Lina Abou-Habib is an expert in mainstreaming gender in development policies and practices and in building capacities for gender mainstreaming in regional and international agencies as well as public institutions. She serves as the Chair of the Collective for Research and Training of Development-Action and is a Strategic MENA Advisor for the Global Fund for Women. She is a member of the editorial board of the Gender and Development journal published by Oxfam and Routledge. Abou-Habib was the former Executive Director of WLP Lebanon/Collective for Research and Training on Development–Action (CRTD-A) and of Women's Learning Partnership based in Washington. She holds an M.A. in Public Health from American University in Beirut and was a Ph.D. candidate in gender and public policy at AUT in New Zealand. She has published several research articles in international journals on action-oriented research on the impact of the denial of citizenship rights to women in MENA countries; active citizenship and gendered social entitlements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt; and topics related to women's political participation, invisible care work, economic contribution in rural communities and access to markets, faith-based organizations, migrant women and refugees, and women in post-war Lebanon.
Ms. Hala Yanni manages the administrative and financial matters of the Institute, including budgeting, financial reporting, systemizing office logistics, and University liaison. She is directly responsible for all the financial matters of the office, including the recording and tracking of grants and their proposals. She monitors and coordinates the administration of post-award grants to ensure that budgeting and administrative policies, procedures, allowable and non-allowable costs, reporting and funding agency requirements are being followed. Prior to joining the Asfari Institute, Ms. Yanni served as a Financial Analyst at the Office of Financial Planning at AUB (2013-2014); Executive Officer at the Vice President for Facilities at AUB (2012-2013); Internal Auditor at BLOM Bank (2008-2012); Administrative Officer at the Auxiliary Services at AUB (2004-2008); and External Auditor at KPMG (2002-2004). Ms. Yanni received her MBA with an emphasis in internal audit from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in June 2010.
Fatima Nasser graduated from AUB with a MA in Public Administration focusing on Consultancy Management and Public Policy. Her thesis is on “Women Leadership in Disaster Management: Case of Beirut Blast". She has a BA in Public Administration from AUB. Nasser has received Erasmus+ Staff training certification on Celebrating 50 years of Inclusivity and Sustainability in International Education at the University of Limerick in Ireland (2022). Before joining the Asfari Institute, she was an intern at the Issam Fares Institute (2017-2018) and World Vision (2017-2018). Nasser received two training workshop certifications on Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Nawaya-UNICEF and the Switchmed Program. She has also worked as a part-time work-study student in several departments at AUB and AUBMC (2015-2018).
Marwan Issa works on several programs at the Institute and coordinates projects with partner civil society organizations, particularly advocacy and activist groups. He is a writer and researcher specializing in sociopolitical analysis with a focus on Lebanon and Western Asia.
Carla Akil is a researcher and a project coordinator who has extensive experience in advocacy for gender equality, including developing and implementing social media campaigns as well as organizing and moderating webinars. Her research work is focused on women's rights and gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including internalized misogyny, feminist funding narratives, and feminist collective action. Carla has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the American University of Beirut.
Fatima Amro is a physics and political science graduate from the American University of Beirut. She is particularly interested in research related to geopolitics and political economy. As a research assistant, she is currently conducting research on gender and politics and women empowerment.
Research Assistant – Media and Communications
Karine Ballout is a recent Media and Communications graduate from the American University of Beirut. She is particularly interested in research about economic equality and its intersection with feminism in Lebanon. She's a writer and podcaster and works in the Institute's Media and Publishing department.
Senior Researcher & Consultant
Islam ElRabieey is a senior researcher–consultant in political sociology. He was a senior researcher at Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms (Egypt). He wrote several reports on human rights in Egypt; criminal justice, free trials, places of detention, and capital punishment. He holds an M.A. in Human Rights and Democracy from Saint Joseph University in Beirut. He has published several research articles on Transnational Social Movements in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. He works at the Institute on the program: Beyond the Pandemic: Structure of Opportunities and Challenges for Transforming Arab States and Civil Societies.
Montaha Nottah is a Political Studies graduate and a MEPI-TL alumna with triple minors in the Non-profit Sector, Human Rights, and International Law from the American University of Beirut (AUB). Montaha has volunteered and worked with several international and local organizations across the world. Her fields of interest include youth empowerment, humanitarian aid, migration, and gender studies with an eye focused on the MENA region, especially Libya and Lebanon.
Vanessa Zammar is a researcher at the Asfari Institute, a Sociology graduate student at the American University of Beirut, a period poverty activist, and co-founder of Jeyetna, a feminist collective based in Lebanon. She is currently writing her thesis about women's strategies within the Lebanese sectarian and patriarchal legal and bureaucratic systems. Mixed-heritage daughter of the diaspora she was born and raised in Switzerland and settled in Lebanon in 2018 to volunteer with Palestinian and Syrian women in a school. This experience steered her interest in how women go about xenophobic and sexist legal/bureaucratic systems. Her feminist perspective is one based on intersectional political solidarity & sisterhood and this is how she addresses the fight against period poverty.
Reham Kannout Alrefaei
Reham Kannout Alrefaei is an intersectional and eco-feminist from Syria based in Lebanon. In the past 16 years, she moved from graphic design, advertisement, and radio announcing, to media analysis, gender studies, and psych-education; her eclectic background and interests create a path that she likes to call narratives' creation and analysis. Currently, she works as a research assistant with the SAWT project at the Arab Reform Initiative, and she's an affiliate of the Asfari Institute.