Staff

Diya Nijhowne

Executive Director

Diya Nijhowne oversees management of all the Coalition’s operations and program implementation. She has over 15 years of experience working on children’s rights and protection issues, including in emergency contexts. Diya served as a Child Protection Worker in Canada investigating child abuse allegations. As a Program Officer with Global Rights, an international non-governmental organization, she built the capacity of local organizations to protect human rights, designing and implementing programming for women and minorities in Afghanistan and Nepal. In 2008, following the post-election violence in Kenya, she served as a Child Protection Officer with UNICEF, developing protection strategies for internally displaced children. In 2011, she held a similar position with UNHCR in Ethiopia, managing a camp for Somali refugees and developing registration and tracing procedures for unaccompanied children. Diya also worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as a Children’s Rights Consultant, and developed advocacy strategies to promote the women, peace, and security agenda within the UN. Diya has a Master of Social Work degree and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Toronto.

Contact information:

Phone: 1.212.377.9413 
Email: gcpea@protectingeducation.org

Christopher Sfetsios

Program Officer

Chris Sfetsios supports GCPEA's programmatic work, including through assisting the Coalition’s advocacy efforts and contributing to research, as well managing GCPEA's website and social media accounts, organizing the production of publications, and grants and financial management. Chris has over 10 years of diverse experience across the fields of human rights, conflict and peacebuilding, and humanitarian affairs. Prior to joining GCPEA, Chris worked with the US Institute of Peace, WITNESS, UNDP's Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus, and Médecins Sans Frontières, among others. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the American College of Thessaloniki in Greece, and has completed graduate coursework in international security policy and conflict resolution at Columbia University.

Contact information:

Phone: 1.212.377.9446
Email: gcpea@protectingeducation.org

Marika Tsolakis

Education under Attack Researcher

Marika Tsolakis is the researcher for the Education Under Attack 2020 report. Marika has extensive experience in education and child protection issues in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Senegal and Brazil. Most recently, she led a study on the impacts of psychosocial support trainings for teachers in Eastern Congo within the Rapid Response to Movements of Population (RRMP) Program. She has previously consulted for UNICEF, Norwegian Refugee Council, ActionAid and Amnesty International. Marika holds a PhD in Education and International Development from the Institute of Education, University College London where her doctoral research examined the interface of non-formal learning, politics and transitional justice in post-conflict Abidjan. Marika was awarded a Global Challenges Research Fund postdoctoral fellowship to conduct policy engagement in West and Central Africa. Marika speaks French, Greek, Wolof and Portuguese. 

Contact information:

Phone: 1.212.377.9446
Email: gcpea@protectingeducation.org

Nevena Valentinova Saykova

Advocacy Officer

Nevena Saykova supports GCPEA’s advocacy related to promoting the endorsement and implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. Her work experience relates to international security and the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law. Prior to joining GCPEA, Nevena worked as Research and Project Assistant at the Democratic Control of Armed Forces providing conceptual, practical and content support to the Montreux Document on pertinent international obligations and good practices for effective oversight and accountability of the private security sector. Before that, she worked at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on restoring family links and child protection issues. Nevena also completed an internship at UNICEF headquarters in New York, focusing on public partnerships and South-South cooperation opportunities to better leverage donors’ funds for child programs. Nevena holds a Master in International Public Management from Sciences Po Paris and a Bachelor of International Relations from the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". She speaks English, French, Spanish, and Bulgarian. 

Contact information:

Phone: +41 (0)22 919 20 09
Email: gcpea@protectingeducation.org

Jerome Marston

Researcher

Jerome is a researcher at GCPEA, where he contributes to the Education under Attack 2020 report among other duties. Trained in qualitative and quantitative research methods, Jerome has extensive experience collecting and analyzing data on conflict, including in survey design and administration. Jerome holds a PhD in Political Science from Brown University, where he focused on human rights, conflict, and organized crime. His dissertation covered forced displacement in Latin American cities, for which he carried out long-term fieldwork in Colombia with the support of a Fulbright-Hays grant. Previously, Jerome worked for Physcians for Human Rights. Jerome's research appears in policy and academic publications. He speaks Spanish. 

Contact information:

Phone: 1.212.216.1810
Email: gcpea@protectingeducation.org