Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN)

Uniting young activists, creatives and tech entrepreneurs to amplify efforts to counter violent extremism

ISD’s Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) is the leading global youth network dedicated to countering extremism, polarisation and hate speech. The YouthCAN community unites over 1,500 young activists, creatives, and tech entrepreneurs in more than 130 countries to amplify their efforts worldwide.

YouthCAN works to:

  • Empower youth on a grassroots level through training and resources which enable them to act independently as leaders for change
  • Increase the amount of effective youth-led and youth-focused counter-speech available to address extremist propaganda by working directly with young people to facilitate the creation of new content and upscale existing content.
  • Elevate youth voices to policy makers to affect P/CVE and youth-oriented policy and encourage stakeholders to involve youth in a meaningful way
  • Provide insight to policy makers and other stakeholders to help ensure programmes and policies which affect youth are informed and relevant
  • Connect young people across the globe with other activists as well as youth and professionals working in other sectors including creatives, marketing, social media and tech experts

The online network engages young people and provides them with the tools they need to create effective content aimed at challenging hate speech and extremism, while our Youth Innovation Labs provide them with the resources and expertise to develop and deliver counter-speech campaigns for tackling issues affecting youth in their communities.

In 2017, YouthCAN partnered with another ISD project – SCN – to develop the Young Cities project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project aims to connect young activists and youth leaders with local policy-makers and municipal authorities, conduct trainings to build their capacities to enact change together, and establish a more permanent framework for dialogue.


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Team
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Youth Advisor

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Youth Advisor

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Manager, Technology, Communications & Education at ISD focusing on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education. Kelsey is responsible for running the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and organising ISD’s Youth Innovation Labs. Kelsey is developing new strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging and works closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also works closely with the Strong Cities Network to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. Kelsey previously managed marketing and social media strategy for an independent US-based IT company. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Iris Boyer
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Iris Boyer

Deputy Head, Technology, Communications and Education

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Iris Boyer
Iris Boyer

Deputy Head, Technology, Communications and Education

Iris is Deputy Head for Technology, Communications and Education, overseeing a number of programmes supporting and amplifying civil society’s efforts against extremism through scaled partnerships with tech companies and grassroots organisations. Iris also coordinates multi-sectorial networks spanning government, academia, the media and the NGO sector, and regularly advises them with ISD’s insights on the latest trends in extremism and the most effective and innovative approaches to tackle its mainstreaming. She is also working on ISD’s regional expansion, and particularly leading on thought leadership and development in France. Before joining ISD, Iris worked at YouTube on the development and coordination of the global campaign Creators for Change, after having managed counter speech and social good programmes at Facebook for their EMEA policy team. Prior to that, she spent some time working for French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a junior policy analyst in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as for French Ministry of Finance, as an economic attaché covering the South Caucasus region. Iris holds a French 5-year diploma in social sciences and humanities from Sciences Po, as well as an international master in public affairs from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and the London Metropolitan University. Before graduating, Iris has also worked as an intern for a youth-oriented charity in Belgium and a policy-focused think tank Russia, as well as with French MEP and former Minister of Education Vincent Peillon at the European Parliament.
Natasha Hanckel-Spice
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Natasha Hanckel-Spice

Head of Partnerships & Delivery, Technology, Communications & Education

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Natasha Hanckel-Spice
Natasha Hanckel-Spice

Head of Partnerships & Delivery, Technology, Communications & Education

Natasha manages ISD’s partnership projects programmes, overseeing delivery. This includes the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI) in partnership with Facebook. Prior to joining ISD, Natasha worked with a number of well-known organisations including the British Home Office, advising on marketing strategy and developing social enterprise and youth campaigns.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

Anisa Harrasy is a Coordinator at ISD, where she works across ISD’s youth empowerment projects, including the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities. Through these projects, Anisa delivers capacity-building workshops, oversees youth-led campaigns and initiatives and facilitates dialogue between youth and policymakers. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development in Sub Saharan Africa and specializes in promoting peace in East Africa specifically. Anisa has conducted significant research on the influence and effect of non-state actors in global affairs and politics. Anisa holds an MA in International Security from the University of Sussex and a BA in International relations with Arabic. She is bilingual Swahili and English, with basic Arabic proficiency.
Tim Hulse
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Tim Hulse

Coordinator, Monitoring and Evaluation, Strong Cities Network

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Tim Hulse
Tim Hulse

Coordinator, Monitoring and Evaluation, Strong Cities Network

Tim is a Coordinator at ISD, working predominately on the Strong Cities Network (SCN) and Google Innovation Fund. His role consists of developing monitoring and evaluation systems for a range ISD programmes in order to demonstrate the impact that the Institute has in preventing and countering violent extremism. As part of this role Tim also supports a number of ISD partners in demonstrating the sustainable impact of their projects. Tim has previously been engaged in research for a number of UK charities and NGOs focusing on extremism, Middle Eastern politics and refugee issues among other topics. He holds a Masters in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a Bachelors in the Study of Religions from the School of Oriental and African Studies.