Anthony Opoka

Former Child Soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army, Soldier in Ugandan Army and Grassroots Reconciliation Group Program Director

Anthony was born in Rwot Obillo, Uganda. At the age of 15 he was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to be a child soldier. He was injured several times including by a rocket propelled grenade permanently damaging the use of his arm. He became the night navigator and eventually a code talker. He met and fell in love with Florence another child soldier and they started a family. Anthony became Joseph Kony's radio operator. They both eventually escaped and worked together to end the insurgency and help others that escaped.

Anthony retired from the Uganda People's Defense Force as a Captain where he worked to help bring LRA soldiers out of the conflict through messaging and influence instead of force.

Anthony is now an employee of Grassroots Reconciliation Group and manages projects that rehabilitates former child soldiers.

Asaad Hannah

Graduate Student at Columbia University , Human Rights Activist, former White Helmet (Syrian Civil Defense)

Asaad Hanna is a strategic analyst, humanitarian and media advisor specializing in Syria, the Middle East and high conflict and crisis regions from Iran to Haiti.

Until February of 2020, Mr. Hanna served in the office of the Chairman of the White Helmets, officially known as the Syrian Civil Defense, supporting the chairman’s work in strategy, fundraising, messaging, internet and social media documentation and on-the-ground training and coordination of the White Helmets. The White Helmets are a humanitarian NGO that operates mainly in Syria, rescuing civilians from airstrikes with barrel bombs, and securing damaged buildings, reconnecting electrical and water services, clearing roads, teaching children about hazards from unexploded ordnance, as well as firefighting and storm relief. Sometimes described as the most dangerous job in the world, the White Helmets have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and have received awards from the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the McCain Institute and the Asia Society’s Global Game Changers Award. The White Helmets receive charitable funding from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Germany, Qatar Canada and Denmark. As well as many another foundations such as Asfari foundation, help refugees.

In 2019 Hanna started his own company in US called EmissaLLC, it works now with different companies and organization in advisory/consultant efforts to improve their work in the middle east and Syria. Prior to the White Helmets, Mr. Hanna worked with international media outlets and think tanks such as Chatham House and the Guardian in the UK, Al Jazeera English, Al-Monitor, and many of the Arabic media. After the destruction of his hometown of Homs, Syria, he worked as a political officer with the Syrian opposition and as a media advisor for the High Negotiations Committee in Geneva. He studied commerce in university in Syria prior to the war.

Gary Hess

Senior Advisor on Veterans Issues

Najela Austin

Cultural Advisor and Interpretor

Najela was the primary cultural advisor for Lobo Institute's program supporting the US State Department for families in Afghanistan. Families with parents who worked with the US government are currently under scrutiny and potential harm from the Taliban. Najela was critical in providing support to these families both for security and for direct assistance in the form of food, water, and medicine.

Najela was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and speaks four languages. She is now a US citizen.