Staff

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is led by a diverse group of individuals brought together by their desire for change in American foreign policy that facilitates the growth of democracy in the Middle East.


Stephen McInerney
Executive Director

Stephen McInerney is Executive Director of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). He previously served as POMED’s Advocacy Director from 2007 to 2010. He has extensive experience in the Middle East and North Africa, including graduate studies of Middle Eastern politics, history, and the Arabic language at the American University of Beirut and the American University in Cairo. He has spoken on Middle East affairs with numerous media outlets including BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and CBS News. His writing on Middle East affairs and U.S. policy has been published by Foreign Affairs, The Daily Star, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and The Washington Post. He received a Master’s degree from Stanford University.

Cole Bockenfeld
Advocacy Director

Cole Bockenfeld is the Director of Advocacy at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). He has studied the Middle East with a focus on U.S. and Middle Eastern politics, history, and the Arabic language at the University of Arkansas, Georgetown University, and Al al-Bayt University in Mafraq, Jordan. Prior to joining POMED, he worked for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) on electoral assistance programs in Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, and the West Bank and Gaza, including fieldwork in Beirut and Baghdad. He also conducted research with the Center for Islam and Democracy (CSID) in Amman. His writing on Middle Eastern politics and U.S. foreign policy has been published by the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Star, Daily News Egypt, and Bikya Masr. He has spoken on Middle East affairs with numerous media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, Al-Jazeera English, and Alhurra.

Arwa Shobaki
Director of Development & Communications

Arwa Shobaki is POMED’s Director of Development and Communications. Arwa has over eight years of experience working on Middle East and North Africa rights-based initiatives with various organizations including the IOM, ABA Rule of Law Initiative, Club of Madrid, and the International Commission of Jurists; her work has taken place in Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. She has monitored elections in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Morocco and most recently completed a summer associate position with the Center for National Security Studies. Arwa holds graduate degrees in Middle Eastern studies and law. Arwa began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mnayn Seraat al Qarqa, Mauritania.

Nizar Farsakh
Program Director for Civil Society Partnerships

Nizar Farsakh is POMED’s Program Director for Civil Society Partnerships. Before joining POMED, he served for two years as the General Director of the General Delegation of the PLO to the U.S. Nizar has ten years of experience working in Palestine first as a research assistant in a Bethlehem-based NGO and then as the policy advisor to Palestinian negotiators on border-related issues from 2003 to 2008. In his last year in Ramallah, he was seconded to the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Nizar is also a leadership trainer focusing on public narrative, community organizing, and adaptive leadership and is affiliated to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Nizar holds a MA in International Boundary Studies from King’s College London and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. He is fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Italian.

Nussaibah Younis
Senior Research Associate

Dr. Nussaibah Younis is POMED’s Senior Research Associate. She is an expert on current Iraqi politics and is preparing a book on Iraqi foreign policy for publication. Prior to joining POMED, Nussaibah served as an International Security Program Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her academic work has been published in multiple journals, and she is a regular media commentator. Nussaibah’s op-eds have been published in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Observer, and she has spoken on the BBC, Al-Jazeera, and on syndicated radio. Nussaibah has lived and worked throughout the Middle East, including in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the UAE. Prior to her research work, Nussaibah worked as a brand strategy consultant in London. She has a PhD in the International Relations of the Middle East and an MSc in Arab World Studies from the University of Durham, UK, and she holds a BA from the University of Oxford.

Todd Ruffner
Advocacy Associate

Todd Ruffner is POMED’s Advocacy Associate and Editor of the POMED Wire blog, the Weekly Wire digest, the Egypt Daily Update, the Tunisia Weekly Update, and the Bahrain Weekly Update. He has studied the Middle East since 2005, having lived and studied in both Cairo and Damascus. He previously served as a policy intern at POMED and the National Iranian American Council. Todd received his master’s degree from the Ohio State University’s Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Program with a concentration on Iran-Iraq border disputes in the 20th century, and his bachelor’s degree from Elon University with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser. He is proficient in Persian and Arabic, having studied at the American University in Cairo and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Immersion program.

Alex Russell
Program Associate

Alex Russell is POMED’s Program Associate. Prior to serving in this capacity, he was a research assistant at POMED. He previously taught English at the Universities of Alexandria and Mansoura in Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow and studied Arabic in Tangier, Morocco as a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he earned a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Psychology.

Hanan Abdul Hadi
Program Assistant for Civil Society Partnerships

Hanan Abdul Hadi is POMED’s Program Assistant for Civil Society Partnerships. She previously served as a policy intern at POMED. Before joining POMED, she served as Scholarships & Exchange Programs Director at AMIDEAST in Abu Dhabi, where she managed the Fulbright Scholarship program for the UAE. Hanan has extensive experience in the Middle East, where she lived and studied for twenty years. Hanan holds a Master’s of Public Policy with a focus on international development from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus on Middle East politics and development economics from Davidson College.

Fellows


Amaney Jamal
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. Amaney Jamal is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at POMED. She is Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she directs the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, as well as the Workshop on Arab Political Development. Her books include Of Empires and Citizens: Pro American Democracy or No Democracy at All? and Barriers to Democracy, Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9-11. She is a principal investigator of the Arab Barometer Project, winner of the Best Dataset in the Field of Comparative Politics: Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Dataset Award, and is a Senior Advisor on the Pew Research Center projects focusing on Islam in America and global Islam. Jamal holds a BA in Politics from UCLA and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

William Lawrence
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. William Lawrence is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at POMED. He has 28 years of Middle East policy experience and lived for 12 years in North Africa. He is a visiting professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School; taught at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Tufts; and lectured on North Africa at over 100 universities. He served for two years as Director of International Crisis Group’s North Africa project, and previously served at the U.S Embassy in Tripoli and as State Department’s officer in charge of Tunisian and Libyan Affairs. He holds a master’s in law and diplomacy and PhD in Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization, both from the Fletcher School.

Ellen Lust
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. Ellen Lust is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at POMED. She has over 16 years of experience teaching Middle East politics and is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. Her books include Structuring Conflict in the Arab World, Political Participation in the Middle East, the 12th and 13th editions of The Middle East, and the recently published Taking to the Streets: The Transformation of Arab Activism. Her work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, CNN, and Foreign Policy. She holds a BA in Public Policy and Psychology from Albion College and an MA in Middle Eastern & North African Studies and PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

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