Our Founder

Center for Civilians in Conflict was founded as Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) in 2003 by Marla Ruzicka, a young activist and humanitarian who realized the need for an organization focused on civilian victims in conflict.

After war broke out in 2001, Marla traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She arrived in Kabul only a few days after the Taliban were removed from power. She noted that no one, including the US military, was keeping count or helping civilians unintentionally harmed in Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a new war in Iraq unfolded, Marla moved to Baghdad. After organizing a door-to-door survey of the Iraqi people, she took her results to Washington. Working with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marla helped create the first-ever US-funded aid programs dedicated specifically to helping rebuild the lives of civilians unintentionally harmed by US combat operations and the program in Iraq is named in her honor. To date, the Center has helped secure more than $200 million for programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

In April 2005, Marla was killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad, while advocating for civilian war victims. Ten years later, Center for Civilians in Conflict continues to build on her extraordinary legacy.