to combat shrinking civil society space by building the capacity of local and national civil society in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly those addressing SGBV and violence against women. This includes conducting trainings, providing technical assistance, and coordinating grants to both individuals and organizations to build capacity and develop resiliency skills. France assists in all facets of grant management for the ICAN programs that support women’s leadership in countering extremism and promoting rights, peace and human security. Through these initiatives, France supports ICAN’s in-country activities that are designed to address deradicalization of individuals and communities, rehabilitation and reconciliation of former fighters, and strengthening resilience to withstand the lure of extremist ideology and recruitment.
Prior to joining ICAN, Ms. Bognon was a Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Experiential Learning Program Fellow with the Outside Placement Program at the George Washington University Law School, where she also received her J.D. and LL.M. in International and Comparative law. Ms. Bognon worked as a student attorney with both the International Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, where she assisted in the civil prosecution of an individual convicted of committing torture and war crimes against an ethnic group in West Africa and co-authored a chapter on the current state of human rights class action lawsuits in U.S. federal courts. Ms. Bognon has also worked at the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and briefly with the United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda.
Devin Cowick is the Program Officer at ICAN. In this role she broadly divides her time between program support, executive support, and office management. More specifically, Ms. Cowick’s responsibilities include editing publications, liaising with consultants, managing ICAN’s web and social media presence, supporting ICAN’s multimedia production, coordinating event planning and logistics, scheduling for ICAN’s Executive Director, and performing office administrative duties.
Prior to joining ICAN, Ms. Cowick served as Executive Assistant and later Program Manager for a startup nonprofit called Mina’s List: Empowering Women’s Political Leadership Globally. During her time at Mina’s List, Ms. Cowick traveled to the United Arab Emirates and India to help implement training workshops for Afghan women civil society leaders, parliamentarians, and aspiring candidates. Devin graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and minors in Spanish, Political Science, and Social Entrepreneurship. While attending Northeastern, Devin studied and worked on five continents through study abroad and Co-op opportunities. Devin is fluent in Spanish and has beginner-level knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
Melinda Holmes works with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) as advisor and coordinator of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), which ICAN spearheads. The alliance brings together existing women rights and peace practitioners, organizations, and networks actively engaged in preventing extremism by promoting peace, rights and pluralism, to enable their systematic and strategic collaboration. Based in London, Melinda is also a Visiting Fellow at LSE’s Centre for Women, Peace & Security. Melinda graduated with a Master’s in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, focusing on the gendered and religious dynamics of conflict and peacebuilding.
From 2013 to 2016, Melinda worked with The Carter Center, where she advised on the engagement of religious and traditional beliefs, actors and communities in advancing peace and human rights, with a focus on women and girls. In 2012-2013, she conducted original anthropological research in Ghana examining the role of structural factors in Muslim leaders’ approaches to peace and violence and exploring the evolution of religious leadership norms. In 2010 and 2011, Melinda lived in Egypt where she served as a refugee legal case worker amid the exacerbated human security crisis brought on by the 2011 uprising. Previously, Melinda worked as an educator at the Ecole d’Humanité in Switzerland where she developed and taught curricula on themes including nonviolence, conflict, globalization and civic activism, and served as a youth mentor.
Helena joined ICAN in late 2016 to coordinate ICAN’s Better Peace Initiative, which offers practical guidance for the effective inclusion of gender perspectives and women peacebuilders in peace processes. In 2009, Helena co-founded the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) where she managed the network’s outreach and various advocacy, capacity building, media and research programs. She regularly facilitated trainings on United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) on women, peace and security in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nepal and Sierra Leone.
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