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 142 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.

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

Strong Cities Network Global Summit, Aarhus, Denmark, 2017

ISD’s Strong Cities Network team

Moustafa Ayad
Moustafa Ayad

Deputy Director, Technology, Communications, and Education

Patricia Crosby
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Patricia Crosby

Manager, Strong Cities Network

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Patricia Crosby
Patricia Crosby

Manager, Strong Cities Network

Patricia joined ISD as a Programme Manager leading on the SCN expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as part of its delivery of new pilot programmes in the regions. Under this new phase, Patricia will be responsible for strengthening sub-national governments’ capacity to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism (P/CVE). This includes developing context-specific training materials and tools, supporting national/local cooperation, facilitating whole-of-society approaches, city exchanges to share good practice, and direct policy and programming support to cities and sub-national governments. Previously, Patricia worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat’s CVE Unit designing and implementing government capacity-building projects on community policing, youth empowerment, and education and dialogue in the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia. Patricia has also worked for the Canadian Government focusing on crisis response, consular emergencies and MENA development programming. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalisation with a Minor in Political Science from the University of Ottawa.
Joe Downy
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Joe Downy

Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

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Joe Downy
Joe Downy

Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

Joe is a Project Coordinator for the Strong Cities Network at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. With a background in graphic design, Joe recently graduated 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.
Simeon Dukic
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Simeon Dukic

Programme Manager. Balkans & Central Asia, Strong Cities Network

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Simeon Dukic
Simeon Dukic

Programme Manager. Balkans & Central Asia, Strong Cities Network

Simeon Dukic joined ISD as a Programme Manager for the Balkans and Central Asia on the Strong Cities Network (SCN). His main responsibilities will be to increase SCN membership and engagement in post-Soviet Central Asian states. Moreover, he will work on strengthening central-local coordination and cooperation in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in the Western Balkans. Namely, Simeon will work on setting up a multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary Local Prevention Network in one of the SCN members, whose primary role will draft a tailored Local P/CVE Action Plan. Prior to his role at ISD, Simeon was a Project Associate at the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism (NCCVECT) of the Republic of North Macedonia. He supported the coordination of 22 Line Ministries and Institutions which are involved in the work of the NCCVECT, CSO groups, the international donor community and regional counterparts. Additionally, he was involved in the drafting of the first National CVE Strategy. Simeon 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 The Hague.
Daniel Hooton
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Daniel Hooton

Deputy Head, Strong Cities Network

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Daniel Hooton
Daniel Hooton

Deputy Head, Strong Cities Network

Daniel Hooton is Deputy Head of ISD’s Strong Cities Network (SCN), 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 holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol, and has a longstanding interest in devolution, borders and port cities.
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.
Martina Lappo
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Martina Lappo

Young Cities Coordinator

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Martina Lappo
Martina Lappo

Young Cities Coordinator

Martina Lappo is a Young Cities Coordinator at ISD, focusing in the West Africa region. Prior to joining ISD, 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.
Marta Lopes
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Marta Lopes

Manager, Strong Cities Network

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Marta Lopes
Marta Lopes

Manager, Strong Cities Network

Marta is a Manager at ISD, working on the Strong Cities Network (SCN). She supports local authorities in developing and implementing programmes and models in the SCN’s regions to ensure tailored bottom-up responses to local challenges posed by violent extremist movements. Prior to joining ISD in July 2018, Marta completed a traineeship at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in the Human Security Division. In previous positions she had the opportunity to work in several countries across Asia, in the US and in South Africa. Marta holds an MA in Conflict, Governance and International Development from the University of East Anglia. Her dissertation focused on local challenges and legitimacy issues in the peace-building process in Colombia, studying the interplay between state, civil society and local populations in the department of Chocó. Marta is bilingual French and Portuguese, and is also comfortable working in Spanish and German.