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Rashid Ahmed

Rashid Ahmed

Professor, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Prof. Rashid Ahmed is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. Prof. Ahmed has completed a PhD, a Masters degree (Clinical Psychology), as well as a Higher Diploma in Education (Post Graduate). His research interests are in the areas of, Health Disparities; Education Inequities; Health Promotion; Violence Prevention and Community Based Participatory Research.  Prof. Ahmed's present focuses include, Violence Prevention and Community Resilience with an emphasis on the Community level Risk and Protective factors for Homicide and how these could be utilised for violence prevention.

Mark Brennan

UNESCO Chair for Community, Leadership and Youth Development; Professor of Leadership and Community Development at the Pennsylvania State University, USA

Dr. Mark Brennan is the UNESCO Chair for Community, Leadership, and Youth Development and Professor of Leadership and Community Development at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Brennan’s teaching, research, writing, and program development concentrates on the role of community and leadership development in the youth, community, and rural development process. In this context, much of his work has focused on community action, youth development, locally based natural resource management, economic development, and social justice.

John Canavan

Associate Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

I have over twenty years experience in applied social policy research, working in State and academic settings in the evaluation of social intervention programmes.  My more recent focus is in the areas of Family Support, and prevention and early intervention towards improved outcomes for children.  Since 2006, I have been Associate Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre ( and manage the centre's extensive work programme.  I teach at undergraduate, MA and Ph.D. levels in the School of Political Science and Sociology

Robert Chaskin

UNESCO Chair for Inclusive Urbanism; Professor and Deputy Dean for Strategic Initiatives, University of Chicago, USA

Robert Chaskin is Professor, UNESCO Chair for Inclusive Urbanism, and Deputy Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. His work focuses primarily on the conceptual foundations and principal strategies of contemporary community intervention in the context of urban poverty. He has written widely on the topics of neighborhood intervention, community capacity building, the dynamics of participatory planning and neighborhood governance, and the role of nonprofit organizations in community development and participatory democracy.


Among other projects, he has recently completed fieldwork for a study on the civic and political engagement of marginalized urban youth in Belfast, Dublin, and London; has completed work on an edited volume (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) that provides a comparative, cross-national analysis of policy and community responses to social exclusion; and is engaged in a study of slum clearance and social housing policy in Mumbai. His latest book, Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation (with Mark Joseph, University of Chicago Press 2015) received the honorable mention award for the best book in urban affairs from the Urban Affairs Association. Professor Chaskin received an AM in anthropology and PhD in sociology from The University of Chicago.

John M Davis

Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde

Professor John M Davis is a Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde.  John previously worked at the University of Edinburgh as director of the BA in Childhood Studies, Head of Department of Educational Studies and subsequently, Professor of Childhood Inclusion.  He has also been chair of the Childhood Practice development group which develop the innovative qualification for managers/leaders of early learning, out of school, childminding, family support and related services. His research focuses on childhood, disability, inclusion and social justice and seeks to support children, young people, parents and professionals to develop creative and innovative solutions to their life issues. 


John’s research has utilized participatory childhood research methods to support children and young people to gain recognition for their perspectives concerning inclusion, social justice and integrated working. His collaborative knowledge exchange projects have supported children, families and professionals to develop contemporary, innovative and inclusive children’s services. His work has also examined international approaches to multi-professional working and increased our understanding of the factors that foster creative and innovative learning.

Pat Dolan

UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement; Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Marilyn Dyck

The UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth & Civic Engagement, the first in the Republic of Ireland, was awarded to Professor Pat Dolan at the National University of Ireland,  Galway in 2008.The UNESCO Chairs programme, part of the UNESCO University Education and Twinning Programme, advances research, training and programme development in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through the transfer of knowledge across borders.   Professor Dolan conducts a programme of work within and supported by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) that spans a range of global partnerships involving universities, NGOs, international agencies and youth organisations encompassing research, education, and policy development activities.

Executive Director,

The Doorway,

Calgary AB Canada


Marilyn Dyck, Executive Director The Doorway Calgary, Canada. For thirty years Marilyn has lead The Doorway as a community social change initiative. Designed to listen and learn from young people Marilyn has been a fierce advocate for street-dependent young people’s voice, choice and self-determination. With a belief in the achievement and sustainability of personal power/agency and self-accountability Marilyn has utilized community people rather than professionals to deliver a non-traditional swing on ‘reintegration’. 1200 young people and hundreds of community members have been impacted and multiple awards have recognized Marilyn and The Doorway’s impact on poverty and homelessness.


Most recently Marilyn is leading a number of studies and online communications to challenge service and systems approaches to achieving young people’s participation in society. A foundational reference in her teachings is 5000 written submissions she collected in real-time from young people dating back 1988.

Liesel Ebersohn

Centre for the Study of Resilience, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Liesel Ebersöhn is Director of the Centre for the Study of Resilience and Full Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria. Liesel is known for educational psychology studies on resilience in schools in challenged settings – specifically for an indigenous, Afrocentric psychology theory (relationship resourced resilience). The theory posits flocking as resilience-enabling social support to bolster better than expected outcomes for a collective in a severely unequal context.


She is Secretary General of the World Education Research Association, is invited often to read keynote papers (i.e. Plenary at the 2016 Global Development Network Conference, Lima, Peru), has been visiting professor (Yale University, Edith Cowan University), and have received numerous research awards. She serves on the Editorial Board of the prestigious Review of Education Research, is a member of the International Research and Scholarship Committee (Division C, Learning and Instruction, of the American Educational Research Association), and is international representative to the Building Resilience in Teacher Education (BRITE) Project Reference Group, Murdoch University. Liesel has published prolifically (including 78 peer reviewed articles, multiple book chapters in international psychology-focused science texts, several edited and co-authored books).


Sheila Garrity

Research Fellow, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre, Institute for Lifecourse & Society, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Dr Garrity is a Lecturer with the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre and the School of Political Sciecnec adn Sociology. Dr Garrity was the Principal Investigator of the recently completed evaluation of childcare services in Co. Mayo, funded through TUSLA the Child & Family Agency. The resulting report, co written with colleagues in the U-CFRC is titled: 'Hoping for a Better Tomorrow': A Process Study Evaluation of the Greater Tomorrow Creche and Ballyhaunis Community Preschool Servics, Ballyhaunis Co. Mayo, and is available here:

Daphne Hutt-MacLeod

Director, Eskasoni Mental Health Services, Eskasoni, Canada

Daphne Hutt-MacLeod, MA, is a Registered Psychologist and the Director of Eskasoni Mental Health Services and Site Lead for the ACCESS Open Minds initiative. She has been involved with a wide variety of research projects with academics and other service providers nationally and internationally, on topics such as youth resilience, child pain, transforming youth mental health services and sexual violence. Research experiences are utilized to guide, inform and evaluate community planning.

Serena Isaacs

Lecturer, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Serena Isaaks has been employed as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape since 2011. She has completed a doctoral degree in psychology (first registration 2014), securing two funding instruments from the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Her thesis was entitled: "The development of a contextually-based programme designed to increase family resilience processes in a rural community on the West Coast, South Africa."  She developed the Family Resilience Strengthening Programme and graduated in April 2018.Her postdoctoral work is focused on implementing and evaluating the programme. Her other research interests include exploring indicators in subjective child well-being, contextual factors in adolescent substance use, intervention development, community psychology, transformative learning and student engagement.

Marco Ius

Research fellow,

Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy and Applied Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

After completing his Ph.D. on Resilience and Hidden Child Survivors of the Holocaust (2009), Dr. Ius has worked full time since in P.I.P.P.I. (Program of Intervention for Prevention of Institutionalization) a research-training-intervention program developed as an intensive care program for vulnerable families, funded by the Italian Ministry of Welfare. P.I.P.P.I. aims at preventing the forms of institutionalisation by balancing risk and protective factors, and focuses on supporting parenting through multi-professional and resilient based intervention in order to face child neglect. P.I.P.P.I. represents, in social affairs, the first action the Italian government took with continuity towards social, educational, and health services working with families on a national level, in order to harmonize the practice of services by providing professionals, throughout the entire country, with a common theoretical and practical framework, training sessions, tools to work with families and document the care path, and an evaluation approach.


After the Pilot in 10 cities (2010-2013), P.I.P.P.I. has been scaled up since 2013, involving about 50 new local authorities each year. A total of about 8,000 professionals of Social and Health Services and 3000 children and their families in more than 200 territories have been engaged across editions overall since 2011.

Tamlynn Jefferis

Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Researcher, Optentia Research Focus Area

North West University, South Africa

I am a registered Research Psychologist, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, and researcher at the Optentia Research Focus Area at the North West University in South Africa. My interest in research began with exploring teachers perceptions of emotional difficulties of primary school children. I then worked as a research assistant and project manager for the South African research site of the Pathways to Resilience Project. I also co-authored an accredited short learning course titled ‘Khazimula’ (from isiZulu, meaning ‘let it shine’), which was based on evidence from the South African Pathways to Resilience Project as well as other South African literature. The aim of Khazimula is to promote youth resilience, and to equip social ecologies’ with skills in how to do so. I am currently involved in several community-based research projects that involve the development of interventions to support potentially vulnerable youth and single mothers. I have been involved in multiple international research studies, and worked closely with international policy makers focused on improving education, and the lives of young people living in disadvantaged circumstances.


My doctorate focused on understanding how culture, context, and gender shape the resilience processes of Sotho-speaking girls in the Free State Province of South Africa. This has led to a deeper interest in gender, and I am in the process of starting a project focused on expanding the measurement of gender with surveys, as well as using participatory visual research methods to explore gender and resilience within the LGBTQ+ community. I am also a member of a gender benefit network, and two ethics committees at the North West University.  

Tanja Kovacic

Post -Doctoral Researcher,

Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Tanja Kovacic holds a PhD in sociology. Her research interest lies within the areas of youth studies, community and societal development(s), sociology of education and qualitative research. Tanja has also extensive experience in teaching and is particularly interested in co-creating knowledge with adult learners. Currently, she works on a project focused on an alternative provision of education in an Irish context

Linda Liebenberg

Independent academic;

Halifax, Canada

Linda Liebenberg, PhD., is a leading researcher and evaluator in the field of youth wellbeing and community resilience, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Dalhousie University and an International Research Affiliate at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University Ireland. She is a researcher and evaluator with a core interest in children and youth with complex needs. Her work explores the promotion of positive youth development and the promotion of mental health, using formal and informal resources, primarily through the development of community resilience and related community resources. To support understanding of these processes, Linda evaluates service provision and researches youth lived experiences.


As a key component of this work, Linda reflects critically on best ways in which to conduct research and evaluations with children and their communities (including multiple service providers). These approaches include participatory methods (see for example; sophisticated longitudinal quantitative designs (see for example; and the design of measurement instruments used with children and youth (for example the Child and Youth Resilience Measure, CYRM-28, which assesses the presence of individual and contextual resilience resources in the lives of children and youth). Linda has developed consulting and collaborative relationships with many international community-based organizations, including Save the Children Denmark, Eskasoni Mental Health Services, Right to Play, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Public Health Association of Canada. She has presented on all five continents on culturally and contextually meaningful approaches to promoting positive psychosocial outcomes of children and youth as well as the ways in which this can be researched and evaluated.

Eduardo A. Lugo Hernández

The University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

Dr. Lugo is an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. He has a PhD in Clinical-Community Psychology from DePaul University, Chicago. His worked centers around child and youth civic engagement through the use of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). He has lead projects in schools throughout Puerto Rico where he has developed violence prevention initiatives with youth as partners. He has also worked with community members to train them on CBPR, research methods and ethics.


Currently, Dr. Lugo is the Director of the Impacto Juventud Project, which promotes youth civic and political engagement through social media and the arts. The project promotes reflections about PR Colonial status and the need for decolonizing approaches with youth. Additionally he directs Chiqui Impacto, a project for children 0-10 and their parents/caregivers, provides a platform to promote child voices and well-being. Dr. Lugo collaborates in public policy initiatives and has worked as an international consultant in educational and violence prevention projects in Honduras. He was awarded the Distinguished Psychologist in Public Policy or Public Service award from the Puerto Rico Psychological Association in 2015 for his policy work.

Maria Mayan

The foundation of Prof Mayan’s research program as an engaged scholar is in social, health, and economic inequities. Her areas of expertise are community-based participatory research (CBPR), qualitative research, and knowledge translation/policy development. With her research situated at the intersection of academic, government, funder, not-for-profit, disadvantaged, and clinician communities, she has spent her research career leading and supporting CBPR partnerships.


Currently, she serves as a member of the Stewardship Round Table guiding EndPovertyEdmonton (EPE), a community-based, poverty-elimination initiative operating in Edmonton, Alberta. She has been involved in EPE since its inception in 2012 by serving on the EPE Task Force, Implementation Plan Team, and the Stewardship Round Table (responsible for guiding implementation). She also led the creation of EPE’s Research and Evaluation Framework, which was approved by City Council in November, 2016. Furthermore, she was Co-PI on a Tri-Council funded longitudinal study (Families First Edmonton, 2000-2009) that is credited as the evidence base for EPE. In addition to her work with EPE, she is collaborating with a local non-profit (with whom she has established a partnership of over 20 years) to conduct research and co-develop programs addressing food insecurity among migrant women.

Ivana Maurovic

University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Robyn Munford

Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Practice Research and Professional Development Hub, School of Social Work, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Ivana Maurović, PhD is Assistant Professor at Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. She is master of social pedagogue and certificated integrative psychotherapist. She is teaching, researching and conducting professional work with children and youth living in risk conditions and in risk for developing behavioural problems. At the Faculty she teaches courses on psychosocial interventions (theoretical basis of intervention, family – centred interventions, resilience-based interventions). In her PhD thesis, she was exploring individual, family and community resources that support resilience of young people in Children’s homes in Croatia. Also, she has been participating in numerous of projects that are focused on different aspect of resilience, mainly family resilience. She is also conducting direct psychosocial work/cooperating with youth and systems around youth (families, professionals, teachers, NGO’s, etc).

Professor Munford is the Director of the Practice Research and Professional Development Hub which offers learning opportunities for practitioners and supports them to work alongside researchers to investigate practice in a range of community settings and social service agencies. Robyn has qualifications in social work, disability studies and sociology. She is the co-leader of the New Zealand site of an international, longitudinal study on young people's pathways to resilience and transitions funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This research has generated several publications in national and international journals, book chapters and technical reports. The Youthsay website ( contains important information for policy makers, practitioners and educators.


An important outcome of the research is the development of a framework for practice: The PARTH model, an orientation to practice with vulnerable young people. This model enables practitioners to provide interventions that can more effectively respond to the complex needs of these youth. The model is presented in a three-day workshop in partnership with Kapiti Youth Support (KYS). Prof Munford also undertakes research on family/community wellbeing; children and young people; social work theory and practice; disability and citizenship approaches; community development and research methodologies. Her particular interest is working with practitioners to translate research findings into practice in statutory, NGOs and community settings.

Alexander Makhnach

Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Dr. Alexander V. Makhnach is Deputy Director for Science in the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1993, and a second PhD degree in 2019 – Dr. Habil. (D.Sc., Doctor of Science). He worked on the development of the program: The Challenge of Foster Care under the auspice of the Russian Ministry of Education that established a system of foster families in Russia. He has been on the Board of Experts and as Deputy Director for Science for the “Assistance to Russian Orphans” Program. SInce 2000 he has participated in numerous research projects related to the topic of resilience.

Dr. Makhnach is an expert for the UN International Development Program ( He has published over 90 peer reviewed articles, 3 monographs and several book chapters in Russian and international journals. In 2016 he was the editor of the handbook titled “Resilience: Individual, professional and social aspects” a first compendium volume on resilience in Russian. His research focuses on resilience in Russian cultural and familial context, especially children in foster care, and foster families, using quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Emily Pelley (nee. Zinck)

Dalhousie University, Canada

Emily Pelley (nee. Zinck) is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary program at Dalhousie University, doing a policy analysis and case study on services for refugee children and youth affected by armed conflict in Canada. She is currently working on a project with the CYRRC (Child and Youth Refugee Coalition) exploring the interaction of youth who have refugee experience with services that support workforce attachment in Nova Scotia. Emily has been involved with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier’s Initiative for several years, working on both research and evaluation projects. She is currently a part of the Public Scholar Program at Dalhousie University, which aims to connect research in academia with the wider community.


She is a passionate advocate in the fight against human trafficking and she has used any avenues that come her way to raise awareness and mobilize people to stand up to this injustice. In 2010, Emily received her MSc with distinction in International Health from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Prior to this, she received her BA (Honours) from Dalhousie University in International Development Studies. Her research interests include displacement and immigration, children affected by armed conflict, resilience, human trafficking, international humanitarian law, knowledge mobilization, and youth engagement.

Alex Pessoa

Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil

Alex Sandro Gomes Pessoa (PhD) is an associate professor at Psychology Department and Graduate Program on Psychology located at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar, São Paulo, Brazil). He conclude his Postdoctoral research within the Graduate Program on Psychology at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He currently teaches developmental psychology and his main research topics are linked to resilience processes of young people who face social disadvantages, violence against children and adolescents, and the involvement of young people in the drug trafficking.

Jackie Sanders

Professor in Child and Youth Studies

Practice Research and Professional Development Hub, School of Social Work, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Jackie Sanders is Professor of Children’s and Youth Studies at Massey University. Her research interests are broadly located in the areas of community, families, children and youth. A particular focus upon using research to support the development of responsive services that enable service users to create and sustain change.


Networks with a range of NGO and statutory service providers are a critical part of the research approach and research outputs emphasise the development of materials that are able to be used by service managers and professionals. Has led research in areas of Non-Profit organisation, impact of home-based family services, parenting with an intellectual disability and service evaluation. Co-PI with Professor Robyn Munford on the Pathways to Resilience and Youth Transitions Research Programmes since 2009. These studies examine patterns of risk and resilience in the lives of vulnerable youth and the ways formal and informal systems of support facilitate positive outcomes.

Vanessa Scherman

Professor Psychology of Education, University of South Africa, South Africa

Professor Scherman specialises in school effectiveness research, focusing specifically on issues of school climate and bullying, in addition to making use of innovative research methodology to challenges faced by schools. She has been project leader for a number of projects focusing on the design and development of interventions and instruments in both education and psychology, exploring the influences of relationships within the school context on the achievement of learners.


She has worked on a number of funded projects including The World Bank, The United Nations Children’s Fund as well as The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. She has also collaborated with National and Provincial Departments of Education and have served on national and international committees such as the UMALUSI Accreditation Committee, PSYSSA Research Methodology Division and Chair of Governance of the Mixed Methods International Research Association. Her current projects revolve around issues of school climate, embedded in school effectiveness frameworks and systems theory.

Brigitte Smit

Professor Department of Educational Leadership and Management,

University of South Africa, South Africa

Brigitte Smit (PhD, MEd Cum Laude, BEd(HONS), BA(Ed), University of Pretoria) is a Senior Accredited Professional Trainer of ATLAS.ti, a Member Scholar of the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, University of Alberta, Canada, and a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Management, at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Her research focuses mainly on qualitative research methodology, female leadership and relational ethics.


She serves on nine national and international editorials boards and has published in national and international journals, including Qualitative Inquiry, Studies in Higher Education, and the Australian Educational Researcher. In 2007, 2014, and 2017 she was invited as visiting scholar at the University of Alberta, in Canada. She is a recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Reviewer Award: American Educational Research Journal: Social and Institutional Analysis. In 2015, she received the Research Medal of Honour, from the Education Association of South Africa, and the Leadership in Research Women’s Award, from UNISA. She serves as a Co-Editor of the International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, together with the Editor-in-Chief, Prof Dr Tony Onwuegbuzie and as Editor (Africa) for the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, along with the Editor-in-Chief, Dr Linda Liebenberg. Read an interview with her here.

Madine VanderPlaat

Professor, Sociology, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS

Professor VandeerPlaat is an engaged scholar whose work is informed by a human rights discourse and strongly committed to multidisciplinary, collaborative inquiry. Her research focuses on two inter-related themes: (1) Health and well-being of vulnerable populations; and (2) Emancipatory politics, citizen participation and community capacity building. At the heart of her work is an on-going commitment to promoting the health and well-being of children, women, and families. Prof VanderPlaat’s more recent work has been informed by a human rights approach to well-being which embodies the principle of promoting and protecting the dignity of society’s most vulnerable populations through citizen participation. In particular, she has focused on identifying and understanding the barriers to, and opportunities for, citizen participation and community capacity building for socially excluded populations.

Chris Walker

International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS

Chris Walker is a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) research fellow, doctoral candidate, and part-time professor in the International Development Studies Department at Saint Mary's University (SMU). In 2018 he became an International Policies Ideas Challenge awardee for Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as well as peer reviewer for The Lancet journal.


His research and publications (including his book: Venezuela's Health Care Revolution) have primarily focused on community resilience, international development policy, South-South cooperation, bilateral medical agreements, global health, medical education, health systems evaluation and policy, the political economy of health and development, as well as modes of health care capacitation for rural, poor and marginalized populations. He has conducted research in Timor-Leste, Cuba, Venezuela and throughout Canada. His main passion is to challenge the idea of development and health care as charity in order to evidence possible alternatives and reconceptualize development and health care as dignity.

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