Mr. Mohammed Ali Loutfy is a Senior Doctoral Fellow at the AU Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP). He has been a disability activist for more than 15 years. Mr. Ali Loutfy serves as Executive Director of Disabled People's International - Arab Region and the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He has also served as Senior Advisor on strategic policies and inclusive development at the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union. He has worked with local organizations in his home country, Lebanon, representing youth with disabilities as well as with regional organizations, including the World Blind Union. Working for the World Bank from 2004 to 2006, Mr. Ali Loutfy has great familiarity with the practical challenges in making global development inclusive. He is currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of Anthropology at American University's College of Arts and Sciences where he is researching the connection between faith-based service approaches, international development, and disability mainstreaming.
Ms. Mariana Leytón-Escóbar is a Doctoral Fellow at the AU Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP). Originally from Bolivia, she holds a MS in Communication from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and a BA in Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her master thesis, she explored how member participation in online community activities is influenced by cultural narratives and a sense of community. She joined the PhD program in Media, Technology & Democracy at American University's School of Communication to further explore her main research interests, which include Internet governance and participation in the global multistakeholder model, civil liberties, and collective action in the age of rapidly evolving digital information and communication technologies. Mariana has also worked as a consultant in digital communications, developing and implementing social media strategies for knowledge-sharing projects. She is part of the GobApp group at the Inter American Development Bank, a Laboratory of Ideas that explores ICT use for development, including online platforms and big data. In this line, she has worked in digital outreach in matters of civic tech and government uses of the internet, including e-government, open data, and/or open government initiatives.