Our Team

David Jacobson is the founding Director of the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict, and Professor of Sociology at the University of South Florida. A political sociologist, his research focuses on areas related to immigration and citizenship, international institutions and law, human rights and women’s status in global conflict. He leads a new project which will examine tribes and ethnic groups in Mali and Nigeria. He also co-founded the Global Resolve Initiative, which helps villagers in developing countries develop alternative energy technologies, with a pilot program in Ghana. Dr. Jacobson is the author of, among other works, Rights Across Borders: Immigration and the Decline of Citizenship and Place and Belonging in America. His latest book is a book entitled, Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict.

 

 

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Derek Harvey is Professor of Practice and Director of Research and Strategy. Mr. Harvey is a successful and internationally experienced intelligence practitioner, adjunct professor and former U.S. Army Colonel who brings a broad range of expertise, experience and perspective based on service as a military intelligence professional and a Middle East/North Africa Foreign Area officer. Mr. Harvey is a graduate of Arizona State University  and earned a Master of Arts degree in Political Science-Middle East Studies from the University of Utah.  He has completed doctoral studies towards his Ph.D at the University of Utah.  Mr. Harvey was the Army Senior Fellow to the U.S. State Department, and also attended the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, Intelligence & Policy Program. He is a graduate of the L’Ecole d’Etat Majeur, the Moroccan Staff College.  His U.S. Military education includes the Military Attache Course, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Foreign Area Officer Course-Middle East/North Africa, Armor Advance Course, Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne/Ranger Schools. As a Defense Intelligence Agency Senior Leader, Mr. Harvey served as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence (COE) Director after his appointment by the CENTCOM Commander in 2009. He has extensive experience in policy development, strategic planning, designing analytical studies and writing estimates and key policy papers for inter-agency planning and national-level decision-makers. He has engaged US Congress and Executive Branch on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and a range of Middle East issues and briefed the President and NSC principals. Mr. Harvey has been a presenter at symposiums and academic oriented panels to include Council of Foreign Relations,   Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Center Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Rand, Institute for the Study of War, Center for New American Security and other organizations.

 

Ramin Asgard is Senior Fellow with the Global Initiative.  Mr. Asgard is a veteran former Foreign Service Officer with extensive field and headquarters experience in diplomatic, civil-military, commercial/trade advocacy, and research and analysis areas, including several tours in combat and post-conflict settings.  Mr. Asgard is also currently a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and Adjunct Staff Member at RAND.   He has published, presented and moderated at the Atlantic Council, the Stimson Center, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Brookings, University of Southern California, George Washington University, UCLA, and on media outlets including CNN, NBC, and The National Interest.  His research at the Global Initiative focuses on modes of facilitating Afghan post-conflict transition and economic stability. While with the Department of State, he served as Political Advisor (POLAD) at U.S. Central Command, where he provided foreign policy counsel to two Central Command Commanders.  He also served with the National Security Council (NSC), where he focused on Iraq and Afghanistan; and as Economic/Commercial Officer in Kabul, where he supported Afghan reconstruction, private sector growth, and economic reform.  He has also served as Director of the Iran Regional Presence Office (IRPO) in Dubai, the U.S. government’s primary diplomatic field operation concerning Iran.  His other overseas tours include Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, and Turkey.  Mr. Asgard has also served domestically as Director of the Voice of America’s Persian service, as an International Affairs Fellow at CFR, and as Lead Economic Desk Officer for Iraq, and as Economic Desk Officer for Turkey. Mr. Asgard holds a JD from Tulane University, a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA summa cum laude from Temple University.  He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council Iran Task Force, and is a recipient of the State Department’s Ambassador Charles E. Cobb Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, and the Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach.

 

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Laurence Aïda Ammour is a Senior Researcher. Ms. Ammour graduated in Sociology (University of Paris X) and in International Security and Defense Affairs (University of Grenoble II). She is currently Research Associate in International Security and Defense issues to the CIDOBBarcelona (Spain). From 2009 to 2013 she was Research Associate to the Institute for Political Science in Bordeaux. She worked eight years at the Academic Research Branch to the NATO Defense College (Rome), ten years in Istanbul, three years in Mauritania and two years in Cameroon. Her areas of research cover North Africa, Sahara-Sahel and West Africa, and her research focus on confliction systems, licit and illicit flows and networks, violent extremist groups, the Maghreb-Sahel countries’ relationships, the evolution of regional geopolitics and the Western Sahara dispute. She regularly leads field researches in the Maghreb and Sahel regions. Her latest field surveys took place in                                          Western Sahara (July 2013) and Mali (November 2013).

 

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Durriya Badani is Fellow and Director for Near East and South Asia. Ms. Badani most recently served as Deputy Director of Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Saban Center for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institute. Prior to her tenure with Brookings, Ms. Badani was a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of State where she served as a speech writer and part of the policy planning staff for U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and as a senior advisor for the Near East and South Asia at the President’s Interagency Council on Women. Badani is the co-author of the Brookings publication “The Role of Religious Leaders and Religious Communities in Diplomacy” and the author of “Fort years of Female Rule in Yemen: The Reign of al-Sayyida bint Ahmed al-Sulayhi”. In 2008, Badani was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to the Commission for Middle Eastern American Affairs for the state of                                            Maryland. Her current focus is on Muslim civic engagement in the United States.

 

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Fr. Atta Barkindo is a Fellow with the GICSC. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), Singapore, a Senior Researcher with Open Doors International and a current Ph.D. candidate at the Development of Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His research areas involve Political Islam, Terrorism and Conflict Resolution. His current PhD research is on Impunity, Memory, and the Politics of Terrorism in the transformation of Boko Haram.

 

 

 

Natalie Delia Deckard, is a Research Assistant with GICSC. With an extensive background  in social statistics, she works largely with the quantitative data produced by the Initiative and is a central analytical force behind such projects as the Tribalism Index and the Citizenship Index. Ms. Delia Deckard is currently a PhD candidate in Emory University’s Sociology Department. She holds an MA in Sociology from the University of South Florida and a BA in Latin American Studies from Columbia University. Her current research and dissertation work investigates the construction of citizenship gradations within and between nations.

 

 

 

Zacharias Pieri, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. A political sociologist with extensive ethnographic research experience of British and European Muslim communities, and expert on the Tablighi Jamaat Movement. His current research focuses on Islamist movements and tribal dynamics in West Africa. He is also researcher on a $6 million project investigating counter-radical discourses amongst Muslim communities in Western Europe, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Dr. Pieri is author of: ‘Tablighi Jamaat: A Handy Book on Religion in World Affairs’ and has also publishes on Islam in contemporary societies. Dr. Pieri has further interests in the sociology of religion, social movements, and contemporary forms and expressions of Islam. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and South East Asia learning Arabic and researching local cultures. Dr. Pieri was elected a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society in 2010 and is a member of the Muslims in Britain Research Network.

 

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Karla Stevenson, Director of Engagement, is responsible for marketing, communications, and engagement. She is a respected strategic communication consultant with over 10 years of experience supporting philanthropic organizations, politicians, and the federal government. In addition she is an experienced college professor, teacher, and researcher with over 10 years of expertise in translating academic and field specific language into understandable thoughts and ideas appropriate for a lay audience and key stakeholders. She holds a double B.A. in Communication Studies and Political Science from The University of South Florida and a M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of Iowa in Communication Studies. Academic areas of expertise include Rhetorical Criticism and Theory, Political Communication, and Cultural Studies.

 

 

sulllivanJames Sullivan, a Fellow in the Global Initiative, is a career foreign analyst, with over twenty years’ experience in international humanitarian relief and multi-national operations.  He has supported UN, NATO and other multi-national efforts in the Balkans, West Africa, Southwest and South Asia; most recently, in the field in Afghanistan. Mr. Sullivan is interested in the role of ideology in conflict, particularly the role of collective narrative in mobilizing populations. His most recent studies deal with the concept of “Agreed and Constructed Narrative” in conflict termination. Near the end of international or intercommunal conflict, wartime narratives which assisted in groups’ cohesion may make conflict termination difficult. Groups or authorities sometimes move to synthesize formerly hostile group’s contending narratives into a shared and less contentious understanding of wartime events. The resulting Agreed and Constructed Narratives are often partially counterfactual, but can serve an important function in moving beyond conflict if the parties wish to do so. Mr. Sullivan is currently comparing case studies to evaluate possible differences in the long-term effectiveness of post-conflict narratives which arose organically, were process facilitated, or were imposed from above by authorities.

 

MWpictureMike Williams is the Director of Geographic Information Sciences & Technology at the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. His primary responsibility includes the development, integration, and implementation of geographic concepts, information, applications, systems, and technology to support novel interdisciplinary approaches to understanding civil society, conflict, and identity.Over the last decade, Mr. Williams has established and trained nine interdisciplinary analysis programs nationally and internationally in support of conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, counterinsurgency, stability and support operations, and counterterrorism efforts, Mr. Williams has held several senior leadership positions during his 15 years with the U.S. Department of Defense most notably as the Director of Civil-Military Integration and principal sociocultural advisor to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In 2012 the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the U.S. State Department nominated Mr. Williams to lead the Human Geography Standards Working Group, a sub-group of the Geospatial Intelligence Standards Working Group. Mr. Williams holds a BA in Geography from the University of South Florida and a Master of Engineering with a specialty in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Colorado. He also holds baccalaureate and graduate GIS certificates from Penn State University and the University of Colorado.

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