ARDC staff

Mutasim Ali, CEO

Mutasim Ali Ahmed is originally from the Darfur region of Sudan, arriving in Israel in 2009. He is a well-known activist for his community and is constantly on the front lines of the refugee debate in Israel. He helped found five community centers and has worked with many NGOs in refugee rights. Since 2010, Mutasim has been involved with ARDC as a community leader, Board member, and then as CEO in 2013 before being sent to the Holot detention center. He filed legal proceedings against his detainment and won his release in July 2015. Shortly after, Mutasim rejoined our team as CEO.

Dijana Mujkanovic, International Relations & Resource Development Manager

Dijana Mujkanovic was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia). She came to the USA with her family in 1999 as a refugee. Dijana received her BA in Political Science and Global Studies with focus on Developing States. Post graduation, Dijana worked as a resource development coordinator, case worker and advocacy officer for Harmony in Life, a mental health organization for survivors of torture and war trauma. In 2011, Dijana moved to the Middle East and accepted a position as an English Teacher in the United Arab Emirates. In 2012, she came to Israel and completed her Master's in Conflict Resolution and Mediation. After graduation, Dijana began her work with the African refugee community in Israel, first as an intern and later as a Refugee Active Participation Project Coordinator with Amnesty International Israel. She began her work with the ARDC in January of 2014.

"My favorite thing about working with the ARDC is its grassroots nature. I work for an organization that sees refugees not only as a subjects of much needed assistance, but individuals with skills and talents to be fostered. It is truly unique."

Naomi Caplan, Operations Manager

Born in Israel and raised in the southern U.S., Naomi is a firm believer in civil and human rights. Her particular interest is in working with individuals who have suffered trauma and forced separation from their support networks, such as foster children and refugees. She previously worked in child welfare and as a NYC public school teacher for at-risk and over-aged high school students. After moving to Israel in Fall 2013, she received her MPH in Emergency & Disaster Management. During this time, she volunteered at the Tel Aviv Refugee Health Clinic, and there she saw and heard the daily struggles of asylum seekers in Israel. It inspired her to find work a few meters away at the ARDC, where she has been Operational Manager since January 2015.

"My favorite thing about ARDC is its resilience. Everyday there are challenges and changes that can make the work harder. However, ARDC always faces these obstacles and adapts to meet the needs of the community. The passion here is inspiring. We don't give up."

Yikealo Beyene, Community Organizer

Yikealo Beyene, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, arrived in Israel in 2008 after a perilous journey through Sinai. In pursuit of his education, he earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology and his MA degree in Organizational Behavior and Development from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya. He managed to pursue his education in spite of the continuous threat of deportation and the uncertainty of policies imposed by the government of Israel. Active in the asylum seeker community, he coordinates an after-school program for the children of asylum seekers. At ARDC, he organizes trainings and groups to strengthen self-advocacy within the community.

"My favorite thing about working with ARDC is the spirit of volunteerism - no one, not even the staff work for money. In that sense, it is a social hub where you meet amazing people from different backgrounds and learn new things everyday."

Anne Sapir, AAA Program Manager

After earning her LLM in Public International Law from Leiden University, Anne moved from Belgium to Israel with the goal and hope of using her legal skills and knowledge to protect human rights and prevent further violation of human rights in Israel. As a grand-child of refugees and survivors of the Holocaust, Anne firmly believes in the necessity for the State of Israel to enforce, implement, respect and promote Public International Law, including Refugee Law.

"My favorite thing about working with the ARDC is being part of a social justice struggle in Israel."

Emily Primack, PREP Project Manager, AAA Deputy Manager

Emily Primack is a TEFL certified, Education Program Manager at the African Refugee Development Center. Her research and curriculum have been used at the International Rescue Committee-New York Regional Office, One to World-Global Classroom and Learning Enterprises–Panama program. Emily holds a BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University and an MA in International Educational Development from Columbia University. While Los Angeles, California is home for Emily and her extensive shoe collection, she lives a nomadic life abroad working on education programs for refugee communities.

"My favorite thing about working with the ARDC is that each day brings a new opportunity to help, learn, and impact the world in a positive way."

Itamar Skalka, AAA Technical Coordinator

Itamar is doing his national service with the ARDC. He has a background in photography, art and theater. Prior to coming to the ARDC, Itamar worked with Hava ve Adam, an ecological farm near Modi'in, where he learned eco-agriculture, permaculture, mud-building and enjoying nature, humans and simplicity.

"My favorite thing about working with the ARDC is that I get to visit and hear stories from Ethiopia, Switzerland, Sudan, Belgium, Italy, Ertitrea, New York, Nigeria, Ukraine, Brazil and more, all in the same day and all from the office at the central bus station in Tel Aviv. I am very happy about this opportunity to learn so much from so many people and being able to help human beings with this knowledge."