The Timbuktu Center Think Tank brings together over 300 prominent experts and academics from around west Africa’s Sahel region to deliver high-quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis on a wide range of public policy and development issues.
“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
El Hadj Djitteye
President & Executive Director
El Hadj has a MA in English language and literature and is completing a Masters in international relations and diplomacy at the Institute of Political Science International Relations and Communications. El Hadj has more than 10 years of experience in international development and peacebuilding.
He has worked with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Timbuktu Renaissance, Caravan to Class, the United States Department of State, the French agency for development, center for civilians in the conflict , Global Integrity and the United Nations.
He has also experienced working with youth movements and youth-focused organizations in conflict and transition environments across sub-Saharan Africa and other countries throughout the world. peace-building Practitioner, civic leadership coach, and grant writer. He has also published articles and conducted research on good governance, security, youth civic engagement, violent extremism, irregular migration, and cultural heritage development strategies. Most recently he worked with the UK Embassy CSSF programme in Mali managing the 6.000.000 Pounds Sahel Stabilization and Development Program. He is a fellow of the Obama Foundation, One young world Peace ambassador and a Mandela Washington Fellow.
Cynthia P. Schneider
Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the area of diplomacy and culture. Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, a joint signature initiative between Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and College of Arts and Sciences, with the mission of humanizing global politics through the power of performance.
Additionally, Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television) and the Timbuktu Renaissance, a Mali-based platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development through a focus on culture. Both initiatives grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative within the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Ambassador Schneider publishes and speaks frequently on topics related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs. Her writings range from op eds articles for USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, CNN, and Foreign Policy to policy papers for Brookings; she has spoken at TED and TEDx, as well as at universities, conferences, and festivals around the world.
Peter Chilson teaches writing and literature at Washington State University. He is the author of four books, including three books on Africa, including Disturbance-Loving Species: A Novella and Stories.
His most recent book is Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers, written with Joanne B. Mulcahy. His essays and fiction have appeared in New Letters, Poetry International, The American Scholar, Audubon, Best American Travel Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Foreign Policy, Fourth Genre, Gulf Coast, New England Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. He has won a Fulbright scholarship, a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Grant, and his writing has one the Maria Thomas Prize for International Fiction, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize for a Book of Short Fiction, the Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Book Prize in Creative Nonfiction.
Brehima Mamadou Kone
Senior Expert Governance and Electoral Process
Mr. Kone is a governance and elections expert, as well as an expert in the evaluation of public policies and development projects. Expert in socioeconomic and feasibility assessments, as well as land tenure issues. He has extensive expertise doing studies and research in a variety of related topics throughout the course of several years of practice.
Abdoul SOGODOGO, PhD
Senior Expert, Legal and Political Sciences
Abdoul SOGODOGO is the Vice-Dean of the University of Legal and Political Sciences of Bamako’s Faculty of Administrative and Political Sciences (FSAP) (USJPB). In 2017, he defended his doctoral thesis in International Relations at the Central China Normal University (CCNU) in Wuhan, after receiving a master’s degree in Diplomacy from the National School of Administration of Morocco (ENA – Rabat) and a master’s degree in International Relations from the Mohamed I University of Oudja (Morocco).
Alhadje Aly Garba KOUNTA
Senior Expert, Cultural Diplomacy
Mastering geopolitics, geostrategy, humanitarian, cultural, economic, and scientific diplomacy with an approach based on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights for sustainable human development is a lawyer by education and a Foreign Affairs Advisor by profession. Consultant, researcher, and trainer in andragogy, human rights promotion and protection, governance, institutional strengthening, international environmental law, migration, prevention, conflict management/culture of peace, advocacy/lobbying, project design and management, with a strong understanding of the administrative decentralization process, decentralized cooperation, and strategies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goals for Development (SDGs). Excellent coaching, communication, writing, planning, implementation, monitoring, and assessment abilities in a multicultural and diverse context, with a strong analytical and adaptive capacity.
BIED Society’s G5 Sahel region counter-terrorism and violent extremism specialist. Boulaye’s master’s thesis was on the UNPKOs and terrorism in Mali. His previous experiences include serving as the coordinator of the think tank ALAM (Audace Libre Afrique Mali) at the Bamako Faculty of Public Law, and coordinating the organization of many think tank activities such as conferences, seminars, workshops, and caravans in Bamako, Timbuktu, Segou, and Mopti.
He is now in charge of the tutorial class at Bamako’s Faculty of Public Law after receiving his Master’s degree. He has an LL.B in Public International Law from the University of Law and Political Sciences of Bamako, as well as an LL.M in international law from Wuhan University.
Andrea Caldera from Santa Fe, New Mexico, grew up between the United States and Mexico. Experienced bilingual manager with a demonstrated history of research in international peacekeeping. Skilled in Customer Service, Microsoft Word, Social Media, Research. Degree in Political Science focusing on International Relations and Global Affairs from The University of New Mexico. Currently completing a Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Illily Ag Elmehdi
A native of Timbuktu, Mr. Illili Ag Elmehdi is a dynamic communications and social media professional whose unique experiences have positioned him to lead development initiatives that leverage Northern Mali’s music and culture as vehicles for disseminating compelling counter-narratives to violent extremism.
As both the Media and Communications Specialist for Mali’s worldrenowned Festival of the Desert and USAID’s Participatory Peace Processes (3P) project in Timbuktu, Mr. Ag Elmehdi has unparalleled experience working as a catalyzing force in Mali’s music scene, and has shown the expertise needed to engage Northern Malian communities in efforts that contribute to social cohesion and peace. He holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Networking from the Higher School of Technology and Management in Bamako, Mali, and an advanced degree in Industrial Computing and Maintenance from Bamako’s CERCO Institute. He speaks fluent French, English, Tamacheq, and basic Arabic, Sonrai, and Bambara.
Accepted at HBX – Harvard Business School in Disruptive Strategy in 2018, Bilaly DICKO is a Business Development Expert trained at Dartmouth College in the United States. Project Manager at Accountability Lab, he is recognized by several organizations as one of the 20 most influential young people in Mali, he is followed by more than 100,000 people on social networks.
Philanthropist and Community Builder, he is the Executive Director of the TOMORROW’S LEADERS foundation, which is now responsible for the creation of 85 jobs, 48 professional internships and 20 youth projects funded to the tune of $ 20,000. It is with his ambition to serve his community that he also created Empire Strategies, a coaching firm on Design Thinking and disruptive strategies. Started with $ 100 in February 2016, Empire Strategies has earned the trust of major brands such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Nestlé, CFAO Motors, Azalaï Hotels, Bamako Impact Hub, EDM SA and AG Partners.
Bilaly DICKO is also an alum of the US State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program initiated by President Barack Obama. And also lecturer in Orange Mali, Microcred. He is currently Executive Director of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association of Mali and heads TIMBUKTU YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM, a project funded by the US State Department to support 25 young entrepreneurs from the North.
Steven & Cathi House
For over 35 years Steven and Cathi House of House +House Architects have crafted intimate, personal architecture, producing a diverse body of work reflecting their passion for site specific, well choreographed buildings throughout California, Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Japan and the Caribbean.
Having received more than 50 design awards, their work has been featured in numerous national and international publications including two monographs, “House + House Architects: Choreographing Space” and “Houses in the Sun: light movement embrace”. They have lectured throughout the United States, as well as Mexico and Italy, and have traveled extensively across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America documenting vernacular architecture.
Their extensive studies and photographs of vernacular architecture have been published in two books. “Mediterranean Villages: An Architectural Journey”, celebrates their investigations throughout the Mediterranean – the hilltowns of central Italy, the Aegean Islands of Greece, the Dalmatian coast, and the Andalusian region of southern Spain. Their most recent book, “Villages of West Africa: an intimate journey across time”, documents the vernacular architecture, people, land, villages, artisans, textiles and cultures of seven countries in West Africa.
They have both served on Virginia Tech’s Architecture Advisory Council and, based on their firm belief in travel as an important way to learn, they created CASA – The Center for Architecture, Sustainability + Art – a study abroad program based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Bonface Njeresa Beti
Bonface Njeresa Beti is an international peacebuilder, storyteller, researcher and peace educator who applies theatre-based interventions with grassroot communities to transform conflict and fashion a story of peace. Since 2004, working with Amani Peoples’ Theatre in Kenya, he has used these tools in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Canada among others. Among his artistic processes includes use of forum theatre, playback theatre, theatre of witness as well as use of storytelling, rituals and African mediative elements in healing trauma and peacebuilding.
Housseyne Ag Issa
Housseyne is an investigative journalist and a Malian researcher specialized in groups in the Sahel, the director of the newspaper “Kibaru.ml”, the first Franco-Arab newspaper in Mali, covered the civil war in northern Mali during the occupation of 2012 and after the intervention in Mali in 2013.
He is working as Researcher in Peacebuilding, political and security affairs in Africa across the Sahel regions.
With eight years supporting youth participation in peacebuilding processes in eastern Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Colombia, Christian holds a MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
A passionate bridge builder, Christian is the founder of Peacemaker 360, a campaign that offers a global voice to peace activists through storytelling. For more information about Christian check.
Mohamed Lamine Ouattara
Philosopher and Political Scientist, International Relations Specialist, with a focus on peace and security issues in Mali and the Sahel; Lecturer and researcher at the University of Legal and Political Sciences of Bamako.