Talent Beyond Boundaries was founded by Mary Louise Cohen, Bruce Cohen, and Gillian Sorensen while they were Fellows at the 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, a program designed to enhance the ability of accomplished leaders to help solve significant social problems.
MARY LOUISE COHEN, FOUNDER, BOard member
Mary Louise is a founding partner of Phillips & Cohen LLP and has represented whistleblowers for more than 25 years in lawsuits brought to remedy fraud against the United States. Her firm has recovered more than $11 billion for state and federal governments in cases filed under the False Claims Act. In 2007, Mary Louise and singer Angelique Kidjo created the Batonga Foundation to support secondary education for girls in Africa. In 2010, together with Dr. Aziza Shad, she founded the Aslan Project to improve survival rates for children with cancer in the developing world. Mary Louise graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bruce Cohen, Founder, board member
Bruce served as a top lawyer in the Senate for almost two decades working for Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. As Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he coordinated the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee and worked with his Republican counterparts, Senate leadership, the House, and the administrations of Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. Matters within the jurisdiction of the Committee included nominations of Supreme Court justices and other Federal judicial and top-ranking executive branch nominees; national security matters, including the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, civil rights matters including the Voting Rights Act and hate crimes legislation, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act; intellectual property laws, including patent law reform, privacy protection, antitrust, business competition and consumer protection laws; federal law enforcement and assistance to state and local law enforcement; and oversight of various federal government activities. Bruce graduated from Stanford University, and from the University of California Berkeley, school of law where he was editor-in-chief of The California Law Review.
GILLIAN SORENSEN, FOUNDER
Gillian has had a long career with the United Nations serving as Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations on appointment by both Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. She was responsible for outreach to non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, the academic world, religious leaders and groups committed to peace, justice, development and human rights. She also served as National Advocate/Senior Adviser to the United Nations Foundation. She is currently a Board member of the International Rescue Committee, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, the Women's Foreign Policy Group and the Women's Forum. Gillian is a graduate of Smith College and studied at the Sorbonne.
Sayre Nyce, Executive Director
Sayre has an extensive background working on refugee response with the UN and non-profit organizations, including the International Rescue Committee and Refugees International. She also served as the Regional Operations Officer for the UN Refugee Agency in Jordan and Lebanon during the Iraq and Syria refugee crises. In that role she launched the first UNHCR Data Analysis Group, an innovative approach to regional data analysis and reporting. Sayre has worked to improve refugee policy and operations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. She has a B.A. in Psychology and French from St. Olaf College and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University.
GARY SLAIMAN, CORPORATE OUTREACH ADVISOR
Gary is a partner at Morgan Lewis, focusing on legislative matters as well as representing clients subject to congressional oversight and investigations. He works on issues before congressional committees and commissions, including telecommunications, antitrust, financial services, litigation reform, environment, energy, consumer protection, intellectual property, cyber, transportation, pharmaceuticals, and food. Gary’s practice is focused on the House and Senate Judiciary committees, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Senate Commerce Committee. Gary served as chief counsel and staff director for the US Senate Labor and Human Resources Subcommittee on Labor. He serves as the chair of the Subcommittee on Innovations for Migrant and Refugee Access to Labor Markets for the Business Mechanism of the Global Forum for Migration and Development. Gary works with Talent Beyond Boundaries on a pro bono basis.
John cameron, chief technology officer, board member
John is one of the pioneers of electronic trading. He was a member of the team that wrote one of the world's first fully automated trading systems (SEATS) for the Australian Stock Exchange, which ran for almost 20 years. He led the team that wrote one of the world's first fully automated options trading systems (OATS) for ASX. In 1997, John saw his product CameronFIX become the world's number one FIX solution. He sold his company, Cameron Systems, to Orc Software in 2006, and served as CTO for three years. John joined the board of IRESS in 2010 and was elected to the board of FIX where he served until 2013. He is founder and director of the Cameron Foundation which supports initiatives in the areas of health, education, human rights and disaster relief. John works with Talent Beyond Boundaries on a pro bono basis.
Laura Schrier, Regional Program Manager
Laura has a background in grassroots peace building and social justice initiatives in the US, Middle East, and Latin America. She has experience working with a variety of nonprofits on refugee advocacy and program implementation, including refugee resettlement, youth empowerment initiatives, and educational programming in refugee camps. She speaks Spanish and Arabic and holds a BA in Peace and Justice Studies and Arabic with a minor in Art from Tufts University.
RACHEL LAWRIE, CORPORATE OUTREACH manager
Rachel has worked with various non-profits in the Middle East focused on empowering marginalized groups through entrepreneurship and economic development. She has experience in vocational training, microfinance, and scaling small businesses. She speaks Arabic and majored in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Her studies focused on religion and women’s employment in the Middle East.
Madeline Holland, Project and outreach manager
Madeline has a background in refugee resettlement and immigrant integration initiatives. She previously served as the Manager of Development and Communications at the Cisneros Center for New Americans. She has directed educational programming for refugee youth in Boston, worked on labor market integration of resettled refugees with the International Rescue Committee, as well as led an undergraduate group in support of the Scholars at Risk network. She holds a BA in American History and Literature from Harvard University.
Haitham kukuhn, Jordan Project Manager
Haitham has been involved in managing and developing several social and political development programs such as Diwanieh public debates platforms, FADFED public polling and researching methodology and For9a.com education platform. Additionally, he co-founded Berlin's Arab Culture Club in 2012, a Berlin based initiative to bring better understanding among European youth around the challenges and conflicts faced in the MENA region. Since 2011, Haitham has focused his efforts and activism on creating opportunities for youth and breaking cycles of elitism surrounding existing opportunities. His work has engaged many decision and policy makers in Jordan in a dialogue with the Jordanian public that yielded in a stronger political engagement especially among youth.
Nabil Zantout, Lebanon Project Manager
Nabil studied Business Administration at the American University of Beirut. He then pursued a Masters in International Business at HULT International Business School. He has been active in the humanitarian and relief field for two years, managing the public relations and marketing for leading local NGOs. Nabil has been a member of the Lebanese Civil Defense for four years, trained in rescue, firefighting, and emergency medical services. He has engaged in multiple projects in the Lebanese community such as fundraising campaigns to provide a fire truck and ambulance to paramedic/fire stations.
Yosief Hiyabu, administrative manager
Yosief has worked with the UN, INGOs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for over 15 years assisting refugees, Eritrean returnees and Internally Displaced Persons. He has experience working in a variety of roles in Eritrea and the Horn of Africa, including Program Officer, Humanitarian Information Officer, Logistics Assistant and Admin. He has a BA in English Language and Literature from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
noura ismail, Strategy manager
Noura has spent her career working with various nonprofits and development finance institutions to promote inclusion and opportunity creation in the Middle East. She has served as part of Ashoka’s Social Financial Services team and a Kiva Fellow in Lebanon. She has also been deeply involved in projects for the development and future rebuilding of Syria as well as global initiatives for refugee integration, most recently leading a research study under the University of Oxford on refugee information access in Germany. She holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from the George Washington University and an MBA with focus in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Oxford.
STEPH COUSINS, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS Director, Australia
Steph Cousins has over 12 years of professional experience in human rights, humanitarian and development advocacy and leadership. She has led advocacy and external affairs teams at a number of non-profit organizations including Amnesty International Australia and Oxfam Australia. She has worked extensively on refugee policy issues and with refugee communities in Australia and globally. She has a Masters of Public and International Law, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Public Policy and Management (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Steph works with Talent Beyond Boundaries on a pro bono basis.
Julian Ginzo, Latin America Partnerships advisor
Julian is an Argentinian/Canadian professional with many years of international experience having worked in different countries (Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, Uganda and Malawi), at different companies (Bell Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank of Canada, Threeofus Inc, Expancom Inc., TCW/Latin America Equity Partners, Bates Worldwide), and with diverse sectors such as market research, advertising, consulting, telecommunications, information technology, agribusiness, government and non-governmental organizations. Julian holds a Bachelor in Advertising from the University of Belgrano, a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Social and Business Sciences, a Certificate in Finance & Management from the Argentinian Institute of Financial Executives, and a Certificate in Strategic Management from the University of Toronto. He speaks English, Spanish, and upper-intermediate French and Portuguese.
Taylor Henry meyer, advisor to strategic partnerships
Taylor is a vice president at PIMCO in the institutional client group. She is responsible for the strategic relationship with 20+ Fortune 500 corporations, overseeing investment strategy for $12 billion in assets under management. Previously, she was vice president of business development for a startup social media software company and worked in the economic and valuation services group at KPMG. She holds an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where she was the recipient of the Frederick S. Morton Leadership Award and received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She serves on the Advisory Board of Talent Beyond Boundaries, Class Agent for the Darden School of Business and holds leadership roles in her church community.
Katy Long, Policy Advisor
Katy is a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and also teaches for the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. Since completing her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 2009, she has held faculty positions at the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics, and the University of Edinburgh. Her first book, The Point of No Return: Refugees, Rights and Repatriation was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. Katy is also the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. She has worked extensively with policy-makers including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Migration Policy Institute, with a focus on labour mobility for refugees. She is engaged in furthering public understanding and engagement on migration issues, having published The Huddled Masses: Immigration and Inequality and speaking and writing for a number of media outlets including the BBC World Service, ITV Tonight, The Conversation, and openDemocracy.
Bonnie Wong, ADVISOR for Innovation and Technology
Bonnie is a vice president of global networks at Citi and works as part of the bank’s global digital payments team. Bonnie started her career in public finance at Siebert Brandford Shank, where she supported bond issuance and debt management for public issuers such as the City of New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Since 2013, she has worked with the MIT Global Startup Workshop to foster economic growth abroad, building skills-based programs and mentorship networks to support youth entrepreneurs and startups in Estonia, Morocco, and Bilbao. Bonnie graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, where she was a recipient of the Eva A. Mooar Prize for academic excellence in International Relations, and from MIT Sloan School of Management, where she was a recipient of the Sloan Social Impact Fellowship.
Alison khalaf, new york representative
Alison Khalaf most recently worked as the Director of Revenue and Claims at the New York City Department of Homeless Services, where she helped secure state and federal funding for the approximately $1 Billion spent annually to shelter approximately 60,000 people. Previously, Alison was a Senior Budget Analyst for the NYC Mayor's Office of Management and Budget. Alison studied Arabic in Beirut and in New York, and has traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa. Alison holds a BA in Psychology from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
Joel R. Charny is Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA. Before joining NRC to lead their fundraising and humanitarian advocacy work in the U.S., he was the Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice at InterAction. He was responsible for leading InterAction’s work on humanitarian response, which involves engaging with the U.S. government, the United Nations, and member non-governmental organizations on both practical and policy matters, including funding availability, impact and effectiveness, and reform efforts in the sector. Prior to joining InterAction, Mr. Charny was Vice President for Policy with Refugees International.
Alexandra Chen is a child protection and mental health specialist working with refugees in conflict and post-conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa. Alexandra graduated from Harvard University (A.B., A.M.), and has worked on child protection and trauma therapy projects in Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Ethiopia and Somalia, education and peace building in Lebanon and Iraq, and Islamic legal reform in Egypt. Most recently, she served as mental health and psychosocial advisor to the UN on the Syria crisis. Alexandra is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studying the impact of refugee trauma on children's brain architecture and cognitive functioning. Alexandra speaks 10 languages, including Chinese, Arabic, and French.
Iain Guest is the founder and Executive Director of the Advocacy Project. Iain has an extensive background working with civil society in countries in conflict. He was a Geneva-based correspondent for the London-based Guardian and International Herald Tribune; authored a book on the disappearances in Argentina; fronted several BBC documentaries; served as spokesperson for the UNHCR operation in Cambodia and the UN humanitarian operation in Haiti; served as a Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace; and conducted missions to Rwanda and Bosnia for the UN, USAID and UNHCR. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where he teaches human rights.
George Khalaf is the Executive Director of Empatico, a new foundation promoting empathy as a form of social action to spark a revolution of human relationships in the 21st century. George was formerly the Director of the Middle East and North Africa region at Synergos and leads their Arab World Social Innovators program. Mr. Khalaf has over six years of strategy consulting experience with Accenture and Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where he advised multilateral organizations and corporations in the areas of strategy, multi-sector partnerships and business management. He has extensive experience in several development sectors, including health, education, and conflict resolution. Mr. Khalaf holds a Masters in International Development from Georgetown University and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Swarthmore College.
Nazar Poladian is a social entrepreneur who recently moved to Canada as part of the Syrian refugees resettlement program. He brings continuous entrepreneurial spirit in business development, communication planning, digital marketing, and project management. With his focus on bringing positive change to the Middle East, Nazar works with social organizations across the world, including Arab Community Centre of Toronto and TBB. In addition to his work at Digilite Web Solutions, he came together with a group of Syrian expatriates to create Difugees, a socio-digital consulting agency that aims to help humanitarian organizations to build efficient digital and communication strategies.
Waide Warner is an international transactional attorney who focuses on infrastructure projects in countries around the globe, including Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Qatar, Tunisia, Poland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Thailand and Indonesia. Waide was a 2014 Fellow with the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative.
2017 FIELD TEAM INTERNS
Nancy Ghanem is seeking a Master's degree in the U.S. to expand her knowledge and establish a career in her field of studies. She has a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the American University of Beirut (AUB), and is experienced in hospitalized nutrition care. Nancy has volunteered with multiple NGOs, including TBB (supporting refugees) and MMKN (supporting public education); and actively participated in a comprehensive case study at AUB, investigating the nutrition and dietary status of refugees. She is fluent in Arabic, English and French.
Sendus Majanni is a physics and political studies student at the American University of Beirut. She has some experience in teaching and providing tutorials with psycho-social support, from working in schools as well as volunteering in camps with different NGOs. Also she has participated in 4 hackathones for startups under the theme of refugees, one of them was the HULT prize. Now she is with TBB starting her first proper office internship.
Sana Mamelly is a recent graduate from the American University of Beirut with a degree in Nutrition. To pursue her career goals in the areas of Global and Public Health, she gained internship experience on the humanitarian works of agencies and NGOs such as UNRWA and TBB. She also volunteered with several organizations including The Children Cancer Center in Lebanon, Children SOS village in Syria, and the AUB Red Cross, and has experience conducting community health research on Syrian refugees.
Ruby Naif is a student at the American University of Beirut. She is majoring in Media and Communication and double minoring in Anthropology and Political Science. She is passionate about writing, research and social media. She is always looking for experiences where creative initiative, new projects and a genuine enthusiasm would allow her to progress.
Reem Salameh earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Health from AUB in 2016. As she is passionate about research, the move to graduate studies was a natural fit. She believes that the energy sector is affecting the well-being of the community and environment. Therefore, she is pursuing her MS in Energy Studies. Her extracurricular activities focus on enabling underprivileged communities and helping the vulnerable. In her free time, Reem loves to explore outdoor activities with her family and friends.
Kinda Samra is pursuing a BA in Political studies and a minor in International Law, Human Rights, and Transitional Justice. She has a strong interest in refugee education, women’s rights advocacy, and child protection. Kinda’s educational background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles with multiple NGOs in Lebanon including refugee mentorship and humanitarian action.
Basma Wehbe is a senior at the American University of Beirut majoring in both Biology and Economics and minoring in Public Health. She speaks French, English, Arabic and basic Spanish. She has done different types of volunteering such as teaching children with difficulties and has participated in various environmental projects such as providing renewable energy solutions to underprivileged regions in Lebanon.
Asmaa Zantout is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis at the American University of Beirut. Her passion to help others paved her career path and motivated her to give back to her community. This path guided her to volunteer in many NGOs that help with the refugee crisis such as Talent Beyond Boundaries Khiam El-Kheir, Irshad and Islah, Grassroots and Makhzoumi. Some of the work she has done included direct interaction with refugees in over a dozen refugee camps spread across Bekaa, Akar, Baalbak, Tripoli, Shebaa and Saida. She has also interned in the UN Global Compact Network Lebanon that strives to implement principles tackling fundamental problems related to the environment, labor and human rights, as well as anticorruption. These appealing guidelines adhere to sustainable development goals by focusing on reducing poverty, hunger and inequalities to name a few. Asmaa has also participated in competitions and accelerators such as the Hult prize competition that incites human potential and encourages the youth to think of innovative startup ideas to help with the refugee crisis."
Interns, RESEARCHERS & Volunteers
Melda Gurakar is a recent graduate of Harvard University and holds a degree in Social Studies with a focus on Human Rights in the Middle East. She has a strong interest in legal history, and most recently examined women's rights in the Ottoman Empire. In college, she helped found an undergraduate initiative to bring attention to the Syrian Crisis on campus. She speaks Turkish and Spanish.
Ryan McFarren is currently pursuing an MA in International Development Studies at The George Washington University. He received his BA in International Political Economy and has a background in education and law. Ryan recently returned to the US after teaching in Japan and has experience assisting communities with adult literacy and vocational training.
Michelle Mora is pursuing her MA at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in International Economics and International Relations. She has experience in international technical recruiting for a Fortune 50 company and has volunteered with refugee and immigrant advocacy organizations including the International Rescue Committee, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and a shelter for unaccompanied alien youth. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese and has a BA in Psychology and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Nick Sidawy is a principal engineer at Applied Predictive Technologies, and consults for TBB on their Talent Catalog Platform. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Nick is a dual citizen of the US and Syria.
Hazem Wehbi is an experienced digital marketing manager. He is skilled in PHP, Google Webmaster Tools, E-Commerce, and internet marketing. He graduated as a software engineer from Al Baath University with a Master's Degree in Web Science.
Pro Bono CONTRIBUTIONS
M Powered Strategies, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm, provided Talent Beyond Boundaries with a pro bono market assessment and recommendations to guide our strategic planning.
Nixon Peabody, a Global 100 law firm, provided Talent Beyond Boundaries with pro bono legal counsel, conducting critical research on work visa processes in potential destination countries for TBB's program.