Belquis Ahmadi has over 20 years of experience working in Afghanistan on issues related to gender, human rights, civil society development, rule of law, governance and democracy. Ms. Ahmadi’s extensive experience includes senior management positions under large USAID programs in Afghanistan, evaluation of USAID gender and democracy and governance programming, and analysis and design of gender and human rights programming, and training and mentoring Afghan civil society and government candidates. She has also published extensively on democracy, governance and women’s rights in Afghanistan. From November 2010 to March 2014, Ms. Ahmadi worked on the USAID-funded Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations Regional Command East (RAMP UP), implemented in 14 provinces. In this role, Ms. Ahmadi managed the technical work of the program to ensure high quality results and deliverables. In addition, she developed core skills training modules to integrate and mainstream gender in all aspects of governance, service delivery, and leadership to over 200 municipal officials in fourteen provinces.


From 2006 to 2009, Ms. Ahmadi served as senior human rights advisor in Afghanistan. In this role, she provided leadership and management oversight of resources, including budget, planning, and program monitoring; designed and implemented activities promoting women’s rights through the use of religious arguments, providing analysis of the Shiite Personal Status Law, as well as providing advice and guidance in drafting of the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women; and oversaw the preparation of training materials for programs. From 2000 to 2004, she served as program coordinator for Global Rights Partners for Justice in Washington DC, managing their Afghanistan program. From 1987 to 1999, Ms. Ahmadi worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross, CARE International, and the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) in Afghanistan. Ms. Ahmadi earned her LLM in International Human Rights Law from Georgetown University Law Center and her LLB of Law from Kabul University.

Advisory Board

Since 2007, Dr. Catherine Dale has been Specialist in International and Security at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As a member of Congress’s in-house think tank, Dr. Dale provides analytical support to members and staff to help frame critical national security debates.  She leads CRS analysis on strategy and military operations, including Afghanistan, and spearheads CRS’s focus on national security reform. 


From 2009 to 2011, Dr. Dale helped shape and communicate strategy and policy as Senior Civilian Advisor at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command (IJC), the operational level NATO headquarters in Afghanistan. As part of her duties at ISAF, prior to CRS, as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dr. Dale helped shape the strategic vision of the Department of Defense.  She came to Washington from Iraq, where she served as the Political Advisor to the Commanding General of the Combined Joint Task Force Force – 7.  Dr. Dale holds a Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Studies from Harvard University, a Master's of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College as well as an MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Advisory Board

Ambassador Steven E. Steiner is the gender advisor for the U.S. Institute of Peace. He previously served in the Department of State’s Office of Global Women‘s Issues and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. He also was the director of the Department's Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative. Ambassador Steiner served for 36 years in the United States Foreign Service. He completed tours of duty at the US embassy in Moscow and the State Department’s Offices of Soviet Union and West German Affairs and served as the deputy director of the Department’s Operations Center, its 24-hour crisis management facility. He served from 1983 to 1988 as director of Defense Programs on the National Security Council Staff. He was named by President Reagan as the US representative to the Special Verification Commission, the implementing body for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and was named by President Bush in September 1991 to serve as the US Representative to the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission, the implementing body for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).


Ambassador Steiner received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002, Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 1990 and 1992, and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s Superior Honor Award in 1993. In May 1983, he received the Department of State's Superior Honor Award for his work on European security issues. Born in Pennsylvania, Ambassador Steiner received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Yale University in 1963 and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Columbia University in 1966. He is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, The Washington Institute on Foreign Affairs, and the US-Afghan Women's Council, and he serves on the Board of the Council for a Community of Democracies.

Advisory Board

Mary Goodman taught Medieval History, English and Math at the Providence Country Day School, East Providence, RI, for 21 years before retiring in 2009. She has taught the summer orientation program for new students and is passionate about The Initiative and its talented students. Ms. Goodman founded Weekapaug Green with a friend in 2007. The organization works to encourage energy conservation and environmental protection of fragile seaside resources. In addition, the organization sponsors educational programs, a popular farmers’ market and a beautiful community garden. She is proud that the organization has become so successful for the entire community. Ms. Goodman tutors at Literacy Volunteers of Washington County. She also volunteers time working with people from all over the world who have had the determination to come to this country and are passionate about learning the English language. In addition, she serves on the Literacy Volunteers Washington County board. Ms. Goodman and her husband, Dr. Tobias Goodman, serve on the Alternative Energy committee in Westerly, RI. Ms. Goodman enjoys volunteering in the children’s section of the community’s library, traveling, and keeping up with her three busy grown sons. She is a graduate of Wells College.

Advisory Board

Adela Raz held several professional positions in Kabul, Afghanistan as part of The Initiative’s Summer Internship in Afghanistan program during her undergraduate summer vacations. She began as a home school supervisor at ACHIANA Center, human rights and political affairs assistant at the United Nations Assistance Mission, project analyst for CARE International, rule of law assistant at The US Embassy Kabul and a development consultant to the Aga Khan Foundation. After completing her graduate degree, Adela worked traveling between Washington, DC and Kabul, Afghanistan as project co-coordinator in financial services for ACDI/VOCA providing technical support to Afghan Rural Finance Company. In March 2013, she was appointed First Deputy Spokesperson and Director of Communications for His Excellency President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. She continued in that role at the Presidential Palace for President Karzai’s successor, His Excellency President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan until her appointment in 2016 as Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister of Economic Affairs.

Advisory Board

Nadima Sahar is one of the first students to graduate from The Initiative’s program. Ms. Sahar earned a BA in Political Science and Philosophy as well as a BS in Business from Roger Williams University in 2006. Ms. Sahar continued her education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, earning a Masters of Arts in Public Policy and Administration in 2008. Upon returning to Afghanistan after graduate school, Ms. Sahar founded a small research, monitoring and evaluation firm called Soft Power Solutions in Kabul, where she has counted among her clients the US Army and the US Department of State. More recently, she led a series of public opinion research projects relating to the presidential elections in Afghanistan. Ms. Sahar is a partner at the Galleria, one of the largest arts and crafts centers in Afghanistan. Through the Galleria, she works with over 100 artists and 11 women arts and crafts organizations to reintroduce art to daily life in Afghanistan by experimenting with innovative design techniques and bringing diverse professionals together to create new markets. Ms. Sahar also volunteers her time to an organization, which delivers capacity building projects for Afghan women in shelter homes in Afghanistan.

Advisory Board

Nadia Sakhi was an outstanding scholar and student leader who returned to Afghanistan each summer through The Initiative’s Summer Internship in Afghanistan program to support women’s rights advocacy and vocational training at the Women Activities and Social Services Association in her hometown of Herat. After graduating with honors in 2010, she returned to Afghanistan again to lead large scale projects at USAID Afghanistan and Development Alternative supporting women’s health and hygiene, encouraging youth participation in local government, and helping women understand and exercise their voting rights in five provinces across Western Afghanistan.


Nadia is continuing her studies in International Public Policy at George Mason University in the hope of taking her work with Afghan women and girls to the next level. During her time here, she is giving back to The Initiative as a mentor in The Initiative’s annual Leadership Academy program in Washington, DC!

Advisory Board

In 2002, Mina Sherzoy returned to Afghanistan, in order to dedicate her life to the people she left behind two decades prior. From 2003 to 2005, she served as an advisor on gender issues to Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce (MoC) and was Director of Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED) at the Ministry of Commerce. Under Mina’s supervision, WED became responsible for providing basic business skills to women, including training women on how to invest in and manage their own businesses. In 2003, Ms. Sherzoy established the first Afghan Women Business Association (AWBA) where women can attend and be trained in basic business, exhibition, design, and management classes.


With the support of Ministry of Commerce of Afghanistan and USAID, Ms. Sherzoy successfully launched Afghan Women Business Federation (AWBF). AWBF is an umbrella of all the women associations in Afghanistan, serving as women’s business advocacy and policymaking center. The AWBF is also comprised of a design school and a business development school. After the founding, Mina served as interim co-chairperson for AWBF for six months. From 2007 to 2011 Ms. Sherzoy was Training Director, NGO and Private Sector Developer for Deloitte and from 2011 to 2017 she held a variety of positions at Chemonics International including Country Director, Training and Capacity Building; Technical Deputy Chief of Party, Financial Access for Investing in Development of Afghanistan; New Business Development Consultant; Acting Chief of Party; and Director of PROMOTE Women in Government program. She is now an independent consultant with Excel Consulting International.

Advisory Board

Daphne’s nearly 20 years of experience as a University of Rhode Island professor enable her to grasp, develop and create organic programs for institutional development bridging communication and cultural constructs in order to empower disadvantaged women, children and men in developing countries. She works to create proposals and content for programs that teach people how to reach their fullest potential through new leadership approaches to their own lives and the lives of others. Her passion for nonviolence underlines her belief in accomplishing what may seem impossible by reaching out to and involving marginalized groups in the process of peace-building at the personal, community, institutional and national development levels. Her faculty involvement with The Salzburg Seminar on Media and Global Change allowed her to bring University students to study in Salzburg, Austria with students, faculty and media professionals from 15 countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, China, The UK, Argentina, Mexico and The United States. Student’s work with professionals in the international media, government and non-governmental organizations such as The United Nations Development Program, Red Cross Red Crescent and others to create Media Action Plans designed to solve problems in developing countries.  Daphne’s work with The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women began when she was part of a cutting edge series of courses that brought together students and governmental and nongovernmental global organizations. 


As a faculty member of The Initiative’s Global Leadership Academy Daphne provides workshops on Academic and Professional Roadmaps, Internships and Mentorship. Daphne also worked in the field of health administration before entering the field of communication studies. She is deeply inspired by programs that work with disadvantaged youth.  Daphne is involved with the skateboarding and surfing community outreach programs exploring the role that physical movement and sports hold as a vehicle to bring communities together. Her Level l and ll Kingian Nonviolence training permeates her life enabling her to explore seemingly irreconcilable differences within herself and others to discover innovative organic approaches to create a more peace filled world.

Advisory Board

Mir Akhgar joined Qara Group in 2017 as a partner to lead the firm’s vertical and geographical expansion. Vertically, Qara will complement its legacy offerings in research and consulting with new services in the areas of brand, communications, and venture capital. Prior to Qara, Mir joined a team of passionate global marketers to launch a digital marketing agency in New York City. Mir helped the company grow from 3 employees in 2010 to 65 in 2017 with offices in New York City and London. The company was acquired by a global advertising holding company in 2017. During this time, Mir led brand and communications efforts for major global brands and Fortune 500 companies such as Western Union, U.S. Army, FC Internazionale Milano, Anheuser-Busch (ABI), and General Motors (GM), to name a few.


Mir provides leadership in the areas of strategy development, brand management, go-to-market strategy, design-thinking, customer insights, creative critique, storytelling, communications planning, digital marketing, public relations, B2B marketing, direct marketing, social media, SEO/SEM, customer acquisition & retention, customer-centric innovation, and return-on-investment analysis through media-mix-modeling and attribution. Mir holds a bachelor’s degree in Management, Marketing, and Communications from Manhattanville College in New York and an Executive MBA in Corporate Innovation from Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Advisory Board
Advisory Board

Priscilla Wong graduated from Tufts University in 1987 with a degree in Political Science. Her career has been centered on fundraising and development for private and not-for-profit organizations. Ms. Wong served as director of development for the Children’s School in
Stamford, Connecticut, an award winning Montessori-style independent elementary school, where she led a successful capital campaign resulting in a new ergonomically designed “green” building for the school. Retired from her director of development position, she serves on the Board of Trustees there.


Priscilla co-chaired a campaign for St. Luke’s Church in Darien, Connecticut and served on the Education Committee of Darien’s Town Council. She also served on the Executive Boards of the YWCA of Darien/Norwalk and the League of Women Voters. Priscilla volunteers for buildOn, an organization that provides after-school programs for inner-city kids that fosters community service in their own area and by involving them in building schools in developing countries. Currently, she has taken a break from most of her activities to pursue a master's degree at The Fletcher School. Priscilla and her husband, James, reside in Darien, Connecticut and have three children.