past event
Africa and the Middle East

Harnessing the Power of the Diaspora

On the margins of the 2013 Global Diaspora Forum, the Partners for a New Beginning Secretariat at the Aspen Institute hosted a roundtable discussion on ways that the diaspora can advance economic opportunity in the countries of origin. The event brought together diaspora members from PNB countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania) to discuss best practices on harnessing the power of the diaspora, and concluding with recommendations that inform a strategy for diaspora engagement.

The 3-hour event included a panel discussion focusing on effective policy engagement strategies for diaspora organizations, followed by two breakout sessions. The first breakout explored the role of the diaspora in spurring technological innovation in local communities; the second on ways the diaspora can utilize remittances to maximize economic growth.

Follow the event on twitter with #PNBdiaspora.

Event Program & Speaker Biographies

“Effective Policy Engagement: Best Practices and Lessons Learned”
This opening panel will engage themes of effective policy engagement of diaspora communities in the US. It will explore both successful trends as well as examples of less impactful models to inspire effective economic policy engagement among diaspora communities.

Susanna Groves, Associate Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute

Susanna Groves is an Associate Policy Analyst with the Migration Policy Institute’s Migrants, Migration, and Development, and Refugee Policy programs. Before joining MPI, Ms. Groves researched human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor for the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs. She has also worked at the Correctional Association of New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and on numerous political campaigns.

Ms. Groves earned a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. While in graduate school, she consulted for a domestic refugee resettlement organization and was affiliated with the Carr Center for Human Rights. She earned a BA with high honors in English literature, history, and Latin American and Caribbean studies from the University of Michigan. She also studied at the Universidad de la Habana.

Mohamad Al-Arief, President, Indonesian Diaspora Network (Indonesia)

Mohamad Al-Arief is a constitutional lawyer and has been development practitioner for the past 15 years. In October 2012, he was elected as the President of the Indonesian Diaspora Network (IDN) – USA, a non-profit organization that aims to harness the power of the Indonesian diaspora for the country’s development. The group has 8 chapters in various US cities and is part of the Global Indonesian Diaspora Network. This movement started at the historic first global congress of the Indonesian Diaspora held in Los Angeles last year, spearheaded by Dr. Dino Patti Djalal –the Indonesian Ambassador to the US. Mr. Al-Arief lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two children.

Salah Bugazia, Senior Manager, Acumen Solutions (Libya)

Salah has over 20 years of experience in Project and Program Management, Information Technology and Training.  He served in various professional roles in the USA, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.  Salah holds a Master in Business Administration (MBA), a Master in Computer Science (MCS) and the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.

Salah has served in many community organizations, including the Dayton Islamic School PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), the Board of Directors of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and the CinciIT professional group’s leadership team. Salah founded Libyan Professionals Worldwide LinkedIn group and the Libyan Coordinating Group, and was a founding member of the Libyan Planning Committee (LPC), which established the Libyan American Organization (LAO) and organized the first LAO Conference in Washington, DC in February, 2012.  He serves on the LAO’s Board of Directors. Salah was born in Libya and lived in Libya, Egypt, Greece and the USA.  Salah, his wife, Shahrazad Kablan, and two children, Omran and Miriam, currently reside in the Washington, DC area.

Mohamed Malouche, President, Tunisian American Young Professionals

Mohamed leads the Tunisian American Young Professionals, a diaspora association seeking to increase economic cooperation between Tunisia and the United States.   He has been presenting Tunisia’s economic value proposition to investors in the US, and supporting the development of an entrepreneurship culture in Tunisia through mentorship, technical and financial support.

Mohamed has provided economic counsel to important governmental actions related to innovation and entrepreneurship. He is currently working with Penn State University on a US-Tunisia partnership for the promotion of technology innovation, with the International Youth Foundation to enhance young Tunisian entrepreneurs’ soft skills and with the State Department on US/Tunisia entrepreneurship and investment conferences. Mohamed founded PromoTunisia, a services company that offers cultural trips to Tunisia for US travelers and promotes Tunisia as an investment destination in the ICT sector. Mohamed has been an advisor to several US companies seeking to utilize Tunisia as a platform for expansion to nearby markets. He also implemented, in collaboration with the Rotary foundation, a fund whereby travelers can contribute through donations to the development of schools in the poorest regions of Tunisia.

Finally, Mohamed is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting. His areas of expertise include telecom and media operations readiness and launch of innovative services. Prior to joining Deloitte, Mohamed was a Principal with American Management Systems, with responsibilities in the delivery of customer care solutions.  He holds a Masters in Information Systems from Telecom Paris in France, and a Masters in Telecommunications from Michigan State University.

Dr. Celal Secilmis, TACCI (Turkey)

Born in Sarikamis – Turkey in 1953 grew up in Mersin – Turkey. After graduating from Istanbul Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences in 1974, completed Graduate Certificate Program at Istanbul University, Institute of Business Economics. Upon winning a Turkish Government Scholarship to do doctoral studies in USA, started a new page and moved to America in 1975. Attended Georgetown University for Masters Degree in Management, and then received MBA degree from LIU. Continued with Doctoral studies at City University of New York’s Graduate Center in Financial Economics with emphasis on “Agency Theory: Bonding and Monitoring Costs”.

Dr. Secilmis worked in academia as Professor of Finance at Baruch College, CUNY until 1995. Joined the family food business first then started own businesses, now continuing as Adjunct Professor. He served as Board member and consultant to several public and private organizations, and he is currently President and CEO of the CEL Group of Companies, including: Seckin Management, Inc; CEL Management, Inc; Semerica Trading, Inc; ATA Marketing Co, Inc; and ATA Construction USA, Inc.

He is currently serving his second term as the President of Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) and his first term as the Chairman of the World Turkish Business Council (DTIK) America Region Committee. He is married to Olcay Soymen and together have two sons Seckin and Ata and a daughter, Deniz who is married to Adam Beaulieu.

Breakout Sessions (Simultaneous):

“Spurring Innovation in Local Tech Communities”
This discussion aims to explore ways that members of the diaspora can spur innovation in tech communities in their countries of origin. What obstacles do members of the diaspora face in reaching out to such communities in their home countries? What are some of the tools they can deploy to guide tech leaders towards innovation and growth?

Akin Sawyerr, Managing Director, Felemen

Akin is an Africa-focused private equity investor.  He serves as a Non-Executive Director of Splash Mobile Money, a mobile payments company in West Africa, where he helps craft the overall strategy of the company and monitors its execution against its goals.  He has also conducted private transactions in real estate, international trade, and financial services.

Akin spent the first fifteen years of his career in management consulting and the corporate world. He engaged public sector clients at Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture in Washington, D.C., and held strategic positions with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae over the years.  Akin started his career at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington, D.C., in the Technology and General Services Group.  He led analytical research projects in support of IMF member country strategies and developed reports that were published both internally and with external partners and constituents.

Akin holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics with a minor in Political Science from Union College, New York, and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from Dartmouth College.

Jihan Andoni, CEO, Zeva, Inc.

Mrs. Andoni is the CEO of Zeva, a US based technology-driven company delivering software solutions and expert consulting to commercial and government markets. In 2010 Zeva reallocated its Research & Development office to Palestine. As a result, Zeva was able to create a global delivery model and currently enjoys success in its software engineered in Palestine. Before joining Zeva, Jihan was the Director of the Center for Responsive Politics Research. Jihan has a Master’s degree from American University in Information Technology and a Bachelor’s degree from Bethlehem University in Mathematics.  

Fawaz Bilbeisi, Director of the Economic and Commercial Bureau, Embassy of Jordan

A Jordanian national, Fawaz Bilbeisi was born in Amman on April 13th, 1973, and is married with two daughters. After working for two years in the private sector in Public Relations, Mr. Bilbeisi joined the Foreign Ministry in 1999 where he held many positions. The most recent of these was Director of the Press and Information Department. He was posted to the Jordanian Embassy in France in 2002, where he was responsible for the economic bilateral relations between Jordan and France. In 2002 he was assigned to the Foreign Minister’s Private Office for one year, until his appointment as a Political Secretary in Jordan’ Prime Minister’s Office for another year. In May 2008 he was appointed as the Director of the Economic and Commercial Bureau in Washington DC.

Mr. Bilbeisi holds a Masters Degree in International Relations from University of Exeter, a Higher Diploma in Foreign Service from Oxford University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Jordan. He worked as a volunteer with The Landmines Survivors Network, is a member of The Hashemite Society for Soldiers with Special Needs, and is also an active member of the Chevening Scholarship Programme Association. Mr. Bilbeisi has an interest in current political and economic affairs, and actively participates in political and economic seminars/lectures organized at various institutes.

Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, Dean, College of Mathematics Natural Sciences and Technology, Delaware State University; Member of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, NASA

Dr. Noureddine Melikechi is a Professor of Physics; Dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology; Vice President for Research; and Founding Director of the Optical Science Center for Applied Research at Delaware State University. He is also a member of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, NASA’s largest science exploration of the red planet.  Dr. Melikechi also holds a visiting Professor of Physics position at Vassar College, NY.

Dr. Melikechi received his Baccalaureate in Mathematics in Algeria and a Diplôme d’Études Supérieures in Physics at the University of Sciences and Technology of Algiers, Algeria.  He went on to pursue a Doctorate of Philosophy (D.Phil.) in Physics at the University of Sussex in England.   He then accepted a postdoctoral research position in Quantum Optics at the North London Polytechnic and later joined the University of Sciences and Technology in Algiers as an Assistant Professor of Physics. Dr. Melikechi moved to the USA in 1990 as a postdoctoral research fellow in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics and held the position of Assistant Professor of Physics.  At Delaware State University, he founded the Applied Optics Center of Delaware.  Dr. Melikechi was awarded a major grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a Center for Research and Education in Optical Sciences and Applications and in 2009 was awarded another major grant from NASA to establish the Center for Applied Optics for Space Science.  These centers form what is today the Optical Science Center for Applied research.  Dr. Melikechi is also the PI of the NIH- MARC program and of the DSU NIH-INBRE program. Dr. Melikechi is the author of more than 75 peer-reviewed publications, 3 book chapters and 15 patents. Recently Dr. Melikechi has embarked on developing sensitive optical techniques for the early detection of epithelial ovarian cancer.  This work brings together laser spectroscopy, nanochemistry, and cancer diagnosis and has potential impact on disease prevention.  Dr. Melikechi is a member of the MSL team overseeing the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument on board the 1-ton Curiosity Rover launched on November 25th, 2011 and landed successfully on the red planet on August 6th.

“Maximizing the Impact of Remittances on Economic Development”
This break out session will explore the impact of remittances on home economies, and ways remittances can be utilized more strategically to stimulate investment in high growth sectors. What are some successful case studies, and how can they be applied in other countries? What are some of the obstacles and how can partners overcome them?

Dr. Liesl Riddle, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Co-Director of GW Diaspora Program, The George Washington University

Liesl Riddle is the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of International Business and International Affairs at The George Washington University School of Business (GWSB). She oversees 14 of GWSB’s graduate degree programs, including five MBA and nine specialized masters programs. In conjunction with faculty advisory committees, she developed GWSB’s Digital Community (GWSB:DC), a suite of online degree programs (MBA, MSPM, MSIST, MTA) that are offered through a digital-community environment. She also is the co-director of GWSB’s OntheBoard program, a fellowship program designed to promote women on corporate boards.

Dr. Riddle has written extensively about diasporas and development, international entrepreneurship, and trade and investment promotion. Having examined diaspora investment and entrepreneurship for over 20 years, Dr. Riddle has conducted research among 16 different diaspora communities in the USA and Europe originating from countries of origin in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East. From 2006-2012 she spearheaded a multidisciplinary research team, the George Washington University Diaspora Capital Investment Project, which generated and disseminated learning about diaspora investment and its role in development to assist policymakers, diaspora organizations, diaspora entrepreneurs, and researchers. She was a founding member and director of the university’s Diaspora Research Program.

Dr. Riddle teaches course at the executive, graduate, and undergraduate levels, including courses on Identity, Migration, and Entrepreneurship; Managing in Developing Countries; Global Perspectives; International Management; and the Consulting Abroad Practicum. She has received numerous teaching awards, including the GW School of Business’ Teaching Excellence Award. She is a frequent guest speaker at the US Foreign Service Institute in the Near East North Africa Area Studies Program. Dr. Riddle holds a BA and MA in Middle Eastern Studies, a MBA in Marketing/International Business, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.  Prior to her appointment at GW in 2001, she worked in the field of market research and held the position of the Director of Research for an international market research firm.

Tamim Baiou, President, AlRakiza Training & Co-Founder and General Partner, 4 Point Enterprises

Tamim Baiou is the co-founder and General Partner of 4 Point Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm based in Fairfax, Virginia.  Since 2004, Mr. Baiou has focused his efforts and energies towards helping his homeland, Libya, in its development efforts.  Mr. Baiou is engaged with AlRakiza Training, a Libya-based education and training institution that has been involved in building a U.S. knowledge transfer bridge with Libya to help the Libyan people advance and improve their workforce skills through capacity building programs as part of a conduit for socio-economic development through training and education. Prior, Mr. Baiou was co-founder and President of a successful marketing and graphic communications company in Irvine, California for over 18 years, where he was instrumental in the firm’s rapid growth within a highly competitive industry in a vibrant regional marketplace. Mr. Baiou has been an active community member as he served on the board of several non-profit organizations and played an active role in supporting and promoting the Arab Spring change in Libya.

Yasser Elnaggar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Egypt

Mr. Yasser Elnaggar was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Egypt in Washington D.C. in September of 2010. Prior to this post, he served as Senior Policy Adviser to the Presidents of the 61st and 64th Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

Born in 1966, Mr. Elnaggar initiated his career in the diplomatic service in 1990. Previous assignments include the Consulate General in Chicago as well as the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. While in Cairo, he served as Director of the Department of United Nations Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt from 2007 until 2009, as well as adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt from 1997 until 2001. Mr. Elnaggar was also assigned as political adviser to the Secretary General of the Arab League from 2001 until the end of 2002. During his different posts, Mr. Elnaggar has participated in numerous conferences on regional and international issues, as well as Arab and African Summits.

Mr. Elnaggar holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics from Cairo University and has a Masters Degree in Social Sciences with specialization in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. He also acquired a diploma in International Relations and Development from the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague, The Netherlands and earned a Certificate for International Relations from the Institute for Diplomatic Studies in Cairo. Mr. Elnaggar is married to Gihan Hafez and they have two children.

Awais Khan, CEO of American Pakistan Foundation

Mr. Khan has a wide range of experience in the private and public sector. Prior to his leadership role at American Pakistan Foundation, he was a Partner at Ackrell Capital, an investment bank specializing in early stage investments, placements, and cross border joint ventures. Prior to that, he held senior positions with the Venture Capital Practice at KPMG, Dimension Data and Hewlett Packard.

Barbara Span, Vice President, Global Public Affairs, Western Union Company

Barbara Span is Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Western Union, based in Washington, D.C. She has responsibility for policy, regulatory and consumer issues, advocacy programs, and conducting issues research analysis. Barbara’s focus for Western Union is on issues ranging from migration, financial inclusion, immigrant integration and economic development to consumer fraud, alternative financial services and underbanked/underserved consumers. She also plays a key role in Western Union initiatives that focus on diaspora-driven development and job creation, financial literacy and small business entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to Western Union, Barbara’s work has been with leading U.S. and global electronic payments processors and ATM/debit networks where her work has addressed a myriad of innovation and consumer protection issues including consumer privacy, identity theft, financial account aggregation, authentication in Internet purchasing, check electronification, payments fraud, natural disasters, and Y2K. She has been responsible for producing white papers and research that have supported Federal fraud protection legislation. She is a Northwestern University alum.


Event information
Mon May 13, 2013
3:00pm - 6:00pm GMT+0000
Washington, DC, United States