Built upon the belief that youth bring significant and unique insight to peacebuilding, the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) provides a mechanism through which USIP experts can benefit from youth perspectives and expertise. The YAC enables USIP staff to engage youth as partners, experts, and practitioners while elevating youth voices and experience to the international level. The YAC contributes to USIP’s vision for an inclusive approach to peacebuilding. The Youth Advisory Council meets regularly to bring together youth thought leaders and peacebuilding experts committed to the Institute’s mission and activities.

Generation Change Fellows

Youth perspectives are often overlooked during the development and implementation stages of peacebuilding programs. Through USIP’s Youth Advisory Council, youth leaders will provide regional and thematic expertise in the field of peacebuilding to inform and shape USIP programming and research.

Advisory Council members are a subset of USIP youth leaders. Each year, up to 15 Youth Advisory Council members are selected through a competitive application process. Youth leaders will be selected to serve one-year terms as Advisory Council members with the option to re-apply for the subsequent term.

View former members

Recent Youth Advisory Council Activities

Youth Advisory Council Members

Abdul Basit Amal (Afghanistan)

Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Abdul Basit Amal is a medical doctor and served as the provincial founder at the Youths Association of Afghanistan, the largest youth organization in Afghanistan working for peace, education, justice and gender equity. Abdul also serves as the provincial lead for youth at the Afghanistan Medical Association, the largest health nongovernmental organization in Afghanistan, which works to provide better health services for all Afghans. Abdul has also volunteered for Green Crescent Afghanistan, an organization that works to eradicate addiction in Afghanistan. Abdul maintains a personal blog about his work. 

Mohamed Arous (Tunisia)

Mohamed Arous (Tunisia)

Mohamed Arous is the co-founder of We-Youth Organization, a youth-led organization working on youth development through capacity building, youth-led projects and the implementation of inclusive youth and women policies in Tunisia. Mohamed was also one of the co-founding members of the Tunisian-American Alumni association, which strivesto foster collaboration and partnerships between alumni of U.S. State Department programs in Tunisia. He has worked and consulted for international organizations like the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and the British Council on project management, change management, research, conflict sensitivity and instability, community development, gender, economic reforms, strategic communication and governance. Mohamed currently works for WeWorld onlus-GVC Libya as the project manager of a consortium project contributing to protection, rehabilitation,  water, sanitation and hygiene, and education in Tripoli, Libya.

Mohamed is a 2013 alumnus of Montana State University, a Worlds at School Ambassador, a former member of the World Youth Parliament for Water, a former ambassador in Tunisia of the Amani Institute, a former North Africa regional representative with the Advocacy Initiative for Development, a Red Crescent alumnus, an AIESEC alumnus and a member of the Strategic Advisory Council at the Metta Center for Nonviolence in California. He has been invited as a youth expert panelist by several organizations to key events and forums to reflect on youth and women empowerment in the Mediterranean and MENA region, including the Anna Lindh Foundation, Tres Culturas Foundation, International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, European Union, and Chatham House. Recently, he was selected as a mentor by Georgetown University under the framework of the Middle East Partnership Initiative to support student leaders from the MENA region on their community projects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English studies and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Sfax, Tunisia. Additionally, he graduated from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Diplomatic Academy and completed the City and Guilds Institute’s Foundation Program in International Policy and Diplomacy.

Abdullahi Bindawa (Nigeria)

Abdullahi Bindawa (Nigeria)

Abdullahi Bindawa is a Nigerian educator, humanitarian worker, and one of the few Certified Kingian Nonviolence Trainers in Nigeria. His mission as a social change activist is to organize and educate adult education for democracy with emphasis on special projects and systems related to nonviolence and social responsibility. His experience with nonviolence began in 2013 at the University of Rhode Island, where he was stimulated by exposure to Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of nonviolent civil rights campaigns. Since 2013, his focus has been on institutionalizing the capacity to provide training, research, peace education and public information about nonviolent approaches to reconciling unjust social conflicts and violent conditions. He has participated in several workshops, trainings and seminars related to humanitarian development and public health hosted by organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations and the World Health Organization. 

Soukaina Hamia (Morocco)

Soukaina Hamia (Morocco)

Soukaina Hamia works as a program outreach coordinator for the Quebec Board of Black Educators and is attending the University of Montreal for a doctorate in public policy and health. She is a founding member of Idmaj Neighbourhoods Association, an organization that protects women, at risk kids and vulnerable youth who come from the underserved and marginalized ranks of society. Soukaina also runs Sidi Moumen Cultural Center, a community center that offers daily activities to more than 570 members from the slums a safe place to help them avoid delinquency, drug addiction and extremism through various projects.

Soukaina holds a bachelor’s degree from Hassan II University and a master’s degree from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. She has previously worked as country manager of Stevens Initiative – World Business Chicago STEAMuseum Project, head of mission at Tariq Ibnou Ziyad Initiative, country coordinator for CorpsAfrica Maroc, assistant at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Center for Women's Empowerment and clean development mechanism project coordinator at Seva Mandir Foundation in India. Soukaina is an alumna of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and an International Monetary Fund-sponsored fellow at the World Bank annual meetings in Washington, D.C. and Lima, Peru.

Nyechuol Kuol Jal (South Sudan)

Nyechuol Kuol Jal (South Sudan)

Nyechuol Kuol Jal is an expert on gender and development who currently works with Food for the Hungry International (FHI) as a deputy team leader for Girls Education South Sudan in Jonglei State, South Sudan. In this role, she contributes to gender equality and empowerment of women. The project has successfully lobbied and mobilized several girls to join school. Before joining FHI, Nyechuol worked as the gender-based violence and inclusion officer with the Universal Intervention and Development Organisation as well as the disability inclusion officer with Humanity and Inclusion International. She began her career as a gender based violence and child protection officer. She takes pride in contributing to an enabling and safe environment for women, children, elderly and the most vulnerable. Nyechuol holds a bachelor’s degree in gender and development studies.

Faten Khalfallah (Tunisia)

Faten Khalfallah (Tunisia)

Faten Khalfallah is a certified professional mentor from the United States Mentoring Standard and founder and president of the Tunisian education association First Skills Club, which aims to motivate kids to speak and communicate in English via new technologies and give them another vision for the tools they use on a daily basis. She is a principal computer science teacher and innovation trainer in the pioneer preparatory school of her region, Sfax. She is currently working with kids between ages 8 to 18 to motivate them and engage them in STEM to solve community problems. She represents the Technovation regional ambassador in Sfax and works hard to inspire girls to code, including robotics, mobile app development and electronics. 

Faten has been an official trainer of the Tunisian national robotics team since 2017 and a regional project manager in VEX Robotics. Faten received her master’s degree in information systems and new technologies to research ways to provide the future generation with useful skills. 

Grace Ndirangu (Kenya)

Grace Ndirangu (Kenya)

Grace Ndirangu is a gender, economic inclusion and peacebuilding professional with over 10 years of experience working with urban refugees in Kenya. Grace has been involved in the training of South Sudanese fellows through the USIP Generation Change Fellows Program as well as training of refugee women and girls in Nairobi on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. She has also worked with refugee communities in the training of refugee women to be peer mentors for refugee adolescent girls. Grace has also been involved in dialogue processes between refugees in Nairobi and host community members to foster peaceful coexistence and address xenophobic attacks between refugees and host community members. 

She graduated from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with a bachelor’s degree in arts and social sciences, majoring in sociology and minoring in political science. She also earned a master’s degree in governance, peace, and security from Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya. She was a 2017 Next Generation Fellow at Women in International Security (WIIS). Grace is a Missing Peace Scholar, a collaboration among USIP, WIIS, Peace Research Institute Oslo, and the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the University of Washington in St Louis, Missouri. Grace is also a member of FemWise-Africa, the African Union’s network of African women in conflict prevention and mediation. She has co-authored and published several policy papers on sexual and gender-based violence in refugee settings, a USIP Special Report on wartime sexual violence, and a journal article on forced displacement and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. 

Lahoussine Lamdarat (Morocco)

Lahoussine Lamdarat (Morocco)

Lahousssine Lamdarat is a journalist, an entrepreneur, the founder of several local and national electronic newspapers, and a member of the central office of the National Union of Young Journalists in Morocco. He also the founder of several civil society associations concerned with the development of youth and sport.His activities have included organizing a national football league for Moroccan and Libyan youth and providing training to youth on civic journalism through various multimedia platforms. Lahoussine serves as a member of the Council of Young Leaders in the Moroccan city of Agadir, working to help other youth understand local governance and advocate for their priorities. 

Lahoussine received training in leadership, mediation and conflict resolution for two years with Search for Common Ground in Morocco. Lahoussine has supervised several training sessions for civil society associations in the field of leadership, mediation and journalism, and is currently the secretary general of the Amal Professional Association in Agadir, where he works on a social project aimed at fighting crime and homelessness.

Sophia Santi (Venezuela)

Sophia Santi (Venezuela)

Sophia Santi is currently the technical coordinator of the Permanent Youth Forum in Venezuela and the monitoring and evaluation supervisor at Consorcio, Desarrollo y Justicia, one of the largest nongovernmental organizations in Venezuela. She started her peacebuilding career through the USIP Generation Change Fellows Program and by participating as coordinator in national and international nongovernmental organizations, such as Más Ciudadanos in Caracas and PeaceX in India. Sophia completed an internship in the Delegation of the European Union in Venezuela and learned about project management in the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from the Metropolitan University in Venezuela. 

Rachel Dibal Simon-Karu (Nigeria)

Rachel Dibal Simon-Karu (Nigeria)

Rachel Dibal Simon-Karu is a social worker, teacher, and social entrepreneur. She is a co-founder and president of Leadtots Development Initiative, a nonprofit human development organization supporting young women and girls with leadership potential to promote the achievement of global development goals. She is also a university lecturer with academic and practical interests in peacebuilding and health, child welfare and families, and gender and education. 

She holds a bachelor’s in sociology, a master’s in social work, and a postgraduate diploma in education. She has worked closely with international organizations like Mercy Corps as a consultant developing critical materials for conflict prevention and advocacy. Rachel is a beneficiary of scholarships from Nigerian Women Association of Georgia and the Female Support Initiative, a partnership project of University of Jos and theCarnegie Corporation. She is a member of boards of development organizations, notably Relief Initiative for Humanitarian Aid, focusing on women and girls and the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative working to improve mental health in Nigeria. 

Nicholas Songora, Kenya

Nicholas Songora, Kenya

Nicholas Songora is the founder and director at Manyatta Youth Entertainment (CBO-MAYE) and Arts for Social Change, a community-based organization active in the coastal counties of Kenya. The organization aims to provide young people with a viable platform to openly discuss and address issues that affect them and their communities. MAYE has been involved in the areas of social accountability, civic education, and social justice using creative arts, innovation, and technology as a mode of communication. He is the founder of ANIKA Community Media, an online audio-visual media platform managed by young people. Currently, he is part of the 2021 Accounterprenuers through the Accountability Lab Fellowship program and is an active participant of the Goldin Global Fellowship program. Nicholas is a co-author of a 2017 USIP Peaceworks publication on participatory action research in Kenya. 

He is an associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, an award-winning master of ceremonies, and a trainer and mentor actively involved in consultancy work for state and nonstate actors. Nicholas is a 2018 alumnus of the Political Leadership and Governance program under Fes Kenya and an active youth delegate for the Model African Union, sitting as a member of the Ecossoc Committee. He is an experienced thespian, theatre arts director, dance choreographer, and scriptwriter. His experience in peace and security work has seen him lead successful initiatives such as the Community Artivism in Resisting Extremist Ideologies project supported by Forum Civ and the Swedish Embassy in Kenya as well as the Shrinking the Space Against Violent Extremism Thriving program supported by the Global Community Engagement Resilient Fund through the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics Trust.

Latest Publications

Despite Ukraine Focus, Asia-Pacific to Play Prominent Role at NATO Summit

Despite Ukraine Focus, Asia-Pacific to Play Prominent Role at NATO Summit

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Mirna Galic

NATO countries meet this week in Madrid, Spain amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, the biggest test the alliance has faced in decades. The summit is expected to focus heavily on demonstrating NATO’s unity, support for Ukraine and the bids of Finland and Sweden — propelled by Russia’s aggressive incursion — to join the alliance. But developments in the Asia-Pacific, chiefly the rise of China, will also be a top item on the agenda, with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea participating at the leader level for the first time at a NATO summit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Climate Change, Migration and the Risk of Conflict in Growing Urban Centers

Climate Change, Migration and the Risk of Conflict in Growing Urban Centers

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Tegan Blaine, Ph.D.;  Julia Canney;  Chris Collins;  Jessica Kline;  Rachel Locke

From 2015 to 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, in part because migrants from rural areas devastated by climate change are being driven to cities in search of economic and social stability. However, many of the world’s fastest-growing cities are already struggling to handle their own climate issues. From rising seas to freshwater scarcity, the complex interplay of climate change, population growth and fragility in cities has made them hotbeds for social and economic inequalities — increasing the risk of violence and having a profound impact on human security in urban centers around the world.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EnvironmentConflict Analysis & Prevention

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Knox Thames

In late June and early July, two global convenings will highlight challenges to international religious freedom and the search for solutions: the IRF Summit for nongovernmental organizations and the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These timely gatherings will bring together government representatives, activists and faith leaders from different religious, regional and political backgrounds to discuss a common goal of ending persecution. Two keys for their success will be creating diverse coalitions to advance international religious freedom (IRF) in a nonpartisan manner and linking the issue to broader concerns about peace and stability. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsReligion

Amid Historic Crisis, Has a New Hope Emerged in Lebanon?

Amid Historic Crisis, Has a New Hope Emerged in Lebanon?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

By: Adam Gallagher

As Lebanon suffers from an historic economic crisis propelled by the venality of its political establishment, the May 15 elections have injected a glimmer of hope amid gloomy prospects for the future. Thirteen independent candidates — part of what is dubbed the “change opposition” — won seats in the 128-member Parliament. “The election of these 13 MPs [members of Parliament] is a very important, gradual first step toward more peaceful political change and reform in Lebanon,” said Mona Yacoubian, a Lebanon expert and senior advisor for the U.S. Institute of Peace. But the road ahead is fraught with internal challenges and external forces that could impede Lebanon’s much-needed reform.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

The Persistent Challenge of Extremism in Bangladesh

The Persistent Challenge of Extremism in Bangladesh

Thursday, June 23, 2022

By: Mubashar Hasan;  Geoffrey Macdonald

On July 1, 2016, Bangladeshi militants carried out an attack, targeting mostly foreigners and non-Muslims, at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka. The Bangladeshi government responded to the attack with a concerted and controversial counterterrorism campaign. Although the number of terrorist incidents has been in steady decline since 2016, Islamist groups continue to operate, recruit, and carry out small-scale attacks while aspiring to perpetrate greater violence. This report examines the dynamics, drivers, and manifestations of extremism in Bangladesh and discusses measures to weaken its appeal.

Type: Special Report

Violent Extremism

View All Publications