Non-Stop Media Advisors

Alessandro d’Ansembourg

Alessandro d’AnsembourgMr. d’Ansembourg’s strategic consulting for non-profits and corporations developed from more than a decade of experience in different segments of international development, humanitarian deployment and philanthropy. He is currently Director of Social Impact at Zago.

Mr. d’Ansembourg has been involved with The Santa Maddalena Foundation since 2000 and has served as secretary of the Board of Trustees since 2006. Santa Maddalena is an internationally renowned writers’ retreat located in the hills near Florence, Italy. In 2007, he lived in Damascus, Syria, working with the United Nations (UNRWA) on social services for the Palestine refugees. During his stay in the Middle East he co-founded and directed Offline Media, a non-profit that works to promote the original work of media professionals from regions isolated by turmoil and conflict.

During those years he also got involved in strategic philanthropy: he has been a member of the Family Council of the Flora Family Foundation since 2006 (Grantee of the Board of Directors in 2009-2010) and a fellow of the Institute for Philanthropy where he attended the Philanthropy Workshop in 2009-2010. He regularly participates in events and conferences on the role of philanthropy in an ever more demanding environment.

Mr. d’Ansembourg holds an MA in International Affairs and Non-Profit Management with a focus on Media and Culture from The New School University, New York, and a BA in Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He is Dutch-Italian and speaks five languages (Italian, French, English, Spanish and Dutch) as well as the local dialect of Nigoline, his home village in Northern Italy.

Elisabeth Witchel

Elisabeth WitchelElisabeth Witchel has more than 15 years’ experience in human rights and international journalism. Since 2001, she worked for the Committee to Protect Journalists, where she launched the organization’s Journalist Assistance Program and Global Campaign Against Impunity. Ms. Witchel has authored several reports for CPJ, including four editions of Getting Away with Murder: Global Impunity Index; three editions of CPJ’s Survey of Journalists in Exile; 2004′s The Fixers; and 2005′s Zimbabwe’s Exiled Press.

Ms. Witchel, who is now based in the United Kingdom and serves as CPJ’s Impunity Campaign Consultant, has presented at international forums, including UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council and served on panels in London, Manila, New York, and Paris. Prior to joining CPJ, she worked at Grassroots Enterprise in San Francisco and reported from Seoul, Korea, for The Korea Times and US News & World Report. Ms. Witchel has a bachelor’s in history from Stanford University and a master’s in International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Mohsen Namjoo

Mohsen NamjooMohsen Namjoo is an Iranian artist, songwriter, singer, music scholar and setar (traditional Persian lute) player based in New York. His unique music style resembles a patchwork of the Persian classical poetry of Hafez, Rumi or Saadi with western music, namely rock, blues, and jazz. Since 2003, Mr. Namjoo has recorded parts of his works in Tehran. His debut album titled Toranj was officially released in Iran in September 2007 with his own voice featured in most of his creations. He has also composed soundtracks for movies and plays, and was featured in the documentary Sounds of Silence (directed by Amir Hamz and Mark Lazarz) which has been screened at international film festivals.

In 2008, Mr. Namjoo kicked off his first solo US tour, which granted him the Visiting Artist Fellowship at Stanford University, co-sponsored by the Christina & Hamid Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and the Music Department at Stanford.

Shirzanan Global Edition Advisors

Rimla Akhtar

Chair, Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation

Rimla AkhtarA Chartered Accountant by profession with over thirteen years’ experience across the UK, Middle East and Asia, Ms. Akhtar has also been making her mark in the sports field over this time and was named to the British Muslim Women Power List in 2009. She has strong experience in a variety of fields, including the pharmaceutical, retail, sports and construction sectors, and is a committed, visionary and enthusiastic individual who works strategically and dynamically to enhance the character and strength of her clients and teams.

As Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF), Ms. Akhtar has led the charity to one with a distinct reputation nationally and internationally for its extensive work in the field of women’s sport. She single-handedly worked to obtain £235k for the MWSF and has been setting the standard and driving the agenda for this industry. She competed for Britain’s Muslim Women’s Futsal Team between 2001-2005, captaining the team for the majority of that time, and now sits on a number of inclusion advisory boards for governing bodies of sport across the UK.

Ms. Akhtar has been recognized with various Awards, including most recently the Sky Sports and Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Community Award in 2013 and the Asian Woman in Sport Award at the inaugural Asian Football Awards in January 2012 at Wembley Stadium. The MWSF, under her stewardship, has also been recognized with Awards and commendations, including the Beyond Sport ‘Beyond London 2012’ Inclusion and Diversity Award 2013, the Muslim News Awards for Excellence in Sport in 2009 and the Mosaic Award for Sport in 2008 presented by HRH Prince Charles.

Gary Belsky

Former Editor-in-Chief, ESPN The Magazine

Gary BelskyGary Belsky is Chief Content Officer of Elland Road Partners, a boutique consultancy focusing on editorial content, digital strategy, choice architecture and consumer behavior.

Mr. Belsky, a columnist for, is the former editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine and, one of the largest and fastest-growing paid-content websites in the world. Author of several books, he lectures frequently on decision making, choice architecture to business and consumer audiences around the world. From 2007 through 2010, Mr. Belsky was co-host of a weekly sports radio show on Sirius, and prior to that he was a regular commentator on CNN’s Your Money and a frequent contributor to Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Crossfire and Oprah.

A St. Louis native, Mr. Belsky graduated from the University of Missouri in that city in 1983 with a BA in speech communication and political science; he currently serves on the Leadership Council of the Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University. Before joining ESPN, he was a writer at Money magazine and a reporter for Crain’s New York Business and the St. Louis Business Journal. In 1990, he won the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. Mr. Belsky, who lives in Manhattan, serves on the board of directors of Urban Pathways, one of New York City’s largest providers of services to the homeless and mentally ill; and the New York Neo-Futurists, an award-winning East Village theater company.

Hayam Essam

Founder, Girl Power – Egypt

Recent PhotoHayam Essam is an engineer by profession and a basketball fanatic by passion. She is founder, programs manager and head coach of the “Girl Power – Egypt” initiative which uses basketball programs to teach young, underprivileged girls life and social skills, ethics and character in an effort to empower them and impact their lives. Ms. Essam played professional basketball for twenty years, was previous team captain of the Shooting Club ladies’ first team and served as a member in the club’s Basketball Committee. She also played on the Cairo University Team and Egyptian National Team.

In 2013, Ms. Essam represented Egypt in the espnW and US State Department’s Global Sports Mentoring Program that included 16 other women from around the world (including fellow Shirzanan Global advisor Fatima Saleem). She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cairo University and a project management diploma. She has ten years’ experience in the construction industry working for a multinational construction company.

Shannon Galpin

Founder and President, Mountain2Mountain

Shannon GalpinNational Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Shannon Galpin, founder of the non-profit organization Mountain2Mountain, has created a unique space as a ‘disturber’.  She founded Mountain2Mountain ( in 2007 and focused her efforts on women’s rights in conflict zones.  After years of working in women’s prisons and with girls’ education, she realized that her strength and passion was in activism and changing perceptions.  Ms. Galpin created the groundbreaking Streets of Afghanistan exhibition as a life-size photography exhibition that was eventually set up in the streets and public spaces in Afghanistan as a pop up street art installation.

Currently living in Colorado and a passionate single speed mountain biker, Ms. Galpin became the first person to mountain bike in Afghanistan in 2009, and the first person to cross the Panjshir Valley by bike in 2010.  She has continued to challenge the gender barriers that have prevented Afghan women from riding in various parts of the country until finally she found the first women attempting to ride, and doing it as part of the national cycling team. She supports the team and in Spring 2014 will be creating two new women’s teams in Bamiyan province to help expand the cycling movement.  Ms. Galpin is the producer of the upcoming documentary, Afghan Cycles, about the women’s national cycling team.  Her memoir, Mountain to Mountain:  A journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan, comes out September 16, 2014, with St. Martin’s Press.  She has spoken globally about the power of voice and upon the TEDx stage – including her first talk at TEDxMileHigh about the Perception of Victimhood and the Power of Voice which illustrates the backbone of all the work she does:

Faezeh Hashemi

President, Islamic Women’s Sports Federation

Faezeh HashemiFaezeh Hashemi has long promoted the cause of Muslim women in sport – encouraging and enabling women the world over to enter an arena that has for too long appeared unsuitable for Muslim women. Despite considerable opposition, Ms. Hashemi founded and served as President of the Islamic Women’s Sports Federation. She arranged major females-only international competitions in Iran, demonstrating the keenness and ability of Muslim women to participate in Olympic-standard events.

Ms. Hashemi’s campaigning as Vice President of Iran’s National Olympic Committee led to the International Olympic Committee permitting Muslim women to compete at the games wearing appropriate Islamic dress. This represented a tremendous victory for countless women who might otherwise have their sporting ambitions thwarted.

She was a successful member of parliament, polling close to the highest vote in previous elections. Her work on and off the political field to make accessible a world that could easily remain out of bounds for many women, stirs the reserves of strength, agility and determination that lay untapped in all of us. Ms. Hashemi is also a daughter of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Sarah Murray

Programs Director, Women Win

sarah murray 2A global authority on women’s sport, Sarah Murray has spent two decades promoting gender inclusion and equity in sport. Wearing the Women Win jersey since 2009, she is currently the Programs Director for the Amsterdam-based global organization working to empower adolescent girls to exercise their rights through sport. In this role, Murray oversees the innovation and tool development, regranting and assessing impact portfolio. She has played sport with fiercely passionate women in over 50 countries on 6 continents.

Prior to joining Women Win, Ms. Murray spent 10 years as the Web Producer for the Women’s Sports Foundation – a nonprofit started by Billie Jean King and focused on gender equity in sport. Her editorial leadership secured the top Google result for “women’s sports” and made the organization the most highly trafficked women’s sport site on the Internet.

Ms. Murray’s writing has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers and books, including, Women’s Adventure, The Sacramento Bee and Superwomen. She authored the GoGirlGo! Curriculum, which won the U.S. National Health award and the International Guide to Designing Sport Programs for Girls – the first in a series of open-sourced guides aimed at helping organizations build safe, supported sports programs to address core rights issues. She is particularly energized in the applying design thinking to encourage social innovations to addressing women’s development and empowerment challenges.

Ms. Murray serves on the Board of  Advisors for Shirzanan Global, Women Deliver and Travel2Change. Her work is fueled by her personal love of play. An athlete and competitor at heart, she’s up for any game, any time. Ms. Murray currently lives in Amsterdam with her partner, Signe.

Fatima Saleem

Anchor and Sports Reporter, GEO TV Pakistan

Founder, GO Girl Pakistan

fatima saleem 2Fatima Saleem is Sports Anchor and Reporter for GEO NEWS – Pakistan as well as founder of GO Girl Pakistan which she was inspired to establish after being selected for the espnW and US State Department’s Global Sports Mentoring Program in 2013.

GO Girl Pakistan engages fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles and aunts – the whole community – to participate in using sports as a means of empowerment for girls in Karachi, regardless of background. The cultural perception is that girls should not be athletes, but GO Girl Pakistan is breaking barriers by providing free, safe environments for sports.

Ms. Saleem continues to serve as one of Pakistan’s leading sports journalists and remains a key player in the US Consulate General in Karachi’s sports diplomacy programs.

Minky Worden

Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch

Minky Worden Winter_bioMinky Worden develops and implements international outreach and advocacy campaigns s Human Rights Watch’s Director of Global Initiatives. Ms.Worden previously served as Human Rights Watch’s Media Director, working with the world’s journalists to help them cover crises, wars, human rights abuses and political developments in some 90 countries worldwide. Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1998, she lived and worked in Hong Kong as an adviser to Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee and worked at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as a speechwriter for the U.S. Attorney General and in the Executive Office for US Attorneys. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ms. Worden speaks Cantonese and German, and is an elected member of the Overseas Press Club’s Board of Governors. She is the editor of The Unfinished Revolution (Seven Stories Press, 2012) and China’s Great Leap (Seven Stories Press, 2008), and the co-editor of Torture (New Press, 2005).