NED Welcomes Fall 2014 Fellows

WASHINGTON—The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is pleased to announce its Fall 2014 cohort of Reagan-Fascell, Hurford Youth, and Visiting Fellows. In residence are leading democracy activists, practitioners, journalists, and scholars from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burma, Ethiopia, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. 

Named in honor of NED’s two principal founders, former president Ronald Reagan and the late congressman Dante Fascell, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program seeks to expand the knowledge, broaden the perspectives, build the capacity, and boost the morale of some of the world’s most committed and courageous democracy activists and scholars. Based at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, NED’s research and publications arm, in Washington, D.C., the program has enabled over 200 fellows from more than 80 countries to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to work toward democratic change.

In collaboration with the World Movement for Democracy, the Forum also co-sponsors the Hurford Youth Fellows Program. Funded by the Hurford Foundation and based within the secretariat of the World Movement, the Hurford program seeks to build the leadership skills, enhance the organizational talents, and harness the potential of young democracy advocates from around the world.

The International Forum offers a collegial environment for fellows to take a step back from the pressures of their daily work; reflect on their experiences; conduct research and writing; compare notes with counterparts; consider lessons learned; and build ties that contribute to the development of a global network of democracy advocates. In support of international exchange, the Forum hosts an active calendar of events and facilitates connections between fellows and the academic, civic, media, and policy communities in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

For media inquiries, please contact Jane Riley Jacobsen at or at (202) 378-9700. To apply for a Reagan-Fascell Fellowship, click here. To apply for a Hurford Youth Fellowship, email For more information on fellowship opportunities at the National Endowment for Democracy, visit


Ms. Maliha AlShehab | Saudi Arabia | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Saudi Women: Status, Outlook, and Roadmap”
October 2014–February 2015

Ms. Maliha AlShehab is an accomplished writer and outspoken advocate for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. A prominent social activist and community organizer with experience in the field of gender, human rights, and democracy, she has served most recently as program officer for a Washington, D.C.–based organization focusing on women’s rights. Between 2006 and 2010, she worked as a columnist for Al Watan, a leading Saudi newspaper, where her writings drew attention to the situation of women in Saudi Arabia. She is also the author of the bestselling book Saudi Woman: Image and Voice (2010), banned in Saudi Arabia due to its controversial exposure of the plight of women. During her fellowship, Ms. AlShehab is exploring ways of bringing an end to discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia and providing them with opportunities to contribute meaningfully to civil society. As part of her efforts to raise awareness within the international community and call for change, she is writing a report on gender inequality in Saudi Arabia and developing a roadmap for empowering Saudi women.

Ms. Zin Mar Aung | Burma | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Promoting Women’s Political Empowerment in Burma”
October 2014–February 2015

Ms. Zin Mar Aung is co-founder of RAINFALL, a Yangon-based organization that empowers women in Burma through human-rights trainings and awareness-building at the community level. A former prisoner of conscience, she was arrested in 1998 for participating in the student-led democratic uprisings against Burma’s military regime and released eleven years later. In 2009, she formed a self-help group for ex-political prisoners and co-founded the Cultural Impact Studies Club to promote the idea that democracy is compatible with Asian culture. In 2011, she co-founded the Yangon School of Political Science, a NED-funded institution that educates young activists in the values of democracy. For her efforts to strengthen women’s rights, democratic values, and conflict resolution in Burma, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 by then–Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. During her fellowship, Zin Mar Aung is developing a roadmap for women’s political empowerment in Burma, with recommendations for how women may participate effectively in political life. She is also producing a training manual as a resource for women’s organizations in Burma.


Mr. Umed Babakhanov | Tajikistan | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Evolution of Political Islam in Tajikistan: From the Trenches to the Parliament–and Back?”
October 2014–February 2015

Mr. Umed Babakhanov is founder and editor-in-chief of Asia Plus, a leading independent media outlet operating in Tajikistan since 1995. Under Mr. Babakhanov’s direction, Asia Plus has emerged as one of the most reliable sources of information in the region, committed to strengthening the independent media sector and promoting dialogue through a range of news media, including a news agency, newspaper, FM radio, and a business magazine. In 2012, he launched “For a Tolerant Tajikistan,” an initiative that seeks to foster greater understanding between secular state institutions and the Muslim community through discussions on the role of Islam in society. In 2000, he founded an independent school of journalism and served for ten years as its first chairman. Over the past 25 years, he has been writing for Komsomolskaya Pravda, the Associated Press, the Moscow Times, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Eurasianet, as well as other media, covering the civil war in Tajikistan and political developments in Central Asia. During his fellowship, Mr. Babakhanov is tracing the evolution of political Islam in Tajikistan and examining whether Islamist parties can come to power under an undemocratic, authoritarian system.

Mr. Tabish Forugh | Afghanistan | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Strengthening Election Management Bodies in Afghanistan”
October 2014–February 2015

Mr. Tabish Forugh is chief of staff at the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), where he works to promote electoral education, build trust between the IEC and citizens, and articulate the mission of the commission. Since 2011, he has been a part of the decision-making team that has drafted electoral laws for the approval of Afghanistan’s parliament. Mr. Forugh previously served as spokesperson for the Afghanistan National Olympics Committee, where he developed communication policies and advocacy strategies for the promotion of sports diplomacy. An advocate of public participation in free and fair elections, he has written articles and given interviews on democracy, elections, and current affairs with BBC Persian Service, Channel 1, and Tolonews. During his fellowship, Mr. Forugh is preparing a set of policy recommendations for electoral reform ahead of Afghanistan’s May 2015 parliamentary and district council elections, including reforms to the IEC.

Dr. Altay Goyushov | Azerbaijan | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Secularism and Religion in Azerbaijan: Lessons from the First Azerbaijani Republic of 1918–1920”
October 2014–February 2015

Dr. Altay Goyushov is professor of Turkic history at Baku State University. He is also one of the leaders of the “Republican Alternative” (“REAL”) movement, which promotes liberal democratic concepts and values, and a frequent commentator on local and international media on issues relating to religion, history, and civil society in Azerbaijan. A noted scholar and public intellectual with an active social media presence, he has lectured at the Baku-based Free Thought University, a NED grantee, and has held prestigious fellowships and visiting professorships in Italy, France and the United States, including the Bourse Directeurs d’Études Associés at the Fondation de la Maison de Science de l’Homme in Paris, a Fulbright Scholarship at Georgetown University, and appointments at Sapienza-Università di Roma, UCLA, and the Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes. During his fellowship, Dr. Goyushov is analyzing the emergence of Islam and Sunni/Shia tensions in contemporary Azerbaijan, looking at the First Azerbaijani Republic as a case study for strategies in managing tensions between secularism and political Islam.

Dr. Leonid Gozman | Russia | Visiting Fellow
“Social Entrepreneurship as a Way of Overcoming Russia’s Social and Political Crisis”
October 2014–February 2015

Dr. Leonid Gozman is president of the Union of Right Forces and former co-chairman of the Right Cause Party (2008–2011). From 2008 to 2013, he served as director of humanitarian projects at RUSNANO, a state-owned enterprise that commercializes innovations in nanotechnology, and from 1999 to 2008, he was executive board member and representative for governmental and NGO relations at Unified Energy System of Russia (RAO UES). He was previously a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and professor of psychology and Russian area studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. An active participant in Russia’s democratic movement who has served as political advisor to Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar, he is also the author of eight books and is a lecturer at Moscow State University. During his fellowship, Dr. Gozman is exploring social entrepreneurship as a means for deepening civic engagement and democratic development in Russia.

Mr. Arthur Gwagwa | Zimbabwe | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“How Civil Society Engagement Can Strengthen Democracy in Zimbabwe”
October 2014–February 2015

Mr. Arthur Gwagwa is a human rights attorney who heads the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, based in London. In the nineties, he was among the first lawyers to offer pro bono representation to victims of rights violations through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights network. In 2002, Arthur fled to the United Kingdom, into exile, when his work of representing the politically persecuted and excluded during elections and the dispossessed commercial farmers during the land invasions brought him to the adverse attention of the authorities. While based in the UK, Arthur has represented refugees at the Refugee Legal Centre and has continued advancing the cause for human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe. He is an established advocate who has worked tirelessly to ensure that all voices are heard for the creation of an inclusive society. During his fellowship, he is working on a policy document on how enhancing civil society engagement can strengthen democratic culture and electoral integrity in Zimbabwe.

Ms. N’yella Rogers | Sierra Leone | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Harnessing Social Media to Combat Corruption in Sierra Leone”
October 2014–February 2015

Ms. N’yella Rogers is a human rights lawyer and legal officer at C.F. Margai & Associates, a law firm based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She has worked for several human rights organizations in Sierra Leone, including Advocaid, where she investigated cases of wrongfully convicted women on death row. As president of Fourah Bay College’s Human Rights Clinic between 2007 and 2009, she advocated for the enactment of national legislation protecting women and children and participated in the collection and analysis of primary data on women and juvenile protection, which eventually became part of Sierra Leone’s Child Rights Act of 2007. An outspoken women’s rights advocate, she won a scholarship to study international human rights law at Harvard University in 2011 and was selected to deliver the class commencement speech in 2012. Recognizing that interactive online technologies can lower barriers to citizen engagement in combating corruption, even in areas with limited internet infrastructure, Ms. Rogers is devoting her fellowship to exploring the use of an interactive technological media that would encourage citizens to utilize technology to address corruption in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Negaso Solan | Ethiopia | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“The Role of Democracy in Building a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia”
October 2014–February 2015

Dr. Negaso Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. His primary focus will be recommendations on how to build a democratic, multi-ethnic state in Ethiopia.

Mr. Rami Soud | Jordan | Hurford Youth Fellow
“The Role of Youth in Social Change”
August–December 2014

Mr. Rami Soud is vice president and director of international relations at the HIKAYA Center for Civil Society Development in Amman, Jordan. He is also director of the SMOW Center for Youth Thought, and has over five years of experience in project management and strategic planning in youth and community development initiatives. He has led a number of trainings on topics such as coalition building and youth empowerment, and recently assisted in the establishment of a community radio for youth in the MENA region. During his fellowship, Mr. Soud is organizing online discussions on youth movements and exploring how youth can best contribute to democracy promotion.

Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu | Vietnam | Reagan-Fascell Fellow
“Reflections on Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam”
July–December 2014

Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu is a leading constitutional scholar and legal advocate who has written widely on civil and political rights in Vietnam. Through a law firm established with his wife, Attorney Nguyen Thi Duong Ha, a leading human rights defender in her own right, Dr. Vu has challenged the ruling Communist Party’s monopoly over power and has encouraged citizens to stand up against the government’s unlawful acts. Most notable were his two lawsuits against Vietnam’s prime minister, his legal representation of disenfranchised communities and indigenous peoples, and his articles on human rights, territorial sovereignty and integrity, and proposed amendments to the Vietnamese constitution that would introduce a multi-party democratic system. For these activities, he was arrested on trumped-up charges and sentenced in 2011 to seven years’ imprisonment and three years of house arrest. Released in 2014 in the face of mounting domestic and international pressure, he continues to speak out on issues of national and international concern. During his fellowship, Dr. Vu is assessing the current state of Vietnam’s democracy movement and the vital importance of promoting human rights and the democratization of Vietnam.

Contact: Jane Riley Jacobsen
(202) 378-9700