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BICON 2021 - Speakers list

Abigail Munroe

Abigail Munroe

Senior Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at Lumos

Abigail Munroe is Senior Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at Lumos, specialising in the connections between children’s institutions and child trafficking globally. Having worked at Lumos for five years, she is passionate about the fulfilment of children’s right to grow up in a safe and loving family environment, and advocates for this internationally. Prior to Lumos, Abigail gained a Master of Laws in International and European Human Rights and worked in policy relating to violence against women and girls.


Aigerim Mussabalinova

Algerim Mussabalinova

Research Assistant at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Aigerim Mussabalinova is a research assistant at the School of Postgraduate Education, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. She received her doctoral degree in Law from the University of Sussex, the United Kingdom. The title of thesis is: The Right of the Child to be Raised in the Family: Reflections on Decision-Making Processes in Child Placement in Kazakhstan in the Light of English Experience. Her research interests include children rights and protection, Central Asian studies on child’s protection system, inclusive education, and treatment of vulnerable groups of children. In addition to research and teaching experience, Aigerim collaborates with state and non-governmental organisations and provides consultancy as an expert on children’s rights and the best interests of the child. She was a consultant to UNICEF Kazakhstan on alternative care services for children with disability.


Anil Patil

Anil Patil

Founder and Executive Director at Carers Worldwide, India

Anil has 25 years of experience in the international development sector as a veterinarian, development practitioner, grantmaker and trustee. Experiences in his professional and personal life led him to establish Carers Worldwide in 2012 and continue to fuel his passion to transform the lives of unpaid family carers across the globe.

He is now Founder and Executive Director of Carers Worldwide which works across India, Nepal and Bangladesh to bring about systemic change for family carers and highlights the issues facing unpaid family carers in low- and middle-income countries, a group largely unrecognised and unsupported. It is the only international NGO exclusively and strategically addressing the social, physical, mental, and economic wellbeing of carers of chronically ill elderly and disabled loved ones, so far it has transformed the lives of more than 79,000 carers and their family members. More details can be found at www.carersworldwide.org

He is the Chair of the Membership, Recruitment and Engagement Committee of IACO, the International Alliance of Carer Organisations. The innovative nature of Anil’s work and its huge potential for social impact on a wide scale has resulted in him being awarded an international Ashoka Fellow in 2015, Making More Health Fellow in 2016, Cordes Fellowship in 2017 and being recognised ACEVO (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) as an inspirational and emerging leader in the third sector.

His specific interests include building an evidence base for support for family carers in South Asia, looking at the economic impacts of caring, and increasing the visibility of carers globally in order to influence policy and best practice to see widespread and sustained change in the lives of these carers, to see their rights enshrined in national legislation on a global scale and a carers’ movement at the heart of civil society in each country.


Aniruddha Kulkarni

Aniruddha Kulkarni

Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF

As Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF Headquarters, New York, Aniruddha contributes to international policy and programme development on child protection systems strengthening, social service workforce strengthening, and care reform, and other systems strengthening initiatives. Aniruddha works closely with and supports UNICEF’s Regional and Country Offices to set and implement the child protection agenda in these workstreams. Prior to joining the Headquarters in 2018, Aniruddha worked with UNICEF Bhutan, where notably, Aniruddha led the first ever national research on violence against children in South Asia. Before that, Aniruddha worked in India for over 13 years on various initiatives to strengthen national child protection systems, including prevention of family separation and alternative care. Aniruddha has a master’s degree in social work from University of Mumbai, India, and has undertaken extensive research on trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, violence against children, adoption, and juvenile justice.


 

Anju Punn

Anju Pun

Child Rights Advocate and Nepal Country Director, Forget Me Not Australia.

Anju Pun is a child rights advocate and is the Nepal Country Director at Forget Me Not Australia. Anju has been working with socially excluded and marginalised communities in Nepal for almost 20 years including time with ActionAid Nepal and the United Nations Development Programme. She spent seven years working at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime strengthening the availability of lifesaving ARV drugs for people living with HIV in Nepal.

Her current work is focused on child protection and family reunification and reintegration for children residing outside of parental care, anti-slavery, care reform, orphanage trafficking prevention and family preservation. Anju is working with the Nepal Government and key stakeholders, including children and young people themselves, on care reform and the transition from orphanages to family-based care.

Anju’s ten year old daughter is her inspiration and they both dream of a world where children grow up in safe and loving families. 


 

Ann Skelton

Ann Skelton

Law Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

Professor Ann Skelton has worked as a children’s rights lawyer in South Africa for over 25 years. She played a leading role in child law reform through her involvement with the committees of the South African Law Reform Commission that drafted the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act. Ann was the Director of the Centre for Child Law for ten years, and initiated its strategic impact litigation work. She is currently a Law Professor at the University of Pretoria, where she also holds the UNESCO Chair: Education Law in Africa. She is an internationally recognised researcher and has published widely on children’s rights, education law and restorative justice.

In addition to teaching Child Law and Education Law at the University of Pretoria, she teaches International Children’s Rights in the Masters in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. She is a visiting professor of the University of Strathclyde and is the first holder of the Rotating Honorary Chair: Enforcement of Children’s Rights at Leiden University. She is an advocate and has appeared as counsel in many landmark child law cases in the South African superior courts, including 12 cases in the Constitutional Court.

Her awards include the Honorary Worlds’ Children’s Prize, presented by Queen Sylvia of Sweden (2012) and the Juvenile Justice Without Borders award presented by the International Observatory on Juvenile Justice (2017) and she is currently an International Ambassador for the British Society of Criminology. She was the chairperson of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty. Ann is currently a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, her term of office started in 2017.

 


Chanda Phang

Chanda Phang

Section Lead for Children and Families at This Life

Chanda Phang is the Section Lead for Children and Families at This Life with years of experience working with International organizations in the field of child protection, child rights and trafficking in person in Cambodia. Various experience working to support marginalized children and families to have access to support services for building their bright futures. Remarkable insight in building network and partnership with government and NGOs. Working closely with the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and other relevant government institution and NGOs for the reintegration of children from RCI to family and community based care.


Chihiro Kousaka

Chihiro Kousaka

Student at the International Foster Care Alliance (IFCA)

Chihiro has spent four years in a Yogoshisetu (group facility) in Japan and has a varied experience of being in care. She feels that children who live in group facilities and foster homes are not aliens and must not be seen as so. She is an alumnus of IFCA’s alumni programs and activities. IFCA or International Foster Care Alliance is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle, Washington, which also has its projects in Japan. Her goal is to let people know about foster care and to have a circle of people who can think about the future of foster children, to lessen the difficult experiences of fellow foster care alumni and to make sure that my young foster brothers and sisters have a brighter future.


Deep Purkayastha

Deep Purkayastha

Director, Praajak

Deep Purkayastha has an MBA from Jadavpur University where he also graduated in Economics. He is an Ashoka Fellow. He has been working with boys and young men on gender equity and masculinities since 1997 through Praajak, of which he is the founder-director. His work has been primarily focussed on children, especially boys in difficult circumstances including itinerant children in contact with the railways and children in institutions.

He currently works with young people in 12 districts to set up youth collectives that campaign for gender equity and intervene during situations of gender discrimination and violence including child marriage, child trafficking and child sexual abuse. He has been advocating for the restructuring of the custodial approach to the rights of children, adolescents and other young people and has been highlighting how recognizing the agency of children and their choice and consent can eliminate institutionalised stigma, discrimination and violence against them.


Delia Pop

Delia Pop

Director, Tanya’s Dream Fund

Delia is a passionate advocate for children rights, with over 20 years experience in implementing and leading the reform of child care and protection systems across over 30 countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean Region and Southern Asia. Trained as a medical doctor, Delia started her career in child protection in Romania, her native country, where she pioneered the transition of children out of institutions back into families and communities.

Author, trainer, and mentor Delia is managing Tanya’s Dream Fund, a grant-making special initiative focused on ensuring that in Bulgaria, children grow up in families and have access to services they need to thrive. Delia is the co-founder of A Little Light, a social enterprise, with a mission to spark change by supporting women in leadership in grassroots organisations to reform their national systems for children and families.


Hugh Salmon

Hugh Salmon

Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance

Hugh trained and worked as a social worker in England in the 1990s. Since 2000, he has worked internationally, training and advising social service workers, managers and policy makers, across Eastern Europe, South and Central Asia, and Africa. In 2012, he joined Family for Every Child, a new global alliance of local NGOs committed to improving children’s care. From 2018, based in Kyrgyzstan, he worked as consultant to strengthen social services and family-based alternative care in a wide range of countries, before joining the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance in August 2020.


Iftekhar Ahmed

Iftekhar Ahmed

Director, Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID)

Iftekhar has more than fifteen-year’s professional experience in Disability, Child Protection, Rights Based Advocacy, Monitoring, Communication, Training and Research, Documentation, Development Program Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation, Project coordination and Livelihood. Iftekhar is working with Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) from 2005. As a Director of CSID, his duty mainly involves to manage all the projects for the most vulnerable children and adult with disabilities, towards enhancement of their empowerment and self-development through providing necessary skill training, education, medical support, advocacy to make them aware of their right, aiming to rehabilitate them in the mainstream society.


Dr Irwanto

Dr Irwanto, PhD, MSc

Founder and Director of the Center for Disability Studies

Dr. Irwanto, PhD, MSc, is the founder and director of the Center for Disability Studies and the co-director for the Center on Child Protection at Universitas Indonesia, where he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Social Welfare within the School of Social and Political Sciences at Universitas Indonesia. In addition, Dr. Irwanto is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology at Atma Jaya Catholic University in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dr. Irwanto served as a member of an expert panel on setting a national agenda for disabled people’s organizations after the ratification of the UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), and served as a resource person on the sexual and reproductive health rights of young people with disabilities for the UN Population Fund. Additionally, he served as the Chief Organizer and a Lecturer on the social protection of people with disabilities for 2010-2011 summer courses focusing on disability and development at Vrije University in the Netherlands. His active involvement in social studies won him the Excellence in Social Work Education award from the Association of Social Work Education in Asia and the Pacific in Penang, Malaysia in 2007. Dr. Irwanto was a recipient of a Fulbright-Hays scholarship, and earned his MSc and PhD from Purdue University. In 2002, he was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Department of Community Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago

 


Jane Calder

Jane Calder

Senior Advisor for Child Protection for the Asia and Pacific, Save the Children

Jane Calder is Save the Children International’s (SCI) Senior Advisor for Child Protection for the Asia and Pacific regions, based in Thailand. A social science graduate (with distinction) and trained social worker with 40 years of working with vulnerable children, she has managed and / or advised protection programmes in the UK, in East Africa and in Asia and the Pacific. Jane is passionate about and known for developing, managing and advising innovative and cutting edge programs and fully committed to improving the care and protection of the most vulnerable children. Jane co-leads SCI’s global Technical Working Group on Child Protection Systems and leads innovative, competency based ways of reaching the community and family level with a strengthened social service workforce. This approach is currently being adapted for internal scheme that allows for recognition and certification of Save the Children’s child protection staff. Jane is a member of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee.


Khadijah Madihi

Khadijah Madihi

Founder, Asia Family First

Khadijah is a versatile professional with a multi-disciplinary background in child rights and protection. With more than 20 years of experience, her work has extended to include strategic review, policy development and capacity building of social service systems for vulnerable children in Asia. Her published report “Take Me Home” provides a comprehensive overview of the alternative care systems across 10 countries in the region. She has worked with several international entities, regional and local stakeholders in transforming care to secure better outcomes for children in need of care & protection. Currently engaged by ISS, Maestral International and Global Social Service Workforce Alliance-Oxford Policy Management for technical expertise in the sector.


Kiran Modi

Dr. Kiran Modi

Founder Managing Trustee, Udayan Care

Dr. Kiran Modi founded Udayan Care, in Delhi, India, in 1994, with the vision of ‘Making Young Lives Shine’, which runs group homes for orphaned and at-risk children, amongst many of its projects. With a doctorate in American Literature from IIT, Delhi, Dr. Modi is a person of varied experiences in diverse fields, such as child protection, media, health and children’s theatre. Besides running programmes for Alternative Care of ‘Out of Home Care’ children, education and Livelihood programmes for disadvantaged girls and youth, she is keenly interested in raising standards of care in Alternative Care, and has been organising trainings and research, and publishing papers on Child & Youth Care.

She is Founder Editor of an international bi-annual journal on Alternative Care: ‘Institutionalised Children: Explorations and Beyond’ (ICEB). Besides her management responsibilities, she is a “Mentor Mother” to many children and youth, giving them personalised care and attention. Recipient of many prestigious awards, Dr. Modi continues to strive towards ensuring the rights of the underprivileged children and youth with the same passion and zeal as when she started out more than two and a half decades ago.


Krishna Thapa

Krishna Thapa

Founder of Voice of Children, Nepal

Krishna has 25 years experience to protect children who are separated from their families and those who are vulnerable to sexual abuse, especially boys. He has developed the ‘ladder approach’ methodology, which provides opportunities for separated children to develop gradually and reintegrate with their family. He has facilitated to establish two thematic networks in Nepal, a national alliance of organizations working with street children and the National Child Protection Alliance.


Karishma Singh

Karishma Singh

Care Leaver, Care Leavers Association and Network (CLAN)

Karishma is a care experienced young adult, passionate about bringing about meaningful changes in people’s lives. She started her career in 2017 as an Human Resource professional and she loves meeting people. She believes in herself no matter what the situation may be like. In 2018, along with a group of young people with care experience in Delhi, India, she set up the Care Leavers Association and Network (CLAN) with the support of a few Civil Society Organizations. CLAN is a youth-led initiative which envisions to collectivize, support and mentor Care Leavers and to sensitize people about the concerns, needs and rights of Care Leavers. She has represented CLAN at various platforms and strongly feels that a plethora of domains related to Care Leavers remains untouched and unrecognized. Karishma was an active contributing organising committee member at the 1st care leavers convention held virtually in 2020 and she anchored multiple sessions here. She has also been imparting training sessions to young care leavers and children staying in residential care in different parts of India, motivating them to work on their inner healing and become resilient individuals.


Kimberly Quinley

Kimberly Quinley

Executive Director, Step Ahead Thailand

Kimberly Quinley has spent 37 years in Thailand working with orphans, vulnerable children and their families. She is the Executive Director of Step Ahead Foundation in Thailand: an organization committed to seeing all children in Thailand thrive in safe and nurturing families. Step Ahead advocates, delivers services and strengthens the capacity of families and communities, as well as, the social service workforce in government and civil society to increase wellbeing for children in Thailand. Step Ahead pioneered a unique foster care program as an alternative to immigration detention for children and a program called Freedom for Families to bail mothers out of immigration detention centers and reunite them with their children. Kimberly serves as an active, founding member of the CRC Thailand Coalition’s sub group, Alternative Care Thailand, and several Thai government committees.


Leena Prasad

Leena Prasad

Asso Director, Advocacy, Research and Training, (ART), Udayan Care

Leena Prasad is a trained lawyer based out of Delhi with a passion for advocacy on human rights. She currently works with Udayan Care, a 27 years old organisation working to bring sunshine in the lives of the underprivileged. Udayan Care since inception has been a child and youth care practitioner cum advocacy and research based NGO in India, with a strong global presence in the area of Alternative Care.

Leena has over 20 years of experience of working with a range of CSOs, networks and government systems on gender equality, child rights with focus on child protection and alternative care. She has worked in the past with Child Rights and You, Action India and Lawyers Collective, besides many years of being an independent litigating lawyer in India.


Lo Leang

Lo Leang

Head of Child Protection Team of Family Care First | Responsive and Effective Child Welfare Systems Transformation (FCF | REACT) Program of Save the Children International, Cambodia

Prior to that Lo had worked with a variety of beneficiaries and stakeholders for almost a decade in the field of psychosocial and mental health after he graduated from BA in psychology and prior to pursuing his MSW in the United States.

He, then, has been providing consultancy services to various agencies including local NGOs, OIs, UN, government, and University. Lo’s expertise includes, but is not limited to, training in supervision; case management; individual/family/group counseling; community assessment and program development around psychosocial and mental health; juvenile justice; child protection program and system building; policy development and implementation (especially alternative care), training need assessment and training curriculum and TOT; children, youth and family programing (especially prevention); program monitoring and evaluation; and research.


Lopa Bhattacharjee

Lopa Bhattacharjee

Senior Programme Advisor, Family for Every Child

Lopa Bhattacharjee works for the global alliance, Family for Every Child as the Senior Programme Advisor, managing portfolios of preventing sexual violence against children, reintegration and child participation. Lopa has 21+ years of experience of working with a range of CSOs, INGOs, networks and government systems on violence against children and child protection in countries of Asia and other parts of the world. Prior to Family Lopa headed the Child Protection Programme in Terre des hommes Foundation in India. Lopa started as a social worker supporting children affected by trafficking and child sexual exploitation that enabled her deeper understanding of the drive and need for children to grow up in safe and caring families. Lopa lives in India. Lopa currently is also the Co-Chair of the task force for engaging children and young people in the UN-CRC’s Day of General Discussions.


Lopamudra Mullick

Lopamudra Mullick

Program Manager, Child Protection, Child in Need Institute (CINI), Jharkhand

Lopa has 15 years of experience in the child protection sector with a Master’s degree in social work and a post-graduation diploma in child rights law. I have grown through direct engagement with children in marginalised context- particularly those living in street situations, railway platforms, urban settings and rural deprived communities, children in conflict with law and children at risk of child early and forced marriage/child labour/child trafficking in a developing country like India. In my present role in CINI, I am leading the Child Protection portfolio of the organization.


Milan Dharel

Milan Dharel

Executive Director, National Child’s Rights Council, Nepal

Milan Dharel is the Executive Director of National Child Rights Council in Nepal. National Child Rights Council is the Apex Body on Child Rights Protection and Promotion led by Minister and is mandated to promote alternative care, deinstitutionalization in Nepal. Milan Dharel has been engaged on the field of child rights and human rights promotion as an civil society activist since 25 years leading several civil society networks and campaign at past. Milan Dharel has done researches on separation of children, alternative care and provided advisory support to government agencies in several aspects to defend rights of children. Mr. Dharel also taught child rights, human rights, development cooperation, aid policies, international relation and diplomacy for Bachelors and Masters Students in Universities.


Miho Awazu

Miho Awazu

Executive Director, International Foster Care Alliance (IFCA), nonprofit organizations in the USA and Japan.

Born in Tokyo, Japan. Moved to the U.S. in 1978. After graduating from California Polytechnic University, worked at Jiji Press Los Angeles Branch as a staff reporter. In 1988, became a freelance writer and wrote about American children and women for various Japanese periodicals. In 1990, began volunteering at a shelter and at a youth counseling program. In 1995, graduated from University of Southern California with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and interned for the Ventura County Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Programs. From 2001 to 2005, worked for the Ventura County Children and Family Services as a group care social worker. From 2006, working as a social worker for the Washington State Children’s Administration’s Everett Field Office and the Office of Indian Child Welfare in Seattle. Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Washington. Lives in Seattle. Author of two published books in Japan.

In 2012, founded International Foster Care Alliance (IFCA), a Seattle-Tokyo based nonprofit organization and designed 3 major programs for the organization. IFCAs mission is to advance the child welfare system through exchange of ideas, collaborative work, and creating connections across the globe.


Mikiko Otani

Mikiko Otani

Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

Ms. Mikiko OTANI is a practicing lawyer who specializes in family law with an advanced academic background and extensive experience of NGO activities in international human rights law. Her focus areas include migrant women and children, human trafficking, international child abduction, remedies for victims of human rights violations, access to justice and human rights education. Ms. Otani played an instrumental role in Japan’s contracting the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 2014.

As a female leader representing civil society in Japan, Ms. Otani was an Alternate Representative of the Delegation of Japan to the 60th and the 61st UN General Assembly (Third Committee) (2005-2006) and an Advisor (NGO Representative) of the Delegation of Japan to the 53rd UN Commission on the Status of Women (2009). Ms. Otani has been actively involved with NGOs and professional organizations at the regional and the international levels, having served as a Regional Council member of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (2005-2014) and as Co-Chair of the Women Lawyers’ Interest Group of the International Bar Association (2013-2014).

 


Radhika Alkazi

Radhika Alkazi

Founder and Managing Trustee of ASTHA

Ms Radhika Alkazi is the founder and Managing Trustee of ASTHA, an organization that works with children / people with disabilities and their families in India since 1993. ASTHA, a cross disability community-based organization runs services, works in urban resettlement colonies, conducts research, provides information and links action with policy concerns. In this, ASTHA prioritizes children and people with disabilities belonging to the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society. Ms Alkazi has worked actively both with children and persons with disabilities and their families and at the level of policy and advocacy. She has authored many reports and organized workshops and meetings on the status of children with disabilities in education and in the protection systems over the last 30 years. An area of special concern has been institutionalization of children with disabilities and the importance of community-based alternatives.


Rebeca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Senior Child Protection Technical Adviser, Save the Children UK

Rebecca Smith has been a Senior Child Protection Technical Adviser for Save the Children UK for the last 9 years. She supports multiple country offices to share lessons learned and best practice, challenges faced, and innovative solutions. As part of this role, Rebecca co-authored the Guidance for Alternative Care during COVID-19 on behalf of an interagency taskforce, the interagency Alternative Care in Emergencies toolkit, and wrote Save the Children’s policy brief on intercountry adoption. Prior to working for Save the Children, she worked for the International Rescue Committee for five years working: in Chad, being based in Darfur, Sudan for 2.5 years, and being deployed to humanitarian emergencies all over the world for 2.5 years including deployments to: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Yemen, and Haiti in 2010 where she set up family tracing and reunification programming immediately following the earthquake. Rebecca has a Masters Degree in Social Work and a Masters Degree in Public Health from Columbia University.


Rinchen Chophel

 Rinchen Chophel

Director General of SAIEVAC and Member of the UN CRC Committee

Dr. Rinchen Chophel is a Bhutanese national currently serving as the Director General of SAIEVAC with Chapters in all 8 SAARC Member States. He is also a serving Member of the UN CRC Committee and the Focal Point for Asia and Pacific in the Committee. Besides pioneering work in Bhutan in promoting and protection rights of women and children in Bhutan, he enjoys high regards as an expert on Gender, Human Rights and in particular as a key champion of Child Rights and Ending Violence Against Children, nationally, regionally and globally. He continues to support multitude of agencies including the SAARC Secretariat in many key regional initiatives for children. He has extensive experience in working with the Governments of South Asia as well as with the UN, INGO, NGO, Academia and Research Organizations in the Region and beyond.

He is a founding Member and the key architect and advocate of SAIEVAC which is the only SAARC Apex Body for Children. He is also the chief architect and Convener of the NACGs (National Action and Coordination Group to End Violence Against Children) which is the SAIEVAC CSO platform for driving the VaC agenda forward, operating in all 8 countries. He also represents SAIEVAC as a Special member of the SACG – the South Asia Coordinating Group for Ending Violence Against Children, the UN/INGO/Development Partners Network of South Asia.


Rita Panicker

Rita Panicker

Founder and Director of Butterflies, India

Rita Panicker is the founder and director of Butterflies, a non-governmental organization in New Delhi, working to protect & empower street connected & vulnerable children since 1989. Rita has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and a Masters in Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands. She was a faculty member in the Women’s Studies Unit, at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and from 1988-1992, served as the Director of the Board of ChildHope. In 1990 she was appointed Consultant to UNICEF Nigeria, to review and strengthen the Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances country programme.

Rita has published several papers on child rights issues and also co-authored a study on children in conflict with law. She is recognized internationally for her work in the child rights and protection sector and is the recipient of several awards, most recent being the 2020 International Cooperative Innovation Award.


Sumantra Mukherjee

Sumantra Mukherjee

State Head, Child in Need Institute (CINI), Jharkhand

Sumantra, a Master in Rural Development, has over two decades of experience of working in the social sector, most of which is with the tribal communities of Jharkhand. He has been working at leadership positions in various reputed national and international agencies, leading community-based interventions on Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition; Water Sanitation & Hygiene; Water Resource Management; and Child Protection. Sumantra has got the opportunity to work both in the field of social research as well as field implementation of development projects. In CINI, he is leading the state program in Jharkhand since 2018


Tessa Boudrie

Tessa Boudrie

Regional Director Asia, Hope and Homes for Children

Tessa Boudrie, a Dutch national currently residing in Hong Kong, is a qualified social worker with a specialty in child protection policies and systems. She has 25 years of experience, of which 20 years in Asia. Currently she is the Regional Director Asia for Hope and Homes for Children. Tessa was retained as the lead advisor on a UNICEF Myanmar alternative care project in 2013 and 2014. As a Senior Associate at Maestral International, she was involved in developing the country's first case management system (with a focus on child protection). As the International Social Work Advisor for Friends International, Tessa developed child protection policies and social work training manuals. She has trained local governments and NGOs on case management and social work in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar. She has also developed case management systems, led social work trainings and facilitated the strengthening of child protection policies, and has managed and implemented several child protection projects in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia. Tessa established the first medical social work department at Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia, which now employs 15 social workers and functions as a national training institute. She has worked for UNICEF, OXFAM, Terre des Hommes and Friends International, as well as many others. Aside of her work in child protection, Tessa runs a philanthropic advisory company, advising family foundations, companies and schools on their giving.


Vandhana Kandhari

Vandhana Kandhari

Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF

Ms. Vandhana Kandhari is a Child Protection specialist with UNICEF India since 2012. She has over 20 years of experience of working in the area of child development and child protection in India. She has worked with NGOs as well as consulted with the Government of India. Her work primarily involves advocacy, networking, research in alternative care, child labour, children on the move and children affected by conflict. She has been actively engaged in advocating for ‘children without parental care’ and family strengthening for prevention of separation of children from their families.


Xuehong (Michelle) Wang

Xuehong (Michelle) Wang

Senior Project Manager of Inclusion Education, Beijing Rongai Rongle Family Support Center for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

LLM 19' on International Human Rights and Disability Law, Syracuse University College of Law. From 2015-2018, she worked for Handicap International Federation (France) Beijing Office as a project manager to implement advocacy projects on disability, gender and sexuality in China that comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).