Board of Directors

Sasha Lezhnev

Founding Director

Sasha Lezhnev is the Founding Director of GRG and Deputy Director of Policy at The Sentry, where he focuses on conflict, governance, corruption, and corporate accountability issues. He was previously Policy Advisor at Global Witness, where he led the organization’s U.S. advocacy on conflict resources and energy policy issues. Sasha worked for two and a half years in Uganda as Senior Program Officer with the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and peace process advisor to the Northern Uganda Mediator. He is author of the book Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States. He holds a Master’s in International Relations from Cambridge University and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. You can reach him at sasha@grassrootsgroup.org

Kasper Agger

Co-founder

Kasper is currently working as a freelance researcher and consultant on conflict analysis and peacebuilding based in Nairobi, Kenya. Kasper previously worked in Northern Uganda from 2015 to 2017 with the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and worked for the Enough Project as a Field Researcher and grant writer for African Parks. Kasper holds a Master’s degree in Geography and International Development Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark, with a specialization in conflict mitigation, organizational capacity building, wildlife tracking, and field research. You can reach him at kasper@grassrootsgroup.org.

Marisa R. Bassett

Vice Chair and Secretary

Marisa is an Associate Legal Officer in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She previously practiced law at White & Case L.L.P. She has held positions with the Human Rights Watch, the Public International Law & Policy Group, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the United Nations Development Programme. Marisa has a J.D. from the American University, an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

Brionne Dawson

Advisor

Brionne is a Senior Advisor in the Bureau for Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She is an international development practitioner with 20 years of experience supporting programs to empower women and improve governance with respect to HIV/AIDS, extractive industries, and poverty reduction. She has worked in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, and Uganda. She resided for several years in South Africa, where she supported regional initiatives on behalf of the National Democratic Institute. Brionne has worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for International Policy, and the United Nations Development Program. She is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Institut de Touraine in Tours, France. You can reach her at brionne@grassrootsgroup.org.

Anna-Maria Kaneff

Chief Financial Officer

Anna-Maria Kaneff is the Vice-President, Commercial Group, for the Kaneff Group of Companies. Ms. Kaneff is responsible for managing the portfolio of existing commercial properties as well as overseeing the development and construction of new office and retail projects. Prior to joining the Kaneff Group, Ms. Kaneff was an Associate with a Toronto-based hedge fund and an Investment Analyst with the World Bank’s private investment arm, the International Finance Corporation, in their Oil, Gas, Mining & Petrochemicals Group. Ms. Kaneff also worked as an Analyst in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley in New York and San Francisco. Ms. Kaneff graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service degree from GeorgetAnna-Maria Kaneff is the Vice-President, Commercial Group, for the Kaneff Group of Companies. Ms. Kaneff is responsible for managing the portfolio of existing commercial properties and overseeing the development and construction of new office and retail projects. Before joining the Kaneff Group, Ms. Kaneff was an Associate with a Toronto-based hedge fund and an Investment Analyst with the World Bank’s private investment arm, the International Finance Corporation, in their Oil, Gas, Mining & Petrochemicals Group. Ms. Kaneff also worked as an Analyst in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley in New York and San Francisco. Ms. Kaneff graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and obtained her Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. The Kaneff Group of Companies is a private Peel-based real estate development and building company that develops and manages commercial and residential real estate and golf properties in Southern Ontario.
You can reach her at anna@grassrootsgroup.org.

Michael “Mick” Mulroy

Board Member

Michael “Mick” Mulroy is co-founder of the Lobo Institute (with Eric Oehlerich), which consults, advises, and teaches about current conflicts, how to end those conflicts and prevent their return, and how to help those most affected by them. His and Oehlerich’s experiences and perspectives are centered on resolving conflicts, while at the same time helping rehabilitate child soldiers back into society. They also  produced and directed the documentary film “My Star in the Sky” , which depicts a story of survival, friendship, and love between two child soldiers abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army..  Mulroy is also the husband of Mary Beth Mulroy and father of  Michael Walton and Mary Grace.  He is also the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East, serving from November 2017 with a planned exodus of December 2019. As DASD for the Middle East, he was responsible for Department of Defense policy for Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.  He is also a retired Central Intelligence Agency Paramilitary Operations Officer and United States Marine.

Eric “Olly” Oehlerich

Board Member

Eric “Olly” Oehlerich is co-founder of the Lobo Institute and co-director of “My Star in the Sky”.  He is a former 20+year Navy SEAL Officer, ending his career while serving as the Commanding Officer of Naval Special Warfare Development Group- Squadron 2 from July of 2017 – 2019.  At the pinnacle of his career, as Commanding Officer of this elite unit he was responsible for the development of technology and tactics for SEALs to use against the nations’ hardest problems. The geographic scope of responsibility spanned the Pacific, Africa and Middle East. By galvanizing over 1,100 personnel combined with collection technology he provided a security blanket against extremism for the International Community.

Kate Tickel

Outreach Officer

Focused on the intersection of human rights and the humanities, Kate has worked in Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, she has previously studied at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Philosophy. An advocate for ethical and sustainable business practices, Kate has consulted with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, and many businesses in the private sector. You can reach her at kate@grassrootsgroup.org