Meet the Team

The Strong Cities Network is managed and administered by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a London-based ‘think-and-do tank’. For a decade, ISD has pioneered policy and operational responses to the rising challenge of violent extremism across ideologies. The SCN team is integral to ISD’s work combating extremism globally. ISD has become the leading global non-governmental actor in this domain, partnering with governments, the private sector and leading universities worldwide.

The SCN Team:


Sabine Barton

Programme Coordinator

Sabine is a Programme Coordinator at ISD, working on the Institute’s Strong Cities Network.



Jonathan Birdwell

Head of Policy and Research

Jonathan Birdwell joined ISD in September 2015 as Head of Policy and Research. Jonathan oversees all of ISD’s research work and strategy, and provides strategic direction for ISD’s policy maker networks, including The Strong Cities Network and ISD’s Policy Planner’s Network (PPN).  Jonathan also manages the Denmark-MENA Strong Cities Exchange Programme, an in-depth two year project working with ten municipalities across Denmark, Jordan and Lebanon to build multi-stakeholder ‘Prevention Networks’ at the municipal-level. Previously, Jonathan was Head of the Citizenship and Political Participation Programme at the London-based think tank Demos, where he worked for seven years. At Demos, Jonathan authored over 40 research and policy reports on topics including the relationship between violence terrorists and non-violent Islamist radicals, ‘far right’ political parties and street-based groups in Europe, and utilising social media to mobilise voter turnout. Jonathan holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree cum laude from Tulane University.


Ruth Boey

Strong Cities Network Volunteer

Ruth is a volunteer for the Strong Cities Network at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Ruth recently graduated as a historian from Ghent University. She is specialised in Modern and Contemporary History and took a Minor in Political Sciences. She wrote her MA dissertation on the destruction of cultural heritage by Daesh, with a focus on religious fundamentalism, while analysing the group’s use of time and history in their discourse. Ruth’s other academic specialities and interests are historical reconciliation, theory of history, conflict studies, and Middle Eastern politics. With this internship, she aims to complement her academic background knowledge with practical experience in the field of counter violent extremism.


Harry Holcroft

Project Coordinator

Harry Coordinates the Danish exchange project from ISD’s London office. Elsewhere, he works across ISD’s Middle East projects in strategic communications and capacity building in Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco.

Specialising in the Middle East, Harry has previously lived and worked across the region. His previous appointments include political analysis and communications work with Aegis, Bell Pottinger, and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Cairo. Harry holds a First Class degree in Arabic and Middle East politics from the University of Exeter, with a year abroad in Syria. He is comfortable working in English, French and Arabic.


IMG_3723Daniel Hooton

Programme Coordinator

Daniel works as a Programme Coordinator on the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s Strong Cities Network (SCN), responsible for membership, programme delivery and partnership development. Prior to joining ISD in January 2016, he spent two years working in the UK Parliament as a researcher to the Shadow Minister for Communities, developing Labour Party policy on community cohesion and social exclusion, among other fields. He holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol.

Khadije Nasser

Regional Project Manager

Based in Beirut, Khadije is the Regional Project Manager for the Strong Cities Network Municipality Exchange Project with Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. She has extensive experience working in the MENA region ranging from the Danish Foreign Service to NGOs. Khadije holds a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Copenhagen.



Rebecca Skellett

Strong Cities Network Manager

Rebecca Skellett is a Senior Programme Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) managing the Strong Cities Network (SCN). Previously, Rebecca worked on the front-line of the UK’s countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts across several London boroughs.  She has extensive experience in developing local CVE programming and policy frameworks.  Rebecca is also a member of the UK Department for Education’s Expert Advisory Panel for Extremism.



Partner Organisations:

Global Center on Cooperative Security

The Global Center works with governments, international organizations, and civil society to develop and implement comprehensive and sustainable responses to complex international security challenges through collaborative policy research, context-sensitive programming, and capacity development. In collaboration with a global network of expert practitioners and partner organizations, the Global Center fosters stronger multilateral partnerships and convenes key stakeholders to support integrated and inclusive security policies across national, regional, and global levels.