Alison Adriana Berbetty OmisteBolivia
Alison B. Omiste is a Systems Engineer and lawyer, both with mention of excellence. She has studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Hradec Králové University, Czech Republic, and Advanced Studies in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at Washington College of Law. She is an activist for human rights, gender equality, and freedom. She is a former IACHR intern and lover of technology, particularly its use to build a fairer, more transparent, and equitable society. Alison has been a trainer and speaker in various academic and technological spaces and is the Co-Founder and current National Director of “Mujeres TICs Bolivia” (Women ICTs Bolivia), an organization that seeks to reduce the digital gender gap. Her organization has trained more than 500 women from peri-urban and rural areas of Bolivia on issues of technologies and digital inclusion and has impacted more than 2,000 people with different digital inclusion programs and workshops in STEM areas. She works in constant contributions and investigations presented as amicus curiae before the IACHR and has participated as a team coach and judge in international Human Rights competitions. She is the Vice-curator of the Global Shapers hub and a member of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance and Students of Liberty. Alison is also a Fellow of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and of the Ban Ki-Moon Center for Global Citizen. She is a CISCO instructor with experience as a mentor in digital education.
Kathia Salazar is a development professional with over five years of experience. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholarship Recipient. Kathia leads fellowship program operations at Latitud, supporting founders building world-class tech companies in Latin America. She is a Global Changemaker Alumni and co-founder of the organization’s mentorship program, supporting youth through skills development and mentoring. Her involvement in entrepreneurship, innovation, and social impact has made her collaborate with different international and civil society organizations and the private and startup sectors. Kathia has been an External Youth Expert at the I-CoDI Challenge by the UN International Telecommunications Union to develop innovative solutions to youth challenges, an Online Moderator at UNESCO MGIEP to lead a series of discussions on Education and the Environment, and a Mentor at UNMGCY. As a former finance professional working in the banking sector, Kathia’s mission is to mobilize capital for development and bridge opportunities and talents to empower the next generation of leaders, especially youth and women from underrepresented communities.
Dnyana SIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Dnyana S is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Banyan Impact Fellow with Seba Jagat in Kalahandi, Odisha, in the project of public health. Dnyaneshwar is a first-generation learner. He is a Master’s degree holder in Gender, Culture, and Development. Being critical of the add-and-stir approach to gender, he has written two research papers about media representations of gender, masculinities, and sexualities during his academic career. As an intern, he has worked with adolescent male children from underprivileged communities in Pune on gender sensitization and leadership skills. He has had short-term research experiences with folk artists and young entrepreneurs from Maharashtra. He has worked with men against violence and abuse for a research project on the construction of men and masculinities through different social institutions. He is a former Goonj Urban Fellow, where he worked with different left-out communities in West Bengal and Odisha on various initiatives by Goonj, like health and education. He intends to create safe spaces for people with different gender, sexual, social, and cultural identities. He believes in fluidity and tries to dismantle binaries for the betterment of human rights. He believes in acceptance, awareness, and advocacy for the rights of underprivileged people
Sanaa MunjalIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sanaa Munjal is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Banyan Impact Fellow with Tech Mahindra Foundation (TMF) based out of Delhi-NCR, India, for a period of ten months. Hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan, she completed her undergraduate degree in Economics from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, in 2022. She is currently working around the area of mental health awareness, skilling, and education, and also a research survey to understand the climate of mental health in the communities TMF caters to, along with working on youth development and mentoring. She has experience working in diverse domains with organizations such as NITI Aayog and United Nations Global Compact Network India, which helped her gain policy and research-driven experience. She has also obtained a diploma from the Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership in International Relations and Diplomacy. She has co-authored a research paper that was further added to the virtual library and literature on COVID-19 by WHO. In the future, Sanaa hopes to work at the intersection of policy and development around education, women’s health, and youth development. She hopes to leverage this opportunity to understand the development sector and expand her learning horizon.
Sidharth HendreIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sidharth Hendre hails from Pune, Maharashtra. He graduated in Political Science (Hons) from MIT-World Peace University, Pune. Holding a nuance in Political Science, he has interests in Public Policy and Human Rights advocacy. During the last year of his graduation, he did his dissertation on ‘Manual Scavenging in India: Caste not Law dictates the fate.’ Being an extremely active person outside of academics, he has completed two years of the National Cadet Corps, which included Army Attachment Camp and Combined Annual Training Camp, and secured an ‘A’ grade in the ‘B Certificate’ exam. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been continuously volunteering for the betterment of sex workers and transgender communities in Pune City, by assisting them in providing appropriate support from the government authorities and by providing relief kits by the means of crowdfunding and raising awareness. Right after his graduation, he went on to do fellowship with Goonj in Delhi, Maharashtra, Chennai, and Chhattisgarh. He worked in various thematic areas of Education, Healthcare and Sanitation, and Urban and Rural Development. He also worked under the initiative of ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth,’ educating urban and rural masses about safe and hygienic menstrual practices, and worked on the positioning and visibility of the initiative. Apart from that, he also worked on Urban Operations in Goonj, Chennai. Throughout his travels, studies, and experiences in various parts of India, he has developed a diverse perspective on various socio-economic issues.
Sivakami PrasannaIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sivakami Prasanna is a social science graduate who aspires to understand how gender intersects with different socio-cultural and economic inequities, aiming to work at the intersection of academia, action research, and policy making. She completed her Bachelor’s in Social Sciences from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and later pursued a Post Graduate Diploma in Liberal Arts from Ashoka University as a Young India Fellow. The writings of Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze in advocating for participatory models for development that focus on the reflective participation and agency of people resonate deeply with her. While working in rural Maharashtra and Kerala, her engagement with communities awoke her to the large gap between policymaking, academia, and ground reality. To further explore this, she interned with the Center for Public Policy Research to understand the nuances of policymaking and its implications while also working with women from rural Ernakulam through Goonj and with migrant laborers through Let’s Reach Out Kerala. A firm believer in the might of the pen, she has published articles on the Rights Collective blog, Café Dissensus, Truecopy Think, Countercurrents, Feminism in India, and the CPPR blog on several issues relating to identity, culture, and social justice. Sivakami is currently a Banyan Impact Fellow, working with India Health Action Trust in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh. She is associated with Project MANCH, which seeks to improve maternal and newborn child healthcare outcomes in Tribal areas of MP.
Ashley BenedictUnited States
Ashley Benedict was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University. As an undergraduate, she acted as an ambassador for the Center for Women and Gender Equity, worked as a peer educator to provide on-campus presentations for sexual assault prevention, and led student volunteer trips to nonprofits throughout the U.S. Upon graduation, Ashley joined AmeriCorps NCCC as a Team Leader and cultivated skills working in a variety of fields, including disaster recovery, veteran support, community outreach, and addressing food insecurity. She then moved on to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council in Des Moines, Iowa, where she built up the organization’s capacity by conducting qualitative and quantitative data collection projects to inform and create a revitalized organizational strategic plan. Her most recent position included working as Logistics Coordinator for an international disaster relief organization, All Hands and Hearts, in response to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, the North Complex Fire in Northern California, and flooding in Kentucky. Ashley acted as a liaison between All Hands and Hearts and community members, acquired homeowner cases, and managed quality data input, collection, and auditing for each program. Her experience has helped her strengthen skills in communication, facilitation, data collection and analysis, and community engagement. With a background in psychology, she finds that it has helped inform her work by providing more understanding and compassion when working with communities that have undergone emotional duress.
Padma Samhita VadapalliIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Samhita Vadapalli is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Fellow with Satya Special School, in Puducherry. She is a Biotechnology and Genomics graduate and has completed both a Bachelor of Science, and a Master of Business and Science in Biotechnology from Rutgers University, New Jersey. Her previous work experience has included bioinformatics research, genetic experimentation, and data analysis, where she worked on a wide range of research projects focusing on the karyotyping of embryos, drug target development, and molecular docking simulations. In addition to this, she has served as a tutor with the Petey Greene Program and worked with incarcerated students to help them fulfill their educational goals in New Jersey’s correctional facilities throughout her undergraduate studies. Her area of interest lies in the utilization of data mining and informatics within the public health and developmental sectors for the establishment of improved healthcare interventions and management practices. She firmly believes that scientific innovation must be accompanied by inclusivity and accessibility in order to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing issues in our world today. Her goal for her career is to partake in the building of healthier societies through innovative biological research and grassroots work.
Wardah Iftikhar, with a Master of Science in Gender and Women Studies, is a staunch believer in women’s empowerment and thinks that women are the catalyst of socio-economic change in any society. She is currently leading the project Fostering Critical Thinking and Entrepreneurship Skills in Young Women for Gender Inclusive Socio-Economic Development which works with four public sector female universities in Pakistan to train the students on social cohesion, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and economic empowerment. She has provided consultancy to UNICEF Pakistan on social protection and gender-responsive programming, which includes advocacy for public financing for children and capacity building of MoPDR for district-level SDG scorecards. She has worked extensively with the SDG Secretariat at the National Assembly of Pakistan to conceptualize, develop and lead the work plan for the Secretariat with close coordination with PMU, donors, parliamentarians, and standing committees. She is part of the Community Engagement Exchange Program selection committee for the last three years, where she helps select global civil society community members to undergo training in the US. Wardah is an alumna of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) on women in politics and civil society whereby she explored practices in promoting women’s contributions to social and political affairs and examined legal, regulatory, and policy issues. She was also awarded Emerging Young Women Leader’s Award supported by the Australian High Commission. With her work at ‘Women Can Do,’ she has traveled to 20 districts of Pakistan and has worked with more than 5,000 women from women’s universities and seminaries to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Wajid Zahid is from Lahore, Pakistan. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Gender Studies from Punjab University and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender Studies. His areas of Interest lie in gender equality, sexual reproductive health & rights (SRHR), climate change, and peacebuilding. He has been working with international and national nonprofit organizations for the last few years. He is a fellow at the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Youth Engagement and Empowerment Program (YEEP), in which he played a role in making regional-level policy recommendations around gender mainstreaming in P/CVE efforts. He is implementing a social action project at the regional level called Message of Love/ Paigham E Mohabbat under the EU Amplifying Leadership of Local Youth Fellowship, which aims to highlight common aspirations and suffering across borders and create a space for dialogue and discussion for the youth. He is a Youth Regional Committee Member at the Youth Coalition for Sexual Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) and is working on the integration of life skills-based education/ comprehensive sexuality education in the National Curriculum. He was part of the Accountability Lab Pakistan Incubator Program Cohort 2022 as an Accountapreneur where he designed and implemented his initiative to equip college and university students with the necessary information to identify signs of violations before their occurrence. He worked with the Asian Pacific Resource & Research Center for Women (ARROW) as a grantee and implemented an initiative called Equality Based on Humanity. The aim was to highlight and prevent violence against transgender communities.
He / Him / His Pakistan 11 Taimur Ashfaq has five years of experience in the energy sector of Pakistan and earned a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore. While working with Mari Petroleum (Pakistan’s third-largest exploration and production company), he completed a Strategic Leadership fellowship from the Al-Sharq forum. Through this fellowship, he defined his trajectory of service delivery in correlating energy, climate change, and education in Pakistan for inculcating behavior-based change mechanisms among the community. Taimur has immense volunteer experience in the education sector, and he enjoys focusing on topics of climate change awareness, youth empowerment, and leadership diversity.
Saad Athar SheikhPakistan
Saad Athar Sheikh has over a decade of experience serving as a policy advisor to various donor organizations such as the British Council, USAID, GIZ, and the government of Punjab, including Chief Minister Office, CM Special Monitoring Unit, Chief Minister Inspection Team, Punjab Board of Investment & Trade & Commissioner Lahore. Moreover, he spearheaded TEVTA’s organization restructuring (communication, innovation, digital transformation, and policy domains) as well as restructuring the Population Welfare Department Communication Domain. He was responsible for setting up an apprenticeship system, drafting a skill policy, and drafting the investment and trade promotion strategy for Punjab. Previously, he was instrumental in looking after environmental and social repercussions of major initiatives such as CPEC with the execution of over 40+ mega projects worth over PKR 900 billion for premier international clients such as ADB, DOLSAR, Japan Techno, CMEC, Zonergy, StormHarbor, Solution De Energy. Local clients include Lahore Waste Management Company, Urban Unit, Energy Department, Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, Lahore Development Authority, and Punjab Saaf Paani Company. He has been recognized as a National Hero by Pakistan Television Network on the 75th Independence Day. He currently heads Skillnopolis, a venture development firm, and serves governments in various capacities.