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Emerging Leaders Biographies 2016






Salem Afeworki
Program Director, Value Sustainability

Salem is the program director of Value Sustainability, a leading provider of advisory services in sustainability, climate change, and community engagement. She is responsible for the company’s integrated strategy to deliver customer solutions to meet their sustainability challenges and to operate in a way that advances environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic success. Applying her corporate and consulting experience to her client’s sustainability priorities, she challenges her clients to set increasingly higher targets that grow their business by making a positive difference in the world. Prior to that, Salem has held numerous management and senior consultant roles in engineering and financial services firms, both in the United States and internationally. She began her career with the United Nations, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication and MSc in Environmental Management & Auditing from Universidad de Leon, Spain.

Megha Aggarwal
Co-Founder, CEO, LEAP Skills Academy

Megha Aggarwal is the co-founder and CEO of LEAP Skills Academy. LEAP stands for Learning, Employability and Progress, and was founded to create opportunities and enable employment for motivated students in small towns in India. It aims to help students achieve their career aspirations and connect them with livelihoods. Prior to LEAP, Aggarwal collaborated with several research and policy institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, the Asian Development Bank and the Indian Planning Commission on skill development related projects. She worked with Morgan Stanley in New York and London as an investment banker. She was a Chevening Scholar at the London School of Economics and is an alumnus of the University of Oxford and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.

Jihane Ajijti
Head of Projects and Development for Southern Africa, OCP Africa

Jihane Ajijti works for OCP Africa as the head of project and development for Southern Africa. She is a graduate of HEC Paris (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales) and a candidate of Africa Business school executive master’s in business administration partnership with Columbia Business school. She started her career in market finance as an assistant in sales for BNP Paribas Arbitrage in Paris, where she worked on structured products for major European institutions. Thereafter, she has joined Oliver Wyman, an international corporate strategy consulting firm where she had over five years of experience, mostly based in Paris. She has worked for several large-scale projects in various industries, among others waste and water management, consumer goods, transport and telecommunication, retail, and leisure industry. She has specialized in global transformation plans with a focus on value sourcing, organization redesign and operational optimization. Ajijti joined the OCP Group in December 2014, as a project manager within the Strategy and Corporate Development team before being appointed as head of projects of development for Southern Africa within the newly created subsidiary OCP Africa. She manages partnerships and development projects that aim at improving the ecosystem around smallholder farmers, particularly through offering a wider range of agro-services. Jihane is currently based in Casablanca.

Ahmed AlAhwal Tarek
Urban Program Director, Megawra

Ahmed is an architect with academic and professional experience in urban development. He has worked on designing and implementing projects related to open space rehabilitation, sustainable urban systems, and urban governance. He is a Cairo University graduate and currently works as coordinator of the Urban Program in Megawra, a part of the Athar Lina initiative, which aims at using heritage as a driver for development through citizen participation and regarding monuments as an unextractable part of the city’s physical and intangible heritage. The initiative works in partnership with the ministry of antiquities and Cairo governorate and is currently operating in several areas in Cairo as well as partnering in projects in other Egyptian cities.

Valeria Maria Aruffo
Regional Manager, West Africa, EnergyNet

As the regional manager for West and North Africa for EnergyNet, Valeria Aruffo currently works with governments across West and North Africa promoting investment into the energy, electricity, and infrastructure sectors with a clear focus on energy access and economic development in Africa through project implementation, climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. With an emphasis on North and West Africa development and regional cooperation, Aruffo has led high level investor’s summits promoting energy access around the world, most recently in Marrakech where she led the EnergyNet’s Africa Renewable Energy Forum (ARF), the officially labelled side event of COP22. Aruffo holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of Rome, two master’s degrees, one in the history of Africa and one in political studies from the EHESS in Paris.

Cire Dye Ba
Executive Director, CIRTECH-CTC

Cire Ba has over six years of experience in political consulting. After the completion of his master’s degree in management studies from the Bordeaux Management School, he began his professional career in the management of development projects before specializing in public communications. His experience led him to work for nongovernmental organizations and governments. In order to acquire state of the art skills to cater to his clients, he took a professional development hiatus that led him to the Al Jazeera Training Center, Decker Communications, and Harvard University. Ba currently works as an advisor to numerous African statesmen and politicians on political strategy and public policy. He has managed over 20 victorious campaigns. Very active in the volunteering field, he is also the outgoing curator of the Dakar Hub of Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum and is a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alum.

Khadijetou Ba
Founding Member, Leadership-Ethics-Governance and Strategies for Africa

Khadijetou Ba is a citizen activist passionate about pan-Africanism and governance. She is a founding member of Leadership-Ethics-Governance and Strategies for Africa (LEGS-AFRICA), a Senegal-based CSO that promotes leadership qualities for Africans and a thinking model based on African values and principles. She is also the Mauritanian chapter head of Africa 2.0, a community of more than 2,000 young leaders across the continent and diaspora, focused on capacity building and the promotion of entrepreneurship. In addition to her community work, Ba has worked on anti-corruption with GIZ in Mauritania, and on public financial management and accountability with the African Development Bank in Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire. She currently works in Nigeria on elections and youth political participation with the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement.

Dana Bekri
NATO Security Investment Program, NATO

Dana is a member of the International Staff of the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. She is currently working in resource management for the NATO Security Investment Program, reinforcing the delivery of common-funded Alliance capabilities. Prior to her position at NATO, Dana was working in community development for a Canadian public education institution managing an adult literacy program. She supported various community initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion, as well as the integration of new Canadians through government and civil society partnerships. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from Western University, and a master’s degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics. Her main areas of interest are public sector integrity and improving transparency and accountability through institutional capacity building.

Rukmani Bhatia
Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia

Rukmani currently serves as the special assistant to the assistant administrator for Europe & Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She previously served as the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Research Fellow at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security, where she published extensively on women’s political participation and economic empowerment. In 2014, she was selected as the inaugural The Hague Symposium Fellow for the International Peace & Security Institute, where she developed a four-week symposium focused on post-conflict transitions and international justice. She also worked with Vital Voices Global Partnership’s Human Rights team, aiding their efforts to end human trafficking. Rukmani helped develop best practices from Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and West Africa on how to create and implement programs that seek to combat child sex trafficking.

Adam Bouhadma
CEO, Education Media Company

Adam Bouhadma’s passion for technology led him to found 9rayti.com in 2008. The orientation and education platform is dedicated to students and attracts millions of visitors every year. Currently, Bouhadma is the head of Education Media Company, a startup working on the editing of educational websites. Bouhadma is also founder of anqabot, a tool used to audit any website, giving practical recommendations. In parallel, he is engaged in politics as a member of the left political movement: Clarté Ambition Courage, Member of Fédération de Gauche Démocratique in Morocco.

Harold Cardenas
Blogger and Project Manager, La Joven Cuba

Harold Cárdenas Lema is the founder of “La Joven Cuba” (The Young Cuba), a well-known blog platform for young people who want to exercise political participation in their country. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in political philosophy and a social sciences researcher. He has been a university lecturer and is often invited to social media workshops. In 2014, he became the first Cuban to be invited to the International Leadership Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists in the United States. Cárdenas Lema writes a weekly column on politics for the independent Dutch media El Toque and also writes for La Joven Cuba.

Karim Chbani
Investment Manager, SNI

Karim Chbani currently serves as an investment manager within the SNI investment fund in Morocco, where he is responsible for the structuring and execution of M&A transactions. He has participated in a dozen major cross-border transactions and ECM operations in Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa in the agribusiness, building materials and financial institutions sectors. He previously held the position of financial analyst with the Royal Bank of Scotland in London, where he was responsible for financing infrastructure investments on behalf of institutional clients. As former member of the Association of Moroccans in Grandes Ecoles (AMGE) in Paris, he co-founded the AMGE Alumni Association in Casablanca, of which he currently holds the chairman position. A graduate of the Ecole Centrale de Paris, he is an engineer of arts and manufactures. Karim also holds certificates in investments, issued by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (U.K.).

Emil Chireno
Attorney, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic

Emil is a Dominican attorney and the current executive director of the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic. Chireno was appointed by the President of the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernández, in 2013. He was elected by the General Assembly of the World Federation of United Nations Associations as member of the Executive Committee in 2015 to serve for 3 years. He has visited and worked in 12 countries with various international organizations including the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, and the Organization of American States. Chireno has been actively involved in the global consultations of the UN Post 2015 Agenda; he was an active participant in the Open Working Group of Sustainable Development Goals of the Economic and Social Council bringing the perspective the Dominican Society to the UN through a national consultation.

Julia Contrea
General Manager, European Network for Women in Leadership

Julia Contrea is a development, programs, and events specialist in the nonprofit and cultural sectors. Contrea is currently the general manager for the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL Europe). WIL is a platform for European women in senior management positions, aimed at leveraging their participation in leadership, by organizing high-level networking events that enable them to connect and exchange. Previously, she worked at the development department of the W.J. Clinton Foundation, and as programs manager for Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, where she overlooked the supervision of all programs dedicated to help women business owners increase their revenues and create new jobs. She has an extensive background organizing high-level events in the public and private sectors. She has a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s degree in political sciences from the University of Rennes, France. She also holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Baruch College, NY.

John Dionisio
Senior Investment Director, Meridiam

John M. Dionisio is currently a senior investment director at Meridiam, an investment firm that manages $5 billion of capital to invest in infrastructure projects and Public Private Partnership (“P3”) assets in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Recruited to Meridiam in 2005 as one of the firm’s founding members, Dionisio has served in leadership roles in both the United States and Europe spanning an array of responsibilities including financial analysis, project execution, business development, government relations, asset management, strategic fundraising, and corporate and finance activities. As an investment professional and project developer, he has played active roles in major P3s, including the Port of Miami Tunnel Project, the Long Beach Courthouse Project, the Purple Line Project in Maryland, and the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Redevelopment Project in New York. Dionisio currently serves as a staff member on the United States Investment Advisory Council which was created by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2016 and tasked with increasing Foreign Direct Investment into the United States. Outside of work, he serves as a board member at the Children’s Museum of the East End on Long Island, New York which focuses its outreach on creating stimulating learning experiences through interactive play. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and is a candidate for a master’s degree at Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Fitsum Girma
Foreign Service Officer, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Fitsum has been working at Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2012. Currently, he is working as a Foreign Service Officer in charge of the North African Countries in the office of the Directorate General of the African Affairs where he is in charge of managing and coordinating the bilateral relations of Ethiopia with North African countries. Prior to this, he was in charge of the West African Countries in the same office. While working in both positions, among others, he prepared and took part in seven different official visits led by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia to different African countries. He occasionally publishes articles on different subjects in local newspapers. Fitsum is among the young, intelligent, and hardworking generation of Foreign Service Officers at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are expected to play crucial role in shaping and executing the foreign policy of this ancient key African State. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Wollega University in 2012 with a great distinction. He obtained a one year long intensive training on Diplomacy and International Relations at the Ethiopian Foreign Service Training Institute. He also took part in different seminars, conferences and attended different courses both at home and abroad. Fitsum lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Jessica Gottsleben
#ILookLikeAPolitician Ambassador, Running Start

Jessica Gottsleben, Ambassador, Running Start: Bringing Young Women to Politics
Jessica Gottsleben is the first-ever elected ambassador of Running Start, a nonprofit organization that trains young women to run for elected office. In 2016, Gottsleben was honored at the 10th annual Young Women to Watch Awards in Washington, DC as the national Political Rising Star award recipient. Gottsleben is a 2016 graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, and a 2014 inductee to the Order of Pegasus, the most prestigious and significant award attainable at the University of Central Florida, from which she holds two bachelor’s degrees with honors in radio and television broadcast journalism and political science, and a leadership studies certificate. She previously served as a UNESCO delegate on climate change, as a multimedia journalist and director, as a fellow on global peace and security, and most recently as a U.S. Congressional fellow on interdisciplinary policy and constitutional law.

Pedro Guerra
Special Advisor to the Governor of the State of São Paulo

Pedro Guerra is special advisor to the São Paulo State Governor since 2013. In this position, he makes contact with São Paulo state’s secretaries, enterprises’ CEOs, national, state-level and local representatives, and mayors in order to provide summarized information and analysis to support the governor’s actions and policies. Guerra has a bachelor’s degree in law from the Escola de Direito de São Paulo of Getulio Vargas Foundation (2011) and a master’s degree in public administration and government, with distinction, at Escola de Administração de Empresas of Getulio Vargas Foundation (2014). His experiences include being editorial assistant of Cadernos Gestão Pública e Cidadania journal (2013) and researcher, having assisted three research projects: the PAC 1 – Growth Acceleration Program of the federal government (2012-13), a project on the case law of the Brazilian Supreme Court (2012), and a case study of the federal controller general in Brazil (2011).

Khaled Igue
Head of Public and Institutional Partnerships, OCP Africa

Khaled holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Sciences Po Paris, an M.A. in Economics and Management from the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and Engineer of the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Strasbourg. Igue joined OCP AFRICA as head of Public and Institutional Partnerships after an experience at EUROGROUP Consulting, a European leader in strategy and organization, and seven years of experience at AREVA, a leader in the energy industry. Igue is the founder and president of the think tank Club 2030 AFRIQUE which innovates in the field of ideas for a sustainable economic and social development of African countries. He specializes in energy, industrial, and economic issues. Khaled works with African governments and institutions for the development of structural models for social and economic emergence of the continent.

Soufiane Khebbaz
Program Assistant, Derb Ghaled Association for Development

Soufiane Khebbaz is a professor with the Ministry of Education and a program assistant with Derb Ghalef Association for Development. Khebbaz worked in the nonprofit community in Casablanca as an office manager and a program coordinator for the past six years. Khebbaz is a graduate of SIT Graduate Institute, a program of World Learning, where he received a master’s degree in intercultural service, leadership, and management. He was a Fulbright teacher assistant and participated in training for intercultural communication at Stanford University, and has recently joined a Ph.D. research program under the theme “The Intersection of Gender and Ethnic Identities in the Moroccan Tourism Industry.” He also participated in the International Visitors Leaders Program funded by the U.S. State Department and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is working on several articles and other projects that grapple with urban social change and its connections to larger political struggles and the remaking of material space.

Kelsey Lilley
Associate Director, Atlantic Council’s Africa Center

Kelsey is associate director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Her work focuses on emerging security threats and political developments across sub-Saharan Africa, in particular the Horn of Africa. Prior to the Atlantic Council, Lilley worked for the Society for International Development, where she offered operational and financial support to the membership-based international development organization. From 2012-13, she lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was a Princeton in Africa Fellow for the International Rescue Committee. While there, she contributed to proposals supporting more than 300,000 Somali, Eritrean, and South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia. Kelsey received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Davidson College.

Paola Maniga
Head of Development, Bruegel

Paola is head of development and member of the management team at Bruegel, the leading European think tank specializing in economics, where she in charge of expanding the membership program and developing new funding channels. She was previously development manager in the organization. Before joining Bruegel, she was secretary general of the European Association of Sugar Traders and Trade Policy Advisor for the associations representing international trade in flowers and European Union imports of processed agriculture and fishery products. Prior to this, she spent a short period in some international institutions including the EU Commission, the World Trade Organization, and UNCTAD, working on international trade issues. Paola holds two master degrees, in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics and in Management from Bocconi University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture and Communication.

Carlos Gerardo Martinez Gonzalez
Dean Campus Nuevo Laredo, Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores – IIES Universidad

Carlos Gerardo Martínez González is the dean and founder of the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores Campus Nuevo Laredo, a private university in the border between Mexico and the United States that promotes the logistics competitiveness of North America. He has a master’s degree in Latin American studies by the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University and he studied law in the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. In his professional experience, he has been special advisor to the Mexican attorney general, international senior advisor to the Mexican Customs Brokers Association and president of Poldesa, a consultancy firm for political affairs for the Western Hemisphere. He is Substitute Mexican Customs Broker and international and national editorialist for El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo. For two years he was Washington chief correspondent for El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo. He was president of the Young Entrepreneur Commission of Coparmex in Nuevo Laredo and executive vice president of the Nuevo Laredo Customs Brokers Association. In his early years, he was president of Gente Nueva a group of young leaders that organize conferences promoting values and respect in society. The major achievement was to organize the visit of Edson Arantes Do Nascemento Pele to Nuevo Laredo that produce an important positive impact in young generations. His expertise topics are international politics, North American trade, education, and global affairs.

Mandisa Melaphi
African Heritage Research Project: Program Coordinator, Mandela Institute for Development Studies

Based at the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, Mandisa is a professional in the development space, with over five years of experience in program strategy and policy advocacy. Her focus area has primarily been on interrogating socioeconomic policy as it relates to young people, with a recent transition into African heritage research for the purpose of mainstreaming African heritage into the continents’ governance and development frameworks and institutions. She is the program’s coordinator for the African heritage research study project at MINDS and does freelance program work for nonprofit organizations, corporate, and entrepreneurial outfits. She was previously at the Centre for Development and Enterprise where her focus area was the socioeconomic and socio-psychological development implications of the education and employment policies as they relate to young people’s development and preparedness for change and leadership. Mandisa holds degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Lea Metke
Program Officer to the Director, French Institute of International Relations (Ifri)

Holding a master’s degree in European studies and a bachelor’s degree in European studies and applied foreign languages from Sorbonne University, Lea Metke joined Ifri in 2014 as a project officer for the Study Committee on French–German Relations (Cerfa). She has been in charge of the partnership between Ifri and OCP Policy Center since 2014. The cooperation between both institutions aims at a large spectrum of research including regional and cross-sectional thematics and is based on two pillars: the organization of conferences and the publication of policy-oriented papers. Since January 2016, Metke is project officer to the director of Ifri, where she is particularly involved in activities with Ifri’s public and private partners and the development of Ifri’s think tank network. She teaches Franco–German relations: between reconciliation, partnership, and crisis at Sciences Po Paris.

Naakoshie Mills
African Union and Multilateral Affairs Officer, Department of State

Naakoshie Mills is the African Union and multilateral affairs officer, where she is the desk officer for the U.S. Mission to the AU and coordinates non-Africa partner engagement for the Bureau of African Affairs. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2015, Mills worked at Meridian International Center, promoting the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program as a program associate and intern coordinator. She has also worked on projects with the Transatlantic Inclusion Leadership Network, l’Agence Française de Développement, as well as fellowships in Africare, the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She holds a dual master’s degree from Columbia and Sciences Po Universities in international and public affairs. She is a 2013 Charles Rangel International Affairs Fellow and a 2012-2013 U.S. Fulbright Research Grantee. She is proficient in Spanish, Amharic, and French.

Kiron Neale
DPhil (PhD) Researcher, University of Oxford

Kiron is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom working on his PhD that looks at residential solar energy transitions in Small Islands States. His work specifically explores the role of culture in energy transitions away from conventional fossil fuel usage and how this relates to residential solar energy policies and technologies. Prior to his current doctoral studies, Kiron completed Oxford’s MSc in Environmental Change and Management. He is a geography and environmental graduate of Trinidad’s University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and is also a student exchange alumni of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Professionally, Kiron has some policy experience having worked with the Environmental Policy and Planning Division as well as Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and industrial experience having worked in both ammonia and methanol production.

Mary-Jean Nleya
Visiting Researcher, Center for Socio-Legal Studies

Mary-Jean is a freelance writer and was most recently the senior editor for the Harvard Africa Policy Journal. She is currently a visiting researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford particularly researching the media’s representation of Africa and the impact this has on the continent’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. She has a keen interest in the intersection between law, the media, and economic development. Previously, Mary-Jean was an intern, and later a contractor, at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. In 2015, she was selected as one of Africa’s 100 brightest young minds by Brightest Young Minds, South Africa. Mary-Jean is a One Young World Ambassador and holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a LL.B. (cum laude) from the University Of Pretoria, South Africa.

Soha Nouh Tarek
Journalist and Media Trainer, DW Akademie

Soha is an Egyptian journalist who started her professional career nine years ago while she was studying at Faculty of Law (French section). She started her career as a reporter in many local newspapers, and later started working in Gulf newspapers, where she gained experience and became specialized in writing political and cultural reports, as well as covering women and youth related issues. She started working for Deutsche Welle Akademie in 2014 as a journalistic trainer and a supervisor for a project entitled Women Voices. The project aims to prepare recently graduated professionals for a career in media. Soha has completed various courses in journalism and politics through global news agencies and universities, such as Reuters, International Center of Journalism in Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Peace in Costa Rica.

Parfait Ouattara
CEO, TaxiJet

Parfait Ouattara attended the University of Cocody, receiving a postgraduate degree in mathematics and computer science. After graduating school, he founded his own application development company. This experience led him to be recruited by PwC as senior auditor IT. Ouattara later integrated the TaxiJet team as CTO and CEO on April 2016.

Leonardo Párraga
Executive Director, The BogotArt Foundation

Leonardo is a Colombian activist who is passionate about community empowerment and social justice. He is the founder and director of the BogotArt Foundation, an organization established with the aim of promoting a more democratic art and cultural scene in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Journalism from University of the Andes and has a specialization in entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland. Leonardo and his team use art to transform marginalized neighborhoods into cultural hubs. Due to its contribution to social inclusion management in today’s cities, BogotArt was recognized during the UN-Habitat 2014 World Cities Days as an important organization which brings youth perspectives to the spotlight. He is also the co-founder of the Dialogue of the Curious, a global initiative to promote intercultural understanding and communication through the interaction of youth from different countries and life experiences.

Anand Reddi
Manager, Health Systems Strengthening, Gilead Sciences Inc.

Anand Reddi is a global health specialist at Gilead Sciences, Inc., a major multinational biotechnology company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines. At Gilead, Reddi focuses on catalyzing HIV and viral hepatitis health systems strengthening initiatives as well as innovative health financing for resource limited settings in Africa and Asia. Prior to Gilead, Reddi was a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. His Fulbright research demonstrated the benefits of decentralized models of care on antiretroviral treatment outcomes despite the challenges of a healthcare limited setting. Reddi has also been active in U.S. global health policy issues. In the summer of 2010, his writings and advocacy directly challenged the Obama administration’s flat lining of global HIV treatment funds resulting in the restoration of $366 million for HIV treatment in Uganda. Reddi is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and he studied medicine at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine.

Clarissa Rios Rojas
Founder and Director, Ekpapalek

Clarissa is an experienced researcher and scientist with more than ten years of experience in conducting multilateral scientific projects and publishing scientific articles in the areas of biomedicine and molecular biology. She studied in Peru, Finland, and Sweden. She has recently finished her PhD in Australia. Clarissa is also passionate about social development, her vision is to empower Latin students and promote the social and economic development of Latin-American countries through education, science, and technology. Hence, she is the founder and director of the nonprofit Ekpapalek, which offers opportunity for professional development for students from impoverished backgrounds. She is also an advocate for gender equality, she is a United Nations Global Champion for women economic empowerment of the platform Empower women/UN Women.

Obajide Rotilu
Senior Cybersecurity Consultant, Deloitte Nigeria

Obajide is a senior consultant at Deloitte Nigeria. He also currently serves on the Deloitte West Africa Strategy team. He is a seasoned management consultant and a subject-matter expert in cybersecurity. His daily work includes helping organizations transform their security process, implement cybersecurity strategy, and be better vigilant of cyberattacks. He is an associate of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium and also a member of ISACA. Obajide has a B.Eng from the prestigious Covenant University and a masters’ degree with Distinction from Queen Mary University of London. He is also an Alumni Ambassador for Queen Mary where he mentors and advises incoming students. Obajide is also a co-founder of the Meet-A-Need-Today Foundation.

Benjamin Schmitt
European Energy Security Advisor, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State

Benjamin is currently a European energy security and science and technology policy advisor for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR), where he is also serving as the current IEEE Department of State Science and Technology Policy Fellow. In his role at the State Department, Schmitt serves as the team lead for European energy security and diplomacy engagement in the Northern European region, drawing on his hard science and technology background, performed on all four continents of the Atlantic rim, to develop and implement novel policy strategies for the advancement of joint U.S. and EU shared priorities at the intersection of energy and security geopolitics, directly advising senior administration officials from the State Department and the White House National Security Council, among others across the U.S. Government.

Previously, Schmitt served as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow while pursuing masters and doctoral-level research in physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on experimental cosmology research. While at Penn, Benjamin’s research primarily concentrated on the development of novel millimeter-wavelength imaging technologies framed through the design and integration of ACTPol, a polarization-sensitive receiver upgrade for the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, located at over 5,190 meters in elevation on an extinct stratovolcano in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where Schmitt led field deployment operations over a several year period. Benjamin’s ACTPol research was also supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. Schmitt has also previously served as a U.S. Fulbright Research Fellow to the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and before that served as an X-Ray Diagnostics Researcher focusing on inertial confinement fusion research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern German Languages and Cultures, and Mathematics.

Pedro Seabra
Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellow, German Institute of Global and Area Studies

Pedro is a Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg as well as a non-resident researcher at the Center for International Studies, University Institute of Lisbon (CEI-IUL). He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (ICS, ULisboa) and a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations by the School of Social and Human Sciences, New University of Lisbon (FCSH-UNL). Between 2013 and 2016, he held visiting researcher positions at the Institute of International Relations-University of Brasília (IREL-UnB), at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, University of Pretoria (GovInn-UP), and at ICS, ULisboa. Previously, Pedro worked as a researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS). His research interests and publications focus on regional security governance, South Atlantic geopolitics and capacity-building provision in Africa.

Nisrine Tahri
Project Manager, Enpact

Nisrine Tahri is the founder X-large, a digital and communication agency based in Technopark Rabat. She is also the founder of a nongovernmental organization that aims to solve the educational problems in Morocco. After having participated in Enpact’s mentorship program, a German nonprofit organization with the aim of strengthening economic relations between young entrepreneurs from the start-up scenes of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, she is engaged with the organization as the country coordinator of Morocco. Tahri is also part of the startupyourlife initiative, a group of young Moroccan entrepreneurs who aim to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Morocco.

Selassie Tay
Founder and Director, Tongu Youth Agenda for Development

Selassie is a young microfinance expert with over eight years work experience in the micro finance and nonprofit sector, mainly in management and leadership roles. He currently works as the WASH National Commercial Operations Manager for iDE Ghana where he serves as a key member of the leadership team establishing a sanitation social enterprise to sell affordable, gender-sensitive household toilets in Ghana’s three Northern regions. He has worked to build a sanitation financing product, model, and channels to help poor households access finance to buy toilets. He founded Tongu Youth Agenda for Development, a youth-led nongovernmental organization dedicated to developing and empowering youths and women economically through education, entrepreneurship, and microfinance. Through this organization, Selassie trained 20 young women in fashion design and tailoring, and dreams of establishing a community school of entrepreneurship that will train and resource the next generation of female entrepreneurs from the bottom up.

Huw Thomas
Electricity Demand Analyst, National Grid Plc.

Huw Thomas is an energy industry professional with over 5 years’ experience. He currently works as an electricity demand analyst at National Grid, one of the world’s biggest electricity companies. Through his work, he influences Government policy on energy and climate change and informs businesses around the UK of market and society trends. In his previous role within the company, he coordinated the development of major electricity transmission projects throughout the country as an Investment Delivery Engineer.
Previously, Huw co-founded sports nutrition company fuelit.co.uk, which educates endurance athletes about sports science and assists them in finding the most suitable nutritional products for their needs, from companies worldwide.
During his Masters in Sustainable Energy Systems in Edinburgh, Huw co-founded SCENE, a Scottish renewable energy social enterprise which is today continuing to deliver strong support to communities in Europe, Asia and South America.
This year, Huw co-organized Europe’s largest ever Effective Altruism conference, to help people across the world understand how to do good better.
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Merel Wackwitz
Government & Regulatory Affairs Executive, IBM

Merel is a government and regulatory affairs executive at IBM Europe, based in Brussels. Prior to this role she worked as a strategy and change consultant in IBM’s Global Business Services division. Before joining IBM, Merel worked as an assistant to Vice-president Neelie Kroes, the former commissioner for the digital agenda at the European Commission. Before this she also worked for six months in the Political & Trade department at the European Union delegation to Israel. She holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University College of Utrecht, and a master’s degree in European Studies from Kings College London.

Leonie Willenbrink
MSc Candidate, London School of Economics

Leonie Willenbrink is a candidate for a master’s of science in development studies at the London School of Economics. As a Rotary Global Grant scholar she focuses on economic development policy and governance. She previously worked at the World Bank as an operations analyst consultant. In this capacity, she worked in crime and violence prevention projects in Central America and peace building efforts in Colombia. Prior to joining the World Bank, she was a research assistant at the Transatlantic Academy and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Washington, DC. She was also a GIZ fellow in the nongovernmental organization Ciudad Saludable in Lima, Peru. Willenbrink earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and conflict studies from the University College Maastricht in the Netherlands. She speaks fluent German, English, and Spanish.