Talent Pool

Athena Consortium is increasingly asked to provide suggestions for people to fill consultancy and long-term roles. From September 2018 we are offering this as a specific service and maintain a repository of up-to-date information on specialists. Examples include:

Louise Allen is an experienced women’s rights and women, peace and security advocate having worked alongside women, Indigenous and refugee human rights defenders and civil society in Australia, in the Pacific and at the UN both in Geneva and New York. From 2014-August 2018, she was the Executive Director of the New York-based NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, a coalition of 18 NGOS, which conducts analysis, advocacy and monitoring, and calls for the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda by the international community. Louise is a seasoned advocate and spearheaded various campaigns and facilitated over 20 civil society briefings at the UN Security Council. Previously she led the advocacy efforts of Amnesty International Australia for six years; and prior to that was second in charge of the Government Relations and Public Affairs Practice at Hill & Knowlton Australia, an international public affairs and public relations consultancy. Louise started her professional career as a media advisor for the Queensland State Police Service. She graduated with Merit in a Master of International Relations from the University of Sydney.

Vanessa Farr has been Lead Researcher on the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's Middle East and North Africa 1325 project since its inception. She holds a PhD from the School of Women’s Studies at York University (Canada). Vanessa was the first global Gender and Conflict Advisor at UN Development Programme’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention (2007-08) and then Social Development and Gender Advisor at UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (2008-2012). Prior to that, she was lead editor and senior gender advisor on the UN’s Integrated DDR Standards, first published in 2006. With particular focus on Africa and the Middle East, she has also published widely on issues related to gender and armed conflict, including on Palestinian, Yemeni and Afghan women and their respective peace processes and Libyan women and the revolution. She is the co-editor of two books: Back to the Roots: Security Sector Reform and Development (2012) and Sexed Pistols: The Gendered Impacts of Small Arms and Light Weapons (2009).

Theresa de Langis is an independent researcher and senior consultant on women’s human rights with a focus on the Asia region. Based in Cambodia since 2012, she has worked in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. She specialises in normative frameworks on gender-equality commitments as part of transitional justice and development strategies, engaging with governments, the UN and civil society around CEDAW and the UN Security Council WPS agenda. In 2013, she launched the Cambodian Women’s Oral History Project to collect life-story testimonies of women survivors for the historical record. Theresa holds a PhD from the University of Illinois (USA) and has undertaken training on negotiations and dispute resolution from Harvard University, on nonviolent direct action from Fletcher University, on truth-telling and transitional justice processes from the International Center of Transitional Justice, and on documenting human rights abuses through life stories through the Center for Oral History at Columbia University. She is currently an Affiliate Fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies and adjunct faculty at American University of Phnom Penh.

Joyce Neu is a conflict specialist and Founder and Senior Associate of Facilitating Peace, a consulting network. Joyce worked for the Carter Center and she led or took part in high level mediation efforts in Bosnia, Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, and Uganda. She has direct experience of national dialogue processes (Central African Republic, Comoros), unofficial dialogue processes (Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Estonia, Kenya, Pakistan), conflict analyses (Albania, Georgia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka), and gender inclusion in peace processes (Macedonia, Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Zimbabwe). Joyce was the founding Executive Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego where she co-created the Women PeaceMakers programme. Before launching Facilitating Peace, she was Team Leader of the first UN Standby Team of Mediation Experts, assisting Special Representatives of the Secretary-General. Joyce holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Southern California, Penn State University, Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland), Emory University, and the University of San Diego. Joyce was a senior Fulbright scholar in Poland and a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.

Rebecca Peters is an international expert on firearm regulation, violence prevention, survivor assistance, and gender equality. A lawyer and journalist, she was the first director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the global movement against gun violence and the official civil society coordinator for the United Nations small arms process. During the 1990s she led the grassroots campaign in Australia that secured comprehensive world-leading reform of the gun laws, followed by a substantial reduction in gun violence. Rebecca is a specialist on armed violence trauma and recovery having completed a research thesis on survivors of gunshot injury, a group often overlooked in discussions on gun violence and long-standing association with the Surviving Gun Violence Project and Asociación Transiciones, a Guatemalan disability organisation working with survivors. She is active in the field of Women Peace and Security; supporting IANSA's project with the UN on gender and small arms. Rebecca has been a consultant to international agencies and NGOs including the World Bank, Amnesty International, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children. She has been awarded two of her nation's highest honours: the Australian Human Rights Medal and the Order of Australia; as well as the inaugural Public Health Impact Award of the Australian Public Health Association. Rebecca is based in Guatemala.

Wynne Russell is an independent researcher and consultant focused on conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys and the prospects for engaging male survivors of sexual violence in efforts to end violence against women and girls. Her publications include a briefing paper for the Sexual Violence Research Initiative on care and support for male survivors; a piece on male-directed sexual violence in conflicts for Forced Migration Review (Volume 27, 2007) is also available in French, Spanish and Arabic. She has been an invited speaker at an OCHA research directions meeting and MSF’s annual Humanitarian Congress. Wynne also has conducted evaluations of development and humanitarian assistance programmes for USAID and Kerkinactie, with special focus on conflict sensitivity. She complements her research and consulting with work for the Tasmanian Council of Social Service, advocating for low-income and disadvantaged Tasmanians. Wynne holds a PhD in diplomatic studies from the Australian National University and lower degrees from Yale and Brown Universities, and has taught at Charles Darwin University.

Kumudini Samuel is the co-founder and former Executive Director of the Women and Media Collective, Colombo; co-founder of the INFORM human rights documentation centre, Colombo; and a member of the Civil Rights Movement, Sri Lanka. Kumi has worked on issues of ethnic conflict and peace since 1979 with alliances such as the Movement for Inter Racial Justice and Equality and Women for Peace. As a member of the Sub Committee on Gender Issues established to advise the plenary of the Sri Lankan peace talks in 2002-03, she has expertise on peace process design. Kumi is on the Executive Committee of DAWN, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, and is responsible for its work dealing with political restructuring and social transformation. With an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Colombo, she has published widely in the areas of feminist social movement histories and conflict and peace.

Caitlin Williscroft specialises in inclusion and peacebuilding, having most recently worked in Myanmar at the Paung Sie Facility (PSF), a multi-donor trust fund established to support peacebuilding and social cohesion. As the PSF's Inclusion and Analysis Adviser, Caitlin spearheaded and managed a specialised stream of funding, called the Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) window, aimed at boosting financial support to women's civil society to advance gender inclusion in the country's peace process. This has yielded important outcomes of global relevance about how to operationalise participation and inclusion. While at the PSF, Caitlin managed a publication series called "Contributions to Sustainable Peace" where three seminal reports on conflict actors, dynamics and policy pathways in Myanmar, focusing on women, youth and civil society, were published. Prior to joining the PSF, Caitlin has held several gender advisory and programme management roles spanning Africa and the Caribbean, working with government, civil society and INGOs. Caitlin is an adept advisory, skilled at parsing global trends and evidence and tailoring advice and support to country context. For instance, following the completion of Caitlin's research on gender sensitive policing in Rwanda, the Rwanda National Policy requested her inputs to inform the development of their gender policy. Caitlin holds a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies (distinction) from the University of St Andrews where she won a prize for best thesis in the School of International Relations for her dissertation on gender sensitive policing in Rwanda.

Mireille Widmer has over 15 years of experience in community security and armed violence reduction. Fluent in both English and French, she has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to Côte d’Ivoire via the Southern Philippines, Haiti, the Central African Republic and Somalia/Somaliland, both with UN and NGOs. She specializes in the development of gender-inclusive armed violence reduction programmes and policies, and has more recently developed expertise in urban security provision and governance. Mireille has contributed chapters, reports and policy briefs for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Small Arms Survey, the Geneva Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and the Surviving Gun Violence Project, among others. From 2014 to 2016, she worked at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding on a large research project examining barriers to - and opportunities for - broadening participation in peace processes. Mireille holds a degree in international relations from University of Geneva, a Masters in Peace and Conflict studies from University of Sydney, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Development Studies at University of Sussex.

To find out more about our consultants or to be considered for entry into the Talent Pool please email us at info (@) athenaconsortium.org