Expert Team: Transition Assistance Practice Group

Ambassador Yakobashvili is founder and president of the TY Strategies LLC, a boutique consulting firm specializing in advising governments, non-governmental institutions and business communities in the U.S., Europe and Eurasia. Prior to that, he served as an Executive Vice President of PASS LLC, a global social impact consultancy firm. In 2014, he founded and led the Washington, DC-based New International Leadership Institute, a not-for profit organization dedicated to reforms, good governance and anti-corruption. Prior to that, he held the position of Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. From early February 2011 to March 2013, he served as Ambassador of Georgia to the United States. Prior to his posting, he was Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for Reintegration in the Government of Georgia.

Ambassador Yakobashvili is a career diplomat who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia in 1991. He holds the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary granted by the President of Georgia.

He is a graduate of the Department of Physics from the Tbilisi State University. In 1998 he was trained in mid-career Diplomatic Courses at the Centre of Political and Diplomatic Studies at Oxford University. He is a Yale World Fellow (2002) and participated in the Executive Security Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2004). In 2006, he was a visiting researcher at the Silk Road Study Centre of Uppsala University, Sweden.

Ambassador Yakobashvili co-founded and has served as an Executive Vice-President of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS), a leading think tank in the Caucasus region. He also co-founded the Atlantic Council of Georgia, as well as the Council of Foreign Relations of Georgia. He frequently contributes to international printed and digital media on issues of regional security and transformation.

In February 2012, Ambassador Yakobashvili was decorated with Presidential Medal of Excellence. He speaks Georgian, English, Russian and Hebrew.

Zuhra Halimova is senior analyst at the Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA), part of the USAID US Support for Economic Growth in Asia (US-SEGA) project. She also conducts research on the digital transformation of the Central Asia region, working with the EU, World Bank, USAID, GIZ and Internews/RDR. Zuhra is strategic advisor to Women in Digital Transformation.

Previously, Zuhra was a visiting scholar at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. In this capacity she conducted critical analytical discussions with stakeholders, which she developed into a book manuscript, Reassessing Foreign Aid in Eurasia: Donors’ Agendas and Local Perceptions

For more than 20 years, she was the executive director of the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In this role, she worked closely with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and international organisations, in addition to independent media and business.

Zuhra holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She also has a master’s in oriental studies from Tajik State National University. Zuhra previously completed the US-South Asia Leader Engagement Program, “Terrorism as Threat to Global Security”, part of Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Education Program. She has also completed the Global Leaders Executive Education Program at INSEAD-OSF.

Dr. Timothy Nielander works on a wide range of public-private cooperation projects focused on improving collaboration and systems for facilitating development assistance and innovative approaches to funding and addressing global challenges. He has served as General Counsel and Managing Director of Corporate Services for Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, as well as an advisor and a Board Member for development programs focused on the Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals. He has developed programs with multinational and private participants based in Europe, the Middle East, Caribbean/Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the South Pacific across a range of issues: disaster planning and response, health, education, agriculture, financial inclusion, clean energy, sports-development, safety/security. He has lived and worked in Jordan, Belgium, and Switzerland and travels frequently to Africa, Pacific Asia and Europe to work in-country. Tim is a qualified solicitor in England/Wales and licensed to practice law in Washington, USA.  He holds an LLM in Intellectual Property Law and a PhD from the University in Geneva. He recently published “Public–Private Partnerships in Global Development” (Edward Elgar, 2020) for which a companion university course has been developed for universities serving as magnets for students of international cooperation in six geographical regions. Prior to becoming a specialised consultant for international organisations Tim practiced with the Seattle law firm, Preston, where he provided counsel to a broad range of clients, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Corporation and 

Souheil Kaddour is a Tunisian tax lawyer and university lecturer on taxation and anticorruption. He has assisted and advised various organisations (national and international, public and private, governmental and non-governmental) including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Instance National de Lutte contre la Corrupton (INLUCC), Institut Arabe des Chefs d’entreprises (IACE), Centre des études juridiques et judiciaires (CEJJ) and others. Currently, he is a Member of the Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative (ACAD/UNODC).

From 2012 to 2015, Souheil was Advisor to the Tunisian Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Transitional Justice. In the role, he participated in drafting many texts, led several projects and directed many technical commissions related to the Tunisian democratic transition. Souheil has published several papers and given many national and international conferences in the areas of governance, anticorruption, tax reforms and transition.

In 2016, he was selected by INLUCC & UNDP as National Expert to review and elaborate the National Strategy for Good Governance and Anti-Corruption 2016-2020 and its Action Plan 2017-2018.

Shruti Mehrotra is the former Director of Policy for the Soros Economic Development Fund and the Open Society Foundations’ Economic Advancement Program. In this role, she was responsible for policy support to leading reformers in countries in transition and the Refugees and Migrants Investment Initiative, a 500M USD commitment George Soros made to supporting private sector engagement with refugees, migrants and host communities. Previously, Mehrotra was Director at the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, where she first led efforts to advance reforms with Guinea’s then newly elected president Alpha Conde. Mehrotra then worked with the presidential team in Myanmar to implement change in the long-closed nation before continuing on to lead development of Blair’s work across Africa.

Mehrotra began her state building and governance work in 2002 when the Taliban fell in Afghanistan.  There, she led one of the largest assistance efforts in the country. She went on to direct complex international assistance projects in Darfur, the Balkans, and the West Bank.  Based on her work, Mehrotra was selected as a Global Leadership Fellow by the World Economic Forum, where she collaborated with the G-20 and the UN Secretary General on geopolitical and economic development initiatives.  Mehrotra holds two MAs in Applied Mathematics and Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an executive MBA from a WEF-led consortium including Harvard and INSEAD.

Robert Templer is the Founder and Director of the Higher Education Alliance for Refugees, an organisation aimed at developing new ways to provide education and training for the forcibly displaced around the world. Until recently, he was also a Professor of Practice at the School of Public Policy at Central European University focusing on conflict and violent extremism.

Prior to that, he was the Director of the Asia Program at the International Crisis Group between 2001 and 2012, establishing more than a dozen research programs across the region. He led a Crisis Group team that investigated war crimes in Sri Lanka and headed the organisation’s research on Myanmar. He has worked in more than twenty countries in Asia producing nearly 400 reports covering issues as diverse as nuclear proliferation and emerging religious movements. He has focused on post-conflict policing, corruption and constitutional development.

Robert was the Indochina correspondent for Agence France-Presse from 2003-2007 before spending four years as a visiting scholar and Freedom Forum Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Shadows and Wind: A View of Modern Vietnam (Abacus, 1999) and has written extensively for publications around the world including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The New Republic and The Far Eastern Economic Review.

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she focuses on issues of rule of law, security, and governance in post-conflict countries, fragile states, and states in transition.

As the founding CEO of the Truman National Security Project, she spent nearly a decade leading a movement of national security, political, and military leaders working to promote people and policies that strengthen security, stability, rights, and human dignity in America and around the world. In 2011, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton appointed Kleinfeld to the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which advises the secretary of state quarterly, a role she served through 2014.

Rachel has consulted on rule of law reform for the World Bank, the European Union, the OECD, the Open Society Institute, and other institutions, and has briefed multiple government agencies in the United States and abroad. She is the author of Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad: Next Generation Reform (Carnegie, 2012), which was chosen by Foreign Affairs magazine as one of the best foreign policy books of 2012. Her writings have appeared in Relocating the Rule of Law (Hart, 2009), Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies (Palgrave, 2009), The Future of Human Rights (Philadelphia UP, 2008), Promoting the Rule of Law: The Problem of Knowledge (Carnegie Endowment, 2006), With All Our Might (Rowen and Littlefield, 2006) and other publications. She has also co-authored Let There Be Light: Electrifying the Developing World with Markets and Distributed Generation (Truman Institute, 2012).

Named one of the top 40 Under 40 Political Leaders in America by Time magazine in 2010, Rachel Kleinfeld has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalFox News, and other national television, radio, and print media.

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is the founder Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group and of the Board of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International and Strategic Studies. He has presented papers on governance and peace in Sri Lanka at a number of international conferences and is widely quoted in the international and local media.

In 2010, Dr. Saravanamuttu was awarded the inaugural Citizens Peace Award by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka and in September 2013, he was invited by President Obama to attend his “High Level Event on Civil Society” in New York. In 2016, he was appointed, Secretary of the Task Force on Consultations on Mechanisms for Reconciliation and in 2017, short-listed for the Peace Prize awarded by the city of Ypres, Belgium. He is also a member of the Regional Advisory Group of Amnesty International for Asia.

Dr. Saravanamuttu is a Founding Director of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Transparency International and a Founding Co- Convener of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), which has monitored all the major elections in Sri Lanka since 1997 and the civil society alliance the Platform for Freedom. In 2004 he was an Eisenhower Fellow (2004) and is currently Chairperson of the Eisenhower Fellows, Sri Lanka and a Member of the Gratiaen Trust.

Dr. Saravanamuttu received a BSc Economics, Upper Second Class Honours degree and Ph. D in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of London, in 1979 and 1986, respectively. He lectured in International Politics at the University of Southampton, UK, from 1984–92.

Noha El-Mikawy is Professor of Practice in the Public Policy and Administration Department, and Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at The American University in Cairo (AUC). She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from AUC, and holds a master’s degree in comparative politics and international relations and a PhD in comparative politics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Previously, El-Mikawy served as the regional director of the Ford Foundation for the Middle East and North Africa. Her tenure at Ford helped create university partnerships between the region and North and Central America, the UK, India, and South Africa, as well as helped provide institutional support to various universities and think tanks in the Arab region, including AUB, AUC, Cairo University and the Arab Council for Social Sciences. She previously worked with UNDP’s Bureau of Development Policy and Regional Bureau of Arab States as the regional policy advisor, providing technical advice on governance programs of UNDP offices across the Arab region. In addition to being a policy practitioner, El-Mikawy’s academic background includes research development and management at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn, Germany, as well as teaching at UCLA, AUC, the Free University of Berlin and the University of Elangen. She has published two books on Egypt with AUC press and several articles and book chapters on governance and institutional reform in Egypt and the Arab region, including with Oxford and Cambridge University Press.

Nimmi Gowrinathan is the Founder and Director of The Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative, a global initiative examining the impact of rape on women’s political identities. She is also a visiting Research Professor at the Colin Powell Center for Global and Civic Leadership at City College New York. She is currently directing a new program under this initiative, “Beyond Identity: A Gendered-Platform for Scholar Activists”. She is also a Senior Scholar at the Center for Political Conflict, Gender, and People’s Rights at the University of California, Berkeley and the creator of the Female Fighter Series at Guernica Magazine.

Nimmi has recently been a senior advisor on political voice for the ADB/UN Women Benchmark Paper on SDG’s in the Asia-Pacific region; a gender expert for the United Nations Human Development Report on Afghanistan; and a policy consultant and analyst for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the International Crisis Group, researching and analysing gender inclusion in peacebuilding and women’s insecurities in Sri Lanka. She was formerly the Director of South Asia Programs and UN Representative for Operation USA.

Nimmi received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles titled “Why Women Rebel: Understanding Female Fighters in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” which received the Jean and Irving Stone Award for Innovation in Gender Studies. She provides expert analysis for CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, and has published in Harper’s Magazine, Foreign Affairs, Guernica Magazine, and Al Jazeera English, among others. Her work, and writings, can be found at