The Team

Mechthild Alpers

Mechthild Alpers is an independent project coordinator based in Berlin. Her main interest lies in inter-cultural understanding, it’s obstacles and chances. Recently she’s exploring the role that the arts could play in cross-cultural understanding. Mechthild studied Political Science, Islamic Sciences and Sociology in Hamburg and Cairo and graduated with an MA at Hamburg University. She has been living and working in different regions of the world: e.g. as a German language teacher in Argentina, as personal assistant for an Artist in Australia and as program coordinator for the Goethe Institute’s Visitor’s Program in Germany. Fascinated by cultural diversity, Mechthild has always focused on exploring different cultures and the possibilities of living together. She’s constantly looking for ways to provide a deeper cross-cultural understanding.


Ahmed Badawi

Ahmed Badawi, one of the co-founders of Transform e.V., joined the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) in 2001. He held positions as Research Associate at the Institute of Development and Peace (University of Duisburg-Essen), the Oxford Research Group, the International Crisis Group and Zentrum Moderner Orient. Prior to leaving Egypt in 1999 he used to work as a print and TV journalist and as a community development specialist. He is a trained group facilitator since 1993, has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS (University of London) and a PhD in Political Science from Humboldt University in Berlin.

Michaela Birk

Michaela Birk, one of the co-founders of Transform e.V., is an independent project coordinator, researcher as well as moderator and group facilitator based in Berlin. Her special fields of interest are conflict analysis and transformation, effective organization and communication as well as minority and human rights. She is active in Israel/Palestine, North Africa and in Europe working on human rights, democracy and community cohesion. Michaela holds a diploma in Political Science from the University of Duisburg and studied Middle East Politics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has been living and working abroad, e.g. as project coordinator at the Heinrich-Boell-Foundation office in Israel. Currently she is working on a research project on “Israel’s security discourse” and is developing a concept for a “Shared Society” in Europe.




Malte Forstat

Malte Forstat is a freelance translator living in Berlin. He studied Middle East Studies at the Free University and has since then been engaged in the fields of development and international relations. His duties at Transform will encompass anything from assisting in and reconfiguring the modes of communication, to networking and building new connections. In recent years, he has worked for the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn, the Institute for the Advanced Studies in the Humanities (KWI) and the ONE Campaign in Berlin.

Nusrat Sheikh

Nusrat Sheikh is a (research) consultant, development practitioner and trainer with solid experience working in and on South Asia, specifically Pakistan. Her field of interest and expertise is conflict transformation, governance and human rights and is well-connected with social movements and civil society in this region. She also engages on issues and debates of shared society, such as racism, xenophobia, islamophobia in Germany. She worked in various capacities for International NGOs, such as Actionaid International (Islamabad), research think tanks such the Centre for Development Research (ZEF, Bonn), Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (Islamabad), the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP, Berlin), and government agencies such as the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF, Nuremberg). Currently, she also works as a Pakistan expert for the German International Cooperation (GIZ). Nusrat post-graduated in Development and Conflict Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and did her BA in Sociology, Islamic Studies and English from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Bonn. At Transform e.V. she is, currently, working on the strategic planning and advising on the communication strategy of the organization.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad

Ali Fathollah-Nejad is an Iranian–German political scientist based in Berlin. He is a Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is currently a Research Fellow at the German Orient Institute. In fall 2014, he will be a Lecturer at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics. Previously, he worked as visiting lecturer, with focus on the Middle East, at the University of Westminster, London. Ali Fathollah-Nejad is the author of Iran in the Eye of Storm: Backgrounds of a Global Crisis (online), Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Münster, 2005–7; and The Iran Conflict and the Obama Administration (in German), Potsdam University Press 2010 & 2011. A frequent speaker at political forums and academic conferences, he also regularly contributes to various international media outlets. He has also written around 70 analytical pieces in English, German and French – with translations into almost a dozen languages. His work has been published worldwide, e.g. in The GuardianFrankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungopenDemocracyWorld Policy JournalHuffington PostGéostratégiques, and the Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture.