Born in Pakistan and raised in the UK in a Muslim household, I learned early in life how to mediate between cultures, and that seeking out and appreciating ‘difference’ can catalyze new perspectives and innovation.
I started off my career working with marginalized young adivasis in India. Arriving shortly after ‘Pokharan II’ nuclear testing, tensions between India and Pakistan were high and living in a village in central Madhya Pradesh I found myself challenging stereotypes not only through the work, but also in a very personal way.
After completing my doctorate, I started working for an NGO, setting up their first international program, working with local civil society organizations in Ghana, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Four years later, during which time I joined the European Commission, I left West Africa for Indonesia. It was quite a change- not least the shift from Africa’s high aid-dependency to a post-authoritarian middle-income context. I worked for the European Commission in Indonesia and Timor Leste and the United Nations Development Programme in Aceh, Indonesia, on the Helsinki Peace Accord and managing post-conflict peacebuilding programs.
Next came assignments for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations Development Programme headquarters on global policy on fragile states and conflict-affected countries that exposed me to the full array of challenges faced in programming in such contexts around the world.These assignments were an invaluable opportunity to reflect on my on-the-ground experiences. I worked on defining policy and programming that make sense for the realities of countries where societies are literally shattered in multiple ways by the legacy of war, or where cleavages between groups and perceived injustices are preventing access to basic rights, eroding trust and creating a situation that could blow up into violent conflict.
I moved to Washington DC in 2010 and started consulting, including for the United States Institute of Peace and the World Bank, on policy and programing in fragile and conflict-affected countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. Having worked for a range of different development actors, by far the handiest skill I have developed is ‘AADA’- advanced ability to decode acronyms.
To see a list of Safi’s published works, click here.
I am an international lawyer specializing in environmental, trade, and natural resources law. I have lived and worked internationally for most of my professional life and now live in Washington, DC where I work for the U.S. Government as an international lawyer.
My career started fresh out of university as a Peace Corps volunteer working on agro forestry projects and organizing bike rides across Senegal with high-schooled-aged Senegalese girls to promote girls education.
After Peace Corps, I was convinced that I would work and travel in other parts of the world. As it happened, travel yes, work no. Between traveling in Asia, Europe and North and South America, I set my bags down in West Africa where I stayed intermittently for seven years. There I worked in a panoply of roles including for a small environmental law NGO on environmental justice issues, with the Government of Liberia as a Legal Advisor on natural resources concessions, and as an Envoy to the European Commission on forestry, law, governance and trade.
I am an outdoor enthusiast, passionate about running, playing music, and environmental issues and can usually be found at a party, trying to convince people to think more about economic development, social impact, and sustainability.
To see a list of Stephanie’s published works, click here.
The views presented herein are the authors alone and do not reflect those of the World Bank, U.S. Institute for Peace, NOAA, the Department of Commerce, or any other U.S. federal agency.