Our advisors

The Asfari Foundation has a small team which is supported by a range of expert advisors, particularly from our target countries. Our advisors over the past few years have included the experts below. We are very grateful for their support and also wish to thank many others who have provided informal support and advice to the Foundation; together they have helped improve our work with our partners and for our target communities.

Maria Ali Adib

Maria Ali Adib is an aid and development professional with over 12 years’ experience in displacement, education and gender. Working with a wide range of NGOs, she designs, implements and evaluates emergency response programming for displaced persons and refugees. Maria has helped the Foundation with project assessments and evaluations.

Bircham Dyson Bell LLP

Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) is a London-based law firm that provides creative, practical and cost effective solutions. It advises the Foundation on charity law, fundraising, corporate governance, property, employment and immigration matters.

Dr Celine Cantat

Dr Celine Cantat is an academic and professional researcher focusing on refugee and forced displacement issues in Europe and the Middle East. Recently, Celine’s research has concentrated on solidarity initiatives with refugees in different contexts and on forced migration from Syria. Celine has helped the Foundation with project management and research.

Columbia Global Centers Istanbul

The Columbia Global Centers promote and facilitate the collaborative and impactful engagement of Columbia University’s faculty, students, and alumni with the world to enhance understanding, address global challenges, and advance knowledge and its exchange. Columbia Global Centers Istanbul supported the Asfari Foundation with research and the organisation of a workshop for female Syrian civil society leaders.

Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis is an independent consultant to the charity sector working mainly for grant-making charities and specialising in governance. She is Trust Manager for the Millfield House Foundation and a Non-Executive Director of Big Society Capital. She has written and lectured widely about charity issues, nationally and internationally. Her Good Practice Guide for Corporate Foundations is now in its second edition. Fiona has supported the Foundation on governance and management.

HW Fisher & Company

HW Fisher & Company’s not-for-profit group is one of the leading professional advisers to the voluntary sector, acting as auditors and accountants to over 300 charities and other not-for-profit associations. At HW Fisher & Company, a dedicated team of partners and specialist managers across all disciplines work to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach to the requirements of its clients. HW Fisher supports the Foundation with its audit, financial advice and services.

Sari Hanafi

Sari Hanafi is Professor of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut. He is also the editor of Idafat: the Arab Journal of Sociology.  He is the Vice President of both the International Sociological Association and the Arab Council of Social Science.  He mentored Asfari scholarship students at AUB and provides general advice to the Foundation.

Leila Hilal

Leila Hilal is a Fellow at New America, where she previously directed a program on the Middle East. She currently consults and writes on Middle East affairs and is a Senior Adviser with Search for Common Ground. She has conducted numerous research missions on refugees, governance and transitional justice issues in the Middle East. Leila has assisted the Asfari Foundation with the monitoring and evaluation of several projects.

Anies Al-Hroub

Anies Al-Hroub is the Chairperson of the Department of Education at the American University of Beirut. He is an Associate Professor of Education Psychology and Special Education and the coordinator of the Special Education Programme. He has led a number of educational projects sponsored by UNICEF, UNRWA, the British Academy, USAID, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, and the Welfare Association. Anies helped the Asfari Foundation to assess an education project.

Ibtikar Consultants

Ibtikar Research and Consulting is a social development consulting firm based in Lebanon. Ibtikar, owned and run by women, promotes participatory social development through research, strategic planning, proposal and project design and evaluations.  Ibtikar assisted the Asfari Foundation with assessing Syrian civil society partners, including developing a capacity building programme, and did research on the crisis in Syria.

Claude Isakov

Involved in international aid and humanitarian work for the past thirty years, Claude Isakov acquired her expertise in programme assessment and management mostly in the Africa and Middle East regions in various organisations, from the UN to Save the Children International, Oxfam and other national and local organisations. She specialises in local economic development and health, programme design, especially at the community level and with and for youth and women, and in strategic planning. She lived in Syria, and has worked in countries hosting large communities of Syrian refugees. Claude helped the Foundation with programme planning on education.

Rana Khalaf

Rana Khalaf is the author of several publications on Syria that seek to bridge the gap between academia and the world of civil society, activism and policy making. Rana has led and co-founded local civil society projects, movements and organizations. She supported the Foundation through project development, management and assessment.

Jean Kors

Jean Kors is a civil society and relief expert with over 20 years of experience in education, empowerment, disaster management, emergency response, accountability, development, strategic planning, advocacy, gender, protection and conflict management. He is the Managing Director of the International Center for Organizational Development. He assisted the Asfari Foundation with capacity building training for Syrian civil society organisations.

Noa Maxwell Associates

Noa Maxwell Associates has worked with the Foundation’s students and staff by offering advice and coaching on how to be confident communicators.  As trained actors and performers, Noa and his team bring the skills and energy of performance to help clients project themselves as passionate and articulate leaders.

Hala Raad

Hala Raad is a special education teacher at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program of the Department of Psychiatry at AUBMC. She has extensive programmatic, educational and clinical experience in dealing with children and adolescents whose special educational needs in Lebanon and other Arab countries. Hala has worked in academic, clinical and community development settings at national and regional levels, and has managed large development programmes related to education, inclusion and disability, including managing various projects in Syria over three years. Hala monitored one of the Foundation’s projects for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Research Centre on Asylum and Migration

The Research Centre on Asylum and Migration (IGAM) is an independent policy group and research institution in Turkey. Its President, Metin Çorabatır, represents IGAM on the Syrian refugee crisis. Together with Columbia Global Centers Istanbul, IGAM carried out consultancy work for the Asfari Foundation on the higher education landscape for Syrians in Turkey.

Samir Seifan

Samir Seifan is a prominent Syrian economist and previous Chairman of the Syrian Management Consultants Association. He worked as the Syria country manager for Petrofac, and has written and co-authored various studies about economic issues. Samir helped the Foundation with scholarship recruitment and advice on the situation in Syria.

Maha Shuayb

Maha Shuayb is the director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies. Prior to that she was a Senior Fellow at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. Maha’s research focuses on the sociology and politics of education particularly equity and equality in education and the education of marginalised groups including refugees. Over the past six years, Maha has been occupied with the education response to the Syrian Refugee crisis in Lebanon. She has headed a number of research studies looking at access and quality of education for refugees and the obstacles they face.

The Solutions Focus

The Solutions Focus (TSF) deliver team training, consultancy, coaching and facilitation. Their programmes take a proven and pragmatic approach towards outstanding performance. By clarifying a project and keeping it on track, their innovative work brings fresh perspectives to client problems and challenges. TSF’s team is led by directors Paul Z Jackson and Janine Waldman. TSF provided training for Foundation staff.

Samia Tabari

Samia El Tabari is a social development consultant with 25 years’ experience in humanitarian and development programmes in the Middle East. Samia has provided frequent support to the Foundation’s Youth Empowerment and Civil Society Programmes  as well as delivering staff training and recruitment advice. Samia also worked with the Foundation through Ibtikar.

Penny Wood

Penny is a highly experienced career coach with a background in executive recruitment and has been supporting individuals with their career development for over 15 years. She works with talented individuals on all aspects of career coaching and provides ongoing career mentoring and performance coaching, as part of talent management and professional development programmes.  Penny supported the Foundation by running an interview skills workshop for the Foundation’s scholars.