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Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship
Our Team

Dr. Dina El Khawaga - Director 

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Dr. El Khawaga’s areas of research include the dynamics of knowledge production in the Arab region, and higher education policies more broadly.  She has acted as advisor to governmental and non-governmental institutions on civil society, the media industry, right to information, and higher education. Before joining AUB, she served as the programs director at the Arab Reform Initiative for four years. Prior to that, she worked at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris. Earlier, she was the Director of the Arab Regional Office of the Open Society Foundations (2011-12) in Amman and the Higher Education Program Officer at the Cairo Office of the Ford Foundation (2005-11).
Dr. El Khawaga received her BA in political science from Cairo University, her MA in Sociology of Development from the Sorbonne in Paris, and her doctorate from the Institut d'études politiques, also in Paris.
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Dr. Rania Masri - Associate Director

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Dr. Masri joined AUB in September 2014 after nine years as professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Balamand (2005-2014). Previously, she served as the Environment and Energy Policy Specialist at the UNDP-Regional Office in Cairo (2012-2013). Prior to her move to Lebanon in 2005, she was the Director of the Southern Peace Research and Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies in North Carolina, USA (2002-2005).
Dr. Masri holds a PhD in Forestry from North Carolina State University (2001), and a Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) from Duke University (1995). Throughout her career, Dr. Masri has worked to bring a holistic, interdisciplinary lens to the environmental sciences, and a recognition that environmental management must encompass a human rights and social justice practice and is, in itself, a struggle for full citizenship. Her academic research and publications have centered on issues of ecological sustainability, environmental politics, and social movements. She has also written and organized extensively on the sanctions on Iraq, the occupation of Palestine, and civil and environmental rights, and spoken at hundreds of public events and media appearances. (A partial listing of her writings and talks can be found on her personal website:
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Hala Yanni - Executive Officer

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Before joining the Asfari Team, Hala worked as a Financial Analyst at the Office of Financial Planning (2013-2014) and as an Executive Officer at the Vice President for Facilities at the American University of Beirut (2012-2013). Previously, she worked as an Internal Auditor at BLOM Bank (2009-2012), as an Administrative Officer at the Auxiliary Services at the American University of Beirut (2004-2008) and as an External Auditor at KPMG (2002-2004). Hala is experienced in budgeting, financial reporting, strategic planning, drafting policies and procedures and managing contracts and payments to consultants/suppliers. Hala holds an MBA (Internal Audit emphasis) from the Lebanese American University (2010).
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Dr. Elizabeth Saleh

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Elizabeth Saleh works in the fields of political and economic anthropology, with a special focus on labor, gender, resistance and social transformation. She obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her doctoral research examined the entrepreneurial strategies of members of the wine industry as they converged in the Kefraya region of the West Bekaa. In 2015, Elizabeth commenced a new ethnographic study examining the reconfiguration of Syrian labor at the interface between Beirut's formal and informal economies. Most of her fieldwork takes place at a scrapyard in a working class neighborhood in Beirut, where she explores the effects of the Syrian conflict and the policies of the Lebanese state toward migration, labor and waste management in relation to the prosperity of the scrap metal industry. Elizabeth has held posts at the Orient Institute in Beirut, the London School of Economic and Goldsmiths. She received an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics at Goldsmiths in 2004 and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in the Management of Education and Learning from the same university in 2014.

Farah Kobaissy - Senior Research Assistant

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Before joining Asfari Team, Farah completed her MA in Gender Studies at the American University in Cairo where she specialized in Gendered Political Economies. As part of her studies at AUC, she joined the Center for Women Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. In 2011, She obtained her MA in Political Science from Université Saint Joseph. In recent years she worked in the Lebanese Labor Observatory as a researcher in Labor related issues in Lebanon and in Nasawiya, a feminist organization. Her research interests lie in the area of gender, labor and migration.
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Habiba Mohsen

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Habiba Mohsen is currently a program consultant for the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship. Before that, she was a Projects Manager at Global Partners Governance (GPG). She has worked previously as a Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Political and International Studies, Lausanne University, Switzerland. She also worked as a Program Officer at the Anna Lindh Euro Mediterranean Foundation (Alexandria, Egypt), and before that she worked at as a Researcher at the Arab Forum For Alternatives (Cairo, Egypt). Ms. Mohsen has a Master's degree from the Political Science Institute at Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon, and she has publications about social movements and political parties, public policy and local governance in Egypt.

Rana Hassan

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Rana Hassan is a researcher, urban planner and activist currently pursuing her PhD in Sustainability and Urban Regeneration in the Universidad Po litécnica de Madrid. Her thesis studies the current situation of urban grassroots initiatives in Lebanon and their potential to foster a transformation in the role played by civil society in the production of urban space. Her research interests include the informal development of urban suburbs and Palestinian Camps in Lebanon; the community participation in urban processes; and the grassroots urban activism. She has worked, with UNRWA and the Nahr el Bared Reconstruction Commission, in the reconstruction project of Nahr el Bared refugee camp. She holds an MSc in Urban Planning and Policy from the American University of Beirut, with a thesis entitled: Bypassing Exclusionary Laws:    The Case of the Informal Development of Nahr El Bared Camp's Extension.


Mary Jirmanus Saba

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Mary Jirmanus Saba is a geographer and filmmaker.  Her work explores agrarian and labor movements in the Middle East and Latin America, the militant cinema of both regions, and their contemporary relevance.  Her debut feature film A Feeling Greater Than Love premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival Forum where it received  the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize. The film returns to a moment in Lebanon where a social revolution might have been – represented by two major popular uprisings – but thwarted by the civil war. As an Asfari Institute Fellow, she is transforming her ethnographic research for the film on the Gandour factory strike and Nabatiye Tobacco farmer strike into a series of publications exploring gender and sectarianism in the decline of the Lebanese Labor Movement.  She holds an M.A. in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard College, and was a participant in Ashkal Alwan's Home Workspace Program.


Catherine Moughalian 

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Catherine Moughalian is a researcher and ardent activist.  She is currently the lead researcher on the environmental justice program at the Asfari Institute. She is responsible for mapping the environmental justice conflicts and struggles in the Arab region on the Environmental Justice Atlas.  She received her MA in Psychology from the American University of Beirut and her BA in Psychology from Haigazian University. Her research interests include self and social identity, and intergroup relations and conflict, with a focus on collective action for revolutionary change from a social psychological perspective. Besides her work on environmental justice, she is also working on research examining the social psychological factors that predict support for secularism in Lebanon.  

Brennan Ryan

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Brennan Ryan is an intern at the Asfari Institute doing research on the sociology of activism. He received his undergraduate degree in political economy and international development from Tulane University in New Orleans and is currently at AUB on an exchange semester through his Middle Eastern Studies MA program at George Washington University in DC. His research interests include political economic power dynamics in the Middle East, Arab judicial structures, and new forms of civic activism in the Arab World. 



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