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.

To email him, click here.

Cole Bockenfeld
Advocacy Director

Cole Bockenfeld is the Advocacy Director at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). He has studied the Middle East and global diplomacy at the University of Arkansas, Georgetown University, and the University of London. 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 the Study of 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, and the Christian Science Monitor. 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, and Alhurra

To email him, click here.

Arwa Shobaki
Director of Development & Communications

Arwa Shobaki is POMED’s Director of Development and Communications. Arwa has over ten years of experience working on Middle East and North Africa rights-based initiatives with various organizations including the International Organization for Migration, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Club of Madrid, and the International Commission of Jurists. Her work has taken place in Morocco, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Prior to joining POMED in 2013, Arwa worked as a summer associate with the Center for National Security Studies. Arwa holds a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, a law degree from the University of Edinburgh, and a Master of Laws in Law & Government from the Washington College of Law. Arwa began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mnayn Seraat al Qarqa, Mauritania.

To email her, click here.

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.

To email him, click here.

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.

To email her, click here.

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, 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.

To email him, click here.

Alex Russell
Program Coordinator

Alex Russell is POMED’s Program Coordinator and Editor of the Tunisia Weekly Update, and he previously served as a research assistant at POMED. Prior to joining POMED in 2012, he was a visiting demonstrator at the Universities of Alexandria and Mansoura in Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow. He has studied Arabic in Egypt, as well as in 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.

To email him, click here.

Hanan Abdul Hadi
Program Associate for Civil Society Partnerships

Hanan Abdul Hadi is POMED’s Program Associate 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.

To email her, click here.

Fellows


Nadwa al-Dawsari
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Nadwa al-Dawsari is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at POMED. She is a researcher, conflict specialist and civil society leader with over 15 years of experience working in the field of conflict management and civil society development in Yemen. She is an expert on tribes, tribal conflict resolution systems, and a pioneer in designing and implementing innovative, cultural-specific, conflict-sensitive programs. Since 2005 Nadwa has led the implementation of programs in remote tribal areas while working directly with tribal leaders, religious leaders, civil society organizations, women, youth groups, and local authorities to help promote the culture of conflict management and conflict-sensitive development in Yemen. Nadwa is co-founder and executive director of the Sheba Center for International Development. She is the founding member of Partners Yemen, the local affiliate center of Partners for Democratic Change International. She is a member of the Institute of Inclusive Security’s Women Waging Peace Network. She holds a Masters degree in Development Studies from the University of Leeds. To email her, click here.

Rola el-Husseini
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. Rola el-Husseini is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at POMED. is a research associate professor with the Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern American Center at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. She has previously held positions at Texas A&M University and Yale University. Her main areas of expertise are Lebanon, Syria, political Islam, Arab Shi’ism, and gender in the MENA region. Her first book Pax Syriana: Elite Politics in Postwar Lebanon was published by Syracuse University Press in 2012, and she is currently preparing a new book manuscript tentatively titled Lebanese Sunni Islamists in the Age of the Islamic State. To email her, click here.

Ashraf el-Sherif
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. Ashraf el-Sherif is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at POMED. Based in Egypt, el-Sherif is a lecturer in political science at the American University in Cairo. He previously served as a nonresident associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is an expert in political Islam, state-religion relations, democratic transition, social movements, and state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa. El-Sherif holds a PhD in Political Science from Boston University. To email him, click here.

 

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.To email her, click here.

William Lawrence
Nonresident Senior Fellow

Dr. William Lawrence is a Nonresident 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.To email him, click here.

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.To email her, click here.

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