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New Frontiers in Humanitarian Policy
Professional Training
Humanitarian Access
IDPs and Mediation


Conflict Dynamics International develops and implements innovative strategies for conflict prevention and resolution, and for humanitarian policy relevant to conflict and other crises. Conflict Dynamics recognizes an increasing need for targeting the intersection between humanitarian policy and conflict resolution.

Conflict Dynamics explores new approaches to humanitarian policy and provides direct substantive and process-related support to conflict resolution activities in the international arena. Moreover, Conflict Dynamics takes a proactive, outcomes-oriented approach of identifying specific points at which substantive and process-related inputs can have the highest impact. In this way, Conflict Dynamics seeks to efficiently produce results that are high quality, timely and effective.

Conflict Dynamics International has designed three intersecting program areas to fulfil its mission. These three program areas are: Peacebuilding in Transition States, New Frontiers in Humanitarian Policy and Pressure Points for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.

With these goals in mind, Conflict Dynamics has established relationships with key players in the field of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and humanitarian action, and continues to collaborate with such organizations as the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Harvard University, Save the Children UK, and Mercy Corps' Conflict Management Group.

Who We Are

Gerard Mc Hugh, President

Gerard Mc Hugh is the founder and President of Conflict Dynamics International. Gerard is a humanitarian entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in international conflict resolution, humanitarian affairs and healthcare. With a passionate belief in people’s ability to bring about change in the world around them, Gerard focuses on using bold and innovative approaches drawn from different disciplines to make a difference in the lives of people affected by war and crisis.
Motivated by his experiences working in Iraq in the late 1980s and seeing the direct effect of conflict on people and societies, Gerard founded Conflict Dynamics in 2004 to function as an independent and innovative organization to prevent conflict and to alleviate humanitarian suffering resulting from conflict and crises.

Gerard has led the work of Conflict Dynamics in conducting direct mediation activities and in supporting several peace processes, mediation- and negotiation initiatives, including those on the Sudan and Somalia. He leads the organization’s development and application of approaches to political accommodation in situations of transition.

Gerard has authored/co-authored numerous articles, reports and resources for peace- and humanitarian practitioners – on a range of topics – including humanitarian negotiations, peacebuilding, mediation, and humanitarian access. Gerard is also the lead author of several publications in Conflict Dynamics’ Governance and Peacebuilding series.

Prior to establishing Conflict Dynamics Gerard worked as an Independent Consultant on humanitarian affairs and conflict resolution, and previously held an appointment as a Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Gerard is a graduate and Foundation Scholar of Trinity College Dublin and a graduate of MIT.  He holds degrees in political science, mechanical engineering, naval architecture, and mathematics from these institutions and also holds a professional qualification in nursing.

Kirsti Samuels, Senior Advisor, Peacebuilding

Dr Kirsti Samuels is an attorney practitioner with over 14 years experience in constitution building, governance, mediation support conflict contexts. She began working with Conflict Dynamics in 2010 and is currently the Senior Advisor for the Governance and Peacebuilding Program. Kirsti has specialized in countries in conflict, including working in Somalia, East Timor, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan. 

Previously, Kirsti was the Transition Processes Advisor for AECOM/USAID in Khartoum, Sudan (2010). In 2009 she worked in Baghdad, Iraq with the Iraqi Parliament, the Office of the Speaker, and Advisors to the Prime Minister. In 2007-2008, Dr Samuels set up and implemented the Constitution Building Program for International IDEA as Senior Program Manager. She was the lead legal expert involved in the shaping of the UNDP democracy and peace building project for Somalia in 2006. During 2003-2005, she headed up the State-building program at the International Peace Academy in New York, focusing on the challenges faced and the lessons learned from previous state-building experiences.

Dr Samuels has taught Leadership at Harvard University and Law at Oxford University, and has consulted to the World Bank, DFID, the US Department of State, the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations, among other influential institutions. She holds a Doctorate in Law from Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. Kirsti lives in Manhattan, and despite her many travels, she always looks forward to coming home to New York City.

Karen Lambert, Senior Advisor, Development

From 2004 to 2012, Karen Lambert was a Restorative Justice Specialist at Alternatives, Inc., a community-based social service agency. In that capacity, she worked with administration, communities and students at 43 Chicago Public School high schools to develop and implement school-based restorative justice practices. During the latter years at Alternatives, Inc. Karen focused on writing and implementing an experiential conflict management program for students in Kindergarten to 8th grade in Chicago's west and south side neighborhoods with collaborative non-profit community partnerships.

Karen is a nationally certified Trainer in Restorative Justice, having been certified by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). She is certified as a mediator by the Harvard Law School Mediation Program and the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution and taught Mediation and Restorative Practices as an adjunct professor at Governor's State University in 2009. Karen earned her BA from Miami University in Oxford, OH and studied at the Miami University Dolibois European Campus in Luxembourg and subsequently lived in Montpellier, France. Karen received her Master of Arts in Intercultural Relations with a concentration in intercultural conflict management at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and simultaneously completed the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Mediation Program. Prior to her graduate work, Karen worked in the fields of marketing and organizational development.

Karen lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two children.

Liz Gaere, Senior Advisor, Peacebuilding

Liz is Team-Leader for Conflict Dynamics' work on political accommodation in the Republic of South Sudan within the Governance and Peacebuilding Portfolio, based in the South Sudanese capital Juba. She also works on CDI's project promoting political accommodation between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, following the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. Liz joined CDI in September 2011. Since graduating from Oxford with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) in the mid-1980s, she has worked in the non-governmental sector as well as serving for twenty years in the UK public service including the Department for International Development (DFID), and has also recently worked with UNDP. She has broad expertise in leading international development programs with a specific focus on governance reform in fragile and conflict-affected states. Africa has been a key passion and focus of her career, including West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria), and South Sudan, where she has been based since 2006 working on a variety of developmental, peacebuilding and statebuilding initiatives. Liz's links with South Sudan date back to 1985, when she first visited Sudan as an undergraduate, returning just a year later to work in the Darfur Region, where she also met her South Sudanese husband Korby, with whom she has two daughters. Liz speaks Juba Arabic as well as French; she was awarded an OBE the Queen's 2009 Honors list in recognition of her contribution to peace and development work.

Paul Simkin, Senior Advisor, Somali Program

Paul began in August 2011 working on CDI's Governance and Peacebuilding in Somalia portfolio. His principal focus is on political accommodation in Somalia in partnership with Somali authorities, the UN and donor community. The project will give special attention to building links with Somaliland authorities, armed opposition groups and the ongoing constitutional process. Paul comes to CDI with extensive knowledge from East Africa and the Horn. Paul has worked with donors, the UN and NGOs principally in conflict and post-conflict scenarios.

Roger Middleton, Acting Program Director, Somali Program

Roger joined CDI in May 2013 as Senior Program Manager for the Somalia Program. Before joining CDI Roger worked with Oxfam in Somalia as Policy and Advocacy lead, working on issues related to peacebuilding, humanitarian delivery, and sustainable livelihoods. Before that he coordinated work on the Horn of Africa for Chatham House with a focus on Somalia and the Sudan's. Roger has published widely on issues of politics in the Horn of Africa, Piracy from Somalia, African Peace and Security Architecture and Africa's relations with the EU. He is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute and has degrees from Trinity College Dublin and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Joe Belliveau, Senior Program Manager, Humanitarian Policy

Joe Belliveau joined the CDI team in June 2013 as Senior Program Manager working on the Humanitarian Access project. Joe has extensive operational experience with Medecins Sans Frontieres managing programs over the past 13 years in a wide range of countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Iraq and Pakistan. In confronting the access challenges of these and other contexts, Joe has developed particular expertise in negotiations, context analysis, security management and Remote Management. He has also worked as a political risk analyst focusing mainly on conflict zones in Africa, and more recently has conducted research on humanitarian access challenges. Joe has also published on the problematic mixing of humanitarian aid with political agendas, and is currently pursuing a PhD in that area.

Simar Singh, Program Officer, Humanitarian Policy / Coordinator, Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative

Simar is a member of CDI’s Humanitarian Policy team. She is the coordinator of Conflict Dynamics’ Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative and also works on the organization’s Children and Armed Conflict Initiative. Simar’s professional expertise is in the area of human rights and humanitarian policy. Her work has primarily focused on policy development related the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2012, Simar spent four years working at the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, where she conducted research and advocacy on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in several contexts including: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Afghanistan, Nepal and Colombia.  Her work also focused on the development of the UN Security Council’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda. Simar holds a graduate degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College.

Patricia Morris, Program Officer, Humanitarian Policy

Patricia Morris joined CDI as a Program Officer for the Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative in March 2015. She brings to CDI experience in program design and management, media relations, strategic communications for national and human security issues, conflict analysis, and fundraising. Prior to CDI, Patricia was a consultant at the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, Beyond Conflict, and The Combating Terrorism Center, and formerly, a Herbert Scoville Peace Fellow in Washington D.C.  She holds an MSc in Comparative Politics Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics and a BA in Political Science and French from Wellesley College.

Rukiya Abdulrahman, Program Officer, Somali Program

Rukiya Abdulrahman is the program officer for Somalia. She holds a Bachelors degree in Gender and Development Studies (Nairobi University) and a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Management (Kenyatta University). Prior to joining CDI, she worked with the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), a collaborative effort of the IGAD Member States, whose main focus was targeted at mitigating and preventing violent conflicts in the sub-region. Her focus has been on conflict analysis on cross-border pastoralist and related conflicts. She has worked closely with several government and non government stakeholders who have been instrumental in implementing some of the recommendations given in her analysis.

Suzanne van Hooff, Program Officer, Sudan and Somali Programs

Suzanne van Hooff is a Program Officer for the Sudan and Somali Peacebuilding Programs. She holds a law (LLM) degree in Public International and European Law, an MSc in Political Science and an MA and BA In Modern History from the University of Amsterdam. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2015, she conducted policy-oriented research and analysis for several research institutes and international NGO’s, including International Crisis Group in Nairobi, the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research and the Conflict Research Unit (CRU) of the Clingendael Institute in The Hague. Her focus has been on the Horn of Africa, in particular the Sudans and Somalia.

Terry Muchiku, Program Administrator, Somali Program

Terry is the Program Administrator for the Somali Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Project Management among other security courses. Prior to joining CDI in January 2014, she worked with the NGO Safety Program as a Security Trainer in Somalia for two years. She also worked with COSPE in Mogadishu as a Logistics Officer. Terry has great knowledge on Security, Emergency Logistics and Operations that has given her the opportunity to work in East and Horn of Africa.

Elizabeth Wright, Research Officer, Peacebuilding

Elizabeth is the Research Officer for the Governance and Peacebuilding portfolio, where she is responsible for developing Conflict Dynamics’ research methodologies, conducting applied research, and advancing systems for program analysis, design, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ADMEL). She previously served as a Program Associate with the South Sudan team. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2012, Elizabeth worked in program management at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College.

Marin O'Brien Belhoussein, Research Assistant, Peacebuilding

Marin has worked on issues related to peacebuilding and conflict transformation throughout her career. Her professional experience spans policy development, program delivery, and applied research. Prior to CDI, Marin worked on crisis response at the United Nations Development Programme in New York. She previously supported the implementation of USAID-funded projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Chemonics International. Additionally, she has held a range of positions with non-governmental organizations in the United States, Lebanon, and Guatemala. Marin earned a B.A. from Haverford College and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. 

Jennan Al-Hamdouni

Jennan is a Research Assistant for CDI's Humanitarian Policy and Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative, supporting the Humanitarian Access and Negotiation Support Unit. Prior to joining CDI, she most recently worked with the US Peace Corps in Morocco to implement community health programs and facilitate gender advocacy projects with local governments. She has several years of experience in emergency medical clinics, community development, and children’s orphanages in the planning and implementing of medical and rights-based initiatives in the Middle East and Africa. Jennan is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence, with a focus on humanitarian assistance, confidence building, and armed conflict negotiations at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Political & International Communication and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, Publishing and Journalism from Emerson College in Boston.

Andrew Dusek

Andrew Dusek is a Research Assistant for CDI's Humanitarian Policy and Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative, supporting the Humanitarian Access and Negotiation Support Unit. Prior to joining CDI, he most recently worked with Search for Common Ground in Myanmar to support the organization’s conflict resolution and peacebuilding programming. He also possesses years of experience working in research institutions, startups, and civil society organizations focused on mass atrocity prevention and civilian protection in the Great Lakes region of Africa and Southeast Asia. Andrew holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on human security and international negotiation and conflict resolution from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He also holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism and Political Science from The University of Montana.


Board of Directors

Gerard Mc Hugh (Chair)

Allison Spaxman

Chris Saunders


Conflict Dynamics often takes on graduate and undergraduate interns at our Cambridge, MA office to support ongoing programs.  If you are interested in applying for an internship with our office please email