Hala Aldosari is a scholar and activist from Saudi Arabia, now based in the United States. Her writings and research explore the social determinants of women’s health, violence against women, and women’s rights and human rights across the Arab Gulf States. She serves as an advisory board member for Human Rights Watch for the Middle East and North Africa and at the Gulf Center for Human Rights. She has also served as a member of Harvard’s initiative “Every Woman,” which aims to create a United Nations Global Treaty to prevent violence against women and girls.
Hanaa Soltan is a strategic consultant at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, advising on international matters with a particular focus on the Middle East. In this role, she liaises with parties spanning the globe to effectuate streamlined representation on a host of legal and commercial matters with a United States nexus. She is also the Executive Director of MGA, a management and public relations consulting firm and co-founder of The Freedom Initiative. Domestically, she has worked extensively with youth empowerment programs, in addition to community and nonprofit organizations ranging from think tanks to issue-centered initiatives designed to combat social welfare issues, including educational reform and international micro-economic revival programs. Most notably, Hanaa spearheaded several global human rights campaigns, mobilizing international media outlets, human rights organizations, community leaders, senior officials, and various governmental agencies. Of those, she led high-level negotiations for the resolution of several of those cases, chief among them the release of her brother, Mohamed Soltan, who was held arbitrarily in Egypt for nearly two years and underwent a 489-day hunger strike. Since then, she has engaged heavily alongside Mohamed in broader human rights advocacy. They founded The Freedom Initiative together following his release.
Mohamed Soltan is a business development and investment advisor, policy expert, and founder of The Freedom Initiative. Soltan holds a Masters from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and bachelors in economics from The Ohio State University. Mohamed is also a Global Courage Fellow at Coeuraj USA and recipient of the 2022 James W. Foley American Hostage Freedom Award.
Soltan was a former political prisoner in Egypt and since his release and return to the US in 2015, he has become a prominent human rights defender and a leading voice on centering human rights in US foreign policy. Soltan is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN, CBS, ABC, and Fox News.
Michele Dunne is executive director of the Franciscan Action Network and a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A Middle East specialist at the U.S. Department of State for nearly 20 years, she also headed Middle East programs at the Carnegie Endowment and the Atlantic Council before making a shift to focus on U.S. domestic social justice issues in 2021. She holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.
A lawyer and global human rights advocate, Andrea’s expertise includes U.S. national security and foreign policy. She is a frequent commentator in print, radio and television, and has published in a wide range of media outlets, including Politico, The Hill, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Just Security. Prior to joining The Freedom Initiative, Andrea spent 12 years at Human Rights Watch, pressing the U.S. government to place the protection and promotion of human rights at the center of its foreign and national security policies. She has previously worked as a defense lawyer in the Office of Military Commissions, representing detainees in Guantanamo charged in the military commission system. In private practice at a New York law firm, Andrea served as habeas counsel for detainees in Guantanamo, as well as practiced corporate litigation. Andrea holds an Honors B.A. from the University of Toronto, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and the District of Columbia.
Abdullah Alaoudh serves as the Saudi Director for the Freedom Initiative. He was a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Elliott School at George Washington University and served for two years as a Senior Fellow at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale Law School at the Center for Islamic Law and Civilization between 2017-2018.
Before joining the Freedom Initiative, Alaoudh served for three years as Director for the Gulf at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the nonprofit organization founded by Jamal Khashoggi.
Alaoudh is the Secretary General and co-founder of the National Assembly Party (NAAS), Saudi Arabia’s first openly declared political party, which calls for an elected parliament and constitutional safeguards in Saudi Arabia. He is also a signatory and one of the drafters of the Saudi People’s Vision for Reform, a blueprint for democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia.
Alaoudh has published extensively on Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf and appears regularly in the media as a commentator. His work has been featured in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Foreign Policy.
Alaoudh obtained his S.J.D. and L.L.M. from the University of Pittsburgh in comparative international law. While at the University of Pittsburgh, he completed his dissertation on religious institutions and the influence of the ulama (body of Muslim scholars) in post-revolutionary Arab countries. He received his B.A. in Islamic Law from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia.
Allison McManus brings over a decade of experience in research on critical human rights issues with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to joining The Freedom Initiative, she worked as research director at the Tahrir Institue for Middle East Policy from 2014 to 2020. Her writing has been published in academic, policy, and media venues, including the Social Movement Studies Journal, the Intercept, Foreign Affairs, and the Carnegie Institute, among many others. Allison holds a M.A. in Global and International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.A. from Tufts University.
Laura is a senior level fundraising executive with more than 20 years of experience working with international and educational nonprofit organizations. She has held positions at prestigious organizations such as the U.S. Institute of Peace, American Research Center in Egypt, and most recently The Global Good Fund. Laura holds an M.A. in International Affairs from The American University and has lived and traveled in Europe and the Middle East. Laura also volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Land Trust of Virginia.
Todd Ruffner leads legislative and executive branch policy efforts at The Freedom Initiative. Prior to joining Fi, he spent more than six years on the advocacy team at the Project on Middle East Democracy. Todd holds an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from The Ohio State University and a B.A. in International Relations from Elon University.
As the Freedom Initiative’s Case Liaison, Yousuf is responsible for monitoring case updates and working cross-departmentally to develop and implement case strategies. Yousuf holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Georgetown University in Data Science for Public Policy. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Politics at Princeton University.
Madeleine Hall earned her BA in History from West Virginia University in 2017. Between 2016-2020, she lived in Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt, where she worked in journalism and translation and completed the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Fellowship at the American University in Cairo. In May 2022, she graduated from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service with an MA in Arab Studies. Prior to joining FI, Madeleine interned at The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), in addition to working as an Assistant Editor at Protest, an academic journal dedicated to the expanding global phenomenon of contentious politics.