Marjan Horst Ehsassi

Marjan Horst Ehsassi is an ardent believer in the power of engagement, inclusiveness and policies that enhance citizen participation. She has worked to increase space for civil society in some of the most complex environments including Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. Marjan’s work has primarily focused on strategy, design and implementation of democracy and governance programs. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in International Relations at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She recently left her position as Senior Director of Governance and Global Health at Global Communities where she led a team of approximately 200 and a portfolio of 50 million. Previously, at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), she managed democracy and governance programs in China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Nepal and set-up NDI’s first office in Seoul to build the capacity of North Korean defector groups. Prior to NDI, she was a senior program manager with ABA-ROLI managing rule of law programs in the Middle East and North Africa. Marjan also worked with the Gender Equality Group at the World Bank where she contributed to the publication of The Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa.

She began her legal career with Blake Cassels & Graydon in Toronto, Canada and was later a corporate litigator with the New York offices of Shearman & Sterling. Prior to law school, she worked in Kenya with the Canadian International Development Agency and with the International Center of PEN International. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto and received an LL.B from McGill Law School in Montreal. Originally from Iran, she was born in Geneva and has lived and worked in Canada, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Marjan speaks English, French and Farsi with native fluency. She is conversant in Spanish and Arabic.