On May 27-28, 2017, distinguished humanitarians, academics, philanthropists and business leaders will convene in Yerevan, Armenia for the second Aurora Dialogues, a series of discussions designed to share best practice and focus on some of the most pressing humanitarian concerns the world faces today. Here's a list of the speakers.

DAY 1, UWC Dilijan



Denise Davidson, Head of UWC Dilijan and Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and UWC Dilijan, will formally open the Aurora Dialogues and introduce the theme, Galvanizing the World.

Session 1: Galvanizing the World Panel Series

Galvanizing the World: Education For All

Moderator: Denise Davidson, Head of UWC Dilijan


  • Haifa Dia Al Attia,  CEO, Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development
  • Jens Waltermann, Executive Director, UWC International
  • Riaz Shah, Partner, Global Talent EY and Chair, One Degree Academy


Galvanizing the World: The Role of Media

Moderator: Stephen Kurkjian, Author; former Washington Bureau Chief and Founder of Investigative Column Spotlight, The Boston Globe


  • Chika Oduah, Nigerian-American journalist
  • Florian von Heintze, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, BILD


Galvanizing the World: Protecting Human Rights

Moderator: Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center


  • Shamil Idriss, President & CEO, Search for Common Ground
  • Elisa Massimino, President & CEO, Human Rights First
  • Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service


Galvanizing the World: Overcoming Adversity

Moderator: Nancy Soderberg, Former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor and Ambassador to the United Nations



  • Marguerite Barankitse, 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate and Founder of Maison Shalom and REMA hospital
  • Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate; Liberian Peace Activist and Women’s Rights Advocate
  • Alice M. Greenwald, President & CEO, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum


Galvanizing the World: Empowering Refugees

Moderator: Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint


Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, and Senior Research Fellow of Green-Templeton College, University of Oxford


Session 2: Young Leaders Addressing the Most Pressing Humanitarian Problems

Foreword: Christof Bosch, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Robert Bosch Stiftung

Student Presenters:

  • UWC Robert Bosch College, Germany
  • UWC Mahindra College, India
  • Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa, Swaziland


Session 3: Ideas in Action

Presenter: Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK and Ireland & Vice Chairman, Europe



Chair of the Board of Governors, UWC Dilijan, and Co-founder of IDeA Foundation Veronika Zonabend and President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Co-Founder Vartan Gregorian will close Day 1 of the Aurora Dialogues by announcing the winner of the Aurora Humanitarian Projects competition.


DAY 2, Matenadaran



Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and Aurora Prize Selection Committee Member, will welcome guests and introduce the theme, “Migration: From Crisis to Integration” at the start of the Aurora Dialogues Day 2.


Session 1: The Aurora Humanitarian Index

Presenter: Dr. Hayk Gyuzalyan, Methods Director, Kantar Public

Moderator: Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group; Former Australian Foreign Minister


  • Ibrahim Awad, Professor of Global Affairs and Director, Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo
  • Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint
  • Hina Jilani, Former UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders


Session 2: Migration: From Crisis to Integration

Foreword: Salpi Ghazarian, Director, University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies

Moderator: Manuel Pastor, Director, University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration


  • Pablo Ceriani Cernadas, Professor; Vice-Chair, United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers and Their Families
  • Hovig Etyemezian, Head of UNHCR Mosul Office
  • Sherri Kraham Talabany, President and Executive Director, SEED Foundation
  • Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum
  • Lori Wilkinson, Professor; Director, Immigration Research West; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of International Migration and Integration


Session 3: The Role of Business

Moderator: Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative; CEO of Flagship Pioneering; scientific innovator and professional entrepreneur


  • Ludwig Georg Braun, Prof. Dr. h.c., Chairman of the Supervisory Board of B. Braun Melsungen AG
  • Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever
  • Mark Viso, President & CEO, Pact
  • Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico, Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization



Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Co-Founder Ruben Vardanyan will deliver special remarks to close the Aurora Dialogues.






ARMEN DER KIUREGHIAN, President of American University of Armenia


RUBEN VARDANYAN, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

MARGUERITE BARANKITSE, 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate


DONALD E. MILLER, Leonard K. Firestone Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California and Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Initiatives of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California


  • FARTUUN ADAN AND ILWAD ELMAN, Founders of Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, Somalia
  • JAMILA AFGHANI, Chairperson of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization, Afghanistan
  • DR. TOM CATENA, Physician at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan
  • MUHAMMAD DARWISH, formerly treated patients at Madaya Field Hospital, Syria
  • DR. DENIS MUKWEGE, Gynecological Surgeon and Founder of the Panzi Hospital, DR Congo



Distinguished academics and humanitarian leaders attending the events in Yerevan will deliver a series of public lectures on today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. These lectures will be held at venues throughout the city of Yerevan.

  • KONSTANTIN KHABENSKY – Actor, Founder of Konstantin Khabensky Foundation, Russia
  • DR. TOM CATENA  Physician at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan and 2017 Aurora Prize Finalist
  • ACHYUTA SAMANTA – Founder of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, India
  • PROFESSOR THE LORD DARZI OF DENHAM OM KBE PC FRS – Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London
  • HRATCH TCHILINGIRIAN – Associate member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at University of Oxford, United Kingdom



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