Strong Cities Network

Cities are uniquely able to safeguard their citizens from polarisation and extremism to create stronger and safer communities.

The Strong Cities Network (SCN) was launched in 2015 at the UN General Assembly to mount city-led responses against hate, polarisation and extremism in all its forms. We help our members partner with their communities to design and deploy local responses to these complex challenges, ensuring no city faces these threats alone.

Our network has grown to 149 local governments including megacities, states, counties and small municipalities, representing every major global region. While every city faces its own unique challenges and local risks, there are shared goals, tools and approaches that we can all strive towards.

Through our global summits, city exchanges and regional workshops, our members build bridges, discuss innovative policy ideas and exchange good practices with counterparts from the world’s leading cities and experts in the field.

We also provide a range of in-depth models for capacity-building, interventions and youth engagement. Tailoring our existing approaches for multi-agency partnerships to new geographies, we work in close partnership with national and local governments and the communities they represent. SCN tools and policy models are used across the world, in cities from Australia to North Macedonia, from Lebanon to the United States, and from Kenya to the United Kingdom.

Our aim is to ensure that every city can design, deploy and deliver effective response to these complex challenges in close partnership with the communities they represent. To support cities, ISD offers a range of expertise and services:

Design policy and strategy
From de-radicalisation programming to youth engagement strategies, we ensure that local responses address local needs.

Build local prevention infrastructure
Working from the ground up, we establish local coordination bodies that unite groups across society and sectors to identify and address community tensions.

Deliver data, tools & expertise
We help cities access the latest research and best practice from across the network through our Online Members Hub. Our SCN Hate Mapper provides cities with data, building out their own digital observatory to correlate online risks with offline behaviour.

Connect local and global partners
The SCN acts as a bridge by advocating and creating strong working relationships between local and national governments, and providing vital resources to civil society to partner with city halls.

Train and build capacity
We train mayors, city officials, local services and communities to diagnose and respond to local risk factors through our exchange programmes and local, regional and global events.

“We have now the Strong Cities Network, connecting local officials around the world to share their experiences and, importantly, their best practices. For the first time, there is a global platform for those on the frontlines to learn from each other.” Former Deputy Secretary of State;
current Secretary of State, Antony J Blinken, in 2016

Launch of the Strong Cities Network, UN General Assembly, 2015

Strong Cities Network Global Summit, Aarhus, Denmark, 2017

ISD’s Strong Cities Network team

Eric Rosand
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Eric Rosand

Interim Director of the Strong Cities Network

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Eric Rosand
Eric Rosand

Interim Director of the Strong Cities Network

Eric is the Interim Director of the Strong Cities Network. He has nearly two decades of experience working on international counterterrorism and countering violent extremism issues, including as a senior counterterrorism and countering violent extremism official in the U.S. Department of State. There, he played a leading role in developing and launching a number of multilateral platforms, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, GCERF, and the SCN. Among other roles, he previously served as legal and counterterrorism adviser at the US Mission to the UN in New York and a co-director of the Global Center on Cooperative Security. In addition to his current affiliation as a non-resident Senior Associate Fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, Eric has held similar appointments at the Brookings Institution and NYU’s Center on International Cooperation.
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.
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.
Duaa Khalid
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Duaa Khalid

Senior Grants Manager

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Duaa Khalid
Duaa Khalid

Senior Grants Manager

Duaa Khalid is Senior Grants Manager at ISD, responsible for all grants management including reporting and compliance for all the projects at the organisation. Duaa has experience working with non-profit organizations 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).
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Senior Manager at ISD, where she leads on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education through the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities programmes. Kelsey has developed strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging, working closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also has worked, through Young Cities, to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. She is the 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. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

Anisa Harrasy is a Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa Manager at ISD, where she works across the Strong Cities Network and Young Cities Sub Saharan Africa programming. This work entails designing and delivering project activities with both youth and local government stakeholders. The activities range from capacity building workshops, grant management and supporting locally-led PVE initiatives. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development and networking in Sub Saharan Africa and specialises in promoting peace in East Africa. She is the co-author of the ISD reports Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. 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.
Charlotte Moeyens
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Charlotte Moeyens

Networks and Civic Action Manager

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Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Networks and Civic Action Manager

Charlotte Moeyens is a Networks and Civic Action Manager at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, leading much of ISD’s practitioner and civil society capacity-building work, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources. 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 assists with ISD’s and the Strong Cities Network’s research efforts to better understand the scale and scope of extremist content online. She is co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Lama El-Awad
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Lama El-Awad

Regional Manager at ISD for the Strong Cities Network (SCN)

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Lama El-Awad
Lama El-Awad

Regional Manager at ISD for the Strong Cities Network (SCN)

Lama El-Awad is a Regional Manager at ISD for the Strong Cities Network (SCN) in Lebanon and Jordan, working across both countries to provide support to SCN, subnational entities and local prevention networks to prevent and counter violent extremism. Lama is also responsible for managing member engagement in the Middle East region, including through city exchanges, practitioner workshops, and direct city consultations on local P/CVE strategy and practice. Lama is also a founding member of “Dawaer,” a Lebanese NGO committed to increasing the resilience of children and youth. Lama is also a trainer on child rights and peacebuilding, advocating for issues related to human rights, gender, diversity and peace, and has contributed to several campaigns such as the “Campaign against Child Marriage”, the “Petition and Complaint” campaign, and the reform of the civic education curriculum in Lebanon.
Simeon Dukic
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Simeon Dukic

Programme Manager, Strong Cities Network, Balkans & Central Asia

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Simeon Dukic
Simeon Dukic

Programme Manager, Strong Cities Network, Balkans & Central Asia

Simeon Dukic is a Programme Manager for the Strong Cities Network (SCN) in the Western Balkans and Central Asia. In his role, he strengthens national to local coordination and cooperation in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE), including helping set up multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary Local Prevention Networks (LPN) in SCN member-cities so that they can draft and implement tailored Local P/CVE Action Plans. Simeon was previously a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism (NCCVECT) of the Republic of North Macedonia where he helped draft the first National CVE Strategy. He is co-author of the ISD report "Community Resilience Study: Kumanovo, North Macedonia.
Tim Hulse
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Tim Hulse

M&E Manager

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Tim Hulse
Tim Hulse

M&E Manager

Tim Hulse is M&E Manager at ISD, working predominately on ISD's Strong Cities Network (SCN) and civil society facing projects. He develops monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems for a range ISD programmes in order to demonstrate the impact that ISD 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. He is the co-author of the ISD reports Community Resilience Study: Kumanovo, North Macedonia, Digital Citizenship Education: Programming Toolkit, and Innovation fund to counter hate and extremism in the UK. Tim 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.
Besim Dogani
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Besim Dogani

SCN Local Prevention Coordinator, Macedonia

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Besim Dogani
Besim Dogani

SCN Local Prevention Coordinator, Macedonia

Besim Dogani is a Local Prevention Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network (SCN), responsible for facilitating cross-municipal learning and sharing of best practices between the pilot and co-pilot cities in North Macedonia. He has been previously engaged with the Strong Cities Network as a consultant/project assistant responsible for recruiting municipalities to the network. He has served as a member and vice chair of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, a business advisor and PR Manager for the British Government’s “Know How Fund”, and worked with Washington DC’s Social Impact project to evaluate the integrated education in the Republic of North Macedonia in 2013.
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.
Ghida Elassaad
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Ghida Elassaad

Project Coordinator, Strong Cities Network, Lebanon and Jordan

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Ghida Elassaad
Ghida Elassaad

Project Coordinator, Strong Cities Network, Lebanon and Jordan

Ghida Elassaad is a Project Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network (SCN) in Lebanon and Jordan. She is responsible for coordinating the implementation of community based activities and capacity building activities for local stakeholders and partners. Ghida has been engaged previously in prevention of violent extremism, dialogue, peace building, relief, education and civic engagement programs in various projects in Lebanon.
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.
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

Jasmeet is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the YouthCAN and Young Cities projects. Jasmeet supports the delivery of the Youth Innovation Labs, manages the Communications for youth-related programming, and supports the development of new project activities and strategies. 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.
Joe Downy
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Joe Downy

Project Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

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Joe Downy
Joe Downy

Project Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

Joe Downy is a Project Coordinator at ISD for the Strong Cities Network (SCN). Joe is a recent graduate with distinction from the University of Sussex with an MA in Conflict, Security and Development. He specialised in Middle Eastern Politics, Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peace-building, focusing primarily on the geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War. He wrote his dissertation on the resilience of the Syrian regime in light of the civil war, which explored the structural conditions that enabled the regime to survive where other dictators fell during the Arab Spring. Prior to joining ISD, he was a Research and Communications Assistant for Children on the Edge, with voluntary experience with NGOs in the UK, Lebanon and Turkey.
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.
Will Baldet
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Will Baldet

Fellow

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Will Baldet
Will Baldet

Fellow

Will Baldet MBE is a Fellow at ISD. He also serves as a Regional CVE Coordinator in the UK and a Senior Advisor to the UK Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy. He has been a practitioner in Countering Violent Extremism since 2008, working in both policing and policy. In 2020 he received an MBE for his counter terrorism work as a Prevent Coordinator protecting communities in the UK. It was in this role that he has developed and managed projects to empower civil society responses to radicalisation with a particular focus on youth, women and education. Will has been a consultant for the Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and is a member of the EU-funded Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Europe and has supported Governments with the development of their national CVE programmes, including the Netherlands, Malta and Kazakhstan. He appears regularly in the media, including BBC News, Channel 4 News, BBC Newsnight and Sky News and writes for several online media outlets. He is also a Policy & Practitioner Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR).