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Staff | Board


Yifat Susskind, Executive Director, works to make human rights a reality for all people. For more than 20 years, she has partnered with women’s human rights activists from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa to create programs in their communities that combine grassroots partnerships and international advocacy to meet urgent needs and create lasting solutions.

She has led successful initiatives to secure women’s rights, both in policy and in practice. For instance, under her leadership, MADRE sustains women’s shelters in warzones while countering policies that lead to war, and runs projects that bring clean water to drought-afflicted communities while demanding a space for women’s voices in climate policy. Read more.

Maya CrawfordDeputy Director, leads MADRE’s development efforts, generating revenue and building awareness to support the organization’s core work and that of our grassroots partners. For over 20 years, Maya has raised funds to support the human rights and educational opportunities of marginalized and vulnerable communities around the globe. Read more.

Kavita Nandini Ramdas, Strategy Advisor, is a visionary leader and globally recognized advocate for gender equity and justice. She is an inspirational speaker and thought commentator on the challenges facing philanthropy and civil society as they seek to advance equitable and sustainable development and gender and racial equity. Read more.

Lisa Davis, Esq., Senior Legal Advisor, is MADRE’s Senior Legal Advisor, Chair of the Legal Strategies Advisory Committee. She has written and reported extensively on human rights and gender issues, including on women’s rights and LGBTIQ rights, with a focus on peace building and security issues in conflict and disaster settings. Lisa has testified before U.S. Congress, U.K. Parliament, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and various international human rights bodies. In 2016, she was elected by her peers to deliver the civil society statement for the U.N. Security Council’s open debate on the use of sexual violence in conflict situations. Read more.

Cassandra Atlas, Director of Project Management, received her M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the American University's School of International Service. She plays a key role in coordinating MADRE's human rights advocacy initiatives. Cassandra is a former Research Assistant for the United States Institute of Peace's Colombia Program.

Natalia Caruso, Director of Partnerships, plays a key role overseeing our work with sister organizations in Africa, Middle East, and Latin America. Natalia's work includes coordinating humanitarian assistance, the provision of direct services, technical assistance on leadership, and training on capacity building with grassroots organizations. Read more.

Diana Duarte, Policy and Communications Director, leads the organization's strategy on public education and media, designing and implementing campaigns to increase the visibility of global women's rights issues and to raise support for the work of our grassroots partners. She has also worked in policy analysis and communications to advocate for progressive changes to US policy towards Africa.

JM Kirby, Esq.Director of Campaigns, provides strategic advocacy services and support for grassroots women’s organizations in Latin America and the Middle East. Before joining MADRE as staff, Kirby dedicated her time to human rights advocacy in support of communities fighting for social and economic justice in the U.S., and consulted for domestic and international organizations focused on gender justice. Read more.

Hilda Marshall, Operations Manager, plays a key role by working closely with our Executive Director to support, coordinate and oversee the day-to-day operations. Hilda brings over 12-yrs of experience in operational functions. She holds a B.A. in Public Health and a Masters of Business Administration.

Emily BallDevelopment Manager, works to deepen and expand support for MADRE’s programs and advocacy efforts, which provide critical resources and opportunities to women and families around the world. She has developed and implemented fundraising strategies for a variety of organizations, including American Ballet Theatre and Project for Public Spaces. Read more.

Ramy Aqel, Esq., Middle East Project Coordinator, assists in project-related programmatic implementation, research and report writing for MADRE's Middle East projects. Ramy received his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law. Read more.

Afarin Dadkhah, Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, works as part of the Human Rights Advocacy team to plan and implement initiatives for advancing women's human rights at domestic and international levels. Prior to joining MADRE, Afarin volunteered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Diego, California implementing programs to foster empowerment and leadership skills in refugee and immigrant youth. Read more.

Meave Murphy, Partnerships Coordinator, supports MADRE's programmatic work in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Meave received her MPA in International Policy & Nonprofit Management from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. Read more.    


Anne Hess is co-chair of MADRE's Board and as a founding board member since 1983 she has helped shape MADRE's vision and projects. Anne has spent the past 30 years working with a variety of non-profit organizations, whose mission for social justice she shares. Anne serves on the board of Community Resource Exchange and The Bauman Foundation Board. She is on the Advisory Board of the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC, she is the Ex Officio representative for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on the American Museum of Natural History board and is on the Mayor's Commission on Gender Equality.

Blaine Bookey is co-chair of the Board of MADRE. She is a Legal Director and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, University of California Hastings College of the Law. At the Center, Blaine's work focuses on advancing protection for women, children and LGBT individuals fleeing persecution. Prior to joining the Center, Blaine served as a federal appellate judicial law clerk and a fellow at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti/Bureau des Avocats Internationaux where she first began collaborating with MADRE to support grassroots organizations and Haitian lawyers fighting to end sexual and gender-based violence. She is a graduate of Hastings and also holds an undergraduate degree in Social Policy and Gender Studies from Northwestern University.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is a human rights lawyer who has worked on the intersection of racial and gender justice in both domestic and international contexts. She is Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, where she works with low-wage Latina immigrant workers as well as on the domestic implementation of human rights norms. Prior to joining LatinoJustice, she worked in the International Women's Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law and the Center for Reproductive Rights. She clerked for the Hon. Ronald L. Ellis in the Southern District of New York and was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Natasha graduated from CUNY School of Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review and a Fellow at the Center for Latino/a Rights and Equality. 

Natasha is President-Elect of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation's largest and oldest progressive bar association, and Co-Chairs its Subcommittee on Puerto Rico. She has advocated before international and regional human rights bodies on issues including sexual violence in armed conflict, femicide, reproductive rights violations, hate crimes, as well as human rights violations in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Natasha has authored several articles on gender and human rights and is barred in the states of New York and New Jersey.

Brandee M. Butler is Head of Partnerships & Innovation at C&A Foundation. Based in Brussels, she drives partnerships and processes to support breakthrough innovations on key social and environmental challenges in the apparel sector. Prior to joining C&A Foundation, Brandee managed the Levi Strauss Foundation's HIV/AIDS, asset building, and worker rights portfolios in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Brandee has devoted much of her career to improving human rights protections for marginalized populations. From 2006 until 2010, she was a Program Officer for Human Rights and International Justice at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, supporting human rights movements and promoting the rule of law globally, and with a particular emphasis on Africa. Earlier in her career, Brandee practiced law at the Alliance for Children's Rights in Los Angeles and was awarded the Yale Law School Bernstein Fellowship for International Human Rights to combat child trafficking with UNICEF in Gabon. She has served as a Board member for the Chicago Foundation for Women, and is an advisor for Art Works Projects Chicago and Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Fund. Brandee received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University and a juris doctorate from Yale Law School.

Elz Cuya Jones is the Deputy Director of Resources and Strategy at North Star Fund, New York City's community foundation supporting grassroots leaders and lasting social change. She has built and led award-winning communications teams, having won the American Business Award for Best Annual Report in Print, four years running. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, she spent a decade in radio, where she cultivated her appreciation for the transformative power of storytelling. Born to immigrant Filipino parents in the San Francisco Bay Area, Elz earned her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and son. 

Jennifer Ogden is Senior Vice President of Brokerage at Cassidy Turley, a commercial real estate firm. Jennifer advises clients on their occupancy strategy, focusing on tenant representation for a wide variety of occupants from early stage start-ups to large corporations, specifically media, entertainment, financial and not-for-profit organizations. Prior to joining Cassidy Turley, Jennifer was at CBRE where she completed numerous transactions including for Day Pitney, Hewlett Packard, KPMG, Cinedigm and Rodale. Before entering into real estate, Ms. Ogden spent 10 years in finance as a banker and high-yield bond analyst. Jennifer is a past board member of Goodwill Rescue Mission, where her duties included creating a vision for the group's future and helping realize its mission through effective strategic planning, real estate monetization and the implementation and oversight of annual operating budgets. She is also a former board member of The Junior League of Montclair-Newark and a co-founder of the League's Endowment Campaign where she helped raise over $1 million, ensuring the organization's future financial stability.

Anna Kennedy is a longtime MADRE supporter and human rights activist.

Elyse Lightman Samuels is Communications and Learning Officer at Unbound Philanthropy, a private grantmaking foundation that works to ensure that migrants and refugees are valued, treated with respect, and are able to build relationships of mutual engagement with their new communities. She oversees all aspects of Unbound’s communications and organizational learning. Elyse previously worked in communications, qualitative data analysis, and external relations at EngenderHealth and American Jewish World Service. Elyse has spent extensive time working in Cambodia as a founding member and Trustee of the Harpswell Foundation, whose mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders; she is also a founder of PEN Cambodia. Elyse earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University's School of the Arts and an MPA in International Nonprofit Management and Public Policy at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. Elyse received a BA from Brown University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and daughter.

William Spear is the founder of the Fortunate Blessings Foundation and their initiative Second Response, and is a life-long educator who leads trauma relief teams in response to disasters. His work has reached more than 250,000 children and 6,000 parents, teachers, caregivers, disaster specialists and mental health professionals from virtually every disaster response organization in the world. Much of his heart-to-heart work began following in-depth training in the mid 1980’s with Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the foremost authority on the subject of end-of-life care, and Tibetan Lama Sogyal Rinpoche.

William has conducted dozens of workshops worldwide on compassionate care at end of life. In 1991, when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, he made eight visits to Bosnia-Herzegovina and other sites in Croatia to work with victims of war, survivors of torture, refugees, traumatized children and others affected by the regional conflicts. He also focused on the special needs of young refugees, caregivers and first responders. 

He has written extensively on the unique needs of traumatized children. As a part of this effort, he authored the guidebook Care for Caregivers: Helping Children Work Through Trauma. He currently teaches Integrative Health and Healing in the Master’s of Art Degree program at the Graduate Institute in Bethany, Connecticut.

The Vivian Stromberg Memorial Fund 

Vivian Stromberg, MADRE co-founder and former Executive Director

Vivian Stromberg worked tirelessly for more than four decades to make human rights and social justice a reality for women and families. Her work was infused with a passion that has inspired thousands of women to stand up for their rights and demand change.

Vivian came of age in Brooklyn, New York during the Civil Rights Movement and played a key role in US-based organizing for nuclear disarmament, peace, and human rights-based foreign policy. In 1983, Vivian helped to found MADRE to bring attention to the US-sponsored wars in Central America.

After co-founding MADRE, Vivian worked extensively at the United Nations and with women in conflict zones on issues including: armed conflict, displacement, women's health, reproductive rights, economic justice, community development; Indigenous Peoples' rights, food security, sustainable development, and US foreign policy. 

Read our loving tribute and learn how you can make a gift to the Vivian Stromberg Memorial Fund here. 


For over 30 years MADRE has been more than just our Staff and Board, but a family of volunteers, friends and supporters. See who we're paying tribute to today in MADRE's Spotlight.

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