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FOUNDER Christine Williams worked as an urban warfare expert and instructor during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 to 2006. After observing the effect of war on innocent civilians and particularly children, she saw that despite best efforts by other organizations, children were still being harmed and exploited in conflict. More needed to be done.
Enter the social media revolution. The explosion of online networking meant that even by the smallest organizations in developing countries could connect with each other. Christine decided it was time to get everyone talking. Organization to organization, individual to educator, student to researcher, people to people. Sharing ideas, strategies, lessons learned. And have it all in one place where people could access the data, discuss and collaborate. In 2008 it started as an idea, which morphed into a blog and two years later Child Soldier Relief Foundation was born.
Christine graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Urban Planning in 2001, where she won the Gitelson/Meyerowitz Human Rights Award from the Center for the Study of Human Rights and the Charles Abrams award for Best Thesis for her graduate thesis. Christine worked with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network and IFPRI – The International Food Policy Research Institute after she graduated. Before Columbia, she worked at Harvard University for the Center for Urban Development Studies.
MANAGING DIRECTOR Leslie Giamo has an MA in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. Her studies focused primarily on finding solutions to help marginalized youth populations. She has done extensive research on DDR programs for child soldiers and would one day like to run a program dedicated to the protection, education and reintegration of child soldiers. Prior to taking on this position she spent a year in Rwanda teaching English and designing curriculum at Akilah Institute for Women, a non-profit organization committed to educating impoverished women and providing them with the skills to work in the hospitality industry. She has also taught in Indonesia and China and has traveled throughout Indonesia and East Africa.
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH PROJECTS Kate Davey is Co-founder of findingDulcinea.com, a free educational and reference website, where she worked since August 2006. Prior to that, Kate worked for in The Hague, The Netherlands, where she focused on legal research and news analysis. Kate has also worked as a reporter for The Branford Review and performed research for the Center for the Study of the Presidency. Kate has a B.A. in from Providence College and a Masters in from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her thesis focused on the need for Disarmament, , and Reintegration programs specific to the needs of former girl child soldiers.
LEGAL INTERN AND DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH Sarah Pierce is a law student at the University of Iowa College of Law. In the past she has interned for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Common Ground, and the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado in Madrid, Spain. In the summer of 2009 she worked for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch in London. Sarah has a B.A. in English and Spanish from Grinnell College. Her senior thesis focused on international legislation on child soldiers.
OUTREACH INTERN Chanel Ruiz-Bricco is a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies where she is studying for a Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Security and Development. She graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Psychology. In 2009, she worked on a project for the United Nations to improve access to water for people in Rwanda. Chanel spent six months in Peru in 2008 volunteering at a residential facility for street children addicted to drugs. The majority of her research in graduate school has focused on how to improve DDR programs for child soldiers. Chanel has an international background having been born in Nairobi, Kenya where she lived for the first ten years of her life. She has an American mother and a Peruvian father and has traveled extensively in Africa, Europe and Latin America.
RESEARCH INTERN Kristen just completed her PhD in International and Comparative Education at the Curry School at the University of Virginia where she also taught graduate courses in the Social Foundations program. Her dissertation was on literacy programming at UNESCO. She is currently working as a global adviser to the new International University Center in Leogane, Haiti with the Jim Luce Foundation and on a literacy program for out of school youth in Haiti. She began my PhD studies at Teachers College in Columbia University where she focused on peace and conflict resolution as well as the education of children in post-conflict situations. She also have a master’s degree in anthropology from Oxford University.
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