• Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, President of the High Atlas Foundation
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir has been dedicated to the field of international development since he joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1993. In 2000, he co-founded the High Atlas Foundation and served as president of the Board of Directors until January 2011, and since has been president of operations. Dr. Ben-Meir was a member of the faculty at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco (2009-10). In 2003, he was a research fellow at the American Institute of Maghrib Studies in Morocco. Yossef was also an Associate Peace Corps Director (1998-99), managing the agriculture and environment program in Morocco. He writes and publishes on the subject of promoting human development in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a PhD in sociology from the University of New Mexico (2009) where he also taught, an MA in international development from Clark University (1997), and a BA in economics from New York University (1991).
• Suzanne Baazet, Co-Vice President
Suzanne (Moyer) Baazet is an entrepreneur and non-profit leader with extensive experience working with NGOs and the private sector in Morocco and throughout Northern Africa. She is currently the Vice-President of AmeriSource, a company which she co-founded to increase business linkages and trade between the US and Morocco. Suzanne's previous experience includes serving as the President of AIESEC United States Inc., where she oversaw the launch of The Salaam Program, a cultural exchange program which has provided over 100 international internships to Arab and American university students in partnership with major corporations such as Google, Sun MicroSystems, Kraft Foods Intl., and MasterCard. Suzanne also served as a Senior Program Manager at the African Studies Association where she supported major initiatives to foster collaboration among scholars world-wide. Suzanne speaks fluent French, Arabic, and Moroccan Arabic, and is a published author on business and development in the Middle East. Suzanne was awarded a Fulbright grant to research the impact of the globalization of Moroccan economic policy on the management competencies required of Moroccan entrepreneurs and executives.
• Larbi Didouqen, Co-Vice President
Larbi Didouquen served as Director of Toubkal National Park - Morocco's largest national park - for over ten years (1993-2004). During this time he worked closely with many Peace Corps Volunteers who were assigned to serve in the park and its neighboring villages. He has been actively involved with HAF since its inception in 2000, playing a key role in project implementation and partnership building. He is currently an independent consultant, and volunteers his time with numerous civil society organizations in the Marrakech Province. Larbi was trained as a forestry engineer.
• Abderrahim Ouarghidi, Project and Training Manager
Abderrahim Ouarghidi coordinates HAF's field activities with rural communities, including facilitating community meetings, assisting beneficiaries with project design and implementation, and carrying out HAF's participatory monitoring and evaluation program. He also provides training in participatory development to diverse groups both in the field and at the Center for Community Consensus-Building and Sustainable Development. Abderrahim received his Bachelor's degree in animal biology (2002) and his Master's degree in biodiversity (2007) from Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech. His field research, focusing on traditional herbal remedies in the Zat and Imenane Valleys, allowed him to spend extensive periods of time living and working with rural communities. Abderrahim is currently pursuing his PhD in ethno-botany, ethno-medicine, and ethno-ecology - an interdisciplinary field that examines the traditional uses of plants and the conservation of their biodiversity. Born and raised in Marrakech, Abderrahim is fluent in Arabic, Tashlhait, French, and English.
• Malika Kassi, Site Manager, Al Haouz Province
Malika was born and raised in Ouarzazat and received her BA in English in 2009. She worked as a language and cross culture facilitator for the United States Peace Corps, and was also a translator on a water project at Dar Si Hmed for Development, Education and Culture. Malika speaks fluent Tashlhyt, Arabic, English and French, and benefited from a number of development and cross-cultural training programs and workshops.
• Fatima Zahra Laaribi, Office Manager
Fatima Zahra Laaribi is a Marrakech native. She graduated from Cadi Ayyad University, where she received her Bachelors Degree in English Studies,Prior to working at HAF, she was an intern at Conseille Gest, a firm. She also trained as an accounting assistant and worked in a law firm.
Fatima Zahra has been working with HAF since October 2012, as HAF's Administrative Assistant, where she helps to coordinate all of HAF's various activities from the central office in Marrakech, and is responsible for managing HAF communications with local, national, and international partners. Fatima Zahra enjoys reading, especially Arabic literature.
• Lynn Sheppard, Project and Development Manager
Lynn Sheppard is our Project and Development Manager. She joined HAF in 2013 after 13 years working as a public official and diplomat in the UK, Germany, Belgium, EU and UN. Lynn is based in Essaouira, on Morocco's Atlantic coast, where she manages a heritage preservation and educational project. This project centres around Essaouira's multicultural past and its Jewish, Christian and Muslim cemeteries. She is also responsible for project development and fundraising – both in Essaouira Province and further afield – as well as HAF's social media presence (on Facebook, twitter and Flickr). Lynn speaks English, French and German fluently and is learning Darija.
• Mouhssine Tadlaoui-Cherki, Program Director
Tadlaoui-Cherki is a former U.S. Peace Corps program manager of the environment sector in Morocco, where he worked for more than 10 years. The sector he managed included approximately 70 volunteers in rural areas of Morocco whom he supervised and trained in assisting communities’ sustainable development processes. The training programs he developed included volunteer counterparts from CSOs, government agencies and educational institutions. Mr. Tadlaoui-Cherki also has expertise in managing partnerships at the local, provincial, national and international levels, and replicating successful programs. Born and raised in Fez, Mouhssine received his Bachelor’s degree in physics from Mohammed V University in Rabat, and is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.
• Hana Ezzaoui, Site Manager:
Hana Ezzaoui is HAF’s Participatory facilitator in the Boujdour province. She received her Baccalaureate in institutional development in Laayounne. She is dedicated to social work and has significant development experiences with local associations. She created, along with other members from Boujdour city, to create an association called “Rwabit Association for Social Work, Environment and Development” where she currently serves as president.
Hana enjoys travelling and is open to diverse cultures and traditions of Moroccan society and of the world. Born and raised in the Moroccan Sahara, Hana speaks Arabic, Hassaniya dialect, and French.
• Safae Lacheheb, Training Coordinator
Safae Lacheheb, born and raised in Rabat, received a Bachelor's degree in money and finance (2007) from Mohammed V university of rabat, and a Master's Degree in Risk Management in Finance from Mohammedia School of Engineering (2010) in Rabat. Safae has just completed her Masters in Econometrics and Economic Modelling Techniques at the Hassan II university of Mohammedia.
Safae speaks Arabic, French and English. Safae has been working with HAF since November of 2012, and is now the Training Coordinator at the Centre pour le Consensus Communautaire et le Développement Durable at l'Université Hassan II-Mohammedia in Morocco.
HAF Community-Level Coordinators (HAF Team Members are part of the local communities that are also HAF project and training sites)
• Younes Khitouch, Program Assistant
Younes Khitouch is a Participatory Facilitator at the High Atlas Foundation center in Mohammedia. He is devoted to sharing the honor of the work of human and social development of HAF. Previously, he was a coordinator at the Association of Talaie, engaged in integrating youth social work. Younes has led many cultural ceremonies. He also holds a degree in Economics and Management, which he received in 2010 and he is currently in his second year of econometrics economic modeling technique at Hassan II University in Mohammedia.
• Aicha Galef, Program Manager
Aicha (Alexandra) Galef joined HAF’s team in Morocco in September 2013. She provides administrative support for the implementation of HAF-community projects and assists program managers in research and the development of new project initiatives.
Aicha received her Bachelor’s degree from Weslyan University in History (2013) with a concentration in North African and Middle Eastern history. Aicha speaks English and French and is developing Arabic language skills.
• Joke Van Dooren, Project Assistant
Joke Van Dooren is volunteering for one year with HAF in the framework of the Youth in Action programme funded by the European Commission. She will support projects in Essaouira, help HAF with partnership- and capacity-building and support the social media presence. She is Belgian (Flemish), and speaks Dutch, French, English and is learning Darija. Joke has a bachelors degree in Social Work and obtained last June her masters in Sciences of Population and Development. She is an international trainer focused on the Euromed youth cooperation and her main interests are social skills development, intercultural learning, interreligious dialogue, learning through volunteering, and self-directed learning. She has a lot of experience in national and international youth work. Since 2006 she is actively involved in youth and sport projects in Essaouira.
• Melissa Topacio Long, Program Manager
Melissa Topacio Long joins the High Atlas Foundation to support the grant writing team. She developed an appreciation of Moroccan culture while working as resident director for American students of Arabic in Marrakech from 2011-2013. Her passion for creating international exchange and dialogue opportunities lead her to pursue a master’s degree in international education at the School for International Training, which she expects to complete in July 2014. Melissa has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Lewis and Clark College.
• Ann-Marie Quinn, Grants and Financial Manager
Ann-Marie Quinn joins the HAF team as the organization's Grants & Financial Manager. Ann-Marie discovered Morocco as a 2012-2013 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from South Carolina. She has a Masters in Public Administration from the College of Charleston and is currently working on her thesis for the Masters in International Studies program at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. Her dedication to public service and past experience with the US Government and a public university informs her work at the High Atlas Foundation. Ann-Marie speaks French and is learning Darija.
• Noura Maarouf, Local Facilitator
Noura Maarouf was born in Kasbat-Tadla and raised in Zaouit- Echeikh, located in the region of Beni-Mellal. She studied at University Beni-Mellal “Sultan Moulay Slimane”. She holds a Diploma of Agricultural Studies from the Institutional of Agriculture in Khenifra “Poly Culture Elevage”. Noura has a passion for social and in 2011 she and other civil society organizers joined forces to create Assocation Ajial Al Moustkbal, which works towards capacity building and empowerment for women throughout the Ben- Mellal region. Noura speaks fluent Arabic and French, and some English. She began working with HAF in 2011 as a local facilitator in Zaouiat –Echeikh municipality.