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. See previous members of the Youth Advisory Council here.

Youth Advisory Council Members

Dalia Fernanda Márquez Añez (Venezuela)

Dalia Fernanda Márquez Añez (Venezuela)

Dalia Fernanda Márquez Añez is a lawyer from Venezuela. She is passionate about defending human rights, promoting gender equality, peacebuilding, and is an environmentalist, passionate about raising her voice for the defense of the mother earth. She has been a university professor for 7 years at the Faculty of Law of the Universidad Católica del Táchira. She is the founder of the NGO “Juventud Unida en Acción”, an institution in which for 7 years she has been developing education and training programs to empower young people as agents of change in their community, empower women, promote the culture of peacebuilding, and develop social programs in vulnerable communities within the framework of the 2030 Agenda.

As an environmentalist, she has been regional facilitator of the Major Groups for Latin America and the Caribbean before UNEP, was also youth advisor of the TUNZA strategy of the United Nations Environment Program, and is co-founder of the Latin American and Caribbean platform LACEMOS, a network that seeks to involve civil society in the different global decision-making spaces. She has held positions of global representation, has been Global Focal Point for SDG 12 of the United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth (UNMGCY). She is co-founder of the Collective Support Network, an initiative that was born in Venezuela during the quarantine to provide psychosocial, emotional, educational, legal support and advice to society.

Darine Abdulkarim (Sudan)

Darine Abdulkarim (Sudan)

Darine Abdulkarim is a Sudanese general medical practitioner, assistant public health strategist and women's rights advocate. She is a fellow of the USIP Generation Change program and a graduate of the Study of the United States Institute for student leaders on women's leadership. She received her MBBS from Ahfad University for Women in Sudan, where she led many campaigns advocating women's reproductive health rights and women's role in policy making.

Being part of the Generation Change Network, Darine has received training in communication skills, storytelling, effective dialogue methods and peacebuilding.

Imrana Alhaji Buba (Nigeria)

Imrana Alhaji Buba (Nigeria)

Imrana Alhaji Buba is a 2015 USIP Generation Change Fellow and Founder of the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism (YOCAT), a youth-led organization working to unite youth against violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria. Imrana is a sought-after expert and public speaker, particularly regarding political instability in Nigeria. He has consulted for international organisations like USAID, Creative Associates International, International Alert and Mercy Corps as a youth engagement specialist, community development facilitator and conflict sensitivity expert.

Imrana is a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, MasterCard Scholar, One Young World Ambassador, Peace and Security Fellow of the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub and member of the International Counter-Terrorism Youth Network. He received the 2016 Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the 2017 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award, in recognition of his efforts to counter violent extremism and promote a culture of peace in Nigeria. He holds BSc Political Science from the University of Maiduguri and MSc Africa and International Development from the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Lorena Gómez Ramírez (Colombia)

Lorena Gómez Ramírez (Colombia)

Lorena is a fellow of USIP's Generation Change Exchange Program with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Georgetown University's Global Competitiveness Leadership Program for LATAM and winner of Best Radio Story by Semana Magazine at the Regional Journalism Awards (2019) for the ”On the Banks of Sangoyaco River” podcast on Mocoa town's 2017 mudslide recovery. She is also a member and supporter of the Council of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America & Abya Yala which unifies spiritual traditions for the restoration of Mother Earth.

By combining her international studies, fieldwork with diverse aboriginal tribes, and her participation in ”tourism and peace expeditions” in Colombian war areas transitioning to peace, Lorena Gómez has grown as a social entrepreneur enhancing cross-cultural dialogue and reconciliation with nature through travel and storytelling.

Lorena considers herself a full-time explorer and language lover who speaks English, Portuguese, French, Spanish and is currently learning Quechua. She is an anthropologist, tour leader and journalist seeking to humanize tourism encounters and narratives.

She is developing IN-Spire, a social venture that connects leaders facing burnout with the wisdom of nature and indigenous tribes in Colombia. She is also a facilitator seeking to strengthen ecotourism guides' self-awareness, sense of belonging and storytelling skills. Her work supports ethnic, farmer and former combatant groups to communicate and heal whatever has remained untold.

Michelle Bernier (Venezuela)

Michelle Bernier (Venezuela)

Michelle Bernier is a fellow of the Generation Change Program and a lawyer with a specialty in private and public international law. She obtained a Diploma in Human Rights Defenders at the Central University of Venezuela and the Diploma in International Protection Systems at the University of Los Andes. She is currently studying for MSc. in Law and International Business at the Iberoamerican International University of Mexico.

Michelle has participated in several international exchange programs, such as the TFAS International Program; Global Undergraduate Program; and Erasmus+ Security, Peace and Conflict program, where she was able to learn more about the management of conflicts at the international level, as well as gained an in-depth knowledge on the economic and political problems in Latin America.

In 2018, Michelle founded her own social organization called Valoro, which fights to recover creative spaces in basic and secondary schools in the state of Zulia in Venezuela, to reform the educational system and reinforce personal qualities in children and adolescents through training in leadership, citizen participation, entrepreneurship, and human rights. In addition to that, she is a human rights defender, social activist and has affiliations with national and international organizations, such as Center for Justice and Peace (CEPAZ), Center for Action and Defense of Human Rights (CADEF), Amnesty International, Red Cross, Students for Liberty, and the National Federation of Law Students.

Mridul Upadhyay (India)

Mridul Upadhyay (India)

Mridul Upadhyay is the Asia coordinator of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) and the co-founder of Youth for Peace International (YfPI). He is a development professional who is passionate about transformational youth leadership and peaceful social development. For more than a decade, Mridul has worked on youth peacebuilding at the community, national, regional, and international levels, peace education, advocacy, activism, Rohingya refugee humanitarian support, networking and capacity development of individuals, governments, youth-led organizations, religious leaders and U.N. agencies. He is a founding member of the USIP Youth Advisory Council and is continuing with his second term with the council.

Mridul is a Generation Change fellow who has adapted a major part of the program’s content into a five-day Nirvana training for his organization, YfPI. After being trained in June 2018, he organized and co-facilitated four Nirvana trainings in India for a total of 380 youth, children, and school teachers. He also supports other youth peacebuilding networks and organizations like Search for Common Ground, KAICIID, Asian Youth Peace Network and U.N. Major Group for Children & Youth. As co-chair of the Thematic Working Group on YPS (YWG-YPS) for the Asia Pacific Interagency Network on Youth (APINY), Mridul works extensively to bring together regional U.N. agencies, organizations, networks, and initiatives to create well-informed and collaborative strategies regarding youth, peace, and security for the Asia-Pacific region.

Nang Zinzar Phyo Thant (Myanmar)

Nang Zinzar Phyo Thant (Myanmar)

Nang Zinzar Phyo Thant is a peace practitioner, researcher and psychologist, who holds a Master of Science in Psychology, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Peace Leadership, Post War-Recovery and Conflict Studies. Nang has over 10 years of experience in peacebuilding, conflict resolution and community-based reconciliation, and countering extremism. She has a keen interest in mediation and negotiation, digital literacy, human rights and media advocacy. Over the past years, she has worked in INGOs, NGOs and semi-government organizations as a technical specialist, consultant, and program manager for peace building programs in Asia and Europe. She became a Generation Change Fellow of United State Institute of Peace in 2018 and participated in the Youth Leaders Exchange with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India. Currently, she works as a program manager and a technical specialist for Mercy Corps Myanmar, focusing on peacebuilding units.

Razni Razick (Sri Lanka)

Razni Razick (Sri Lanka)

Razni Razick is a social activist, child guidance counsellor, refugee advocate for the UNHCR, with over 14 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of settings. She has extensive knowledge of offering advice, support, rehabilitation and guidance to clients who have experienced trauma or hardship. In addition to individual case-work experience, she is working with street bound children, homeless families, orphans and the destitute within statutory frameworks.

She co-founded Care Station, an organization which focuses on child sponsorships, livelihoods, employment, water and sanitation, orphan care, refugee assistance, housing for the homeless, relief aid during natural disasters, etc. The organization has implemented projects in over 22 districts in Sri Lanka reaching over 200 community members across the country.

Razni Razick was bestowed the coveted Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of Sri Lanka award by the Junior Chamber International, in recognition of her contribution towards children, world peace and human rights. She also holds the prestigious Desha Abhimani National Award and was also featured in the book I AM INSPIRED, a book on 50 innovative Sri Lankan leaders, entrepreneurs, and drivers of change to inspire the country's current and future generations.

Rehema Zaid Obuyi (Kenya)

Rehema Zaid Obuyi (Kenya)

Zaid has over 8 years’ experience in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). With education background in Management Science, Zaid is an alumnus of Africa Nazarene University School of Governance, Peace and Security Studies; Major(S) Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies. Zaid had earlier served as MIS officer at Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) program, East Africa before joining the corporate world as human resource officer in 2012. Her shift to community programs was occasioned by the rise of extremist ideologies especially in the coast of Kenya where she is rooted, making her forgo her corporate career to start up initiatives that would most specifically rescue the youth from the jaws of extremism. She has worked extensively on P/CVE programs in hot spot areas. Zaid currently volunteers as programs manager at Integrated Initiatives for Community Empowerment (IICEP), one of the fastest growing CSOs in Kenya with an active focus on P/CVE.

A 2014 USIP Generation Change Fellow, Zaid has built the capacity of more than 8,000 community groups both online and offline. More than 500 of these have successfully graduated as peace ambassadors at a ceremony inaugurated by the United States Embassy in Nairobi. In 2017, she was nominated for the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) program as a credible voice in preventing violent extremism by the U.S. State Department. In the same year, she participated in the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) Africa competition to create a campaign to counter violence among youth around elections, whilst focusing on extremism and ethnicity, in which she emerged among the runners-up.

In 2018, Zaid was recognized by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) as one of the key contributors of peacebuilding in Kenya. In 2019, she emerged among the top ten outstanding finalists for IVLP Alumni Award for Social Change and Innovation chosen out of a large field of accomplished alumni globally.

She is an accredited member of the FemWise-Africa mediation team, under the umbrella of the African Union. She volunteers as Kenya Secretary for CSO’s Network for the IGAD Centre of Excellency in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE). Zaid has and continues to provide pro-bono technical assistance to NGOs implementing P/CVE programs in Kenya and Africa by extension. She also gives support to embassies, the State and other international organizations to implement P/CVE Programs.

Sharif Safi (Afghanistan)

Sharif Safi (Afghanistan)

Sharif Safi is 2017 N-Peace Award winner, former university lecturer, and co-founder and managing director of Mastooraat, an Afghan non-profit organization working for youth, art and peacebuilding. He is a civil society leader who works with youth to build a tolerant and open society. Sharif previously worked with Afghans for Progressive Thinking Organization, through which he led the largest debate program for university students in Afghanistan. He is also a USIP Generation Change fellow, and founder of Real Men Campaign. Sharif is also a fellow of FES and has written several articles on peace, youth and women published by media outlets in Afghanistan and abroad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management.

Related Publications

Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

By: Belquis Ahmadi; Matthew Parkes

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Four Lessons for Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan

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