Our Founders

Fartun Abdisalaan Adan, Director of Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Mogadishu, Somalia, is a 2013 U.S. Department of State International Woman of Courage Award Recipient. For years, Fartun worked alongside her husband, Elman Ali Ahmed, supporting his human rights work in Mogadishu and its surrounding areas. In 1996, five years into Somalia’s now 20-year-long civil war, Elman was murdered by warlords unhappy with his peace-making efforts. Fartun escaped to Canada to raise her three daughters. In 2007, when her girls were old enough to live on their own, she moved back to Mogadishu to continue her human rights work and run the organization her husband founded, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre. When her daughter Ilwad Ali, who had no memory of early life in Somalia, was 19 she joined Fartun in that work. While the powerful mother-daughter team, at great personal risk, provide education and job-skills training for boys as an alternative to war, Fartun conceived the Sister Somalia program. Fartun is often sought out by international media as an expert on gender based violence issues in Somalia.

Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women and the advocacy organization A Thousand Sisters, was the first national grassroots activist in the U. S. working to raise awareness of the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Through Run for Congo Women events and her media appearances, Lisa has raised more than $15 million USD, directly aiding more than 90,000 Congolese women and children. Shannon’s first book, A Thousand Sisters, won the Independent Publisher’s Group gold award for best current events/ foreign affairs 2010. Shannon frequently serves as an expert guest on the crisis in the Congo and gender based violence in Somalia. She provides skilled translation of abstract policy points into concrete, relatable, real-life stories. She is currently pursuing a masters as a Gleitsman Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. A passionate public speaker and global women’s security advocate, she is available for speaking engagements through The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau (phone, 800-265-4875; email, info@thelavinagency.com). speakers bureau. Her profile and speech topics are available here

Katy Grant is a co-founder of Prism Partnerships, Nairobi, Kenya. Katy is a development and humanitarian assistance specialist (MSc), who has worked in conflict and post-conflict countries for the past 15 years helping to protect refugees, repatriate soldiers and advocate for human rights. While working in child protection for UNICEF, the thirty-eight-year old British mother of three traveled to Somalia more than 40 times, including throughout two pregnancies. Grant co-founded PRISM—which connects private donors with community-based projects—because she believes supporting local organizations is the key to lasting change. Katy holds a certificate of law and a masters degree in international studies and speaks English, French and Khmer. She currently lives in Kenya.