The Strong Cities Network is led, managed and facilitated by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). For 10 years, ISD have responded to the rising challenge of extremist movements and the ideologies that underpin them, delivering cutting-edge programmes built from world-leading expertise in communications and technology, grassroots networks, knowledge and research, and policy advice.
Deputy Director, Policy, Research & Cities
Jonathan is Deputy Director, Policy & Research, overseeing ISD’s policy work and networks including the Policy Planners’ Network and the Strong Cities Network, as well as overseeing ISD’s work on education policy and programming. On the research side, Jonathan oversees ISD’s research and primary datasets, programme monitoring and evaluation, and edits all of ISD’s written outputs.
Since starting at ISD in 2015, Jonathan has overseen the launch and expansion of the Strong Cities Network from 25 to over 125 cities from every global region and growing. In addition to convening Global Summits in Turkey, Denmark and Melbourne, bringing together over 800 practitioners from nearly 75 countries, Jonathan leads on an exciting Strong Cities capacity building project in the Middle East, supported by the Danish Government. Overseeing a growing ISD team in the Middle East, Jonathan has worked closely with ISD Regional Manager Khadije Nasser to build six new ‘Prevention Networks’ and provide training to over 90 local stakeholders across six municipalities in Lebanon and Jordan.
On research, Jonathan is currently focused on building out ISD’s unique partnerships and online analytic technology and capabilities to provide up-to-date understanding of extremist propaganda and recruitment tactics in addition to the evaluation of online campaigns and ISD’s online one-to-one interventions.
Prior to joining ISD, Jonathan was Head of Programme at the UK cross-party think tank Demos, where he published over forty research reports on topics including violent extremism both Islamist (The Edge of Violence, 2010) and Far-Right (The New Face of Digital Populism, 2011). Jonathan has also written extensively on education (The Forgotten Half, 2011), social and emotional learning (Character Nation, 2015), youth social action and attitudes towards politics (Tune In, Turn Out, 2014), digital politics and marketing (Like, Share, Vote, 2014), trust in government (Trust in Practice, 2010) and religion and integration (Rising to the Top, 2015), among other topics. Jonathan holds a Master’s degree (with distinction) from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Philosophy from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Rebecca Skellett – Head of Strong Cities Network
Rebecca Skellett is Head of Strong Cities Network (SCN). Rebecca also supports ISD’s Education and Prevention activities regularly representing ISD at international events and in the media. Rebecca spearheads the Strong Cities Network (SCN), advocating for cities to have a central seat at the table in preventing and countering violent extremism in all its forms. The SCN is the first ever global city network devoted to uniting cities around the world to build social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.
The network comprises more than 130 cities from across 42 countries. Rebecca oversees the SCN’s activities ranging from advising cities directly, arranging global and regional training and capacity building activities engaging with mayors, municipal-level policymakers and practitioners to its long term strategies such as designing regional models for P/CVE.
Previously, Rebecca worked on the front-line of the UK’s Prevent CVE Programme across several London boroughs and has extensive experience in overseeing individual casework, conducting community engagement, developing local CVE programming, training and policy frameworks for local government and the education sector. Rebecca also advises national level policy-makers in the UK as a member of the UK Department for Education’s Expert Advisory Panel for Extremism.
Daniel Hooton – Deputy Head
Daniel Hooton is responsible for managing SCN regions, practice and digital delivery, and partnership development in support of the SCN’s leadership in strengthening local capacity to counter all forms of violent extremism and polarisation on a global scale.
In addition to developing and delivering training and cooperation on local action planning, regional collaboration and direct city consultations on local P/CVE strategy and practice, Daniel works to expand inter-disciplinary learning and expertise across violent extremism and urban violence prevention, including related integration and cohesion agendas.
Prior to joining ISD in January 2016, Daniel worked in the UK Parliament as a researcher and policy advisor to the Shadow Minister for Communities, developing Labour Party national policy and government scrutiny on community cohesion, social exclusion and public services. He holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol.
Sabine Barton – Senior Manager
Sabine Barton is a Senior Manager on the SCN, with a particular focus on youth engagement in P/CVE. Sabine is responsible for managing SCN regions and member engagement and training, including through city exchanges, practitioner workshops, and direct city consultations on local P/CVE strategy and practice to counter all forms of violent extremism and polarisation.
Sabine is currently focusing on developing regional models for local youth engagement in Europe, Africa and MENA, including through a joint project with the Nordic Council of Minister’s Nordic Safe Cities Network. She also works on the topics of integration and cohesion, in particular through the SCN’s workstream on Refugees and IDPs.
Sabine was previously involved in a research project on countering lone actor terrorism (CLAT) implemented by a consortium led by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in cooperation with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Chatham House and Leiden University. Prior to joining ISD in June 2015, Sabine worked as a research assistant focussing on consumer rights and ethical consumption in Australia.
Patricia Crosby – Manager
Patricia joined ISD as a Programme Manager leading on the SCN expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as part of its delivery of new pilot programmes in the regions. Under this new phase, Patricia will be responsible for strengthening sub-national governments’ capacity to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism (P/CVE). This includes developing context-specific training materials and tools, supporting national/local cooperation, facilitating whole-of-society approaches, city exchanges to share good practice, and direct policy and programming support to cities and sub-national governments.
Previously, Patricia worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat’s CVE Unit designing and implementing government capacity-building projects on community policing, youth empowerment, and education and dialogue in the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia. Patricia has also worked for the Canadian Government focusing on crisis response, consular emergencies and MENA development programming. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalisation with a Minor in Political Science from the University of Ottawa.
Simeon Dukic – Manager
Simeon Dukic joined ISD as an SCN Programme Manager for the Western Balkans and Central Asia. His main responsibilities will be to strengthen national to local coordination and cooperation in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in the Western Balkans. Namely, Simeon will work on setting up a multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary Local Prevention Network (LPN) in SCN member-cities. The primary role of the LPN will to draft and implement a tailored Local P/CVE Action Plan. Simeon will also be responsible for increasing SCN membership and engagement in Central Asian states.
Prior to his role at ISD, Simeon was a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism (NCCVECT) of the Republic of North Macedonia. He supported the coordination of 22 Line Ministries and Institutions involved in the work of the NCCVECT, CSO groups, the international donor community and regional counterparts. Additionally, he was involved in the drafting of the first National CVE Strategy.
Simeon holds an MA (Distinction) in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Global Challenges from Leiden University College, The Hague.
Marta Lopes – Manager
Marta is a Manager at ISD, working on the Strong Cities Network (SCN). She supports local authorities in developing and implementing programmes and models in the SCN’s regions to ensure tailored bottom-up responses to local challenges posed by violent extremist movements. Prior to joining ISD in July 2018, Marta completed a traineeship at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in the Human Security Division.
In previous positions she had the opportunity to work in several countries across Asia, in the US and in South Africa. Marta holds an MA in Conflict, Governance and International Development from the University of East Anglia. Her dissertation focused on local challenges and legitimacy issues in the peace-building process in Colombia, studying the interplay between state, civil society and local populations in the department of Chocó. Marta is bilingual French and Portuguese, and is also comfortable working in Spanish and German.
Nayla-Joy Zein – Regional Coordinator
Nayla is a Regional Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network Municipality capacity building project in Lebanon. She is currently providing support to the Regional Project Manager in implementing the project across Lebanese municipalities.
Nayla was previously a Research Assistant at McGill University, where she undertook research on issues of transitional justice in the MENA region, and women militancy and civil war in Lebanon. She recently interned at the Carnegie Middle-East Centre where she worked extensively on women radicalisation. She holds a B.A in Political Science and Philosophy from McGill University, Canada.
Tim Hulse – Coordinator, Monitoring and Evaluation
Tim is a Coordinator at ISD, working predominately on the Strong Cities Network (SCN) and Google Innovation Fund. His role consists of developing monitoring and evaluation systems for a range ISD programmes in order to demonstrate the impact that the Institute has in preventing and countering violent extremism. As part of this role Tim also supports a number of ISD partners in demonstrating the sustainable impact of their projects.
Tim has previously been engaged in research for a number of UK charities and NGOs focusing on extremism, Middle Eastern politics and refugee issues among other topics. He holds a Masters in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a Bachelors in the Study of Religions from the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Joe Downy – Coordinator
Joe is Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network at ISD, and is in charge of Communications and Membership. Having graduated with distinction in Conflict, Security and Development (MA) at the University of Sussex with a focus on Middle Eastern Politics and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, he joined ISD as an Intern on the Strong Cities Network before becoming an Associate.
Prior to joining ISD, he was a Research and Communications Assistant for Children on the Edge, with voluntary experience with NGOs in the UK, Lebanon and Turkey.