About Us

Team

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Adel Arlett, Capacity Building Programs Intern 

Adel is a graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. She continues her studies in the field of nonproliferation and counterterrorism. Her primary interest is analyzing the movements of different terrorist groups, especially the Islamic State and its allies. In 2017, Adel joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary to take part in the internship program offered by the governmental institute. Her professional experience includes being part of different diplomatic events and participating in various conferences. Later, she interned for the Center of Strategic and Defense Studies where she wrote an analysis of countering violent extremism with the use of open-source intelligence. After achieving her master’s degree, her long term goal is to work with an intelligence agency and have a “ground zero” experience.

Luis Quesada, Research and Analysis Intern 

Luis is a rising senior in NYU Abu Dhabi, majoring in Political Science, with minors in Economics and Arabic. Originally from Costa Rica, he has also lived in the Dominican Republic and in Ecuador. His academic and research interests lie in in the study of collective decision making, Latin American Politics, the effect of natural resources on development, international relations and diplomacy. He has interned for the Embassy of Costa Rica to the United Arab Emirates, the Career Development Center and the Office of Community and Education Engagement in NYU Abu Dhabi. 


Ashiq Kalsank, Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE Global) Intern

Ashiq graduated with an Integrated MSci. in Analytical and Investigative Forensic Science in July 2018 where he learned about criminal psychology and crime scenes. During his time at university, he conducted several research projects and presentations some of which were on frauds including Ballot Fraud, and identifying criminal patterns. He designed a report as a part of his coursework for Sociology and Humanities department at Keele University using the data recorded from research into these criminal patterns. The main aim of the report was to identify crime hotspots and the types of crime in different cities across U.K. Having completed his degree, he began to realize that he wished to help facilitate a greater change in peace and security processes than move from one case to another. Therefore, he has decided to pursue a career in International Affairs with a main focus on international security and diplomacy. He has applied to undertake a master’s degree in the coming fall (2019).

Everett Pruett, Capacity Building Programs Intern

Everett is a sophomore at New York University Abu Dhabi, majoring in Arab Crossroads Studies with minors in Arabic and African Studies. He is from the U.S., however, went to high school in Jordan for a year. His primary research interest focuses on American policy in the region at large, particularly in regard to the Global War on Terror. More specifically his research focuses on how the doctrine of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency reacts in the field to the diverse array of environments that it is utilized in. As such he is interested to see how Hedayah’s Capacity Building Program can be used as a model for countering extremist behaviors before they arise. He has worked in the past with a non-profit in the United States resettling refugees from Somalia, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other countries in addition to being an Arabic teaching assistant and swim instructor.


Ebba Sophie Verdu, Research and Analysis (Virtual) Intern

Sophie acted as a virtual Research and Analysis intern in 2018. Sophie is a recent M.A. graduate of Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London and holds a B.A. in Politics and International Relations from the University of York.  Her fascination with terrorism, extremism, and radicalization developed as she went to university. Particularly, she is interested in the relationship between non-violent and violent extremism, comparative CVE efforts and case-by-case approaches to counter-radicalization. The title of her BA dissertation was What Does the Analysis of British Terrorism Discourse Reveal About the Construction of Terrorism?, and her M.A. dissertation was titled Abandoning ‘Radicalization:’ A Conceptual Analysis Into the Usefulness and Necessity of the Concept of ‘Radicalization.’


Pranaav Parrth, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Pranaav acted as a Dialogue and Communications intern in 2018. Pranaav is a rising sophomore student at NYU Abu Dhabi with the intention of double majoring in Political Science and Social Research and Public Policy. Prior to joining NYUAD, Pranaav worked as a Policy Associate with a leading national political party at the Parliament of India. In late 2016, he was roped in by the same party into the State Assembly Election Campaign in his home state where he worked as a social media campaign advisor for five assembly seats targeting about two million constituent voters. The previous summer, Pranaav worked for a team at Stanford University on a project on voting behavior in Northern India. Currently, he is involved with the “Ideas of India” project at NYUAD, a project that attempts to document India’s vibrant intellectual sphere during the pre-Independence era. He is most interested in research relating to psephology, media, and strategic affairs. Pranaav holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Indian Classical Music and plays competitive field hockey.

Soohyun Hwangbo, Research and Analysis Intern

Soohyun acted as a Research and Analysis intern in 2018. Soohyun is a sophomore at New York University Abu Dhabi, majoring in Mathematics and Political Science with a minor in Arabic. Though she hails from South Korea, she has also lived in Malaysia and identifies Southeast Asia as her second home. She is interested in analyzing data in a social science context and hopes to apply her qualitative and quantitative skills during her internship. At NYUAD she is actively navigating her interests across various disciplines. She has participated in a project involving Yemeni refugees in Djibouti, and has experience in data collection and management through her work in the NYUAD Arts Gallery and Center for Digital Scholarship. Currently, she is the Deputy Features Editor in the school publication, The Gazelle.

Jack Adeney, Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE Global) Intern

Jack acted as a Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE Global) Intern in 2018. Jack is a third-year Economics and Political Science student at New York University Abu Dhabi. He has had experience working for a political policy think tank in London, contributing to Government advisory reports on issues such as education, the Future of Work and the national housing shortage. He has also worked for an aerospace manufacturing company in Riyadh, where he wrote quantitative reports and learned about issues associated with International Trade of Arms Regulations. His current courses on global governance and psychological foundations of peace at NYUAD have encouraged him to look at the topic of countering violent extremism both from an academic perspective and from a point of personal interest. In his opinion, increased use of the ‘virtual world’ by terrorist cells has completely changed the dynamic of CVE, and for that reason, he is particularly excited to be helping Hedayah.

Tiril Hoye Rahn, Capacity Building Programs (Virtual and non-Virtual) Intern

Tiril acted as both a virtual and non-virtual Capacity Building Programs intern in 2018. Tiril is a Norwegian student at NYU Abu Dhabi pursuing a bachelors degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics and Peace Studies. Here, she also studied Arabic. During her semester abroad in Shanghai, she studied Chinese politics and security issues, as well as the Chinese language. Previously, she studied at UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany. She has worked at the Nobel Peace Center for seven years, engaged in the refugee crisis with NLG, SINGA and UNHCR, as well as in various peace-focused initiatives in North/South Korea, Morrocco/Western Sahara, and France/Switzerland/Germany (TRION).


Kinga Krzymowska, Dialogue and Communications & Executive Director Office Intern

Kinga acted as both a Dialogue and Communications & Executive Director Office intern in 2018. Kinga is currently studying at the University of Buckingham in the UK with a major in International Studies with French. Her courses are on topics of international relations, economics, and politics. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she is looking to pursue her masters in the field of security and diplomacy. Throughout the years, she has actively completed several internships. In 2015, she pursued a Special Training Program in the Ministry of Economy of the UAE. From 2011-2015, she acted as a support team member in the Embassy of Poland in the UAE. In 2016, she took part and helped with the International Planning Meeting for organizing Expo 2020 in addition to her internship with IRENA. Lastly, in December 2017, she completed an internship in the Federal National Council in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Noura Al Blooki, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Noura acted as a Dialogue and Communications intern in 2018. Noura is a fresh graduate from Zayed University with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and a minor in Communication and Media Sciences. During her last semester, she worked as a research assistant at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she helped Dr. Frank Fanselow in his research “Transnational Sufi Networks in the Gulf”. Currently, she is also a researcher, writer at the National and Founder of Beautybeyondwheels, a blog dedicated to raising awareness pertaining people of determination. Throughout her life, she has encountered many challenges and used writing as an emotional outlet, which helped fuel her passion for the written word. Her interests lie in topics like inclusion, exclusion, extremism and finding correlations among them. Words are my weapon of change.

Oleksandra Plyska, Research and Analysis Intern

Oleksandra acted as a Research and Analysis intern in 2018. Oleksandra is a current student at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) majoring in political science with a concentration in Economics. Her academic interests are international relations, security, public policy, and peace-building. She worked as a research assistant at the Social Media and Political Participation Lab in New York and assisted a professor on a project analyzing the news sources in different languages in Ukraine during the Euromaidan period. Additionally, she assisted in a research project at NYUAD focusing on the influence of Russian media in three regions of Eastern Ukraine. Being passionate about social change through entrepreneurship, she was a campus director for the Hult Prize at NYUAD, the largest international social impact startup competition for students in cooperation with Bill Clinton Foundation and the UN. Moreover, she worked as a strategy consulting intern for a startup company called Upstart Co-Lab in New York, which focuses on connecting creative companies that create a social impact in different spheres with the impact investors.

Rachel Mackenzie, Capacity Building Programs Intern

Rachel acted as a Capacity Building Programs intern in 2018. Rachel is entering her final year as an International Relations undergraduate at the University of St Andrews. She has studied global terrorism from a mainstream perspective but also critically, enabling her to develop a deeper understanding of international and multi-cultural issues and sensitivities. During an internship in Dubai in 2017, Rachel introduced her creation of an International Business Register; where she researched and analyzed country risk factors - such as extremism and related conflict – and evaluated how these elements could affect an organization’s launch of a new branch in an area facing major challenges. Rachel has also completed an intensive course on International Law at university, equipping her with the legal framework to explore the constraints and justifications surrounding the use of force between state and non-state actors. Once graduated from St Andrews in June 2019, Rachel seeks to pursue a career in counterterrorism and intelligence with organizations who strive to combat the growing threat of violent extremism worldwide. 

Serra Okumus, Capacity Building Programs Intern

Serra acted as a Capacity Building Programs intern in 2018. Serra is a rising sophomore at New York University Abu Dhabi studying Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies. After graduating from Uskudar American Academy in Istanbul, Turkey, she worked with Moroğlu Arseven as a legal intern, a full-service law firm specializing in business law. Her interests lie with peace and conflict studies, specifically focusing on global governance and the successes/failures of humanitarian intervention. Her previous research included India’s intervention in East Pakistan and the narratives around the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In 2015, she gave a TEDx talk on the effects of mass hysteria, examining Turkey’s anti-government Gezi protest movement and the Salem Witch trials. She is currently the Deputy Editor of Journal of International Affairs at NYUAD.

Shahinaz Geneid, Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE Global) Intern

Shahinaz acted as a Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE Global) intern in 2018. Shahinaz is currently a rising third-year student at New York University Abu Dhabi pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Social Research & Public Policy and Art Practice. She has a strong interest in social justice and public service work, with particular interests in human rights, migration and diaspora, ethnic identity, and art as a tool for social activism. She has most recently been the Global Equity Fellow at NYU Berlin, working on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in both higher education and the city as a whole. As a second-generation Egyptian-American immigrant, she is devoted to issues of social marginalization and to empowering at-risk communities, which drives all of the work she does. This devotion to community empowerment is what she hopes to bring to Hedayah as an intern with the Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE) department.


Sara Pan Algarra, Research and Analysis Intern

Sara acted as a Research and Analysis intern in 2018. Sara studies a double major in Social Research & Public Policy and Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). Sara was the 2010-2014 Youth Mayor of the Chacao Municipality in Venezuela. She graduated from UWC Mahindra College in Pune, India. Her passion for education has been connected to her social work and community building experiences in Venezuela, Canada, India, and the UAE. Sara co-created the “Ekta-Kriya UWC Program” in Pune for underprivileged children empowerment through sports. Sara has performed, directed, and produced multiple art projects in India and the UAE. She serves as president of “ElevatED”, the NYUAD Student Group on Education. Sara is the captain of her university’s volleyball team, and works as a career guidance peer at the NYUAD Career Development Center. As a 2017-Dalai Lama Fellow, Sara created and currently leads “Bedaya”, an NYUAD-based sports program that promotes social integration of female communities in Abu Dhabi.

Maitha Qambar, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Maitha acted as a Dialogue and Communications intern in 2018. According to the U.A.E Culture Division in Washington D.C., U.S., Maitha is the first Emirati female to receive an M.S. in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy. She has received her B.A. in International Studies, focusing on Global Security and Human Rights issues in the Middle East from the American University in May 2015. She previously interned at various places both in and outside of the U.A.E. In the U.S., she has interned twice with the Political Attaché (Think Tanks and Congressional Affairs) at the U.A.E. Embassy in Washington D.C. She has also interned as a research assistant at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a center of excellence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Maryland, United States. She specifically worked on the Profiles on Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) project, where she conducted open-source research on U.S.-based extremists and terror suspects to assess background and factors pertaining to their radicalization, code domestic extremist and terror suspects for PIRUS dataset, understand the influence of social media platforms on individual’s process of radicalization, gave an oral presentation based on independent research on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and their role in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. 
 
After graduating in May 2017, Maitha interned as a research assistant at Program on Extremism at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. During her internship, she wrote an independent research paper on rehabilitation and de-radicalization programs, conducted research on Islamist extremism, ideology and radicalization, and analyzed speeches and reports written by the Muslim Brotherhood. In the U.A.E, she interned with the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Abu Dhabi. She wrote a report on U.A.E.’s counterterrorism policies, conduct a comparative study on non-military counter-terrorism policies in addition to other tasks. Maitha has also conducted other internships at Sky News Arabia as a specialist and on media analysis. 

Mouza Alzaabi, Research and Analysis Intern

Mouza acted as a Research and Analysis intern in 2017. Mouza is a Humanities and Social Sciences student at Zayed University, who also minors in Communications and Media Science. Believing knowledge is a great tool for a person’s development and achievement, she continually tries to deepen her understanding through reading and research to in hopes to accomplish something that will change the future. Mouza joined Hedayah because working here will help her achieve the change to make the world a better place and conducting research and countering extremism is one way to do so.

Paula Estrada, Research and Analysis (Non-Resident) Intern

Paula acted as a virtual Research and Analysis intern in 2017. Paula is a second-year student at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), majoring in Political Science and minoring in Arabic. She assisted the Research and Analysis Department in the development of the Middle East and North Africa Online Collection of Counter-Narratives for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). She previously interned at the USAID-funded DAI program Kenya NiWajibu Wetu in Nairobi, which reduces violent extremism among at-risk individuals and communities in violent extremism hotspots. She also has extensive investigative experience, having assisted several professors with research, as well as substantial writing experience, serving as the News Editor for the NYUAD student newspaper, The Gazelle. 


Nada Al Mazrouei, Capacity Building Programs Intern

Nada acted as a Capacity Building Programs intern in 2017. Nada is a student in Zayed University studying towards a Bachelors degree in International Affairs with a minor in strategic communications. She has always enjoyed learning new things, including political tactics. Nada was recently a Research Assistant to Abu Dhabi Awards, which was an experience she truly enjoyed. She learned how to cope with others and find solutions to problems. Nada loves volunteering whenever she has a chance to sign up for any activity. 

Donia Ismail, Research and Analysis Intern

Donia acted as a Research and Analysis intern in 2017. Donia is a student at New York University Abu Dhabi studying Political Science and Arab Crossroad Studies with a concentration in Economics. These disciplines provide her with a combination of analytical skills that are important for understanding any topic. Her main interests include smart policy-making, developing non-coercive means to counter extremist activity within the region and more specifically, she is interested in the role of national identity within violent conflicts. Donia grew up and lived in Egypt before coming here to Abu Dhabi for university. She plans on going to graduate school to study Middle Eastern Politics.

James Kirk Mariano, Communications Intern

James acted as a Communications intern in 2017. James is a student at New York University Abu Dhabi majoring in Political Science with minors in Legal Studies and Film and New Media. He has had the opportunity to test his knowledge in these specific fields with various internships. He has previously interned with the Public Services International Asia Pacific Regional Office as the project assistant manager, where he came to understand the importance of Trade Unions and work for the protection of workers rights around the world. Prior to Hedayah, James worked for the NYU Florence Digital Studio as the on call videographer, photographer and film editor during his semester in Florence. The internship immersed him into the field of film, where he received hands-on training on how to operate certain film equipment and editing tools. 

Mai Al Suwaidi, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Mai acted as a Dialogue and Communications intern in 2017. Mai is currently a student in Zayed University studying towards a Bachelors degree in International Affairs. She is interested in learning more about CVE and has been passionate about history, fighting against extremism, violence and inequality. Some of her accomplishments include: being on the Dean’s list in Fall 2016, receiving a certificate of Information Technology, and a Certificate of Techno HTML.  Mai is part of the Debate Club and has volunteered to help organize activities at Zayed University and for an event organized by the Red Crescent. 

Christian Duborg, Dialogue and Communications (Non-Resident) Intern

Christina acted as a virtual Dialogue and Communications intern in 2017. Christian is a second-year student at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) majoring in Political Science in Arab Crossroads. He is reporting directly from New York, U.S.A. He was introduced to dialogue while interning with NYUAD's office of Spiritual Life and Intercultural Education. Before that he worked as a volunteer helping to resettle refugees in the US with Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio.


Shivani Mishra, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Shivani acted as the Dialogue and Communications intern in 2016. Shivani is a freshman studying Political Science and Economics at New York University Abu Dhabi. As someone who feeds her intellectual growth on constant challenges, she started creating a niche for herself in the professional world at the early age of 15. Before coming to Abu Dhabi, she worked as a TV Show Host for one of Nepal’s largest media houses. Additionally, she ran her own unique venture for bridging the social gap between children affected by HIV/AIDS and their society in parts of rural Nepal. Her work was supported and acknowledged by the Ministry of Health and Population and National Centre for AIDS and STD Control in Nepal. Shivani is currently a Research Assistant for a Professor at the Division of Social Sciences at NYUAD as well and is assisting with a research project based on gender studies. 

Paula Miret Fiuza, Research and Analysis Intern

Paula acted as the Research and Analysis intern in 2017. Paula recently obtained her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (Honors Cum Laude) with two minors, in Economics and Political Science from New York University Abu Dhabi. The combination of such disciplines provides her with a strong set of logical and analytical tools she applies in different forms of strategic thinking. As an undergraduate she worked on game theoretical modeling applied to social research and network analysis (SNA), developing an ever-growing interest for the interdisciplinary study of power structures and decision making. She has worked internationally with focus in the concept of netwars, understood as conflicts waged, on one hand by terrorist, criminals and ethno-nationalist extremists, and by civil-society activist on the other. With the guidance of her mentor, she worked in the development of a new language to address such challenging decentralized networks. It has a wide range of potential applications, including evaluation of CVE programs and effective policy making. 


Umair Cashmeer, Research and Analysis Intern

Umair acted as the Research and Analysis intern in 2016 and 2017. He has a bachelor's degree in social work and is currently finishing his masters degree in criminology at Aalborg University. He has hands-on experience within the field of gang prevention and CVE. He has worked as a social counsellor for troubled youth and as a mentor for institutionalized youth. Umair currently works as a professional consultant for an organization called Trancit where his focus areas are radicalized youth and crime prevention. In the last couple of years his interests shifted from organized crime and street gangs to terrorism and radicalization. 

Wafa Ali Mohammed, Research and Analysis Intern

Wafa acted as both the Research and Analysis intern in 2016 and continued to be Capacity Building Programs intern in 2017. She is a fresh graduate from Mohammed V University. She focused on the concept of extremism in Islam and the vision of leaders of the Emirates to live in a peaceful, safe society stopping violence and race discrimination in her graduation project. She believes that it came time for her to practice what she researched at Hedayah. Wafa speaks Arabic, English and Italian.


Willem James Cant, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Willem James Cant acted as the Dialogue and Communications intern in 2016. He is a sophomore at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) studying Political Science and History with a Concentration in Arabic. He attended Dalton Den Haag in the Netherlands and during his fifth year received a scholarship to attend the United World College (UWC) of Southern Africa in Swaziland.  Willem was born in the Netherlands; his dad is from the USA and his mother is Dutch, he grew up speaking both languages. Ever since he arrived in the UAE he has felt very welcomed and it has been a humbling experience to attend NYUAD.

Dominique Lear, Research and Analysis Intern

Dominique Lear acted as the Research and Analysis intern in 2016. She is a fourth year Literature and History double-major at NYU Abu Dhabi. After spending most of her schooling in an international school in her native Mexico City, she looked toward NYU Abu Dhabi as an opportunity to expand her borders, and be part of a buzzing international student community. During her time in Abu Dhabi, Dominique has been part of a variety of internships and extra-curricular activities, including the NYUAD Debate Union, volunteering on a social media campaign to help Syrian refugees for the UNHCR, interning at Control Risks, and acting as the student assistant to the Literature and Creative Writing department. She is currently working on her undergraduate dissertation, which is tackling questions of literary circulation, movement across tense borders of political ideology, individual agency, and gender through an analysis of the Spanish literary agent, Carmen Balcells, and her involvement in the Latin American literary “boom” of the mid-twentieth century.

Kamel Al Sharif, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Kamel acted as the Dialogue and Communications intern in 2016. He is a senior at NYUAD majoring in Political Science, with concentrations in Economics and Film. Kamel strives to develop ways which influence legitimate political reform, by empowering the people and minorities in particular, with the intention of bringing the Arab World to the forefront of political and economic development in the 21st century. Living in an area which is in the heart of Amman, between the three hotels which were bombed in 2005, his interest in violent extremism and political radicalization sparked an exploration of its origins. 

Maisoon AlDah, Dialogue and Communications (Non-Resident) Intern

Maisoon was Hedayah's first non-resident intern, who reported directly from Colombia on its experience in the peace process negotiations. She is currently working as a diplomat with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seconded to Mubadala in both Minesa (Colombia) and Mubadala Capital. She completed her Masters degree in International Business and Languages from Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) with a semester in Universidad de Externado (Colombia) and an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah (AUS). Additionally, she has received training in multiple embassies, institutions, colleges and as part of the UAE's Permanent Delegation of UNESCO (France) in multiple countries including Cuba, Mexico, Scotland and France. Maisoon is fluent in Arabic, English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Carrisa Tehputri, Research and Analysis Intern

Carrisa acted as the Research and Analysis intern in 2016. She is a Bali-born and raised rising junior at New York University Abu Dhabi who majors in Social Research and Public Policy. Ever since Bali bombing took place in 2002 and 2005, she has been driven to learn and to someday contribute to the development of counter violent extremism ('CVE'). She profoundly believes that the spread of violent extremism relies heavily on ideas, and therefore ideas are also the most potent weapons to suppress its growth. 

Chris Wheeler, Capacity Building Programs Intern

Chris acted as the Capacity Building Programs intern in 2016. He was a first year political science student at NYU Abu Dhabi. He is originally from the UK, and have lived there with his family up until moving to Abu Dhabi last year. His main academic interests are politics, international affairs and conflict studies, and he hopes to start a career possibly with the British FCO, or an international NGO after graduating. 

Nienke Mollen, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Nienke acted as the Dialogue and Communicaions intern in 2016. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Utrecht, majoring in political science and international law. She is particularly interested in security studies and human rights, and is spending a year working and interning to gain experience in this field. She has previously interned on an NGO research project in Uganda and with the Dutch embassy in Rwanda. After her internship at Hedayah, she plans to continue her studies with a master in international security. 


Melissa Levinson, Research and Analysis Intern 

Melissa acted as the Research and Analysis Support Intern in 2015, working to catalogue and improve Hedayah’s virtual library and portal and to support content development and logistics of the International CVE Research Conference 2015. Melissa is a sophomore at New York University Abu Dhabi, majoring in Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration in Peace Studies. She grew up in Maine, U.S.A and is interested in peace building initiatives and human rights issues. Previously, Melissa worked with Seeds of Peace, an international organization promoting mutual understanding amongst youth of conflict regions. In the future, Melissa is interested in working with conflict resolution, specifically in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

Mario Zapata Encinas, Dialogue and Communications Intern

Mario acted as the Dialogue and Communications intern in 2015. Upon graduation from UWC Mostar in 2012, Mario started a B.A. at New York University in Abu Dhabi, where he studies Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies with a focus on Arabic. At NYU Abu Dhabi, he is actively involved with the student newspaper, The Gazelle, of which he is Copy Chief. His research interests include migration and diaspora, public policy and Middle Eastern politics. 


Natalie Hilaire, Communications Intern 

Natalie acted as the Communications Intern in 2014. During her internship, Natalie assisted in the development and editing of Hedayah's publications as well as supporting in preparation for the Global CVE Expo 2014. Natalie is pursuing a degree in Economics with a specialization in Finance and a minor in Business Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi. Before starting university, she lived in Cuba and Panama and developed a strong interest in political science during her high school years. After hearing about Hedayah's work with violent extremism and thought, she was inspired to work with Hedayah. Since her internship, she has studied abroad in London and New York and interned at a boutique management consulting firm.

Iman Badwan, Communications Intern

Iman acted as the Communications Intern in 2014. During her internship, she assisted in the logistics, development of the social media plan, production of additional branded materials leading up to and during the Global CVE Expo 2014. She also supported projects in other departments, including developing publications and reports. Prior to Hedayah, Iman held internships at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with other international organizations in Florence and New York. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Visual Arts (double major) from New York University Abu Dhabi. Iman currently serves as the Communications Officer at Hedayah. 

Caroline Manela, Communications Intern

Caroline acted as the Communications Intern 2014. She is currently the program manager of Yale-NUS College’s Writers’ Centre, where she tutors undergraduate writing, runs writing workshops, and co-leads a peer tutoring program. She has worked in a combination of student affairs and academic roles at Yale-NUS and has written and presented on areas of collaboration between these two areas of an undergraduate institution. Caroline graduated magna cum laude from New York University Abu Dhabi in 2014 with a B.A. in history and a concentration in Arabic Language. In addition to interning at Hedayah, she interned at the Clinton Foundation in 2012 and received a 2013 U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Meknes, Morocco.

Ana Pereu, Communications Intern

Ana acted as the Communications Intern in 2014. She completed her high school on a scholarship in the UK, after which, following her interests in politics and the Middle East, she obtained a scholarship to study at NYU Abu Dhabi. She double majored in Political Science and Social Research and Public Policy, tailoring her majors to reflect her interest in counterterrorism, security and human rights. Besides her work for Hedayah, Ana also interned with the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in New York (ESCR-Net), she did research on migration at Columbia University and she worked on a project for the UAE government with Efeso Consulting. Ana is originally from Moldova but by now she has become a world citizen. She has a passion for languages, currently speaking five and learning other two. Ana will continue to explore her interest in security and extremism by pursuing a masters degree at University of Cambridge, and hopes to return back to the Middle East and work on these issues in the region.

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