Meet the team:
United with volunteers from around the world, Zaatar’s guiding purpose is to assist refugees who are searching for a safe haven – peace and respite from war.
We are an international and local team with various personal and professional backgrounds, speaking many languages and with a background in refugee-related work. Our co-founders are both Greek citizens.
With approximately twenty to thirty volunteers each week, contributing both remotely and on-the-ground, we work in conjunction with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), informal settlements, and an organisation operating a local warehouse of donated goods to deliver services in Athens and the Attica region.
Marina Liakis, Founder & Director
Marina is a French-Greek citizen and serves as Za'atar NGO's Director. After studying Law and Communications in Paris and New York City, Marina began a career in humanitarian work. During her professional career, she has worked at a variety of international organizations including the United Nations and The French Embassy. In 2016, after volunteering at the Port of Piraeus with refugees arriving in Athens, she decided to found Za'atar NGO. Marina now serves as the Director of Za'atar. She speaks Arabic, English, French, Greek, and Spanish.
Hasan Hmeydan, Co-Founder
Hasan was born in Edleb, Syria. He has spent most of his life in Athens, Greece, and now works in the HR department of a multinational company. After meeting Marina while volunteering to support refugees arriving at Athens’ port, Hasan assisted with the legal side of setting up Za'atar as an official NGO. He now handles finances for Za'atar and advises on strategic planning. He speaks Arabic, English, and Greek.
May Zghyer, Board Member
May was born in Jerusalem and grew up as a refugee herself in Amman, Jordan. After studying Political Science and International Relations at Birzeit Univeristy in the West bank, she decided to follow a career as a humanitarian. She has been working with the United Nations in Jordan ever since. She has worked for UNICEF assisting refugees in host communities, refugee camps, and informal tented settlements. And now she’s working for IOM in the resettlement support center in the case management team. May speaks Arabic, English and some French.
Rinki Goswami, Communications Manager
Rinki is from the United States and is currently medical school student. She studied biomedical engineering and emerging infectious disease prior to medicine. After volunteering at Za'atar’s Orange House, She continues to assist with managing the Orange House on a remote basis. Rinki helps to organize the volunteer recruitment process, respond to general inquiries, and assist with special projects. She speaks English and Bengali and is learning French.
Mathilde is a psychologist based in Paris, France. After studying at Institut Catholique de Paris, she decided to focus on psychology work in prisons. She has been
involved in Za'atar NGO since its inception providing support with a variety of tasks. She advises the team on how to handle particularly vulnerable cases and now focuses on assisting with interviewing volunteer applicants. She speaks French, English, and Spanish.
Tommaso Segantini, Special Projects
Tommaso, was born in Milan, Italy, and grew up in Brussels, Belgium. After completing a Bachelor in International Studies in The Hague, Holland, in 2017, he volunteered for a local NGO in the distressing context of Calais, France, for four months. In February 2018, he joined Za'atar’s team in Athens as a volunteer. Currently, he helps the organization on a remote basis with volunteer recruitment and other projects. He is doing an online MA program in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London whilst working as an intern at the UNHCR in Geneva, Switzerland. Tommaso speaks French, English, and Italian and is learning Arabic.
Léa Giorgi, Volunteer Recruitment Manager
Léa is from Paris, France. She studied HR and Communications in Paris and Montreal before dedicating herself to recruitment. She has more than 4 years of experience recruiting junior and senior positions across different industries on a global level. She has worked for top recruitment companies in Paris, London, and Barcelona. Léa now interviews volunteer candidates interested in contributing their time to Za'atar. She speaks French, Spanish, Italian and English.
Manuela Vlahaki Cepeda, Project Coordinator
Manuela is Greek-Colombian, born in Bulgaria. With a background in Sociology-Anthropology, she continued her studies with a Master degree in International Relations & Humanitarian Action in Belgium. With professional experience in project coordination, administration, education and intercultural mediation, she loves volunteering and has collaborated with diverse organizations. She speaks Greek, Spanish, French, English and Bulgarian.
Ismini Mathioudaki, Lawyer
Ismini Mathioudaki is a graduate of Political Sciences from Panteion University of Athens, and a graduate of Law from Nanterre University of Paris. She has also completed her LLM in Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam, whereas she also works as a researcher in the field of refugee law. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of refugee and European law, and she is a certified lawyer of the Bar of Athens. She is fluent in English and French, and speaks Spanish and Italian.
Alexia Papanikolaou, Social Worker
Alexia is Greek, born and raised in Athens. With a degree in Social Anthropology from Panteion University, she continued her studies with a Master degree in Human Rights and Migration Studies from University of Macedonia. She has professional experience in working with migrants and refugees and has volunteered in many different organizations, mainly with children. She speaks Greek, English and French.
Tony Haouam, ATLAS Facilitator
After studying in Paris and receiving a Masters degree in Political Science and Communications at Sorbonne University, and then also in studying Galatasary in Turkey, Tony Haouam entered NYU to specialize in instructing courses on race and gender. He was also the President of the Queer People of Color Association where he organized several workshops on the intersection between sexuality and systemic racism. Tony Haouam is the head of the Pedagogical Commission of Migr’ENS; a refugee aid organization that teaches French to asylum-seekers, and helps them deal with the French administration and legal system. Himself, the son of an asylum-seeker in France, speaks Arabic, French, English and Spanish.
Marleno Nika, Greek Teacher
Born from a family of Albanian immigrants, Marleno, one of our Greek teachers at the Orange House, lives in Athens, where he studies Greek Language and Linguistics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In the last years, he has been committed to teaching and a teacher of language and literature to children, adolescents and adults. He also works as an artist and coordinator with other artists in organizations and festivals. He speaks Greek, Albanian, English and French.
Join the Team:
Between teachers, management assistance, and generalists, our team is run almost entirely by volunteers. At any given time, we are working with 25 - 50 volunteers.
We need your help.