Dr. Querine Hanlon
Querine Hanlon is the founding President of Strategic Capacity Group. Dr. Hanlon brings considerable capacity building experience and expertise in creating professional education schools and specialized programs in the U.S. and abroad for military, government, and civilian students.
As a professor and dean in the U.S. Professional Military Education system before creating SCG, Dr. Hanlon led the redesign and accreditation of strategic-level education programs for the U.S. military as it grappled with the institutional requirements and needs of the post-9/11 security environment. She designed a post-9/11 focused security studies curriculum for the newest degree-granting college at National Defense University (NDU) and created NDU’s first satellite campus at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Dr. Hanlon has also conceptualized and created curricula for partner institutions. At the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), Dr. Hanlon created innovative regional security sector programming in response to the Arab Spring that was recognized by the U.S. Department of State as a one of a kind standard for future programming. Dr. Hanlon has considerable expertise in Security Sector Reform (SSR). She has served on security sector assessment trips to Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco for the U.S. government and has advised government and international organizations how to design security assistance programming to deliver strategic and sustainable results.
Dr. Hanlon holds a PhD and MALD from the Fletcher School and a BSFS from Georgetown University.
Professor Ross Harrison
Ross Harrison is on the faculty of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he teaches Strategy, and the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches Middle East Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy Towards the Middle East. Harrison is also a senior scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. Harrison authored Strategic Thinking in 3D: A Guide for National Security, Foreign policy and Business Professionals and co-edited with Paul Salem a 2017 book, From Chaos to Cooperation: Toward Regional Order in the Middle East. He is completing a new book on the civil wars in the Middle East with co-editor, Paul Salem, which will be released in 2019.
Professor Harrison lectures regularly on matters related to strategy and as well as Middle East politics at the U.S. Department of State, the National War College, National Defense University, The Navy War College, the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, Georgetown University, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. He is also part of a back channel diplomatic initiative relating to Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and has been a member of several study groups and Track II diplomatic initiatives related to the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. Every summer Harrison teaches strategy to senior military and government officials in Tbilisi, Georgia. Prior to his academic career, Harrison was Executive Vice President of Tapco International, a global building products company and concurrently served as CEO of one of Tapco’s largest divisions, Builders Edge. He was instrumental in the company’s global expansion and its mergers and acquisition strategy.
Professor Harrison has been published in policy related journals such as The National Interest, Al Monitor, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Parameters, Huffington Post, Orient and al-Jazeera.
Dr. Richard Shultz, Jr.
Dr. Shultz is the Lee E. Dirks Professor at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, where he teaches graduate-level courses on various aspects of international security affairs and war studies. He also is the Director of the Fletcher School’s International Security Studies Program, which is dedicated to graduate-level teaching and research on a broad range of conflict, defense, and strategic issues. Professor Shultz has held three chairs: The Olin Distinguished Professorship of National Security Studies at the U.S. Military Academy, Secretary of the Navy Senior Research Fellow at the U.S. Naval War College, and Brigadier General H. L. Oppenheimer Chair of War-fighting Strategy, U.S. Marine Corps.
Since the mid-1980s, Dr. Shultz has served as a security consultant to various U.S. government departments and agencies concerned with national security affairs. Currently, he is a Senior Fellow at the Special Operations Command’s Joint Special Operations University. In this role, he deploys abroad as a member of military education teams to teach terrorism/counterterrorism and special operations integration courses to foreign military officers. In the last three years, in the Middle East, this has included programs in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Tunisia, and Morocco. As a senior fellow, he also conducts unclassified research and prepares studies for publication in SOCOM/JSOU’s monograph series.
In 2015, Professor Shultz initiated a new research project which examined military innovation in the war in Iraq. The research puzzles this study addressed focuses on how and why Task Force 714 was able to learn and innovate in the midst of war. The study was first published as a monograph in June 2016 as Military Innovation in War: It Takes a Learning Organization--A Case Study of Task Force 714 by U.S. SOCOM’s JSOU Press. Three subsequent articles have been published based on further research. "Post-9/11 Wartime Intelligence Analysis," Intelligence and National Security (forthcoming No. 6, 2018); “The Irreducible Minimum: An Evaluation of Counterterrorism Operations in Iraq,” PRISM: The Journal of Complex Operations (No. 3, 2018); and “U.S Counterterrorism Operations during the Iraq War: A Case Study of Task Force 714,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (Fall 2016).
Dr. Shultz’s recent books include Prioritizing Security Sector Reform: A New U.S. Policy (U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2016), The Marines Take Anbar: The Four-Year Fight against Al Qaeda (Annapolis, MD: The Naval Institute Press, 2013), Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat (Columbia University Press, 2006; 2009), and The Secret War against Hanoi: Kennedy’s and Johnson’s Use of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam (New York: Harper Collins, 1999; 2000).
Dr. Alejandra Bolaños
Dr. Bolanos is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in defense and security governance at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at National Defense University. In her SME role, she co-leads tailored initiatives aimed at enhancing partner nation’s capacity through defense and security enterprise optimization and alignment. Specifically, she focuses partner nation Institutional Capacity Building/Defense Institution Building (ICB/DIB) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) at cabinet and ministerial levels.
Prior to joining the Center, she served as Director of Programs at Strategic Capacity Group (SCG). During her work at SCG, she focused on the following SSR areas: defense and law enforcement professionalization; strategic assessment and planning; oversight; civil society engagement, and the role and evolution of nonstatutory forces. She led program implementation in Latin America and program conceptualization in MENA and West Africa.
Dr. Bolaños also served at National Defense University (NDU), where she managed and implemented programs of instruction for law enforcement, armed forces, and civilian counterparts in support of the U.S. interagency and in response to capacity building requirements of more than 80 countries. Under the auspices of US DOD, she advised senior government officials on areas that include: countering violent extremism (CVE); combating terrorism (CT); strategic planning; organized crime; as well as information technologies and conflict.
Before joining the U.S. government, Dr. Bolaños’ professional and academic career focused on combating terrorist networks. She began this professional career as analyst in private sector institutions that pioneered the collection of online intelligence and the use of information technologies for the non-kinetic disruption terrorism and an academic fellow at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) in Singapore.
She holds M.A.L.D. and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School and a B.A. from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico.
Dr. Andrea J. Dew
Dr. Dew holds the Maritime Irregular Warfare Forces Chair at the US Naval War College where she has taught in the Strategy and Policy Department since 2007. In 2008 she helped to establish the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups (CIWAG), which she also directs. Dr. Dew has studied advanced Japanese at the Kyoto Japanese Language School and has also served as a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science in International Affairs at Harvard University and as Senior Counter-Terrorism Fellow at the Jebsen Center for Counter Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School.
Recent publications include Communicating War From Quills to Tweets: The Evolution of American Wartime Communication Strategies (Georgetown University Press, 2019); Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat (Columbia University Press, 2009); and Deep Currents and Rising Tides: The Indian Ocean and International Security (Georgetown University Press, 2013). Dr. Dew's current research focuses on irregular warfare strategies on land and in the maritime environment.
Dr. Dew Holds an M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. from the Fletcher School and a B.A. (Hons.) in History from the University of Southampton.
Megan Amer joined Strategic Capacity Group in July 2016 as Director of Development and became Director of Development and Programs in February 2018, building SCG’s portfolio of programs and focus areas.
Ms. Amer has over seventeen years of training and complex project management experience, managing domestic and international projects for the U.S. Department of State and the private sector. At the State Department, Ms. Amer managed multi-sector and interagency teams and budgets over $200 million a year in foreign assistance programming to advance civilian security, criminal justice sector reform, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, counternarcotics, and border security efforts in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and South and Central Asia. Ms. Amer’s last position at the State Department was to lead the Bureau of South and Central Asia’s long-term foreign assistance strategic planning efforts. Prior to the State Department she worked in the private sector as a Technical Training Manager for a leading international building automation firm.
Ms. Amer served as an adjunct professor at Mercy and Manhattanville Colleges. She received a MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University and a BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Amanda Hague joined Strategic Capacity Group in June 2017 as the Director of Finance and Administration where she serves as SCG’s chief financial officer and head of Human Resources.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Hague was the Director of Finance and Human Resources at BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a non-profit economic development organization in Rockville, Maryland. Previously, she served as the Administration, Communications, and Events Manager at Rockville Economic Development, Inc. in Maryland.
Ms. Hague received an MBA from The George Washington University and a BA in German from The State University of New York at Oswego.
Joyce Kasee-Mills is the Director of Training and Advising Programs at Strategic Capacity Group (SCG), where she oversees SCG’s techincal training and capacity-building programs globally. Ms. Kasee-Mills joined SCG in February 2017 as Director of Global Operations and Planning, managing SCG’s operations, security, and planning.
Prior to SCG, Ms. Kasee-Mills was a Senior Program Officer at the Center for the Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). At USIP, she oversaw programs throughout the MENA region focused on criminal justice sector reform, rule of law, border security management, and community-security partnerships, and led the launch of USIP’s first MENA Regional Office in Tunis, Tunisia. Prior to USIP, she worked in local government as an Inclusion Specialist overseeing programs to foster community engagement among marginalized groups.
Ms. Kasee-Mills served as a guest lecturer at the University of Cincinnati. She received her MA in International Studies and Diplomacy focusing on post-conflict rule of law and reconciliation from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and BAs in International Affairs and Political Science from the University of Cincinnati.
Lauren Kosa is Director of Programs at Strategic Capacity Group, overseeing SCG’s strategic capacity building activities worldwide.
Ms. Kosa joined SCG in 2018 as a Senior Program Officer, leading SCG’s Academies of Excellence Program in Mali and CAR before being promoted to Director in 2019. Before coming to SCG, Ms. Kosa spent seven years at the U.S. Department of State, where she focused on criminal justice reform, including police and justice systems, particularly in the Middle East. While at the State Department, Ms. Kosa worked in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), where she served as a team lead for rule of law-strengthening programs in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Ms. Kosa was a Brookings Legis Fellow in 2015, working as a National Security Fellow in the U.S. Senate. She also served as an Egypt Desk Officer at the State Department. Ms. Kosa speaks Arabic and has lived and worked in Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. She has also worked for the nonprofit organization Human Rights First and as a freelance writer and reporter.
Ms. Kosa holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a Master's Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, and a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas.
Oumar Konipo joined SCG in 2017 as a Field Logistics Coordinator, supporting SCG’s portfolio of projects in Mali and across the Sahel.
Prior to his role at SCG, Mr. Konipo worked for the U.S. Embassy in Mali, where he provided simultaneous and consecutive interpretation services for the Regional Security and Legal Advisor Offices. There he also served as a Senior Economic and Commercial Specialist, working across multiple offices and directorates on issues related to peace and governance, trade, money laundering, and economic development and growth. Earlier in his career, Mr. Konipo worked for the Government Investment Center (CEPI) as the Chief of the Small Business Assistance Division and the Chief of Projects.
Mr. Konipo received an MBA from Northeastern University and a BS in Civil Engineering from Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs in Bamako, Mali. He is an active member of the Lions Club International, currently serving as the District Secretary for eight countries in West Africa. Mr Konipo is the recipient of numerous awards, including two Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. Embassy in Bamako and a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State.
Harsha Sirur joined SCG in May 2019, serving as SCG’s Tunisia Country Director and North Africa Regional Director.
Mr. Sirur, a former Diplomat with over 17 years of experience in the Canadian Foreign Service, has extensive overseas program management and oversight experience of international stabilization and security sector capacity building programs. Mr. Sirur served as a Country Representative in the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START) in Haiti to support community security. As the Senior Deputy Director for Policy & Programming for the Afghanistan Task Force, Mr. Sirur provided policy oversight to Canada’s security sector and border management support in Afghanistan. Mr. Sirur has also actively worked with project partners on security sector reform by developing Canada’s counter-terrorism programing in Kenya and the East/Horn of Africa, as well as overseeing Global Peace & Security Fund (GPSF) investments in Somalia. He was previously stationed at the Canadian Embassy in Jordan as the Chargé d’Affaires for Iraq, where he led direct negotiation efforts with senior Iraqi officials relating to Canadian strategic interests and security sector programming in Iraq. Mr. Sirur has been based in Tunis since 2014 and has overseen Canada’s cooperation with various Tunisian security sector institutions and the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program’s (CTCBP) investments.
Mr. Sirur received a Master of Forest Science Degree and an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto.
Dale Sheehan joined Strategic Capacity Group in February 2017 as Special Advisor for International Cooperation.
Prior to SCG, Mr. Sheehan worked in law enforcement for over 35 years, including as Assistant Commissioner, Director General of Learning and Development, and an Adjudicator and Mediator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). During that time, Mr. Sheehan published and co-edited Police Organization and Training, Innovations in Research and Practice, and spearheaded an effort with international partners in thirteen countries to broaden the appeal of public service through policing. He also served as INTERPOL’s first Director of Police Training and Development and as Director of INTERPOL in France and Singapore. Throughout his career, Mr. Sheehan has observed and participated in law enforcement capacity building and training initiatives in over 120 countries.
Mr. Sheehan holds a BA in Sociology/Criminology/Law from Carlton University and graduated from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business Executive Strategic Human Resources Leadership Program. Mr. Sheehan is the recipient of numerous awards, including the St Johns Ambulance Medal, the Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, United Nations Protection Force Medal, Canada 125 Medal, Saskatchewan Centenary Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal, and the Member of the Order of Merit. He sits on several Canadian and international boards of directors, including Past President, Canadian Association of Police Educators, INTERPOL Group of Experts Police Training, Canadian Police Knowledge Network, and the RCMP Quarterly Editorial Board.
Suzanne M. Lundy
Suzanne Lundy joined SCG in April 2019 as Executive Administrator to the President.
Ms. Lundy has over 18 years of experience providing executive-level support, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of senior executives and their leadership teams. Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Lundy worked for The Carlyle Group, providing senior administrative support to the Chief Information Officer, and overall office administration to a team of over 100 personnel in the Global Technology & Solutions division.
Ms. Lundy graduated from Old Dominion University with a B.S. in Communications and Interdisciplinary Studies.
Colin Farquhar joined SCG in July 2018 as Senior Police Advisor to lead SCG’s Academies of Excellence Program in Mali.
Mr. Farquhar has more than 37 years of policing and security experience. Following his Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) foundations training in Saskatchewan, Canada, Mr. Farquhar worked in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia. In 1995, he was seconded as a police trainer to Haiti for the development of Haiti’s first civilian police force. Mr. Farquhar returned to Haiti in 2006 as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission and was appointed as the UN’s Deputy Police Commissioner as well as the Canadian Contingent Commander. After a two-year tenure, Mr. Farquhar was selected as Canada’s first Police Adviser to Canada’s UN Permanent Mission in New York. There, Mr. Farquhar established a strong international presence for Canada in the areas of criminal justice, corrections, and policing. In 2011, at the request of the UK, Canadian, and Turks and Caicos Islands governments, Mr. Farquhar was appointed as the Police Commissioner for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF), the oldest police force in the Caribbean. Under Mr. Farquhar’s leadership, new special investigation teams were created and strong policies and procedures were established in line with the force’s new mission, vision, values, and motto. Mr. Farquhar also served as CEO of the largest security company in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Mr. Farquhar is the recipient of numerous Canadian and UN awards, including the Commissioner's Commendation for Bravery, the Commanding Officer's Commendation for Bravery, the Queen's Golden and Silver Jubilee Medals, the Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, the Haiti MINUSTAH UN Medal, and the RCMP’s Long Service Medal (30 Years).
Jeffrey Hunter is a Senior Police Advisor at Strategic Capacity Group (SCG) and serves as SCG’s Security Manger, overseeing the organization’s security protocols, planning, and training worldwide. Mr. Hunter joined SCG in June 2015 to lead implementation of SCG’s Border Security and SSR programs in North and West Africa. In 2018, he served as SCG’s technical advisor in Tunis, Tunisia.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Hunter had a 32-year career in policing with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and retired at the Executive Level in 2013. His duties included serving as a National Director for the RCMP's Critical Incident Program, among other senior management positions. Mr. Hunter has worked as a Senior Policing Advisor in Afghanistan, Tunisia, and Mali for Global Affairs Canada, European Union in Afghanistan (EUPOL), NATO, and the U.S. Department of State. He has extensive international experience in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Tunisia, and France.
Mr. Hunter has numerous law enforcement and police management diplomas and a certificate from the Canadian Police College.
Ruth Roy joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2017 as a Senior Police Advisor to support SCG’s projects in North Africa and the Sahel.
Ms. Roy is a retired police Inspector with over 30 years of completed service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Throughout her career, Inspector Roy worked throughout Canada and around the globe to improve police training programs with a special emphasis on gender sensitivity and balance. As a first responder constable, she was involved in several community policing initiatives throughout Canada. Inspector Roy also created a Women’s Advisory Committee for the Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia. As the Director of Basic Training for the United Nations Mission in Haiti, she improved the Basic Training Program for the Haitian National Police and developed training for police cadets on gender sensitivity.
Ms. Roy holds a Certificate in Police Leadership from Henson College and a Bachelor of Business Administration with a minor in Management from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has received numerous honors, including the 2013 NAWLEE/Motorola Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award, a United Nations Peacekeeping Medal, the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement’s Police Woman of the Year Award, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
Joanne White joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2017 as a Senior Police Advisor and lead curriculum designer to support SCG’s SSR, Academies of Excellence, and Institution Building Projects in North Africa and the Sahel.
A retired police Superintendent with over 27 years of completed service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Ms. White brings considerable experience in training, development, and human resource management. Prior to retiring from the RCMP, Ms. White served as the Director of Police Sciences at the Canadian Police College (CPC), where she was responsible for training units that offered over 55 advanced and specialized courses and workshops in investigative techniques, technological crime, forensic identification, explosives disposal/ investigations, police executive development, and professional development for Aboriginal policing. As the Officer in Charge of CPC’s Leadership Development Centre, Ms. White also oversaw the development and delivery of specialized police leadership training.
Ms. White holds an MA in Leadership and Management (Policing) from Charles Sturt University, Australia and a BA in English from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
André Menoche joined SCG in August 2018 as a Senior Police Advisor to lead SCG’s Law Enforcement Professionalization project in the Central African Republic.
Mr. Menoche brings over 25 years of tactical and strategic policing experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), including managing projects in demanding international environments, and more than 10 years of training experience. During his time with the RCMP, Mr. Menoche oversaw Canadian police deployments in international peacekeeping operations and managed officers to ensure their readiness for deployment to missions around the globe. Mr. Menoche served in three UN missions. From 2010 to 2011, he served as the Regional Commander for the Central Region in Hinche as well as the Director of the Haitian National Policy Academy for the United Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). From 2008 to 2009, Mr. Menoche served in Haiti as the Operations Officer at the Induction Training Center, where he was in charge of strategic and operational human resource planning and recruitment for all UNPOL deployed to MINUSTAH. From 2002 to 2003, he served as an Instructor for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, where he led the tactical training of police officers, and a member of the Special Protective Team for Judges.
Mr. Menoche is certified by the United Nations as a Gender-Based Awareness Trainer and is a certified Workplace Conflict Mediator. He is fluent in English and French and holds a B.A. in Education from the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Andre Gauthier joined Strategic Capacity Group in July 2019 as a Senior Police Advisor deployed to Burkina Faso in support of SCG’s community policing and capacity building programs in the Sahel.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Gauthier served 33 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), retiring as a Superintendent and Director at the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). His early career was spent in the provinces of New Brunswick and Ontario serving in Contract Policing, Protective Policing, Drug Enforcement, National Security Investigations and Criminal Operations. More recently he served as an International Liaison Officer in Amman, Jordan (2007-2011) and International Liaison Regional Administrator for the Middle East/North Africa (2011-2013). He was subsequently seconded to the Office of the Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Immigration at the Privy Council Office of Canada from 2013 to 2016, holding the position of Designated Coordinator to International Operations. In advancing Canada’s Operational Strategy abroad, he ensured that Canadian operations were fully integrated in-theatre with various national departments and agencies in coordination with international partners in both West-Africa and South East Asia.
Beyond his operational credentials, Mr. Gauthier has been the recipient of a Canadian Peacekeeping medal for his participation in United Nations missions in Haiti (1995) and Kosovo (2001). He is also the recipient of an RCMP Commissioner’s Commendation and Operational Service Medal. Superintendent Gauthier completed a BA Degree in Political Science (Criminology) from the University of Ottawa in 1989 and the Executive Development Program (EDP) from the Canadian Police College in 2018. He is currently enrolled in an Executive MA Degree Program in International Police Leadership at Charles Sturt University in Australia.
Abou Ag Ahiyoya
Abou Ag Ahiyoya joined SCG in August 2018 as a Senior Police Trainer to deliver SCG’s Law Enforcement Professionalization project in the Central African Republic.
Mr. Ahiyoya brings more than 20 years of experience developing and managing peacekeeping, stabilization, and police training projects in West Africa and the Sahel and working with the African Union, ECOWAS, and the United Nations. He has worked at the Ecole de Maintien de la Paix, an African Union and ECOWAS mandated peacekeeping school, the Pearson Peacekeeping Center, and with the AU and UN peacekeeping missions in Darfur. Mr. Ahiyoya has also served as an SGBV advisor and Investigative Trainer for the U.S. Department of State in Cote d’Ivoire. Mr. Ahiyoya specializes in police training, sexual and gender-based violence, community policing, human rights, civilian protection, and peacekeeping training. A native of Mali, he has also served as a senior police officer with the Malian National Police, including as the Deputy Director of the Ecole Nationale de Police in Bamako.
Mr. Ahiyoya holds an M.A. in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University and a B.A. in Law from the École Nationale d’Administration in Bamako. He was a Fulbright Scholar and has received awards from the African Union for his service.
Awista Ayazi joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2018 as a Senior Program Officer, leading SCG’s Security Sector Reform and Disarmament, Demobilization, & Reintegration Program in Libya .
Ms. Ayazi is a seasoned attorney with significant experience managing large-scale projects in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining SCG, she worked with several NGOs to research,investigate, and analyze human rights and rule of law related issues in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Colombia, Nepal, and Sudan. Ms. Ayazi also has experience in conflict resolution, mediation, and arbitration. She has worked with gender-based violence issues, trafficking, and domestic compliance with public international law, among other areas. Ms. Ayazi started her career as a litigator at Dentons, the largest law firm in the world, representing high-profile international clients.
Ms. Ayazi holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from Georgetown University,where she was Managing Editor of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, and a Master’s Degree in International Law with a focus on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Oxford.
Alexandra Kerr joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2018 as a Senior Program Officer, leading SCG’s projects on defense institution building and border security capacity in North Africa.
Ms. Kerr has worked in international relations and defense both domestically and internationally over the past decade. From 2015-2017, she was a Research Fellow at the National Defense University, where her research focused on security cooperation & assistance, including security sector reform and institutional capacity building. She led an initiative on Defense Institution Building and is the editor and an author of Effective, Legitimate, Secure: Insights for Defense Institution Building, a book published in November 2017 in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Cooperation. From 2012-2015, Ms. Kerr was Assistant Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and prior to that, she held a research position in conflict mediation at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. During her studies she held several research positions, including in Oxford, the University of Saint Andrews, the political risk division of Lloyds of London, and the UN World Food Program in Rome.
Ms. Kerr received an undergraduate and master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, and a master’s degree in International Conflict from the Department of War Studies in King’s College London.
Marcus Cornelius joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2018 as a Senior Program Officer, leading SCG’s projects for capacity building in the Sahel and a Strategic Communications project with the Liberian National Police.
Mr. Cornelius has a diverse work history over his 20-year career in the United States Marine Corps. In 2004, he served as training advisor in the countries of Chad and Niger as part of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative. In 2005, he deployed to Iraq as a Platoon Commander with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to Al Anbar Province. From 2006-2010, Mr. Cornelius was assigned to the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command (TECOM). After leaving TECOM, he completed several deployments to Afghanistan, most recently as a Foreign Security Force Advisor, where he served as the Training and Education advisor to Train Advise Assist Command- East. In this role, he focused on building the strategic capacity of the Afghan National Police Regional Training Centers. He also served as the Senior Gender Advisor, developing a strategy to effectively incorporate women in the Afghan National Defense Security Forces.
Mr. Cornelius holds a BA degree in Philosophy from Auburn University and an MA degree in Strategic Security Studies from the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University. He is also a graduate of Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare School and Command and Staff College. Mr Cornelius is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (Combat V), Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the National Defense Medal.
Matthew Witting joined Strategic Capacity Group in February 2019 as a Senior Program Officer supporting SCG’s community policing and capacity building activities in the Sahel.
Mr. Witting has 18 years of experience supporting the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United States Census Bureau, United States Army Europe, Department of the Army, and NATO projects and contracts. He has served as the Deputy Chief of Party for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) Lebanon/LCRI project and an Operations Manager for USAID projects in South Sudan from 2008 to 2009. He has provided senior management and compliance oversight for over 15 USAID and UN-funded projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Chad, Haiti, Colombia, DRC, Lebanon, and Egypt. A compliance expert, Mr. Witting has implemented and administered sub-grant components of USAID projects totaling over $50 million. Mr. Witting specializes in the design and management of projects in post-conflict and stabilization settings. While working as a contractor analyst in U.S. Army Europe’s International Operations Division, Mr. Witting received commendations from the USAREUR Commanding General and the Army Chief of Staff for his work as lead officer for two Conferences of European Armies.
Mr. Witting received his MS in Peace Operations from George Mason University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago.
Kendal Wolf joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2019 as a Senior Program Officer, leading monitoring and evaluation for SCG’s Academies of Excellence Program in Mali.
Mr. Wolf is a seasoned evaluator with twenty years of international affairs, education, and project management experience. He most recently directed evaluation at a leading non-profit institute that builds professional connections and international understanding between global policy makers and their counterparts in the Middle East. Previously, he ran a boutique consulting business for international organizations based in the Pacific Islands. Mr. Wolf has broad experience in education and evaluation, working in settings as diverse as Senegal, France, Cook Islands, and Fiji, as well as in various other locations throughout the United States.
Mr. Wolf holds a BA from Tufts University and a MALD from the Fletcher School. He also completed graduate studies in Education at George Washington University and was a Fulbright Teaching Fellow at the Université de Bourgogne.
Robert Sigona joined Strategic Capacity Group (SCG) in January 2019 as the Administration and Finance Officer and was promoted in June 2019 to Senior Administration and Finance Officer. Mr. Sigona provides essential financial and administrative support for SCG’s global portfolio of grants and programs.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Sigona served as the operations manager and lead instructor for a Virginia-based startup company. Mr. Sigona also has experience delivering effective forecasting and logistics management processes for Penske. Previously, Mr. Sigona served in the United States Coast Guard for six years and participated in a variety of missions ranging from search and rescue (SAR) to maritime law enforcement (MLE). He was an engineer by trade in the USCG, working on complicated mission critical machinery as well while participating in several migrant and drug interdiction missions in the Caribbean and JIATF South regions of the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. Sigona holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from George Mason University. He has been the recipient of several awards in the United States Coast Guard, including the Coast Guard Sea Service Ribbon, Meritorious Team Commendation, Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Award, and the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation with Authorized Gold Star Pin in leu of multiple commendations.
Lauren Jencik is a Program Officer leading Tunisia’s Inspector General Offices and Central African Republic Law Enforcement Professionalization projects. Ms. Jencik joined SCG in 2017 as a Project Coordinator supporting the Institution Building Program with the Liberian National Police.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Jencik was a Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting, supporting a number of engagements with US government clients including the Center for Civil Military Relations, Food and Drug Administration, and Internal Revenue Service. At DAI, she researched US government security cooperation assistance programs and funding opportunities for the firm’s Security Cooperation Assistance Group. She also has significant experience conducting conflict analyses for the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, now the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
Ms. Jencik holds a M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School and a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University.
Ashley Nelson is a Program Officer leading project design and implementation of Strategic Capacity Group’s Security Sector Reform projects in Africa and managing SCG’s Core Logistics Team. Ms. Nelson joined SCG in 2017 as a Project Coordinator.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Nelson served as a Research Assistant and Coder at the Womanstats Project, where she coded quantitative and qualitative information on the status of women from around the world and supported the organization’s overall efforts to inform women, peace, and security initiatives. Additionally, Ms. Nelson spent several years abroad working in international education, managing programs, developing curriculum, and training. Ms. Nelson also spent time working in international orphan advocacy and adoption.
Ms. Nelson received a MA in International Affairs at The Bush School of Government and Public Service and BA in International Studies from Texas State University.
Renee Coulouris joined Strategic Capacity Group as a Project Coordinator in March 2018 to support SCG’s projects in North Africa and the Sahel.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Coulouris served as a Political Affairs Assistant at the United Nations in the Africa II Division of the Department of Political Affairs, where she directly supported the Deputy Director’s work on political outreach and preventive diplomacy. Renee also worked as a Gender and Global Security Program Assistant at Women In International Security. In this capacity she conducted research and analysis on topics related to countering violent extremism.
Ms. Coulouris holds a BA in International Affairs and Political Science from Northeastern University. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global Security Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Coulouris is a 2018 Gender in Foreign Policy Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.
Alexandra LaRosa is a Program Officer leading implementation of a project within Strategic Capacity Group’s Mali Academies of Excellence Program to transform Mali’s law enforcement academies into learning institutions. She also leads SCG’s INL-funded Law Enforcement Experts Program.
Ms. LaRosa joined SCG in 2018, serving as a Project Coordinator prior to her promotion to Program Officer. At SCG, she has supported strategic capacity building and community-oriented policing projects in West and Central Africa. Prior to joining SCG, Ms. LaRosa worked in donor communications and strategic services, where she implemented stewardship and cultivation efforts supporting national land conservation and international refugee causes. Academically, her focus has been on post-conflict peacebuilding, transitional justice, and human security. She pursued these interests through work at genocide memorials in Europe and Africa and through research on reparations for victims of mass atrocities.
Ms. LaRosa holds a M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School and a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University. She is fluent in French.
Stephen Allen is a Program Officer focusing on the implementation and evaluation of Strategic Capacity Group’s security sector capacity buildings projects in the Sahel.
Mr. Allen joined SCG in 2018 as a Project Coordinator, supporting the planning and logistics of project activities in the Sahel, following work for SCG during graduate school providing research for SCG’s Defense Institution Building project. Prior to rejoining SCG, Mr. Allen worked as a contributor for the Economist Intelligence Unit where he evaluated financial inclusion policy in Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and evidence-based policymaking in South Africa. He has several years of experience in project monitoring and evaluation in Senegal and The Gambia at Tostan and later with the Africa and Latin America and Caribbean programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Additionally, Stephen has experience in political risk assessment at both the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa and AKE International, a client-focused risk mitigation company.
Stephen holds a MALD from The Fletcher School and a BA in French Literature and African Studies from Boston University. He is a former U.S. National Security Education Program Boren Fellow. Mr. Allen speaks French, Spanish, Modern Standard Arabic, and Zulu and is proficient in Wolof, Portuguese, and Afrikaans.
Valery Nadjibe joined SCG in June 2019 as a Program Officer, supporting the design and implementation of SCG’s capacity building projects in Africa.
Mr. Nadjibe has over 10 years of progressive experience developing and implementing USAID and U.S. Department of State funded programs to promote public diplomacy, support good governance, and expand civil society space in Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Angola, Mexico, Mongolia, and Burma. Previously Mr. Nadjibe served as a French interpreter and translator for the U.S. Army in Chad during the 2004 Operation Flintlock and as a Language Trainer and Cross-Cultural Facilitator for the U.S. Peace Corps in Chad in 2005.
Mr. Nadjibe earned an MA degree in Conflict Transformation from the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, United States. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. He is fluent in English, French, Chadian Arabic, and other Chadian languages such as Gor, Ngambaye, and Sara.
Ali Souley joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2017 as a Project Coordinator to support SCG’s portfolio of projects across the Sahel.
Before joining SCG, Mr. Souley worked as a Translator and International Conference Interpreter. He also served as the Senior Officer of the National Democratic Institute-Niger, a Trainer in English Language Teaching, and an educational consultant. Mr. Souley founded two private schools in Niamey, Niger.
Mr. Souley holds a Ph.D. certificate in Education from Ahmed Bello University (A.B.U.) Zaria, an MA in Education from the University of Leeds, and an MA and BA in English Language from the University of Niamey.
Maryse Garçon-Fall joined SCG in 2017 as a Project Coordinator in Dakar, Senegal.
Ms. Garçon-Fall has over 25 years of program management, advocacy, and community development experience. Prior to SCG, she worked for various local and international organizations as well as the US government. Ms. Garçon-Fall served on the USAID-Senegal team in Dakar and the African Department of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. She has significant experience organizing seminars and national, regional, and international conferences.
Ms. Garçon-Fall holds a Translation Certificate from Georgetown University. She is fluent in English and French.
Eric Stolz joined SCG in August 2018 as a Project Coordinator supporting SCG’s strategic capacity building projects in West and Central Africa.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Stolz served as a Program Analyst for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, leading the monitoring and evaluation efforts for programs focusing on a variety of topics ranging from maritime security to countering violent extremism. He also worked as a Program Assistant for Blumont Inc., supporting Peace through Development II, a USAID-funded project focused on countering violent extremism in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger.
Mr. Stolz holds a BA in International Affairs from the George Washington University.
Neghena Hamidi joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2018 as a Project Coordinator supporting SCG’s Strategic Communications project with the Liberian National Police.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Hamidi worked at Read to Lead Afghanistan on educational programs for women and children impacted by conflict in Afghanistan. As a Youth Ambassador Coordinator at Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS), she supported WCAPS’ mentorship and development initiatives. Ms. Hamidi also served as an UN representative for Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund and the United Nations Correspondents Association.
Ms. Hamidi holds a MA in International Law and Human Rights from the University for Peace and a BA in Political Science, Asian American Studies, and Human Rights from CUNY Hunter College. She is fluent in Dari.
Elissa Miller joined Strategic Capacity Group as a Project Coordinator in December 2018 to support SCG’s Security Sector Reform Programs in North Africa.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Miller served as an Assistant Director at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, where she managed the Center’s North Africa program and conducted research on Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. She also served as a Rosenthal Fellow in the Africa Office of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, where she worked across the interagency on U.S. defense policy in East Africa. Ms. Miller also worked as a Project Assistant focused on international election monitoring at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Ms. Miller holds a MALD Degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a BA Degree in International Affairs from Tufts University. She is proficient in Arabic.
Trevor Flynn joined SCG in June 2019 as the Finance and Budget Coordinator to provide essential financial and administrative support for SCG’s global portfolio of grants and programs.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Flynn served as the Branch Manager for Penske Truck Leasing’s Manassas, VA facility. In this role, Mr. Flynn was responsible for maintaining the facility’s profit and loss statement related to revenue growth and expense monitoring. Mr. Flynn was also responsible for overseeing and growing the territory in which Penske Truck Leasing operated within the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area.
Mr. Flynn holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Frostburg State University.
Madeline Purkerson joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2019 as a Project Coordinator to support SCG’s Global Law Enforcement Experts Program for the U.S. Department of State.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Purkerson served as a Program Coordinator at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where she coordinated programs, events, and research supporting U.S. security relationships in the Middle East. She also worked as a Gender and Global Security Program Assistant at Women In International Security (WIIS), conducting research and supporting projects related to global National Action Plans on Women, Peace, and Security. Additionally, she has experience working with refugees, human rights, and religious diplomacy at multiple organizations in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado.
Ms. Purkerson holds an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University’s School of International Service and a BA in International Studies from the University of Denver.
Ashley La Rue
Ashley La Rue joined Strategic Capacity Group as a Project Coordinator in March 2019 to support SCG’s projects in the Sahel.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. La Rue served as the Director of Development and Planning for OK Mozart, where she managed a summer conservatory and OK Mozart’s annual multi-day festival. Previously, Ms. La Rue served as the assistant community liaison officer for the State Department in Dakar, Senegal, partnering with the Peace Corps to increase community engagement throughout Senegal. Additionally, Ms. La Rue has spent nearly a decade living overseas working with vulnerable communities in Senegal and coordinating refugee assistance in the EU.
Ms. La Rue holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma. She was named a 2016 Pat Tillman Scholar.
Helana Reyad joined Strategic Capacity Group in 2019 as a Project Coordinator to support SCG’s programs in North Africa.
Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Reyad served as Assistant to the Executive Director at VGIF, an international women’s fund providing small grants to women-led grassroot initiatives. She also served as an intern with the United Nations (UN), where she attended high-level meetings, conducted briefings, and contributed written opinion pieces.
Ms. Reyad holds an MSc in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and a BA in Political Science, Religion, and Human Rights from CUNY Hunter College. Ms. Reyad is fluent in Modern Standard and Egyptian Arabic.
Abdoulaye Dembele joined Strategic Capacity Group (SCG) in February 2019 as a Project Coordinator based in Bamako, Mali to support SCG's projects in Mali and across the Sahel.
Before joining SCG, Mr. Dembele worked for five years as a Program Assistant for Winrock International, supervising projects in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. Mr. Dembele has also consulted with the World Bank on matters relating to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in northern Mali and refugee living conditions in both Mali and Burkina Faso. Mr. Dembele has served as a trainer at the Mali National Gendarmerie School, the Peacekeeping School of Bamako, and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for the United Nations Police (UNPOL). He has extensive expertise in the areas of Criminology, Military Leadership, Conflict and Operational Stress Management, and Methods of Elaborating Operational Decisions. Further, Mr. Dembele served as an analyst with Mali’s Military Security Intelligence.
Mr. Dembele has received numerous distinctions from the Malian Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs. He holds an MA in Criminal Psychology and Rural Sociology from the University of Cocody, Côte d'Ivoire. Mr. Dembele is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Social and Clinical Psychology at the University of Colorado. Mr. Dembele speaks French, English, and Bambara and is proficient in Spanish.
Malick Ba joined SCG in June 2019 as a Project Coordinator supporting SCG’s community policing and capacity building programs in the Sahel.
Prior to joining SCG, Mr. Ba worked in Dakar, Senegal as a Security Analyst for the Alliance for International Medical Action. In 2015, Mr. Ba served as a Transnational Threats Research Intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he supported field work and research on violent extremist organizations and counterterrorism strategies in the United States, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, and South East Asia.
Mr. Ba holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE). He was selected for LSE’s Program for African Leadership, which focused on developing leadership skills such as problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, influencing, and collaboration. Mr. Ba also holds a BA in Political Science and Government from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is fluent in French, Fulani, and Wolof.
Amadou Berthé joined SCG in 2018 as Program Assistant based in Mali to support SCG’s portfolio of projects in Mali and across the Sahel.
Before joining SCG, Mr. Berthé served as a Legal assistant at Satis Partners Law Firm in Bamako, Mali, where he was in charge of drafting legal acts and documents and supervising cases in court. Previously, he also worked for the US Embassy in Bamako as a Legal Assistant, providing support to the Resident Legal Advisor. In this capacity, Mr. Berthé was in charge of researching issues of law and procedure and planning and coordinating training programs, visits, and conferences.
Mr. Berthé obtained a Diploma of General Law from the University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis in Senegal. He also graduated from the Catholic University of West Africa in Bamako, Mali with a Master’s Degree in Business Law.
Francesca Maestas joined SCG in 2018 as a Project Assistant to support SCG’s Programs in North and West Africa.
Ms. Maestas spent most of her life living overseas, primarily in Latin America. Prior to joining SCG, Ms. Maestas was a Program Lead at an educational law conference for high school students at Stanford University in partnership with Stanford’s Law School. Ms. Maestas also spent a year serving with Americorps at a public high school in Washington DC, working as an academic guidance counselor and behavior coach with recent immigrant youth from Central America, West Africa, East Africa and the Middle East. Previously, Ms. Maestas worked at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy, in the Consular Section supporting the initial intake process for visa applications.
Ms. Maestas holds a dual BA in History and Africana Studies from the College of William and Mary. She is fluent in Spanish and French and has working-level knowledge of Arabic.