Alexandra (Sasha) Belenkaya, Director, Europe and Eurasia Division, joined ABA ROLI in March 2012. Belenkaya comes with 16 years of experience designing and managing donor funded programs in democracy and governance and rule of law, health, and private sector development and economic growth. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she managed international development projects and led business development efforts at Booz Allen Hamilton and Chemonics International. Bringing her technical expertise in institutional strengthening and organizational capacity building, she has worked to support capacity building of partner organizations in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South East Asia, and Africa in strategic planning, organizational management, fund-raising, and monitoring and evaluation. In her current role at ABA ROLI, Belenkaya helps design and oversees implementation of legal reform and access to justice programs in the countries of Europe & Eurasia funded by USAID, State Department, foreign governments and private donors. She holds an M.A. degree in Slavic studies from Florida State University and a change management practitioner certificate from Georgetown University. Belenkaya is a native Russian speaker.
Brian Afeltra, Program Associate, joined the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in June 2014 and supports programming in the Central Asian republics. After beginning his tenure at ABA ROLI as an International Support Associate, he transferred to the Europe & Eurasia team in June 2015. Afeltra previously worked at the American Wind Energy Association and interned with the United Nations Foundation and Sister Cities International. He graduated with a B.A. in international studies from American University’s School of International Service in May 2013.
Ryder Cobean, Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in July 2013 and supports programming in Moldova and Russia. He previously worked at IREX, where he managed virtual educational exchanges between United States high school students and their peers in Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam and the Philippines, and supported media sector development in Georgia. Prior to IREX, Cobean served in the United States Peace Corps in Georgia, where he advised school administrators on grading reform, designed and facilitated open source software trainings and extended a leadership program for girls into the country’s ethnic minority regions. Cobean graduated from the University of Arizona in 2007 with a B.A. degree in Russian & Slavic studies and political science, and speaks Russian, Georgian and Armenian.
Nolen Deibert, Program Officer, joined the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in February 2016 and supports programming in the Central Asian republics. Deibert previously worked at IREX, supporting public access to information programming in Kazakhstan, Georgia, Nigeria and Bangladesh. He has also supported telecommunication advocacy with the U.S. government at Motorola and democracy and governance programming in the Balkans at the National Democratic Institute. He has also lived and worked in China and South Korea and speaks French and Mandarin Chinese. Deibert holds an M.A. degree in international affairs with a concentration in Asian studies from George Washington University and a B.A. degree in English literature from the Catholic University of America.
Andrea (Andi) Grote, Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in August 2011 and supports technical assistance programming in the Central Asian republics. Grote has six years of project management and development experience in democracy and governance, institution building and rule of law from her work at ABA ROLI and experiences at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the German Marshall Fund and the Woodrow Wilson Center. She holds an M.A. degree in European and Eurasian studies from the Elliott School for International Affairs at The George Washington University, where she concentrated on post-conflict state-building and helped found a regionally-focused student organization, and a B.A. degree in international studies from the University of California, San Diego, where she also studied in Lancaster, England, and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
April Hewko, Program Officer, joined ABA ROLI in June 2012 and supports programming in Armenia, Georgia and Russia. She previously worked as the Program Associate for her current portfolio and as the administrative assistant for the Europe and Eurasia division. Hewko interned at Amnesty International U.S.A. in the Advocacy Policy and Research Department, working with the Science for Human Rights Project. She also worked as an intern in the Florida House of Representatives and spent time in South Africa supporting marine and great white shark research projects. Hewko is a graduate of Florida State University, where she majored in international affairs, with concentrated studies in political science, anthropology and human rights.
Kristi Kontak, Senior Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI’s Europe and Eurasia Division in June 2010 and supports programming in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. She previously worked as an intern for the Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan portfolio. Kontak holds a J.D. degree from the University of Houston Law Center, where she was a student attorney in the school’s Immigration Clinic and president of the Human Rights Alliance. During her third year of law school, she attended American University Washington College of Law to focus her studies on international law and human rights with an emphasis on women’s rights. She also interned with Aequitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource for Violence Against Women and with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. She holds a B.A. degree in psychology and German from Agnes Scott College.
Ashley Martin, Senior Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in November 2010 and manages the Europe and Eurasia Division’s Balkans and Roma Rights programs. After earning her B.A. in international/Russian studies from the College of William and Mary, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Far Eastern Russia and then worked for Chemonics International, managing projects in Russia, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. She earned her J.D. from Vermont Law School and is licensed to practice law in Virginia. Martin came to ABA ROLI from a clerkship with Judge Kathryn A. Oberly at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Irina Parshikova, Senior Advisor, joined ABA ROLI in October 2005 and oversees the Europe and Eurasia Division’s programs in the Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova. Most recently, she has worked in our Georgia field office as the regional operations director. Parshikova has also worked on ABA ROLI’s Central Asia portfolio and the Balkans. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she worked with a United Nations Development Program governance project in Sierra Leone, was a lawyer with a human rights organization in Russia and was the director of a legal education program in Russia. She holds an M.P.A. from Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a degree in jurisprudence from Syktyvkar State University in Russia.
Denise Shelton, Administrative Assistant, Europe and Eurasia Division, joined ABA ROLI in August 2016 as an administrative assistant supporting the Africa and Europe and Eurasia Divisions. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she worked for Kelly Services and Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore, Maryland as a project coordinator. In her role, she successfully recruited candidates for open departmental positions and served as chair of the Interview Panel Committee assisting with writing the departmental dress code and alternative work schedule policy, organized training events and office moves, trained new staff on SAP financial reporting systems and handled departmental payroll functions. Shelton also worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an office manager and marketing assistant overseeing the day-to-day functions of the local office.
Zlata Unerkova, Program Officer, joined ABA ROLI in June 2014 and supports programming on the Balkans portfolio. Prior to joining ABA ROLI full time, she served as a temporary program associate, supporting programs in the Balkans. Before joining ABA ROLI, Unerkova worked at the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Macedonian Diaspora in Washington, D.C., advocating on human rights, democratic capacity building and transitional justice issues in the Balkans. Unerkova leverages her past experience working on good governance and democratic capacity building in the field, including working in the cabinet of the president of the Republic of Macedonia, the cabinet of the deputy prime minister for European Affairs, the USAID/Booz Allen Hamilton “Business Environment Activity” office in Macedonia and the Macedonia-based Association for Development Initiatives – Zenith, to successfully implement ABA ROLI’s Balkan programming from the home office in Washington, D.C. Unerkova received her bachelor of arts in government from St. Lawrence. She speaks Macedonian, English, Spanish, Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian.