Conference Speakers

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Matt Bowlby (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Matt Bowlby is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on relocation and return programs for victims displaced by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He has worked as a humanitarian relief worker, mediator and political analyst for a number of NGOs and UN agencies around the world. Bowlby served with the International Criminal Court, heading the Court's victim participation and reparations issues in the field for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda and Darfur, Sudan. Prior to moving to Haiti, he worked on the relief and reconstruction effort of Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon and helped coordinate the United Nations response to the influx of Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria. In 2008 he helped founded and direct a project called Darfurian Voices to bring civilian and refugee opinion to UN-led peace talks in Doha, Qatar. The effort, funded by the U.S. Department of State, National Endowment for Democracy and others, represents the largest collection of civilian opinion data on peace, justice and reconciliation in Darfur. The data along with with hundreds of hours of video testimonials are now being archived at the Shoah Foundation's Institute for Visual History and Education. Bowlby also co-produced and translated The Unreturned, a feature-length documentary on the refugee crisis resulting from the 2003 Iraq War.

Saskia Bruysten

Saskia Bruysten is the Co-Founder & CEO of Yunus Social Business (YSB), which helps create social businesses around the world. YSB runs as social business itself by setting up incubator funds and providing advisory services to companies, governments, foundations and NGOs. YSB was co-founded by Peace Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Saskia Bruysten and Sophie Eisenmann.

Prior to YSB, Saskia was Co-CEO and Strategic Director of The Grameen Creative Lab (GCL), a company, which has the goal to promote social business, work with universities and inspire young people to join the social business movement. At GCL, she helped setting up social business joint ventures with corporate clients such as BASF, Otto and the adidas Group. Previously, Saskia worked for the Boston Consulting Group in their Munich and New York offices.

Saskia holds an MBA from European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel Germany and an MSc in International Relations from London School of Economics. She studied abroad in Argentina, the US and UK and worked in a number of countries including the US, UK, India, Bangladesh, Colombia, Haiti, Ghana and Albania.

She was a speaker at events in over 15 countries and has served on the EU commission’s expert group on Social Business in 2011 led by Commissioners Barnier, Andor and Tajani. Saskia was named Generation CEO 2010 member, a prestigious network of woman in top management in Germany. She also served as an adjunct professor at HULT International Business School in London. Saskia holds German and Canadian citizenship.

Danielle Goonan (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Danielle works at the Clinton Global Initiative with the CGI America team as the Workforce Development Working Group Manager with responsibilities that include managing the domestic skills training portfolio. Prior to this position, Danielle worked at the Council on Foreign Relations in Member and Corporate Relations. She received her MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and her undergraduate degree in American Studies summa cum laude from Dickinson College where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Danielle is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow and currently sits on the HiA U.S. Planning Board, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Italy. Also, she is an advisory board member to the Grace Institute, sits on the Greater New York Regional Council of NOIAW, and is a very active Dickinson College alumna. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

Matt Haney (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Matt Haney is a School Board Member for the San Francisco Unified School District, the 7th largest school district in California.  He was elected in 2012 with over 100,000 votes and is one of the only members of an urban school board in California under 35 years old.  Most recently, he joined the Stanford Design School (d.school) as an Edu Fellow and Adjunct Faculty, and is focused on incubating new approaches student centered learning using design thinking.  Before that, he worked as the Executive Director of the UC Student Association, the statewide collective voice for UC students, advocating for affordability and accessibility in public higher education.  Matt has a JD from Stanford Law School, an MA from the Stanford School of Education, a BA from UC Berkeley, and an LLM in International Human Rights from National University of Ireland in Galway.  Matt was a 2004 HIA Fellow in the Netherlands, and spent time working in Sarajevo at the War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Joseph Kaifala (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Joseph Ben Kaifala is founder of the Jeneba Project Inc. and co-founder of the Sierra Leone Memory Project. He was born in Sierra Leone and spent his early childhood in Liberia and Guinea. He later moved to Norway where he studied at the Red Cross Nordic United World College before enrolling at Skidmore College in New York. Joseph was an International Affairs & French Major, with a minor in Law & Society.

Joseph has served as a Davis United World College fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; a Tom Lantos-HIA US Congressional fellow; a Chicago Council on Global Affairs Global Agricultural Development Initiative intern, and an intern at the Child and Adolescent Development Department of the World Health Organization in Geneva. 

He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Syracuse University, a Diploma in Intercultural Encounters from the Helsinki Summer School, and a Certificate in Professional French administered by the French Chamber of Commerce.

Joseph was an Applied Human Rights fellow at Vermont Law School, where he completed his JD and Certificate in International & Comparative Law. He is recipient of the Skidmore College Palamountain Prose Award, Skidmore College Thoroughbred Award, and the Vermont Law School (SBA) Student Pro Bono Award. He served as Justice of the Arthur Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International.

Joseph is a 2013-2014 American Society of International Law Helton fellow. 

Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert’s father, a former Franciscan monk, and mother, an ex-Dominican nun, imbued the values of dedication, study, poverty, and service to others – qualities which prepared him for life as an artist.

Lambert made international news after the 2008 US election with The New York Times “Special Edition,” a replica of the “paper of record” announcing the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other good news. In the Summer of 2011 he began a national tour of Capitalism Works For Me! True/False – a 9 x 20ft sign allowing people to vote on whether capitalism worked for them . He has collaborated with groups from the Yes Men to the Graffiti Research Lab and Greenpeace. He is also the founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, the Anti-Advertising Agency, Add-Art (a Firefox add-on that replaces online advertising with art) and SelfControl (which blocks grownups from distracting websites so they can get work done).

Steve’s projects and art works have won awards from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum, the Creative Work Fund, Adbusters Media Foundation, the California Arts Council, and others. Lambert’s work has been shown everywhere from museums to protest marches nationally and internationally, featured in over fourteen books, four documentary films, and is in the collections of The Sheldon Museum, the Progressive Insurance Company, and The Library of Congress. Lambert has discussed his work live on NPR, the BBC, and CNN, and been reported on internationally in outlets including Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The Believer, Good, Dwell, ARTnews, Punk Planet, and Newsweek.

He was a Senior Fellow at New York’s Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology from 2006-2010, developed and leads workshops for Creative Capital Foundation, and is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Purchase. Steve is a perpetual autodidact with (if it matters) advanced degrees from an reputable art school and respected state university. He dropped out of high school in 1993.

The Moth

The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.

Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience.

Moth stories dissolve socio-economic barriers, expose vulnerabilities, and quietly suggest ways to overcome challenges and see with new eyes.

Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn was born and raised in the south, primarily in Newport News, VA, to an African American father and Korean mother. Sohn was inspired to start ReWired for Change in 2008 by her own life’s journey and her work on the ground during the 2008 presidential election. That year, she and her colleagues from HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire, devoted their efforts to working with National Urban League to empower and educate voters on the importance of their vote across Virginia, North Carolina and in Philadelphia. It was during this time that she witnessed the impact The Wire cast had on community members who were living in impoverished neighborhoods. Sohn saw, firsthand, how celebrity can be used responsibly to influence the lives of people who are often left out of the social equation. She was particularly moved by how often the act of one inspired another and continued to ripple throughout these communities.

Immediately following the campaign trail, Sohn began to galvanize the support of the rest of The Wire cast and crew and devise ways in which they could use their creative resources and media access as a force for change in the lives of high risk youth, adults and families living in disadvantaged areas. Sohn envisioned an effort to take high risk young people on a journey towards self awareness and becoming productive citizens who contribute to the well being of their communities. During the early years of her work on the ground, she quickly began to realize that youth cannot heal without the support of a healthy family and community to come home to and began to focus her efforts on creating a holistic, all inclusive approach to sustainable individual and community healing and empowerment.

Sohn has been recognized for her leadership as the Center for Community Change’s 2012 Change Champion Community Activist Awardee, a two time NAACP Image Award nominee and recipient of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum 2011 Woman of the Year Award.  Through her work and her distinguished acting career, she has demonstrated her ability to fuse together her entertainment expertise with a passion for redirecting the lives of our nation’s most endangered populations. With ReWired for Change, Sohn continues to develop the ultimate vehicle for what she believes to be her life’s purpose: to educate, uplift, empower and unite the marginalized and underserved populations of the world.

Brian Stout (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Brian Stout is a Senior Policy Analyst at USAID, responsible for overseeing country strategy development for the Middle East and Asia regions. He recently served for six months in Burma (Myanmar), helping re-establish the USAID Mission there following a twenty-year hiatus. Brian joined USAID as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2009 in the Office of East African Affairs where he served as the principal liaison for various countries in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. His background includes stints at the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and international nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves, as well as a BA from Amherst College and a MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  He and his wife Jennifer enjoy international travel and outdoor adventures. Brian participate in the Humanity in Action Fellowship in Copenhagen in 2004.

David Vine

David Vine, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at American University, is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton, 2009). David's work focuses on issues including U.S. foreign and military policy, military bases, forced displacement, and human rights. He is the co-author, with the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, of the Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual, or Notes on Demilitarizing American Society (Prickly Paradigm, 2009). His other writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian (London), Mother Jones, Foreign Policy in Focus, Chronicle of Higher Education, and International Migration, among others. Island of Shame exposes the history of the U.S. military base on the Indian Ocean island Diego Garcia and the expulsion of its indigenous people. David is now working on a new book about the global network of U.S. military bases overseas. In addition to more than a decade of research about Diego Garcia and U.S. bases abroad, he has conducted research about gentrification in Brooklyn, NY, environmental refugees, homelessness and mental illness, and DC-area basketball. For more information and links to David's writing, see www.davidvine.net.

Catherine Zinnel (Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)

Catherine Zinnel works as District Director to New York City Council Member Brad Lander. In this role, she builds relationships with government agencies, community-based organizations, and neighborhood residents to advance projects that respond to local needs. She also works to create opportunities for people to become involved in government decision-making—premised on the idea that by broadening participation, we make smarter investments in our shared future and move toward a better City.  

Prior to joining Councilmember Lander’s office, Catherine worked at the New York City Housing Authority, where she managed affordable housing development projects on public housing land. Catherine received a BA in Political Science from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. Her interest in equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities took shape while she conducted research in Brooklyn, South Africa, Brazil, and India. Catherine was a 2008 Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, a 2009 Humanity in Action Fellow in Denmark, and a 2010 New York City Urban Fellow.