NED Welcomes Fall 2017 Reagan-Fascell Fellows

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is pleased to announce its Fall 2017 cohort of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. In residence are leading democracy activists, practitioners, journalists, and scholars from Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Egypt, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Hungary, and Thailand. A list of the 2017-2018 Fellows and their full bios can be found here.

Named in honor of President Ronald Reagan and the late Congressman Dante Fascell (D-Fl.), whose bipartisan vision led to NED’s founding, 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 advocates. Based at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, NED’s research and publications arm, in Washington, D.C., the Reagan-Fascell program has enabled over 260 fellows from more than 90 countries to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to work toward democratic change.


Fall 2017 Fellows

Ms. Nana Ama Agyemang Asante   |   Ghana 

“Tackling Exclusion of Women’s Voices in Ghanaian Society: The Role of the Media”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Ms. Nana Ama Agyemang Asante is co-host of the “Citi Breakfast Show” (CBS), a highly popular, public-interest radio show broadcast daily on the Accra-based station Citi FM. She is also deputy online editor of Citi FM’s news website,, supervising the publication of timely stories and helping to direct national attention toward a range of social issues, including minority rights. During her fellowship, Ms. Asante is writing a report on the role of the Ghanaian media in encouraging women to participate in democratic processes.


Mr. Oludotun Babayemi   |   Nigeria  

“Digital Technologies and Accountability: The Case of West Africa”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Mr. Oludotun Babayemi is co-founder of Connected Development (CODE), an Abuja-based organization that uses online and offline tools to promote accountability and transparency in Nigeria. Through CODE’s Follow the Money project, he and his team track and advocate for the disbursement of funds for local communities. Mr. Babayemi is also lead development consultant with Clonehouse Nigeria, an organization that offers training on monitoring and evaluation. During his fellowship, Mr. Babayemi is working to produce a handbook on the potential of digital technologies to promote citizen engagement in democratic accountability.


Dr. Aurel Croissant   |   Germany   

“Routes to Reform: Civil-Military Relations and Democracy in the Third Wave”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Dr. Aurel Croissant is professor of political science at Heidelberg University in Germany, where his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, civil-military relations, and Asian politics. Since 2012, he has served as co-editor of the journal Democratization and also serves on the editorial board of the Asian Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Contemporary Southeast Asian Affairs. During his fellowship, Dr. Croissant is continuing his work on a book-length study of the many ways in which military officers constrain the authority of democratically elected civilian leaders.


 Mr. Turgut Gambar   |   Azerbaijan   

“The Role of Social Media in Democracy Movements”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Mr. Turgut Gambar is a founding board member of the NIDA Civic Movement, a Baku-based organization that seeks to promote democratization in Azerbaijan through nonviolence. He also helped to found the OL Youth Movement, a group that engages youth in democracy building, where he was part of the team that launched the Free Thought University Project, an online platform for lectures, debates, and discussion on politics, economy, and law.  During his fellowship, Mr. Gambar is analyzing the role of social media in advancing democratic struggles in authoritarian settings.


Ms. Maxine Tanya Hamada   |   Philippines   

“Crossover Leadership in Public Fiscal Management: A Political Strategy for Performance and Participation in Governance in the Philippines”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Ms. Maxine Tanya Hamada served most recently as the executive director of the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Democracy or iLEAD, a Philippine think tank focused on public fiscal responsibility, meaningful devolution, and defending civic spaces.  She is currently a member of the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy.  During her fellowship, Ms. Hamada is exploring the role of civil society in democratic change and working to produce an engagement strategy paper for Philippine activists on public financial management at the local and national levels.


Ms. Aya Hijazi   |   Egypt/United States  

“The Average Citizen’s Role in Reshaping the World”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Ms. Aya Hijazi is an Egyptian-American children’s rights advocate who, along with her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, founded the Cairo-based Belady Foundation (My Country: An Island for Humanity) in 2013 to support Egyptian street children, steer them away from the street culture of violence, and reintegrate them into society through counseling, education, art, music, and skill building.  During her fellowship, Ms. Hijazi is working to reestablish the Belady Foundation, and is focusing on civil society and the plight of political prisoners in Egypt. 


Mr. Khalil Parsa   |   Afghanistan   

“Combating Corruption in Afghanistan”

April 1, 2017–March 31, 2018

Mr. Khalil Parsa is founding director of Supporting Organization for Afghanistan Civil Society, a NED grantee organization that builds the capacity of citizens and civil society organizations to report corruption. As head of the Herat Citizens Advocacy committee and as provincial director of Herat province’s Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, he has coordinated governmental and nongovernmental efforts in fighting against corruption in the region.  During his fellowship, he is working on a policy memorandum delineating steps that the Afghan government, civil society, and international community may pursue in combating corruption in Afghanistan.


Mr. Ashif Rabi   |   Bangladesh 

“Developing a Secure Online Forum for Free Expression in Bangladesh”

August 1, 2016–November 30, 2017

Mr. Ashif Rabi is a Bangladeshi journalist, TV personality, radio jockey, and blogger working to strengthen civic engagement and freedom of expression in the face of rising extremism and state repression. He is the former editor of Bicchu, a satirical Bengali-language cartoon magazine, and has published numerous blogposts on a range of topics, including religious tolerance and cultural diversity. During his fellowship, he is exploring the creation of an online forum where Bangladeshi citizens may discuss political concerns without fear of persecution. 


Dr. Gabor Scheiring   |   Hungary/United Kingdom

“The Rise of Illiberalism: A Framework for Comparative Analysis”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Dr. Gabor Scheiring is a political economist and democratic activist currently working as a research associate in the department of sociology at the University of Cambridge. He is also chairman of the Progressive Hungary Foundation, a think tank dedicated to progressive policy research and civic education.  During his fellowship, Dr. Scheiring is developing a comparative framework for examining the socioeconomic origins of the rise of illiberalism in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland.


Ms. Rodjaraeg Wattanapanit   |   Thailand  

“Democratic Ideals through Critical Thinking and Debate-Training”

October 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Ms. Rodjaraeg Wattanapanit is a co-founder of Book Re:public, which promotes freedom of expression and fosters the free exchange of ideas by providing a space for public dialogues on social issues. A civil society activist for the past 25 years, she began her career with CARE International, working on a project to support livelihoods in northern Thailand.  During her fellowship, Ms. Wattanapanit is developing a critical thinking and debate-training curriculum as a tool to improve Thai civil society leaders’ skills in interacting with target groups.


For media inquiries, please contact Jane Riley Jacobsen at  For further information on fellowship opportunities at the National Endowment for Democracy, visit