Our Team

WHO ARE WE?

CMIC began as a response to the war in Syria and consequent jeopardization of postsecondary education for millions of refugees and internally displaced persons.  In 2014, the President of the University of Ottawa, Allan Rock, brought together researchers from the university to identify and develop a distance-learning program for Syrian refugees.  CMIC then grew into a transnational project across five continents that aims to not only support access to postsecondary education for Lebanese host communities and Syrian, Palestinian and other refugees but also to support community mobilization on a much broader scale.

Many of CMIC’s team members have lived through crisis and have been mobilizers in their own communities.  Our greatest contributors continue to be youth working as researchers and mobilizers of all ages whose time, knowledge, and energy drives our work.

CMIC is a member of the Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium, co-founded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to promote and support the provision of quality higher education in crisis contexts.

Organizational Partners

Lebanese Association for Scientific Research (Lebanon)

Dalia Association (Palestine)

Youth Speak (Kurdistan Region of Iraq)

Co-Directors

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Nadia Abu-Zahra

Co-director

Nadia Abu-Zahra holds the Joint Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, and works with students, staff and faculty as well as local and transnational organizations toward transforming the structures and contexts of learning. Previously based at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, Nadia is a member of the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services, and Centre for International Policy Studies, and served on the Board and Reconciliation Committee of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Emily Regan Wills

Co-director

Emily Regan Wills is an associate professor of comparative politics at the University of Ottawa.  Her current research focuses on the effects of transnational linkages between Middle East and North America on everyday politics in the Arab world, with a particular focus on Palestinian transnationalisms.  She is a teacher of research methods, social movements, and social change, and integrates a decolonial approach to political science throughout her teaching.  Beyond CMIC, she is active in the Women’s Caucus of the Canadian Political Science Association, as a board member for the journal Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review, and in LGBTQ refugee resettlement in Ottawa.

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Current Team

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Judy El Mohtadi

Project Manager

Judy El-Mohtadi is a local organizer from Lebanon with an Honors Bachelors in Criminology and Feminist and Gender Studies. Judy started organizing through her role as the co-founder of the Feminist and Gender Studies Students’ Association and as the Coordinator of the Womxn’s Resource Centre at the University of Ottawa where she spearheaded a number of initiatives, notably putting on Ottawa’s first TEDxWomen event. Her activism on anti-racism began when she was elected as the Equity Commissioner with the University of Ottawa Students’ Union and continued into her role as a Board member for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group and a Research Fellow with the Joint Chair in Women’s Studies. As a Project Manager with CMIC, Judy is interested in further reimagining structures of learning by working to normalize a more social justice-oriented, accessible and decolonial form of education and moving away from the hegemonic Western knowledge production cycle.

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Diana El Richani

Researcher, Former Project Manager

Diana El Richani is a Beiruti anthropologist based in Toronto. She holds a BA in Sociology and Anthropology, with a double major in Philosophy, from the American University of Beirut, and  an MA in Anthropology from the University of Ottawa. Her MA thesis focused on the political imaginaries of the alternative and the ways through which they navigated the complex political terrain during the Beirut municipality elections in 2016. She is currently a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Toronto.  From 2017-2020, she was the project manager for CMIC.  Her interests include social movements and community mobilizations in the Middle East, relationships to the state and its apparatuses, and extends to questions on postwar architectures, transitional justice, and ideas of decolonial cultural expressions.

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Isadora Branco

Research Assistant

Student of the Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Montréal (Udem) and of the MBA in Project Management at the University of São Paulo (USP), Isadora Branco has a degree in International Relations from the University of Brasília (UnB). Since the beginning of her training, she works with the sociocultural integration of immigrants, mainly through community mobilization. She was the founder and coordinator of the Coral Solusyon, the founder and coordinator of the Tempo de Plantar Movement’s Structural Committee, and recently served as a Community Mobilization Assistant at a Shelter Center for Venezuelan Refugees in Brasília, Brazil. Isadora was responsible for the evaluation plan of the first CMIC pilot in 2018 and also implemented a version of the Community Mobilization course at the University of Brasília (UnB). As a Research Assistant at CMIC, she is responsible for collecting case studies, conducting interviews and contributing to CMIC’s materials.

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Fajr Alsayed

Translator and Web Content Manager

Fajr Alsayed is a student of Communication and Political Science at the University of Ottawa. He first worked with Dr. Emily Regan Wills as a research assistant on the project “Organizing in Racialized, Indigenous and Refugee Communities in Canada.” Later, he helped translating, editing, and uploading content on the CMIC website. Fajr is currently working as a media analyst with Environment and Climate Change Canada as part of the Co-operative Education program at the University of Ottawa, and he is the co-head of campaigns with Amnesty International UOttawa. Beyond the University of Ottawa, Fajr worked as a translator and social worker with several NGOs in Syria and Germany that support people fleeing crisis zones, including Arabesque For Development in Syria and Refugees Welcome Ilmenau in Germany. He also volunteered at the Erasmus Student Network as a social work coordinator for international exchange students in Germany. He is a journalist, article writer, and advocate for global justice, social protection, and social development causes.

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Ursula Johansson Rivero

Translator and Web Content Manager

Ursula Johansson Rivero is a third year student at the University of Ottawa. She is studying International Development and Globalization with a minor in management. Born and raised in Belgium, Ursula has also a Spanish and Swedish nationality which has sparked her interest in international relations and international politics. Her interests also include social movements as well as immigration and refugees issues. She has recently written a critical essay about Europe’s response to the migrant crisis and is looking to start a Master’s Degree in International studies.

Colleagues and Collaborators

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Sawsan Abdulrahim

American University of Beirut

Dr. Sawsan Abdulrahim is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the American University of Beirut. She obtained her doctoral degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Abdulrahim’s research focuses on social inequalities and health, the social and cultural meanings of subjective health evaluations, and the structural conditions that influence the wellbeing of labor migrants and refugees. Her previous work has focused on the social determinants of health of Arab immigrants in the United States and migrant domestic workers in the Arab region. Currently, she is undertaking research on the health of Syrian refugee women in Lebanon, with an emphasis on reproductive health outcomes and early marriage. She teaches courses in health promotion theory, forced migration and health, and global public health.

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Zahraa Beydoun

American University of Beirut

Zahraa Beydoun is a Researcher and a Project Coordinator at the Health Promotion and Community Health Department at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon and an instructor of Public Health at Phoenicia University in Lebanon. She is a graduate of the American University of Beirut where she obtained her BSc. in Nutrition and Dietetics and then her MPH in Health Promotion and Community Health. After her graduation Zahraa started working at UNRWA as part of her internship and then joined the American University of Beirut in 2013. In 2015 she joined Phoenicia University as an instructor of Public Health teaching courses in public health and population health for undergraduate students. Her areas of research interests are social inequalities in health and refugees’ health and rights. Her previous work has focused on the social determinants of health of the Lebanese population and refugees in Lebanon. Currently she is performing research on the social determinants of cardiovascular diseases among the Lebanese Population.

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El Hadji Yaya Koné

University of Ottawa

El Hadji Yaya Koné is an assistant professor of online learning and teaching in higher education (Faculty of Education at uOttawa). Dr Koné investigates issues of digital pedagogy across academic disciplines with respect to learning assessment, inclusive education, collaborative learning, cross-border distance education. His research methodology is primarily qualitative and grounded theory oriented. Dr Koné has been a distance education intern at the Télé-université du Québec (Téluq), a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Montreal, an educational developer at the University of Quebec in Abitibi-Temiscamingue (UQAT) and a professor in the department of education at the same University where he developed and directed the graduate certificate program in pedagogy for higher education.

 

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Lavagnon Ika

University of Ottawa

Lavagnon Ika is Full Professor of Project Management (PM), former Program Director for the MSc in Management, Faculty Leader for uOttawa partnerships with African Universities, and Founding Director of the Major Projects Observatory at the Telfer School of Management (uOttawa). Over the past 20 years, he has taught PM at the B.Com, MBA/EMBA, MSc and PhD levels in both the French and English languages, in Canada but also in Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. In his research, Professor Ika looks into different types of projects with a keen interest in why projects deviate from plan and experience cost overruns and benefit shortfalls.Professor Ika is Associate Editor for the top International Journal of Project Management and a member of the Academic Boards of the prestigious international PM associations, the US-based Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Europe-based International Project Management Association (IPMA). He received many coveted recognitions including the IPMA Research Award in 2017. 

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Peter Milley

University of Ottawa

Peter Milley is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Director of the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services (CRECS) at the University of Ottawa. Peter teaches and conducts research on topics related to educational leadership, administration, policy, and evaluation. His recent research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, has focused on the leadership of social innovation in Canadian universities. Peter also studies inclusive, participatory methods for conducting evaluation activities in social innovation and international development contexts. Prior to joining the University, Peter served as Senior Advisor in the Canadian federal public service on a variety public service-wide administrative reforms and international development projects targeting governance reforms.

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Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

University College London

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies at University College London (UCL) where she is Co-Director of UCL’s Migration Research Unit, and is the Founder and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies Refuge in a Moving World research network across UCL. Drawing on critical theoretical approaches, her research focuses on local and Southern-led responses to conflict-induced displacement, with a particular focus on the Middle East and the Caribbean (see www.refugeehosts.org and www.southernresponses.org). As part of this research, she is particularly interested in better understanding refugee-led responses to displacement, and the roles that members of local faith communities across the global South play in promoting the rights of people who have been displaced. Elena’s recent publications include The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival (Syracuse University Press, 2014), South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East(Routledge, 2015), Refuge in a Moving World: Refugee and migrant journeys across disciplines (editor, UCL Press, 2020, Open Access), and ‘Recentering the South in Studies of Migration‘ (the introduction to the special issue of Migration and Society of the same title, Open Access).

 

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Andre Vellino

University of Ottawa

André Vellino is an associate professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa. He has had over twenty-six years of experience in the field of computing technology for the representation of and reasoning about information. Prior to his university appointment in 2012, he spent six years at the NRC’s Canada National Science Library (formerly the Institute for Scientific and Technical Information – CISTI) working on the advancement of recommender systems technologies to serve in the context of a digital library. His work in the private sector his work included the design and development of Natural Language Processing software for the analysis of emails at Entrust and developed constraint logic programming software for Nortel Networks. André is also cross appointed to the Department of Computer Science, a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy and a founding member of the Academy for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies at the University of Ottawa.

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Ruth G. Kane

University of Ottawa

Ruth Kane is Director of Graduate Studies (Anglophone) within the Faculty of Education. Her research focuses on the preparation of teachers for urban schools and equity in teaching and teacher education in Canada and internationally. She leads annual international practicums to Uganda through which Canadian teachers engage in teaching within a very different context. Ruth is co-Director of the Réseau de Savoir sur l’Équité | Equity Knowledge Network , an Ontario-wide bilingual Knowledge Network and principal investigator in a five-year SSHRC-funded study, of how school boards, teachers, and students take up citizenship within urban schools that serve youth from indigenous and first-generation refugee and immigrant communities. She is currently co-lead in a 3-year ArcticNet-funded study of sustainable inuit-centered teacher education for Inuit Nunangat, a collaborative project bringing together researchers from five universities (uOttawa, UPEI, Memorial, Winnipeg, Queens) and the four Inuit Nunangat jurisdictions. Ruth has also recently launched a collaborative study of graduate supervision and the well-being of graduate students with colleagues internationally.

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Ruby Dagher

University of Ottawa

Ruby Dagher is a Replacement Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, a researcher, and a consultant. She has a PhD in Public Policy and Administration with research focused on issues related to bias, diversity, and racism, gender equality, conflict, development studies, and evaluation. She previously worked for the Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, and the Canadian International Development Agency, now Global Affairs Canada – Development. Ruby has also consulted for the Caribbean Development Bank, the University of Central Asia, the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, and the Association of Part-time Professors at the University of Ottawa.