Ron Kassimir is executive program director at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), supporting the development of new program initiatives as well as the deepening of cross-program connections. He also provides leadership for the Scholarly Borderlands initiative and Religion program, works closely on the Council’s Africa-focused activities, and is editor of the SSRC’s digital forum Items. From 1996 to 2005, Kassimir was first a program officer and then a program director at the Council, where he managed the Africa Program and, from 2000 to 2005, the International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship Program. He also coordinated research networks on youth and globalization and humanitarian intervention. In 2005, Kassimir became associate dean at the New School for Social Research and associate professor in the Department of Politics, and in 2007 he moved to the New School’s Office of the Provost, where he worked for six years as associate provost for research and special projects. From 2011 to 2013, he cochaired the university committee that produced an institutional self-study as part of the New School’s reaccreditation process. He returned to the Council in 2013. Kassimir earned a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 1996. He has published on religion, civil society, higher education, and globalization in Africa, as well as on youth activism and civic engagement. He is coeditor of Intervention and Transnationalism in Africa: Global-Local Networks of Power (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Youth Activism: An International Encyclopedia (Greenwood Publishing, 2005), and Youth, Globalization, and the Law (Stanford University Press, 2007). .
Ira Katznelson has been Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University since 1994 and, since 2012, president of the Social Science Research Council. He served as president of the American Political Science Association in 2005–06, as chair of the Russell Sage Foundation Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2002, and as president of the Social Science History Association in 1997–98. His most recent book, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time (Liveright, 2013), has been awarded the Bancroft Prize in history, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in political science, the Sidney Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, and the J. David Greenstone Book Prize in history and politics. Other recent books include Liberal Beginnings: Making a Republic for the Moderns (Cambridge University Press, 2008), written with Andreas Kalyvas; When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (Norton, 2006); and Desolation and Enlightenment: Political Knowledge after Total War, Totalitarianism, and the Holocaust (Columbia University Press, 2003). Professor Katznelson has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and he is a research associate at Cambridge University's Centre for History and Economics. In addition to his current position as president, Dr. Katznelson has played a role in various SSRC activities over the years, notably as a member of the Committee on States and Social Structures, a major Council initiative connecting new analyses of modern states within the social sciences, and a contributor to that committee's volume on Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
James Kirwan is a program assistant for the Anxieties of Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council. Kirwan graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in political science and religious studies. At the University of Pittsburgh Kirwan was involved with the White House–initiated It’s On Us Campaign, which works to prevent sexual violence on college campuses, and also founded the university’s Sexual Violence Coalition. During this time, he also worked as a program coordinator and resident assistant for Residence Life.
John Koprowski, MBA, economics, New York University, and BS, accounting, St. Peter's College, has been with the Council as senior financial advisor since 2004.
Gail Kovach joined the staff of the Council's finance office in 1986 as assistant to the controller and later served as assistant to the chief financial officer. In 1996 she was appointed fellowship accountant, responsible for the payment, maintenance, and taxability of all the Council's fellowship awards while handling various other financial and administrative tasks. In July of 2000 Ms. Kovach was promoted to director of administrative services, a position that included management of the Council's facilities, supervision of the travel office, as well as acting as staff liaison to the Council's Executive and Investment Committees and plan administrator/fiduciary for the Council's 403(b) retirement plans. She was promoted to director of operations in July 2010, adding supervision of the IT department to her existing responsibilities.
Laura Laderman, data analyst, performs quantitative analysis and creates data visualizations for Measure of America. She holds a BA in physics and a minor in statistics from Swarthmore College. She was previously a Summer of Maps Fellow at Azavea, where she conducted geospatial analysis for nonprofit organizations. In addition to making maps, she enjoys dancing, hiking, and growing vegetables.
Vikki Lassiter, Partnerships Specialist, provides strategic direction for stakeholder outreach and expanding Measure of America’s collaborative advantage to support research, advocacy, and bottom-up innovation. Previously, Vikki was the senior advisor and executive director for the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network based at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. Vikki’s prior work has focused on a number of issues related to change management, health equity, and community-partnered research. Vikki earned an MS in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University.
Nicole Restrick Levit is the manager of the fellowships office and the assistant director of the Abe Fellowship Program and the Japan Program. She holds a B.A. in modern literary studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Cornell University. Prior to joining the Council in 2006, Nicole worked in the field of international education, exchange and outreach for five years, first as associate director of the National Clearinghouse for U.S.-Japan Studies, Indiana University, and then as an international programs officer at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.
Kristen Lewis is Co-Director of Measure of America and co-author of two volumes of The Measure of America (Columbia University Press, 2008 and NYU Press, 2010) as well as well-being reports for California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Marin and Sonoma Counties. Before founding Measure of America with co-director Sarah Burd-Sharps in 2007, Kristen was senior policy advisor to the water and sanitation task force of the UN Millennium Project, led by Jeffery Sachs, and was co-author of the task force report, Health, Dignity and Development: What will it take? (Earthscan, 2005). She previously worked at the United Nations for many years, first with UNIFEM and then as in UNDP's policy bureau, and has served as a consultant on gender equality issues for numerous international development organizations, including UNICEF and UNFPA. Kristen contributes regularly to media outlets, with articles published in the The Nation, Huffington Post, and Stanford Social Innovation Review, among others, research cited by The New York Times, Forbes, The Atlantic, Washington Post, NPR, Slate, Freakonomics blog, and frequent newspaper and radio interviews. She received a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
Lisa Marshall joined the SSRC in late 2014 as Development Officer, in which capacity she is helping to coordinate the organization's Campaign for the Second Century and build a long-term fundraising program. Lisa is a cross-country transplant from Portland, Oregon, where she spent 12 years fundraising in the arts and social service sectors. She has a BA in English and graphic design from Lewis & Clark College and master's coursework in poetry and independent publishing. In addition to her work in nonprofit fundraising, Lisa also offers freelance graphic design and strategic marketing services to a variety of small business clients.
Nina R. McCoy received a B.S. from the University of Oregon in sociology, a Masters in teaching from the School for International Training and a Masters in public health (international health) from the University of Hawaii. She did additional post-graduate studies in sociology, teaching and public administration. After Peace Corps service in Thailand, Ms. McCoy worked with the Swedish International Development Authority as a language and cross-cultural trainer in Sweden and co-coordinator of an English language training program for health care projects in Vietnam, 1979-1983. She served from 1989-96 as associate director of Kalihi-Palama Health Center in Honolulu, which provides care for uninsured, immigrant and homeless populations. At KPHC she taught in a pioneer multidisciplinary community-based health training program. Between 1996-2006, in Ha Noi, Vietnam, Ms. McCoy managed youth-focused HIV/AIDS prevention programs for Population and Development International and the Australian Red Cross; worked on an HIV program five-year strategic plan for USAID; carried out HIV/AIDS related documentation and evaluation work for Family Health International; and, as Futures Group staff, became the management advisor for the USAID-supported Policy Project. Ms. McCoy joined SSRC in 2006.
Mary McDonnell is executive director and chief operating officer of the SSRC, and she leads the Council's capacity strengthening, fellowships, and Asia-focused work. McDonnell received her PhD in history from Columbia University with a focus on transregional connections between the Arab Middle East and Southeast Asia, particularly through Islam. She has master's degrees in both international affairs and journalism, also from Columbia, and worked as a journalist covering Asian and Middle Eastern affairs before joining the Council full time in 1986, where she became founding director of the Abe Fellowship and Vietnam Programs. She is currently leading a decade-long, qualitative and quantitative assessment of population health in rural Vietnam. Her publication, a case study of injury prevention in Vietnam in Structural Approaches in Public Health, edited by Marni Sommer and Richard Parker (Routledge, May 2013), provides a lens on creating achievable policy and behavioral change and offers lessons for other public health interventions while demonstrating the power of evaluation as a tool for strategic learning. She is co-editor of The Sage Handbook on Research Management (Sage, 2015). McDonnell chairs the Board of Trustees of the School for Social Development and Public Policy at Beijing Normal University and is a founding member of the board of the NGO Resources for Health Equity.
Clare McGranahan is editorial and communications associate for the SSRC’s Communications Department. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013 with a BA in religion and philosophy. Before joining the SSRC she interned for Island Press’s Production Department in Washington, DC.
Amanda is a human resources associate and administration coordinator. She graduated from the University of Georgia with her bachelor's of social work in 2012.
Cleia Noia is the program manager of the Drugs, Security and Democracy Program. She received her law degree from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie in Brazil and her master's degree in law and diplomacy, with a focus on international development and human security, from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Prior to joining the Council in February 2014, Cleia worked as a corporate lawyer in Brazil and consulted on Brazil's drug policy for the Open Society Foundations.
William O'Neill is a lawyer specializing in humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. He was Senior Advisor on Human Rights in the UN Mission in Kosovo, Chief of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda and led the Legal Department of the UN/OAS Mission in Haiti. He has worked on judicial, police and prison reform in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Timor Leste, Nepal and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He investigated mass killings in Afghanistan for the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also conducted an assessment of the human rights situation in Darfur and trained the UN's human rights monitors stationed there. At the request of the UN's Executive Committee on Peace and Security, he chaired a Task Force on Developing Rule of Law Strategies in Peace Operation. He has created and delivered courses on human rights, rule of law and peacekeeping for several peacekeeping training centers whose participants have included senior military, police and humanitarian officials from dozens of countries. He has published widely on rule of law, human rights and peacekeeping, including, Kosovo: An Unfinished Peace and Protecting Two Million Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur. In the spring of 2008, O'Neill was visiting professor of law and international relations at the Scuola Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy.
Cyril Obi is program director of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) program, bringing his extensive research, networking, and publishing experience on African peace, security, and development to the Council. After completing his doctoral studies in Political Science at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, he joined the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and was promoted to associate research professor in 2004. That same year, Dr. Obi was awarded the Claude Ake Visiting Chair at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. From 2005 to 2011, he was a senior researcher and led the research cluster on “Conflict, Displacement and Transformation” at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala. He has received academic awards and fellowships from the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal; the Social Science Research Council (SSRC); Africa Studies Center (ASC), Leiden; St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; 21st Century Trust; Salzburg Seminar; and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Dr. Obi is currently a research associate of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa; a visiting scholar to the Institute of African Studies (IAS), Columbia University; and an adjunct professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Obi serves on the editorial boards of several reputable journals, including African Affairs, African and Asian Studies, African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review, African Security Review, Brazilian Journal of African Studies, International Political Science Review, Governance in Africa, Strategic Review for Southern Africa, and Ubuntu: Journal of Conflict Transformation. He is also an international contributing editor to the Review of African Political Economyand serves on the Zed Books Africa editorial advisory board. Dr. Obi is also a member of the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association (ASA) and the International Advisory Board of the International Panel on Exiting Violence (IPEV), Paris. His publications include The Rise of China and India in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and Critical Interventions (Zed Books, 2010), with Fantu Cheru; Oil and Insurgency in the Niger Delta: Managing the Complex Politics of Petro-Violence (Zed Books, 2011), with Siri Aas Rustad; and a special issue of the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) (Indiana University Press, 2014), with T. Tieku and L. Scorgie-Porter. He has also contributed articles to the following peer-reviewed journals: Review of African Political Economy (2014), Extractive Industries and Society (2014), and South African Journal of International Affairs (2015). Dr. Obi recently contributed a chapter, “Understanding the Resource Curse Effect: Instability and Violent Conflict in Africa,” to Minding the Gap: Conflict Management in a Time of Change, edited by Pamela Aall and Chester Crocker (CIGI, 2016).
Aaron Pangburn is the Program Manager of the Social Science Research Council’s new Understanding Violent Conflict Initiative. Previously, he served as a program coordinator for SSRC’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum’s special projects in Africa, including the Justice and Security Research Programme, DRC Affinity Group, and Accommodation of Justice for Displaced in DRC research consortium. He joined CPPF in January 2013 and also supports CPPF’s Africa programming with the United Nations. His research interests include the mechanisms of conflict management and international peace processes, and he has developed a regional expertise on the Horn and Great Lakes regions of Africa. In recent years, Aaron has completed consultancies for the Center on International Conflict and the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University on peace operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of his graduate capstone project with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he also coauthored “The Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Electoral Processes,” a systematic look into the support provided by the department’s substantive units in preparation for, during, and after a national vote. He received his Master of International Affairs (MIA) from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), concentrating in international security policy and international conflict resolution, and his BA in political science with minors in both human rights and legal studies from Trinity College (CT). Aaron was born and raised in Vermont but has also lived in Spain and Kenya.
Jocelyn Perry is the communications and editorial assistant for the African Peacebuilding Network program. She recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil with distinction in international relations and politics, focusing on peacebuilding discourses in Burundi for her dissertation research as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Prior to joining the SSRC, Jocelyn served as a research assistant for Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights, and has previously worked for Public Narrative and the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, where she studied international relations, Hispanic studies, and African studies.
Mimi Pham is the finance assistant to the director of finance. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Virginia, where she graduated in 2014. Prior to joining the Council, she worked at EcoHealth Alliance as an economics research assistant and at Kitamba as a business associate.