Nadia Murad, co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. Nadia’s peaceful life was brutally interrupted in 2014 when Daesh attacked her homeland in Sinjar - to ethnically cleanse Iraq of all Yazidis. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered much, as they have been, and continue to be victims of sexual violence.
Much of Murad’s advocacy work is focused on meeting with global leaders to raise awareness about Daesh and its genocidal campaign against the Yazidi people. Nadia is the President and Chairman of Nadia’s Initiative which actively works to persuade governments and other organizations to support efforts to rebuild the Yazidi homeland financially.
Abid Shamdeen is a global development specialist. Born and raised in Sinjar, Iraq, Shamdeen co-founded Yazda, a leading Yazidi non-profit organization formed to assist victims of the Yazidi genocide. He was responsible for managing, implementing, and evaluating large-scale redevelopment projects in Sinjar. He was a key member of the Yazda management team that established strategic priorities and determined emergency response initiatives. Shamdeen worked for the US Army in Iraq as a cultural advisor and translator. He has a BA in Political Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Shamdeen is a co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative.
Director of Programs
Olivia Wells is a human rights advocate with a master’s degree in human rights law. Her expertise is in women’s rights, international criminal law, and genocide prevention with a regional focus on the Middle East. Over the past six years, she has worked with several European and American NGOs, conducting policy research, promoting civic mobilization, managing donor relations, and establishing and maintaining partnerships. She has worked on the ground with marginalized communities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southern Africa to help implement community led development. She has also worked with refugee aid programs in Southern Europe and is responsible for initiating several psychological support projects for refugees in Athens, Greece.
Administrative & Communications Associate
Aoi is an MA candidate in Communication & Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Passionate about feminist and anti-racist media studies and using technology for social change, she hopes to carve out a career in digital advocacy and is excited to be working towards that goal at Nadia’s Initiative. She grew up in Tokyo and the Bay Area, and holds a Special A class United Nations Associations Test of English certificate, a Japanese examination which measures one’s knowledge of the UN, global affairs, politics, and current events in English, and prepares them for careers in international public service and diplomacy.
Projects Coordinator, Iraq
Faisal Ghanem is Nadia's Initiative's Project Coordinator in Iraq - working on the ground directly with Nadia's Initiative's implementing partners. A Yazidi born and raised in the Sinjar region, Faisal has a thorough knowledge of the local community members' needs. For the past five years, he has worked with various NGOs in the Nineveh region of Iraq as project coordinator, social researcher, and team leader. His work has focused primarily on the social cohesion of the Yazidi community and peace building. Faisal holds a bachelor's of science in mathematics.
Alison Anderson is an agile, highly-skilled nonprofit sector consultant with over ten years of experience working in the management of nonprofit organizations. She helps nonprofit organizations thrive internally so that they can deliver on mission. She holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy and a B.A. from Davidson College. In addition to Nadia's Initiative, Alison’s clients include a diverse pool of amazing nonprofits in a variety of sectors.
Elizabeth Bohart is a social impact strategist and founder of the Antelope Foundation. Bohart works internationally with start-up organizations and organizations in transition to build community driven initiatives which address the critical needs of highly vulnerable communities. In her capacity as a strategic advisor for Nadia’s Initiative she is working on SAR projects, specifically the Global Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and the Murad Code. Bohart connected with the Yazidi community through her work on the Sundance award winning film, Watchers of the Sky, where she served as the Director of Outreach - developing genocide education, community engagement, and advocacy programs for high school students. Bohart was a 2016 Nantucket Project Scholar and is a co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative. She also serves on the boards of Komera and Maloto.
Grégoire Théry is the co-founder and executive director of CAP international, a coalition of 28 frontline NGOs providing direct assistance to victims of prostitution and trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation in 21 countries. In 2013, he was appointed as member of the French High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCEFH), an advisory body working under the authority of the Prime Minister. He is a permanent member of its “violence against women” committee. Prior to this, Grégoire worked six years as Permanent Representative to the European Union of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Grégoire Théry is also a former Secretary general of the frontline service provider Mouvement du Nid.
Strategic Advisor & Board Member
Kerry Propper is the co-founder and Managing Partner of ATW Partners and co-founder and Chairman of Chardan Capital Markets. He was the producer of the award winning film Watchers of the Sky - a documentary chronicling the life of Raphael Lemkin, the man who believed the law could protect the world from mass atrocities. Kerry was also part of the original team that initiated the campaign to bring ISIS before the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. He co-founded Yazda’s Genocide Documentation Project, which has been collecting evidence of Human Rights violations committed against the Yazidis. He is a co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative.