The Strong Cities Network is led, managed and facilitated by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). For 15 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.
Moustafa Ayad – Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA)
Moustafa Ayad is Executive Director at ISD for Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA). He is author of the ISD reports The Propaganda Pipeline: The ISIS Fuouaris Upload Network on Facebook, El Rubio’ Lives: The Challenge Of Arabic Language Extremist Content On Social Media Platforms, ‘The Baghdadi Net’: How A Network of ISIL-Supporting Accounts Spread Across Twitter, The Management of Terrorist Content: How Al Qaeda Texts Continue to Evade Facebook and YouTube Detection, and co-author of No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe.
Daniel Hooton – Head of Strong Cities Network International Programmes
Daniel Hooton is Head of ISD’s Strong Cities Network (SCN) International Programme, with responsibility for strategy and delivery of international cities programmes. This includes current projects to develop institutional approaches to long-term governance, human security and social policy challenges in cities across Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. He has advised and worked with numerous international governments, UN agencies and mayors on international counterterrorism and counter-extremism strategy, briefing senior ministers and leaders and shaping multilateral cooperation on grassroots practice in cities around the world.
Daniel previously served as policy advisor to the Shadow Minister for Communities in the UK Parliament, developing opposition policy and scrutiny on community cohesion, social exclusion and public services reform.
He holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol, and has a longstanding interest in devolution, borders and port cities.
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.
Kelsey Bjornsgaard – Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building
Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Senior Manager at ISD, where she leads on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education through the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities programmes. Kelsey has developed strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging, working closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also has worked, through Young Cities, to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. She is the co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Duaa Khalid – Senior Grants Manager
Duaa Khalid is Senior Grants Manager at ISD, responsible for all grants management including reporting and compliance for all the projects at the organisation. Duaa has experience working with non-profit organizations and international charities managing international programs and donor relationships with DFID, EU and USAID, among others. Previously, she worked with Save the Children UK and Marie Stopes International. Duaa holds a BSc Hons in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE).
Dominic Pkalya – Senior Programme Manager, PROACT
Dominic Pkalya is a Senior Program Manager at ISD, working across ISD’s counter-extremism initiatives in Kenya and the Eastern Africa region as a whole. Dominic also supports the policy development, research, education and monitoring & evaluation methods to measure the impact of counter-extremism programmes off and online.
Dominic is managing the PROACT – Community Based Interventions Program as well as supporting the SCN and YC initiatives in Kenya. He ensures that ISD interventions in Kenya complement each other, support national and sub national (county) counter-extremism and hate strategies. He represents ISD in formal and informal engagements with government and other stakeholders.
He was previously the Chief of Party for the Strengthening Community Resilience against Extremism (SCORE), a USAID Kenya and East Africa funded counter-extrenmism project that was being implemented in the coastal region of Kenya by Act Change Transport (Act!) and 17 local partners. Previously, he worked with UNDP Kenya where he was seconded to National Drought Management Authority, a government agency, where he provided technical support in addressing Armed Violence reduction efforts amongst pastoralists communities in Kenya. He holds a Masters in Arts (Media, Conflict and Peace studiers) from University for Peace (Costa Rica) and a Bachelors of Arts (Government and Public Administration) from Moi University (Kenya).
Lama El-Awad, Regional Programme Manager, Middle East and North Africa
Lama El-Awad is the Regional Manager for the Strong Cities Network in Lebanon and Jordan, working across both countries to provide support to SCN, subnational entities and local prevention networks to prevent and counter violent extremism. Lama coordinates with national government and international organisations and represents SCN in formal and informal engagements with government and other stakeholders and in media.
Lama is also responsible for managing member engagement in the Middle East region, 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.
Lama is also a founding member of “Dawaer”, a Lebanese NGO committed to increasing the resilience of children and youth. Lama holds a Master’s degree in environmental management and has been an activist striving for the achievement of environmental and civil rights in Lebanon. Currently, she is a trainer on child rights and peacebuilding, and advocates for issues related to human rights, gender, diversity and peace, and has contributed to the launching of peacebuilding units at the municipal level and to several campaigns aimed at influencing public policies such as the “Campaign against Child Marriage”, the “Petition and Complaint” campaign, and the reform of the civic education curriculum in Lebanon.
Simeon Dukic – Manager, Balkans and Central Asia
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.
Anisa Harrasy – Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa
Anisa Harrasy is a Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa Manager at ISD, where she works across the Strong Cities Network and Young Cities Sub Saharan Africa programming. This work entails designing and delivering project activities with both youth and local government stakeholders. The activities range from capacity building workshops, grant management and supporting locally-led PVE initiatives. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development and networking in Sub Saharan Africa and specialises in promoting peace in East Africa. She is the co-author of the ISD reports Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. Anisa holds an MA in International Security from the University of Sussex and a BA in International relations with Arabic. She is bilingual Swahili and English, with basic Arabic proficiency.
Tim Hulse – Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation
Tim is a Manager 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.
Charlotte Moeyens – Networks and Civic Action Manager
Charlotte Moeyens is a Networks and Civic Action Manager at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, leading much of ISD’s practitioner and civil society capacity-building work, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources. She has supported the delivery of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety in Europe, Africa Online Safety Fund and Mayor of London’s Shared Endeavour Fund. Most recently, she is working with the McCain Institute to develop and build the capacity of a US Prevention and Intervention Practitioners Network. Charlotte also assists with ISD’s and the Strong Cities Network’s research efforts to better understand the scale and scope of extremist content online. She is co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Besim Dogani, Local Prevention Coordinator, North Macedonia
Besim is the Local Prevention Coordinator responsible for facilitating cross-municipal learning and sharing of best practices between the pilot and co-pilot cities in North Macedonia. He has been previously engaged with the Strong Cities Network as a consultant/project assistant responsible for recruiting municipalities to the network.
During his career, Besim has served as a member and vice chair of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia. Moreover, he has worked as a business advisor and PR Manager for the British Government’s “Know How Fund”, which funded Enterprise Support Agency from 1998 to 2001. He was also engaged with Washington DC’s Social Impact project to evaluate the integrated education in the Republic of North Macedonia in 2013.
Joe Downy – Coordinator
Joe is a Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network at ISD, and leads the Communications and Membership, as well as providing support on key initiatives within the SCN, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Initiative on National-Local Cooperation.
He holds a Master’s Degree with distinction in Conflict, Security and Development from 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.
Ghida El Assaad – Project Coordinator
Ghida is a Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network in Lebanon and Jordan. She is responsible for coordinating the implementation of community based activities and capacity building activities for local stakeholders and partners.
Ghida has been engaged previously in prevention of violent extremism, dialogue, peace building, relief, education and civic engagement programs in various projects in Lebanon. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the American University of Beirut.
Ahsan Habib – Local Coordinator, Bangladesh
Ahsan is the Local Coordinator of Strong Cities Network (SCN), ISD, responsible for coordinating and engaging with civil society organisations, mayors and local government officials, national government ministries and authorities, international community and multilateral engagement in Bangladesh. He is also working across the project monitoring with civil society grantees, providing technical support to their projects on a needs basis and supporting regional analysis and project monitoring and evaluation activities as required.
Ahsan is an anthropology teacher at Green University of Bangladesh and has been engaged in a number of research focusing on extremism, religious revivalism, local government and social changes. He holds a Masters in Anthropology from Jahangirnagar University of Bangladesh. He was also engaged with some C/PVE programs in Bangladesh implemented by local NGOs and funded by international agencies like GCERF and USAID.
Emir Hasanović – Western Balkans Coordinator
Emir Hasanović is the Western Balkans Coordinator at ISD, responsible for Young Cities Network and Strong Cities Network coordination in the region, research and analysis, communications, and expansion. He has a background in strategic communications and project management with international experience in consultancy, government, and non-profit sector. Prior to joining ISD, Emir has worked for communications agencies in the Middle East and the US, advising premier clients in environment, corporate social responsibility, human rights etc. He has also served as Special Adviser to the Deputy PM and Minister of Defence of North Macedonia for communications and international relations during North Macedonia’s successful bid to join NATO. He joined the development world after this as a Program Development Officer for a the USAID/OTI North Macedonia Support Initiative. Emir is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and fluently speaks Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian, English, as well as conversational French.
Martina Lappo – Project Coordinator, Young Cities
Martina Lappo is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the Young Cities programme in the West Africa region. Previously, Martina worked with NGOs and UN agencies in the Caribbean, and Central and West Africa. She has experience in project Monitoring and Evaluation, and in the implementation of sexual and reproductive health development programmes. She holds a Masters in Humanitarian Action from University College Dublin and a Bachelors’ Degree in Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Salford.
Shirley Otube – Coordinator, East Africa
Shirley Otube is a Coordinator for ISD in East Africa.
Jasmeet Sahotay – Project Coordinator
Jasmeet is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the YouthCAN and Young Cities projects. Jasmeet supports the delivery of the Youth Innovation Labs, manages the Communications for youth-related programming, and supports the development of new project activities and strategies. He is the lead author of the ISD report Voices of Pakistani Youth: Lessons for Civil Society in the Development of Effective Counter-Narrative Campaigns. He holds a Masters in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Politics from the University of Leeds.
Isel van Zyl – Civic Action and Capacity Building Coordinator
Isel van Zyl is a Civic Action and Capacity Building Coordinator at ISD. Her work entails assisting the Strong Cities Network and McCain Institute with implementing project activities and capacity building workshops. Isel holds a Masters degree in Advanced European and International Affairs at the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) in Nice, France. Her interests are concentrated on the different ways in which conflict manifests on the African continent, as well as the preventative measures taken by African states. Her research focus has been on the prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE), border security management, and rehabilitation and reintegration (formerly known as DDR). Prior to joining ISD, Isel worked as a Research Officer for the Institute for Security Studies in the Complex Threats in Africa programme.
Jon Jones – Evaluation and Outreach Associate
Jon Jones is an Evaluation and Outreach Associate at ISD for the Strong Cities Network. Jon is an MSc graduate in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Sussex. He has worked in consulting, evaluation and learning in the humanitarian sector and cultural heritage preservation in Palestine. Prior to joining ISD, Jon was involved in the development of a research and pedagogical initiative that centres global perspectives around issues of (in)security.
Akyar Maalim – Associate, East Africa
Akyar Maalim is an Associate for ISD in East Africa.