Unlocking the potential of city-led action against hate, extremism and polarisation

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Launched at the United Nations in 2015, the Strong Cities Network is an independent, apolitical, global network of more than 220 cities* committed to addressing hate, extremism and polarisation that can lead to violence while promoting a human rights-based prevention framework informed by international good practice.

Strong Cities fills a critical gap in efforts that have typically overlooked the unique and important role cities can and must play in addressing these threats.

It is cities and other local authorities, after all, that face the brunt of terror attacks and acts of violent extremism. They are typically the first to respond in the immediate aftermath, and the ones responsible for mitigating the long-term economic and social impacts of violent extremism and other forms of hate-motivated violence in the communities they serve. By virtue of their proximity to and understanding of their communities, they can build trust, foster inclusive city identities and leverage other forms of public service to respond to the threat of violent extremism in a sustainable, human rights-compliant, gender-sensitive and non-stigmatising way, founded on the principle of 'do no harm'.

By cities for cities, the Network’s forward trajectory is guided by a member-led International Steering Committee, representing the Network’s global reach and diversity, and driven by a Management Unit, hosted by ISD, which includes a Central Team and a series of Regional Hubs – in East and Southern Africa, MENA, South Asia, the Western Balkans and, launching in 2024, North America – which are catalysing the Strong Cities mission at a regional level.

* 'Cities' refers to and encompasses any sub-national/local authority, including inter alia megacities, cities, states, counties, towns, villages and municipalities.

STRONG CITIES IN FOCUS

Strong Cities supports cities in developing and/or strengthening mandates, approaches and programmes to prevent and respond to hate, extremism and polarisation. Strong Cities aims at leveraging the range of local services, interests, networks and skills that exist within cities. The Network’s thematic focuses include:

NATIONAL-LOCAL COOPERATION

National-local cooperation (NLC) is an essential component of preventing and addressing hate, extremism and polarisation; all multi-faceted phenomena requiring a whole-of-society approach that leverages the capacities of different actors at every level into a coherent and coordinated effort. NLC supports this need by enabling actors at both levels to work collectively and maximise the impact of prevention and response efforts.

MULTI-ACTOR FRAMEWORKS

Strong Cities is currently working in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Illinois Chicago and the Prevention Practitioners Network, with support from the US Department of Homeland Security, to pilot a model for the development of local multi-actor prevention frameworks in six small and mid-sized cities across the United States.

TRANSATLANTIC DIALOGUE INITIATIVE

Launched in October 2021, the Strong Cities Transatlantic Dialogue Initiative is strengthening cooperation between mayors, local governments and practitioners in preventing hate, extremism and polarisation, and safeguarding local democracy. Through workshops in cities on both sides of the Atlantic, and capstone events in The Hague and New York, Strong Cities is facilitating important city learning, sharing and recommendations for both mayors and practitioners in Europe and North America.

GLOBAL CRISES, LOCAL IMPACTS

Mayors and the cities they lead have been grappling with how to navigate local manifestations of global crises. From COVID-19 to rising levels of hate and polarisation, to the cost-of-living crisis, to unprecedented migration and increased urbanisation, the impact of successive global crises is felt acutely at the local level. Informed by threat analysis from researchers at ISD and other organisations, Strong Cities is working with local leaders to identify good practices and approaches for navigating local manifestations of global crises, such as the Israel-Gaza crisis, which has sparked protests in cities around the world, dividing communities, accelerating rising antisemitism and Islamophobia and threatening social cohesion.

CITY-LED INCIDENT RESPONSE

The motive behind hate and extremist-driven attacks is not just to inflict violence but to create societal fear and division. In the immediate aftermath of an attack, national authorities take the lead in emergency responses, reinforcing public safety and launching criminal investigations. However, as the weeks and months progress, the impact of an attack can run deep, causing untold social consequences across communities and geographic borders. Communities no matter how resilient, need strong local leadership and a coordinated, sustained response to help them heal, recover and rebuild.

YOUNG CITIES

Working in partnership with young people and local governments to enhance youth-led, shared solutions to community challenges such as hate, extremism, polarisation and violence, Young Cities is fostering a shared understanding of local youth issues, facilitates new opportunities for cooperation, and ultimately enhances both groups’ capacity to tackle community-level challenges.

STRONG CITIES IN ACTION

Strong Cities supports mayors and local authorities through a variety of modalities, designed to build meaningful connections between cities, facilitate peer learning and exchanges, and to equip cities with tools they need to not only address a complex and evolving threat environment, but to build strong, socially-cohesive and resilient cities. This includes through:

  • Convenings: Strong Cities brings together mayors, local officials, youth, civil society, national governments, multilateral bodies and the private sector to share experiences, good practices and challenges. Formats vary, and include national, regional or cross-regional workshops or exchanges, mayoral leadership initiatives, global summits and other online and offline formats organised by Strong Cities and partners.
  • Regional Hubs: Local experts based in East & Southern Africa, MENA, South Asia and the Western Balkans facilitate the increased sharing of experiences, good practices and challenges through workshops, briefings and webinars, and maintaining an active ‘help desk’ to provide targeted support to address individual cities’ questions, challenges and needs. Foundations are being laid for a new North America Regional Hub to launch in 2024.
  • Training & Capacity-Building: Supporting cities and relevant stakeholders to improve and develop local approaches that take account of good practices internationally and which can be tailored to local contexts.
  • Resource Hub: A living, open resource for disseminating online training tools, guides, local policies and good practices, including profiles and spotlights of approaches across member cities.

A MISSION WITH IMPACT

“Cities are often on the margins of discussions about security or prevention, but first on the line of response when threats are realised. In 2015, our municipality was the target of groups intent to undermine the coexistence and stability of our municipality and country as a whole. With Strong Cities, we managed to bridge the gap between capacities and needs on the ground, and to engage more actively in preventing violent extremism, hatred and polarisation in our community.
Maksim Dimitrievski, Mayor of Kumanovo – North Macedonia

“We’ve gained valuable insights across various jurisdictions … it’s inspiring to see how effective strategies can be shared and adapted for the benefit of creating safer and more resilient communities.
Philemon Sabulei, Speaker, Elgeyo Marakwet County – Kenya

“As a proud member city of the Strong Cities Network since 2016 which knows all too well the impact that targeted violence can have on our residents, we are excited to now partner with Strong Cities on a two-year initiative to develop and implement a comprehensive prevention hate and extremism framework that responds to the needs and concerns of our communities.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee – USA

“In September 2023, I was privileged to participate in the Strong Cities Network Fourth Global Summit in New York, where I had the remarkable opportunity to engage with mayors from diverse cities and nations. This enriching experience exposed me to invaluable best practices that I am eager to implement in Delhi, ushering in a new era of technology-driven, effective and efficient governance at the local level.
Durgesh Pathak MLA, Chairman, Municipal Corporation of Delhi – India

“Said went through some challenges that pushed us towards a preventative approach. As a result, the Mayor considered the Local Prevention Networks to be a priority for youth and for schools especially. Engagement with Strong Cities has had a very positive impact on the city’s practitioners and municipal officials. To be honest, we didn’t expect this result. It has exceeded our expectations.
Said Municipality – Lebanon

STRONG CITIES CONNECT

For further information about the Strong Cities Network, visit www.strongcitiesnetwork.org or email [email protected].

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Strong Cities Network Member Directory

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Strong Cities Network Fourth Global Summit, New York City, 2023

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Our International Steering Committee is comprised of a geographically diverse group of 25 members and works with the Strong Cities Central Team to ensure that Network’s forward trajectory is driven by the needs of our member cities.

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Regional Hubs in East & Southern Africa, MENA, South Asia, the Western Balkans, and soon in North America, are further catalysing the Strong Cities mission on a regional basis.

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Our Transatlantic Dialogue Initiative is connecting mayors and cities across Europe and North America to address shared challenges.

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The Strong Cities Resource Hub houses practical tools and guides shaped by real-world examples and case studies to support city-led, whole-of-society approaches to address a complex and evolving threat environment.

Strong Cities' Management Unit

Eric Rosand
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Eric Rosand

Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

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Eric Rosand
Eric Rosand

Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

Eric Rosand is the Executive Director of the Strong Cities Network. He has more than two decades of experience working with governments, multilateral organisations, civil society, academics, and the private sector on international counterterrorism and P/CVE issues. This includes more than six years as a senior official at the US State Department where he acted as the international policy director for the White House CVE Summit and led efforts to develop and launch the Global Counterterrorism Forum, its inspired institutions, and the Strong Cities Network. He previously was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and served as co-director of the Global Center on Cooperative Security, and a lawyer at the US State Department and the US Mission to the United Nations. His writings, including on the role of cities and other local actors in P/CVE have appeared in a wide range of publications such as the American Journal of International Law, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Global Observatory, Just Security, The Hill, Lawfare, Order from Chaos, Time, and War on the Rocks. He holds a BA in history from Haverford College, a JD from Columbia University School of Law, and an LLM (Hons) in international law from Cambridge University.
Allison Curtis
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Allison Curtis

Deputy Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

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Allison Curtis
Allison Curtis

Deputy Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

Allison Curtis is the Deputy Executive Director of the Strong Cities Network. She joined the Strong Cities in 2022 as Head of Partnerships and Networks. Previous roles have included Senior Manager for Communications & Strategic Planning at the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Malta, where she also led the Institute’s Global Central Authorities and Addressing Homegrown Terrorism Initiatives. Allison also served as Policy Analyst for the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Administrative Unit in The Hague and Senior Policy Officer at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, where she worked on the counter-terrorism, national security and legal portfolios. She has degrees in law and journalism, and a Master’s degree in International Relations.
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is the Director of Practice for the Strong Cities Network where she develops training models and resources to enhance locally-led approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism. She works closely with youth, civil society and national and local government actors to identify good practice, build critical capacities and drive cross-sectoral coordination to promote community-based solutions on a global scale. Kelsey leads the delivery of Strong Cities’ youth pillar, Young Cities, and is driving work on National Local Cooperation. Kelsey holds a Master's in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelor's in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Duaa Khalid
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Duaa Khalid

Director of Project Operations, Strong Cities Network

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Duaa Khalid
Duaa Khalid

Director of Project Operations, Strong Cities Network

Duaa Khalid is the Director of the Strong Cities Network (SCN) Project Operations at ISD, leading on all SCN operational management including grant management, financial management, new business development, compliance, procurement, risk management and resource management. Duaa has 15 years of experience working with non-profit organisations and international charities managing international programs and donor relationships with DFID, EU and USAID, among others. Previously, she worked with Save the Children UK and Marie Stopes International. Duaa holds a BSc Hons in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE).
Lara Petricevic-Williams
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Lara Petricevic-Williams

Director of Global Engagement, Strong Cities Network

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Lara Petricevic-Williams
Lara Petricevic-Williams

Director of Global Engagement, Strong Cities Network

Lara Petricevic-Williams is the Director of Global Engagement overseeing the work of Strong Cities’ Regional Hubs, managing regional senior staff and partners to ensure that the Network’s activities address the needs of cities and local governments on preventing and responding to hate, extremism and polarisation and related resilience and security challenges. She previously served as a Senior Operations Manager at ISD, working primarily on East Africa programmes, and providing support to ISD’s growth and business development efforts. Her earlier positions have included Resident Regional Director for the Great Lakes and Southern Africa at the International Republican Institute, managing multi-million and multi-donor projects in the region and spearheading business development efforts. She is an experienced democracy and governance professional with more than 20 years of experience in the Balkans, Middle East, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a Master of Science in International Economics from John Naisbitt University and a BA in International Business from the Grenoble School of Management. She is fluent in Croatian/Serbian and English, and has conversational French.
Simeon Dukić
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Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

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Simeon Dukić
Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

Simeon Dukić is the Deputy Director of Global Engagement for Strong Cities, overseeing the Network’s Regional Hubs in the Western Balkans and South Asia. His key responsibilities include facilitating city-to-city learning and national-local coordination, while supporting the deployment of local initiatives based on member needs. Simeon also supports strategic Central and East European city engagement under the Strong Cities Transatlantic Dialogue initiative. He previously served as a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counterterrorism of the Republic of North Macedonia, where he supported the coordination of 22 government ministries, CSOs, and multilateral and regional counterparts, and was involved in the drafting of the country’s first National CVE Strategy. He holds an MA (Distinction) in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Global Challenges from Leiden University College. He is fluent in Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian and English, and has intermediate proficiency in Russian.
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.
Gabriel Camilleri
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Gabriel Camilleri

Communications Manager, Strong Cities Network

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Gabriel Camilleri
Gabriel Camilleri

Communications Manager, Strong Cities Network

Gabriel is the Communications Manager for the Strong Cities Network, leading internal and external communications efforts and implementation of the Network’s communications strategy. Gabriel previously served as Communications Officer for the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Malta, supporting delivery of counter-terrorism capacity-building in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He also served as Local Assistant for a Member of the European Parliament. Gabriel holds a Bachelor’s degree in European Politics and Communications and a Master’s degree in Creativity and Innovation Management from the University of Malta.
Kirsty McNeill
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Kirsty McNeill

Grants Manager, Strong Cities Network

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Kirsty McNeill
Kirsty McNeill

Grants Manager, Strong Cities Network

Kirsty is the Grants Manager of Strong Cities Projects at ISD. She assists with operational management projects including grant and financial management, business development, compliance, and procurement. Kirsty has over 5 years’ experience in grant management, managing large complex grant programmes funded by the European Union and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. She previously worked within KPMG’s Grants Centre of Excellence and as a Senior Project Officer at the Centre for Economic Policy Research. Kirsty holds a Bachelor’s degree in Languages for International Business.
Samira Benz
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Samira Benz

Special Advisor, Strong Cities Network

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Samira Benz
Samira Benz

Special Advisor, Strong Cities Network

Samira Benz supports Strong Cities to enhance engagement between cities in North America and Europe and to cultivate new partnerships. Her area of expertise centres on supporting cities in the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals with alleged links or family ties to terrorist groups. She also provides consultancy to multiple organisations and governments on diverse aspects of P/CVE. In her previous capacity, she headed the Coordination Unit for Returnees at the Senate Department for the Interior and Sport in Berlin, Germany, where she was responsible for coordinating efforts for the rehabilitation and reintegration of ISIS-returnees. Prior to this, Samira served as a counsellor at a Berlin-based civil society organization, supporting radicalised individuals or those at risk of radicalisation in disengaging from extremist networks. Samira holds a BA in Islamic Studies from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and an MA in Terrorism and Political Violence from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
David Leenstra
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David Leenstra

Networks and Membership Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

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David Leenstra
David Leenstra

Networks and Membership Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

David Leenstra is the Networks & Membership Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network, supporting day-to-day engagement with member cities and liaising with local governments interested in joining the Network. He is also involved in developing and implementing strategies to improve Strong Cities’ outreach and engagement with members. Prior to joining the Strong Cities Management Unit, David was an ISD Research Associate, contributing to a wide range of research projects focusing on extremism, hate and conspiracy theories online. He has also conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Flanders on right-wing extremist youth movements and research on Islamic State online propaganda, politics and legitimation strategies. He holds Master’s degrees in Conflict Studies & Human Rights from Utrecht University and in International Relations History from the University of Amsterdam.

East & Southern Africa Regional Hub

Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga
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Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga

Head, Strong Cities Network

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Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga
Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga

Head, Strong Cities Network

Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga is the Head of the East & Southern Africa Regional Hub, leading engagement with cities, local leaders and practitioners to promote cooperation across and between regions, develop policies and programmes, and implement programming and training to address hate, extremism and polarisation. She serves concurrently as Secretary-General of the East Africa Local Governments Association (EALGA) and is an active member of various regional and global working groups and steering committees on decentralisation and public service coordination projects, programmes and related initiatives. Gertrude is a lawyer and a graduate of the Executive Masters in Business Administration, awarded jointly by the Maastricht School of Management and the Eastern and Southern Management Institute (ESAMI) of Arusha.
Kudzai Mukaratirwa
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Kudzai Mukaratirwa

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

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Kudzai Mukaratirwa
Kudzai Mukaratirwa

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

Kudzai Mukaratirwa is the Programme Lead for Strong Cities Network’s East & Southern Africa Regional Hub, driving forward engagement with cities and partners and supporting programme delivery across the region on city-led approaches to address hate, extremism and polarisation, and promote city resilience and social cohesion. He previously worked for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at their Regional Offices in Kenya and South Africa. His work covered the prevention of youth crime and violence, criminal justice and transnational-organised crime in East and Southern Africa. Kudzai has a legal background and is a graduate of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s School of Law (LL.B).
Geofrey Ochieng
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Geofrey Ochieng

Network Officer, Strong Cities Network

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Geofrey Ochieng
Geofrey Ochieng

Network Officer, Strong Cities Network

Geofrey Ochieng is the Network Officer for the Strong Cities Network’s East & Southern Africa Regional Hub, responsible for coordination with municipalities, communications and network engagement. He has more than 15 years of experience working with both local and national governments, and in the private sector, as well as international organisations working in the fields of human settlement, urban planning and sustainable development, urban governance and resilience. This included three years as Chief Officer for Housing and Urban Development at the County Government of Kisumu and three years on Pan African Empowerment Work through Project Pakati, an African Leadership Institute initiative. He holds a Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, a Bachelor of Arts (Geography) from Moi University and a Certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit from Africa Nazarene University.

Middle East & North Africa Regional Hub

Zouhair Racheha
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Zouhair Racheha

Head, Strong Cities Network

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Zouhair Racheha
Zouhair Racheha

Head, Strong Cities Network

Zouhair is Head of the Strong Cities Network’s MENA Regional Hub, leading engagement with local governments across the Middle East and North Africa to promote the Strong Cities mission and facilitate the sharing of lessons learned and approaches to effectively address hate, extremism and polarisation. His key responsibilities include facilitating city-to-city learning and national-local coordination and supporting the operationalisation of multi-stakeholder prevention frameworks. He previously served in various roles at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB), implementing counter-terrorism capacity-building programmes in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Africa. He also served as an Assistant Legal Officer at the Chambers of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He holds a Master’s in Law from the Lebanese University and Master’s in Criminal Law and Criminal Sciences from the University of Lyon 3 in France. He speaks Arabic, English and French.
Maria Sarkaz
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Maria Sarkaz

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

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Maria Sarkaz
Maria Sarkaz

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

Maria serves as the Programme Lead for the Strong Cities Network’s MENA Regional Hub, driving forward engagement with cities and partners and supporting programme delivery across the region on city-led approaches to address hate, extremism and polarisation, and promote city resilience and social cohesion. With previous experience at the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Malta, and the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Administrative Unit, Maria brings valuable expertise to her role. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and has a deep passion for Arabic dialects, which helps her understand and truly appreciate the region’s rich linguistic and cultural diversity.
Hicham El Haddad
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Hicham El Haddad

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

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Hicham El Haddad
Hicham El Haddad

Programme Lead, Strong Cities Network

Hicham is the Programme Lead for the Strong Cities Network’s MENA Regional Hub, working on strengthening long-term relationships and collaborations with members cities in the Middle East and supporting progamme delivery across the region on city-led approaches to address hate, extremism and polarisation. He previously served as the Executive Manager at PVE for Peace, the Country Manager for Morocco and Tunisia at Viamo, and an International Consultant with various international organisations focusing primarily on addressing issues related to local governance, preventing violent extremism and youth engagement in the MENA region. Hicham holds a Graduate Degree in Human Rights and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Law from Abdelmalek Essaâdi University, and is currently finalising a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Theology from Gottingen University, Germany.

South Asia Regional Hub

Simeon Dukić
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Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

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Simeon Dukić
Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

Simeon Dukić is the Deputy Director of Global Engagement for Strong Cities, overseeing the Network’s Regional Hubs in the Western Balkans and South Asia. His key responsibilities include facilitating city-to-city learning and national-local coordination, while supporting the deployment of local initiatives based on member needs. Simeon also supports strategic Central and East European city engagement under the Strong Cities Transatlantic Dialogue initiative. He previously served as a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counterterrorism of the Republic of North Macedonia, where he supported the coordination of 22 government ministries, CSOs, and multilateral and regional counterparts, and was involved in the drafting of the country’s first National CVE Strategy. He holds an MA (Distinction) in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Global Challenges from Leiden University College. He is fluent in Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian and English, and has intermediate proficiency in Russian.
Anika Ahmed
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Anika Ahmed

Head, Strong Cities Network

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Anika Ahmed
Anika Ahmed

Head, Strong Cities Network

Anika is Head of the South Asia Regional Hub, coordinating interactions with provincial and local government authorities, including mayors and city-level social welfare and civil society stakeholders in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Her key responsibilities include reaching out to local municipalities, city leaders and practitioners, and coordinating both in-person and virtual events, to facilitate the exchange of good practices. She has 18 years of experience in facilitating training on conflict-sensitive journalism, safety mechanisms for journalists, gender-inclusive journalism, peace-building, countering violent extremism and civic education. She holds a doctorate degree and is fluent in English, Pashto and Urdu.

Western Balkans Regional Hub

Simeon Dukić
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Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

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Simeon Dukić
Simeon Dukić

Deputy Director of Global Engagement, Strong CIties Network

Simeon Dukić is the Deputy Director of Global Engagement for Strong Cities, overseeing the Network’s Regional Hubs in the Western Balkans and South Asia. His key responsibilities include facilitating city-to-city learning and national-local coordination, while supporting the deployment of local initiatives based on member needs. Simeon also supports strategic Central and East European city engagement under the Strong Cities Transatlantic Dialogue initiative. He previously served as a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counterterrorism of the Republic of North Macedonia, where he supported the coordination of 22 government ministries, CSOs, and multilateral and regional counterparts, and was involved in the drafting of the country’s first National CVE Strategy. He holds an MA (Distinction) in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Global Challenges from Leiden University College. He is fluent in Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian and English, and has intermediate proficiency in Russian.
Besim Dogani
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Besim Dogani

Network Officer, Strong Cities Network

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Besim Dogani
Besim Dogani

Network Officer, Strong Cities Network

Besim Dogani serves as Network Officer for the Western Balkans Regional Hub, responsible for coordination with municipalities, communications and network engagement. He has extensive experience in project management and consulting for international actors, governments and non-profit organisations. Prior to joining Strong Cities, he worked for non-profit agencies based in the Balkans and the United States, advising on issues such as social responsibility, education, human rights and prevention. He served as a Member and Vice Chair of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia. He holds degrees in literature and marketing management and speaks fluent Albanian, Macedonian and English, and conversational Turkish and Bosnian.

North America

Eric Rosand
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Eric Rosand

Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

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Eric Rosand
Eric Rosand

Executive Director, Strong Cities Network

Eric Rosand is the Executive Director of the Strong Cities Network. He has more than two decades of experience working with governments, multilateral organisations, civil society, academics, and the private sector on international counterterrorism and P/CVE issues. This includes more than six years as a senior official at the US State Department where he acted as the international policy director for the White House CVE Summit and led efforts to develop and launch the Global Counterterrorism Forum, its inspired institutions, and the Strong Cities Network. He previously was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and served as co-director of the Global Center on Cooperative Security, and a lawyer at the US State Department and the US Mission to the United Nations. His writings, including on the role of cities and other local actors in P/CVE have appeared in a wide range of publications such as the American Journal of International Law, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Global Observatory, Just Security, The Hill, Lawfare, Order from Chaos, Time, and War on the Rocks. He holds a BA in history from Haverford College, a JD from Columbia University School of Law, and an LLM (Hons) in international law from Cambridge University.
Jordan Reimer
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Jordan Reimer

Senior Manager for North America, Strong Cities Network

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Jordan Reimer
Jordan Reimer

Senior Manager for North America, Strong Cities Network

Jordan Reimer is the Senior Manager for North America at the Strong Cities Network, responsible for managing prevention programming in the United States and Canada, and assisting in the development of local prevention frameworks and the provision of capacity-building efforts. Prior to joining the Strong Cities Management Unit, Jordan was the ISD Senior Manager for Threat Prevention, where he managed projects related to targeted violence detection and built relationships with relevant stakeholders to share information on salient threats. He has also served as a policy analyst at RAND, focusing on targeted violence prevention and countering disinformation; an intelligence analyst for the NYPD, specializing in counter-terrorism investigations related to the Syrian civil war and the foreign fighter threat; and a Middle East policymaker at the US State Department and Department of Defense. He is a recipient of Princeton’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative fellowship and has a Master's in Public Affairs (International Relations) from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Caroline Wade
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Caroline Wade

Project Coordinator for North America, Strong Cities Network

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Caroline Wade
Caroline Wade

Project Coordinator for North America, Strong Cities Network

Caroline Wade is the Strong Cities Network's Project Coordinator for North America, responsible for delivering project activities across a range of city-level stakeholders in North America. She is supporting Strong Cities' development of a newly-funded program focused on small and mid-size cities in the United States, as well as programming and partnership opportunities across the North America region. Prior to joining Strong Cities, Caroline was an analyst at Moonshot delivering a wide range of research and intervention programming focused on preventing domestic violent extremism in the US. Her subject matter expertise focuses on racially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism and anti-government, anti-authority violent extremism in the US.

Young Cities

Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is the Director of Practice for the Strong Cities Network where she develops training models and resources to enhance locally-led approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism. She works closely with youth, civil society and national and local government actors to identify good practice, build critical capacities and drive cross-sectoral coordination to promote community-based solutions on a global scale. Kelsey leads the delivery of Strong Cities’ youth pillar, Young Cities, and is driving work on National Local Cooperation. Kelsey holds a Master's in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelor's in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Sameen Zehra
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Sameen Zehra

Youth Civic Action Coordinator, Young Cities

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Sameen Zehra
Sameen Zehra

Youth Civic Action Coordinator, Young Cities

Sameen is a Youth Civic Action Coordinator at Young Cities, Strong Cities’ youth pillar. She supports delivery of programmes, assists in developing online communications and campaigns, and supports youth activists and their projects in Belgium and Pakistan. She previously worked for the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), developing strategic communications and digital advocacy campaigns, and coordinating a multimedia training programme for local women-led peacebuilding organisations. As a graduate student, she served as a consultant for the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate and the Ugandan-based African Youth Initiative Network. She holds an MS in Global Affairs with a peacebuilding specialisation from New York University, and a BA in Peace, Conflict and Justice from the University of Toronto.

Strong Cities' Management Unit

Eric Rosand
Executive Director

Allison Curtis
Deputy Executive Director

Charlotte Moeyens
Chief of Staff

Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Director, Practice

Duaa Khalid
Director, Project Operations

Lara Petricevic
Director, Global Engagement

Simeon Dukic
Deputy Director, Global Engagement

Gabriel Camilleri
Communications Manager

Kirsty McNeill
Grants Manager

David Leenstra
Coordinator, Networks & Membership

Samira Benz
Special Advisor

East & Southern Africa Regional Hub

Gertrude Rose Gamwera Buyinga
Head

Kudzai Mukaratirwa
Programme Lead

Geofrey Ochieng
Network Officer

Middle East & North Africa Regional Hub

Zouhair Racheha
Head

Maria Sarkaz
Programme Lead

Hicham El Haddad
Programme Lead

South Asia Regional Hub

Anika Ahmed
Head

Simeon Dukic
Deputy Director, Global Engagement

Western Balkans Regional Hub

Simeon Dukic
Deputy Director, Global Engagement

Besim Dogani
Network Officer

North America

Eric Rosand
Executive Director

Jordan Reimer
Senior Manager

Caroline Wade
Project Coordinator

Young Cities

Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Director, Practice

Sameen Zehra
Youth Civic Action Coordinator