Advisory Board Members

Amb. Frederick Barton
Amb. Rick Barton is a lecturer of public and international affairs and co-director of the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative (SINSI) at Princeton University. For more than 20 years, he played a leading role in U.S. development and foreign policy, working to improve responses to conflict in more than 40 of the world’s most unstable areas. He served as the first assistant secretary of state for conflict and stabilization operations from 2011 to 2014, U.S. ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York from 2009 to 2011, and co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at CSIS from 2002 to 2009. He previously served as deputy high commissioner for refugees at UNCHR and was the founding director of USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives. His book, Peace Works - America's Unifying Role in a Turbulent World was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018. He holds an M.B.A. from Boston University and a B.A. from Harvard College.

Prof. Melani Cammett
Prof. Melani Cammett is Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government and director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She also holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Prof. Cammett's books include Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon, which won the American Political Science Association (APSA) Giovanni Sartori Book Award and the Honorable Mention for the APSA Gregory Luebbert Book Award; A Political Economy of the Middle East (co-authored with Ishac Diwan); and The Politics of Non-State Social Welfare in the Global South (co-edited with Lauren Morris MacLean), which received the Honorable Mention for the ARNOVA book award. Her current research projects explore "toleration" and reconciliation after ethnoreligious violence, development, and identity politics. Prof. Cammett has published numerous articles in academic and policy journals, consults for development policy organizations, and is the recipient of various fellowships and awards. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Joel Charny
Joel R. Charny was the founding executive director of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) USA. He retired in 2021 after a 40-year career in the humanitarian and development sector. At NRC USA, he was responsible for providing overall leadership to the organization, which focuses on fundraising and humanitarian advocacy in the United States on behalf of Oslo-based NRC. Mr. Charny previously served as the vice president for humanitarian policy and practice at InterAction, the alliance of U.S.-based relief and development organizations, and the vice president for policy with Refugees International, a Washington-based humanitarian advocacy organization. Prior to these roles, he worked in Cambodia for four years as deputy program manager with the CARERE project of the United Nations Development Project and with Oxfam America for 16 years. He holds an M.A. from Harvard University and an A.B. from Brown University.

Helen Lackner
Helen Lackner is a visiting fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations and a research associate at SOAS University of London. Her most recent book is Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State, published in the United States in 2019 as Yemen in Crisis: The Road to War.  Her next book, Yemen: Poverty and Conflict will be published by Routledge in early 2022. She is a regular contributor to Open Democracy, Arab Digest, and Oxford Analytica, among other outlets. She has spoken on the Yemeni crisis in many public forums, including in the UK House of Commons. Her earlier career as a rural development consultant took her to more than 30 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe, where she worked on a wide range of projects, including agriculture and irrigation projects in Syria. In recent years, she has refocused on in-depth analytic work and writing. She now mainly writes about the crisis in Yemen, a country with which she has been involved since the early 1970s and where she lived for more than 15 years between the 1970s and the 2010s.

Prof. Ellen Lust
Prof. Ellen Lust is the director of the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) based at the University of Gothenburg, which she originally founded at Yale University in 2013. She is also a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. She was previously a faculty member at Rice University from 1997 to 2000 and Yale University from 2000 to 2015, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Yale University, and a visiting scholar at the Institute of Graduate Studies in Geneva and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at NYU. Prof. Lust’s current research examines the role of social institutions in governance. She is also leading GLD’s work on the development of a tool to systematically gauge sub-national variations in governance. She received her Ph.D. in political science and an M.A. in modern Middle East and North African studies from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Michael Mason
Dr. Michael Mason is the director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environment. He is also an associate with the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at LSE. From 2008 to 2009, Dr. Mason served as lead consultant for a UNDP project developing a climate change adaptation strategy for the Palestinian Authority. Since then, he has undertaken environment-related research on Lebanon, Northern Cyprus, the Golan Heights, and Iraq. In addition to articles in a wide range of academic journals, he had authored and/or edited five books. He is co-editor and contributing author in the forthcoming volume, The Untold Story of the Golan Heights (2022). Dr. Mason earned a Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. from Cambridge University

Dr. Robert Springborg
Dr. Robert Springborg is a non-resident senior fellow of the Italian Institute of International Affairs and an adjunct fellow at Simon Fraser University. In 2016, he was the Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Until 2013, Dr. Springborg was professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and program manager for the Middle East for the Center for Civil-Military Relations. From 2002 to 2008, he held the MBI Al Jaber Chair in Middle East Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where he also served as director of the London Middle East Institute. Prior to 2002, Dr. Springborg was director of the American Research Center in Egypt. In 2003, he founded and remains a regular editorialist for The Middle East in London magazine. Dr. Springborg has published numerous books, including Political Economies of the Middle East and North Africa, Oil and Democracy in Iraq, and Family, Power, and Politics in Egypt. He received a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Michael Talhami
Michael Talhami is a senior program manager for critical infrastructure and essential services in the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Previously he was the ICRC’s urban services adviser in the Water and Habitat Unit where he oversaw humanitarian support to water and electricity service providers that aimed to strengthen the resilience of essential services to the combined effects of conflict and climate change. Before that, he worked in the Middle East for 12 years, part of it with the ICRC as a regional water and habitat adviser and the other part as a senior policy adviser addressing issues pertaining to the management and governance of water resources in conflict settings, as a consultant. Prior to working in the Middle East, he had a career as an environmental engineer in Canada, the United States, and parts of Oceania. Michael holds a master’s degree in environment and development from King’s College London with a specialization in water resources and water policy with a geographic focus on the Middle East, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental and water engineering.