Our Staff

Bénédicte aboul-nasr | PROGRAM ASSOCIATE, AFRICA

Bénédicte is the Program Associate for Africa and Peacekeeping, bringing research and support to ensure smooth facilitation of both programs. Prior to joining CIVIC, she worked with UNHCR and the British Red Cross, where she assisted asylum-seekers and refugees. She holds an LLM in Public International Law (Merit) from Queen Mary, University of London and previously studied Law at the Université Toulouse I-Capitole and at King’s College London. She specialized in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, and the interaction between armed conflict and natural resources.

CHRISTOPHER ALLBRITTON | MANAGER, COMMUNICATIONS

Christopher Allbritton is the communications manager at Center for Civilians in Conflict. He joined CIVIC after more than 25 years in journalism, reporting from conflict zones such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Pakistan. His work has appeared around the world in TIME, New York Magazine, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the New York Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Der Spiegel, among others. As bureau chief for Reuters in Pakistan, he oversaw the coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden and broke stories on the plight of civilians caught in the war between militants and the Pakistani military.

Chris also started the award-winning blog, Back-to-Iraq.com, in 2002, which helped start the now-common crowd-funding model for quality journalism. Chris specializes in writing, editing, and photography and holds an MS in Journalism from Columbia University in New York and a BA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 2008-9, he was awarded a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellowship.

David Azutoru | Program Officer, MILITARY TRAINING IN Northeast Nigeria 

David Azutoru is an experienced facilitator in Peace Support Operation courses with subject matter expertise in the protection of civilians, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform, governance, diplomacy for peace and security, civil-military cooperation, and international humanitarian law. He has nine years of experience in programs and training and has trained military, police, and civilians in Italy, Sweden, Kenya, and Egypt. He has developed and facilitated courses for the UN, AU and ECOWAS sponsored courses. He holds a BS in Accounting and a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the National Open University of Nigeria. Prior to joining CIVIC, David was the lead facilitator at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji, Kaduna.

Anysa BadrAn | ASSISTANT, PROGRAMS

Anysa is the Program Assistant at CIVIC, where she supports various teams as well as the Executive Director. Prior to joining CIVIC, she worked at TalentNomics, Inc., working to close the gender pay gap and grow the pool of women leaders worldwide. She studied social sciences at Sciences Po in Paris, and holds a BA in International Affairs, with a concentration in Contemporary Cultures and Societies, from George Washington University.

Shannyn Ball | INTERN

Shannyn Ball is the Development and Advocacy Intern at CIVIC, where she supports the Development Team in its efforts to grow institutional and individual support. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in International Affairs: Global Governance, Politics, and Security at American University with a concentration in security and will graduate in May 2017. Shannyn received her BA in Political Science from Adelphi University (magna cum laude), while working as an intern research assistant in the Constituency Affairs Department for the Suffolk County Executive in New York. She specializes in human security, post-conflict security, and humanitarian intervention.

Chidi Blyden Rowe | Director, Africa

Chidi Blyden Rowe is responsible for strategy, growth, and implementation of CIVIC’s Africa portfolio. She recently served as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for African Affairs in the Office of Secretary for Defense for Policy. In this capacity, she served as the Regional Director for East and Central Africa and the Africa Peacekeeping Advisor to the office of Stability and Humanitarian Affairs. Prior to her appointment in the Obama Administration, she was the Academic Operations Coordinator at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), providing strategic leadership in the business and administrative operations of the Academic Dean’s Office. From 2007–2011 she served as an Academic Associate at ACSS—researching East and Southern Africa and developing academic material for programs on counter-terrorism, defense economics, conflict management, security studies and civil-military relations amongst Africa’s security sector. From 2004–2007, she was the Program Coordinator at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and supported arts advocacy efforts through the development of early childhood and adolescent programs. She is an alumni of Texas A&M University (BS-Sociology), and George Mason University (MS -Conflict Analysis and Resolution).

Federico Borello | Executive Director

Federico Borello is the Executive Director of Center for Civilians in Conflict as of July 2014. He brings to the team more than fifteen years of experience working on human rights and international justice issues. Federico previously served as Director of Investments at Humanity United where he managed the International Justice and the Democratic Republic of Congo portfolios. Prior to this, he worked with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). Federico holds a law degree from the University of Milan, where he graduated magna cum laude. He also earned a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York. Read Federico’s full bio here.

Evan Cinq-Mars | Advocate & Policy Advisor, UNITED NATIONS

Evan Cinq-Mars is the United Nations Advocate and Policy Advisor for the Center for Civilians in Conflict based in New York City. He brings more than five years experience as an advocacy and policy specialist on the prevention of mass atrocity crimes and the protection of civilians. His work has included on-the-ground engagement with UN peace operations in the Central African Republic and Mali to enhance the protection of civilians. Prior to joining CIVIC, Evan worked with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy. 

Evan holds an MA in Global Governance, specializing in Conflict and Security, from the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management degree from the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

EMILY ERFANI | MANAGER, OPERATIONS

Emily brings years of experience in non-profit management. She supported CARE USA’s Policy and Advocacy efforts, including a temporary assignment in Afghanistan to write a series of policy briefs focused on the health and legal rights of women and girls. Emily speaks French and holds a BA in Political Science from the University of the Pacific.

Alexis Fessatidis | INTERN

Alexis Fessatidis is the UN Advocacy and Policy Intern. She is a recent graduate from Boston College with a BA in International Studies. Prior to joining CIVIC, she interned at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations where she supported the team responsible for providing guidance to the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. She also has experience in the nonprofit sector, including at Bottomless Closet, an organization devoted to helping underprivileged women, where she was the Office Manager.

Kevin George | INTERN

Kevin is a Policy and Advocacy Intern at CIVIC. He is pursuing an MA in Conflict Transformation at Eastern Mennonite University and will graduate in April 2017. Kevin has volunteered for several non-profits including a Tennessee-based domestic violence agency, Abuse Alternatives Incorporated. He is a Rotary Skelton/Jones Scholar and holds a BA in History and International Studies from Nigeria’s University of Uyo, and an MA in History from East Tennessee State University. Kevin specializes in African regional integration, peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

ALISON GIFFEN | Director, Peacekeeping Program

Alison is the Director of CIVIC’s Peacekeeping Program. Prior to joining CIVIC, she served as the Senior Advisor for UN Peacekeeping with the US State Department’s International Organizations Affairs Bureau where she contributed to the drafting of the 2015 Presidential Policy Memorandum on U.S. Support to UN Peace Operations, and facilitated its implementation across the US government. From 2009-15, she was a senior associate at the Stimson Center, where she co-directed the Future of Peace Operations Program and founded the Protecting Civilians in Conflict project. While at Stimson, she traveled often to undertake independent and UN-commissioned reviews of UN peace operations. Alison has also worked for Oxfam GB in Sudan, monitoring peacekeeping operations and coordinating NGO policy and advocacy initiatives; worked at the Open Society Institute to promote constructive US global engagement in multilateral forums; and worked on human rights and international humanitarian law in Sierra Leone and Colombia. Alison earned a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College.

JESSICA GINTHER | SENIOR DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS

Jessica Ginther is Center for Civilians in Conflict’s new Director of Operations and has more than 15 years of financial, program, and management experience working in a variety of industries, national and international, nonprofit and for-profit. At her most recent position as the Chief Business Officer within the IT Department at Amtrak, she developed an innovative organization focused on increased efficiencies in processes and tools for improved program implementation. Her prior experiences include financial consulting, grant, cooperative agreement and contract proposal development and auditing.

Jessica began her career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia where she lived and worked with small, indigenous communities as a Micro-Enterprise development volunteer. She is fluent in Spanish and English and has lived and worked in Bolivia, Egypt, and El Salvador. She studied Accounting and Business Administration as an undergraduate at Ohio Dominican University and received her MBA from George Washington University. She currently resides with her husband and two sons in Alexandria, Va.

MARLA KEENAN | SENIOR DIRECTOR, PROGRAMS

Marla Keenan is Director of Programs at Center for Civilians in Conflict and is a subject matter expert on civilian harm mitigation, civilian casualty tracking mechanisms and consequence management of civilian casualties. She is a Truman Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project. Marla has trained military officers at several advanced schools and staff colleges. In addition to her work with the military, Marla helps shape CIVIC’s programs in conflict zones and oversees operational aspects of the organization. Since joining the organization in October 2005, she has managed programs and research in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Lebanon, Mali, Israel, Jordan, Nepal, Georgia, and the Central African Republic. Prior to joining CIVIC, Marla was an Edward Rawson Fellow at Citizens for Global Solutions, working on US global engagement on issues as varied as the conflict in Darfur to Avian Influenza. A former management consultant, Marla has held senior communications and marketing positions with a range of private sector organizations.

Marla holds an MSc in Public Policy and Management with a concentration in policy analysis and international policy from the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management at Carnegie Mellon University and earned her Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Arizona. To view Marla’s Media Bio click here.

DANIEL R. MAHANTY | SENIOR ADVISOR, US PROGRAM

As the Senior Advisor for CIVIC's U.S. Program, Dan engages U.S. policymakers to promote the adoption of policies and practices that enhance the protection of civilians in conflict, including through international security cooperation and assistance. Dan also helps raise awareness of CIVIC's impact and accomplishments among government officials and other public constituencies in the United States. Prior to joining CIVIC, Dan spent 16 years at the U.S. Department of State. In 2012, he created and led the Office of Security and Human Rights in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In this role, he oversaw efforts to integrate human rights in U.S. security assistance and arms sales, advance the prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers, and promote policies related to protecting civilians in conflict. As an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University, he also designed the course "Human Rights and U.S. National Security" for the Center for Security Studies, which he taught for three years with his wife, Kristen.

Dan holds a Masters from Georgetown in U.S. National Security Policy and a Bachelors in Economics from George Mason University. He is a Colin L. Powell Fellow, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Truman National Security Fellow, and served on the board of advisors for the NGO, "Women LEAD Nepal". He is originally from Greeley, Colo.

HADI MARIFAT | PROGRAM OFFICER, AFGHANISTAN

Hadi was born in Afghanistan and studied Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK. He did his Master's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies with the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, in The Netherlands. Hadi has worked as a director of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, researcher with Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Associate with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Regional Election Coordinator with the Afghanistan Joint Electoral Management Body and advisor with the Save Children Alliance in Afghanistan.

LEE MCCLURE | MANAGER, DEVELOPMENT (GOVERNMENTS & FOUNDATIONS)

Lee joined CIVIC as the Development Manager in 2016 to grow our institutional support. He brings seven years experience in fundraising for international anti-slavery and other human rights programs and a deep commitment to serving the most vulnerable and marginalized people. He also has experience in program design and strategic planning. Out of the office, he’s usually found riding or tinkering with his bicycles.

JOSEPH MORSE | SENIOR MILITARY ADVISOR

As the Senior Military Advisor, Jay brings more than twenty years of active duty military experience as both an Army aviator and, for the last fifteen years, an Army Judge Advocate. His areas of expertise include the Law of Armed Conflict, IHL/IHRL, and investigations. He has professional and personal experience in more than fifty countries. Jay is a native of Nevada and is a graduate of The Colorado College with a BA in political science. He earned his JD from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, and an LL.M. from the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School.

SAHR MUHAMMEDALLY | DIRECTOR, MENA & SOUTH ASIA

Sahr manages CIVIC’s work on civilian protection and harm mitigation in the Middle East and Asia as well as US counterterrorism policies. In this position, Sahr also advises militaries and governments on harm mitigation policies and training. Sahr has worked for over a decade in the fields of armed conflict, human rights, and counterterrorism in Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Syria. Prior to joining CIVIC, Sahr was a consultant with Human Rights Watch working on South Asia and Southeast Asia and was the 2004-2005 Alan R. Finberg Fellow. From 2007-2009, Sahr was a Senior Associate at Human Rights First and undertook research and advocacy on US counterterrorism practices and policies.

Sahr practiced law in New York with Gibbons PC and has been a consultant to the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights in China, and the International Rescue Committee. Sahr is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Brooklyn Law School (cum laude).

Chitra Nagarajan | SENIOR ADVISOR, NORTHEAST NIGERIA

Chitra Nagarajan is the Senior Advisor leading CIVIC's programs in Borno, North East Nigeria supporting civil-military relations, training, research, and advocacy to prevent and address civilian harm in the ongoing conflict. Chitra has specialist knowledge and experience of peace and security, gender, and human rights and humanitarian law having spent almost 15 years working in programming, policy and advocacy, including in China, Guinea, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Sierra Leone. Prior to joining CIVIC, Chitra worked for the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, Gender Action for Peace and Security, International Alert and UNIFEM (now UN Women). Chitra has a LLM (Distinction) in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and is currently completing a MSc in Social Research Skills from the University of Ulster.

Saman Omar | PROGRAM OFFICER, IRAQ

Saman Omar is Program Officer for Center for Civilians in Conflict in Erbil, Iraq. In this role, he is leading advocacy with the Kurdish government and training with Peshmerga forces.  Prior to joining CIVIC, Saman worked as the Director of the Language Center at Salahaddin University-Erbil, worked for USAID in Iraq, and was the Director General of the Emergency and Disaster Coordination Center of Kurdistan Regional Government. Saman has a PhD in Modern American Literature and worked in academia for 13 years.

MIKHAELA PAYDEN-TRAVERS | MANAGER, DEVELOPMENT (INDIVIDUAL & CORPORATE GIVING)

Mika serves as CIVIC’s Development Officer, ensuring that CIVIC supporters see the vital work being done on behalf of civilians that their support makes possible. Mika brings to CIVIC over a decade of experience working as a fundraising professional for grassroots nonprofits across the United States and Latin America. She has also worked in nonprofit administration, program design and evaluation, strategic planning, and community organizing--often all at the same time!

Mika holds a BA in English Literature from the College of William & Mary and a Master's in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. She is also fluent in Spanish, loves rescuing street dogs, and is passionate about human rights.

SADEEQ GARBA SHEHU | SENIOR MILITARY ADVISOR, Nigeria & LAKE CHAD Basin REGION

Sadeeq Shehu manages CIVIC’s Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin program. Sadeeq is a retired Group Captain (Colonel equivalent) with the Nigerian Air Force, and has more than 20 years of experience and field deployments to 50 African countries as a security expert with experience in African peace and conflict, protection of civilians, international humanitarian law, human rights law in military operations, international refugee law, countering violent extremism, humanitarian diplomacy, security sector reform, peacekeeping operations, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, weapons systems, and training of military and security forces.

Sadeeq is a UK British Chevening Scholar, a graduate of the University of Bradford African Peace and Conflict Studies, the French École de Guerre Paris, holds an IFRC Diploma in Humanitarian Diplomacy, and has worked with the African Union Commission, African Union/ECOWAS Africa-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), and as a Volunteer Facilitator on Law of Armed Conflict with the ICRC in Nigeria and other places. Sadeeq speaks English, French, Hausa, and understands German, Portuguese, Arabic, and Amharic.

Lauren Spink | Advisor, PEACEKEEPING

Lauren works on the Peacekeeping program at CIVIC and is based in East Africa. She brings to CIVIC four years of experience in refugee resettlement, primarily within sub-Saharan Africa, where she was deployed to UNHCR offices throughout the continent to interview civilians fleeing conflict. Lauren has worked as a researcher for the World Peace Foundation, Conflict Dynamics International, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Humanitarian Evidence Program at the Feinstein International Center. She has also worked as a procurement manager for security sector reform programs in East Africa.

Lauren holds a BA from American University in International Relations (magna cum laude) and an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she studied Human Security and Migration (magna cum laude).