Rawshan Ara is the founder of the Global Center for Innovation and Learning. She and her spouse Sakil Malik co-founded GCFIL in the mid-1990s in Bangladesh, with a modest proposal for Waste Management in Dhaka City. Rawshan has worked in the Child Welfare System in the USA with International Social Services. She is currently working with Howard County Public School System as an Elementary Teacher. Rawshan has a Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Dhaka University in Public Administration. She is also trained in Educational Technology.
Sakil Malik, a veteran of work in international development, is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Center for Innovation and Learning. He has served as Vice President of Global Development at World Learning Inc., and Director for the Reading within Reach (REACH) Project and Global Reading Network (GRN) funded by USAID recently. He has more than 20 years of experience in international project management, focused on literacy, social and human development and human rights. His portfolio at Creative Associates as the Senior Associate/Director was $100 million across five countries; Tanzania, Timor Leste, Cambodia, India and Tajikistan. Before arriving at Creative, he was the Director of Global Operations at the International Reading Association (now ILA) in Washington, DC, where he led program management of literacy projects and provided strategic leadership and direction to the Executive Team. He has successfully won and administered funding from government and corporate funders, including USAID, UNESCO, Pearson Foundation and Nokia Corporation. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Maryland, USA, a Master’s Degree in Economics from Aligarh University in India, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Dhaka University in Bangladesh. He is a certified project manager with CIPM, CMMP and MPM certification.
Mary Ciambrone is our Advisor for Professional Development, bringing over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, design and execution of professional development training programs. Recognized for leading process improvement and business change initiatives, Mary specializes in providing leadership in strategic planning, aligning training programs with strategic goals, and measurement and evaluation of training outcomes. Mary has worked with USAID project implementers and local affiliates in the United States, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania, delivering high-quality training geared towards the unique needs of local populations. She has led numerous professional development programs both domestically and internationally, online and in-person, to audiences ranging from 30 to 22,000. Mary was also director of Professional Development and Conferences at the International Reading Association (now ILA).
Kate earned a B.A. in Sociology from Manhattan College and an M.A. in Special Education- Learning Differences from American University. She brings a diverse background in education with over 18 years of experience in the field of education and youth development. She has worked in public, and private schools and has held the role of learning specialist in independent schools in Maryland, Virginia, San Francisco and currently Boston, Massachusetts. She has provided support to students diagnosed with language-based learning differences, emotional disabilities, ADHD, ADD, speech and language deficits, autism spectrum disorders and physical disabilities. In addition to her work in the school setting, Kate has worked as an outside provider working for herself when she founded Your Red Balloon, LLC and more recently Kate’s Learning Bridge. Kate excels at working in small groups or in a one-on-one setting to provide instruction and intervention in reading and writing for the primary years through secondary school. Supporting teachers in the classroom to differentiate their teaching and engaging parents and caregivers has been a vital piece to her success with the students she has worked with throughout her career. She has also worked as an education consultant focused on education and development and worked on projects for the International Literacy Association (ILA), Room to Read (RtR) and has been a peer grant reviewer for the Department of Education and the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) competitions. She is passionate about making the world a more equitable place for all and teaching as many children to read as she can reach.
Darrell Freund has over 20 years of experience in the fields of public financial management (PFM) and good governance reform, institutional strengthening (functional and expenditure reviews, diagnostic assessments, capacity needs assessments), enhancing intergovernmental relations, and improving service delivery. He has provided technical assistance to clients in over 20 countries in the education, social development and protection, human development, health, and other sectors. He has provided technical consulting services to multilateral organizations like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, bilateral organizations including USAID, DFAT, GIZ and DfID, and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Machinery of Government (MOG) program. Darrell has extensive experience developing and delivering formal capacity development and training programs, and he has designed training of trainer programs that have helped countries sustain technical assistance beyond the life of the programs he has supported. He earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University in the City of New York, and he began his international development career when he served as an Aquaculture Extension Agent for the Peace Corps in the Congo Republic.
Dr. Zeeshan Faruqui is the Director of Interventional Psychiatry, a division of Keystone Behavioral Health, at Chambersburg PA. He also manages an outpatient Psychiatric clinic serving patients with Opioid addiction, severe mental illness and other psychiatric disorders. He specializes in Transcranial magnetic stimulation and ketamine treatment for treatment-resistant depression. Dr. Faruqui completed his residency training in Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond Virginia. He also worked as a Medical Director for FQHC Westbrook Health in Parkersburg WV. He has extensive experience in Transcranial magnetic stimulation, ketamine therapy for treatment-resistant depression, severe mental illnesses including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders, opioid addiction, alcohol addiction, medication-assisted treatment and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Naser Azad is our Advisor for Communications and Knowledge Management, bringing more than 10 years of experience in planning, designing, and executing communication strategies for large multinationals and non-profits. He is acknowledged for his exemplary contribution to organizational growth through brand-aligned marketing and communication programs. Naser provides strategic guidance to GCFIL in growing its presence through innovation and communication with the right audiences. He has worked for MNCs such as Nestle, British American Tobacco, Berger, Teach For Bangladesh in Bangladesh, and Ivory Business Solutions, Schulich School of Business in Canada. Naser loves mentoring youth in any form, whether as an Adjunct Professor at BRAC University in Bangladesh and as a student mentor at York University in Canada. Naser has completed a Master of Marketing degree from Schulich School of Business, York University, an MBA & BBA from North South University, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Naser is currently based in Toronto, Canada.
Saherah Luhnat Noor is our youngest member of GCFIL. Based in Bangladesh, she is the communication officer, creative officer and webmaster of GCFIL. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Independent University Bangladesh. Saherah is also a professional graphic designer, content researcher and project manager with 4 years of experience. She has a personal blog called EconoHeart where she writes and create contents on economics.
As the co-author for the 2018 State of Diversity in Global Social Impact report, Ms. Mahesri is both an experienced international development expert with more than 15 years of experience in global development and DE&I expert with nearly 10 years of working on DEI-type initiatives using liberatory frameworks to unlock transformative potential and impact. She is a skilled facilitator, expert in training design, and has experience conducting organizational development work both as internal staff for an organization and as an external consultant.
Wasima was born in Afghanistan and now she is a proud Afghan American. Ms. Asadi is working with the CEO as Program Assistant for all global programs. She has an Associate degree in English literature from PGCC in Maryland, studying general IT at PGCC. She is pursuing her Bachelor Degree at PGCC at present.
Nawshin is an experienced and published researcher in the field of social sciences and economics. She has obtained two Master’s degrees in Research Methodologies and Quantitative Methods and Economics from University of California, Los Angeles and University of Dhaka, respectively. She has a demonstrated history of working in the think-tank industry in South Asia and has worked on multiple projects in collaboration with international organizations such as the World Bank, the European Union and the United Nations. She is skilled in statistical data analysis, data management and academic writing. Her research interests include public policymaking, education development, and sustainability analysis. Apart from research, she is also skilled at project management and has organized and participated in multiple press briefings, media briefings and national budget analyses.
Dr. Jainisha Chavda is an accomplished mixed methods researcher with over seven years of experience in the field. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy from Michigan State University (MSU) and has established a research portfolio encompassing a wide range of topics, including datafication in education, school choice, gender and youth issues in education, secondary education, and institutional partnerships in higher education. Dr. Chavda has served as a lecturer of international studies at Pandit Deendayal Energy University and worked on a number of development projects in India with renowned organizations such as WAPCOS, Adani Foundation, and SEWA. She is passionate about leveraging research to transform global education policy discourses, investments, and practices.
Shahana Sharmin is a highly experienced Intrapreneur and industry professional in Bangladesh, with 18 years of diverse experience in both private and development sector industries. She has worked in telecommunications, financial institutions, information communications technology, startups, youth cohorts, international donor-funded projects, and non-profits such as BRAC and Relief International. Shahana’s expertise lies in effective program management, agile leadership, partnership coordination, business development, and financial management. She has focused her work on youth and adolescent development, skills development, education, resilient livelihoods, community-led interventions, and economic empowerment. She has also been involved in complex backgrounds and emergency responses for development and humanitarian purposes. Her competencies also include leveraging technology, pursuing innovation and sustainability for creating collective social impact. Beyond her professional engagements, Shahana actively participates in various organizations and committees. She holds positions such as Committee Member of the Youth Working Group and the Livelihoods and Skills Development Sector in the Food Security Cluster. She is also involved as a co-founder of Volunteer Opportunities Worldwide, a board member at Field Ready Bangladesh, a council member at Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), a member of the Expert Network by the World Economic Forum, a juror at Startup.Network, and a mentor at Youth Co:Lab by UNDP. Shahana holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Madurai Kamaraj University, India. She is certified in Project Management from the Bangladesh Institute of Management and holds a Creative Problem Solving/NLP – SOIF Coach Certification from TakeCharge. She has received training in Design Thinking for Innovation, Agile Management, Mobile Financial Services, Non-academic Skills Development, and USAID’s Rules & Regulations, Grants and Cooperative Agreements, and Sub-award Management/Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Plan. Originally from Al-Ain, Abu-Dhabi, U.A.E., Shahana currently resides in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her contributions to the development sector and her dedication to empowering the nation’s youth are ongoing and significant.
Central Asia and Eurasia
Gulsanam Karimova – psychologist by education and expert, consultant, trainer by nature. Her clients include MOPE staff (Ministry of public education), TTI (Teachers’ training institutes), School administrators and teachers, Leaders, Librarians, Psychologists. Gulsanam Karimova has more than 20 years of experience in teaching and training, and more than 10 years of experience in international project management. She managed a number of international educational projects: RWCT (OSI), ITLM (AED USAID), ICT in schools (ADB), Development of Rural areas (ADB), School quality and management (GIZ), Improving Pre-Primary and General Secondary Education (World Bank). Gulsanam earned an MA in philology (Russian and English languages), psychology and HR and she is a certified trainer and certifier of RWCT (reading and writing for critical thinking), ITLM (interactive teaching-learning methods), Instructional design and Mentoring programs.
Latin America and Caribbean
Adelina Arellano Osuna is Distinguished full Professor at the University of The Andes where she was founding Director of the (CILE) Center for Research in Foreign languages Literacy / multilingual/ bilingual and director of graduate studies. She is author/editor of different publications on literacy, biliteracy education., including predictable early literacy books. Her research emphasizes the connections between reading and writing from a psycholinguistic approach. Including bilingual Biliteracy education. Sociopsycholinguistic literacy in the disciplines, and improvement of reading achievement. She has delivered workshops and seminars via distance and permanent education working as visiting professor in universities of 24 Latin America countries including. Spain, Puerto Rico and U.S.A. She has been keynote speaker in many international events , global Conferences on literacy and bilingual bicultural education. Dr. Arellano Osuna is past Board Member of the International Literacy Association. (ILA).
Sarah Kistner is pursuing a master’s degree in international education policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. She graduated from Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and minors in Spanish and international development. She has more than five years of experience working in the fields of international development and education, and she has a wide range of foreign and domestic experience. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in a service-learning project in the Dominican Republic, which gave her the inspiration to join the United States Peace Corps upon graduating and begin her career in international education. After volunteering as a Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge Teacher Trainer in Colombia’s Andean region for a year, she came home and continued to pursue her passion for language learning and exchange. She spent a year instructing bilingual kindergarten in Austin, Texas, before returning to Colombia to lead English teachers at a for-profit English institute. Her desire to fight for justice through education has been motivated by her students in Latin America and the United States, who have inspired her to pursue her master’s degree. She is eager to discover how education may be used to tackle world problems and promote peace.
Middle East and North Africa
Shaymaa Elgayar has over five years of experience in digital marketing, communication, data analysis, and public relations. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Univerisity of Ottawa in 2019. While in university, she worked with multiple student organizations. After university, she worked with Community and Non-profit organizations to promote a sense of community, provide service to the broader community, and promote and provide education in Conflicted-affected regions.
Samia Elbassiouny is an Associate Professor specialized in Arabic language and Islam curricula and methods of teaching with over 25 years of eclectic experience that includes teaching, curricula development, supervising graduate students’ dissertations, developing and conducting workshops and training programs, preparing grants proposals, and project management consultation. Dr. Elbassiouny has taught in Universities and institutes, and managed various projects in both the Middle East and North America. Her research interests relate to Reading and Literacy, Teachers of Adults, Training Teachers programs, and Teaching Arabic Language for Non-speakers.
Ali Sharwan is an accomplished business development professional with expertise in grants management, policy, and business strategy. He has raised and managed funds totaling $56million for international NGOs like Oxfam, Global Communities, and NFDHR. As a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at Michigan State University, Ali honed his leadership and networking skills. With a master’s in international development, he is a skilled communicator and problem solver, dedicated to driving transformative change globally. Ali’s strategic mindset and unwavering commitment have made a significant impact on NGOs and communities, promoting sustainable growth and inclusivity. He continues to be a driving force in the field of business development and development, striving to create positive change and foster a better world. Ali joins GCFIL team as a Research and Development Team Leader for the MENA region.
Md. Shahidul Islam, B.A. (Hon’s), M.A (Geography & Environmental Science) has 32 years working experiences in the development sector that includes 25 years in managerial positions with two reputed lead national NGO, namely BRAC, Dhaka Ahsania Mission. He had leaded Education Sector of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), Bangladesh from September 1994 to October 2021 as Deputy Director (Head of Education, TVET) and Joint Director (Chief of Education, TVET). He is the innovator of DAM Ganokendra (People’s Organization), community led sustainable model of NFE. He also a core innovator of Multi-Grade Teaching Learning Approach (MGTL) for OOSC. This MGTL model has been accepted by Bangladesh Government for the education of OoSC.
S M Sadeq is a professional media and social activist with a proven track record of mass communication, public relations, youth leadership and dedication to multidisciplinary activities across Bangladesh. Predominantly, He has been carrying more than 9 years of experience in mass media and communication. He has been working on co-curricular activities since starting his university. From the beginning, he worked for several student organizations. In 2018, he was recognized as a Global Youth Ambassador of Youth Leadership award by GCFIL, USA in 2018 for his extraordinary contribution to excel research and innovation within the student community in Bangladesh. He has established the concept of `Research Society’ in Bangladesh for inspiring young researchers. He is currently leading the expansion of this organization among all public universities in Bangladesh. Specifically, Sadeq is proficient in human resource management aspects, knowledge of mass media, communication and journalism, efficient in public relations, leadership and capable of working under pressure independently with minimum supervision.
Nafiz Khan has more than 28 years of experience working in the field of education and development. Also experienced in teachers’ development, project planning, program evaluation, networking, journal publication, book/article writing, organizing conference etc. He worked in various NGOs like the BRAC, Dhaka Ahsania Mission and its different sponsored organizations. Ranging from working extensively in the grassroots, developing and implementing modules for providing education services to disadvantaged groups to leading policy dialogue and reforms at the national level, Nafiz worked with Asia Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO (ACCU), Japan for maintaining regional network of Literacy Resource Centers (LRCs), UNESCO Bangkok and Coordinate International Literacy Association’s Bangladesh Chapter for teachers’ development. He implemented Global Literacy Professional Development Network (GLPDN) project in Bangladesh, inclusion of ICT in the Community Level, sector-wide approach of planning in education sector, project on adaptation of climate change in the coastal region etc. He has evaluated literacy programs in Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and Mali. He has teaching experience in the Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology and Khanbahadur Ahsanullah Teachers Training College. He published a quarterly journal ‘Classroom Teaching’ in English and Bengali. He wrote books on literacy and teachers development. He translated books and articles from English to Bengali. He wrote hundreds of reading materials, articles and stories published in different newspapers and journals. Writing is his passion since his boyhood. Nafiz Khan organized national and international workshops, seminar and conferences of teachers and educators. He earned Ph.D degree in Education from Newport University and dual Masters from the Department of Botany of Rajshahi University and Masters of Education from the Institute of Education and Research of Dhaka University.
Pakistan and Afghanistan
Sabir Farhat did his Master’s degree in Political Science and Law Graduation. Started professional career in the banking sector in 1972 and actively took part in trade union movements in different positions from Branch Secretary to Secretary General of All Pakistan Federation of Labour. He secured a diploma in Industrial Relations from ILO International Training Center Italy, and Certificate in Labour Laws from Ruskin College Oxford, UK. He proceeded on early retirement from banking sector, lastly as Branch Manager and formed a NGO Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization as its one of founding members in 1998. He twice represented the UN General Assembly Special Session in New York, USA and was the only delegate of Civil Society Organizations to represent in the UN Global Forum on Human Trafficking in Vienna, Austria. He represented a large number of International / Regional/ National events. He has around 46 years experience in the social development sector. Mr. Sabir Farhat, inducted as Secretary General in Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO) in 1998 as one of its founding members and presently working as Executive Director. He has extensive skills & experience as social development practitioner and has successfully implemented around 50 projects in his capacity as Team Leader.