CIVICUS Board of Directors

Anabel Cruz - Board Chair and Chair of the Executive Committee
Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo
Originally from Uruguay, Anabel has been working for the respect of Human Rights and strengthening of democracy for more than 30 years. In 1986, after several years of exile, she returned to Uruguay and founded with other colleagues the “Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo” (ICD), a CSO aimed to promoting citizen participation and strengthening civil society.

ICD has become a national and international reference in the field of supporting institutional building and capacities of CSOs, promoting NGO accountability and the enhancement of the role of civil society in public policies. ICD and Anabel were involved in the creation and promotion of CIVICUS from the inception of CIVICUS in 1993. Anabel is a well-known expert on civil society and citizen participation, she is the Co-coordinator of the Regional Rendir Cuentas Initiative and an active member of ISTR (International Society for Third-Sector Research).
Amitabh Behar - Vice Board Chair
National Foundation for India
Amitabh Behar is the Executive Director of the National Foundation for India (NFI), a philanthropic trust that supports civic action for promoting democracy and social justice. NFI was set up in 1992 as an Independent Indian grant making and fund raising institution by eminent Indians, in response to a long felt need to rejuvenate voluntary sector capacities to address problems of deep seated poverty and inequality.

He is currently the Global Co-Chair of GCAP (Global Call to Action against Poverty). GCAP has played a critical role in peoples’ mobilization and attracting attention of policy makers on issues of national government accountability, aid, debt and trade. The campaign over the years has been a key actor mobilizing and channelizing citizen’s energies for achieving MDGs and framing just post 2030 agenda. Amitabh was also a Steering Committee Member of the Beyond 2015. He also played an important role in shaping the action/2015 globally (including co-convening the global launch action group of action/2015) while anchoring the action/2015 campaign in India.

He is the Convener of the National Social Watch Coalition (NSWC) which works as the national coalition of Social Watch. Amitabh was also the convener of Wada Na Todo Abhiyaan (Don’t Break your promises campaign - one of the largest civil society campaigns for governance accountability in India) for Six years and played an instrumental role in building and shaping the campaign. As the Convener of WNTA, Amitabh led the process of Civil Society inputs into the 12th Five Year Plan. He continues to lead the SDG and agenda 2030 work of WNTA (which is also the national platform of civil society groups on MDGs/SDGs) and provided leadership to the development of a process for working towards a post MDG framework in India in partnership with UN and other stakeholders.

He is Member of Governing Board of several organizations including Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF); Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP); Advisory Board of Amnesty International in India; Centre for Budget and Governance and Accountability (CBGA), Delhi; Vani (Voluntary Action Network of India); Navsarjan Trust (is one the leading organization of the Dalit movement in India); Mobile Creches; and is the President of Yuva (It was one of the key anchors of the World Social Forum (WSF) held in Mumbai in 2004).

He was earlier the Executive Director of the National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS) and has worked with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Ford Foundation. As the Executive Director of NCAS, Amitabh led capacity building of individuals, activists, organizations and networks across India and South Asia.

Amitabh works on issues of Governance, civil society and philanthropy with a special focus on governance accountability and decentralized governance.

On Twitter @NFI_Delhi
Dr. Daisy N. Owomugasho – Secretary of the Board
The Hunger Project
Dr. Daisy N. Owomugasho became Country Director for The Hunger Project (THP)-Uganda in February 2011.Prior to joining THP-Uganda, Dr. Owomugasho was a lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala, one of the most prestigious universities in Uganda. She has also held the position of Executive Director at two non-governmental organizations: the African Women’s Economic Policy Network, a pan-African, faith-based organization that seeks to strengthen the capacity of women to influence economic policies; and the Uganda Debt Network, which works to promote and advocate for poverty assistance policies.

Dr. Owomugasho has also worked as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), African Development Bank, InWent of Germany, Idasa of South Africa and International Budget Project. She has participated in several international conferences including the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2003, and the UN Conferences on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2017.

Dr. Owomugasho earned her PhD in Economics from Makerere University in Uganda in 2014. She also holds a Masters Degree in Development Economics from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and a B.A. Degree in Economics and Rural Economy from Makerere University.
Julia Sanchez - Treasurer & Chair of the Operations Committee
Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)
Julia Sanchez is a Canadian of Peruvian origin and currently President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). Established in 1968, CCIC is the national coalition of the major Canadian civil society organizations working globally to achieve sustainable human development, end global poverty and promote justice and human dignity for all.

Julia came to this position in August 2011 with extensive experience in top‐level international development management, including many years working in the civil society sector in Latin America and Asia (Bolivia, Guatemala, Nepal and India). Julia is perfectly fluent in English, Spanish and French.

Central to her work has been building partnerships with and participating in/facilitating broad, multi-sectoral coalitions and networks with numerous Canadian and international partners and donors. She is recognized as a natural convener, and for her collaborative and constructive leadership approach.

Julia has designed and managed programs in humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, democratic development, community-based economic development and campaigning on climate change. At CCIC, she has focused on promoting policy work in international cooperation, including on the enabling environment for civil society. She is the main spokesperson for the organization and represents the sector on multiple national and international forums. Currently she is on the boards/steering committees/advisory or strategy groups of: Imagine Canada, the North South Institute, CPDE, the Voices coalition, and the Americas Policy Group.

She holds two degrees from McGill University: a BA in Political Science and Economics (1985) and an MA in Economics (1996). Her specialization is in international and development economics.

On Twitter @JSanchezCCIC
Lorenzo Marsili
European Alternatives
Lorenzo is an author, social entrepreneur and political activist. After graduating in philosophy from the University of London, he founded quarterly journal Naked Punch to research cultural production from non-Western countries. After spending time in China and obtaining a second degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, he launched Transnational Dialogues, an exchange program between Chinese, Brazilian and European activists and change-makers.

A longstanding believer in transnational politics, in 2007 he co-founded European Alternatives, an international NGO working to promote citizenship rights across the European Union. With activities spanning over 18 countries, including Turkey and Ukraine, the organisation runs campaigns to empower activists, defend fundamental rights, and advocate for democratic reform. Several campaigns have been organised jointly with CIVICUS. In 2013 he launched the European Media Initiative, gathering 200,000 signatures to demand an EU directive ensuring media freedom, transparency and the rights of media watchdogs. Since 2016 he is part of the advisory board for CIVICUS Monitor.

He is an active public speaker and a media commentator internationally, including on BBC [UK], Al Jazeera [INT], El Diario [ESP], Il Fatto Quotidiano [IT]. His latest book, Citizens of Nowhere, is forthcoming from Zed Books.

On Twitter @l_marsili
Aya Chebbi
African Youth Movement
Aya is an award winning Pan-African Feminist activist and renowned blogger. She is well-known for her activism during Tunisia’s Revolution 2010-2011 that overthrew Ben Ali’s regime. Her blogs were published at Al-Jazeera, Open Democracy and Foresight-Africa. Beside her prominent online presence, she is the co-founder of the Voice of Women initiative (Feminist collective) and founding Chair of the African Youth Movement, building Africa's largest movement, through which she aims to bridge North Africa with the rest of the continent and Africa with the diaspora.

Aya has been changing the narrative about Tunisia, Africa and the Middle East through blogging, organizing, producing documentaries, curating programs and delivering talks at High Level events and international platforms including the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, the US Congress and TEDx. She is a consultant to the African Union and the United Nations, claiming the agenda of African women and youth at the center of regional and international discourse. Aya is a campaigner and member of multiple solidarity networks including Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Development Awareness Raising and Education Forum (DARE Forum), and International Center of Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).

She previously worked at the refugee camps during 2011 Libya’s civil war and monitored 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections. However, she was blacklisted and banned from entering Egypt since March 2014. In recognition to her achievements, Aya was named one of Africa's most Outstanding Young Women leaders in 2013 (Ghana) and won the Young Achiever of the year 2015 (South Africa). She is currently a Mo Ibrahim Scholar for an MA in African Studies at SOAS, university of London.

On Twitter @aya_chebbi
Guillermo Correa
Red Argentina para la Cooperación Internacional (RACI)
Guillermo Correa, co-founder and Executive Director of the Argentine Network for International Cooperation – RACI, the Argentine national platform of NGOs. He has been working in the civil society for 15 years –he is 35 years old now. He was for 5 years the Director of Institutional Development at the Argentine Chapter of Transparency International. He did a fellowship at the Kettering Foundation in the US and after that he founded the National Platform of NGOs in Argentina –RACI. He´s been the Executive Director since it was funded and also, since 2013 he´s been the Executive Director of Help Argentina – a US based foundation that allows international donors to identify and support high impact non-profits in Argentina promoting the culture of philanthropy in Latin America.

He has been involved with CIVICUS since 2011 and in 2014 he became part of the Steering Committee of AGNA – the Affinity Group of National Associations - CIVICUS, representing Latin America. I´ve been member of CIVICUS since 2011, and I was elected in 2014 to join AGNA representing Latin America. He is specialized in international cooperation for development, corporate social responsibility and fundraising. He´s been also teaching in several universities around the world, dedicated to the situation of NGOs and civil society in Latin America and the world. He speaks Spanish, English and French. He is political scientist and Masters in International Relations.

On Twitter @CorreaGuille
Jesse Chen - Chair of the Governance and Membership Committee
United States
Jesse Chen is a global civil society activist, technology strategist, and systems change agent with a background in strategy, community engagement, leadership, and organizational development. He has been involved in a variety of different civil society causes and on the board of several organizations over the last decade. His core focus and life’s work has been on empowering people to act individually and collectively for change in their communities and organizations, a mission embodied in his work with Powerline. In these urgent times, Jesse looks to elevate CIVICUS’ focus on membership engagement, strategic programs and partnerships, and global communications in order to help strengthen its capacity, solidarity, and impact.

As a systemic thinker and organizational strategist, Jesse looks to challenge CIVICUS and its membership to rise to the issues that we face and work collectively to strengthen civil society and democracy around the world. Additionally, Jesse plans to bring a millennial perspective with technology and strategy expertise to the board. He has recently been involved in the World Citizens Movement global conferences, the DEEEP Explorers program, the action/2015 campaign, and several progressive causes in the United States including, most recently, a major US presidential campaign as a community organizer.. These learning experiences provided him with lessons that he shared in a TED talk entitled “Redefining Democracy for People’s Power,” which challenges people and organizations to think differently about community engagement in between elections. In his free time, Jesse enjoys spending time with family and friends, working out, cooking, philosophy, and politics.

On Twitter @PowerlineApp
Nilda Bullain
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Born in socialist Hungary and spending childhood years in La-Paz, Bolivia, Nilda developed a passion for freedom and social change at an early age.  She attended meetings of the opposition in the living room of their home in Budapest, and travelled to help Roma communities in far corners of Hungary before she was 18.  At the change of the political system she was involved in human rights organizations and the nascent women’s movement; she co-edited the first feminist journal in Hungary.  Her path led her to get a legal education and work with civil society organizations, recognizing the vital importance of both the rule of law and a free civil society to democracy.

Currently, Nilda is Vice President – Operations at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), working hard every day to counter the worldwide trend of restrictions against civil society.  She is leading ICNL’s work in international advocacy, including development cooperation, Agenda 2030 and the Open Government Partnership. Prior to joining ICNL in Washington, DC, she was Executive Director of the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law and worked directly on legal reform for civil society in over 20 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Nilda is an internationally recognized leader, having served as Chair of the Civil Society Advisory Committee to the UNDP Administrator and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, among others. Today, she still believes in the strength of citizens to bring about much needed positive social change.

On Twitter @Nbullain
Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi
Nigeria Network of NGOs
Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi is the Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and for many years been an internationally respected authority on the growth of civil society, campaigning and advocacy particularly as they concern development on the African continent. Prior to joining NNNGO, he worked with UNICEF as the Global Coordinator for the UNICEF Rural Voices of Youth Initiative. He has over 10 years of experience as a senior policy analyst and strategist on addressing diverse development challenges of the African policy landscape primarily in the fields of economic development, institutional analysis, and communications for development and public sector reforms.

He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Civil Society Pillar of the Community of Democracy. From 2004 onwards Oyebisi has headed successively series of portfolios of activities on development policy, civil society strengthening and participatory governance.  He serves and has served on the Board of many companies and civil society organisations including Society for Family and Social Protection in Nigeria. Oyebisi a World Citizen is a Fellow, ICNL Global Forum 2015.

On Twitter @oyebisi
Patricia J. Lerner
Greenpeace International
The Netherlands
Patricia J. Lerner is a political economist and former diplomat with over 25 years experience leading multicultural teams in the Sahel, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as policy coordination with the EU on a range of issues including humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction, economic and social development, and democracy and human rights.

Pat has been Senior Political Advisor with Greenpeace International since September 2008, serving as focal point for UN issues, as well as G7 and G20 processes. She has worked on the climate negotiations with a particular focus on climate finance, sustainable energy for all, Rio+20, the post-2015 development agenda, the SDGs and served on the Reference Group of Action2015. She co-leads Greenpeace International’s work on restrictions on civil society to act and serves on the Steering Group of the new Vuka! Coalition for Action on Civic Space.

The daughter of an American anthropologist father and French mother, Pat grew up in francophone West Africa, studied at Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts), the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (Dakar, Senegal), the London School of Economics & Political Science (London) and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design (London). She loves reggae, jazz, art, films and reading.
Sebastián Vielmas
The Oxfam-Québec Youth Observatory
Sebastián Vielmas is Latin American, born in Chile. He has been a student activist since secondary school. In 2011 he became the Secretary General of the Student Federation of the Catholic University of Chile (FEUC), one of the most important student organizations of the country. That year the student movement was the protagonist of the most important social mobilization since the end of the dictatorship in 1990. The main slogan was: "For a free, public and quality education". As a result of the mobilization, many changes to educational policies have been produced and the public debate changed in the country.

After this experience, Sebastián has continued its involvement in the global civil society working for the participation of the youth and the right to education. That’s why he currently participates as a volunteer member within the Youth Observatory of Oxfam Québec and the Youth Action Team of CIVICUS. Sebastián is, also, the Director of Strategy and Planning of REDICEC, the Chilean Researcher Network in Canada.

Sebastián currently finishes his Master in Political Science at the Université Laval (Québec, Canada) conducting research on the creation of coalitions and the influence on the public policies of the student’s movements in Chile and in Quebec (2011-2012).

On Twitter @sebavielmas
Ziya Guliyev
National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Ziya Guliyev is an Azerbaijani who holds a LL.M degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex, in the United Kingdom.

He has previously worked for different NGOs, such as Social Strategic Research Center (2006-2008), Law and Development Center (2008-2010), Democracy Study Public Union (2010-2012), Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy (2012-2014), and legal researcher at Human Rights Watch (2015-2016).

In 2009, he established the Center for Legal Initiatives, which mainly deals with the protection of civil and political rights, human rights, education and advocacy work before the Treaty Monitoring Bodies of the United Nations. Ziya also serves as a member of the expert panel of OSCE on freedom of association.

In May 2016 he founded the Baku Academy of Human Rights Law, the first human rights education platform in Azerbaijan. He is alumnus of the Baku School of Political Studies (2012) and Visegrad School of Political Studies (2015). He was awarded the Alumni of the year by the European Academy of Diplomacy in 2016.

He is currently a Country Facilitator and a member of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

On Twitter @ZiyaGuliyev