Laurent Ziegler (MA) is the author of the print publication »Die Erinnerung an meine Kindheit«, an autobiographical analysis of traumatic experiences of childhood trafficking and ritual abuse, captured in paintings, drawings, text and photography. In his artistic work Laurent also focuses on installation and performative work. He studied Political Science at the University of Vienna and completed educational programs in contemporary dance and film. Laurent collaborates with artists in Europe and Japan and in 2009 initiated an arts-in-education program for photography in Sri Lanka (One World Foundation). For several years, he led courses on perception and memory at the NDU New Design University in Austria. His work is internationally represented in group and solo exhibitions. Laurent is a current member of Künstlerhaus Wien and Bildrecht LLC.
Heather’s career in public speaking, organizational development, human resources, education, cross-culture, and media has spanned five continents and multiple fields.
After completing an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology in her native USA, Heather carried out development work in the Philippines, then spent decades in Japan and Europe consulting academic institutions and international business groups.
A firm believer in Impact Tech and the democratization of knowledge, she is an expert in virtual learning. Heather also provides consultation on topics connected to organizational development (including digital transformation, leadership development, employee engagement, change management, strategy, and globalization).
Heather is also the Executive Director of MESPERO: Impact for Resilience and of SDG2030.me.
Originally from Somalia, Suad has also lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks six languages: Somali, Arabic, German, English, Hindi and Urdu.
Suad graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Karachi. She works as a Social Medical Consultant (including psychological counseling) at Diakonie Österreich and as an Assistant Consultant at the Austrian Red Cross. She is a certified counselor regarding female genital mutilation (FGM) issues and is active in related community outreach. SDG 3 is especially important to Suad.
Suad is a sought-after panelist and presenter, known for her storytelling skills in a variety of areas. She has spoken at the United Nations on interreligious topics, contributed to a migration and health panel at European Forum Alpbach, and contributed to high-level events including at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and at an International Peace Day celebration hosted by the Second President of the Austrian Parliament.
Suad aims to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women. She often quotes Oprah Winfrey: ‘You become what you believe.’
Suad is the Founder of the Somalia Health Club which is a space to help the global Somali community meet with Somali health professionals and ask questions regarding medical topics, especially in relation to Covid-19 and vaccines (Instagram).
@ Communications Officer
Mădălina Boț is pursuing an MA in International Relations at Central European University in Vienna and supports the communications strategy and implementation of the International Forum for Understanding and its various projects, such as MESPERO: Impact for Resilience and SDG2030.me. She is interested in the specificities of lived experience and human rights, which she has been exploring in various Romanian NGOs and as an intern of leading public institutions.
Layla Barakeh is a humanitarian worker and disaster-management specialist based in Syria. She specializes in mental health and psychosocial support and livelihood training. Layla is the Director of Humanitarian Community Life (HCL), a capacity-building initiative for humanitarian settings in Syria and Yemen.
Rania Ali is an award winning journalist, public speaker, and human rights defender from Syria. Having made her first award-winning documentary with the Guardian in 2017, she works with several NGOs as a campaigner highlighting to governments the importance of protecting human rights defenders worldwide. She is an advocate for human rights generally and refugee and women’s rights specifically, engaged in that pursuit for the past five years. She has dedicated herself to speaking on many international platforms for said issues.
Currently, Rania Ali is pursuing a degree in international relations thus expanding her expertise in areas related to post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Through her scientific study, artistic work, and academic training in public policy, Nour Barakeh strives to understand society from different viewpoints and to communicate complex topics. Her M.A. in Public Administration from Central European University emphasized the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) and environmental policies to mitigate climate change. Developing migration policies and combating human trafficking are also in scope.
With experience ranging from dance and theater to social work and journalism, she aims to support the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people through raising awareness, and to counsel governments, NGOs and corporations on policies with a specific focus on the Sustainable Developments Goals. As a Global Citizen, she believes in proactively pursuing the necessary goal of peace.
She previously studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Damascus University. As a sought-after speaker on the SDGs, refugee, and migration issues, she has spoken on numerous high-profile panels highlighting young, female voices such as at European Forum Alpbach alongside former UN SG Ban Ki-moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer as well as at a UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development among others. Nour Barakeh is also an Agents of Change Youth Fellow at Wilson Center.
Malaika Oringo is the founder and CEO of Footprint to Freedom (2019), a survivor-led organization. She is a talented advocate and speaks up against human trafficking and stands up for victims’ rights and works to strengthen the survivor’s inclusion and engagement. She has spoken on various stages throughout Europe, such as in Paris, Geneva, Athens, London, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Raised in Uganda in harsh conditions and exploited in the Netherlands, she has devoted her life to fighting against human trafficking. She believes that since survivors are the most significant stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking, they should sit at decision-making tables from community level to national level and international level. She has lobbied at the European Commission and spoken at the European Parliament about the gaps in the current approach human trafficking. She also advised on the best practices that can provide victim centered trauma informed and survivor centered approaches to improve response to survivors and victims’ needs.
She is a Member of the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC) which assists the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in combating trafficking in persons.
Les Simm founded the International Forum for Understanding and serves as its Executive Director. Les works in the business sector, with governments, the UN, INGO’s and other entities in areas ranging from security risk management and business resilience to humanitarian operations and disaster relief. He has expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and verification, security sector reform and countering transnational organised crime. Having trained as a psychiatric nurse in his early career, Les has long-term interest in mental health and wellbeing. Les is a passionate supporter of the SDGs with a particular focus on project implementation and making a demonstrable and direct impact on people’s lives.
Aigerim Seitenova is a human rights professional from Kazakhstan with more than three years of experience in the civil society sector of Kazakhstan with particular focus on human rights and peace education, youth and feminist activism.
She worked as the Head of the Department of Programmes in local NGO ‘Wings of Liberty’ based in Astana, Kazakhstan. Her interests center on the most efficient ways of increasing human rights knowledge by engaging and empowering young people, raising awareness about different human rights violations on the local, regional and global levels. Aigerim is an expert for the OSCE #Perspectives20-30 where she contributed to the chapter on human rights and peace education. Her interests also focus on critical analysis of the international human rights law in particular feminist and the so-called TWAIL (Third World Approaches to Law) critiques. She also collaborated with UN Women in Kazakhstan by coordinating the Civil Society Advisory Group.
An alumni of EU Global Campus Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratization in the Caucasus, Aigerim is currently finishing her postgraduate degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex as a Chevening Scholar.
Kendall Alaimo is an international activist, a clinical educator, a professionally trained artist, and a survivor of child trafficking and re-exploitation. What survived is her voice and she is using it around the world to innovate clinical care for complex trauma survivors. Kendall is an expert in child sexual abuse prevention and versed in medical modalities for complex trauma recovery.She has spoken both domestically and internationally in her mission to educate, support and provide hope to populations affected by the fallout of all types of trauma through her Trauma Talk. During her address at the 2021 United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Combating Trafficking in Persons she stated, “Lets come together, let’s work together and let’s bring these survivors home.” As an Artist, she is known for using her iconic Red Seats. Her artwork and activism has recently been featured on CNN International. Kendall is the founder of The University Alliance on Human Trafficking.
Ishaan Shah is a 19-year-old international anti-human trafficking, gender equality and climate action young leader. In 2017, he founded Stolen Dreams, a youth-led organisation working with global stakeholders to drive concrete actions around countering trafficking in persons through education, advocacy, and policy. Ishaan is the first Youth Focal Point for the Review and Implementation of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and a UN Women National Gender Youth Advocate. Ishaan spends much of his time with survivors, organisations, policymakers, journalists, and lawyers, learning from the best minds in the world on these issues and always recognising intersectionalities.