UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION
Harold E. Stassen Division in Minnesota

Speakers

Mehr "Jay" Shahidi

Topics for Two One-Hour Presentations:

Are the UN Global Goals Succeeding?
Dangers of New Middle East Alliances!

Mehr “Jay” Shahidi is the current president of the United Nations Association, Harold E. Stassen Division in Minnesota, having served as board member for many years working on areas of land mines, refugees, economic development, US leadership in UN, peace-keeping and peace-building, population planning and environmental protection. He has been a citizen lobbyist advocating for international social justice and economic development since 1966 and made hundreds of visits to political and governmental offices.

Jay has been a human rights activist in US for 48 years and served in leadership roles at over 40 civic, educational and charitable organizations including the American Refugee Committee, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, Citizens for Global Solutions, and, Population Connection. He has been a Great Decisions lecturer at Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center) for years, has written many articles and given over 800 public speeches on international issues. Some of his writings and interviews are available online at Minneapolis StarTribune, Twin Cities Daily Planet, Twin Cities Public TV, Belahdan TV, KAFI Radio, and Daily Telegraph in UK. He is a business owner in MN who was born in Tehran, Iran and came to the US for higher education after attending college in London, UK for 2.5 years. He graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with majors in economics and political science while becoming Student Body President, a newspaper columnist and a board member of Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce. He helped organize the International Student Office, a free legal aid service and Kessel Peace Institute there and has served on a university advisory board. Jay was awarded the university’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award in 2004.

Jay founded Decorative Construction Services, Inc. in 1977 which provides environmentally healthy building renovation in Twin Cities and M.J. Shahidi Business Consulting Co. which provides services to small business, non-profit and civic groups. He also co-founded the Iranian-American Society of MN.

Steve Werle

The Founding of the United Nations: A Historical Perspective

Steve Werle was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota and teaches Advanced Placement United States History in the Twin Cities. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1994 with a B.A.A. in Teaching Secondary Social Studies and earned a master’s degree from the same institution in 1999. He has taught a variety of high school history courses for over twenty years and also serves (pun totally intended) as a varsity tennis coach. Each summer Werle bakes thousands of Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the Minnesota State Fair. Mr. Werle is the author of An American Gothic: The Life & Times & Legacy of William Gates LeDuc. His most recent book, Stassen Again, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2015 and is available wherever books are sold. Werle lives in Minneapolis with his wife Colleen and their three sons.

Dr. Bharat Parekh

UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Dr. Bharat Parekh, a native of India, earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Rochester and has lived in the Twin Cities since 1987. An educator and consultant for US and Indian companies and NGOs, his work has involved technology transfer in the environmental and rural development sectors, including bio-fuels, food processing and modeling of water resource systems. Prior to his move to the Twin Cities, Dr. Parekh was professor of Physics at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and research scientist for the ND State Water Institute, Fargo, ND. His research focused on turbulence modeling and hydro-logic simulation to address complex river basin issues. In teaching, he was an early initiator of inter-disciplinary curriculum wherein, physics was learned in relation to areas such as art, technology, environment and health. Presently, he is a board member of several organizations including United Nations Association of MN (UNAMN), Citizens for Global Solutions Minnesota, Saint Paul Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations and Toddler Food Partners (TFP).

Speakers on International Issues

Humphrey International Fellows

We have a unique partnership with the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Every year UNA-MN partners with the Humphrey International Fellows. They are mid-career professionals and scholars committed to public service from around the world to the Humphrey School for professional enrichment, leadership development, and cultural exchange.

New Fellows will be available as speakers starting October 1st. Please contact us to request a speaker.

Ms. AlBeli Afifa

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Bangladesh

Ms. Mirette Bahgat

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Egypt

Mr. Floro Balato, Jr.

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Philippines

Mr. Paul Andrés Cuadrado

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Ecuador

Mr. Mmeli Dube

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Zimbabwe

Ms. Eszter Gál

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Hungary

Mr. Aung Gyi

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Myanmar

Ms. Darin Hussein

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Palestinian National Authority (West Bank)

Mr. Omer Khan

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Pakistan

Ms. Li Li

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China

Ms. Christine Lukudu

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South Sudan

Mr. Faisal Mukhtar

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Pakistan

Ms. Nodira Odinaeva

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Tajikistan

Ms. Abigail Ofori-Amanfo

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Ghana

Mr. Rodrigo Aybar Perlender

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Argentina

Mr. Esmatullah Sahebdil

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Afghanistan

Ms. Hina Tillat

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Pakistan

Ms. Madalina Turza

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Romania

Ms. Biljana Volcheska

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Macedonia

Lungten Zangmo

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Bhutan

Ms. AlBeli Afifa

Bangladesh

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Law Enforcement Practices & Human Rights

Ms. Afifa has over 10 years of experience working in law enforcement with the Bangladesh Police. She currently serves as the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Forces for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. In this position she is responsible for coordinating the activities of various divisions, criminal investigations and code enforcement, overseeing performance of the department, development and training, and ensuring observance of human rights standards in police work. In 2013 she led the Bangladesh Police UNPOL team in South Sudan as the Deputy Contingent Commander and was responsible for the Protection of Civilian duty, investigating violations of human rights, and providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons. Ms. Afifa was awarded the United Nations Medal in 2015 in recognition of her contribution to the Protection of Civilians during that mission. She has worked as a detective on high-profile cases concerning domestic and international terrorism and countering violent extremism. Ms. Afifa earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and a Master of Science in applied mathematics from the University of Dhaka. During her Humphrey Fellowship she plans to focus on law and human rights, specifically on the processes by which U.S. police departments seek to protect human rights.

Ms. Mirette Bahgat

Egypt

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Refugee Policies; Child Protection

Ms. Bahgat has over nine years of experience in the field of socioeconomic development, humanitarian work and refugee services. Prior to the start of her fellowship year she worked with Save the Children-Egypt, focusing on child protection and youth and adolescent development. Ms. Bahgat is also an emerging short story author and blogger. Her work has appeared in various publications, including The Huffington Post and Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks out for Freedom and Justice. In 2009, Ms. Bahgat was awarded The European Institute of the Mediterranean Writing Award. She was also awarded American University’s Madalyn Lamont Literary Award in 2016. Ms. Bahgat’s writing explores issues of identity, spirituality, mythologies and gender. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from Cairo University, and a Master of Arts degree in political science from American University in Cairo. While in the United States Ms. Bahgat will focus on learning strategies of youth development and explore new ways of advancing human rights through her writing.

Mr. Floro Balato, Jr.

Philippines

Area of Study: Trafficking in Persons, Policy and Prevention

Mr. Balato is a Senior Immigration Officer at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. He formerly served as Chief of the Port Operations Division of the Bureau of Immigration. In that role Mr. Balato supervised the operations of all international air and seaports, as well as border crossings in the country. Mr. Balato has expertise in the detection and prevention of human smuggling and trafficking. He has completed a number of specialized training programs related to that topic, including “Impostor Detection and Facial Image Analysis,” from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Canberra and Sydney, Australia in 2009. He obtained his Immigration Management Service certificate from the South Korean Ministry of Justice in 2012. He also finished Interpol’s Capacity Building Program for Counter Terrorism in Asia conducted by the Interpol Integrated Border Management Task Force in Manila, Philippines in 2013. Also in 2013 Mr. Balato was part of an international panel of experts that was consulted in the formulation and drafting of an Issue Paper entitled “Corruption and Smuggling of Migrants” published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria. He was a member of the Philippine team to the ASEAN Experts Working Group that drafted the recently adopted ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Mr. Balato is currently a member of the Philippine delegation to the ASEAN Experts Working Group crafting the ASEAN Agreement on Cross Border Transport of Passengers and served as one of a group of experts that drafted the Philippines migrant smuggling bill for deliberation by Congress. For his outstanding performance in international law enforcement cooperation he has received awards and commendations from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Canada Border Services Agency and South Korea Ministry of Justice, among others. Mr. Balato holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences from the University of the Philippines, a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas, and a Master in Public Management from Ateneo de Manila University.

Mr. Paul Andrés Cuadrado

Ecuador

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – LGBTI Rights & Advocacy

Mr. Cuadrado is a social science professional from Ecuador. He has studied social management and development in Ecuador and Spain, as well as democracy in Sweden. For the past eight years Mr. Cuadrado has worked as a teacher and a consultant for Esquel Foundation, an NGO dedicated to sustainable human development. He has designed and written at least 200 project proposals which have brought in $3 million in international funding to a development area in Ecuador. Mr. Cuadrado has also collaborated on programs looking to strengthen civil society and education. He has a deep interest in human rights promotion, specifically relating to LGBTI, women and youth. Mr. Cuadrado hopes his experience at the Humphrey School will provide him tools, knowledge and good practices to develop better advocacy campaigns, as well as projects for the promotion of human rights in Ecuador.

Mr. Mmeli Dube

Zimbabwe

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mr. Mmeli Dube is a human rights activist with over eight years of experience in organizing rural and urban communities, advocacy and training, project management, public policy analysis, civic education, research and leading non-profit organizations. Over the course of his career he has led and participated in initiatives that have been instrumental to the increase in youth participation in public life in Zimbabwe, particularly in the areas of local governance elections, constitution making process and campaigns for enhancing accountability among public leaders. Between 2007 and 2013, he contributed to a successful campaign for constitutional reform and inclusion of a provision for devolved governance in Zimbabwe. Mr. Dube has helped lead the formation and strengthening of different non-profit associations that have amplified the voices of citizens in demanding quality social services and accountability and inclusion in decision making. He is currently a consultant with the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe. Mr. Dube holds a Master of Science in development studies from National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. Upon completing his Fellowship, he intends to continue his human rights advocacy work in Zimbabwe.

Ms. Eszter Gál

Hungary

Area of Study: Trafficking in Persons, Policy, and Prevention

Ms. Gál is an anti-trafficking Desk Officer at the Department of European Cooperation in the Hungarian Ministry of Interior. She works in close cooperation with national and international authorities and institutions and non-governmental organizations involved in the fight against human trafficking. As a working group leader from 2013 to 2016, Ms. Gál was responsible for the development of the Hungarian National Strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings. She has served as a contact person for the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Ms. Gál also served as a project manager for the coordination and implementation of an EU-funded anti-trafficking project in cooperation with the Netherlands and Belgium, which aimed to develop a transnational referral mechanism for the victims of trafficking in human beings (http://www.ravot-eur.eu/en/). Ms. Gál holds a Bachelor degree in international studies and Master degree in translation and interpretation in English and German from the University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary. She is a recipient of the Hungarian Public Administration Scholarship Program.

Mr. Aung Gyi

Myanmar

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mr. Gyi has over 10 years of experience in development to promote democratic reform and social economic growth by integrating aid activities strategically into the larger development and policy plans of Myanmar. He currently serves as Field Director for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in the Rakhine and Southern Chin provinces. Mr. Gyi’s role at IRC includes providing oversight on programming and strategic planning, human resources and security operations, and liaising with government agencies, nongovernment and community-based organizations, and other development and relief actors in the area. Mr. Gyi holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Public Administration from Yangon University. As a Humphrey Fellow Mr. Gyi plans to focus on policy and management of public programs to learn how partnerships with diverse actors have led to positive results. He looks forward to exchanging experiences with U.S. government and nonprofit agencies.

Ms. Darin Hussein

Palestinian National Authority (West Bank)

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Ms. Hussein is a former Program Manager at Welfare Association, a leading Palestinian non-governmental development organization that strives to make a distinguished contribution toward furthering the progress of Palestinians, preserving their heritage and identity, supporting their living culture and building civil society. Prior to working with Welfare Association Ms. Hussein worked as a Program Manager with Palestine Education for Employment Foundation (PEFE), a non-profit organization. At PEFE, she oversaw the fundraising, design, implementation and evaluation of youth programming. She was recently nominated for the Michigan Professional Fellows Impact Award for her volunteer work creating Career Centers at universities in Ramallah. In addition to this she has mentored youth in her community, spoken on issues related to youth employment and continues to help young people gain the tools necessary to reach their goals. Ms. Hussein holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Birzeit University in the West Bank and a Master of Science degree in international development from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. During her Humphrey Fellowship year, she intends to expand her knowledge of advocacy, economic development and strategic management and governance of nonprofits.

Mr. Omer Khan

Pakistan

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mr. Omer Khan is a civil servant from Pakistan with more than seven years of experience in policy development, disaster risk management, development and governance reforms, donor relations, communications and capacity building. He has in-depth knowledge and experience at the federal and provincial levels, working in crisis-affected areas and situations. Mr. Khan is passionate about strengthening Pakistan’s image internally and externally through his involvement in large-scale and grassroots development projects. He also has a keen interest in sustainable development and governance reform. Currently he is posted to the Federal Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, where he is responsible for the training of civil servants in public relations and media management. Mr. Khan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history and a Master of Arts degree in English literature and linguistics. He considers the Fellowship as an opportunity to learn and experience the best international theory and practice in the domain of public policy. Through courses at the University of Minnesota and the applied portion of the Fellowship, he hopes to enhance his understanding and appreciation of this important aspect of governance.

Ms. Li Li

China

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Domestic Abuse Prevention, Advocacy & Education

Ms. Li is currently the Program and Operations Manager in the Beijing office of The Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet). She is responsible for organizing and implementing PILnet’s projects, including an annual domestic and international fellowship program, capacity-building training for grassroots NGOs, and conferences and workshops for public interest and commercial lawyers, legal NGO workers, law professors and students. Ms. Li also helps promote pro bono work in China and helps organize the PILnet Asia and European Pro Bono Forum. She is PILnet’s primary liaison with government and top private sector donors, 10 peer INGOs and 50 local project partners. Ms. Li earned her Bachelor of Arts in economics from Hebei University; she then studied sociology at Peking University and received a Master of Laws degree. She visited the United States previously as an exchange fellow for the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Ms. Christine Lukudu

South Sudan

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Ms. Lukudu is an Operations Analyst for the World Bank in South Sudan. Her responsibilities include co-leading a three-year World Bank strategy for South Sudan and spearheading a “Lessons Learning Review” analysis of the World Bank’s work in the country. Prior to that she worked with various institutions including the United Nations Development Fund, Academy for Educational Development (AED) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Ms. Lukudu worked in development, humanitarian and emergency operations and support programs/projects in various parts of South Sudan. Her major achievements include implementing a successful public administration system at the state level with AED and spearheading the successful implementation, evaluation and closure of the largest humanitarian donor fund in South Sudan, the Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Christine earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Lancashire (United Kingdom) and a Bachelor of Science in information technology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya). During her Humphrey Fellowship she will focus on public policy analysis to advance development in South Sudan.

Mr. Faisal Mukhtar

Pakistan

Area of Study: Human Resource Management

Mr. Mukhtar is the Superintendent of Police (Operations) at Capital City Police in Lahore, Pakistan. He previously served as the police detective responsible for supervising and coordinating the investigation of criminal cases and ensuring that procedures were conducted in accordance with laws and regulations. Mr. Mukhtar has extensive experience with the policing of areas targeted by militant groups, having been previously posted to the most fragile and volatile region of Pakistan. Over the course of his career he has been involved in initiatives promoting community policing, establishment of women complaint centers, employment of modern investigation techniques and the setup of mobile forensics labs. Mr. Mukhtar holds a Bachelor degree in computer science, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Upon completion of his Humphrey Fellowship he hopes to be better equipped with new skills, theoretical understanding and relevant practical experience to improve security and the rule of law in Pakistan.

Ms. Nodira Odinaeva

Tajikistan

Area of Study: Trafficking in Persons, Policy, and Prevention

Ms. Odinaeva is a Project Assistant for the International Organization for Migration in Tajikistan. Her responsibilities include implementing counter human trafficking programs, coordinating activities with ministries and other local actors, maintaining contracts, reporting, monitoring and evaluation. Ms. Odinaeva has spent the last decade improving interagency communication regarding human trafficking cases and incorporating civil society in the process to combat trafficking in the most challenging regions in Tajikistan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations from Russian-Tajik (Slavonic) University in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and a Master of Business Administration from Bahodur Institute of Management Sciences in India. During her Fellowship year, Ms. Odinaeva will focus on U.S. officials’ responses to human trafficking, improved methods of identification, victims’ referral and psychosocial assistance to human trafficking victims. In the long-term Ms. Odinaeva intends to facilitate conduction of campaigns in rural areas to raise awareness about human trafficking and to guarantee the safety of witnesses and victims during the investigation and prosecution process. She also wants to improve the collection of data to better inform policies that seek to protect victims.

Ms. Abigail Ofori-Amanfo

Ghana

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Women’s Rights

Ms. Ofori-Amanfo is an activist with a passion to educate women and girls on their legal rights. She joined the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in May 2009 and now serves as Assistant Registrar in voluntary services. In 2012 she worked as a temporary voluntary employee for the Waddow Hall Girl Guiding Centre in Clitheroe, United Kingdom. Ms. Ofori-Amanfo has also worked as a part-time tutor at the Wesleyan Center for Continuing Education under Methodist University College, Ghana, where most of her students were young single mothers. She has dedicated her career to advocating for socioeconomic advancement and the rights of girls and women. Ms. Ofori-Amanfo holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. As a Humphrey Fellow, she plans to focus on gender mainstreaming in development, and more effective enforcement of women’s human rights.

Mr. Rodrigo Aybar Perlender

Argentina

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mr. Aybar has served in several positions at the National Social Security Administration of Argentina. Prior to accepting the Humphrey Fellowship he served as General Director of Benefits, authorizing pensions for millions of beneficiaries in his country. During the last 13 years he served in public management positions in three levels of government. He is currently Vice President of Contemporanea Foundation, a nongovernmental organization aimed at training young social and political leaders, and a member of Political Action Network, a civil organization that promotes dialogue among politicians and to strengthen the relationship between civil society and political leaders. Mr. Aybar earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires, studied Portuguese language at University of Brasilia (Brazil), and then completed an intensive course on public administration at Georgetown University in Washington DC. During his year at the Humphrey School Mr. Aybar aims to learn analytical and executive tools in public policies, particularly in social policies focused on young people who neither work nor study. He believes that sharing with people from other cultures will be invaluable to learn about other experiences that could be applied in his country.

Mr. Esmatullah Sahebdil

Afghanistan

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mr. Sahebdil was the Policy and Planning Advisor for the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees (MoRR) in Afghanistan before beginning his fellowship year at the Humphrey School. In that position he was responsible for establishing mechanisms to assist the Planning and Program Department in coordinating with key government agencies in relation to policy and strategic initiatives being undertaken by the MoRR. Mr. Sahebdil served as liaison to key international and national players, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organization on Migration, Norwegian Refugee Council and other intergovernmental and international nongovernmental organizations. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education (GIHE) and published articles on good governance, decentralization and applicability of the federal arrangement in the Afghan context. During his fellowship year he plans to study public policy analysis and public administration, focusing on how policies are formulated, implemented and evaluated. In addition, Mr. Sahebdil plans to explore American society and culture and how institutions function.

Ms. Hina Tillat

Pakistan

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Ms. Tillat formerly worked for the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) Post Crisis Need Assessment (PCNA) as a social sector specialist. Her position involved designing and implementing policy and governance reform initiatives for the Planning and Development Department FATA, to provide a platform for improved public administration. Ms. Tillat was the recipient of an Australian Development Scholarship for a Master in Development Studies from Melbourne University, Australia (2011-2012) and holds a Master degree in psychology. Her work experience with donors like the World Bank, USAID, European Union and UNICEF; government departments such as the FATA Secretariat, educational institutions like Melbourne University and Institute of Management Sciences; and INGOs like International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and Oxfam Australia spans over 10 years. During her Fellowship year she intends to learn skills in policy analyses and implementation in the United States.

Ms. Madalina Turza

Romania

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Disability Rights & Advocacy

Ms. Turza is a leading advocate for disability rights in Romania, with more than 10 years of experience in strategic communication, human rights, advocacy, strategic litigation and project management. She currently serves as the president of the European Centre for the Rights of Children with Disabilities (www.cedcd.ro), a nongovernmental organization based in Romania. Ms. Turza has wide experience managing national advocacy projects, a proven ability to foster grassroots support for public policy reforms, and has served as a spokeswoman for disability rights in the media. She is the author of the first national academic research on the special education system in Romania, Isolated Among Us (2015), and has written several academic articles on the right to inclusive education of children with disabilities. Ms. Turza has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science (English curriculum) from the University of Bucharest, Romania, and a Master of Laws in international humanitarian law, as well as several post-university specialty training courses in disability law, European anti-discrimination law and communication.

Ms. Biljana Volcheska

Macedonia

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights – Privacy Rights & Personal Data Security

Ms. Volcheska is a Senior Inspector at the Directorate of Personal Data Protection in the Republic of Macedonia. In this position she serves as a legal expert and consultant to state institutions and private companies, performing audits and making recommendations to ensure compliance with privacy regulations. Ms. Volcheska has conducted research into the right to privacy and data protection in the EU, completing a comparative study between the EU’s standards and regulations and Macedonia’s. She holds a Bachelor of Law degree from Saints Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje and has completed her studies in Euro-integration. During her time as a Humphrey Fellow Ms. Volcheska would like to explore policy issues related to human rights with a special focus on privacy and personal data protection.

Lungten Zangmo

Bhutan

Area of Study: Technology Policy/Management

Ms. Zangmo is Deputy Chief Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Officer working with the Government to Citizen Office under the Cabinet Secretariat in Bhutan and is involved with improving public service delivery initiatives. She is driven by her professional interest in project management, having worked with IT projects related to democratic governance. Ms. Zangmo holds a Bachelor of Science and Engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology, India and a Master of Health Informatics from the University of Wollongong in Australia. Upon her return to Bhutan she plans to address current shortfalls in the country’s public service delivery system, such as setting standards for all public services, designing policies and strategies to strengthen ICT governance models, compliance indicators and regulations.