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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Innovators In Action Masterclass — Social Entrepreneurs in Conflict Zones

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Session Description

Innovators In Action Masterclasses
Join Skoll social entrepreneurs for a series of lively masterclass discussions on real world innovations from the field. These practitioners generously share their approaches, insights, impact and examples of success. Pick your issue area and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and be inspired!

When | Where

12:40 - 13:40 Wednesday, March 28

Session leaders

  • Heidi Kuhn Speaker
    Founder and CEO, Roots of Peace
  • John Marks Speaker
    Founder and Senior Advisor, Search for Common Ground
    John Marks was until 2014 the President of Search for Common Ground, a peacebuilding NGO he founded in 1982 that now has 600 staff with offices in 36 countries. He also founded Common Ground Productions and is still a Senior Advisor to both organizations. He is a best-selling, award-winning author, a former US Foreign Service Officer, a Skoll Awardee in Social Entrepreneurship and an Ashoka Senior Fellow. The UN’s University of Peace has awarded him an honorary PhD.
  • Quratulain Bakhteari grew up in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Karachi after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. When Quratulain was earning her B.A. degree as a student between 1978 and 1982, she worked as a volunteer, organizer, and researcher in the squatter settlements in and around Karachi. She made major contributions both to public health and sanitation during this time, providing toilets to 5,000 households through community actions, effectively changing the sanitation and hygiene practices for more than 35,000 people from 1979 to 1987. After completing her B.A. degree, she helped new refugees coming from Bangladesh by providing them with access to basic health care and education. Later, she earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. and established 2,000 government girls’ primary schools in rural Balochistan, resulting in the enrollment of 200,000 girls — a record in Pakistan’s history. Frustrated with a lack of efficacy in internationally sponsored development projects, she wrote a concept paper that became the blueprint for Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP), and was subsequently funded by The Asia Foundation for three years. She formulated the curriculum, recruited, and trained faculty in advance of the formal launch of IDSP in 1998. Since then, she has focused her attention toward safe spaces for young people in Pakistan, and IDSP has set a major strategic goal of establishing a university of its kind in the field of community development in order to work with marginalized youth for a greater social, political and economic change in societies. Currently, IDSP is designing its university curriculum and faculty development trainings in conjunction with the campus construction in Quetta. Quratulain is an Ashoka Fellow and has spoken at prestigious conferences, including the Global Philanthropy Forum and TEDx. She also received a lifetime achievement award from the Balochistan government.
  • Sakena Yacoobi Speaker
    Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is the CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), which she founded in 1995 in response to the lack of education and healthcare that the Afghan people were facing after years of war and strife. Using a community-based approach, AIL has greatly increased access to quality education and health for women and children through its innovative Learning Centers, its mobile literacy and fast track classes and student-centered teacher training programs. A leader in providing human rights, leadership, peace and health training for women and youth, AIL has impacted the lives of more than 15 million Afghans and its programs have been replicated throughout Afghanistan. In addition, Dr. Yacoobi has established four private schools, one private hospital and a radio station in Afghanistan. She is the recipient of six honorary doctorates from institutions including Princeton University. In 2017, Dr. Yacoobi was named as one of the Sunhak Peace Prize Laureates; was chosen to be on the citizenship wall in the Afghan Presidential Palace as one of the top civilian and cultural women in Afghanistan; was named by BBC as one of 100 inspirational and innovative women; and received the Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence in Education. Other of her many awards include the 2015 WISE Prize for Education and the 2013 Opus Prize. Dr. Yacoobi is a Skoll Social Entrepreneur, Schwab Social Entrepreneur and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is Vice President of Creating Hope International (CHI) and is a former board member for the Global Fund for Women. She is an advisor for the Fetzer Institute, an Ashoka fellow, Kravis Prize Awardee, a Gruber Prize Awardee and is a member of the US - Afghan Women’s Council. Before founding AIL, Dr. Yacoobi was a professor at D’Etre University in Detroit, MI and was Coordinator of the Women’s Programs for the International Rescue Committee in the Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar, Pakistan.
  • Peace Ambassador, Search for Common Ground
    Susan Collin Marks, Search for Common Ground’s Peace Ambassador, is an internationally renowned peacemaker and peacebuilder. For nearly three decades, she has worked in some of the most conflictual places on the planet, including mediating in the heart of her native South Africa’s transition from apartheid, facilitating ongoing dialogue in the Middle East, supporting peace initiatives in the former Soviet Union and Asia, and establishing national peacebuilding programs throughout Africa. In recent years, she has focused on mentoring and coaching high level political, institutional and civil society leaders worldwide, encouraging them to be leaders for the whole, not just their party, faction or group. In September 2014, she stepped aside after 20 years as senior vice president of Search for Common Ground (, and moved from Washington DC to Europe. Her book, Watching the Wind: conflict resolution during South Africa’s transition to democracy, USIP 2000, captures the compelling story of how peace can be built even in the most intractable conflict. She holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town. Honors include an Honorary Doctorate from the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica; Jennings Randolph Peace Fellowship at the United States Institute for Peace; Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship; President Jimmy Carter’s Waging Peace Award; Marvin Johnson Diversity Award, Association for Conflict Resolution; Exemplary Leadership Award from the University of Pittsburgh; and the Institute for Noetic Science’s Creative Altruism Award. She continues to speak, teach, coach, mentor, write, facilitate, and support peace processes and conflict resolution programs internationally. She holds a vision of a world of peace and dignity for all. She believes that our common humanity binds us together more than our differences divide us. She works to make it so.