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Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship
Our Team

Dr. Dina El Khawaga - Director 

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Dr. El Khawaga’s areas of research include the dynamics of knowledge production in the Arab region, and higher education policies more broadly. . Dina’s academic work is focusing on new social movements, law and society and sociology of activism. She has acted as advisor to governmental and non-governmental institutions on civil society, the media industry, right to information, and higher education. Before joining AUB, she served as the programs director at the Arab Reform Initiative for four years. Prior to that, she worked at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris. Earlier, she was the Director of the Arab Regional Office of the Open Society Foundations (2011-12) in Amman ​​​​​and the Higher Education Program Officer at the Cairo Office of the Ford Foundation (2005-11).

Dr. El Khawaga received her BA in political science from Cairo University, her MA in Sociology of Development from the Sorbonne in Paris, and her doctorate from the Institut d'études politiques, also in Paris.​


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Hala Yanni - Financial Management Officer

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Before joining the Asfari Team, Hala worked as a Financial Analyst at the Office of Financial Planning (2013-2014) and as an Executive Officer at the Vice President for Facilities at the American University of Beirut (2012-2013). Previously, she worked as an Internal Auditor at BLOM Bank (2009-2012), as an Administrative Officer at the Auxiliary Services at the American University of Beirut (2004-2008) and as an External Auditor at KPMG (2002-2004). Hala is experienced in budgeting, financial reporting, strategic planning, drafting policies and procedures and managing contracts and payments to consultants/suppliers. Hala holds an MBA (Internal Audit emphasis) from the Lebanese American University (2010).


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Dr. Hassan Abbas - Program Director

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Dr. Abbas is a Research Associate, and Program Director of the "Culture As Resistance" program at the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at American University of Beirut. He holds a Ph.D. in literature and literary criticism from the New Sorbonne University-Paris III. Prior to joining the Asfari Institute, Dr. Abbas was the founder and president of the Syrian league for Citizenship where he established and managed associations focusing on culture, human rights, and political representation. He has also worked as a professor and researcher at the Institut français du Proche-Orient in Damascus, and has published studies and books in the fields of culture, citizenship, and civil society.

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Habiba Mohsen

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Habiba is the Asfari Institute's Program Coordinator. She has previously published research regarding social movements and their associated political parties, public policy, and local governance in Egypt. She spent time as a: Projects Manager at Global Partners Governance; Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Political and International Studies in Lausanne University, Switzerland; Program Officer at the Anna Lindh Euro Mediterranean Foundation in Alexandria, Egypt; Researcher at the Arab Forum for Alternatives in Cairo, Egypt.

Habiba holds a M.A. in Political Science from the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon.

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Manar Fleifel - Senior Research Assistant

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At AsfariManar researches how Syrian refugees access informal services in Lebanon. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the Lebanese American University and her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Lund University. She is currently working on her M.A. in Migration Studies at the Lebanese American University. Before joining Asfari, she was a Program Manager at RET Liban, a NGO that provides education to vulnerable youth in conflict zones. Manar also held positions as a Research Graduate Assistant at LAU’s Institute for Migration Studies and as a Project Coordinator at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. She is experienced teaching children and working with refugees​. 

Mohamad El Chamaa – Research Assistant

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Mohamad received his B.A. in Arab and Middle Eastern History with minors in Public Policy, Political Studies, and American Studies from the American University of Beirut. He worked as a tutor at the AUB Writing Center and as Editor at large for Outlook, the student newspaper. Mohamad is currently pursuing his Masters in Urban Planning and Policy at the AUB.​

Geneviève Cartilier - Research Assistant

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Geneviève received her B.A. in Social Anthropology from theUniversity of Kent and her MSc in Anthropology and Development from the London School of Economics. She has experience as an education project coordinator in refugee crisis response and is a Cambridge certified language teacher fluent in French, English, Italian and Spanish. She is working on her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut and enjoys riding horses, dancing, and hiking.​

Fatima Mohammad Nasser – Administrative Assistant

Fatima graduated from the American University of Beirut with a B.A. in Public Administration. She previously interned with the AUB World Food Vision and also worked on the Palestinian Oral History Program as an intern for the Issam Fares Institute. As a student, she worked part time in various AUB departments, including the AUB Art Gallery, Medical Center, Arabic Department, and the Civilization Studies Program. Her favorite hobby is to read.


Maroun Akel – Intern

Maroun received his B.A. in Economics at the American University of Beirut and is currently working on another degree in Political Studies. Before Asfari, he volunteered at the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon and organized summer camps. His hobbies include camping, sports, and travel. 


Lynn Abu Khadra – Intern

Lynn is an undergraduate student double majoring in Media & Communications and Psychology at the American University of Beirut. She previously worked as a tutor at the AUB Writing Center. She enjoys yoga, baking, and boxing and has a love for pizza, hummus, and pugs.


Anna Dolder  Intern

Anna is an exchange student at the American University of Beirut from Davidson College in North Carolina, USA. She is working on her B.A. in Arab Studies with a concentration in Political Science. Before Asfari, she interned with Verizon Wireless in Atlanta, Georgia and tutored undergraduate students in Arabic 101. Anna enjoys reading, hiking, and playing soccer in her free time.​

Reem Katrib Intern

Reem is entering her third year of undergraduate studies at the American University of Beirut where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Law. At Asfari, she assists Dr. Hassan Abbas with his research. She was previously a Research Aid for a paper on Women’s Participation in Lebanese Politics and has participated in theater and social entrepreneurship workshops. Reem enjoys playing the piano as well.

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