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The team of WIIS-Netherlands exists out of the board members and the advisory council.

  • Vanessa Newby President

    Vanessa is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University. Vanessa founded the first official WIIS NL chapter in March 2020 and is the current President. She is the author of Peacekeeping in South Lebanon: Credibility and Local Cooperation with Syracuse University Press (2018) and has published in several international peer-reviewed journals such as the Global Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Security, Third World Quarterly, and Global Governance. Her next book, Peacekeeping in the Mediterranean: Narratives of Agency in Neglected Conflicts is under contract with Oxford University Press. She blogs regularly and has contributed to policy thinktanks such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Lowy Institute, and the Australian Institute of International Affairs.  Vanessa is an Arabic speaker and has conducted research on Iran and the Middle East since 2006. She has travelled the region extensively and spent several years living in Syria and Lebanon. She is the author of Follow the Arabic Road: Going Off Track in the Middle East, a memoir about her experiences learning Arabic and travelling in the Middle East.

  • Saskia Schaper Vice-president

    Saskia has a background in public affairs and public policy with an interest in foreign relations and international security. She has an MA in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam with a major in European Law and a minor in Spanish. Saskia has lived and worked in Europe, the US and Lebanon. Her career includes interning at the Dutch mission to the United Nations in New York, and at PA-Europe in Brussels. Saskia also worked for three years as a policy assistant to a Dutch Member of Parliament. Saskia is currently working as a consultant for the Dutch government at the department where we process work permit applications for non-EU citizens wanting to work in the Netherlands.  her role as Vice-President she aims to contribute to a better understanding of the important role of women in international peace and security, and raise awareness of this important topic.

  • Amy Blessing Treasurer

    Amy Blessing is an Initiative Coordinator at the Global Counterterrorism Forum Administrative Unit. Prior to this, Amy worked as Programme Coordinator at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University. She is co-editor of the volume The Global Regional and Local Politics of Institutional Responses to COVID-19 - Implications for Women and Children (October 2022, Palgrave MacMillan) and lives in Amsterdam.

  • Fleur de Braaf Events officer

    Fleur de Braaf is a policy officer at the municipality of The Hague, where she works at the department of security and focuses on the radicalization file. In 2019 she was an intern at the Department of Crisis Management Peace Operations at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs focusing on the Dutch contribution to peace operations in the Middle East. She completed her Advanced Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at Leiden University in June 2020. Prior to her MSc, she finished her BA in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Fleur is interested in the role of women in the context of peace operations and counter(terrorism) efforts.

  • Joana Cook Research Officer

    Dr. Joana Cook is an Assistant Professor of Terrorism and Political Violence in the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University. She is also a Senior Project Manager at ICCT, and Editor-in-Chief of the ICCT journal. Her research more broadly focuses on women and gender in violent extremism, countering violent extremism, and counter-terrorism practices. Her recent books include “The rule is for none but Allah: Islamist Approaches to Governance” (ed. 2022, with Shiraz Maher) and “A Woman’s Place: US Counterterrorism Since 9/11” (2020). Joana is also a Research Affiliate at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization; an adjunct lecturer at Johns Hopkins University; a non-resident Fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University; a Research Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS); and a Digital Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), Concordia University. She is a graduate of King’s College London where she completed her MA and PhD in the Department of War Studies (BA University of Regina).

  • Caitlin Masoliver Social Media Officer

    Caitlin Masoliver is a Research Officer at Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs, based in The Hague. Prior to joining Leiden University, Caitlin worked for three years in the non-governmental sector on the themes of peacebuilding, conflict analysis/prevention, and the advancement of SDG16+. She holds an MA in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a BA in International Relations from Maastricht University, and her research interests include women peace and security, peacebuilding, and transitional justice. Caitlin has published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development and The Maastricht Journal of Liberal Arts.

  • Saskia Postema Membership Officer

    Saskia Postema is Project Manager Challenge-Based Education at Delft University of Technology. She has a MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy, and has previously worked as junior lecturer at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs in the Hague. Saskia’s research interests include non-state actor diplomacy, digital political communication, citizen journalism, humanitarian intervention and intra-state conflict, as well as youth participation and gender in IR. In the past, she has also worked for Dutch NGOs on PMEL frameworks, and has published in International Affairs.

  • Dalma Pollák Board Secretary

    Dalma is currently in her final year of the Security Studies BSc programme at Leiden University. Last year she conducted research in collaboration with De Duurzaamste Kilometer Project in Leiden with focus on Youth and Sustainability as part of the Leiden University Honours Programme. She is currently working at an emergency refugee centre for asylum seekers as well as volunteering for AFS, an organization facilitating and supporting intercultural exchange and development among adolescents. 

  • Maisy Charles Registration Officer

    Maisy Charles is an alumnus of Security Studies BSc at Leiden University, and is now studying Crisis and Security Management MSc with a specialisation in Intelligence and National Security. During her studies, she minored in Intelligence Studies. Additionally, Maisy has participated in a specialisation course regarding the global energy transition in a fossil-fuel world at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Previously, Maisy has volunteered abroad in various roles such as: renovation and community work in Sri Lanka, language and horticulture in Israel, primate care in Thailand and education in Kenya.

  • Rebecca Naous Digital Officer

    Rebecca Naous is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Security and Global Affairs and the Terrorism and Political Violence research group. She received an MA in Comparative History at Central European University, Vienna in 2022 as well as an LLM in International Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2020. Prior to her graduate studies, she double majored in Psychology and Studio Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2018. Her current research is concerned with identifying the micro and macro-level gendered differences in the contemporary American far-right. The titles of her MA theses are: “American White Supremacist Reactionism & Group Formation: A Comparative Analysis in the Wakes of Emancipation & Reconstruction (1863-1877) & the Black Lives Matter Movement (May 25, 2020-Present Day)” and “Institutionalized Child Abuse and the State: A Psycho-Legal Critique of Ireland’s Compliance with its Obligations for Redress Under the UNCAT for Victims/Survivors of Torture in Ireland’s Industrial Schools”.

  • Nadine Louissen Social Media Assistant

    Nadine Louissen is an alumna of the BSc Security Studies at Leiden University. She is currently pursuing her MSc in Crisis and Security Management with a specialisation in War and Peace Studies, also at Leiden University. Additionally, Nadine has completed a minor in Criminology at Leiden Law School. Previously, Nadine co-founded and chaired the study association for Security Studies and Crisis and Security Management. Her interests include (counter-)terrorism, conflict resolution, strategic studies and geopolitics.

  • Sabine Sleijffers Social Media Assistant
  • Paula Kibbelaar Dutch Caribbean Representative

    Dr. Paula Kibbelaar was the founding dean, associate professor and lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at the University of Aruba (UA) (2009-2013).  Currently she works as a lecturer, researcher and policy worker at the the Aruban Teacher Training College (www.ipa.aw) within the context of Kingdom of the Netherlands applying sustainable inclusive development as a perspective. She has implemented this perspective within the IPA’s curricula and as tool for sustainable learning and education for her projects and lectures at the IPA. Previously, she worked for several Dutch ministries, the Dutch Employers organization De Baak VNO-NCW, and other organizations in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao).  Dr Kibbelaar obtained her PhD in social Sciences in 2005 at the University of Utrecht at the Utrecht School for Governance (REBO or USG) and she is an interdisciplinary social science researcher. Her research interests include Latin American and Dutch Caribbean Island studies; women’s and ethnic studies (gender diversity); organization (corporate diversity) and governance research and development studies. She was chair of the foundation Weconnect Aruba. She is currently also member of the Gender Steering Committee for the Development of a Gender Policy in Aruba for the office of the Prime Minister of Aruba.

  • Alanna O'Malley Advisory council member

    Alanna O’Malley is Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, a newly-created position at Leiden University’s Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. This Chair, in honor of the former Dutch Foreign Minister and Mayor of The Hague Jozias Van Aartsen, is shared with The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The main focus of the Chair will be to create a new interdisciplinary research group on United Nations Studies and to organize a series of academic and public events to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020.

    She is a historian focusing on the United Nations, decolonization, Congo and the Cold War. Her current research focuses on recovering the invisible histories of the UN, investigating the role of the Global South challenging the liberal world order from 1945-1981. She completed a PhD at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence from 2007-2012. In 2009, she was a Visiting Scholar at New York University, in Spring 2017 a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow at the Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney and from August 2017-February 2018 she was a Fullbright Research Scholar at the History Department of George Washington University in Washington D.C.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Ella van den Heuvel Advisory council member

    Ella van den Heuvel is a military gender expert in the Dutch Armed Forces with whom she has served since 1998. In her work she focuses on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace & Security. Ella has been deployed as a military gender advisor for NATO in Afghanistan in 2009 and in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 2017 and 2019. She has also worked as a part-time gender adviser for NATO to the Jordanian Armed Forces (2018-2020). She currently is the gender adviser of the Dutch Chief of Defence.

  • Willemijn Aerdts Advisory council member

    Willemijn Aerdts in an expert on intelligence- and security services. She lectures in the minor Intelligence Studies. Willemijn conducts research in regard to intelligence oversight and intelligence methodology.

  • Dr. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits

    Dr. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits is an Assistant Professor in Conflict and Peace Studies at The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She holds a PhD in Development Studies from ISS-Erasmus University, MA in Conflict Studies from the Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia, USA, Graduate Certificate on Peace Research from Oslo University, Norway and BA Degree in International Relations from University of Colombo Sri Lanka. Dr.Jayasundara-Smits is a former Fulbright and NORAD fellow. Since 2002, she has contributed to several international teaching, capacity building and research programmes in the fields of conflict, peace, security and Development, including at the United Nations University- The Hague Branch, University of Colombo, Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) and Centre for Poverty Analysis -Sri Lanka, Giessen University-Germany, Eastern Mennonite University-USA, FHR Institute for Higher Education -Suriname and Global Platform for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC).

  • Mekka Abdelgabar

    Mrs. Mekka Abdelgabar is the eminently designated expert when it comes to gender issues in Sudan and in Darfur specifically. She is the founder of the Darfur Women's Organization in The Netherlands (VOND). VOND is one of the pioneering signatories of the Dutch National Action Plans (NAP). VOND empowers women leaders and young people through different projects. 

    The working fields which she focuses on are development, peacebuilding and conflict-resolution and mediation. Mekka addresses conflict issues in her belief that women in conflict are the main affected party and therefore have the ability to bring peace. She has successfully set up the first unique women mediation committee in Sudan and contributed to reconciliation of different ongoing conflicts in Darfur. By bringing women to the forefront of decision-making and peacebuilding she has proven that women are indispensable when it comes to peace.

  • Isabelle Duijvesteijn Professor of International Studies and Global History

    Isabelle Duyvesteyn is Professor of International Studies / Global History at the Leiden University Institute for History. 

    She completed her PhD at the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London. Previously she has worked at the Royal Military Academy in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Institute for International Relations. She is a NWO laureate having received both a VIDI and an Aspasia research grant. 

    Her research interests include the nature of war and peace in the developing world, irregular warfare and strategy, the history of terrorism and counter-terrorism, strategic culture and intelligence and rebel governance. 

    She is a member of the national Advisory Council for International Affairs assigned to advise the Netherlands government on issues of peace and security, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Netherlands Defence Academy and a member of several book and journal editorial boards, notably  Small Wars and Insurgencies, Leiden University Press, the Journal of Strategic Studies, and the Routledge series on  Insurgency, Counter-insurgency and National Interest

  • Karlijn Jans Advisory council member

    Karlijn Jans is the defence policy advisor at the British Embassy in The Hague. She holds a Master’s degree in European Studies from King’s College London and a Master’s degree in European and International Law from Maastricht University. Ms. Jans further specialized in defence matters while studying at the Netherlands Defence Academy. She has advised military representatives and NATO commanders on several occasions. Prior to her position at the British Embassy Ms. Jans was strategic analyst at the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS). Her areas of expertise include NATO, Dutch and European security and defence policies, strategic foresight and the impact of new technologies on defence policy and military affairs. In 2017-2018 she was a member of the youth-think tank The West Wing of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advising the department on European defence cooperation. From 2013 to 2016 she worked as a policy advisor at the TNO’s EU office in Brussels. Ms. Jans presided over the Jonge Atlantici, the Dutch chapter of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association from 2015-2017. Over the past few years, she spoke frequently at NATO and international think tank conferences and published widely on transatlantic security issues, NATO, and European defence policies in the media.

  • Monica den Boer Advisory council member

    On 1 June 2020, Monica den Boer started as full Professor of Military Policing Operations at the Netherlands Defence Academy. Prior to that, she held a Parliamentary seat for the social-liberal party D66, with portfolio’s in Justice and Security as well as in Interior Affairs. Other positions include Director of Research and Knowledge Development at the Police Academy in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands (2003-2016), in combination with a Chair of Comparative Public Administration, in particular the international police function, at the VU University Amsterdam. Her academic career started with a PhD in 1990 from the European University Institute (EUI, Florence), after which she successively held research and teaching positions at Edinburgh University, the Netherlands Study Centre for Crime and Law Enforcement, the European Institute of Public Administration, Tilburg University, and the European Institute of Law Enforcement Co-operation. Meanwhile, she occupied several co-positions, including the vice-chairmanship of the Clingendael Institute of International Affairs (2006-2009), as well as membership of the Dutch Iraq Investigation Committee (2009-2010), of the Defence Future Survey Group (2009-2010), and of the Committee on European Integration of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (2002-2016). She worked as Director of SeQure Research and Consultancy (2015-2017) and as Visiting Professor at the Department of Security & Criminology at Macquarie University, Sydney.

    She has published widely on European home affairs and police co-operation and has strongly engaged in research, teaching, coaching as well as supervision. One of her most recent publications includes an edited collection, entitled “Comparative Policing from a Legal Perspective”, published by Edward Elgar.

  • Angelien Eijsink Advisory council member

    Angelien Eijsink is an anthropologist, educator and politician. She served as Member of Parliament representing the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) from 2003 until March 2017. Her focus as a member of parliament was defence and security and in the course of her career she has played a significant role in parliamentary decision-making on these issues. As party spokesperson for Defence, she was responsible for the evaluation of peacekeeping missions, the Common European Security and Defence Policy, and Dutch Defence procurement. From 2012 to 2017 Angelien was Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2014 was elected Vice-President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Committed to gender equality, Angelien was instrumental in initiating a special bi-annual session of the Assembly devoted to the role of women in the armed forces. She also initiated the Dutch Veterans Law, which was ratified in 2012. She has been a member of the European Leadership Network in London since July 2020.

  • Sahar Ghanem Advisory council member

    Sahar Ghanem is the Yemeni ambassador to the Netherlands alongside the non-resident ambassador to Norway and Sweden. She is also the Permanent Representative of Yemen to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Yemen’s Governor to the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC).  Ambassador Sahar Ghanem is known for being a political activist and feminist and she has actively participated in various programs, seminars, interviews and conferences nationally and internationally, including a 3-year Dutch program “Female leaders from the MENA Region”.

  • Simone Smit Advisory council member AIVD

    Simone Smit is currently Deputy Director General of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service [AIVD]. Simone is an intelligence and security expert and served in various management positions for the Dutch Police Force for almost twenty years.  Her previous roles include Director for Counter-Terrorism in the Ministry of Justice and Security (2017-2021) and Head of the Surveillance and Protection Unit (2014 – 2017). Simone has a Master of Public Administration from Erasmus University and studied Tactical Management at the Dutch Police Academy.

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