Our Experts

Local insight. Global perspective.

Scott Shadian

Scott Shadian

CEO/Managing Partner

Scott is the Chief Executive Officer at Sayara International. He is a conflict mitigation and international development specialist with a decade of experience in the public and private sectors, mostly within post-conflict environments. Scott has unique insight into how mainstream media and digital platforms, as well as non-traditional means of communication, relate to stabilization operations, countering violent extremism and development activities.

Background

Scott started his career as an aide in the White House in 2003 and, in 2005, began his tenure as a communications advisor to two American ambassadors to Afghanistan. During that time, he assisted with the coordination of communication and public diplomacy strategies for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. He went on to assist USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives projects in Lebanon and Pakistan, with a particular emphasis on developing district-level governance and CVE strategies. Scott also served as a communications advisor to Zain Telecommunications in Iraq.

Education

Scott has an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Scott Shadian

Scott Shadian

CEO/Managing Partner

Fareed Payaam

President/Managing Partner

Fareed is the President of Sayara International. His experience includes political analysis, cross-ministerial advising, donor strategy, strategic communications, private sector management, and programming.

Background

Fareed previously served as a Program Manager at USAID, where he designed and managed over $365 million in stabilization programs, including the Local Governance and Community Development Program, the Afghanistan Civilian Assistance Program and the Community Based Stabilization Grants. Fareed also worked as a Public Information Officer with the International Organization for Migration and as a Political Advisor with the United Nations’ Development Programme’s Disarmament and Reintegration Commission in Afghanistan.

Education

Fareed holds an MA in Political Science from Balochistan University and a BA in Political Science, Sociology, and Pashto.

Fareed Payaam

President/Managing Partner

George Abi-Habib

COO/Managing Partner

George is the Chief Operating Officer of Sayara International. He is a media and innovation specialist with a decade of experience building entrepreneurial activities in emerging markets throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Background

George’s private sector background has focused on developing groundbreaking media products tailored toward youth. Having worked with Viacom’s broadcasting arm, OSN Network (previously Showtime Networks), George helped to develop the pan-Arab Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and an interactive English Premier League program that allowed Middle Eastern audiences to interact with commentators, celebrity guests and former Premier League football players via SMS and television chat. George has taught marketing and entrepreneurship at EMDI in Dubai, the IE Business School in Madrid, and is currently a lecturer at Lebanese American University in Beirut.

Education

George has a B.A. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University and an MBA from the IE Business School in Madrid.

George Abi-Habib

COO/Managing Partner

Nama Vanier

Vice President/Managing Partner

Nama is the Vice President that oversees all research programs. She has over seven years of experience in designing, developing, and implementing perception studies, monitoring and evaluation protocols, baseline studies, and needs assessments.

Background

Nama has led a large number of socio-economical and evaluation research projects on behalf of major donors such as USAID, the UN, the U.S. State Department and ISAF. She singlehandedly built, organized and trained a research network across Afghanistan. In addition, she designed and implemented innovative methodologies to collect and analyze data in unstable and challenging environments such as Libya and Tunisia during the Arab uprisings. Nama also served as an Advocacy Officer for women’s protection in the refugee camps in Lebanon.

Education

Ms. Vanier holds a BA in Social Science from the University of Strasbourg and an AD from the Toulouse Institute of Political Science.

Nama Vanier

Vice President/Managing Partner

Cliff Lopez

Vice President - Business Development

Cliff is the Vice President of Business Development for Sayara International. His experience comes from 26 years of service in the U.S. Army, and includes strategic communication, program management, logistics, contracting and manufacturing.

Background

After serving in the U.S. Army, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cliff later returned to Afghanistan and established the media and communications office of a commercial company providing U.S. government contracted multi-media, strategic communications support. He also led regional projects in social science research, communication and engagement, capacity building and enterprise solutions. Soon after, he was promoted to lead the regional efforts and was then co-based in Iraq. From there he led the business expansion into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He managed all operations and business development efforts in Asia and the Middle East ensuring service delivery to existing clients and creating solutions for new customers. Cliff also led a manufacturing operation for Samsonite in Colorado and Mexico.

Education

Cliff holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University. He received a commission in the U.S. Army Reserves after attending New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) and was mobilized to active duty in the U.S. Army for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was awarded two Bronze Star Medals.

Cliff Lopez

Vice President - Business Development

Lara Batlouni

Director of Programs, Lebanon

Lara is the Director of Programs in Lebanon. She has 13 years of experience conducting research in the Arab region, covering social, economic and development fields. She held positions with local and international organisations, where she participated in several socio-economic studies, as well as project evaluations with UN Agencies, INOGs and private sector entities.

Background

Previously Lara worked as a Consultant on economic and social issues, where she led several socio-economic studies, as well as project evaluations with UN Agencies, INOGs and private sector entities. She has authored and co-authored studies on topics including vulnerability, poverty, gender, local development, refugees, livelihoods and capacity building. Lara has worked with UNDP on the Technical Assistance for Fiscal Management and Reform Project at the Ministry of Finance, where she undertook economic analysis to enhance policy impact and advised on macroeconomic and public finance policies and strategies.

Education

Lara holds an MSc in Finance and Economics from London School of Economics, and a BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut.

Lara Batlouni

Director of Programs, Lebanon

Waseem Mahmood, OBE

Director, Business Development and Operations

Waseem Mahmood is Director of Business Development and Operations at Sayara.

Background

Waseem brings 30 years of experience optimizing media to drive positive social change in frontier markets. He has spent time working in the Baltics, Balkans, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa on a range of topics including youth development, countering violent extremism, governance, peace-building, rule of law, civic engagement, and gender. He was stationed in Afghanistan for five years where he managed a major media development project for the European Commission. Most recently his work includes the holistic launch of a Hausa-language television channel in Northern Nigeria. The programming, including a multi-episode soap opera, all supported CVE efforts. Other highlights of his career include running a successful Pashto CVE radio soap for young people on four FM radio stations in Peshawar/FATA and the “Yeh Hum Naheen” (This is not us), anti-terrorism foundation in Pakistan aimed at de-radicalizing young Muslims. He has overseen complex media and development projects from conception to implementation, and is equally adept in everything from business development to monitoring and evaluation.

Education

Waseem is currently pursuing a PhD at Birmingham University focusing on Media Projection and Public Diplomacy.

Waseem Mahmood, OBE

Director, Business Development and Operations

Rahmatullah Kawsar

Senior Program Manager

Kawsar is a Senior Program Manager with over a decade of experience in stabilization, community engagement, CVE programming, and civilian-military initiatives. Kawsar’s research focuses on Islamic militancy and radical movements in Central Asia and CVE programming in the MENA region.

Background

Kawsar has managed and supervised over $50 million in development and stabilization projects for USAID in Afghanistan. As USAID-Afghanistan Deputy Field Program Officer for Khost, he oversaw the implementation of a variety of development and stabilization programs, including the Local Governance and Community Development Program and the Afghanistan Civilian Assistance Program.

Education

Kawsar holds a BA in Journalism from Afghan University.

Rahmatullah Kawsar

Senior Program Manager

Sarah Gengler

Research Analyst

Sarah is a Research Analyst with particular interest in ethnic and civil conflict and human security issues. She works on a number of research projects for clients including Aga Khan Foundation, United States Institute for Peace, and UNICEF.

Background

Sarah has an extensive background in researching and working on issues related to conflict and international development. Previously she worked as the Program Associate for the United Nations Associate of Minnesota’s Global Classrooms program, developing and teaching research and analysis curriculum to junior high and high school students throughout the Twin Cities metro area. She also participated in collegiate-level Model United Nations.

In addition, Sarah was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia (’13-’15), where she taught English for Livelihoods in Cartagena.

Education

Sarah is currently studying for her M.A. in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program, with a concentration in Terrorism and Sub-State Violence. She has a B.A. in International Relations and a Certificate in Conflict Studies from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Sarah Gengler

Research Analyst

Alexa Greenwald

Program Manager

Alexa is international program manager at Sayara. She supports both business development efforts and program management from the DC office.

Background

Alexa previously worked at the University of Chicago Crime Lab conducting research and evaluating programming on education inequality and gang violence. This led her into the countering violent extremism field, where she worked for Women without Borders in Vienna, Austria, scaling up the Mothers Schools initiative, a family-centered counter-radicalization platform across Europe, Africa and Asia. Her work focused on coalition-building among families, educators, law enforcement and government officials to support at-risk youth.

Education

Alexa has a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the Uni​versity of Chicago.

Alexa Greenwald

Program Manager

Becky Moran

Creative Manager

As the Creative Manager, Becky creates engaging infographics and imagery for communication products, monitoring reports, and research papers. She leads the artistic design for media campaigns, branding, and photography.

Background

Becky previously worked at a start-up children’s book company conducting illustration, design, and marketing. She was responsible for brand design and establishment and designing illustrations and instructional materials for three books. She also has extensive experience as a freelance graphic designer, developing a range of innovative, tailored, client-driven products including websites, logos, and marketing materials.

Education

Becky received a BFA in Communication Arts and a Certificate in Product Innovation from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Becky Moran

Creative Manager

Sayara by the numbers

50

Years Combined Experience

15

Spoken Languages

68

Published Articles