Hrair Balian joined The Carter Center in 2008 as director of the Conflict Resolution Program. Mr. Balian oversees the program's efforts to monitor conflicts around the world and coordinates the Center's cross-program efforts in the Middle East. He is also an adjunct professor at the Emory University Law School, teaching an advanced international negotiations seminar.
Since 1991, Mr. Balian has worked in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the independent states emerging from the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Africa, serving in intergovernmental organizations (the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and nongovernmental organizations (International Crisis Group and others). He has worked on elections, human rights, and conflict resolution.
Mr. Balian received his Juris Doctor degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. In May 2009, the New England College awarded Mr. Balian the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for his "lifetime commitment to the dignity, respect, and self-determination of all peoples" and for his "uncompromising effort to resolve international conflicts."
He is fluent in English, French, and Armenian, with a basic knowledge of Arabic. He was born and raised in Lebanon, moving to the United States for university studies.
Tom Crick joined the Center in 1994, first as a research assistant in the Conflict Resolution Program, becoming executive assistant to the director of the Peace Programs, then assistant director of the Center's China Village Elections Project, and is now associate director of the Conflict Resolution Program. Mr. Crick has worked on numerous Carter Center election and conflict resolution projects, primarily in Africa, including the Carter Center-brokered 1995 Guinea worm cease-fire in Sudan, the Great Lakes peace initiative from 1995-1997, and the Center's mediation between Sudan and Uganda. Most recently, his work has concentrated on peacebuilding issues in Liberia.
Mr. Crick received his bachelor's degree from Bristol University, his master's degree from the Queen's University of Belfast, and has conducted doctoral research at the London School of Economics and at Emory University. Prior to joining the Center, he lectured in political science at a number of polytechnics in the United Kingdom and worked as a journalist and as a project leader at an interdenominational youth project in Northern Ireland. Mr. Crick is a licensed mediator in the state of Georgia and an adjunct faculty at Emory Law School.
Director, Israel-Palestine Office
Nathan Stock was appointed Director of The Carter Center Israel-Palestine Field Office in December 2013. He leads Carter Center efforts to facilitate the reunification of the Palestinian political system, while helping to promote viable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Stock joined The Carter Center in 2008 as an Assistant Director in the Conflict Resolution Program. He was based in Atlanta, GA, while traveling regularly to the Middle East. He designed and managed programming targeting the Fatah-Hamas conflict, supported Carter Center efforts to assert the sovereignty of a Palestinian state in international fora, and implemented programming to monitor and advance political solutions to the Syrian civil war.
Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Stock spent two years implementing a USAID-funded civil society strengthening program in Afghanistan. During the Al-Aqsa Intifada, he lived in the Gaza Strip, working with a Palestinian NGO to fundraise and design conflict resolution programs targeting the Palestinian community. He has also taught English in Palestine and China.
Mr. Stock holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Colgate University and a master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University's School of International Service.
Associate Director, MENA Region Projects
Houda Abadi is associate director for MENA region projects in the Conflict Resolution Program, joining The Carter Center in June 2014. Ms. Abadi assists in designing, implementing, and coordinating the program's Middle East activities.
She previously served as a MENA intern in a human rights organization and acted as a liaison between the U.N. Institute of Research and Training and Arab diplomats. Ms. Abadi served in New York City as director of education for two nonprofit organizations that facilitate dialogue between Jewish and Muslim youth. She also was a researcher, translator, and writer for Muslim women's issues at Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality.
Ms. Abadi is a PhD candidate in communication studies and was the Transcultural and Conflict Transformation Presidential Fellow at Georgia State University. She also taught courses on conflict resolution and mediation, cultural diversity, and social movements. She holds a graduate certificate from Duke-UNC in Middle East Studies. She received her bachelor of arts from Luther College and master's degree from Whitehead School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University, majoring in international relations and diplomacy. She is fluent in English, French, Arabic, and Spanish. She was born and raised in Morocco, moving to the United States for university studies.
Manager, Syria Mapping Project
Christopher McNaboe joined The Carter Center in 2012 as an intern and then graduate assistant in the Conflict Resolution Program. During that time, he developed what is now the Syria Conflict Mapping project, and he joined the program to formalize and expand the project in December 2012. He primarily works on Syria-related initiatives, but occasionally assists with other peace program activities.
McNaboe is a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen, but has spent the majority of his life abroad, growing up in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Kuwait, before coming to the United States at the outset of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Since that time, McNaboe has lived in several countries while pursuing his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Prior to coming to the Center, he worked as a mediator and interpreter in the Superior Court of California and with community-building projects with Palestinian and Lebanese youth in Lebanon.
McNaboe holds two bachelor's degrees in politics and language studies (linguistics and Spanish), as well as a master's degree in international policy studies with a concentration in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He speaks English, Spanish, and Arabic, with a limited knowledge of French.
Program Associate, Syria Transition Options Initiative
Meriem Bekka is the program associate for the Syria Transition Options Initiative. Bekka joined The Carter Center in 2013 as an Assistant Program Coordinator for the Middle East in the Conflict Resolution, Democracy, and Human Rights programs.
Prior to joining The Carter Center, Bekka worked as a Research Assistant at the London School of Economics (LSE) where she conducted research on preventing incremental pharmaceutical patents in developing countries. She also worked as a Project Assistant for the Journal of Development Studies and has conducted research in several countries across the Middle East including: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Syria.
Bekka holds a bachelor's degree from Sciences Po Paris and a Master's degree in Development Studies from the LSE. She was raised in Singapore, the United States, and France, and speaks English, French, and Arabic.
Catherine Schutz joined The Carter Center in March 2011 and supports the financial and administrative activities of the project from the Atlanta headquarters.
Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Schutz spent a year as an English language teacher at a high school in Chongqing, China. While at university, Schutz worked for the International Volunteering Society, an organization that sends students to volunteer with NGOs around the world. She also volunteered for a number of programs abroad, including working with communities in Thailand affected by the 2004 tsunami, as well as volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania.
Ms. Schutz holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Birmingham, as well as a master's of science degree in NGOs and development from the London School of Economics.
Cassandra Grant Thomas is responsible for creating and managing program budgets, providing administrative and logistical support for the program, and coordinating with local and international partners to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. She has served on Carter Center missions in Venezuela, Liberia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Prior to coming to the Center, Ms. Thomas served as administrative officer for the National Training Agency of Jamaica, where she coordinated the application and testing process for new recruits and managed the fiscal and administration functions of the organization for the northeastern region of the island. She also has worked with the National Development Foundation of Jamaica, a financial institution providing loans to small businesses.
Ms. Thomas holds a bachelor's degree in management from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.