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Nizar Baraka

Head, Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental, Morocco

Nizar Baraka is an economist and Moroccan politician. His past career includes serving as minister of finance and economy and minister delegate attached to the prime minister for general affairs and economy.


He was elected Best Finance Minister for the MENA region for 2012 and Minister of Finance of 2012 by The Banker, a magazine of the Financial Times press group. On August 2013 he was appointed to head the Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental .

Cristina Barrios

Senior Analyst, European Union Institute for Security Studies, Paris

Dr. Cristina Barrios is senior analyst at the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), an EU agency based in Paris. She works on Europe-Africa relations, following international trends in democracy promotion, conflict resolution, and development policies.


Her briefings and publications have addressed state building and conflict, security sector reform, democratic transitions, and the African Union. Prior to joining EUISS, Barrios was senior researcher and EU project manager at ESSEC business school, and researcher at the think tank FRIDE. She has also worked as assistant professor at ESCP Europe and as a researcher at the Carter Center, as a consultant in democracy promotion and electoral observer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others. Barrios obtained her Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics, and previously studied at University of Granada, University of Regensburg, University of Paris 8, and University of California, Berkeley.

Zineb Benalla

CEO, TICVE - Building Peace

Zineb Benalla is the CEO of TICVE - Building Peace, a think tank that counters violent extremism in the Maghreb and Sahel region. She was a research associate at the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies in Rabat Morocco and spent the last two years working on research and civil society projects in the field in Northern Mali to promote peace and counter violent extremism.


In February 2015, she was invited to speak at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, and the 2015 United Nation General Assembly “Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism: Communities in Action.” Benalla studied International Relations at Alakhawayan University and Gerogetown University. She holds a master’s of laws in international law from Kent Law School in the U.K. and Brussels School of International Studies in Belgium and a diploma in terrorism studies from St. Andrews University in Scotland.

Amina Benkhadra

Director General, National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, Morocco

Amina Benkhadra has been the director general of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, Morocco, since November 2003. She is the former minister responsible for energy, mining, water and environment and was previously secretary of state for the development of the mining sector (1997-1998).


Dr. Benkhadra has a degree in civil engineering from the Mines de l l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Nancy and a Ph.D. in engineering from the l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris. She was the president of the Mineral Industry Federation for nine years until her tenure ended in 2009. She is a member of the Bou Regreg Association, Moroccan Association for Research Development, and vice president of the Association of Engineers for the Mines of Paris, Nancy, and St Etienne.

Assia BenSalah Alaoui

Ambassador at Large of His Majesty Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco

Dr. Assia BenSalah Alaoui is ambassador at large of His Majesty Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco. She also serves as co-president of the OCEMO and the vice-president of the Association of Moroccan-Japanese Friendship.


She has worked as professor of international law at the University Mohammed V in Rabat; co-president of the High Level Advisory Group on the Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Area, member of the World Bank’s Council of Advisors for MENA, and as member of the Board of Trustees of ICARDA. She holds a master’s in English studies and a Ph.D. in law from Paris II University.

Dr. Deborah Birx

Director, Center for Global Health Division of Global HIV/AIDS

Dr. Deborah Birx has served as director of the Division of Global HIV/AIDS in the CDC Center for Global Health since 2005. From 1985 to 1989, she served as an assistant chief of the Hospital Immunology Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, earning the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal for her leadership in refining, validating, and standardizing an in vivo test of cell-mediated immunity in HIV-infected patients.


She was also rewarded for her significant contribution to the field with the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal for her extensive work in organizing and implementing the gp160 vaccine therapy efficacy trial from 1990 to 1995. She served as director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1996 to 2005. In March 2011, Dr. Birx also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine.

Dominique Bocquet

General Supervisor, French Ministry of Finance

Dominique Bocquet currently is supervisor of French state-owned enterprises for the French Ministry of Finance.


Prior to that, he served four years as head of the economic department in the French embassy in Morocco, as well as being a delegate for the Development Assistance Committee, and the Economic and Development Review Committee for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). He played a key role in the French EU presidency of 2000, contributing to several development initiatives, and was directly involved in European negotiations on development cooperation during his time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bocquet graduated from the Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA).

Mark Brantley

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Civil Aviation, St. Kitts-Nevis

Mark Brantley is currently the minister of foreign affairs and civil aviation in the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis. Brantley is a lawyer by profession; he has practiced extensively before the High Courts and Court of Appeal.


He is a member of the Bar in Anguilla, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, and Dominica and holds membership in several international professional associations such as the Commercial Bar Association and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Brantley graduated from the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill Campus with a bachelor of laws and from the University of Oxford with a bachelor of civil law. He also attended the Norman Manley Law School where he earned his Legal Education Certificate.

Jonathan Capehart

Editorial Board Member, The Washington Post

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog. He is an MSNBC contributor and has served as a substitute anchor on The Cycle, Martin Bashir, and Way Too Early.


He also has been a member of the Reporters Roundtable on ABC News’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and substitute host on The Brian Lehrer Show and The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC. Capehart was the deputy editorial page editor of New York Daily News from 2002 to 2004, and served on that newspaper’s editorial board from 1993 to 2000. In 1999, his 16-month editorial campaign to save the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem earned him and the board the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.

Harold Cárdenas Lema

Founder, La Joven Cuba, Cuba

Harold Cárdenas Lema is the founder of “La Joven Cuba” (The Young Cuba), a well-known blog platform for young people who want to exercise political participation in their country. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in political philosophy and a social sciences researcher.


He has been a university lecturer and is often invited to social media workshops. In 2014, he became the first Cuban to be invited to the International Leadership Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists in the United States. Cárdenas Lema writes a weekly column on politics for the independent Dutch media El Toque and also writes for La Joven Cuba.