2012 PhD Cohort
Adeeb Yousif Abdel Alla was born in the village of Guldo in Darfur, Sudan. For 14 years, he worked with grass roots and social justice movements throughout Sudan. In April 2001, Adeeb co-founded the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), a human rights, humanitarian relief, and development NGO. Adeeb worked deep inside rural areas to empower local communities to demand their rights from the government. He then helped develop the Darfur Emergency Response Operation, which runs programs for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and host communities in Darfur. Due to his human rights activism, Adeeb was detained twice by the Sudanese government, for close to a year, and endured torture during this time.
Adeeb has dedicated his life to the humanitarian and human rights struggle to end the conflict and genocide in Darfur. He has played a key role in getting the plight of his people known to the outside world, through on-the-ground facilitation of the work of many of the most high-profile researchers and writers, and through his own media work. He help initiated the Rebel Letters Campaign and worked with Never Again International. His current goal is to build the possibility for a sustainable peace in Darfur through a project targeted at local communities and key stakeholders in the region. Adeeb is currently the Executive Director of Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization.
Soolmaz Abooali holds a BA in Communication (Public Relations concentration) and an MS in Peace Operations Policy from George Mason University. Soolmaz spent two years at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), where she helped translate the Institute’s online course in Conflict Analysis from English to Farsi and also spearheaded USIP’s first-ever event - the “Sport and Peacebuilding” Symposium. She has worked as a Sport Diplomacy Program Manager at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) and is a Research Associate at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC). Soolmaz is a seven-time US National Champion and world medalist in traditional karate, as well as the highest-placing American athlete (silver) at the invitational World Cup. She has represented the American Amateur Karate Federation (AAKF) and USIP on the Voice of America’s Farsi network. Ms. Abooali has worked with the US Department of State in creating programs leveraging martial arts for peacebuilding, specifically Tajikistan and Iraq. Soolmaz continues to train and teach martial arts in Northern Virginia. As a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant at the George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, she will study Sport Diplomacy. With the SCAR's Center for Peacemaking Practice Soolmaz is developing a media platform, "Sport and Peace: Scholar-Athlete Initiatives" to highlight individuals and research in this field.
Ibrahim Al-Hajjri is a Conflict Resolution professional with experience working in the Middle East and the United States, in governmental, and non-governmental sectors. He is a doctoral student at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) and holds a master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the same school. Prior to joining the field of Conflict Resolution, Ibrahim earned his first master's degree in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a published thesis entitled, "The New Middle East Security Threat: The Case of Yemen and the GCC." He is a Yemeni-American, and has lived in the United States, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. Ibrahim serves on the Board of Directors of the Arab Council on Conflict Resolution, and currently works at Search for Common Ground as the regional Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Coordinator.
Alex Cromwell is the Director of Youth Programs as well as the Office Manager at the Center for the World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution. He has expertise in youth programs that focus on relationship fostering and teaching conflict resolution. He has ten years of experience engaging youth in dialogue about serious issues such as religion, culture, conflict, and peacebuilding.
Cromwell’s first experience in youth education began at a program for International students in Seoul, South Korea. He spent a few years as one of the mentors for a program that housed 60 students and aided students with intercultural difficulties that they had and conflicts that arose between students. He has also served as staff in various winter and summer youth camps with the Family Federation for World Peace and spent two years as the youth minister of the organization in the Northern Virginia area. The community consisted of 40 high school and college age students, and Cromwell organized weekly events aimed at relationship and community building.
In the Fall of 2011, Cromwell co-taught an Interpersonal conflict resolution course for undergraduate students at George Mason University. He lectured and facilitated discussions on topics such as the definition of conflict, culture, gender, power dynamics, conflict mapping, conflict styles, and how to deal with interpersonal conflict.
Kwaw de Graft-Johnson holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Ghana, Legon, as well as an MS from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He has also worked in various capacities for the Government of Ghana as well as for the United Nations Department of Political Affairs in New York. His interests lie in the inclusion of the positive aspects of technology, social media, the fine arts as well as sports, in the development of durable economic and social projects that can sustain peacebuilding efforts. Kwaw currently works on the production of a video podcast program called S-CAR speaks; which looks to highlight peacebuilding service initiatives undertaken by people who are looking to make a difference in local communities. He hopes that such a program would inspire more individuals to follow suit, which will then add to the community of peacebuilders. Although Kwaw would very much to teach at an educational institution after his PhD work, he would also like to work alongside the World Bank, The United Nations, National Governments and other relevant stakeholders in developing a comprehensive business oriented framework that would look to address the gap in "jobs needed" with the actual reality of "jobs available" in most post conflict settings. He beleives a business and conflict resolution model can be one of the key ways that durability can be achieved in post conflict communities.
Sarah Federman, PhD Student and Presidential Scholar at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University completed an MA at the American University of Paris. Sarah's thesis addressed the French train company's role in the WWII deportations and the ensuing U.S. conflict that exists today fueled by unhappy survivors. She worked pro-bono with the House of Representatives, looking for ways to reconcile the company’s past while continuing to serve as a productive contributor to society. Her dissertation explores this case through the lens of corporate accountability for mass atrocity. She also has an avid interest in the role of language in conflict. Her blog www.languageofconflict.com considers the role of language across a variety of personal and international contexts.
Gedeon Patrick Hakizimana Gedeon Patrick Hakizimana has worked for the last three years with a refugee agency in Philadelphia managing a state funded employment program, assisting newly arrived refugees to reach self-sufficiency. During this time Patrick started a mentoring program between established professionals in the Philadelphia area and refugees who are seeking to advance their careers. Patrick attended Eastern University and earned a bachelors degree in political science in 2008. He went on to complete a Masters degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at Arcadia University in May 2011 with a focus on reconciliation in Central Africa. Patrick, a native of Rwanda spent many years in the Democratic Republic of Congo among those displaced due to the Rwandan genocide and DRC civil war. While living in a refugee camp, he worked with Cartas Internationalis assisting with providing nutrition to children. Patrick's life experiences in a conflict zone are what inspired him to work towards peace and conflict resolution. He regularly speaks to students and young people about his experiences in the Rwandan conflict seeking both to raise awareness and inspire them towards peace. Patrick speaks five languages including English, Kinyarwandan, KiSwahili, Lingala and French. He currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. In his spare time, he enjoys mountain biking and photography.
Ellen Haring holds a BS in Behavioral Science from the United States Military Academy and a MS in Peace Operations Policy from George Mason University. Ellen is a US Army civil affairs officer with over 28 years on active and reserve duty. She has lived and served in numerous locations around the world. Ellen has researched and studied the roles and effects of the military’s newly created Female Engagement Teams in conflict environments. Currently, she is engaged in efforts to expand the rights and roles of women in the US military. CNN, the BBC and numerous print media journalists have interviewed Ellen on the effects that the military’s combat exclusion policy has on women in the Armed Services. Ellen serves as a staff officer researching, writing and conducting experiments for the military on the Chairman’s Joint Staff.
Bridget Moix Comes to S-CAR after 15 years working on peacebuilding and violent conflict prevention issues mostly at the national (US) and international policy levels, with some experience in community level peace work. She most recently led the foreign policy lobbying team at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest in Washington, DC, and has also served with Oxfam America, the Quaker United Nations Office (New York), Casa de los Amigos (Mexico), and the Quaker Peace Centre (South Africa). Bridget has taught courses on the role of religion in war and peace, and development and peacebuilding. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University. Bridget plans to focus her studies on questions related to preventing mass atrocities and war, improving nonviolent mechanisms for civilian protection, and supporting local capacities for peace first. Bridget also serves on the board of Peace Direct US. Bridget and her partner Alberto have two young sons who challenge all their conflict resolution skills on a daily basis.
Sahar Namazikhah is a journalist with seventeen years of professional experience with top non-governmental newspapers of Iran, and subsequently in the United States. She is the Director of Iran Programs at S-CAR's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University through Nonviolence International. From 2005, after being selected as a Sauvé Scholar at McGill University in Canada, Sahar pursued research about domestic and international conflicts related to Iran. She has published hundreds of editorials, op-eds, and analytical reports on religious and cultural conflicts, ethnic minorities, student and women’s movements, civil society, and international organizations. She holds a Bachelor's degree in French Literature, Master's degree in Comparative Religions and Mysticism, and a Post-Master's Certificate in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuiliding. During her PhD in the Conflict Analysis and Resolution field, she will focus on conflict prevention and nonviolent movements.
Ernest Ogbozor is from Nigeria. He has over a decade professional experience managing humanitarian and development assistance programs to communities, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, prisoners and detainees. He holds a BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Benin and a MA in Sustainable International Development (concentration on inter-communal co-existence and conflict) from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Most recently, Ernest worked as Cooperation Officer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nigeria, managed emergency relief to civilian victims of armed conflicts, ethno-religious and election violence in Nigeria. He previously worked as the Country Director for Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA/Nigeria), promoting human rights for prisoners and rehabilitation/re-integration of ex-prisoners. He also worked with TechnoServe Inc. and Enterprise for Development International (EfDI) on community economic development programs. Ernest was a Ford Foundation International Fellow in 2010 to 2012 at the Brandeis University where he completed a study “An Assessment of Preparedness and Response to Terrorism in Northern Nigeria.” His research interest focuses on understanding of terrorism in Nigeria, humanitarian assistance, developments in conflicts, peacebuilding and human rights.
Innocent Balthazary Rugaragu is from Kigali, Rwanda, but was born and raised in Tanzania. He holds a B.A. Honor in philosophy and humanities from the University of Zimbabwe, a B.A in theology from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and a Licentiate/M.A. in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union and Santa Clara University, and an M.A. in justice and peace studies from the University of San Diego. Growing up as a refugee and then living in post-genocide Rwanda influenced Rugaragu’s desire to study and teach peace, negotiation and reconciliation. In the master’s program at the University of San Diego, he specialized in conflict analysis and resolution. In the PhD program at George Mason University, his interest includes Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Genocide Prevention and Peace Making, Mediation, Negotiation and Reconciliation. He is also a community organizer with PICO Rwanda. In addition to English, he speaks Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Kinyambo, Kiswahili and French.
Caroline Sarkis holds a MA in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University. Her thesis won the 2007 Distinguished Master’s Thesis award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association. In collaboration with Dr. Barbara Tint, Caroline worked in helping create an African dialogue, reconciliation, facilitation, and training program to promote peace-building and cooperation between African diaspora and refugees in greater Portland, Oregon. Prior to that, she worked in Kigali, Rwanda to build schools for orphans of the genocide and of HIV-AIDS, acting as a liaison between the local coordinator, community leaders and volunteers, as well as assisting with trauma healing and Alternative to Violence workshops with local peace groups. Most recently, Caroline comes to George Mason’s PhD in Conflict Resolution from the private sector where she worked as a Senior IT project manager. Caroline’s research interests include reconciliation in post genocide societies, judicial mechanisms in response to genocide and mass violence, as well as gender issues in judicial processes. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Caroline is a fluent French speaker and enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling, and playing with her two dogs.
Margarita Tadevosyan is a George Mason University alumna. She received her MA degree in Peace Operations Policy from the School of Public Policy in 2010 through the Edmund Muskie Graduate Fellowship program. She also received a Certificate in Peace Research from University of Oslo, Norway. In addition she holds an MA in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a BA in Sociology from Yerevan State University. Before joining S-CAR, Margarita worked at the Political and Economic Section of the United States Embassy in Yerevan. She also has experience of working on Peacebuilding and Reconciliation projects as a research assistant for Dr. Susan Allan Nan. Margarita was also part of the editorial team that was working on the Armenian translation and printing of the book by George Mason University Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution faculty Sandra Cheldelin, Daniel Druckman and Larissa Fast: Conflict: From Analysis to Intervention. In 2005, she directed and filmed a documentary on Nagorno Karabakh Coflict with the State Radio and TV Academy of Armenia.
Robert Wellington Robbie Wellington is originally from Chicago. He went to middle school and high school in Atlanta and to Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he triple majored in Political Science, French, and German. During his junior year, he studied in the UK, Germany, Austria, and France. After graduating with honors, he taught English for five years in the P.R. China and then went on to Washington, DC to do his graduate work earning an MA in international peace and conflict resolution from American University’s School of International Service and an M.Div. and an MTS with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary. Robbie is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and currently serves as a hospice chaplain with The Washington Home and Community Hospices. He has done dialogue work with the Dialogue Development Group at American University since fall 2007 as a participant, co-facilitator, and trainer, and his topics include interfaith, religion and spirituality, and religion and sexuality. As a gay man, Robbie also has a special interest in human rights issues. He has traveled several times to South Africa with Wesley Seminary, and his most recent travels brought him to Israel-Palestine with Interfaith Peace-Builders. He may use these two experiences as a springboard for a potential dissertation topic. After completing his PhD at S-CAR, Robbie would like to serve as a pastor, professor, and peacemaker.