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
- Cole Bockenfeld, Advocacy Director
- Arwa Shobaki, Director of Development & Communications
- Nizar Farsakh, Program Director for Civil Society Partnerships
- Todd Ruffner, Advocacy Associate
- Daniel Tavana, Research Associate
- Alex Russell, Dialogue Program Associate
Stephen McInerney (firstname.lastname@example.org) is POMED’s Executive Director. Previously, he was Director of Advocacy at POMED. He has more than six years of experience in the Middle East, including graduate studies in Middle Eastern politics, history, and the Arabic language at the American University of Beirut and the American University in Cairo. His writing on Middle Eastern politics and U.S. foreign policy has been published by the Arab Reform Bulletin, The Daily Star, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, and The Washington Post. He has spoken on Middle East affairs with numerous media outlets including BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and CBS News. He received a master’s degree from Stanford University.
Cole Bockenfeld (email@example.com) is POMED’s Advocacy Director. He has studied the Middle East for more than six years 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.
Arwa Shobaki (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. She holds a BS in Anthropology, MA in Middle Eastern Studies, a law degree, and is currently completing an LLM in Law & Government. Arwa began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mnayn Seraat al Qarqa, Mauritania.
Nizar Farsakh (email@example.com) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.com) 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.
Alex Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.