Advisory Board 

Members of the Advisory Board  work with the senior management  team in reviewing the Global Diplomatic Forum's programmes and shaping its strategic direction and promoting the Forum globally.  These members represent  the wide geographic and expertise varieties illustrated in the Global Diplomatic Forum's activities. 

Alisa Lockwood, chair of the global diplomatic forum board

editor in Chief, GRI: 

Ms Lockwood has more than 13 years of experience in political risk, market entry and due diligence. She is currently applying this knowledge as Chief Strategic Adviser at Global Risk Insights, a world-leading publication for political risk news and analysis. Previously, as Head of Europe/CIS Country Risk at IHS Global, Alisa advised major corporate clients on political and security risks in the region, notably she was responsible for producing risk ratings, commercially-relevant forecasts and analysis. She led the development of the counter party risk assessment product and managed global investigations. Alisa has frequently appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC and Sky News among others. She has also worked at the Senate of Canada and at the European External Action Service in Moscow.

Dr. Hans-Jacob Schindler, Coordinator of ISIL (DA'ESH) & Al-Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team, United Nations Security Council: 

Dr. Schindler has wide international experience in diplomacy, intelligence and security. He was appointed Coordinator of the ISIL (Da’esh), al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations Security Council in July 2015, having served as an Expert in the Team since the beginning of 2013.  

Prior to this, he worked as an associated partner for West Sands and an associated consultant for Stirling Assynt in in the United Kingdom as well as advisor to several companies in Europe. He consulted on security, political and economic issues concerning Iran, the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. In addition, he served as Program Director for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London, leading the Institute's foreign policy-centered program area. Having studied in Tübingen, Georgetown Washington D.C. and Israel, Hans holds a Masters and PhD degree in International Terrorism from St. Andrews University in Scotland.

©Sandrine CELLARD/Opale/Leemage

©Sandrine CELLARD/Opale/Leemage

Vibeke Brask Thomsen, Founder and Director of GenderHopes:

Vibeke Brask Thomsen is Danish-born but raised in Monaco. After graduating with a Master in Public Policy and a Master of Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan, she moved to Bruxelles, where she worked for think-thanks and NGOs on arms control, disarmament, security and defence, and on policies to protect women in conflict zones.In 2011, she returned to Monaco where she founded GenderHopes. The non-profit aims to empower girls and women through education and to raise awareness about the International Day of the Girl.

GenderHopes also aims to combat gender-based violence and discrimination by raising awareness, informing policy-makers and the general public and by highlighting negative stereotypes that promote gender-based violence and discrimination. 

Virginie Jacoberger-Lavoué Journalist:

Based in France, she has worked for Valeurs Actuelles in Paris  since 1997. Before joining this weekly news magazine, she was a war reporter (Afghanistan).

Since 2010, Virginie Jacoberger-Lavoué has covered Brazil for the Foreign Affairs section of the magazine. Her second book will be out in June 2016 (from Editions du Moment). It focuses on the rise and fall of modern Brazil.

She graduated with honors  in Journalism, Media and Politics from Sorbonne (Sorbonne-Panthéon Paris) and she also obtained a degree in Literature.

Raphael Obonyo, Africa Representative to the World Bank’s Global Coordination Board of Youth Network on Anti-Corruption:

 A youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels. Mr Obonyo is the external adviser, UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board, and Africa’s representative in the World Bank’s Global Coordination Board on Youth and Anti-Corruption. He is the co-founder and a member of the Advisory council of the Youth Congress, a premier youth-led organizatio in Kenya. Extensive knowledge and experience in public policy, international development, political economy, governance and human rights.  He is 2014 Crans Montana’s New Leader of Tomorrow. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University. 

Quintin Oliver , Chief Executive Stratagem International:

A global reputation as a conflict resolution and referendums specialist, playing his part in the N. Ireland peace process and bringing a reflective approach to his strategic counsel. He lived through the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, playing his part through the emerging third (non-profit) sector as a contributor to civil society developments that led to the seminal Good Friday / Belfast Agreement of 1998; he led the cross-party “YES” Campaign in the subsequent Referendum that sealed the agreement with an 82% turnout and 71% Yes vote. 

At Stratagem NI his own political and lobbying consultancy he set up in Belfast after the Referendum. He has worked closely with loyalist communities in the post-agreement phase of the Northern Irish conflict as they moved from paramilitary action to re-integration. Was appointed head of the secretariat of the Iraq Helsinki project that brought Irish and South African political leaders together with Iraqi politicians, in classic Track Two format from which emerged the Helsinki Principles that took root after their presentation in Baghdad. He has also worked on the conflicts of Cyprus (including the 2004 Referendum), Colombia, Kosovo, Israel / Palestine and Uganda. He has lectured, written and consulted on his experiences on four continents. Oliver was a personal appointee of President Mary Robinson to the Council of State of Ireland.

Dr Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Chair, Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians on Sustainable Development:

Candidate for Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of UNEP. An influential politician regarding environmental matters, a specialised attorney in International, Environmental and Sustainable Development Law, and the recipient of the Green Star Award awarded by  UNEP, OCHA, and Green Cross International for her leadership in prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies.

Member of the Hellenic Parliament, she has held the positions of the Chair of the Special Standing Committee on Environmental Protection and the Subcommittee of the Water Resources of the Hellenic Parliament, as well as the Chair of the Permanent Standing Committee of National Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament. She is currently the Chair of the Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians of Sustainable Development (COMPSUD), the Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology (IELST) and a Member of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO).  

Previously, she has also served as the Chairperson of the Committee on United Nations Affairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and as the Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector (“Shadow” Deputy Minister for the Environment) of the New Democracy Party in Greece.

Named one of the forty most promising leaders of the European Union under the age of 40. Apart from the Green Star Award, she has also received a U.S. Special Congressional Recognition for her “outstanding efforts and invaluable contributions on behalf of Hellenic Students and the environment”, the "2010 Global Leadership Award for Leadership in Helping Humanity" by Orphans International Worldwide, and the international “Goddess Artemis Award” by the Euro-American Women’s Council for her contribution to transatlantic cooperation between the U.S. and the EU institutions on environmental and climate change issues. 

Johan Obdola, President, International Organization for Security and Intelligence:

President and Founder of the International Organisation for Security and Intelligence, I.O.S.I., and he is one of the top international government security and intelligence expert, and speaker on Narco-Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Terrorism, and a constant media reference on these security subjects. Johan’s professional experience covers Counter-Narcotics, Counter-Terrorism, Narco-Terrorism, Transnational Crime and other security threats in Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East-GCC. He is a prolific international speaker in military, law enforcement, and other government-official related conferences and seminars, covering mostly national, regional and international security issues. Johan is involved in several non for profit organizations, including advisor of Kape-Kape an indigenous NGO in Venezuela, and Board of the Autism Trust Foundation in Duba.

Professor Abdeli-Ilah Bennis, Academic and Former Director of Studies of the Diplomatic Academy of London:

Professor Bennis is highly regarded as an authority on diplomacy, intelligence and national security, having published widely on these subjects in Arabic and English. His lecture tours span across the world, covering Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

Previously Professor Bennis was the Head of Political and Consular Affairs at the Moroccan Embassy in London (1984-1996), before starting leadership programmes for diplomats, aspiring politicians and others as the CEO of Regent Global Solutions. He was previously director of studies at the Diplomatic Academy of London, where he managed both the London and Paris offices.

Rainatou Sow, founder & executive director of Make Every Woman Count (MEWC)

An African woman-led organisation which serves as a mobilizing, networking, information, advocacy and training platform for African women by building their leadership capacities to influence policy and decision making. 

MEWC publishes an annual report as an audit of the status and conditions of women in each African country. In addition, MEWC monitors the participation of women in national and local politics taking place in Africa.Rai holds a MA in International Relations as well as a MA in Law, she has worked with several organisation such as the International Organisation for Migration, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and grassroots organizations in areas of peace, development and human rights.

Apart from featuring on CNN’s African Voices, and being awarded as the  “Most Inspirational Woman” by Women4Africa in 2012, Forbes Magazine named her as one of the “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2012″ and one of the "20 young builders of Africa of tomorrow in 2014". Salt Magazine named her as one of the World’s 100 Most Inspiring Women. She was BBC 100 Women in 2013 and 2014. Just recently, she was named one of the Young Leaders of Tomorrow by the Crans Montana Forum in Brussels. Rai has recently received the Pan African Humanitarian Awards on Gender Equality and Advocacy.

David Martin Abrahams, businessman and philanthropist

David Martin Abrahams is a successful entrepreneur and businessman who has always been keen to generate employment in his native North East of England and indeed in other parts of the country with his business interests. Passionate about job creation, he invested many years assembling one of the key North-East sites for housing and employment.

His multi-faceted career includes a County Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate

Until recently he was Vice President of the Royal United Services (RUSI) in Whitehall and now to be its first Ambassador. He has a deep interest in Middle Eastern affairs and is committed to achieving a lasting comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and Palestine. To this end, he focused his efforts at RUSI on facilitating Middle East Track II Diplomacy, promoting the Arab Peace Initiative and assisting RUSI to promote its research throughout the World. He also set up a chair at Warwick University on Middle Eastern Studies at the Department of Politics and International Studies under the auspices of Professor Richard Higgott. His diplomatic efforts in many Middle East countries brought him into contact with Yasser Arafat as well as Hamas and other leaders establishing grounds for ongoing dialogue.

Throughout his career, David has served as a trustee and board member on many charitable and voluntary bodies. Heis currently a trustee and Board Member of the award winning North East Prisons After Care Society (NEPACS) and former founder of North East Alzheimer’s Society.
David, with a strong social justice, was for many years National Director of The Campaign For Pensioner Poverty leading to many successful campaigns. Interfaith issues have always featured highly on his agenda having served for twelve years as a trustee and on the executive of The Council for Christians and Jews, becoming their Director of Parliamentary Affairs. He also concentrated much time with Three Faiths Forum, embracing the three Abrahamic Faiths.