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JR new pic 2Julia Roig

Ms. Roig is responsible for the overall strategic direction of Partners for Democratic Change, an international organization committed to building sustainable capacity to advance civil society, democratic institutions and a culture of change and conflict management worldwide.  She is a team-oriented, collaborative manager who oversees the DC-based Partners team and provides technical and strategic leadership to the global network of 18 Partners affiliate Centers for Change and Conflict Management.

Ms. Roig is an attorney licensed in the state of Maryland with fifteen years of diverse international management experience. She is a substantive expert in Good Governance, Public Participation, Access to Justice and Conflict Resolution, and has provided systems design, strategic planning, cooperative advocacy, program management, community outreach and training throughout the world.  Prior to joining Partners, Julia served for two years as the Country Director for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Belgrade, Serbia.  She is also a recognized expert on community justice and dispute resolution in Colombia having spent five years living and working from Bogota, promoting a national expansion of the Equity Conciliation and Justice Houses programs. Julia has specialized in the evaluation of international assistance programs and impact assessments, and has served as team leader for complex, multi-country evaluations in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Senegal.

Prior to her international work, Julia served as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for both the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, and the D.C. Courts, acting as the main architect and promoter of new workplace dispute resolution services in both institutions.  She previously served as the Chair of the International Section of the Association for Conflict Resolution and as a member of the Editorial Board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly. Ms. Roig received her J.D. from the George Washington School of Law and is fluent in Spanish and proficient in French.



Nick Oatley
Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Oatley joined Partners for Democratic Change in September 2012 and assumes the large task of managing our expanding Washington DC office, taking the lead on supporting the program and operational teams, reviewing and managing our business development process, taking forward our strategic plan, and overseeing finance, communications, HR and operations.

He joins Partners from Search for Common Ground where he was part of the Senior Leadership Team responsible for leading on Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, institutional learning, business improvement projects, gender and peacebuilding and for managing the children and youth and leadership and training areas of work. He was also responsible for managing a number of externally funded projects including the development of the Learning Portal for Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding. He has worked in the field in Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Nepal.

With 13 years prior experience as an academic and over 9 years working for the UK government, Mr. Oatley has a rich background that complements the Mission and diverse work of Partners. He has worked at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office leading a team coordinating the development of the UK’s international sustainable development policies and implementation of UK commitments at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He also held positions at the Strategy and Innovation Unit in the UK Department for Education and Employment developing and piloting new policies on social inclusion and at the Government Office for the South West (a regional arm of the central UK government) where he was Head of Organizational Development and Strategy.

Mr. Oatley has led change management programs involving organizational redesign, business process reviews, board development, and leadership development, and has developed and implemented new project and program management approaches. He brings over 13 years’ experience as a trainer and educator based at the University of the West of England, Bristol where he also undertook research and consultancy, including leading an innovative government funded initiative that developed two Distance Learning curricula in Evaluation and Project Cycle Management. He is a highly skilled facilitator, coach and mentor.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Geography from McMaster University (Canada), degree in Geography from Exeter University (UK), and a degree in Town and Country Planning from Bristol Polytechnic (UK). He has also completed courses on environmental sustainability, conflict mediation, leadership, management and team building.


Teresa Crawford Teresa Crawford
Director, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe

Teresa Crawford is an experienced development professional with 16 years of extensive experience in over 30 countries working on issues as diverse as eradicating violence against women in war, disability rights and supporting the civic participation of marginalized groups.  Since 2009 Teresa has led the Sub Saharan Africa and Europe team at Partners for Democratic Change where she has grown Partners portfolio of programs in Africa with a focus on improving governance, engaging citizens and transforming security.  Teresa is the lead at Partners on work engaging the security sector on reform issues including democratic governance, accountability and improving performance.  She has trained US military and foreign military leaders on civil/military engagement and advised US AFRICOM on the development of an NGO engagement strategy.  From 2006 to 2009 she was the Director of the Advocacy and Leadership Center at the Institute for Sustainable Communities and built a robust training and capacity building program for civil society leaders with a focus on collaborative advocacy and transformational leadership. Teresa launched her career in Kosovo in 1998.  She is a co-founder of IPKO, the first post-war Internet service provider in Kosovo. IPKO is now a multimillion dollar company and Teresa is the managing board member of IPKO Foundation, the first endowed local foundation in the region. Teresa is a skilled speaker, facilitator and trainer with a particular expertise on the use of technology for outreach, engagement and mobilization.  



Ahmed Gutan
Director, Middle East and North Africa

Mr. Gutan joined Partners in October 2012 and currently serves as the Director for Middle East and North Africa programs. A native of Iraq, Mr. Gutan comes to Partners with13 years of experience working on international development and democracy programs in Iraq, Jordan, and England, including more than four years working with emerging Iraqi civil society. At Partners he oversees projects that enable at-risk youth to transform conflict, improve dialogue over justice and security, and strengthen civil society organizations to advance citizen interests, improve transparency, and raise accountability at the national and local level.

Previously, Mr. Gutan was the Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa programs, a role he held from 2012 when he joined Partners until the Spring of 2014 when he became Director. Before Partners, Mr. Gutan was the Iraq Country Director for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Mr. Gutan also worked as a Program Development Manager for JumpStart International in Jordan and helped lead the assessment for Women for Women International’s micro-credit program in Iraq. Mr. Gutan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Baghdad University and a Master’s in International Business Economics from Oxford Brooks University in England.


John Guzman John Guzman, Controller

Mr. Guzman joined Partners for Democratic Change in January 2011.  As Financial Controller, Mr. Guzman is responsible for directing, coordinating, maintaining, and controlling the accounting system so that it properly reflects Partners’ financial position. In coordination with the President and Senior Management, he ensures that organizational policies and procedures are being followed. He assists in establishing major financial goals and objectives of the company and monitors their implementation as well as serves as a resource for all aspects of budgeting, accounting and auditing.  Mr. Guzman is originally from Colombia, holds a CPA degree and a postgraduate degree in Corporate Finance.  Prior to joining Partners, he worked for over 10 years in the field as a Financial Controller for some of USAID's largest contractors.


Lelia MooneyLelia Mooney, Director, Latin America and the Caribbean

Ms. Mooney oversees Partners' programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, and works on the development of new cross-regional and multi stakeholder initiatives. She has over twenty years of experience designing, managing and evaluating complex governance, rule of law, gender and social inclusion, conflict management and transformation, extractive governance, multi-stakeholder engagement and local capacity development projects in Latin America, as well as in Africa and Asia. She has successfully led multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams in development, conflict and post-conflict contexts and facilitated local capacity development projects with government institutions, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector that achieved sustainability.

Prior to joining Partners, Ms. Mooney was the co-founder and Senior Director of the USAID funded Inter-American Democracy Network, with Asociacion Conciencia in Argentina, served as the Chief of Mission of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) Governance project in Paraguay and was a Rule of Law, Gender and Capacity Building Specialist of the USAID funded Women’s Legal Rights Initiative, with Partners of the Americas in Washington, D.C.. She has been a consultant to the World Bank, the United States Institute of Peace Rule of Law Center (USIP), a number of USAID funded projects, and other private initiatives.

She holds leadership roles in the American Bar Association Section of International Law (ABASIL) where she previously served as the Rule of Law Officer and currently is the Diversity Officer. She is also a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Task Force on Sustainability. Ms. Mooney is the editor of “Promoting the Rule of Law: A Practitioner’s Guide to Key Issues and Development,” released by ABA Publishing. Ms. Mooney is a trained attorney from Argentina. She holds an LL.M. in Law in Development Studies from the University of Warwick Law School from the United Kingdom and an LL.M. from the Georgetown University Law Center in the US. She is a former International Research Fellow at the Kettering Foundation and a Fellow of the Global Salzburg Seminar. She speaks native Spanish, fluent English with an intermediate command of Portuguese and French.


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Jonathan Apikian, Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa

Mr. Apikian joined Partners for Democratic Change in March 2013 as Manager for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). He comes with extensive experience managing grants and projects with major international donors. Prior to joining Partners, Mr. Apikian served as Program Officer for the MENA team at the National Democratic Institute, where he led programs in the Arabian Peninsula. He also worked at the Center for International Private Enterprise managing projects on democratic governance in Syria, Lebanon, and West Bank/Gaza. Mr. Apikian has worked alongside policymakers in Brussels, conducting field studies on diplomatic and conceptual security arrangements with NATO and the European Union. He holds an MPA in Public and Economic Policy from the London School of Economics and a B.A. (Honors) in International Relations from Tufts University. In addition to his native Amharic, he also speaks French, intermediate Arabic and Italian.


SergeySergei Nikolin, Deputy Controller

Mr. Nikolin joined Partners in October 2013 as the Deputy Controller and assists in all day-to-day Controller functions and operations. He has 20 years of experience with USAID Russia, where he held various senior positions in the Office of Financial Management including Chief Accountant and Deputy Controller of USAID Russia, positions he held for over ten years. Working on a broad spectrum of financial matters and a complex portfolio of $250 million dollars, Mr. Nikolin helped guide program teams through the complexity of financial rules and regulations. In recognition of his leadership and contribution to USAID’s operations, he was awarded the individual Department of State Meritorious Honor Award. Mr. Nikolin holds an MBA in Finance from California State University, East Bay.


Paulina OjedaPaulina Ojeda, Senior Manager, Business Development

Ms. Ojeda leads Partners’ business development initiatives, managing proposal coordination efforts, identifying new funding opportunities, sustaining partnerships and building Partners’ institutional knowledge capacities, particularly on youth and marginalized populations. Highly seasoned in designing and implementing multi-million dollar democracy and governance programs, Ms. Ojeda comes to Partners from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), where she was responsible for coordinating the start-up of IFES’ first large-scale, multi-donor non-USG funded project and launched IFES’ youth working group, providing strategic and technical guidance on youth programming. Previously, Ms. Ojeda worked with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), CARE-International, and the Organization for American States. A native of Ecuador, she has managed programs in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Pakistan. Ms. Ojeda has training and curriculum development experience in gender and elections, and participated in election observation missions in Guatemala, Perú, Thailand, Philippines, and El Salvador. She holds an MPA from the Maxwell School in Syracuse University and a BA in International Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University.


Nilanka SeneviratneNilanka Seneviratne, Senior Manager, PDCI Coordinator/Operations

Mr. Seneviratne joined Partners in October of 2007 as an Administration and Development Associate and has played an integral part in the organization’s growth and development. During his tenure at Partners he has contributed to numerous proposals, and managed diverse projects including Partners’ 20th Anniversary Innovations for Tomorrow Seminar Series and Conference, he has also assisted in the establishment of the Centers in Yemen and Senegal. Currently he works on the Africa team managing programs in Senegal and with Partners’ Africa Institute for Security Sector Transformation. Additionally, Mr. Seneviratne works on organization-wide initiatives and activities including: managing Partners’ Washington, DC office, external communications and organizational consolidation. Prior to joining Partners he worked with the Public Sector Services Unit of the Cardno Emerging Markets Group as well as worked for the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka. He holds a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in International Budgeting and Analysis from the George Washington University, a BA in International Studies and a BS in Psychology.


Kehinde Togun

Kehinde Togun, Senior Manager, Africa and Europe

Mr. Togun manages Partners’ sub-Saharan Africa programs. He has several years of experience implementing political party, governance, and civil society programs. Prior to joining Partners, he was a Senior Program Officer at NDI, with stints on the Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, and Southern and East Africa teams. Mr. Togun also served as the Monitoring and Evaluation officer for NDI in Iraq; and during Nigeria’s 2011 elections, he trained and advised civil society in Delta state as they monitored the electoral process. He previously held the Julius Nyerere Fellowship at The Africa Society in Washington, D.C. and has worked with the Kigali-based Imbuto Foundation. At Imbuto, Mr. Togun wrote a guide for parents on how to talk to children about sex and conducted a national evaluation of the African First Ladies' Campaign, "Treat Every Child as Your Own." He earned an MPP from Georgetown University and received his BA in Political Science and Economics from Rutgers University.


Elvira Felix

Elvira Felix, Manager, Communications

Ms. Felix leads Partner’s global marketing and communications initiatives. As an innovative professional proficient in public relations, digital media marketing and research for local and international community development, she comes to Partners with several years of experience in public outreach, multimedia communications, print publications, and website management for diverse audiences. Previously, she worked within USAID as a Technical Researcher and Outreach Communications Specialist, where she assisted several divisions with research, training, and marketing outreach for various sectors, including: private-public and cooperative partnerships for development, women and girls initiatives, food security, the open government initiative, and development innovations within data, science and technology. Ms. Felix is passionate about capturing the universal human element in storytelling. She believes that sharing our stories of innovation, strength, perseverance and compassion is an essential source of inspiration for the creation of sustainable solutions in an interconnected global community. She holds a BS in Speech Communications and a minor in Latino Studies from Millersville University; she is also in progress to completing a MS in International Marketing Management.


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Hugh O'Donnell, Manager, Africa and Europe

Mr. O’Donnell is a Manager with the Europe and Africa teams, and supports the development of new programming with a focus on governance and security sector reform. He began with Partners in 2011, working on a number of security sector reform initiatives in the office of our African affiliate, Partners Senegal. He returned to West Africa in 2012, supporting Partners’ programming in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Mr. O'Donnell holds an MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Denver.


Craig Phillips

Craig Phillips, Manager, Middle East and North Africa

Mr. Phillips joined Partners’ Middle East and North Africa team in 2013 as Senior Associate, supporting an array of new programming throughout the region. With a diverse background in grass-roots community building and outreach, research and writing, as well as communications and new media, Craig brings a unique skill set to the MENA team. He has experience in public and non-profit sectors, and has conducted trainings and led dialogues. Mr. Phillips has lived and studied in India and Egypt, and participated in fellowships in Poland and South Africa. With his academic background in Islamic studies, Mr. Phillips has a specialization in the religious dimensions of society and politics of the Muslim world. Craig is an enthusiast of language (Arabic, Farsi & Urdu), world music, and global creative expression.


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Nekose Wills, Manager, Middle East and North Africa

Ms. Wills has over a decade of health and human rights experience with various non-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Her areas of expertise include program planning and implementation, small grants and organizational management, and communications, writing, and editing. For several years, she served as the Deputy Director of Free the Slaves, an international NGO dedicated to eradicating modern day slavery. Ms. Wills is a committed women’s rights activist, with a lengthy work and volunteer history supporting a number of women’s health organizations. Some of her key positions include serving as the Health Information Manager at the National Women’s Health Network and a Financial Manager at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Ms. Wills brings her skills, spirit, and enthusiasm to Partner’s Middle East and North Africa team. She manages the Support for Training, Advocacy and Network Development program in the Gulf region and is responsible for producing communication materials. She holds bachelor’s degrees in media studies and women’s studies from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in Women’s Health from Suffolk University.


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Bisrat Woldemariam, Manager, Finance

Mr. Woldemariam joined Partners for Democratic Change in January 2014 as a Finance Associate. He comes with more than 10 years of experience working with both private and nonprofit organizations in different areas of finance and accounting. In addition to the day-to-day financial functions, Mr. Woldemariam is also responsible for reviewing and writing internal policies on finance and internal controls, reviewing and monitoring fiscal year budgets for multiple awards, and for providing training to sub-awardees and centers in financial reporting and compliance. Prior to joining Partners, Mr. Woldemariam served as Financial Analyst at FHI360 where he was responsible for monthly reporting and analysis related to Awards and Grants, reviewing and analyzing budget and cost variance, and creating financial reports for upper management review to support key decisions. He graduated from Unity University (Ethiopia) with a B.A. in Accounting.


Ian Oneill

Ian O'Neill, Associate, Accounting and Human Resources

Ian O’Neill joined Partners in July 2014 as an Accounting and HR Associate. Originally from Buffalo, New York, he is a graduate of Niagara University, where he majored in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting and a minor in Fraud Examination and Economic Crime. He has assisted the finance team in implementing new procedures to improve office efficiency. In addition to filling the role as a Human Resources Associate, he completes daily accounting functions such as paying vendors and dispersing funds to various projects. Mr. O’Neill looks forward to continuing to assist Partners in all their endeavors.


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Matt Schwab, Associate, Executive Programs

Mr. Schwab joined Partners in 2012 and since then has provided support to the wide array of programs administered by the organization. He works extensively on global projects and manages the Raymond Shonholtz Fellowship, an initiative within PDCI’s Latin American centers to foster the growth of young professionals within the network. Throughout his time at Partners, Mr. Schwab has contributed to mediations in Jordan and Peru and serves as the coordinator of the PDCI Communications Committee, a motivated group of representatives from throughout the network who facilitate the flow of information both within and outside PDCI. He has extensive experience in Latin America, having worked at CIPPEC, the leading think tank in Argentina and with the Global Brigades organization in Honduras on public health initiatives. Mr. Schwab holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and is fluent in Spanish.



Oriana LaVilla, Program Assistant, Middle East and North Africa

Oriana LaVilla is a Program Assistant with the Middle East and North Africa team at Partners for Democratic Change. She comes to Partners from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), where she provided support to programs addressing civil society, good governance and youth and women’s empowerment in Central and Eastern Europe. She also spent time studying post-conflict transformation and peace building in the Balkans and conducted field research in Sarajevo and The Hague on the relationship between the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and State Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina with regard to outreach and transparency. In addition, she completed a yearlong senior thesis on the relationship between judicial capacity-building efforts and reconciliation in post-conflict societies. She speaks Italian and holds a BA in Politics and International Relations, with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies, from Scripps College.



Taqwa Rushdan, Program Assistant, Middle East and North Africa

Ms. Rushdan is a Program Assistant for the Middle East and North Africa programs at Partners for Democratic Change. She brings a number of professional experiences related to countering violent extremism, social entrepreneurship, democratic governance and capacity building for civil society organizations. She has worked with a number of non-profit organizations such Center for Civilians in Conflict where researched civilian casualties in conflict zones and civilian-armed group relations. She also worked the National Democratic Institute, where she supported programs in Yemen that focused on women’s political participation, constitutional reform, and addressing the grievances of disadvantaged groups. While at the Center for Religion and Diplomacy, Taqwa supported faith-based peacebuilding initiatives. Taqwa is passionate about inclusivity and equal access to political platforms for all segments of society. She holds a dual degree in Arabic Studies and Anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park with a minor in International Development and Conflict Management.

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2013 Annual Report from Partners & PDCI

Last year, the 20 members of PDCI worked with over 86,000 people to improve governance, resolve conflicts, develop vibrant civil society sectors, empower women, youth, and minorities, and promote sustainable development. In our Annual Report, we share stories of our impact across the globe.

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Amb. Mark Bellamy on the Escalation of Political Violence in Africa

From August 4th-6th, 40 heads of state from across Africa met in Washington DC for the Africa Leaders Summit, in which meetings and events focused on the economic importance of the continent. Here, Partners Board Member Amb. Mark Bellamy discusses the risks of political violence in the region amidst such economic growth.

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Youth as Peacemakers in Tribal Yemen

Supporting young men and women in Yemen to realize their potential as conflict mediators, advocates, and community leaders.

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