Middle East & North Africa Staff

  • Staff by Location


Washington, D.C.

Angela Conway, Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division, has 18 years of experience in international development and has worked on rule of law programming in 27 countries. Ms. Conway has led assessments and authored reports on legal system development throughout the Middle East,  North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. The MENA Division currently implements programs in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and has previously supported programs in Algeria, Iraq, Oman, Syria and Yemen. Prior to helping to establish the MENA Division in 2003, Ms. Conway worked with the ABA Central and Eastern Europe Law Initiative, an ABA ROLI predecessor organization, serving as the program director for Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, and as director of research. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas, and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and of the Kansas Bar.

Maha Shomali, Deputy Director for the Middle East and

North Africa Division, joined ABA ROLI in 2004 and served as the country director in Jordan starting in 2007, leading programs focusing on legal education reform, trafficking in persons, human rights and gender equality. Most recently, she has been managing a project supporting consensus building for national dialogue and constitution drafting in Libya. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she worked as a prosecutor for the Office of the State’s Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, and taught legal English at the Judicial Institution of Jordan in Amman. Ms. Shomali holds a B.A. in international relations from the Notre Dame of Maryland University and a J.D. from the University of Maryland. She is fluent in French and Arabic.

Vasilia Anayiotos, Administrative Assistant.  Most recently Ms. Anayiotos worked at the American-Hellenic Institute as a research intern. She previously lived in Cairo, Egypt for a year to study Arabic and complete a traineeship with the European Union Delegation. Ms. Anayiotos received a B.A in International Studies from Dickinson College in 2014.

Elizabeth Barnes, Program Associate, Operations. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Ms. Barnes worked at the Urban Institute, where she provided operational support for international programs in the Center for International Development and Governance. She previously interned in the MENA division of Vital Voices Global Partnerships, and has spent time living in Egypt and the West Bank. Elizabeth received a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in May 2013. 

Niki Dasarathy, Senior Advisor, joined ABA ROLI in October 2012. Ms. Dasarathy currently manages programming in Jordan, Turkey and the Gulf region. Ms. Dasarathy was most recently an associate attorney representing labor unions in New York City on labor and employment-related matters. She has also served as a United Nations Development Program researcher in democratic governance and as an international human rights fellow for the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ms. Dasarathy’s international law experience includes working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and as an extern in the Office of the Co-Prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She holds a J.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and a B.A. degree in journalism from the George Washington University. 

Susan Goldman, Senior Advisor, has previously worked for ABA ROLI including as deputy country director for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and as a country director for Vietnam. She was recently the disaster preparedness coordinator for the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she lived from August 2012 to May 2015. Ms. Goldman holds graduate degrees in Russian and East European studies, from Stanford University, and in political science, from the University of California–Berkeley. She holds an undergraduate degree in international affairs from the University of Colorado–Boulder. 

John Miller, Program Associate. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Mr. Miller worked at the Iraq Foundation, where he coordinated business development for international programs in Iraq. He previously interned at the Hollings Center for Middle East – Western Dialogue, and has spent time living in Jordan. John received a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and an additional B.A. in Arabic Language and Literature from the University of Oklahoma in May 2014.

Rachel Myers, Program Associate. Ms. Myers was most recently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Udmurt State University in Russia during the 2014-2015 academic year. She previously spent a semester studying Russian at Moscow State University. Ms. Myers has held various positions related to political science research, university-level teaching and advising, and office administration. She earned a B.A. in political science from The College of Wooster. 

Milena Sanchez de Boado, Senior Advisor. Before joining ABA ROLI in 2012, she was a U.S. Supreme Court fellow at the Federal Judicial Center. She was one of four Supreme Court fellows selected competitively in a nation-wide competition. Prior to her fellowship, Ms. Sanchez de Boado worked at the World Bank for nearly ten years focusing on justice sector reform. This included working on lending and non-lending projects in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. While at the World Bank, she worked with ministries of justice, judicial councils, judicial training institutes, bar associations and academia. Ms. Sanchez de Boado has a J.D degree and a master in public administration degree from Syracuse University’s College of Law and the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, respectively. Following law school, she worked for the United Nations Staff College in Turin, Italy; she also worked for the United Nations Development Program in Zimbabwe and the United Nations in New York.

Andrew Smith, Program Associate, joined ABA ROLI in August 2014. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Mr. Smith worked on a variety of complex civil and criminal matters as a paralegal. He previously taught English and history in Amman, Jordan, and was an intern at the Hudson Institute and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He earned a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Mary Washington. 

Olivera Stojanovic, Operations Manager, joined ABA ROLI in 2014 after a number of years in development, most recently with University Research, LLC—a global company engaged in programs related to improving the quality of health care, social services and education—in Bethesda, MD. Ms. Stojanovic’s areas of expertise are program effectiveness, administration, performance monitoring, and financial and resource management. During her career, she has successfully managed several multi-million dollar programs supported by U.S. government and other donors in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, supporting implementation through management of sub-grants to local partner organizations, assisting with capacity building efforts, identifying compliance and operational risks as well as opportunities for improvement. Her previous experience includes working as a senior manager in global consulting, where she supervised, developed and mentored staff engaged in complex projects for Fortune 500 companies, developing quality assurance systems for monitoring and measuring success, as well as setting up organizational processes and systems for effective management. Ms. Stojanovic has a master of public policy and management degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Laila Tawfique, Legal Fellow. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Ms. Tawfique obtained her master’s degree in international law from Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University and her bachelor of laws degree from Alexandria University, Egypt. She was a fellow at the inaugural Women Initiative Fellowship Program at the George W. Bush Institute in 2012. As a civil society activist back in Egypt, she cofounded youth initiatives and worked in the youth development field with international organizations. In 2011, her attention was focused on working on legal education through cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Johns Hopkins University and Alexandria University on a series of workshops that aim at developing law students with legal skills. 


John Porter, Interim Country Director, Bahrain, engaged in the private practice of law for more than 30 years prior to beginning work with the American Bar Association Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (ABA-CEELI), an ABA ROLI predecessor organization.  He first served as Liaison and Country Director in Azerbaijan and has subsequently directed ABA programs in Kosovo, Bahrain and Turkey.  Mr. Porter received AB and J.D. degrees from Stanford University. He is a member of the New Mexico Bar and admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.


Terence L. Blackburn, Country Director, Egypt. After receiving his J.D. degree from Columbia University, Mr. Blackburn worked as an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio, as a law clerk for a United States federal court judge and as a corporate law associate for two law firms in New York. He later worked as a principal, vice president and general counsel of a real estate development and syndication firm. He then became a professor of corporate and international business law at Seton Hall University School of Law, and also served for two years as the founding and acting dean of the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. During his tenure at Seton Hall, he was awarded a Fulbright professorship to teach at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He left Seton Hall in 2000 to become dean and professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law. In 2007, he joined ABA ROLI and he has served as a legal education reform consultant in Amman, Jordan, and as the country director for both Morocco and Egypt. Between 2010 and 2012, he served first as founding dean and professor of law at the KIMEP University School of Law in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and then as vice president of academic affairs of that university. In 2012, he returned to Egypt as ABA ROLI’s country director.

Corinne Smith, Special Advisor and Acting Country Director, Egypt, has worked with ABA ROLI in a variety of roles since 2004. In addition to Egypt, she has held leadership positions in Morocco, China, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, and was ABA ROLI’s Europe & Eurasia Division Director, overseeing programs in 16 countries.  Other international development experience includes serving as in-house counsel for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as a Foreign Service officer in South Africa, Namibia and Washington, D.C, and program design and proposal drafting for USAID contractors.  She was also a transactional lawyer for more than 15 years. She holds a law degree from Boston College Law School and an undergraduate degree from Smith College.  

Joann Meloche, Program Director, joined ABA ROLI in November 2015 as the director for the Public Prosecutor’s Program in Egypt. Previously, she worked in the prosecution service in Ottawa, Ontario, and served as chief prosecutor in the Turks and Caicos Islands. She was appointed as the islands’ first director of public prosecution in February 2013. As prosecuting counsel in Canada, Ms. Meloche specialized in child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence and worked with the dangerous offender provisions of Canada’s criminal code on cases involving serial violent and sexual offenders. She also taught criminal law at Carleton University and frequently lectured in the area of violence against women. During her tenure in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ms. Meloche built a team of prosecutors and instituted the first prosecution policy document. She implemented a continuing legal education program for counsel, including international training, as well as created and conducted training for law enforcement agencies. Ms. Meloche is fluently bilingual in English and French and obtained an undergraduate degree in Spanish literature.

Awsam Essam Mitwally, Program Associate, has been with ABA ROLI’s Egypt office since 2011. Mr. Mitwally was raised between Egypt and the United States, and later attended Kaisar University, Daytona State College and University of Central Florida, where he earned a B.A. For eight years, he worked with the Darden Corporation for eight years.

Marco M. Soliman, Legal Consultant, Egypt, joined ABA ROLI in September 2013. Mr. Soliman previously served as an associate with an Egyptian law firm, as a legal advisor with a Kuwaiti law firm and as a legal assistant at the International Development Law Organization’s regional office in Cairo. He has also worked as a training coordinator in justice and police reform project in Yemen, participated in monitoring Egyptian parliamentary and presidential elections and assisted in drafting a training manual on monitoring presidential elections. He is a graduate of Cairo University Faculty of Law (English section) and has an LL.M. degree in international and comparative law from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and an LL.M. degree in rule of law for development from Loyola University of Chicago’s School of Law.

Ghada Samir Sorial, Office and Financial Manager, has been with ABA ROLI since since January 2009. Prior, she worked as a training specialist for two USAID-funded projects. She also worked for USAID-Egypt and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the latter for seven years. She holds a B.A. from the American University in Cairo.


Lisa LeSage, Country Director, Morocco. Prior to joining the Morocco office, Lisa served in ABA ROLI’s Istanbul office as a Senior Legal Advisor. She is a former associate dean at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. In 2010, she was selected as a Fulbright scholar to Chile and has served as a consultant to several law schools there. She has extensive experience in state and federal courts as a civil rights trial lawyer and experience in domestic and international program development, training, advocacy, access to justice issues, immigrants’ rights and human rights. She has authored numerous articles and held leadership positions in nonprofit and bar organizations. She is a member of the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Federal District Court of Oregon and the Oregon State Bar. She received her LL.M. degree in human rights law from the University of London.


Paul Simonett, Country Director, Turkey, has worked with ABA ROLI in Azerbaijan, the Philippines, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Libya. Previously, Mr. Simonett served as senior rule of law advisor for USAID in Jakarta, Indonesia, and supervised technical assistance programs on court reform, anti-corruption and human trafficking. Mr. Simonett practiced law in the United States and also served as an assistant attorney general in the Federated States of Micronesia. He holds a J.D. degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Alix Arquilliere, Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in May 2015. Over the past 10 years, Ms. Arquilliere worked with international organizations on rule of law programming in conflict and post-conflict environments, covering a variety of topics, such as political governance, access to justice and protection of displacement-affected populations. This includes political governance research and project management with Transparency International and the Carter Center, and legal education and access to justice program management for Lawyers Without Borders. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she had successfully managed multi-million dollar programs on access to justice and local governance, as well as emergency protection projects with the International Rescue Committee. Ms. Arquilliere holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Law faculty of Clermont University, France.


Paul Simonett, Country Director, Turkey, has worked with ABA ROLI in Azerbaijan, the Philippines, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Libya. Previously, Mr. Simonett served as senior rule of law advisor for USAID in Jakarta, Indonesia, and supervised technical assistance programs on court reform, anti-corruption and human trafficking. Mr. Simonett practiced law in the United States and also served as an assistant attorney general in the Federated States of Micronesia. He holds a J.D. degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lisa Tilney, Senior Legal Advisor. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Lisa managed the Rule of Law Program for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Skopje and served as a legal advisor to the Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2009-2013, she developed and led legal reform projects in the Republic of Macedonia focused on human rights, criminal justice reform, judicial independence, anti-discrimination and lawmaking. Over the last decade, Lisa has also advised international organizations and committees about natural resource management and environmental security issues in the former Yugoslavia. Lisa’s first overseas post was as a legal specialist for ABA CEELI (a predecessor organization to ABA ROLI) in Sarajevo, BiH in 2002. In the United States, her practice focus has been environmental law. She holds a J.D. degree from George Washington University Law School.

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