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
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
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 with the UN and non-profit organizations, including the International Rescue Committee and Refugees International. She served as the Regional Operations Officer for the UN Refugee Agency in Jordan and Lebanon during the Iraq and Syria refugee crises. Sayre has worked to improve refugee policy and response in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and has extensive experience conducting field analysis, building consensus among stakeholders, and increasing operational effectiveness. 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.
John cameron, chief technology officer
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.
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 ASSOciate
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 associate
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 social and political development programs such as Diwanieh public debates platforms, FADFED public polling and researching methodology, and For9a.com education platform. He co-founded Berlin's Arab Culture Club, a Berlin-based initiative to bring better understanding among European youth around the challenges and conflicts faced in the MENA region. Haitham has focused his efforts on creating opportunities for youth and his work has engaged decision and policy makers in Jordan, yielded stronger political engagement 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.
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.
FARHANA HUSSAIN, CONSULTANT
Farhana has a background in civil-military coordination efforts, peace building operations, and Muslim-American relations. She previouslyserved as a Program Manager and Emergency Response Team Lead for Northeastern University’s Dialogue of Civilizations in Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Farhana also held positions at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs working on conflict and refugee issues. In addition to these roles, Farhana worked in Rome, Italy at the NATO Defense College’s Middle East Faculty. She is an Ujima Global Scholar and holds a BA in International Affairs, Middle East Studies, and International Security from Northeastern University.
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.
RESEARCHERS & Volunteers
Alyssa Bogosian is a sophomore at the George Washington University, majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in International Development. She has interned with English At Large, a nonprofit organization that provides free language tutoring and career readiness services to immigrants and refugees. She currently volunteers with the Latino Student Fund’s Listo College Prep program in Washington, DC.
Susan Din is pursuing an MPA at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University with a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy. Susan previously worked for UNHCR in Cameroon, reporting on the humanitarian response for the Nigerian and Central African refugee crises, as well as for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Maryland supporting refugee resettlement.
Ashley Faler a junior at the George Washington University, pursuing a BA in International Affairs. She speaks French and spent her sophomore year at Institut d'études politiques de Lyon in France, after spending freshman year at The University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She has previously volunteered with Refugee Resettlement Services of Atlanta and Alliance Française d'Atlanta to help spread awareness about the obstacles that many refugees face and to help fundraise money for the resettlement of displaced individuals and families.
Jesus Gonzalez is a first generation Mexican-American from Denver. He earned a Bachelors in Political Economy with a minor in Middle East Studies from the University of Southern California. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford and his dissertation is on the capabilities and aspirations in the context of forced migration.
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.
Karem Muksed is a senior at St. Olaf College majoring in Political Science. He is originally from Iraq where he lived for 13 years until his family was forced to migrate to Syria. At 14, Karem and his family were granted refugee status in the U.S., which led him to learn English and sparked his interest in learning other languages. During his migration, he saw people living between the borders of Iraq and Syria who were considered stateless living in tents without access to basic resources. Witnessing those events inspired him to become involved in politics and social change.
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.
Elise Wilson is pursuing her Master of Science in Foreign Service with a concentration in International Development at Georgetown University. She previously worked at Population Services International, supporting their programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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.