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LEADERSHIP

Solange Bandiaky-Badji

President, Rights and Resources Group / Coordinator, RRI

Biography

Solange Bandiaky-Badji

Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji is Coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). She also serves as President of the Rights and Resources Group, the nonprofit coordinating mechanism of the RRI Coalition based in Washington, D.C. Bandiaky-Badji previously led RRI’s strategy for engagement in Africa with a focus on tenure rights reform. She built synergies around new strategic analyses, giving local and global actors a more strategic understanding of trends, issues, options, and gender in Africa. She also spearheaded RRI’s Gender Justice thematic program, and ensured the implementation of a global gender strategy on women’s tenure rights. Before RRI, she was with PartnersGlobal, where she led programs on access to justice, security sector reform, and peace-building. She has also worked as a regional expert on gender and climate change for the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) and the UNDP/ BDP Gender Team in New York. Bandiaky-Badji holds a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies from Clark University, Massachusetts and an MA in Environmental Sciences and in Philosophy from Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal. She has published and contributed extensively to research in relation to natural resource management, decentralization, local forest tenure reforms, and women’s participation in climate solutions and peace-building.

Alain Frechette

Director, Strategic Analysis and Global Engagement

Biography

Alain Frechette

Alain Frechette, PhD, is the Director of Strategic Analysis and Global Engagement at RRI. He has over 25 of experience in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and climate change—focusing on international development for the better part of the last two decades. Alain began his career with state and provincial forest and protected area agencies in the United States and Canada before pursuing strategic consultancies with multilateral organizations, development agencies, and NGOs such as IUCN, DFID, the World Bank, and various UN institutions across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Alan Landis

Chief Operating Officer

Biography

Alan Landis

Alan Landis has been advising, building, and growing enterprises in the DC area for more than 20 years. He specializes in organizational change, managing rapid growth, and aligning long-term vision with operational prioritization. Alan joined Rights and Resources Initiative in early 2018 as Chief Operating Officer (COO) where he will lead efforts to align the work of the programs, administration, and fundraising teams. Alan recently left the anti-human trafficking field where he managed all operational, programmatic and administrative teams as Polaris Projects’ Chief Operating Officer. Prior to Polaris, Alan served as a senior leader at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public where he worked directly with the founder and senior leadership on numerous initiatives including technology products, fundraising, and recruiting senior talent. Prior to joining Ashoka, he was the Executive Director of Corporate Strategy and Development at the Corporate Executive Board where, he oversaw product development, R&D, acquisitions, alliances and business line management. He also established and developed the company’s corporate philanthropy and employee volunteer management program.

Bryson Ogden

Director, Rights & Livelihoods

Biography

Bryson Ogden

Bryson leads the coordination and generation of analytical work in RRI’s Strategic Analysis and Global Engagement portfolio, with a focus on the connections between business, tenure, and the environment. Prior to joining RRI, he worked as a portfolio manager and equity analyst, covering the energy sector. He also consulted for the Kenya Forestry Research Institute in Nairobi. Bryson holds a B.S. in International Business from the University of Arkansas, an M.P.A. in Environmental Policy, and an M.S. in Applied Ecology, both from Indiana University.

Carole Carlson

Director, Finance & Administration

Biography

Carole Carlson

Carole contributes to the institutional operations of RRG, the nonprofit coordinating mechanism of the RRI Coalition based in Washington, D.C., to ensure that they effectively and efficiently enable the RRI Partner, Collaborator, and program staff’s work to achieve tenure reform. Before coming to RRI, she worked for nearly 20  years in public accounting, specializing in nonprofit organizations. Carole is a Certified Public Accountant and also holds a master’s degree in business administration, with a specialty in international business.

Madiha Waris Qureshi

Senior Manager, Strategic Communications

Biography

Madiha Waris Qureshi

Madiha Waris Qureshi leads RRI’s global strategic communications program. She has extensive experience creating and managing communications for the international development sector. She began her career in Pakistan with The Citizens Foundation, one of South Asia’s largest nonprofits in education, where she led communications for the organization’s nationwide network of schools in low-income communities. She was most recently Manager, Communications for Impact(Ed), a nonprofit created by Discovery Inc. to produce media for social impact. Prior to that, Madiha served as a communications consultant with the World Bank. She also led RRI’s media relations and publications production between 2012-2015. She holds an M.B.A from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, and an M.A. in Interactive Journalism from the American University, Washington, D.C.

Omaira Bolaños

Director, Latin America & Gender Justice Programs

Biography

Omaira Bolaños

Omaira Bolaños is the Director of Latin America and Gender Justice Programs at Rights and Resources Initiative, RRI.  She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She is member of the Advisory Board of the Riverine rights, a research project investigating cases of granting legal rights to rivers. Omaira has 25 years of professional experience throughout Latin American working on topics related to Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities’ collective tenure rights, sustainable development, gender justice, watershed management, community forestry, community-based conservation, applied research and capacity development. She has developed research on Indigenous Peoples land rights struggles in the lower Amazon Brazil and Community forestry in Bolivia. In the last ten years at RRI, she has worked to strategically prioritize and support the Latin America Afro-descendant movement to advocate for the security of their collective tenure rights. She joined RRI in 2009.

Patrick Kipalu

Director, Africa Program

Biography

Patrick Kipalu

Patrick KIPALU coordinates and leads RRI’s engagement in Africa. He has strong background in natural resources management and human rights in Africa. He has experience supporting civil society organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, including on human rights, natural resources exploitation (lands, forests, and mines), and climate change. Prior to joining RRI, Patrick worked as Country Manager for Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Before that, he worked for the Africa Program at Bank Information Center (BIC), and for the Equity and Governance Program (EGP) at World Resources Institute (WRI). Patrick has a Master’s degree in Global Environmental Policy from the American University (AU) in Washington DC, and a bachelors’ degree in Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources Management from the University of Kinshasa in DRC. He speaks English, French, Lingala and Kikongo.

Rose Nierras

Director, Asia Program

Biography

Rose Nierras

Rose directs and coordinates RRI’s Asia program. She has extensive experience in governance programming aimed at supporting social movements of the most marginalized and excluded communities and civil society organizations to hold their governments to account. Across different geographies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, she has directed governance initiatives that supported a wide range of groups use various governance tools to improve government responsiveness and accountability to their citizens. Before joining RRI, Rose was the Director of Country Strategies at the International Budget Partnership (IBP), where she set-up, directed, and supported the design and implementation of country IBP programs. In a selected number of countries in Africa and Asia, IBP supported social movements to use budget analysis and advocacy to secure basic services for their constituencies. Rose also has extensive experience in the development and constant improvement of program support systems including planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning, and grant and sub-award management. Rose has a Masters degree in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

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STAFF

Alexandra Romero

Associate, Africa Program

aromero@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Alexandra Romero

Alex recently obtained her MA in International Development from the University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, in Colorado and joined RRI in July 2022. Before studying sustainable development, she received her Bachelor’s in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After her study of postcolonial history, she saw how the world’s collective memory forgets those who are the least supported, and the world stops listening to its most important testimonies. It’s because of this reason that she wanted to change her path to minimize this effect. At the University of Denver, Alex concentrated her studies on human rights, gender, and climate mitigation. She also completed an internship at Landesa’s Center for Women’s Land Rights where she supported the research for several projects on the economic, social, and political benefits of women’s inclusion in coastal economies.

Alpha Ousmane Sarr

Accounting Manager

asarr@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Alpha Ousmane Sarr

Carlos Arenas

Program Coordinator, Latin America

carenas@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Carlos Arenas

Carlos Arenas is the Program Coordinator, Latin America at RRI. He has extensive experience working in several Latin American countries on a broad set of human rights issues, including Indigenous People’s rights, women’s access to land, housing rights, access to justice, access to credit, climate displacement and planned relocations. He has worked as an Executive Director, Program Manager, and researcher for several nonprofit organizations based in Latin America and the U.S. He has also been a consultant with the UN-Habitat program, the NGO Displacement Solutions, and the Inter-American Development Bank. He holds a J.D. from the National University of Colombia and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chameka Thompson

Accountant, Finance & Administration

cthompson@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Chameka Thompson

Chloe Ginsburg

Senior Tenure Analyst

cginsburg@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Chloe Ginsburg

Chloe has supported RRI’s tenure data collection and analysis since joining RRI in March 2015. She also contributes to the Rights and Climate theme. She received her B.A. in environmental policy and politics from Drake University with a concentration in primate studies. During her undergraduate studies, she spent a semester in northeast Thailand studying social and environmental justice in the face of development and conducted field research on a chimpanzee population in Gishwati National Park in Rwanda.

Claire Mills

Executive Assistant

cmills@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Claire Mills

Claire joined RRI as the Executive Assistant to the President in June of 2022. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from American University, where her studies concentrated on the intersection of environmental sustainability and identity, race, gender, and culture. Prior to joining RRI, Claire held several internships in the nonprofit and government sectors, as well as working as an administrative assistant.

Daiana Gonzalez

Senior Associate, Strategic Communications

dgonzalez@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Daiana Gonzalez

Daiana is a communicator and multimedia storyteller from Colombia. She has 5+ years of experience working in Latin America, Europe and the US in organizations such as WWF Colombia, the International Land Coalition, and Le Monde Diplomatique Colombia. She has focused her career on Communications for Development and on the subjects of climate change, conservation, women, and rural peoples. Fluent in English, French and Spanish, she holds a Master’s in Territory and Development from l’École des Hautes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in France. She is also part of the Latin American Network of Young Journalists, Distintas latitudes; and the Latino Climate Council of the Hispanic Access Foundation.

David Kroeker-Maus

Senior Research Associate, Tenure Tracking

dmaus@rightsandresources.org

Biography

David Kroeker-Maus

David Kroeker-Maus has worked on RRI’s Tenure Tracking team since May 2019, supporting the collection, analysis and management of RRI’s tenure data, and providing support and guidance to other research initiatives. David has previously worked in Haiti, as a journalist and researcher; in Uganda, as a consultant for various development organizations; in the US, as a research assistant at the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, and as a regional organizer at Bread for the World; and now in Montreal, Canada. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from Bethel University (Minnesota, US) and an M.A. in Environment and Development from King’s College London (UK).

Francisco Pérez

Senior Associate, Latin America Program

fperez@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Francisco Pérez

Francisco Pérez is the Senior Associate for the Latin America Program. He has a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Oswego and an MA in International Development from American University. While in graduate school he completed his capstone conducting field research on the political ecology of industrial agriculture in communities in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica. Prior to joining RRI, Francisco was a Program Associate at the Center for International Private Enterprise, supporting a portfolio of youth entrepreneurship and democratic governance programs in Latin America. He also served in the Peace Corps as a youth development Volunteer in an indigenous community in the western highlands region of Guatemala, and as a Volunteer Specialist supporting the pre-service training of a cohort of maternal health and rural extension volunteers.

Jean-Ousmane Camara

Madagascar Facilitator

jcamara@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Jean-Ousmane Camara

Jean Ousmane CAMARA joined the RRI team as Madagascar Facilitator in February 2022. His professional relationship with RRI dates back to his time with the Malagasy government entity in charge of land reform. Jean Ousmane spent more than fifteen years in the Land Reform Coordination Unit where his last position was that of National Coordinator.
He has a degree in Accounting and Administration and has worked with various organizations in the tourism sector, environmental protection and rural development.
The knowledge gained from this diversified background has allowed him to focus on the accompaniment of Malagasy civil society associations in an organizational development process.

Johnathan Erves

Logistics & Technology Manager

jerves@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Johnathan Erves

Jonathan Tigabu

Associate, Communications

jtigabu@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Jonathan Tigabu

Kamala Thapa

South Asia Regional Facilitator

kthapa@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Kamala Thapa

Ms. Kamala Thapa belongs to the Magar Indigenous community in Nepal and is an Indigenous woman activist. She has more than 15 years’ experience working in different organizations on human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, advocacy and awareness programs for Indigenous land rights, climate change, disaster and natural resource management, and gender and social inclusion (GESI). Before joining RRI as South Asia Regional Facilitator, she worked with the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Research and Development (CIPRED) as an Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Facilitation Manager under the Tenure Facility Project in Nepal and was former Executive Director of the National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF). She earned her master’s degree in Natural Resource Management and holds a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Environment Management and a Certificate Level in Forestry (IOF). She closely follows GESI and CEDAW processes in Nepal and has been involved in many research projects focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ land rights, access to natural resources, and decision-making in Nepal.

Karelle Matchum

Associate, Africa Program

kmatchum@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Karelle Matchum

Karelle Matchum joined RRI in June 2022 as Associate, Africa Program. Prior to joining RRI, Karelle interned at the World Justice Project where she supported data collection process for the Qualified Respondents’ Questionnaires (QRQ) expert surveys administered in 140 countries for the annual WJP Rule of Law Index. Karelle has previously served as a Business Administration and Fundraising Intern at Vera Aqua Vera Vita, where she helped plan various fundraising activities such as the “Imagine a Day Without Water” virtual campaign to raise public awareness on the importance of water and the annual fundraiser event. As a native of Cameroon, Karelle is bilingual in French and English. She holds a B.A. from the University of North Texas in International Studies. Before moving to the United States, she earned a M.A. in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law from the University of Dschang in Cameroon.

Kendi Borona

Africa Regional Facilitator

kborona@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Kendi Borona

Kendi was born and brought up near a forest in the Kenyan highlands. It was because of the waters flowing from this forest that she did not have to walk for long distances to fetch water – a task expected of girls in her community. This forest and its critical watersheds was and is protected by elders through the application of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, providing water for community needs downstream. She obtained her PhD from the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry. She is a firm believer in the application of Indigenous Knowledge in the furtherance of just conservation regimes and sustainable community livelihoods. Over the course of her career, she has worked towards the integration of natural and cultural heritage into a concrete whole, and to locate communities firmly in their landscapes. She is a firm supporter of conservation that is geared towards creating a just society for all beings. More about her work can be found in her website.

Laura Valencia

Senior Associate, Asia Program

lvalencia@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Laura Valencia

Laura is part of the Asia Program as the Senior Associate. She comes to RRI with seven years of experience in South Asia working on forest rights and food sovereignty with social movements and non-profit organizations. She is currently pursuing her MA in Geography at the University of Toronto and has a BA in Global Development Studies from the College of Wooster. Her MA research focuses on India’s compensatory afforestation program and its impacts on shifting cultivators’ livelihoods and land rights in Odisha, India. Laura speaks Spanish and Hindi and has studied Kannada, Urdu, and Odia. She is grateful to her mentors for nurturing her commitment to feminist organizing and community-led social change.

Lorene Moran-Valenzuela

Senior Associate, Gender Justice

lmoran-valenzuela@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Lorene Moran-Valenzuela

Lorene Moran-Valenzuela is Associate of RRI’s Gender Justice Program. She has a Master’s degree in International Development, a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and certificates in Social Work Practice, Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender Studies. She has experience working in various fields such as human rights advocacy, migration, community development, and environmental sustainability. Her work in her home country of Canada has centered around refugee resettlement and sponsorship while her work globally in Uzbekistan, Kenya, Colombia, Cambodia, and Senegal has entailed supporting local community needs in conflict resolution, trauma healing, land and housing rights, project management and capacity building.

Matthew Gonzales

Grants Administrator

mgonzales@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Matthew Gonzales

Michelle Sonkoue

Africa Regional Facilitator

msonkoue@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Michelle Sonkoue

Michelle Sonkoue is an Agro-socio-economic engineer with a Master’s degree in Integrated Rural Development. Prior to joining RRI, she worked for the Forest Peoples Programme on identifying opportunities for promoting community conservation initiatives and for the National Land Coalition-Cameroon at the Centre for Environment and Development on issues of land governance, sustainable agriculture, forest biodiversity conservation and multi-stakeholder platform development. Her day-to-day work is guided by the values of justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized social groups and has contributed to: the promotion of justice in customary land governance for youth and women in Cameroon, the promotion of legal reforms targeting the recognition of customary land tenure in Africa, the adoption of good practices to ensure access to land for agro-sylvo-pastoral-halieutic purposes for youth and women in Cameroun; the awareness of the government of Cameroon on the limits of the law in securing customary land rights; the engagement of the private sector in dialogue and in improving the livelihoods of riparian communities of oil palm monocultures; the resilience of women farmers and youth farmers to climate change; the fighting against land grabbing; the improvement of the organizational and operational set-up of multi-stakeholder platforms in Liberia, Ethiopia and Cameroon. She joined RRI as a facilitator for the RRI Francophone Africa Program in April 2022.

Minerva Scott

Senior Finance Manager

mscott@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Minerva Scott

Monica Orjuela Vasquez

Latin America Regional Facilitator

mvasquez@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Monica Orjuela Vasquez

Monica is Sociologist with a master’s degree in Management and Conservation of Tropical Forests and Biodiversity, with more than 20 years of experience in national and international cooperation projects (GEF, Holland, CEPF) related to the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. She has worked with indigenous and Afro-descendant groups and civil society organizations in Colombia and other South American countries. She did her thesis on Governance for Community Forest Management in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala and the Bosawas Reserve, Miskito territory of Nicaragua.

Nicola Karcher

Manager, Donor Engagement

nkarcher@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Nicola Karcher

Nicole Harris

Senior Associate, Strategic Communications

nharris@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Nicole Harris

Nicole is RRI’s Senior Associate for Strategic Communications. She completed undergraduate and graduate studies in English literature, history and education. She has 8+ years of experience working in communications, training and project management, including as Managing Editor of Soliloquies Anthology, a bi-annual literary journal publishing poetry, prose, and creative non-fiction, and as a communications consultant for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). She’s also volunteered with Room to Read, a nonprofit organization supporting literacy and gender equality in education in Asia and Africa, and as an English second language teacher at a child labor school in Nepal.

Rachel MacFarland

Operations Manager, Finance and Administration

rmacfarland@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Rachel MacFarland

Rosa Peralta

Senior Associate, International Coalition Engagement

rperalta@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Rosa Peralta

Rosa lives in Montreal and joined the RRI as the Senior Associate of the Coalition and Strategic Networks program in early 2022. Prior to joining RRI, she worked at the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL), where she followed human rights violations throughout the continent, especially those related to extractivism affecting Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples and local communities, with special emphasis on women land defenders. She has a master’s degree in Development and Environment from the Federal University of Paraíba and worked several years in Brazil supporting the struggles of quilombo communities.

Sandra León Bolourian

Senior Manager, Programs & Strategic Response Mechanism

sleon@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Sandra León Bolourian

Sandra León Bolourian is Senior Manager, Programs & Strategic Response Mechanism at RRI. She manages the Strategic Response Mechanism Program and is responsible, among others, for ensuring the integrity of collaborative agreements with Partners and Collaborators, as well as other agreements. During her tenure at RRI, Sandra has been responsible for the administration of the Tenure Facility and the Country and Regional Program (CRP), as well as overseeing the administrative systems for CRP and the Global Programs. Sandra is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in administration, human resources, external relations, event planning, and public affairs in large international organizations and smaller non-profits. Sandra came to RRI from the World Bank’s Latin America Social Protection program. Prior to that, and following a 14-year career at INTELSAT, an intergovernmental cooperative of over 147 nations, she worked at Calvert Foundation, a non-profit investing in disadvantaged communities. She holds an M.B.A. in international business and a B.A. in radio and television, with a minor in sociology from George Washington University. She is fluent in English, Spanish, and French.

Shuda Jarboe

Associate, Board and Global Initiatives

sjarboe@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Shuda Jarboe

Shuda joined RRI as Associate, Board and Global Initiatives in October 2022. Prior to this position, they worked as the assistant to a consultant who conducted federally funded training programs on agriculture and food for international delegations. They recently obtained their BA in Chinese from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a particular focus on postcolonial studies in the Sinophone world.

Tim Derr

Senior Associate, Rights & Livelihoods

tderr@rightsandresources.org

Biography

Tim Derr

Tim coordinates RRI’s private sector engagement efforts to support the development and mainstreaming of economic development models that respect and strengthen community rights and livelihoods. Prior to RRI, Tim worked as a consultant and project manager on global development initiatives in Armenia, Macedonia, India, and Germany, with a focus on inclusive, multi-stakeholder approaches to environmental, economic, and social issues exacerbated by the climate crisis. Tim holds an MBA and Master of Global Affairs from the University of Notre Dame, with a specialization in sustainable and equitable community-led economies.