Who We Are

Staff and consultants

Gerard Mc Hugh | President

Gerard Mc Hugh is the founder and President of Conflict Dynamics International (Conflict Dynamics). Gerard is a humanitarian entrepreneur with over 20 years of 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.

Abdirashid Mohamed Abdi | Senior Consultant, Somali Program

Abdirashid Mohamed Abdi’s work with Conflict Dynamics’ Somali program supports high-level facilitation, political analysis, and outreach. Abdirashid previously served in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia as Minister of Commerce from 2009 to 2011. From 2004 to 2012, he was a Member of Parliament in the Somali Federal parliament. In 2001 and 2002 he served as the Deputy Speaker of the Puntland Parliament. He is a highly respected former politician, with extensive experience in both politics and business. He has worked with the European Union, the World Bank, and the Government of Djibouti.

Rukiya Abdulrahman | Program Officer, Somali Program

Rukiya Abdulrahman is the Program Officer for the Somali Program. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in Gender and Development Studies (Nairobi University) and a Masters’ Degree in Peace and Conflict Management (Kenyatta University). She also has a Graduate Certificate in Peacebuilding Leadership (Eastern Mennonite University, USA). Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics, 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, and has worked closely with several government and non-government stakeholders within Kenya and the IGAD member states in implementation of response initiatives. She also worked as a Gender Research Assistant at International Organisation for Migration (IOM, Nairobi) where her work included developing training manuals, research and reporting on gender relevant issues.

Joe Belliveau | Program Director, Humanitarian Access and Negotiation

Joe Belliveau joined the Conflict Dynamics team in June 2013 as Senior Program Manager working on the Humanitarian Access Initiative. Joe has extensive operational experience with Médecins Sans Frontières 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.

Meghan Costello | Research Assistant, Peacebuilding

Meghan Costello is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she focuses her studies on public international law and gender analysis. Meghan served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda, where she taught English and assisted with the national transition from French to English through resource development for health care professionals and teachers. She also ran several girls education and empowerment programs there. Meghan worked for several years with the Peace Corps as a recruiter in Chicago, where she formulated an online recruitment strategy that successfully increased the percentage of applications from diverse candidates and those with specialized skills. Meghan holds a BA in Political Science and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Liz Gaere | Senior Advisor, Peacebuilding

Liz Gaere is Team-Leader for Conflict Dynamics’ work on political accommodation in the Republic of South Sudan. She also works on Conflict Dynamics’ 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 Conflict Dynamics 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.

Jennan Al-Hamdouni | Research Assistant, Humanitarian Policy 

Jennan Al-Hamdouni is a Research Assistant for Conflict Dynamics’ Humanitarian Access and Negotiation Initiative, supporting the Humanitarian Access and Negotiation Support Unit. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics, 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.

Suzanne van Hooff | Program Officer, Sudan and Somali Programs

Suzanne van Hooff is a Program Officer for the Sudan and Somali Peacebuilding Programs. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2015, she worked with several research institutes and international NGOs, 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 peace processes, transitional justice, and the Horn of Africa, in particular the Sudans and Somalia. Suzanne holds a law (LLM) degree in Public International and European Law, and masters in Political Science and Modern History from the University of Amsterdam.

Christopher Isajiw | Senior Development Specialist, Development

Christopher Isajiw brings many years of business development, fundraising, and marketing expertise from a diverse variety of industries in the private, government, and NGO sectors. Chris holds a BA from York University, as well as a Graduate Business Management Certificate from Harvard, and a Masters of Science in International Affairs with a Concentration in Conflict Management from Northeastern University. Chris spent over a decade working in investment management and financial services, in a variety of roles including business development, sales, and operations. Chris has successfully transitioned to consulting work in international development. Chris spent a year overseas as a Business Advisor to Ugandan NGOs and the U.S. government while serving with Peace Corps Response. Chris is also a published author and writes articles on topics of international affairs and business. Chris is fluent in several languages including Ukrainian, Russian, and some Bantu, with a passion for learning new languages and cultures.

Karen Lambert | Senior Advisor, Development

Karen Lambert is a Senior Advisor for Development. From 2004 to 2012, Karen 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 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.

Roger Middleton | Program Director (a.i.), Somali Program

Roger Middleton has led Conflict Dynamics’ team working on political accommodation and reconciliation in Somalia and Somaliland since early 2016. He travels frequently to locations across Somalia and Somaliland working with partners across government and civil society. Roger joined Conflict Dynamics in May 2013 as Senior Program Manager for the Somali Program. Before joining Conflict Dynamics, Roger worked with Oxfam in Somalia as Policy and Advocacy Lead, working on issues related to peacebuilding, humanitarian delivery, and sustainable livelihoods. Before that as a consultant researcher he coordinated work on the Horn of Africa for Chatham House with a focus on Somalia and the Sudans. 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. Roger speaks French, and is slowly learning Somali and Yoruba.

Patricia Morris | Program Officer, Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative

Patricia Morris is a Program Officer for the Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative. She brings to Conflict Dynamics experience in program design and management, media relations, strategic communications for national and human security issues, conflict analysis, and fundraising. Prior to Conflict Dynamics, Patricia was a consultant at the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, Beyond Conflict, and West Point Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, and formerly, a Herbert Scoville Peace Fellow in Washington DC.  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.

Terry Muchiku | Program Administrator, Somali Program

Terry Muchiku is the Program Administrator for the Somali Program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Project Management among other security courses. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics 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.

Katie Murray Research Assistant, Children in Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative

Katie Murray is a recent graduate of the University of Essex’s School of Law, LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Her interests include the practical application of international law in the context of armed conflict.  She recently completed an internship with Global Rights Compliance where she specialized in enhancing international law compliance and provided case analysis on the state of human rights and justice in Ukraine. She has experience with refugees, torture survivors, and asylum seeker legal rights and previously volunteered at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.

Ariela Rosenberg | Research Assistant, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism 

Ariela Rosenberg is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, studying conflict resolution, human security, and gender studies. Her areas of particular interest include atrocity prevention, peacemaking, countering violent extremism, and gender, peace and security. She wrote her graduate thesis on the reintegration of foreign fighters in Western countries, with a focus on ISIL in the U.S. Ariela has interned at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the human rights and Africa divisions. She also served as a Graduate Intern at Search for Common Ground in Jerusalem, Israel, where she helped devise programs to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Prior to Fletcher, she worked in the private sector on U.S. fiscal policy and energy and industrials policy. Ariela holds a BA in intellectual history and English literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kirsti Samuels | Senior Advisor, Peacebuilding

Dr. Kirsti Samuels is an attorney practitioner with over 14 years experience in constitution building, governance, mediation support in 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.

Kirsti 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.

Simar Singh | Senior Program Officer, New Frontiers of Humanitarian Action

Simar Singh develops, coordinates and manages various aspects of Conflict Dynamics’ work pertaining to the New Frontiers of Humanitarian Action program area. She also works on the Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative, the Humanitarian Access Initiative and the Humanitarian Negotiation 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 global-level 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 previous 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.

Emmanuel Tronc | Senior Program Manager, Humanitarian Access and Negotiation

Emmanuel Tronc joined CDI in July 2016 as a Senior Program Manager on Humanitarian Access and Negotiation. He brings extensive experience in conflict settings, medical and humanitarian emergency response, and networking and dialogue with State and non-State actors. Emmanuel also works as a Senior Advisor for a Swiss development organization and as an independent consultant for the Swiss FDFA. Prior to CDI, Emmanuel worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from 1997 to 2016 as Head of Mission in several countries, including Liberia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and extensively in Afghanistan. In 2004, he joined MSF’s International Office as a Humanitarian Advocacy and Representation Coordinator and represented MSF among major actors in the evolving aid system. Emmanuel is a trained economist and holds graduate degrees in economics and political science.

Elizabeth Wright | Research Officer, Peacebuilding

Elizabeth Wright is the Research Officer for the Peacebuilding program area, where she is responsible for developing Conflict Dynamics’ research methodologies, conducting applied research on governance and peacebuilding, and advancing systems for program analysis, design, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ADMEL). Previously she served on Conflict Dynamics’ South Sudan team. Elizabeth’s professional expertise is in conflict resolution, women and governance, and organizational effectiveness. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2012, Elizabeth worked in program management at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. She has also worked with what is now UNWomen on implementation of Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security), the Center for Democracy and Community Development in East Jerusalem, and Polaris, an anti-human trafficking organization. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the Fletcher School School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College.

Board of Directors

Gerard Mc Hugh (Chair)

Chris Saunders

Allison Spaxman