Happy New Year!
It has been two years since we formed the Sitti International Advisory Board (IAB).
When we first put out a call for experts in social enterprise and relevant fields to join the first IAB cohort, we didn't know how critical this team of mission-driven individuals would actually be to Sitti. Then...the pandemic hit.
Since 2020, the IAB has been an invaluable source of support and mentorship to us throughout our organizational growth and development, as well as through the unforeseen challenges.
Today, we're pleased and fortunate to announce our second cohort of IAB members for the 2022-2024 term. We are grateful to have had so many talented and respected individuals come forth in this past year's selection process.
In addition to seven new members, we have two returning members from our previous IAB cohort. Each member comes to the table with a wealth of expertise in their respective field/s, as well as a proven commitment to the goals of Sitti: gender equality, fair work opportunities and refugee self-reliance overall.
The Sitti International Advisory Board works closely with our executive team to keep track of the big picture and mission of Sitti, while providing strategic insight towards the growth and development of our social enterprise. Our 2022-2024 IAB members bring a unique and diverse set of backgrounds and expertise in business development, brand strategy, corporate governance, organization design, financial management, impact measurement and management, innovation and social entrepreneurship, community development, international development, stakeholder engagement and materiality, strategic partnerships and systems-change thinking.
Samer Abdelnour - Samer is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Business School and former Lecturer at the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London (UCL). His research, broadly speaking, examines social enterprise interventions in complex institutional settings; most of his field research has taken place in Sudan and Southern Sudan. Samer has served on the board of advisors of the Restart Network, a Rotterdam-based social enterprise providing coding training to refugees, and Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, a think tank he co-founded. Prior to joining UCL he was an Assistant Professor of Social Enterprise at the Rotterdam School of Management.
Dima Alashram - Dima started her career managing the operations of a grassroots nonprofit organization in Jordan focused on community development. This experience has led her to understand the complexities of creating, and measuring change in general, and social impact in specific. She then moved to the corporate sector and joined Aramex in Dubai, the Middle East’s leading logistics company, as a Sustainability Leader, where she worked on the company’s commitments towards environmental, social and governance goals. After that, she joined Sustainable Square, a boutique consulting firm in Dubai, where she was the Head of Sustainability Advisory Services. She worked with c-suite teams at large-scale organizations to develop their sustainability strategies, measure impact, and produce annual sustainability and impact reports. In 2020, Dima co-founded Tidal Impact, a coalition-based impact financing and development firm driven by social, environmental, and financial performance. Through its focus on investing and advisory, Tidal Impact aims to democratize impact measurement and management. Dima holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Jordan and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware. She received executive education in leadership, organizing and change at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Dr. Ann Armstrong - Dr. Armstrong received her Ph.D. from the Rotman School of Management. In addition to co-authoring two textbooks on organization behaviour and design with multiple updates, Ann has co-authored two books on the social economy of Canada and the United States. She has written articles on a variety of subjects from greening curricula to measuring impact in the social economy. Ann teaches in undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs in Canada and abroad. As well, Ann serves as the Academic Director of a program for Internationally Educated Professionals who have come recently to Canada and was the academic director of a program that links graduate students with non-profit boards.
Natasha Freidus (she/her) - a social entrepreneur with two decades of experience applying human-centred design for social good and a long-standing commitment to refugee and migration-related issues. She believes strongly in the potential of technology to solve global challenges when developed in partnership with affected communities. With experience in the public, non-profit, and private sector, Natasha is comfortable in a wide range of contexts. She is the co-founder and CEO of NeedsList, a tech company creating solutions to power more efficient, more sustainable action. Our vision is a world where humanitarian aid is locally-powered, tech-enabled, and grounded in dignity. Natasha is a long-time advocate and ally of refugee-led organizations and is proud to be welcoming newcomers through Canada's private sponsorship program. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.
Joe Highland - Joe is the Board Chairman of The Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF), a non-profit organization that equips Afghan students with academic scholarships complimented by mentorship and financial support, to pursue projects in Afghanistan that improve the lives of the Afghan people. Throughout his life, injustice towards people and risks to the environment have been strong and consistent concerns. Joe was fortunate to work for Ralph Nader and the Environmental Defense Fund after completing his Ph.D. in biochemistry. He has also done research at the National Cancer Institute, taught and done research at Princeton University and was CEO of ENVIRON a worldwide environmental consulting firm.
Tania Jordan - Tania is Senior Programme Advisor at the World University Service of Canada. Tania has over 15 years of experience in international development and project management, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Currently, Tania is managing projects in Jordan and Iraq, which focus on youth and women's economic empowerment, vocational training, and linkages to employment. Previously, Tania worked as Program Director at Canadian Leaders in International Consulting (CLIC), an international development consulting firm based in Ottawa. Prior to her work in Canada, Tania was based in Amman, Jordan where she assumed a number of senior-level positions at the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, a youth empowerment NGO, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Tania also worked with Save the Children where she managed a youth education program in three Palestinian refugee camps. Tania holds a MA in Medical Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a BA in Social Anthropology and Development Studies from the University of Sussex, UK.
Juliana Philippa Kerrest - Juliana has a background in entrepreneurship and technology. She earned her BA from The Johns Hopkins University, her MBA with a Certificate in Sustainability from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. Juliana started her career serving with AmeriCorps, working with immigrant women entrepreneurs. She then went on to found her own company, an eBook lending service. While working at Amazon, Juliana helped small businesses across the country run on the company’s platform. Most recently, she was Chief of Operations and Financial Management for Nuru, a Congolese solar energy startup based in eastern DRC. In her free time, Juliana enjoys reading and collecting books, creating through a variety of art mediums, and being an aunt to seven nieces and nephews.
Russ Stoddard - Russ is the founder and CEO of Oliver Russell, a Boise, Idaho-based social impact branding consultancy. He works at the confluence of business and social responsibility and is a long-time leader in the growing B Corp movement. He provides clients with brand strategy and consulting services that help social enterprises compete more effectively in the marketplace and is recognized as an expert in transformative new business models for social impact. Russ is the author of the Amazon bestseller, “Rise Up – How to Build a Socially Conscious Company,” and a frequent contributor to Sustainable Brands, Conscious Company Media, B The Change, and Real Leaders. Since the pandemic began in 2020, Russ has co-founded Unit Co, a platform for measuring and reporting impact; a new brewery, Works Progress Administration, a public benefit corporation; and City of Good, a nonprofit addressing hunger and fair employment. He and his wife, Sarah Lunstrum, live on a small organic farm in Boise with their two dogs, Roux and Kali.
Mohamad Sawwaf - is the Co-Founder & CEO of Manzil, the only Canadian Islamic FinTech that manufactures and distributes Halal financial solutions which currently include mortgages and investment funds. Mohamad holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Management as well as a second Masters focused on Corporate Governance from the Henley Business School (UK) and is currently wrapping up his Doctorate in Islamic Finance. He regularly consults the UAE government on Islamic Finance practices and is considered one of the leading authorities of Islamic Finance in Canada. He’s also the Chair of the Advisory Council of UNHCR Canada where his focus is to lead the council, oversee the Young Leaders Committee, and build relationships with the private sector to increase refugee employment and financial resources required to assist in their settlement.