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WHO WE ARE

WHO WE ARE

Staff

James Patton
President & CEO
Martine Miller
Executive Vice President
Amira Abouhussein
Program Director (Conflict Resolution Liaison)
Courtney Averkamp
Peace Fellow
Loujain Kiki
Junior Program Officer
Mathias Joergensen
Executive Assistant to the President & CEO
Milica Bojovic
Peace Fellow
Olga Batkhan
Financial Administrator
Ray Kim, Ph.D.
Program Development Manager
Rebecca Cataldi
Senior Program Director

Senior Associates

Abubaker Y. Ahmed Al-Shingieti
Carlos Eduardo Vargas
Mohammed al-Samawi
James Patton
President & CEO

James Patton assumed the leadership of ICRD in 2017, upon the retirement of its founder, Dr. Douglas Johnston. He has conducted international development, conflict transformation, and social reconciliation for over two decades in more than a dozen countries, building collaborative networks and programs with the entire range of social and political actors in complex conflict environments.

Prior to 2011, when he joined ICRD as Executive Vice President, he had worked in the governmental and non-governmental sectors. His non-governmental experience included assessing the impact of drug policies and military responses in Bolivia, facilitating the role of Cambodian Buddhists in post-conflict stability, and coordinating citizen security and conflict transformation efforts in the Andean region. His governmental experience included working with the Special Envoy for Sudan, leading stability operations assessments for the US State Department in South Sudan, and enhancing the Latin America and Religion and Conflict portfolios for USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.

In his role as ICRD’s President, James has served as a member of a number of collaborative efforts to advance the field of peacemaking, including: the U.S. Department of State’s Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy; the Council on Foreign Relations’ Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, and; the public-private partnership advancing national dialogue on reconciliation in Colombia, Reconcilación Colombia. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institution and the co-author, with Rev. David Steele, of the forthcoming (2018) U.S. Institute of Peace publication, Religion and Conflict Guides: Religion and Reconciliation. He is a Lifetime Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

James holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy degree from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. He has taught and lectured widely, and is fluent in Spanish, with practical experience in a number of other languages. He and his wife, Andrea, have a wonderful daughter, Gabriela, and a son, Simon.

Martine Miller
Executive Vice President

Martine is a mediator and conflict transformation specialist with over 20 years of engaged experience—with communities, governments, regional bodies (i.e. EU, AU and ASEAN), UN agencies, a range of inter/national non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. Her work has engaged her directly in fluid war to post-war reconstruction and development contexts across 70 countries in Africa, Asia & the Pacific, West to East Europe, and North and South America.

Ms. Miller derives her formal education linking practical mediation and conflict transformation knowledge and skills from a Masters in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, a Masters in Politics Post-war Reconstruction and Development, a dual Bachelors in Political Science and International Development, coupled with specialized Certifications in Asian and African Studies, Mediation/ Negotiation in War Contexts, Religion and Mediation, Conflict Transformation, etc., as well as engagement in Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation and the International Committee for the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC).

She is a guest lecturer at Georgetown, American University, and a lecturer and program advisor to the Peace and Conflict Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Amira Abouhussein
Program Director (Conflict Resolution Liaison)

Amira Abouhussein is a peacebuilding and development professional with 10 years of experience focused on the MENA region. She has designed and conducted conflict resolution and negotiation training programs, facilitated faith-based peace dialogues, and has engaged members of conflicting religious groups and former extremists in community programs.

Before joining ICRD in April, 2018, Ms. Abouhussein was working with the Crown Center for Middle East studies. She has also served as a facilitator at the Drew Institute of Religion and Conflict Transformation, which included Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders and peace activists from Indonesia, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Palestine. Amira also provided training for a UN program on capacity building and economic empowerment for refugees. She also brings significant experience in non-profit management and administration through having founded and managed a grassroots NGO in Egypt that focuses on sectarian violence prevention, early warning networks, and conflict resolution

Amira holds a dual-M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence and International Sustainable Development from Brandeis University.

Loujain Kiki
Junior Program Officer

As Junior Program Officer, Loujain is providing assistance to the ICRD’s Yemen program, and conducting research to support senior staff on analyzing interreligious dynamics in the MENA region, including determining drivers of religious conflicts, mapping peacebuilding activities, and assessing of religious minority rights.

Loujain holds a BA in Business Administration and a post-graduate diploma in marketing from Damascus University. After graduating, Loujain started her carrier as a researcher at the Central Bank of Syria, where she expanded her research and analytical skills. She continued to work in the economic research as she moved to Saudi Arabia.

Growing up in a diverse community from various religions and backgrounds where people used to live in harmony inspired Ms. Kiki to pursue a career that encourages religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. She is also working towards a master’s degree in communication in the DC Area.

Mathias Joergensen serves as the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO at the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy and is responsible for coordinating a range of day-to-day administrative tasks, including office management, record keeping, logistical, and clerical duties. Furthermore, Mathias is responsible for all communication, including email and social media. Mathias also supports the ICRD team with research, organizational development, proposal writing, and program activities.

Mathias is currently pursuing double major at Minerva University in San Francisco, United States, in Political Science and Economics, with Philosophy, Ethics, and Law. Mathias has several years of experience in social media and marketing, working for a diverse set of companies and organization. Furthermore, Mathias previously worked for a member of the European Parliament, where he advised on various EU resolutions, enhanced existing news and merchandise strategies, and supported on administrative tasks. 

In her role as a Peace Fellow, Milica supports ICRD program by assisting in the research and drafting process, collaboration with local actors, financial tracking, and implementation of program activities. Prior to working at ICRD, Milica has experience interning and working in cultural exchange and development at the local and international level. Her academic and professional interests primarily revolve around global development, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, building community resilience and collaboration, as well as reconciliation and state-building following violent conflict. Her research is largely focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, while also working on projects relating to Eurasia and the MENA region.

Growing up in the religiously and ethnically diverse post-conflict Balkans, Milica has quickly come to recognize and appreciate diversity, as well as the importance of intercommunity dialogue and the need to proactively seek and engage in peace and community building, which inspired her to do her part in contributing to this sentiment worldwide through her career. She is currently studying International Studies at American University, and has completed her secondary education as a class valedictorian and International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma recipient. Milica holds certificates in Community-Based Action Research and Peace Corps Prep Program.

Olga Batkhan
Financial Administrator

Olga Batkhan has over 10 years of accounting experience in taxation, finance, auditing, and compliance. She graduated from University of Maryland College Park, The Robert H Smith School of Business with Bachelors in Accounting and went on to get a master’s degree in Management and Accounting, along with Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification.

Having supported multiple public accounting firms, working with various individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Her work experience ranges from day-to-day accounting functions, to preparation of complex tax returns, and audits for non-profit organizations as well as for-profit companies. Prior to joining ICRD Olga was well familiar with the organization as for numerous years she led the external auditing team, learning about the mission and accounting functions in detail.

Ray Kim, Ph.D.
Program Development Manager

As the Program Development Manager, Ray Kim coordinates and manages the full range of program-related work: the development of proposals, the management of a program during its operational duration, and the production of deliverables and reporting at their conclusion. Adept in various qualitative research methods and analysis, he applies these skills and the knowledge he gains from conducting research leading up to a proposal’s design to ensuring that the program’s design is directly informed by the contexts in which they will be implemented.

While at ICRD, he has provided support in the delivery of trainings on inclusive curriculum development for Saudi teachers, and provided the qualitative research frame for ICRD’s work in providing pro-social educational content for children in Lebanon. He also currently manages ICRD’s domestic programs that aim to empower and partner with American faith communities to address toxic polarization and rebuild social cohesion in our society.

Ray Kim received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies. He is a sociologist of religion specializing in contemporary Islam and Christianity who has years of experience conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Korea tracking developments in the halal market and the spread of Islamophobic discourse throughout the country.

His research interests have also led him to collaborate on projects concerning the religious soft-power influences of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, as well as the flight of non-Muslim minorities from the Levantine region. He has also conducted qualitative research observing and interviewing churches in the US that were exploring questions about “calling” and “vocation” as part of a program that was funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Rebecca Cataldi
Senior Program Director

Rebecca Cataldi is ICRD’s Senior Program Director. She is a specialist and trainer in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, preventing/countering violent extremism (P/CVE), and cross-cultural understanding and a certified mediator. Rebecca founded and directs ICRD’s programs in Yemen and has directed programming in Pakistan, Lebanon, Mali, Uganda, and elsewhere.  She has also served as a Consultant on Preventing Violent Extremism to the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

In the United States, she works on depolarization initiatives with American religious communities and with Braver Angels, has conducted conflict resolution training and religious mentoring within the US prison system, has led community interfaith programs, and has facilitated intercultural dialogues with an emphasis on enhancing understanding and friendship between Americans and Middle Eastern citizens.

Rebecca is a summa cum-laude graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and holds an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (now Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution), where she is now a member and former Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board and Advisor to the Political Leadership Academy. She is also an advisor to the Bipartisan Leadership Project.

Abubaker Y. Ahmed Al-Shingieti
Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti is a Senior Associate at the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. He brings to the Center unique experience in government affairs and diplomatic relations and a strong commitment to inter-religious reconciliation. Dr. Shingieti earned a BSc. (Honors) in Architecture and a Graduate Diploma in African and Asian Studies from the University of Khartoum.
Carlos Eduardo Vargas

As Senior Associate at ICRD, C. Eduardo Vargas serves as special advisor to the president and government liaison.  He joined ICRD after serving in President Barack Obama’s Administration as Deputy Director of the Center for Faith Based & Community Initiatives (CFBCI) at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  At CFBCI, Mr. Vargas led external engagement efforts, public diplomacy, and partnerships to build support for USAID’s humanitarian and development priorities, including, among others: the surge of unaccompanied children related to the 2014 Central American Migration; ensuring the safety, security and freedom from persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East; countering violent extremism; and advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Before joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Vargas served as Director to the United Nations DPI/NGO Executive Committee in New York, representing over 1,300 NGOs worldwide at the UN while championing greater civil society representation, access and inclusion in various UN agencies.  Prior to that, he directed a variety of global refugee programs, development and humanitarian assistance projects, and advocacy campaigns for Caritas Internationalis, Intersections International, and Aya Worldwide.

Mr. Vargas earned his MA in Diplomacy & International Relations at Seton Hall University. He has published articles and speaks publicly on a variety of globalization, humanitarian, and public policy issues. He has been featured by Al Jazeera, CNN, Foreign Affairs, FOX News, and Telemundo, among other outlets. For his work in diplomacy and peacemaking he has been recognized by the Huffington Post’s 40 Under 40 in Foreign Policy, awarded the USAID Administrator’s Letter of Commendation, and received the Many Are One Alumni Servant Leadership Award from Seton Hall University.

Mohammed al-Samawi

Mohammed serves as a fellow for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region at ICRD, where he has provided a wide range of support for the Center’s community engagement and research programs in Yemen, including conducting program evaluation, communicating with local partners and undertaking translations.

Hailing from Sana’a, he has experienced the impacts of the civil war and conflict in Yemen first-hand, both in a professional capacity and as a civilian. He has authored more than 30 studies and reports about Yemen and reported extensively on Sudan, including Darfur. He is currently writing his memoir for HarperCollins Publishers.