Meet the Executive Committee Members

Dr. Kirsten Pontalti

was awarded a DPhil in International Development Studies at the University of Oxford in 2017, based on her historical and ethnographic research on children, youth and social change across

Christina Torsein

is a senior development professional with twenty years professional experience, including over twelve years of field experience providing technical guidance to child protection programmes

Sara Lim Bertrand

drives for results, especially for children and young people in humanitarian and development settings. This has involved relentlessly searching for and testing promising practices during her 18 years

Claire O'Kane

has 24 years of experience in international child rights work in development and humanitarian contexts in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Prof. Susan Kreston

is a consultant on legal and human rights issues. She researches, guest lectures and publishes on criminal justice matters, with a focus on human trafficking and crimes against children.

Dr. Leilani Elliott

is a senior human rights and child protection specialist with 14 years of professional experience in a range of humanitarian settings, transitional justice and development contexts. 

Sara Lim Bertrand, Co-founder

drives for results, especially for children and young people in humanitarian and development settings. This has involved relentlessly searching for and testing promising practices during her 18 years of programming in child protection, gender-based violence, education in emergencies and learning and development. Since 1996, Sara has worked in 18 countries and provided high-quality, remote support to field-based child protection coordination groups in more than 40 countries. Notably, she developed (including the design of) a handful of child protection e-learning courses and a global online conference on sexual violence. For recent project samples, click here. Sara holds a MA in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in community development from Wheaton College's Graduate School. She is also pursuing a MSc in Children and Young People's Mental Health and Psychological Practice from the University of Edinburgh. For her LinkedIn profile, click here.

 

Dr. Leilani Elliott, Co-founder

is a senior human rights and child protection specialist with 14 years of professional experience in a range of humanitarian settings, transitional justice and development contexts. She is an experienced practitioner, qualitative researcher and trainer, with proven technical and programmatic competencies across child protection in humanitarian action; human rights monitoring and reporting; justice for children; sexual and gender-based violence; sexual exploitation and abuse; child safeguarding and organisational change. Strengths include designing and facilitating child- and community-centred participatory action research; capacity development; supporting local co-researchers; and drafting technical reports and guidance notes (incl. for UN treaty bodies and other UN entities). In 2015, Leilani was awarded a PhD (Law) for her legal-ethnographic research on Human Rights-Based Approaches to Matters Involving Children, and in 2006 she earned her MA (Development Studies) focusing on the impacts of armed conflict on women and children, both from the University of Melbourne. Leilani previously worked as a sessional academic at the University of Melbourne, and co-founded the East Timorese NGO Ba Futuru. For her LinkedIn profile, click here.  

 

Claire O'Kane

has 24 years of experience in international child rights work in development and humanitarian contexts in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. She is passionate about children’s rights to participation, association, protection, and care. Working as a practitioner, adviser, researcher and/ or evaluator she builds upon individual and collective strengths supporting collaborative participatory processes with adults, children and young people to increase the realisation of children’s rights, social justice, and peace. Claire is an author of more than 60 publications on participation, citizenship, protection, care, peace building, and research with children, including practical toolkits, training materials, strategic guidance, research and evaluation reports, and journal articles. Claire has a BSc (Hons) Psychology, a Masters in Applied Social Studies, a Diploma in Social Work, and a post graduate Diploma in Social Research and Evaluation from universities in Wales and England. For her LinkedIn profile, click here.

 

Dr. Kirsten Pontalti

was awarded a DPhil (PhD) in International Development Studies at the University of Oxford in 2017, based on her historical and ethnographic research on children, youth and social change across three generations in Rwanda. Kirsten has ten years of professional experience designing, implementing and analyzing community based research, managing projects and logistics, conducting community assessments, and serving as a Director for non-governmental organisations concerned with child poverty and community development. She has lived and worked in 9 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, including post-conflict and developing contexts. Kirsten is passionate about creating and sharing expert knowledge related to children, youth and social change in conflict affected and low income countries. She also has experience and has published on education, youth transitions, child development, gender and generations, children's rights, conflict, complex emergencies, and state reconstruction and development. Kirsten earned a Masters of Arts (MA) in Complex Emergencies from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business (Southeast Asia) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. For her LinkedIn profile, click here.

 

Christina Torsein

is a senior development professional with twenty years professional experience, including over twelve years of field experience providing technical guidance to child protection programmes for UNICEF in Mali, Haiti, Palestine, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sri Lanka. She spent sixteen months working for UNRWA, largely based at Jerusalem HQ, where she developed a Child Protection Framework for the organization. She holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law (University of Essex) and a Masters in Public Policy and Public Administration (Concordia University). Christina’s expertise includes programme management and design, strategic planning, and technical guidance on Child Protection issues. Christina is on a supply arrangement of technical experts supporting Canadian international development assistance projects and programmes at Global Affairs Canada (GAC). She is currently providing technical guidance to the Haiti Division at Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian embassy in Port au Prince. She is under contract with Springer International Publishing AG to write “Child Protection Systems in the Developing World” for the book series Palgrave Studies on Children and Development. She is bilingual (English and French, having worked in three francophone countries). For her Linkedin profile click here

 

Susan Kreston

is a consultant on legal and human rights issues. She researches, guest lectures and publishes on criminal justice matters, with a focus on human trafficking and crimes against children. Recently she was a Fulbright Professor of Psychology & Law (2013-2015) and Research Fellow in Law (2013-2016) at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. Her first Fulbright professorship (2005-2008) was also in South Africa, focusing on issues of human trafficking and violence against women and children. She has worked as a Legal Consultant to various United Nations agencies (UNODC, UNICEF and UN Women) as well as national and local governments and NGOs, working in Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda and Kenya), Asia (Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand), Europe (Sweden, Russia, England), Bermuda and the Dominican Republic on human trafficking, gender based violence, child abuse and related matters.

 

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