Brenda Oppermann is the founder and president of GameChangers 360, LLC, a consultancy and information-sharing platform dedicated to working with unrecognized and undervalued game changers to help organizations and individuals achieve results that matter. Helping a wide assortment of organizations fulfill diverse missions in multiple countries over the past 25+ years, Brenda watched organizations repeatedly overlook people and issues that were key to accomplishing their goals. Companies and NGOs that wanted to improve the way they did business, for instance, focused almost exclusively on developing strategies and policies, while ignoring the importance of creating environments that encouraged innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Likewise, many international aid groups and military organizations working in areas experiencing conflict consistently failed to recognize game changing people and issues. Despite evidence showing the vital role that women, traditional justice and youth play in achieving sustainable peace and stability, for example, these organizations focused their stability efforts almost exclusively on local men and formal institutions. By helping clients identify these game changers and effectively work with them, GC360 assists them in leveraging and capitalizing on these hidden resources.
Before founding GameChangers 360, Brenda served as a senior advisor, researcher and program manager for military and civilian organizations including: the US Army, US Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations (UN), NATO, US Institute of Peace (USIP), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as, various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). She worked extensively in fragile states and areas of conflict and post-conflict focusing on a variety of issues including women and security, stability operations, gender, informal justice, governance, civil society, human rights, and countering extremism at strategic, operational and tactical levels. She has extensive experience working in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Brenda has been a guest speaker at the UN, US Army Command and General Staff College, US Naval War College, Harvard University, Harvard Law School, Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, American University, USAID, and the National Defense University among others. She has conducted research concerning integrating women and gender into military operations, the role of informal justice in stabilization operations, the role of women in insurgencies, the US Army’s obligations under NATO Bi-Strategic Command Directive 40-1 (concerning UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security), and the impact of legal pluralism, particularly customary law, on women’s status. She holds a J.D. from Western New England University School of Law, an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California-Irvine.
Shannon Meehan has worked in domestic and international community service for more than 30 years with a focus on gender-based violence (GBV). She has designed and implemented GBV projects, trainings and advocacy campaigns, with an emphasis on the relationship between GBV and human rights. Her international work concentrates on the implementation, evaluation, and improvement of humanitarian and development assistance programs throughout Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, including areas experiencing conflict. She is currently an international consultant for humanitarian affairs and international development.
Ellen Haring is a senior fellow with Women in International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative project. She is a West Point graduate and a retired U.S. Army colonel. Presently, she is completing her PhD dissertation at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Her research and work focuses on women and gender in the military. Haring has been a guest speaker on numerous foreign and domestic news shows, at universities and colleges, and she has been invited to address members of Congress.
Rebecca Siders is a leader of change. Her work began 20 years ago as a change agent working in Long-term Care (LTC). She empowered elder residents and frontline staff to take charge of combatting the plagues of loneliness, boredom, and helplessness using participatory action research (PAR), raising voices of the most vulnerable. Dr. Siders is a critical thinker and has extensive experience in culture change, particularly of institutions and systems that tend to stifle autonomy, creativity, and competence. She is currently a leader in shaping organizational culture in the Navy and the Department of Defense (DoD) with the goal of flipping traditional command and control thinking by embedding Design Thinking methodologies into the Command’s culture and processes. She continues to lead and train Sailors and civilians to be change agents within their organization. Dr. Siders has her doctorate in Sociology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.
Marc Garlasco has worked at the confluence of military analysis and human rights for over twenty years. He was the Chief of High Value Targeting in the Pentagon and a war crimes investigator for the United Nations in Afghanistan and Libya. Marc has an expertise in International Humanitarian Law, or the Laws of Armed Conflict, and has developed and provided training to various organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNHCR. He is also a recognized expert in the area of analyzing explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and has written numerous studies on this topic.
Denise Wales is an international development professional with 20 years of experience
designing and implementing programs to strengthen democracy and governance in fragile and
conflict-affected areas in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. In particular, she focuses on
addressing issues of social inclusion to empower marginalized populations to raise their voice to
participate as citizens in decision-making and hold elected and government officials
accountable. She has worked for a number of non-profit and for-profit implementers of USAID
and DFID programs at both the headquarters and field levels. Denise served long term
assignments in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Kosovo. She started her career in international
development as US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Slovak Republic. Currently, Denise
works as a consultant to organizations to improve their capacity in the design, implementation,
and evaluation of their programs.
Misty Odom has an extensive background in naval leadership and ethics, strategic planning, project management, complex problem solving, training and development, risk management, and team building. Her experiences include serving as the Assistant Director, Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the United States Naval Academy (USNA); Assistant Officer-in- Charge, Coastal Riverine Group TWO Detachment Bahrain; Operations Officer, Coastal Riverine Squadron TWO; Combat Systems Officer, USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47); Company Officer, United States Naval Academy; and Sexual Assault Victim Intervention Liaison, USNA. Misty’s commitment to human rights and social justice has not only shaped her role as a Navy leader — influencing thousands of Sailors she’s trained, educated and led — but also inspires her non-military activities as well.
Angela Oliver-Burgess is a senior humanitarian and development expert with more than 25 years of professional and international experience working in complex emergencies and post-conflict contexts, including regions of Middle East, Central Asia, West and East Africa, Eastern Europe and Central America. She has successfully managed and implemented large-scale, complex donor programs in the areas of conflict mitigation, crisis response, post-conflict transition, governance, sustainable development, and women’s leadership and development. She has served as an expert in the areas of gender, humanitarian response, child and youth development, civ-mil cooperation, inter-religious collaboration, conflict transformation and peace building with high-level government officials and civil society actors globally.
She has served as an editor and contributor to training manuals and resource materials in gender and peacebuilding and inter-religious cooperation. She has conducted performance and impact evaluation of development and humanitarian programs. She has provided critical services to organizations including program development, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, organizational development and project startup.
She has a diverse range of professional experience working with international organizations, including United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Organization of Migration (IOM), AECOM International Development, World Conference of Religions for Peace, CHF International (now Global Communities), UNHCR, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). She currently serves as the Founder and President of the NGO- Smile for Budgie (SMILE). SMILE provides educational and psycho-social assistance to vulnerable and at-risk children and youth.
Angela is currently pursuing a PhD in International Psychology at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology, Chicago, Illinois. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Management at the School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
Greg Ingram is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who spent most of his 30+-year career in Special Operations, to include Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations, in addition to tours in the Infantry and Military Intelligence. He has worked at all levels: strategic, operational, and tactical and has also been part of joint and interagency operations.
Greg’s areas of expertise include strategic communications, conflict prevention, and peace building. He has conducted training and operational evaluations for the Human Terrain System, gathered field data and performed operational testing for Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) language translation initiatives, and developed media programs designed to prevent extremism and violent conflict and promote peace and stability worldwide. Greg has also designed social inclusion projects focusing on marginalized populations including women and youth. He has significant experience working in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Dr. Dana Eyre is a sociologist specializing in the analysis, planning, coordination, and evaluation of social change and strategic communications efforts for peace building and conflict transformation. He has lead and worked on social change projects, and strategic communications campaigns, for the US and UK governments and the United Nations, as well as commercial clients. He holds a PhD in sociology from Stanford University; has worked in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa; and has been on the faculty of the US Naval Postgraduate School, George Mason University, the United States Military Academy and the Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Training Center.
McGrath Jean Thomas has more than 30 years of experience in international development and strategic management providing transformational leadership for international organizations, government agencies, and corporations in the US, and 5 countries in Africa and the Middle East. She has led multicultural workgroups and teams of up to 200, providing guidance in operational/financial management, program administration, partnership development, change leadership and strategic planning. During her 8-year tour in Egypt, she led the capacity needs assessment process for nearly 100 local NGOs and coordinated the design and implementation of training packages and systems to improve NGO efficiency and effectiveness. She is passionate about building capacity of local, field-based staff through coaching and mentoring.
Humam Rajab is a Senior Project and Outreach Officer with the Iraq Foundation. In that capacity, he led the organization’s team of local and expatriate staff in implementing projects in Iraq on economic empowerment of marginalized population; and democratic forms of governance.
Rajab holds a Master’s degree in Business Leadership from the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s from the College of Engineering, Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad.
Sheila M.Q. Scanlon, Colonel, USMC, (ret). served as a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Interior for Administration and Support and as a Gender Advisor for both the Ministry of Interior and Commander NTMA/CSTCA during her combat tour in Afghanistan. As a civilian, she later served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Afghanistan for Gender Integration and was also member of the MoD Advisory Team. She earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in National Strategic Studies and Regional Studies in the Middle East from the National War College.
Zainab has 14+ years of experience working on peace building, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, and stabilization in Iraq. She has led a variety of projects focusing on women, youth, and civil society for assorted organizations including the US Institute of Peace, Women for Women International, Creative Associates Inc. International, and the International Organization for Standardization. In addition to working closely with marginalized groups to improve their skills and increase their participation in society, Zainab has significant experience working with officials from the Government of Iraq, Iraqi tribal leaders as well as representatives of the international community.
Julie L. Arostegui, J.D., is a lawyer and international human rights, gender and security expert with extensive experience in peace and security, combating gender-based violence, countering violent extremism, women’s political participation, rule of law, access to justice, and security sector reform. She serves as an international advocate, advisor, trainer, and researcher for the civil society, political, security, and justice sectors.
Julie most recently led the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) program at Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND’s), working to empower women politically both in the U.S. and in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East and North Africa as leaders on critical issues of conflict prevention, peace building, violence against women, and national and global security. She also works with Members of Congress, federal agencies, and the United Nations to ensure that women and gender perspectives are included in diplomatic, development, and defense efforts in line with international and U.S. policy.
As an international advocate Julie works with domestic groups to build local capacity, strengthen institutions, create legal frameworks, build awareness, and share global best practices. In recent years she worked with groups in the Great Lakes region of Africa to integrate gender equality and women’s rights into post-conflict legal structures in order to further the women, peace and security framework. Julie has managed programs related to gender, women’s rights, and the rule of law in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, and has advised, trained, and published extensively on gender, women’s rights, human rights, international human rights law, women, peace and security, gender-based violence, and human trafficking, with audiences including judges, legal practitioners, law enforcement, military, government, social workers, religious and cultural leaders and civil society. She has also been a policy advisor on disability issues.
Julie has worked with the U.S. Institute of Peace, Women in International Security (WIIS), George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, National Defense University, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House, International Association of Women Judges, American Association of People with Disabilities, Internews, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center/Partnership for Human Freedom. Julie holds a J.D. in international human rights law from the University of Cincinnati College of Law and a Masters in International Relations and Communications from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, Spain. She completed her undergraduate studies at Brandeis University.
Professor Shirley Randell AO, PhD is currently working on Secondary Teaching Quality Improvement in the Ministry of Education, Bangladesh. As a leading expert in public sector and institutional reform, teacher education, gender mainstreaming and human rights in developing countries, she has provided specialist technical assistance to governments in the Asia Pacific Region and in Africa over the last 18 years. From 2006-2013 she worked in Rwanda as a gender and education specialist and was Founding Director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Rwanda. She is the author of numerous journal articles and books and is a renowned international speaker.
Joanna Springer is a researcher and writer in the field of governance reform in conflict-affected countries. She has significant experience in qualitative and quantitative research, technical and policy writing, and new business development; she has worked in Arabic and English with local organizations in the West Bank and Arab Gulf, and carried out research in French in Morocco. A strategic thinker and self-starter, she works to support local initiatives and promote intercultural collaboration.
Marsha Lake is an adult educator and social worker with over 30 years experience supporting and facilitating individual, community, and large-scale change efforts in a wide variety of contexts. Ms. Lake’s career has focused on the application of consultative empowerment approaches to change, social system analysis (with a particular focus on using gender as an analytical tool), and the facilitation of sustained change efforts. Ms. Lake has a Masters in Peace Building and Human Security from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada, and a Diploma in Adult Education from Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, Canada.
Jennifer Anderson is an international development professional and South Asia expert. During her eight years in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh she worked on subnational governance, rule of law, women’s economic empowerment, and democracy assistance. During her two years in Afghanistan with USAID she worked on subnational governance and traditional justice. Jennifer also speaks conversational Nepali and is studying Urdu. Currently, she is the Program Officer for South Asia at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), where she oversees CIPE’s field office in Karachi, Pakistan and manages CIPE’s programs in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. She holds a B.A. in Photography and a M.S. in Cultural Geography.
Suzanne Lesko is a strategist and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of the GATE Project, a non-profit focusing on empowering women in emerging democracies and fostering them to be agents of change in their home country upon completion of their graduate degree. Suzanne has extensive experience as a tri-sector leader working in demanding governance environments and in extremis conditions. She has lead international teams in South/Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East working with Department of Defense (DoD), Department of State (DoS) and various multi-national corporations. Lesko is an Annapolis graduate with master’s degree from the University of San Diego.