About Us

Mission | Board of Directors | Advisory Board | Staff

Mission

The E-Collaborative for Civic Education is a 501c3 organization with a mission to leverage technology — internet communications technology, small media, social networks, television and radio, mobile phones, e-learning classroom platforms, and more — to promote democracy and human rights internationally.

ECCE strives to provide to individuals of all ages in repressive or transitioning political systems civic education opportunities concerning:

  • Citizens’ rights and responsibilities in a democracy
  • Justice, accountability, and the rule of law
  • Democratic constitutions and institutions
  • Civic activism and robust civil societies
  • Journalism, freedom of expression and free access to information
  • Women’s rights
  • Minority rights

Read about our flagship project, the Tavaana E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society, here.

    

Board of Directors

Ladan Archin has over 15 years of experience in public policy, international finance and consulting. Born and raised in Iran, Ladan moved to the United States of America as the home that she knew was transforming into one ruled by an Islamic autocracy. With a bachelor’s degree in physics, and while enrolled in a master’s program in applied mathematics, Ladan decided to change course and began studying international relations and economics at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (SAIS), where she was research assistant to Professor Fouad Ajami. Subsequent to graduation from SAIS, Ladan joined the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. After two years, Ladan moved to Washington, DC and worked for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of World Bank Group from 1995 until 2001. She then moved to San Francisco to work at a start up company, but after the events of 9/11, moved back to Washington. Ladan was the Iran Country Director for the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2007. Later, Ladan served as Assistant Director at the Department of Treasury’s Terror Finance and Intelligence Department, in charge of the Middle East, Africa and the Western Hemisphere. During her tenure with both US Treasury and DOD, Ladan advised various US Government senior-level staff on strategy and policy via briefings, reports, and presentations. She later lived in Dubai, UAE for two years to help open Grant Thornton’s investment advisory offices there. She is now a consultant at Toffler Associates, and lives in Washington, DC.

Akbar Atri is co-founder and co-director of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education, leading the organization’s strategic vision and outreach. Akbar is a veteran human rights activist and former Iranian student leader. Born in a small village in Iranian Azerbaijan, he brings significant insight into varied strands of the Iranian social fabric, from the rural farm to the urban factory to the large university and beyond. Akbar was elected annually to the leadership of Iran’s largest student organization, Tahkim Vahdat, for ten years and was the organization’s spokesperson. In this capacity he was a regular conduit of human rights information to the international media, delivered hundreds of speeches and engaged in countless civic dialogues, sit-ins, and protests at universities throughout the country. Akbar was one of the original drafters of the Referendum Movement on the Iranian Constitution and has been sentenced in absentia to a minimum of seven years in prison for his human rights activism. Akbar earned his B.A. in Political Science at Allame Tabatabaie University in Tehran, Iran, and an MA in Political Science at Mofid University in Qom, Iran. In 2011, Akbar earned a second MA degree in Conflict Resolution and Analysis at George Mason University.

Kathryn Groth is an education specialist currently serving a second term as a member of the Frederick County, Maryland Board of Education. Katie is a community organizer, avid world traveler and promoter of quality education in sustaining an engaged citizenry. She trained as a speech/language pathologist, having received her BA and MA from the University of Maryland, College Park. During her career, she has worked at the Maryland School for the Deaf and for Frederick County Public Schools.

Mariam Memarsadeghi is co-founder and co-director of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education. Mariam leads the organization’s development while managing institutional partnerships, personnel, administration and finance. She is an outspoken advocate for democracy, internet freedom, and women’s rights internationally. She brings 15 years of international civil society capacity building experience, including three years of post-conflict work in the Balkan region. Mariam’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. She is a frequent speaker at universities and think tanks worldwide, is a contributor to NPR and has appeared on PBS NewsHour as well as other English, Persian and Arabic language radio and television news programs. Mariam previously directed Freedom House's Middle East and North Africa programs and founded the organization’s Iran Program. She has also worked for the International Organization for Migration, the International Rescue Committee and the Advocacy Institute. In 2007, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Marshall Fund recognized Mariam as a “Trans-Atlantic Young Leader” promoting democracy and human rights internationally. Mariam was born in Tehran and emigrated to the United States shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

    

Advisory Board

Rend Al-Rahim is the executive director and a co-founder of the Iraq Foundation, a non-profit organization working for human rights and democracy in Iraq. From November 2003 to December 2004, she served as Iraq's ambassador to the United States and later the Iraqi chief of mission. Ms. Al-Rahim has contributed to numerous reports and books on Iraq and written policy papers and reports for the Iraq Foundation. In addition, she has built partnerships and cooperative relations with several non-governmental and research institutions and has also testified on Iraq before the U.S. Congress. She is co-author of The Arab Shi'a: Forgotten Muslims, published in 2000. She holds degrees from Cambridge University and the University of the Sorbonne in Paris.

Eugenia Kemble is the former executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a non-profit organization endowed by the American Federation of Teachers and dedicated to publishing reports and fostering candid exchange on education, labor, and democracy issues. In her previous work at the American Federation of Teachers as special assistant to AFT president Albert Shanker, she obtained funding to create the union’s main professional development effort for teachers, the Education Research and Dissemination Program, and to start the AFT’s professional magazine, The American Educator, both of which she managed for a number of years. She also revamped the AFT’s annual Quality Educational Standards in Teaching (QuEST) conference and helped Mr. Shanker spearhead the creation of the union’s Educational Issues, Research and International Affairs Departments. In 1983, Kemble was named as the AFL-CIO’s representative to the Democracy Program, a coalition effort including the Republican Party, Democratic Party, U.S. Chambers of Commerce, and AFL-CIO, that recommended the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy. In 1984 Ms. Kemble was named the executive director of the AFL-CIO’s Free Trade Union Institute, which supported union efforts involved in democracy-building, most notably Solidarity in Poland. Returning to the AFT in 1989, she directed and helped to expand the AFT’s Educational Issues Department, which soon became one of the largest, most influential departments in the union.

Ahmad Nader Nadery is a commissioner at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. He represented Afghan civil society at the UN peace talks for Afghanistan at the 2001 Bonn Conference. Mr. Nadery is also the chairperson of the Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan, a member of the Steering Committee of Citizens Against Terror, and on the advisory board to Open Society Institute’s Afghanistan programs. He has written extensively on politics, human rights, women’s rights and democracy in Afghanistan and is a member of the Board of Editors of the Oxford Journal on Transitional Justice. Mr. Nadery served as spokesperson for the national assembly (Loya Jerga) in 2002. He studied law and political sciences at Kabul University and earned his M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

Mohammad Reza Nikfar teaches about democracy at Tavaana and is among Iran's most esteemed political scientists, currently based in Cologne, Germany. He is an expert on the history of political thought and the intersection of the Western canon with Iranian intellectual history. He published his first book, Erörterung des Satzes vom Grund bei Martin Heidegger, in 1997, followed by Violence, Human Rights and Civil Society in 1999. He has also published many articles on political philosophy and religion. Among his most notable articles are “Theology of Torture” (published in the Persian online magazine Nilgoon) and “Playing Chess with A Gorilla - Habermas in Iran.”

Nima Rashedan is ECCE’s cybersecurity expert and trainer in subjects related to digital safety. He is an expert on cybersecurity, web-based communication, and Internet censorship in the Iranian context. He received his BS.c in Software Engineering from Tehran North Azad University in 1996. He was the publisher of Iran’s first bulletin board systems from 1995 to 1997, and from 1998 to 1999, he served as senior communications adviser to dozens of Iranian reformist groups and newspapers. From 1999 to 2005, he was Project Manager at Gooya.com, the first and most popular Persian web portal. He has been a technology and digital safety adviser to several human rights and pro-democracy web projects and is a regular cyber-security columnist for Radio Farda’s website.

ECCE is grateful to the late Mark Palmer, founding advisory board member. He was vice chairman of Freedom House, vice president of the Council for a Community of Democracies, an advisory board member of the Democracy Project, and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. During his career in the State Department, he was U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 1986-90 and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe from 1982-86. He co-founded and sat on the board of the National Endowment for Democracy. Mr. Palmer was the President of Capital Development Company, which supports local partners in launching new enterprises in Washington DC, Europe, and Asia. He founded Central European Media Enterprises Ltd., which develops and operates national television and radio stations from Bucharest, Ljubijana, Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw and Kiev. He was the author of Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025.

    

Staff

Akbar Atri is co-founder and co-director of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education, leading the organization’s strategic vision and outreach. Akbar is a veteran human rights activist and former Iranian student leader. Born in a small village in Iranian Azerbaijan, he brings significant insight into varied strands of the Iranian social fabric, from the rural farm to the urban factory to the large university and beyond. Akbar was elected annually to the leadership of Iran’s largest student organization, Tahkim Vahdat, for ten years and was the organization’s spokesperson. In this capacity he was a regular conduit of human rights information to the international media and delivered hundreds of speeches and engaged in countless civic dialogues, sit ins, and protests at universities throughout the country. Akbar was one of the original drafters of the Referendum Movement on the Iranian Constitution and has been sentenced in absentia to a minimum of seven years in prison for his human rights activism. Akbar earned his B.A. in Political Science at Allame Tabatabaie University in Tehran, Iran, and an MA in Political Science at Mofid University in Qom, Iran. In 2011, Akbar earned a second MA degree in Conflict Resolution and Analysis at George Mason University.

Layla Attia is Tavaana’s program manager. She was previously a project manager at the Center for Liberty in the Middle East’s Online Activism Institute, which trained 90 women in Egypt and Jordan in civic activism through web-based and in-person training. Layla has studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and the University of Jordan. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in history from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mariam Memarsadeghi is co-founder and co-director of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education. Mariam leads the organization’s development while managing institutional partnerships, personnel, administration and finance. She is an outspoken advocate for democracy, internet freedom, and women’s rights internationally. She brings 15 years of international civil society capacity building experience, including three years of post-conflict work in the Balkan region. Mariam’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. She is a frequent speaker at universities and think tanks worldwide, is a contributor to NPR and has appeared on PBS NewsHour as well as other English, Persian and Arabic language radio and television news programs. Mariam previously directed Freedom House's Middle East and North Africa programs and founded the organization’s Iran Program. She has also worked for the International Organization for Migration, the International Rescue Committee and the Advocacy Institute. In 2007, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Marshall Fund recognized Mariam as a “Trans-Atlantic Young Leader” promoting democracy and human rights internationally. Mariam was born in Tehran and emigrated to the United States shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Abbey Warchol is a Tavaana project coordinator. She is committed to human rights and social justice issues, previously working as an intern at the Connect U.S. Fund and the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. She studied in the West African country of Senegal, where she spent time in local schools researching post-colonial civic educational practices. Abbey graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in international politics and diplomacy from the University of Richmond in Virginia, where she also studied French, Wolof, and Arabic.