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 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 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.
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.
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.
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, including nearly a year spent living in 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, 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.
Daniel Tavana is POMED’s Research Associate. Before joining POMED, Daniel worked in Cairo, Egypt, as a consultant for members of the Egyptian Constituent Assembly. He has worked on security and governance issues for a variety of government agencies, including the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. Daniel has master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he worked at the Belfer Center and co-founded the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy. Daniel’s research focuses on the relationship between foreign assistance and democratization in the Middle East. He speaks Farsi, and his articles on the Middle East have been published by Global Public Square at CNN, the Atlantic Council, and the Carnegie Endowment.
Dialogue Programs Associate
Alex Russell is POMED’s Dialogue Programs 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 and is currently completing her Master’s of Public Policy with a focus on international development and advanced policy analysis. 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 received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Davidson College with a focus on Middle East politics and development economics.