Staff

HQ Staff

Rupak Chattopadhyay [President and CEO] holds master’s degrees in economics and political science from the University of Ottawa and the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and did his doctoral work in political science at the University of Toronto. He was previously a member of the Consultative Group on the Study of Intergovernmental Relations and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, Inter-State Council, Government of India. In 2004/5 he was Advisor to the Chairman of the Observer Research Foundation. Over the last decade he has contributed as an expert in support of political and constitutional reforms in Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Yemen.  His edited/co-edited collections include, “Unity in Diversity: Learning from Each Other” (Viva Books 2008), “Dialogues on Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries” (MQUP 2009),  “Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal System”, (MQUP 2009) and ‘Governance and Finance of Metropolitan Area in Federal Countries” (OUP 2013). Email: Chattopadhyay@forumfed.org

Charles Cloutier [Chief Operating Officer] Over the past 20 years, Charles has worked for various international/community development organizations such as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Oxfam Canada and CUSO. He was also Regional Director in the Outaouais for Transcontinental Media where he was responsible for the publication of 7 weekly community newspapers. He was a founding member of the Franco Ontarian theatre La Nouvelle Scene and sits on the Board of a Credit Union. Charles is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and University of Laval where he earned his Chartered Accountant designation. He has run programs in Indonesia, Haiti and Tunisia. Email: cloutier@forumfed.org

Sheela Embounou [Vice President, Monitoring] brings to the Forum over 25 years experience in program and financial management.  She is currently the Forum’s gender focal point and oversees the Forum’s programs in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. She formerly oversaw the Forum’s support to the Nepal Constituent Assembly. She was previously Senior Director for Finance and Operations at the Forum. Prior to joining the Forum, she worked for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Republic of Congo, Ghana and Kenya.  She graduated from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth majoring in Human Geography. Email: embounou@forumfed.org

Felix Knüpling [Vice President, Programs] joined the Forum in 2007 and worked at headquarters in Ottawa until 2013. He is currently based in Berlin, Germany, and oversees and manages the Forum projects. Also, Felix has provided expert advice on federal reform in various emerging federations, such as Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Prior to joining the Forum, Felix worked for the German parliament – the Bundestag – and at the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO in Brussels. Felix holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Free University Berlin and a BA in International Relations from University of Kent. He has co-edited several books on federalism, among them “Das teilen beherrschen” (“Managing fiscal federalism”) (with Sabine Kropp, and others, Baden Baden 2015) and “Changing Federal Constitutions” (with Arthur Benz; Opladen/Toronto 2012). Email: knuepling@forumfed.org

Diana Chebenova [Senior Director, Partnerships and Information] holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and an MA in Commerce from the University of Economics of Bratislava. She was previously Director for Research and Publications and Director for South America Programs and Partnerships. Prior to joining the Forum she worked at the Inter-American Agency for Co-operation and Development of the Organization of American States in Washington D.C. Diana speaks Slovak, English, Spanish, Russian, and some Portuguese and French. Email: chebenova@forumfed.org

John Light [Senior Director, Communications and Special Projects] spent over a decade working at the Canadian Parliament. John served as senior staff to Ministers in several portfolios: Transport, National Capital Commission, Foreign Affairs and Regional Affairs. John had responsibility for advising the Minister on Federal/Provincial/Municipal relations and managed the National Capital Commission file (a crown corporation in Ottawa that governs Federal land) for the Minister. John has a bachelors degree in marketing and expertise communications and Canadian federal/provincial/municipal relations which he oversees as part of his responsibilities at the Forum of Federations. Before politics, John worked both as a caregiver for special needs children and a sales manager in business. Email: light@forumfed.org

Phillip Gonzalez [Regional Director, Asia and Australia] has a Master’s degree in International Relations from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from La Trobe University, Australia. He leads the Forum’s engagement in Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines. Phillip has previously worked at the Canadian Foundation for the Americas as well as the Australian High Commission in Ottawa. He is fluent in English and Spanish. Email: gonzalez@forumfed.org

Oludare Austin Ayeni [Finance Officer] has over 20 years professional experience in banking, credit administration and accounting. He holds a diploma in Business Management (OND) and a diploma in Banking and Finance (HND) from Nigeria. He also has a diploma in Accounting and a post graduate certificate in Accounting and Information Technology (Canada). He has worked at the Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais) and the Universal Trust Bank, both in Nigeria; and several NGO’s in Canada as a finance clerk, general accountant, revenue accountant and project accountant. He speaks both English and Yoruba.Email: austinayeni@forumfed.org

Donna Duffett [Senior Project Officer] joined the Forum in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in History from Carleton University and has over 15 years of administrative experience. She has recently moved back to Ottawa from Qatar where she worked as an events administrator for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)  School of the Arts for seven years. Her other experiences include working as a project administrator on the TCCCS/Iris program and working as an office administration for various consulting firms.Email: duffett@forumfed.org

Fauziah Pruner [Finance Officer]  joined the Forum of Federations in January 2009 is responsible for corporate accounting and financial reporting. She is a Certified General Accountant and has extensive experience in both private and public sectors. Email: pruner@forumfed.org

Chris Randall [Network Manager-Contractor] is a computer engineer who has been with the Forum of Federations since August 1999. He does system design and user support for the Forum. His languages are English and French.Email: randall@forumfed.org

Liam Whittington [Organizational Development Officer] is a researcher and analyst who has held positions for policy research organisations in Washington DC, Vienna, and the UK. He has contributed to research and development projects in a range of countries operating in a variety of different policy areas, including education, security, local governance, international development, and civil service organisation, and has experience of conducting public spending reviews. Liam is a Research Fellow of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (Washington DC) and has published a number of articles on a range of international policy issues. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Medieval and Modern History from the University of Birmingham (UK), and an MA in International Relations from the University of Nottingham (UK).

Driss Boutakhoust [Finance Officer] joined the Forum of Federations in November 2016. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting & a Master’s degree in Human resources. He has over 5 years of administration experience. Email: Boutakhoust@forumfed.org

Olakunle Adeniran has been with the Forum of Federations since October 2016 as an intern. He holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Studies from the University of Ottawa and Saint Paul University and a BSc in International Law and Diplomacy. His research focus is on gender equality and non-violent means of resolving conflict. Olakunle has academic training in Arbitration with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and Third Party Neutral training in Mediation and Facilitation with the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution. He has had volunteering opportunities with the Liberal Party of Canada and Oxfam Canada. He is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution.

Elizabeth Lisa Nganwa [Project Officer] joined the forum in 2016 and handles the CORE program administration and staff welfare among other things. She graduated with HONS. Psychology and minors in Criminology and Gender Equity.

Beinye Otrofanowei has a Master’s degree in Conflict Studies from the University of Ottawa/Saint Paul University Ottawa, Ontario Canada. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Law with a minor in Anthropology from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. He holds several certifications from the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution (CICR) in the areas of Mediation, Group Conflict, and facilitation. His research focuses on ethnic conflict, trauma, and reconciliation. He has given papers at conferences to this effect most recently at the University of Denver in Colorado, USA. Beinye has also written op-eds on political issues and has had his paper published on online news platforms.

George Stairs [Project Officer] has been working at the Forum of Federations since September 2016. Previously he has worked in several different government departments during his time as a student. He completed his M.A. in International Affairs: Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in 2016 through a Master’s Research Project on Tunisia’s democratization process post-Arab Spring. He has been known to write occasionally for the student-run website iAffairsCanada.ca, as their Associate Editor for Peace and Security. He has presented conference papers on a variety of topics and most recently had his chapter “The Amplification of the Sunni-Shia Divide through Contemporary Communications Technology: Fear and Loathing in the Modern Middle East,” in IGI Global’s Impact of Communication and the Media on Ethnic Conflict. His languages are English and French, and he speaks a little German. Email: stairs@forumfed.org

May Abdulkadir Joined the Forum in May 2017. She is currently completing an Honors Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences with Specialization in Public Administration and a Minor in Law at the University of Ottawa (CUM LAUDE). She has previously worked at Legal departments of two large International Organizations. Her experience also involves interning at a Member of Parliament’s office in the Canadian Parliament. She is fluent in English, Arabic, and currently learning French.

Brazil Office

Constantino Cronemberger Mendes [Country Director, Brazil] is an economist specialized in public sector economy. He holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of Brasilia (UnB), Brazil. Constantino is a researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) where the Forum Office is housed. He is the coordinator of the Federative Development Studies and general-coordinator of the IPEA’s Interdepartmental Working Group for the same subject. He has taught college classes in Brazil and performed as visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, USA. Constantino has published articles, chapters and books on federal governance, such as regional development policies, long-term territorial planning, public spending and local delivery of public services. His recent studies have recently been awarded the first place in a contest held by the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management.

Ethiopia Office

Shawn Houlihan [Senior Director-Africa] has an MA in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a BA and Master of Development Economics from Dalhousie University. He spent five years in Ethiopia (1993-1998) in governance and civil service reform. He also has extensive experience in Sudan, for Canada and for the United National Development Programme. He worked as a consultant for the Canadian International Development Agency on matters of governance, capacity development and conflict management, including on the Middle East, Horn of Africa, Pan Africa and Southern Africa. Shawn is currently based in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Maeregu Habtemariam Kazentet [Regional Director, East Africa Region].Maeregu studied agriculture at a diploma level and has a BA in Economics (Hons) from India and MA in International Development Planning and Management from Germany. He has served the government of Ethiopia from the lowest structure (Wereda) up to key positions at federal government level for more than 15 years. He was a State Minister of the Ministry of Federal Affairs where one of his main responsibilities was strengthening the federal system of government and managing conflicts within the nation. Maeregu was actively involved in organizing the 5th International Conference on Federalism in Ethiopia in 2010.

Endale Girma [Facilitator] has a Diploma in Auto-mechanics and close to ten years of work experience. He renders safe and timely transportation services and assists with logistical tasks at the Forum’s Ethiopia Country Office.

Myanmar Office

Htet Min Lwin [Country Director, Myanmar] heads the Forum’s country office in Myanmar. As a student, he was actively involved in student and youth affairs and he served as public relations officer for All Burma Federation of Students’ Union, Mandalay Division. His previous positions include research associate (2012) in Myanmar Egress for politics and socio-economic research programs, senior program officer (2012-2014) at Myanmar Peace Center. As a junior member of peace negotiation dialogues, he attended Oslo Forum (2013) and “Democratization, Peace and Global Governance for Mid-level Professionals” in GCSP, Geneva. Though trained as a medical doctor in University of Medicine, Mandalay, he holds a master’s degree in political science from Central European University, Hungary. His interests are in the fields of religion and politics, federalism, culture and Burmese political philosophy.

Khaing Kyaw Moe [Senior Trainer] is a facilitator well-trained by the FOF-EBO joint program for local federalism trainings for political activists, CSOs’ members, members from political parties and Ethnic Armed Organizations. He also takes the responsibilities of translating and facilitating in federalism workshops for high-ranking official and stakeholders conducted by international experts. Before he joined the Forum, he was a private English teacher, a freelance translator and trainer on democracy and public Participation. Besides, he is a member of Central Executive Committee in Arakan National Party (ANP), a regional ethnic based political party where he serves as secretary of foreign affairs committee. Prior to 2010 political reforms in Myanmar, he was a student political activist and detained by the military junta for the No-vote campaign against 2008 constitution while he was studying a two-year Indiana University correspondence course via American Centre, Yangon. He got three-year sentence as political prisoner and was released at the end of 2011. In 2007, he completed an intensive six-month political training for democratic oppositions organized by the American Centre. In August 2013, he joined a three-week training course on International Relations, Democracy and Human Rights organized by GCSP-DECAF in Geneva, Switzerland. In September 2014, he attended a five-week fellowship on Information Strategies for Societies in Transition at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.

Sandeep Shastri [Lead Trainer]   is the Pro Vice Chancellor of Jain University and Director of its Centre for Research  in Social Science and Education (CERSSE).  Earlier he was on the Faculty of the Department  of Political Science, Bangalore University  (1984-2003) and headed the  Social Science Research Centre and Teacher Training Academy of the Jain Group of Institutions (2003-2009). He is currently the National Coordinator of the Lokniti Network a group of scholars involved in Survey based Election Studies in India. He was a Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar (1993), Participant in the International Visitor (IV) Program (1995), Shastri Indo-Canadian Fellow (1999), Ford Foundation South-South Fellow (2001), Adjunct Professor, University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and 2013.

Chit Oo Ko Ko [Senior Communications Officer] joined the Forum’s Myanmar Office on July 2016 and he is in charge of the country office’s communications and media relations. His responsibilities also include to edit and manage the Forum’s publications in Myanmar language. He has worked in journalism field for over five years and has published over thirty articles on various fields such as politics, society and youth. Formerly as a senior editor at Myanmar Egress and a core team member of a local research institute, he worked in the field of policy and research. In late 2012 he joined Myanmar Peace Center as a senior program officer and worked till the end of the program in 2016. At the MPC, Chit Oo served in his capacity as a speech writer for the Chair of MPC, who was the Chief Negotiator for Myanmar government. Besides holding a BSc degree in Mathematics, he participated in professional programs such as “international human rights law” program by University of Oslo, “journalism under new democracy” program organized in Berlin by Die-Tageszeitung(taz) and “democratization, peace and global governance for young professionals” program in Geneva Center for Security Policy.

Thiha Wint Aung joined the Forum’s Myanmar office in May 2017 as Program Officer. At the Forum’s Myanmar Office, he is responsible for strategic monitoring and evaluation of different activities and assists in different executive tasks. His other duties include to provide analyses, reports and serve as a trainer in the Forum’s community outreach programs. Moreover, he works to expand the Forum’s activities in areas of research and studies. He was trained as a medical doctor in the University of Medicine, Mandalay, and he previously worked as Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning Officer in The Union (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lungs Disease).
As a student, he was one of the co-founders of the University of Medicine Mandalay Students’ Union (UMMSU), and the social media officer in the ASEAN youth community network, developing and fostering relations with university students in the ASEAN. His interests are in the fields of policy and research, data science, federalism and public administration.

Myat Myat Thu [Finance Officer] holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Mandalay. She has been an operations manager for different companies focused in service and trading industry for 15 years with major responsibilities for corporate accounting and government relations. She joined the Forum in October 2016 and is in charge of finance of Myanmar Country Office.

Thoon Thadar Nwe [Program Associate] joined the Forum in 2016 and is responsible for administrative and financial matters. She also serves as an executive assistant to the director. Previously she worked as project officer for admin and finance in Myanmar Egress, and as program associate for Myanmar Peace Center. She holds a BA degree in English.

Francis Kok-Wah Loh [Lead Expert] was Professor of Politics in Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang until his retirement in 2012. He has been a Visiting Scholar/Research Fellow at Monash and Melbourne Universities in Australia, in Kyoto University, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He has consulted for the UNDP, the UNRISD and the Penang State Government. He has been associated with the Forum since 2005: his involvement includes contributing articles to two volumes of the Global Dialogue on Federalism; facilitating the ‘South and Southeast Asian Regional Meeting on Service Delivery’ in Penang (28-30 Nov 2012); and conducting workshops on federalism, devolution and good governance in Burma (2012-15). He has authored or edited several books and articles. Francis is also president of Aliran, a multiethnic human rights organisation based in Penang.  He received his PhD in Political Science and Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University (1980).

Morocco

Hayat Lahbaili [Directeur de pays] doctorante en finance publique, droit public, Ex-fonctionnaire du Ministère de l’Intérieur, « 24 ans d’expérience» dans le domaine de développement social, économique, aménagement du territoire, urbanisme.
Activiste du Mouvement démocratique et mouvement féministe & Coordinatrice nationale du groupe de travail des ONG sur le budget sensible au genre au Maroc.

Nepal

Sagar Manandhar [Program Manager-Consultant] manages the Forum’s Nepal’s country office. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is currently completing a Masters in Economics and a Bachelor in Law from the Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Before coming to the Forum, Sagar was in investment banking and credit administration in Nepal.

India Office

Vikas Kumar [Program Manager, India] holds a Masters degree from Jamia Millia Islamia in Political Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Conflict Transformation and Peace building from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. His primary skill and experience lies in research. Mr Kumar had regularly visited remotest villages of five different states of India to conduct survey and implement projects while working for Digital Empowerment Foundation and Association for Democratic Reforms. Mr. Kumar’s has been writing independently on issues related to Health, Education, Human Rights and Sustainable Rural Development in India. Previously, Mr. Kumar has worked as researcher with University Of Delhi to assess the importance of Rajya Sabha in Indian parliamentary system.

Ravi Dhingra [Country Director, India] AS (Retd), Former Chief Secretary, Himachal Pradesh. Appointed as an Independent Director, SJVN. He was also a Senior Consultant with National Disaster Management Authority, National Security Council Secretariat and Srikrishna Committee on Andhra Pradesh. Joined Indian Administrative Service in 1972 and has worked in the State & Central Governments in important positions like Chief Secretary-HP, Chairman- HP Electricity Board and Secretary, Govt India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Inter State Council Secretariat. Former Board Member of the Forum of Federations, Canada & Chairman of the Strategic Council of the Forum .The Council represents 9 member countries. Has done pioneering work as the First Managing Director of H.P. Civil Supplies Corporation. Set up the Corporation. Was also Executive Director, Industrial Development Corporation.

Yemen Office

Muaamar Batawil [Senior Advisor, Yemen] is the Forum’s local program officer in Yemen and helps the Forum implement its project “Supporting the National Dialogue Conference and the Consolidation of Democracy in Yemen”, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Government of Canada. Muaamar is originally from Hadramout, Yemen, and received a Bachelor of Arts (Cum laude) with a double major in political science and international relations from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota. He is fluent in Arabic and English.

Tunisia

Leila Haououi-Khouni [Regional Director, MENA] is assistant Professor of Environmental and Macro Economics at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Universite de Tunis (ISG). She holds a Masters degree in Economic Sciences from the University of Tunis. Her doctoral work on « Les déterminants du choix d’un régime de change dans les pays émergents » was done at the Université Lumière, Lyon2 and co-directed by J. P ALLEGRET (Lyon2) and Mr AYADI (Université de Tunis). Leila is a member of a team piloting a partnership project “Responsible entrepreneurship” between the German Cooperation (GIZ) and the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (ISG). She worked with the United Nations Volunteer Program in Africa.

Advisors

Fatima Guerreiro is a Fiscal Auditor of the Ministry of Finance of the State of Bahia, Brazil. She holds a Masters (LLM) in International Economic Law from Warwick University, UK, a Certificate in Tax Law from the Federal University of Bahia and a BA in Law from the Catholic University of Salvador, Brazil. Fatima manages the Fiscal Forum of the Brazilian States (FFEB), an organization of the ministries of finances of the Brazilian states that seeks to strengthen inter-governmental relations and improve fiscal federalism in Brazil. She co-ordinates the program of studies of FFEB supported by the Federal School of Public Finance Administration. Fatima also led a process which concluded with an agreement of technical co-operation between the Brazilian States and the Forum of Federations. She also worked on the conception of Brazilian states tax legislation and on the design of theoretical basis on fiscal issues for the Brazilian States. Fatima’s work is conducted with or in parallel to CONFAZ – Council of Ministers of Finance of the States, a body in charge of tax policies.

André Juneauis a fellow at the Queen’s University Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, and was previously director there from 2010 to 2013. He is also a fellow with the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal and the president-elect of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. He was previously Canada’s board member at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He served as assistant deputy minister in immigration, in health, and in intergovernmental relations. He was appointed to the deputy minister level in 2000 as a deputy secretary to the Cabinet for operations. From 2002 to 2006, he served as the first deputy minister of infrastructure, and starting in 2004, infrastructure and communities.

André Lecours is full Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. His main research interests are Canadian politics, European politics, nationalism (with a focus on Quebec, Scotland, Flanders, Catalonia and the Basque country) and federalism. He is the editor of New Institutionalism. Theory and Analysis published by the University of Toronto Press in 2005, the author of Basque Nationalism and the Spanish State (University of Nevada Press, 2007), and the co-author (with Daniel Béland) of Nationalism and Social Policy. The Politics of Territorial Solidarity (Oxford University Press, 2008).

David Parks was formerly project manager for Mexico at the Forum. He has an MA in international development. He has extensive experience supporting the Mexican Senate and state governments on issues around service delivery and environmental politics. Before joining the Forum, he worked in Mexico, developed alternative energy projects in Cuba and also worked with fair trade coffee producers in Central America. David is currently an independent consultant with extensive experience in federalism and decentralization in Albania, Libya, Myanmar and Yemen.

Roberta Ryan is Associate Professor from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Director of the UTS Centre for Local Government and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government. She is a leading policy, program evaluation and stakeholder engagement practitioner and social researcher with over 30 years’ experience in government across Australia and internationally. Roberta has designed and undertaken a range of complex government and non-government policy advisory and applied policy projects. An expert in intergovernmental relations, she has worked in Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, PNG and other Pacific countries. She is well known for developing new approaches to the application of research to policy, service and governance implementation and reviews, evaluation, community engagement, stakeholder management, sustainability, social and strategic planning.

Rekha Saxena [Honorary Senior Advisor] teaches at the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. She has published over eleven books. Her recent publications include: Varieties of Federal Governance: Major Contemporary Models, Foundation: Cambridge University Press, India (2010), Mapping Canadian Federalism for India, Konark (2002), Situating Federalism: Mechanisms of Intergovernmental Relations in Canada and India, Manohar (2006), India at the Polls: Parliamentary Elections in the Federal Phase, Orient Longman (2003), Indian Politics: Constitutional Design and Institutional Functioning, Prentice Hall India (2011), Federalizing India in the Age of Globalization, Primus (2013), Indian Judiciary :the changing Landscape, Manohar (2007) and Indian Parliament: The Changing Landscape, Manohar (2014).

Leslie Seidle previously held a number of senior positions in the Government of Canada, including director general of Strategic Policy and Research, Intergovernmental Affairs in the Privy Council Office (1996-2002). He was the senior research coordinator for the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing (1990-91). He is the author of Rethinking the Delivery of Public Services to Citizens (1995) and numerous articles on electoral reform, citizen participation, constitutional reform, public management and political finance. Dr. Seidle has edited/co-edited 13 books, including Immigrant Integration in Federal Countries (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012) and Belonging? Diversity, Recognition and Shared Citizenship in Canada (IRPP, 2007).