Expanding Your Advocacy Toolbox

On March 3, PSFG Executive Director Alex Toma led a webinar on advocacy to help prepare and inspire funders who are new to advocacy to participate in PSFG's annual federal policy briefing on May 8 in D.C.  The webinar explored a handful of engagement options open to all funders and looked specifically at domestic- and UN-focused advocacy. Panelists included Kelly Bronk (Ploughshares Fund) and Jennifer Smyser (Stanley Foundation). 

PSFG members can contact Rachel LaForgia for a recording of this webinar and panelist PowerPoint presentations. 

In a Different Voice: Women Faith Leaders on Advancing Peace and Security

Drawing on the expertise of three women leaders from three different faiths, this webinar explored the following questions: why did we see so much faith-related violence with devastating consequences for women all over the world in 2014 and can we expect more in 2015? Are women religious leaders an untapped force for peace and security in today’s most violent, faith-related conflicts? How can feminist peace and security funders strengthen the voices and influence of women religious leaders within their own religious communities and beyond? This webinar was moderated by PSFG member Leith Greenslade, Vice-Chair, Child Health MDG Health Alliance Office of the UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals.


Rev. Chloe Breyer
Executive Director
Interfaith Center of New York

Celene Ayat Ibrahim-Lizzio
Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence
Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College

Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Executive Director
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for
Human Rights

Visualizing Grantmaking Data: Essential Charts, Best Practices, & Practical Software Tools

PSFG kicked off the new year with a webinar on data visualization on January 6. Data visualization specialist Ann K. Emery discussed best practices, critical thinking skills, and design principles for creating data visualizations that serve as a decision support tool for grantmaking. Participants learned about selecting appropriate chart types, direct labeling, emphasizing key findings with color, and telling your story through titles, subtitles, and annotations. Drawing on her own experiences in working with grantees and grant makers, Emery also discussed strategies for sharing visualizations through slidedocs, handouts, videos, dashboards, social media channels, and other communications modes.

For a recording of the webinar, PSFG members can contact Rachel LaForgia. 

Women's Engagement in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding: Gathering Funder Feedback on Research Gaps

On December 2, PSFG held a tele-briefing with One Earth Future Foundation (OEF), a research and operating foundation with an overall mandate of supporting good global governance in the interest of peace. OEF is developing an area of focus looking at how women’s engagement in peacemaking and peacebuilding can support peace and is soliciting advice from PSFG members about what research would be most valuable to funders in women, peace and security work or in peace and security work more broadly. The tele-briefing was an initial step in the development of this project, and aimed to:

  • Introduce OEF’s assessment of existing research on women’s engagement in peacebuilding and peacemaking, and solicit advice for making this more comprehensive.
  • Review PSFG’s existing research on the funding landscape for women, peace, and security work, with the goal of identifying current priorities and holes.
  • Solicit advice and discussion about what research would be most valuable to funders in women, peace, and security work or peace and security work more broadly.

This briefing and discussion were led by Dr. Conor Seyle, Deputy Director, Research and Development, at One Earth Future Foundation in partnership with PSFG member and WPS Working Group co-chair Cynda Collins Arsenault

Members who were unable to attend but would like to give their feedback to Dr. Seyle and/or who would like a recording of the briefing should contact Rachel LaForgia. 

Iraqi Women Confronting ISIL

Since its invasion of northern Iraq in June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has made women a direct target of its extremist agenda. Where ISIL now rules, women have been forbidden to work, walk in public without a male “guardian," or go to school. Women who attempt to exercise basic rights have been executed. International aid agencies and governments cannot reach areas where the need is greatest. In the absence of international and government-sponsored services and legal remedies, local Iraqi women’s NGOs are at the forefront of providing necessary services.

On December 1, PSFG held a webinar on what funders can do to fill the gap of international and government sponsored agencies and support these local women's groups. Panelists discussed the on the ground response to the invasion, national and international advocacy strategies for women confronting ISIL, and how funders can best support Iraqi women in the current crisis.

Yanar Mohammad
Director, Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq
Madeleine Rees
Secretary General, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 

Yifat Susskind
Executive Director, MADRE

Lisa Davis (Moderator)
Advocacy Director, MADRE
Clinical Professor of Law, International Women's Human Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law

The Craft of Facilitation

On November 20, PSFG held a webinar with Yoni Gordis, Partner, ChangeCraft Consulting on facilitating meetings and discussions. The one-hour webinar looked at the roles a facilitator can play and offered best of brand practical tips from the field on how to be a better facilitator – from meetings to conferences. It also delved into the question of difficult participants, interventions, and how to keep things on track. 

For a recording of the webinar, members should contact Rachel LaForgia. 

Mapping Security & Justice in Afghanistan: Building a Foundation for Community Security Architecture

On October 24, PSFG held a briefing organized and led by PSFG member, Cordaid, on its community security architecture mapping project. In its quest to support communities’ access to functioning security and justice, Cordaid has adopted an approach in Afghanistan based on the premise that every single community and village is characterized by its own conflict and peace dynamics. To understand the ever-changing and local dynamics, Cordaid conducted an in-depth  security and justice mapping in Kabul and Nangarhar. For a recording of the call, members should contact Rachel LaForgia. 


  • Fatma Wakil, Security & Justice Advisor, Afghanistan, Cordaid
  • Fréderique van Drumpt, Security & Justice Programme Manager, Cordaid
  • Lenny Linke, The Liaison Office, Afghanistan

Crisis in the Middle East: What Women Are Doing About It and How U.S. Policy Can Help

On Thursday, October 23, PSFG held a webinar on the crisis in the Middle East on the current situation in Iraq and Syria; what women are doing in the region to combat violent extremism and promote inclusive peace processes; and how U.S. policy, including the Women, Peace and Security Act, can support them.


  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director and Co-Founder, International Civil Society Action Network
  • Julie L. Arostegui, J.D., Women, Peace and Security Policy Director at Women’s Action for New Direction
  • Cynda Collins Arsenault (Moderator), President and Co-Founder, Secure World Foundation Co-Chair, PSFG Women, Peace and Security Working Group

For a recording of the briefing, members should contact Rachel LaForgia.


On October 6, PSFG held a webinar on on the conflict in Syria. Experts from three organizations working to address various facets of the conflict from a variety of angles, including diplomacy, advocacy, and grantmaking shared their insights into the current situation and discussed what funders can do to address this continually deepening crisis. 


A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia

The Future of Cybersecurity

Global finance, energy, transportation, and telecommunications are completely dependent on the security, trustworthiness, and efficiency of cyberspace. On October 1, PSFG held a webinar on the future of cybersecurity. The briefing highlighted the opportunities and risks in cyberspace by looking at the issue of cyber threats to governments, businesses, and global enterprises. Experts illuminated existing efforts (and gaps) underway to address these issues, which are central to the economic well-being of billions of global "netizens" and to the future of democracy and self-determination on the planet. 


A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia

Creating Strategic Advocacy Campaigns: Lessons from the Targeted Killing Reform Campaign

Many organizations and advocates working on critical human rights and  peace and security issues lack the capacity to effectively incorporate strategic communications in their advocacy campaigns. While the integration of a strong communications strategy can bolster the impact of nearly any advocacy campaign, doing so can prove to be a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming effort. As advocates in the U.S. and abroad grapple with the timely and challenging issue of targeted killings and drone use, the integration of a strong communications advocacy strategy is proving critical.

On September 11, 2014, PSFG, in partnership with the International Human Rights Funders Group and the Security and Rights Collaborative (Proteus Fund), held a webinar on strategic advocacy campaigns. The webinar brought together funders, advocates, and communications experts to discuss the support, tools, and resources that allow for successful communications efforts, using the issue of targeted killing and drone use as a case study. 

Speakers included:

  • Chris Cole, Founder, Drone Wars UK
  • Lynn Fahselt, Co-Director, ReThink Media
  • Celia McKeon, Assistant Trust Secretary, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
  • Naureen Shah, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union

The discussion was moderated by Lindsay Ryder, Program Officer, Security & Rights Collaborative of the Proteus Fund. 


Online Advocacy Campaigns

Do online petitions really have impact? On PSFG's September 8 webinar, Ben Brandzel, Founder and Director of the Online Progressive Engagement Network and former Advocacy Director for Moveon.org, and Sara Haghdoosti, Co-founder and CEO of Berim.org, presented various case studies of impactful campaigns that brought online and offline organizing together to help achieve real world outcomes. They identified the key factors behind making online campaigns successful as well as what to look for and what to be weary of in the world of online organizing and digital advocacy.

A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia

About the Speakers
Ben Brandzel is the Founder and Director of OPEN (Online Progressive Engagement Network), an alliance of the world's leading grassroots digital campaigning organizations. He's served as Advocacy Director for MoveOn.org and Director of New Media Campaigns and Fundraising for Barack Obama's Organizing for America. He's a founding board member and former Senior Campaigner at Avaaz.org and the Chief Founding Advisor for UK's 38Degrees.org.uk. 

Sara Haghdoosti is the co-founder and CEO of Berim.org a movement to help unlock the potential of Iranian change makers that has over 55,000 members. She has served as the Head of Community Campaigning for GetUp Australia, an innovation fellow for the Citizen's Engagement Lab and an Change.org. She was the national recruitment director for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and helped lead Australia's first youth climate summit. 

Central African Republic: Partnering to End Atrocities and Advance Peace

On July 21, PSFG held a briefing with Nancy Lindborg,  USAID Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, on the situation in the Central African Republic, USAID's ongoing response, and a new public-private partnership opportunity to help end atrocities in CAR and advance a more peaceful future for the country. Lindborg updated members on USAID's work and highlighted a new public-private partnership for CAR that USAID hopes to build with the support of PSFG members. USAID Atrocity Prevention Fellow and Peace Direct US Board Member Bridget Moix joined the conversation, and PSFG member Andreas Hipple shared GHR Foundation's views on the opportunities ahead.

A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia


Localizing Peacebuilding

Local populations are not simply victims in wars. They have important resources, in character and culture, to prevent and resolve conflict, and also to do the hard work of rebuilding their societies afterward. The international community, however, has not always known how to value, mobilize, and support these local resources.  

On July 17, PSFG held a tele-briefing on supporting locally-led peacebuilidng with:

The briefing illuminated the need, opportunity, and challenges for locally-led peacebuilding which embodies respect for human and peoples’ rights, and looked in-depth at the work of Fambul Tok, an example of success on a national scale, from both the implementer and the funder’s perspective. 


Remittances to Somalia

Photo credit:   Stuart Price, AU/UN IST

Photo credit: Stuart Price, AU/UN IST

Members of the Somali diaspora send approximately $1.3 billion each year to their friends and relatives in Somalia – comprising between a third and a half of the country’s entire economy. However, the Somali money transfer companies that facilitate this important flow have almost no access to banking in the United States. If these companies continue to experience bank account closures, the flow of money will be disrupted and will go underground, putting millions of families in danger and undermining efforts to bring stability and peace to Somalia. 

On June 16, PSFG held an expert tele-briefing on remittances to Somalia with:

  • Scott Paul, Senior Humanitarian Advisor, Oxfam International;
  • Stephen Lassiter, Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Keith Ellison; and 
  • Carol Wayman, Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Keith Ellison.

The issue of remittances to Somalia ties into broader themes such as financial inclusion, remittances for development, remittances in emergencies, and financial access in high-risk areas. A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia.


Since 2009, Boko Haram has been leading a jihadist insurgency in the northeastern states of Nigeria that is now spilling over Nigeria’s borders. As the security situation worsens, Nigeria’s many social, economic, and political challenges are likely to grow. Current interventions and networks are not proving adequate in the face of the rapidly escalating crisis. 

On Tuesday, June 17, PSFG held an expert tele-briefing with Dr. Ian Linden, Senior Advisor, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and Andreas Hipple, Senior Program Advisor, GHR Foundation, on Boko Haram’s ideology and the wider political and religious Nigerian situation. The briefing shed light on the complex and sensitive landscape in Nigeria, and identified some key issues and themes that give grounds for optimism for those looking to work with Nigerians to secure a more positive future for their country.

A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia

Background on Nigeria and Boko Haram
Why Do Youth Join Boko Haram?

South Sudan

South Sudan is on the verge of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis: an estimated 4.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 1.2 million people have fled from their homes as a result of ongoing conflict. On May 20, the international humanitarian and donor community convened in Oslo for a pledging conference on South Sudan hosted by the Government of Norway in collaboration with the U.N. 

PSFG held a discussion moderated by Sally Smith (Nexus Fund) with three experts who were in Oslo to gain insight into the situation on the ground and the current policy landscape:

South Sudan: Struggling to Stay Alive
Protection Cluster Trends Analysis

A recording of the briefing is available for PSFG members. To request a copy of the recording, members should contact Rachel LaForgia. 

Killer Robots

On April 16, PSFG held an expert tele-briefing on full autonomous weapons. Fully autonomous weapons (or “killer robots”) do not yet exist, but some view them as desirable and - even - inevitable. Unlike drones, killer robots won't have a human involved; the weapon itself would make decisions about what to target and when to fire.Experts have launched a coordinated global campaign calling for a pre-emptive international prohibition on the development, production, and use of killer robots. In the past year, dozens of governments have begun to express concerns about these weapons and will be holding the first structured, multilateral discussions on this issue in May. 

The tele-briefing featured Cora Weiss, Samuel Rubin Foundation,  Stephen Goose, Executive Director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, and Paul Scharre, a Fellow and Project Director for the 20YY Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security

Interested in learning more? Check out these resources:

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India

The Women's Regional Network: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India has completed an 18 month long qualitative research collecting the voices of women in mostly remote, isolated and conflicted regions of the three countries on the topics of corruption, extremisms and militarization of aid and development as they impact women's security. This research is unique in that most research on women's views on peace and security are collected from women in urban centers and the voices of mainly well-educated women. This research was conducted in multiple languages and has been translated into Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Hindi. The research was led and conducted by the women in the Network from the three countries. 

Executive summaries with the key findings and recommendations can be accessed by clicking the following:

The full Country Reports can be found on the Women's Regional Network website.

WPS Working Group Breakfast Discussion & Afghanistan Resources

On March 14, 2014, the Women, Peace and Security Working Group (WPS WG) convened a breakfast meeting of 26 people, including WG members, Executive Branch officials, and senior congressional staff, to meet with a delegation of four Afghan women visiting Washington, D.C. There was a two-part purpose of this meeting. First, to better understand one another’s initiatives and priorities within the women, peace and security issue-area in order to see where there might be opportunities for collaboration. And, second, to better understand the challenges and opportunities faced by Afghan women in light of the military drawdown, in order to inform both policy- and grant-making in this sphere. To read the report-back, click here.

To learn more about women in Afghanistan, check out these resources: