Training & Capacity Building

We create and deliver programmes that empower everyone to engage in the fight against extremism, hate and disinformation.

Extremism, hate and disinformation are global phenomena that cannot be solved by governments alone. These threats to democracy can only be overcome in collaboration with a wide array of groups from across society. ISD works to provide training and build the capacity of actors from across societies in order to build safe, free and resilient communities.

ISD designs and delivers programmes which empower frontline practitioners and foster civic action. We work with charities, practitioners, educators, governments, the private sector and young people.

Our on-the-ground activity is informed by our sector-leading data and insight, creating programmes that respond to emerging and evolving threats. Our training and capacity building is delivered through the following key programmes and channels:

Strong Cities Network
Through the Strong Cities Network, we deliver training and support in order to build the capacity of cities to respond to extremism, hate and disinformation in their communities.

YouthCAN Network
Our global YouthCAN network unites over 1,900 young activists, creatives and tech entrepreneurs in more than 130 countries to amplify their efforts worldwide. The online YouthCAN network engages young people and provides them with the tools they need to create effective content aimed at challenging hate speech and extremism. Offline, our Youth Innovation Labs provide young activists with the resources and expertise to develop and deliver counter-speech campaigns for tackling issues affecting young people in their communities.

Young Cities
Combining the Strong Cities Network’s capacity building with YouthCAN’s empowerment of young activists, Young Cities is the first project of its kind to bring together young people and policy makers to address local-level issues on a global scale. In partnership with city leaders, Young Cities supports and amplifies youth-led efforts through training workshops, seed funding and ongoing mentorship, giving young people the tools to develop and implement initiatives that respond to the needs of their communities.

 

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ISD’s Training & Capacity Building team

Rashad Ali
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Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

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Rashad Ali
Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

Rashad Ali is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD. Rashad is a counter terrorism practitioner who works on deradicalisation initiatives alongside Prisons, Probation Services, Police and community groups. He was formerly a national leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the revolutionary Islamist organisation and has been actively involved in undermining its extreme ideology and perversion of Muslim faith since his departure. As a researcher he has given testimony and contributed submissions to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Radicalisation, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Intelligence and has briefed the London Mayor's office on Counter Terrorism and has been consulted by think tanks and governments in Germany, Denmark, the EU and the US. He is an external lecturer for Derby University’s Master Class courses on Radicalisation and Counter Terrorism. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, Dissent Magazine, Birlingske in Denmark, Conservative Home, and given commentary for Newsnight, BBC News. He is the author of Islam, Shariah and the Far Right published by Demoqratiya journal, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism published by HJS and EFD, and the author of the ISD report Blasphemy, Charlie Hebdo, and the Freedom of Belief and Expression. He is classically trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence and Modern studies in Islam. He studied at al-Azhar University, Cairo, and the Markfield Institute.
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Head of Capacity Building and Campaigns

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Head of Capacity Building and Campaigns

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is the Head of Capacity Building and Campaigns at ISD, leading the development of capacity building models to enhance locally led approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism. She works closely with youth, civil society, and local government actors to build critical capacities and drive cross-sectoral coordination to promote community-based solutions on a global scale. Kelsey led the development and delivery of ISD’s flagship youth programmes, YouthCAN and Young Cities, training more than 750 young activists and facilitating 75 youth-led initiatives to counter hate, polarisation and extremism across Europe, Africa, Australia, South Asia, and the MENA Region. She frequently advocates for the role of young people in P/CVE in international forums and has given voice to the needs of activists as a co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. Kelsey holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Daniel Hooton
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Daniel Hooton

Head of Strong Cities Network International Programmes

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Daniel Hooton
Daniel Hooton

Head of Strong Cities Network International Programmes

Daniel Hooton is Head of ISD’s Strong Cities Network (SCN) International Programmes, with responsibility for strategy and delivery of international cities programmes. This includes current projects to develop institutional approaches to long-term governance, human security and social policy challenges in cities across Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. He has advised and worked with numerous international governments, UN agencies and mayors on international counterterrorism and counter-extremism strategy, briefing senior ministers and leaders and shaping multilateral cooperation on grassroots practice in cities around the world. Daniel previously served as policy advisor to the Shadow Minister for Communities in the UK Parliament, developing opposition policy and scrutiny on community cohesion, social exclusion and public services reform. He is the co-author of the ISD report Community Resilience Study: Kumanovo, North Macedonia. He holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol.
Simeon Dukić
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Simeon Dukić

Senior Manager, Balkans & Central Asia

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Simeon Dukić
Simeon Dukić

Senior Manager, Balkans & Central Asia

Simeon Dukić is a Senior Manager on the Strong Cities Network leading research, network engagement and city level deep-dive programming in the Balkans and Central Asia. His work focuses on mapping the regional off- and online threat environment, leveraging municipal-led multi-stakeholder local prevention frameworks, enhancing national-local cooperation, and empowering youth to counter hate, polarisation and extremism. Simeon was previously a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism (NCCVECT) of North Macedonia where he facilitated coordination of regional, national and local government and non-government stakeholders and was involved in the drafting of the country’s first National CVE Strategy. He is the author of “Online Extremism in North Macedonia: Politics, Ethnicities and Religion” and a co-author of "Community Resilience Study: Kumanovo, North Macedonia.” Simeon holds a Masters in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a Bachelors in Global Challenges from Leiden University College in The Hague.
Charlotte Moeyens
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Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

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Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

Charlotte Moeyens is a Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action, at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources for practitioners and civil society. She has supported the delivery of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety in Europe, Africa Online Safety Fund and Mayor of London’s Shared Endeavour Fund. Most recently, she is working with the McCain Institute to develop and build the capacity of a US Prevention and Intervention Practitioners Network. Charlotte also forms part of the Strong Cities Network's (SCN) Central Management Unit, and is co-author of the SCN's Multi-Agency Models for Preventing Violent Extremism: A Guidebook for Bangladesh, as well as ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Dominic Pkalya
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Dominic Pkalya

Senior Programme Manager

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Dominic Pkalya
Dominic Pkalya

Senior Programme Manager

Dominic Pkalya is a Senior Programme Manager at ISD, working across ISD’s counter-extremism initiatives in Kenya and the Eastern Africa region, including the PROACT Community Based Interventions Program and supporting the Strong Cities Network (SCN) and Young Cities initiatives in Kenya. He was previously the Chief of Party for the Strengthening Community Resilience against Extremism (SCORE) and worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Kenya, providing technical support in addressing armed violence reduction efforts amongst pastoralists communities in Kenya. He is the co-author of Why Al-Shabaab Attacks Kenya: Questioning the Narrative Paradigm.
Mohammad “Omar” Metwally 
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Mohammad “Omar” Metwally 

Programme Manager, Strong Cities Network (SCN)

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Mohammad “Omar” Metwally 
Mohammad “Omar” Metwally 

Programme Manager, Strong Cities Network (SCN)

Mohammad Omar Metwally is a Programme Manager of SCN. He leads SCN’s efforts to strengthen national-local cooperation for P/CVE and contributes to the Network's transatlantic city-to-city cooperation on addressing racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and related issues. He is experienced in peacebuilding, community resilience and conflict transformation with nearly a decade of experience across the MENA region. Previously, he has advised and worked with numerous multilateral, non-governmental and governmental organisations. Most recently, he was a conflict analysis expert at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) where he contributed to the locally-led peacebuilding and stabilization process in Libya. He has contributed to multiple guides and training curricula including Search for Common Ground’s (SFCG) Arabic and English guide on Community Dialogue Design; the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law’s (IIJ) Training Curriculum: Developing Multi-Actor P/CVE Intervention Programmes – Implementing a Whole-of-Society, ‘Do No Harm Approach’; the first-ever handbook on Multi-Agency and Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism; and the revamping of Soliya’s UN-accredited manual on facilitation, as well as its adaptation to Arabic. Mohammad is a Fulbright alumnus and holds a Master of Global Affairs from the Keough School, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. He is a bilingual Arabic and English, with basic French proficiency. 
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Manager

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Manager

Jasmeet is a Manager at ISD, coordinating communications for the Young Cities programme and leading capacity-building work with young activists in South Asia. Jasmeet further supports the ongoing development of youth-related programming, activities and strategy. He is the lead author of the ISD report Voices of Pakistani Youth: Lessons for Civil Society in the Development of Effective Counter-Narrative Campaigns. He holds a Masters in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Politics from the University of Leeds.
Emir Hasanovic
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Emir Hasanovic

Western Balkans Coordinator

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Emir Hasanovic
Emir Hasanovic

Western Balkans Coordinator

Emir Hasanovic is the Western Balkans Coordinator at ISD, responsible for Young Cities and Strong Cities coordination in the region, research and analysis, communications, and expansion. He is a strategic communications professional and project manager with international experience in consultancy, government, and non-profit sector. He has worked for communications agencies in the Middle East and the US, advising premier clients in government, environment, corporate social responsibility, human rights primarily. Emir has also served as Special Adviser to Deputy PM and Minister of Defence of North Macedonia for Communications and International relations. He has also been Program Development Officer for the USAID/OTI North Macedonia Support Initiative. Emir is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and is fluent in Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian, and English, and he speaks conversational French.
Martina Lappo
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Martina Lappo

Project Coordinator, Young Cities

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Martina Lappo
Martina Lappo

Project Coordinator, Young Cities

Martina Lappo is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the Young Cities programme in the West Africa region. Previously, Martina worked with NGOs and UN agencies in the Caribbean, and Central and West Africa. She has experience in project Monitoring and Evaluation, and in the implementation of sexual and reproductive health development programmes. She holds a Masters in Humanitarian Action from University College Dublin and a Bachelors’ Degree in Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Salford.
Shirley Otube
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Shirley Otube

Coordinator, East Africa

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Shirley Otube
Shirley Otube

Coordinator, East Africa

Shirley Otube is a Coordinator for ISD in East Africa.
Isel van Zyl
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Isel van Zyl

Project Coordinator, Civic Action and Capacity Building

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Isel van Zyl
Isel van Zyl

Project Coordinator, Civic Action and Capacity Building

Isel van Zyl is a Civic Action and Capacity Building Coordinator at ISD. Her work entails assisting the Strong Cities Network and McCain Institute with implementing project activities and capacity building workshops. Her interests are concentrated on the different ways in which conflict manifests on the African continent, as well as the preventative measures taken by African states. Her research focus has been on the prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE), border security management, and rehabilitation and reintegration (formerly known as DDR). Prior to joining ISD, Isel worked as a Research Officer for the Institute for Security Studies in the Complex Threats in Africa programme. Isel holds a Masters degree in Advanced European and International Affairs at the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) in Nice, France.
Akyar Maalim 
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Akyar Maalim 

Associate, East Africa

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Akyar Maalim 
Akyar Maalim 

Associate, East Africa

Akyar Maalim is an East Africa Associate at ISD, working under the PROACT program. Her work entails supporting the PROACT program by implementing project activities, conducting background research and coordinating communication for the project. Akyar hold a Masters degree in International Peace, Conflict and Development studies from Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain under the UNESCO Chair of Education and Philosophy and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States International University-Africa. She has previously worked as Communication and Knowledge Management Intern at the United Nations Development Program and as a communications intern at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.