Starting in 2008, Julia had the privilege of working as Executive Director for two years at PartnersGlobal under the mentorship of our founder Raymond Shonholtz. She took over as President of the organization in 2010 upon his retirement and feels strongly about carrying on his legacy. Her roots in Portland, Oregon are an important part of her identity, as well as the number of years she spent living and working in Bogota and Belgrade.
Julia has spent her entire career as a mediator, conflict resolver and peacebuilder and brings to the Partners Network a commitment to multi-lateralism, authentic partnership and building bridges with other networks and industries. Trained as a lawyer, she is a collaborative leader who drives the entrepreneurial spirit at PartnersGlobal to continue to grow and adapt as an organization.
Anyone who knows Julia well, knows she loves to bake cookies for her loved ones, will lead any group in song around the piano or campfire and has been accused of being a “pathological optimist.”
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Kyra’s journey with PartnersGlobal began in 2017 when she was tapped for her expertise in access to justice, rule of law, and human rights issues to advance Partners’ programs and local partner capacities. Over time, she took on diverse management roles and in January 2020 became Managing Director for Program Portfolios. In this capacity, Kyra provides strategic oversight and guidance on management and program implementation across all regions and thematic areas. In January 2021, she was named Co-Executive Director.
From 2014-19, Kyra served as Senior Technical Director of New Rule, LLC, providing technical assistance across the globe while involved in all aspects of the development and growth of a woman-owned small business. She has lived in South Asia and Eastern Europe, where she advised national human rights institutions, government agencies, and community-based organizations on capacity building and citizen services delivery. Kyra launched her development career as one of the initial directors of the American Bar Association’s overseas programming. She credits this experience with igniting her passion for justice for the underserved and opening her eyes to the reality that lasting change requires long-term commitment.
Kyra is a Double Hoya – a graduate of both Georgetown University Law Center and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. She and her husband have four children and two cats. When not traveling together (19 countries as of 2019), they play a lot of board games – very competitively – and everyone pretends to listen to Kyra pass down family lore.
Roselie joined PartnersGlobal in 2015 as Global Director for Civil Society. In this position, she played a dual role with a foot in both the regional teams and the technical support team. She provided strategic planning and oversight for the Latin America programs and played a leading role in advancing PartnersGlobal’s civil society resiliency programming and innovative Resiliency+ Framework, which offers tools and tactics to support organizations in navigating complexity and thriving in uncertainty. In 2021, Roselie was promoted to Co-Executive Director.
She began her career in Moscow as a PR manager on the first USAID public-private partnership promoting distance learning for staff of Russian-American joint ventures. From there she spent several years working at the intersection of capacity-building, advocacy, and entrepreneurial skill-building, often in politically challenging and conflict-affected environments. She has designed and led multiple projects, including as Country Director and Chief of Party for programs to build organizational sustainability and resiliency through soft diplomacy, social entrepreneurship, public-private partnerships, and alternative revenue generation in fragile and volatile states. She has worked across Russia and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Among her achievements, she created a sustainable civil society capacity building program in Central Asia, worked to empower women social entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia, and built a network of women’s health advocates across nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa. She also launched and led her own small business delivering last mile connectivity solutions for civil society organizations.
Holding a master’s in international communications, Roselie approaches her work through a lens of strategic communications and entrepreneurial thinking.
As CFO for PartnersGlobal, John manages Partners‘ finances, including financial strategy planning, management of mitigation of financial risks, record-keeping, financial reporting, and data analysis. He also assists PartnersGlobal on all strategic matters related to budget management, cost analysis, forecasting, and securing the financial health of the programs.
John has extensive experience managing finance, administration, and audit departments in companies with multi-million dollar, multi-year programs. He has a strong history building automated solutions to provide timely decision support. John also has experience developing business metrics and models to use collaboratively with key internal and external executives to make sure goals are reached. John brings experience guiding international finance teams in the design, implementation and evaluation of internal controls to achieve operational objectives, ensure accuracy and reliability of financial information, and ensure compliance with the law.
As a promoter of efficient and effective operations, John is an early adopter of technology that helps improve both work and everyday life.
Nilanka grew up in Columbia, SC except for one year when he went to middle school in his parents’ homeland of Sri Lanka. He has the distinction of being the first DC-based employee after PartnersGlobal moved from our original offices in San Francisco in 2007. He joined us right after graduating with an MPA from George Washington University, working closely with our founder Raymond Shonholtz to help grow that two-person office to the organization we are today.
Nilanka has worn many hats within PartnersGlobal, but his current role entails overseeing the office, donor compliance, and overall operations of the organization. Informally, Nilanka serves as the organization’s historian and continues to maintain strong relationships with all the Partners Network members throughout the world.
In college Nilanka worked as a radio DJ; and, prior to working at PartnersGlobal he has held a variety of jobs, from shelving books to selling rugs. Along the way Nilanka has compiled a library of useless information so should you ever need to know what actor has only appeared in movies that got nominated for best picture he’s your guy.
Bisrat Yohannes is the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at PartnersGlobal with a key role in financial management, financial forecasting and planning, development of relevant financial information, and timely financial reporting. He assists the CFO in developing internal control policies, guidelines, and procedures as well as establishing and maintaining an infrastructure that supports future stable growth and ensure that highest standards of financial integrity are being attained.
Before joining PartnersGlobal, Bisrat worked at Helen Keller International as program finance manager overseeing everyday program financial activities for multimillion-dollar programs funded by USAID and private foundations. He has extensive experience in all aspects of financial management ranging from simple accounting to complex financial management.
Bisrat holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting with more than 15 years of experience. Originally from Ethiopia, he enjoys reading books and playing/watching sport in his free time.
Solange Bandiaky-Badji is the Senior Director for Africa and Women, Peace & Security at PartnersGlobal where she oversees donor-funded programs on access to justice, security sector reform, and peacebuilding.
Prior to joining PartnersGlobal, Solange directed the Africa Program at the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and led its Gender Justice Program advocating for the forest and land rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women. She has done consultancy work for United Nations agencies and worked for two years as the regional expert on gender and climate change for the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) and the UNDP Gender Team in New York. She has twenty years of combined academic and professional experience in international development in Africa promoting local communities’ and women’s rights to resources, including coalition building.
Solange has a Ph.D. from Clark University/Massachusetts in Women’s and Gender Studies. In her dissertation, she analyzed how decentralization reforms and participatory approaches have excluded women from effective participation in natural resource governance. She has published and contributed to research in edited books and peer review journals, as well as coordinated and led the production of major reports in relation to natural resource management, gender, decentralization, climate change, and peacebuilding.
Originally from South Texas, Edith joined PartnersGlobal in August 2019 as the organization’s first Human Resources Leader. Edith received her BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Baylor University, and her MA in Public Administration in Human Resources Management and Legal/Judicial Administration from Texas State University. Prior to joining PartnersGlobal, Edith managed the Talent Management and Human Resources functions for large and mid-size corporations across the United States, Mexico, and Canada in industries including real estate, retail, and legal services.
As the organization’s Human Resources & Talent Management Director, Edith is responsible for leading senior leadership and management teams in reinforcing strong company culture, creating and leading employee engagement and development programs, and implementing reward and talent management strategies that support the achievement of PartnersGlobal’s mission. Edith’s other areas of responsibility include: talent acquisition, employee relations, health and welfare, safety, organization development and learning, and compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
When not working, Edith enjoys spending time with her family, running and singing off-tuned karaoke. Edith is the proud wife of a U.S. Army Physical Therapist and in addition to having two fur babies, Kitty and Koko Kardouni, she is the proud aunt to three nephews and three nieces. In her spare time, Edith also enjoys mentoring up-and-coming HR professionals where she shares her knowledge and passion for people operations programs.
Luis has been part of the Partners Network since 2008, starting his career at our sister organization in Mexico, Centro de Colaboración Cívica (CCC), where he served as a facilitator for complex multi-stakeholder dialogue processes and Director for the Citizen Security and Human Rights portfolio. He joined the PartnersGlobal team in 2015, bringing to the organization a deep level of technical and regional expertise. He has experienced firsthand the power of dialogue and believes deeply in positive conflict transformation.
At PartnersGlobal, Luis oversees Partners’ Civil Society Resilience portfolio as well as the organization’s peacebuilding and democracy-building programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. He is one of the organization’s lead trainers and focal point persons for civil society capacity-building and conflict resolution, providing support to other regional teams and leading different global consultancies. He has a decade of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating multi stakeholder dialogue, negotiation, and consensus-building processes and platforms concerning human rights, access to justice, and human security policies and laws, as well as designing organizational change management processes and supporting civil society organizations to undertake those processes.
Luis earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City and his Master of Arts in Development Studies with a specialization in Crises, Emergency Interventions, and Development Actions from Université Panthéon – Sorbonne in Paris.
In addition to his work at PartnersGlobal, Luis is an avid reader and chef, as well as an aspiring potter.
Rasha started her journey with the Partners Network in 2009. She first worked at Partners-Jordan for around eight years and then later joined the PartnersGlobal team at the end of 2019 as the Director for Middle East and North Africa and Civil Society Strengthening.
Rasha found her passion supporting the development of local communities in early 2000. She has worked with civil society organizations and activists around the world to amplify their voices, increase citizen participation in decision-making processes, advocate for human rights, and innovate in creating solutions to social problems.
Rasha is a passionate catalyst for change. She believes she is alive to make a difference in this world and is constantly looking for an opportunity to do so. Outside of her work, Rasha enjoys dancing and teaching Levantine folkloric Dabkeh dance.
Bridget is a native of the Boston area and started working at PartnersGlobal in 2013 as an intern while pursuing her Master of Arts in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University. She previously lived and worked in Maracaibo, Venezuela as a Fulbright Fellow.
As Senior Manager for Business Development, Bridget provides strategic leadership for Partners’ business development efforts. Her role includes developing and leading knowledge management processes, building and sustaining external partnerships, supporting new programmatic and funding opportunities, and coaching and mentoring team members and local partners. Bridget is an experienced trainer and facilitator in English and Spanish and leads PartnersGlobal’s Facilitating Accountability, Integrity, and Resilience approach, which supports local civil society and governments to jointly counter corruption and increase transparency in all aspects of governance. In addition to her official duties, Bridget takes pride in making Partners a better place to work and believes strongly in the power of teamwork, collaboration, and playfulness.
In her free time, she enjoys going on adventures, testing new and ever more elaborate recipes, and pretending that her cat and dog get along.
Jill joined PartnersGlobal in 2019 as the organization’s first Strategic Communications Manager. She comes to the role with a background in development, conflict resolution and human rights and a passion for storytelling. Prior to joining Partners, she served as Strategic Content Manager at the global development organization Creative Associates International, where she led communications strategy and production across Creative’s website, social media, other digital platforms and print, working with and traveling to projects in nearly 30 countries. Before that, she supported the Middle East and North Africa portfolio at Human Rights Watch.
At PartnersGlobal, Jill helps to advance the mission and impact of Partners and its programs by developing and implementing communication strategies and by providing strategic guidance and oversight in marketing, public relations and digital engagement efforts.
She received her M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Human Security from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and her B.A in International Relations from Georgetown University. In her free time, Jill loves cooking, reading and Facetiming her nieces and nephews.
Rasheedah joined PartnersGlobal in 2020 as Senior Program Manager with the Africa team. Before joining Partners, Rasheedah was with Freedom House where she was responsible for the Francophone Africa portfolio in the emergency assistance program (EAP). Rasheedah has 10+ years of conflict transformation and security sector experience combined with governance and human rights work from Central and West Africa. Having worked and lived for several years in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, and the Ivory Coast supporting two separate UN missions and local NGOs, Rasheedah’s professional scope of knowledge and experience in international development—specifically conflict transformation work was largely framed by this field experience.
In her role as a Senior Program Manager with the Arica team, she is responsible for supervising road safety and community inclusion projects in the Sahel to assist local partner centers with scaling and building out locally designed initiatives that holistically address inter and intra-roadway insecurity in the region.
Rasheedah completed her undergraduate studies at Florida A&M University and her Masters in Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development at the School for International Training in Vermont. In her free time, Rasheedah likes to spend time with her family, discovering more about her newly revealed Mende ancestry from Sierra Leone, and stream movies.
Ali El Yassir joined PartnersGlobal in June of 2020 as a Program Manager providing support to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) portfolio. As a Program Manager, Ali works with Partners‘ field teams in the Middle East to manage the implementation of programs focused on conflict stabilization and peacebuilding.
Ali comes to Partners with more than eight years of experience working on the MENA region. Prior to joining Partners, he was a Project Manager at ARK Group, a research and programming consultancy, where he led conflict stabilization, countering violent extremism, and governance projects in Syria and Lebanon. In addition to working closely with local civil society partners, he oversaw the research and analysis of in-country developments and conflict dynamics, as part of the projects he managed, for the purpose of informing project implementation and donor priorities. Prior to ARK, Ali researched and analyzed political and security developments in the Middle East region at a number of think tanks, including the United States Institute of Peace, the Middle East Institute, and Carnegie’s Middle East Center.
Ali received his master’s degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the American University of Beirut.
Alexa is a Program Manager of the PartnersGlobal Civil Society Resilience portfolio, focusing on increasing the resilience of civil society organizations in closing civic spaces.
Before joining PartnersGlobal, Alexa was a Technical Specialist at IREX where she designed and led trainings pertaining to social inclusion, gender equality, trauma-informed care, and resilience and security for human rights defenders in closing and closed spaces. Alexa also managed human rights programs that focused on strengthening the resilience and security of LGBTQ+ and women human rights defenders in the MENA region, women’s rights advocates across the globe, anti-trafficking activists and journalists in Southeast Asia. Prior to IREX, Alexa was Director of Advancement at a Virginia-based NGO, Sudan Sunrise, in which she directed peacebuilding efforts and reconciliation projects in Sudan and South Sudan. Alexa also researched and analyzed security developments pertaining to refugee crises in the Middle East region, including at The Jerusalem Fund in Washington, D.C.
Alexa earned her Masters of Arts in Middle East and Islamic Studies from George Mason University and a Graduate Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care from the University at Buffalo.
In addition to her work at PartnersGlobal, Alexa is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu grappler, aspiring photographer, and lover of nature.
Matt Ciesielski joined PartnersGlobal in 2020 as a Program Manager on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) team. As Program Manager, Matt works directly with Partners team’s in Iraq and Yemen to manage the implementation of programs focused on social cohesion, rule of law, and women’s rights in the workplace.
With a background in peacebuilding, social cohesion, and supporting local civil society organizations, Matt comes to Partners with more than eight years of experience working on the MENA region. Most recently, he served as Senior Program Specialist on the Middle East team at the United States Institute of Peace, where he spent more than four years working on peacebuilding efforts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and contributed to USIP’s efforts to inform U.S. and international policy in the region.
Having spent more than two years living and working in Morocco, Jordan, and Jerusalem, Matt worked hand-in-hand with local organizations and field offices to support citizen engagement and grassroots peacebuilding. He supported youth civil society organizations from across the MENA region with ACTED in Jordan and worked with Search for Common Ground on evaluating peacebuilding efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. While living in Morocco, he also taught English to students of all ages at AMIDEAST. He earned his master’s degree in Middle East Studies from George Washington University and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Boston University.
Originally from New Jersey, Matt likes to play guitar, go to concerts, read, and explore new countries and cultures.
Alex Thomas joined PartnersGlobal in 2020 as a Senior Program Associate providing support to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) portfolio. With experience in the private, nonprofit, U.S. government consulting and Middle East-based civil society sectors, Alex brings 7+ years of experience in finance and operations to Partners.
Prior to Partners, Alex was in Jordan, where she was most-recently a David L. Boren Fellow and interned with Arab Renaissance for Democracy in Development (ARDD). In Palestine, Alex contributed to a cooperative’s work in environmental peacebuilding, conducting team-based rapid appraisal on the development- and peacebuilding-related motivations of Palestinians and Israelis cooperating on a water-food-energy nexus project in the West Bank. In DC, Alex most recently served as a Senior Operations Analyst on E3/Sentinel’s GSA FEDSIM contract and, prior, was the Finance and Operations Associate at the Meyer Foundation, where she contributed to internalizing the Foundation’s racial equity strategic plan.
Alex earned her graduate degree in International Affairs, U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security towards the Middle East, from American University’s School of International Service, and she holds an undergraduate degree in Finance from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Originally from Georgia, Alex likes to read, write, and bike around DC, searching for the perfect spot to hammock with a good book.
Kalole was born and raised in Malawi, and moved to the United States as teenager. After completing his undergraduate studies, he taught English to high school and middle school students in Bordeaux, France. Before joining Partners in June 2019, Kalole was working with SEEDCO, a Baltimore based non-profit that provides workforce development training and access to social services to formerly incarcerated youth and adults. Prior to this, he worked for the International Youth Foundation (IYF), where he supported youth livelihood and household economic strengthening projects in Zimbabwe.
At PartnersGlobal, Kalole serves as Senior Program Associate for Africa. In this role, he supports projects in Senegal and Burkina Faso which focus on improving road safety and collaboration between law enforcement and civilians.
He holds an M.A in Security and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California and a Bachelor’s degree in French and Mass Communication from State University of New York College at Oneonta. His passions include making music, Arsenal F.C and mentoring youth.
Of Ukrainian origin, Alexa proudly hails from Cleveland, OH. She completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology, French, and Spanish at the University of Notre Dame which included a year abroad in Angers, France. She spent 2018 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at the State University of Paraná in Apucarana, Paraná, Brazil.
Having previously interned at PartnersGlobal on the Africa team, Alexa now works on global programs focusing on the resiliency of civil society organizations in closing civic spaces around the world. She also assists in Latin America and the Caribbean programs.
Alexa enjoys cheering on her underdog sports teams, exploring the various theaters and museums of Washington, and cooking recipes she learned from her times abroad.
Liam grew up in the small town of Douglas, MA, and studied Economics and International Studies at Boston College. His interest in international development began as an intern at the D-Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he supported monitoring and evaluation for social innovation programs around the world. Having never spent more than two weeks outside of Massachusetts, he decided to spend a semester studying in Sharjah, UAE and enjoyed the Middle East so much that he extended his stay to spend the summer working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Amman, Jordan.
Following graduation, Liam moved to Washington DC to work for the National Democratic Institute, where he built the institute’s capacity to use monitoring and evaluation data to improve programs. Looking to focus more in depth on democratic values in the MENA region, Liam joined PartnersGlobal in 2020 to support the portfolio’s programs in Iraq and Yemen.
Liam spends his time on camping trips, planning game nights, messing up recipes, and attending performances in DC.
Born and raised in West Africa, Assita started working with PartnersGlobal in early 2018. Before Partners, Assita lived in Paris, France where she completed her Master’s degree in Financial Management and worked with Aviva France. Prior to this, Assita lived in Bamako, Mali where she attained her Bachelor’s degree in Management.
She is responsible for providing administrative and financial support to the Africa team, ensuring smooth and timely flow of work. She also supports Partners West Africa Centers in Senegal and Nigeria as well as PartnersGlobal’s subgrantees in Guinea, Senegal and Burkina Faso
Assita finds joy in reading and cooking, but mostly in spending time with her two handsome sons. They particularly enjoy taking trips to the library.
Yu Chen is originally from China, having been raised in Shenzhen. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Accountancy and Economics at the George Washington University. Before joining PartnersGlobal, she worked for Citrin Cooperman, Meridian International Center and the Ameson Foundation where she was responsible for audit, assurance, finance, accounting, and grant management functions.
At PartnersGlobal, Yu Chen is responsible for the financial management of 10 foreign assistance programs funded by U.S. Department of State, which includes project accounting and cash flow management, quarterly reporting and budget preparation, monitoring of program expenditures, accrual reports, financial analysis, cost allocation and compliance. She also assists the CFO with the organization’s billability projection and cash flow management and supports the finance team with general ledger accounts reconciliation, month-end and year-end closing process, and audit preparation.
Yu Chen is passionate about contemporary art and electronic music. She enjoys spending her free time at the hidden galleries and boutiques in Georgetown.
Originally from Simi Valley, California, Kelli moved to Washington, DC after completing her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before joining PartnersGlobal in 2018, she interned at Peace Corps headquarters and spent a semester studying international development and sociology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
As a Business Development Associate, Kelli coordinates the proposal life cycle for all U.S. government-funded bids and assists with organizational knowledge management. She also provides support to the Procurement Team by drafting contract instruments and creating process guides. Her last, but definitely not least, role at Partners is managing the internship program.
Outside of work, Kelli can be found exploring new running trails, attending concerts around DC, or taking 3rd place at Thursday night trivia.
Though currently residing in Northern Virginia, Faith was born and raised in the Eastern Market area of Southeast Washington, DC and considers the city home. Faith holds a Master’s of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Mary Baldwin University.
Faith joined the PartnersGlobal team in September of 2019 as Executive Program and Finance Assistant. At Partners, Faith serves as confidential assistant to the President, in addition to providing financial and administrative support to the Chief Financial Officer. Some of Faith’s responsibilities include managing logistics for and attending Board of Directors meetings as well as assisting the President and Executive Team regarding human resources management.
Faith enjoys reading, vlogging with her husband, enjoying new restaurants in and around Washington DC, and spending time with family.
Born in Japan and raised in Jakarta, Sarah earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting from Gallaudet University. Prior to joining PartnersGlobal in September 2019, she interned with Schwarz Financial Services LLC as a Tax Preparer with DeafTax.com. She also spent a semester earning several credit hours towards a Master of Science in Accounting from American University.
At PartnersGlobal, Sarah is responsible for providing administrative and financial management support to the senior leadership and program teams. This includes processing payments, checks, and wire transfers in a timely manner, performing accounting analysis and reconciliations, maintaining physical and electronic filing systems, participating in the monthly and yearly closing processes, and conducting general administrative functions.
In Sarah’s free time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, visiting the various art museums in Washington DC, and spending time with her husband and friends.