About Us

We believe we are the world leader, in providing tailor-made solutions and relevant programs to bridge the gaps and respond to the real needs and challenges of the communities. Our aim is to provoke significant positive change, enabling particularly vulnerable youth and young women to take control of their lives and fulfil their social and economic rights.

RET International's Vision & ValuesWhat Guides Our Action and Strengthens Our Relationships

These are the ideas and concepts we strive to live by in our day-to-day work with young people and women, with our donors & partners, as well as amongst ourselves. You will also find in this section the Code of Conduct by which we all abide.


RET’s action takes place in crises, conflict affected areas and fragile environments. RET is committed to working in the humanitarian – peace – development triple nexus, designing and implementing interventions with short, medium- and long-term multiple-year perspectives. At RET we protect young people and women through conflict and crises, but we also offer them the tools to become self-reliant individuals, providers for their families as well as actors of positive social change in their communities. We consider young people, not as beneficiaries, but as partners and future leaders of their communities, whose true potential needs to be brought out. Ultimately, we envision a world in which vulnerable young people overcome multi-dimensional adversities and are capacitated to lead their own journey towards rebuilding more resilient and peaceful communities.


Commitment & Transparency, Innovation & Adaptability and Diversity & Equity, these values define the mindset that drives RET’s teams. They describe the way we engage in our daily work with young people, their communities our partners and donors, as well as, amongst ourselves.

Commitment & Transparency

  • We are committed to showing lasting support to our cause, which clearly transcends self-interest and opportunistic behavior.
  • Our channels of communications are always open and transparent, we have clear procedures for decision-making, we communicate using an evidence-based approach & we understand that we are accountable to our donors, host governments, our beneficiaries and to our staff.
  • We are responsible for the results of our own actions.
    Related Values: Open; honest; evidence-based; pragmatic; effective; impactful; results-oriented.

Innovation & Adaptability 

  • We consider ourselves a catalyst for positive change. We propose tailor-made solutions to our beneficiaries, adapting and responding to the real needs and challenges of the communities using an evidence-based approach to increase the effectiveness of our interventions.
  • We translate ideas into actions swiftly and provide innovative solutions using the latest tools and technologies; we are novel, and we think big.
    Related Values: Flexible; open-minded, agile; creative; willing to learn, non-bureaucratic; dynamic; dedicated.

Diversity & Equity

  • We respect the uniqueness of each individual and value our differences. We recognize diversity beyond the dimensions of race, gender, religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities or other dogmas.
  • We show fairness, we have the quality of treating our beneficiaries, partners and staff equally without favoritism or discrimination.
    Related Values: Fair; impartial; neutral; respectful, non-biased.



Code of Conduct

1. The Humanitarian imperative comes first. The right to receive humanitarian assistance, and to offer it, is a fundamental humanitarian principle which should be enjoyed by all human beings. 2. The RET will respect the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and non-discrimination in the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance. In humanitarian and development assistance, priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone. We will show respect for all persons equally without distinction whatsoever of age, race, gender, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, language, marital status, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, disability, political conviction, or any other distinguishing feature. We will strive to remove all barriers to equality. 3. Humanitarian and development assistance shall not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint. 4. We will endeavor not to act as instruments of government foreign policy. We therefore formulate our own policies and implementation strategies and do not seek to implement the policy of any government, only exception should it coincide with our own independent policy. 5. We will respect culture and custom. We will endeavor to respect the culture, structures and customs of the communities and countries we are working in. 6. We will always attempt to build response mechanisms to crisis and disasters based on local capacities. Wherever possible, we will strengthen these capacities by employing local staff, purchasing local materials and trading with local companies. Where possible, we will work through local partners in planning and implementation and co-operate with local government structures where appropriate. 7. Ways shall be found to involve program beneficiaries in the management of effective humanitarian and development assistance. Effective humanitarian and development assistance and lasting rehabilitation can best be achieved where the intended beneficiaries are involved in the design, management and implementation of the assistance programs. 8. Humanitarian and development assistance must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to violence, conflict and disaster as well as meeting basic needs. 9. We will hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources. All our dealings with beneficiaries and donors shall reflect an attitude of openness and transparency. 10. In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we will recognize victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless objects. 11. We, the RET, will actively promote adherence to the principles of international refugee law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We will be guided by the core values of the United Nations system, including professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity, and will maintain an international perspective at all times. 12. We will respect the dignity and worth of every individual. Additionally, when working with children and women, we will pay particular attention to the specific challenges they face and possible vulnerabilities. We will promote and practice understanding, respect, compassion, and empathy, and will demonstrate discretion and maintain confidentiality as required. We will aim to build constructive and respectful working relations with our humanitarian partners, will continuously seek to improve our performance, and will foster a climate that encourages learning, supports positive change, and applies the lessons learned from our experience. 13. We will not use language or behavior that is not appropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative or culturally inappropriate. As an example, when working with children or any vulnerable, marginalized group, ethnicity or race, we will ensure safety and protection from abuse for all involved in the projects. All suspicions and allegations of abuse and poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. 14. In addition, in order to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, the following six core principles established by the IASC (Inter-Agency Standing Committee) Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse are incorporated into our Code of Conduct: – Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers constitute acts of gross misconduct and are, therefore, grounds for termination of employment; – Any form of sexual activity or acts with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defense; – Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favors or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behavior is prohibited. This includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries. – Sexual relationships between humanitarian workers and beneficiaries are strongly discouraged since they are based on inherently un-equal power dynamics. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work. – Where a humanitarian worker develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual abuse or exploitation by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, s/he must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms (see RET’s PSEA Action Plan). – Humanitarian workers are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents sexual exploitation and abuse and promotes the implementation of their code of conduct. Managers at all levels have particular responsibilities to support and develop systems which maintain this environment. 15. Moreover, anyone who works for or on behalf of the RET shall make sure to remain polite, friendly and to respect the personality of the persons they work with and refrain from any kind of moral harassment. Shall be considered as moral harassment any behavior that may be damaging to the personality of a colleague, a superior, a subordinate or beneficiaries, as well as any kind of “mobbing”. The term “mobbing” designates any series of hostile behaviors or allegations, frequently repeated during a period of time, by which one would manage to isolate or exclude a person from his/her place of work. Moral harassment may lead to the termination of the harasser’s labor contract.

  • Just over 1.6 Million Direct Participants8 Million Indirect Participants

  • 31 Countries in 20 Years of InterventionRET connects local experience with global expertise.

  • 1300 Team Members Around the WorldOur impact on local employment and professional development is an added value to our programs.

Facts & FiguresWhat has been RET International's impact so far?

We have been active in humanitarian action, peace, and transitional development for 20 years, during this time our mandate has gained traction and our impact, as well as the resources entrusted to us, have grown accordingly. Here are a few facts & figures to illustrate this trend.


During these 20 years of commitment to vulnerable young people and women, RET International has worked in 31 countries affected by conflicts and crises and in fragile environments. You may visit our Where We Work section to learn about our past and present countries of operations. RET’s extensive presence in the field has enabled it to positively impact the lives of just over 1.6 million participants, 55% of whom are women. 12’500 youth leaders have been trained and nearly 300 tertiary education scholarships managed, paving the way to more peaceful and stable communities by empowering a generation of young people to become actors of positive social change. Our actions have also led to constructing, renovating, and equipping over 1’600 schools and women’s centers. In all, RET has reached over 8 million indirect beneficiaries. Finally, our impact is amplified through the fact that RET does not follow traditional models of sending large numbers of foreign experts to manage local problems. While we have staff from approximately 40 countries, nearly all are local. That is to say almost 100% of our staff in each country of operations are citizens of that country or eventually of neighboring countries, with only very few expats operating regionally or from headquarters. Furthermore, our global presence benefits local professionals through best practices and lessons learned, as well as, through the training and capacity building of local staff that ensures the sustainability of the programs. RET connects local experience with global expertise. As we are approximately 1300 team members working throughout the world, our impact on local employment and professional development is an added value to our program’s efficiency and durable impact.


In total, RET has raised and channeled over 200 million USD from the international community towards vulnerable young people and women. We presently work in three main regions, which are the
(1) The Silk Route (Central & South Asia; Middle East & North Africa) (2) Latin America & the Caribbean (Central America & The Caribbean; South America) and (3) Sub-Saharan Africa (East and Central Africa; West Africa). When RET was created in 2000, the world’s focus was on children and not youth; RET has been growing as our mandate has caught traction among the international community and youth & women are more and more recognized as a key underserved population. In this growth, we have strived to keep our indirect costs (also referred to as administrative expenses) at a minimum. This graph below makes this progression in resources and control of indirect costs easy to visualize:

RET’s Legal Structure

RET International, is registered as a foundation under Swiss law (all legal details can be publicly accessed on the Register of companies, firms or associations of the City of Geneva, Switzerland) and is placed under the authority of the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations in Berne, Switzerland.
RET International acts as a managing partner for all projects funded by UN entities, Swiss Government, Principality of Liechtenstein, Cantons, Foundations, Corporations and private individuals in Switzerland.
In all countries of operations, RET International is registered as a local branch.  They report to RET International’s CEO for strategy and operations, who in turn reports to RET International’s Foundation Board.

RET Partnerships

RET partners organizations (International & Local) are independent, non-profit organizations with legally & financially independent boards.

RET AMERICAS, Inc. is an independent 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. It presently acts as RET headquarters for country operations in Latin America and The Caribbean,  Africa (Sahel Region) and Asia & The Middle East.  (RETAmericas.org)
RET GERMANY e.V. is an independent German non-profit organization, registered in Berlin since 2015. It presently acts as RET headquarters for country operations in the Silk Route, the Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. (RETGermany.de)
RETYKD is an independent local Turkish non-profit organization, registered in Ankara since 2017, dedicated to providing long-term durable solutions to communities in the development sector. (RETYKD.org.tr)
RET Liban is an independent local Lebanese non-profit organization, registered in Beirut since 2013, dedicated to providing long-term durable solutions to communities in the development sector.
RET Kenya is an independent local Kenyan non-profit organization, dedicated to providing long-term durable solutions to communities in the development sector.

Staff & BoardAcross the globe, 1300 dedicated men and women work to make our vision possible.

Foundation BoardRET International's Leading Body

  • Mr Thierry Galissard de Marignac
    Chair of the RET Board
    Mr Thierry Galissard de Marignac

    Former Partner at Banque Mirabaud & Cie.

  • Ms Janet Lim
    RET Board Member
    Ms Janet Lim

    Mrs. Lim was formerly the Assistant High Commissioner in charge of operations in UNHCR. During her 34 year career with the UN, she has served in various positions both in UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva and in the field. Her field assignments have included leading UNHCR's country and  emergency operations in different parts of the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Western Sahara, Turkey and Syria. In Geneva, she served in senior positions which included being Director of the Emergency and Security Services and Director of the Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, before becoming the Assistant High Commissioner (Operations). During her career with the UN, she has also been seconded to UNAIDS and to the peacekeeping operation, UNAMA, in Afghanistan. Janet is currently a Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the Singapore Management School (SMU) and also an Executive in Residence at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the professional association for humanitarian workers called PHAP.

  • Mr Jean-Claude Peterschmitt
    RET Board Member
    Mr Jean-Claude Peterschmitt

    From 1967 to 1988, Jean-Claude Peterschmitt served in various capacities with Digital Equipment Corporation, last as Vice President-Europe and Chairman of the European Board of Directors. Prior to that, he was a member of Arthur D. Little’s European Operations Research Group. Since 1988, he has served on Boards and Advisory Boards of a number of European and American technology ventures and venture capital funds. He is a founding member of the Councils of Le Réseau (a Swiss network structure for the creation and development of high-technology enterprises in Western Switzerland) and of Health on the Net (a Geneva based non-profit foundation for the development and facilitation of access to the Internet for health and medical information). Mr Peterschmitt received an Engineering degree from Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule (Zurich) and an M.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Business. Mr Peterschmitt was formerly RET’s Chairman from 2003 – 2007.

  • Ms Anne-Shelton Aaron
    RET Board Member
    Ms Anne-Shelton Aaron

    From 2012 to 2015 Anne-Shelton launched and ran the VIP Program, strategy and relations for art genève, the internationally renowned contemporary art fair. She is a Co-founder of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Geneva (MAMCO), serving on its board from 1999 to 2011. During that time she developed and implemented a fundraising strategy for the museum's permanent collection by developing activities and membership categories for the Association of Friends (AMAMCO), becoming its President from 2010 to 2011. Other current activities include championing women in science as a Board Member of the EPFL Wish Foundation and Founding Member of Macula Foundation supporting Macula Editions, the venerable publisher of key texts of art history theoreticians in French. Anne-Shelton joined RET International’s Foundation Board early 2017. She brings her extensive experience in strategy, fundraising and communication in support to our mission to protect vulnerable adolescents, youth and young women around the world. Anne-Shelton studied business administration at the University of Maryland’s branch in Teheran, Iran, the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and the American College of Paris. An American citizen from Virginia, born in Gibraltar, she was raised around the world. After living for 20 years in Paris, where she worked primarily in the fields of art and design, running her own businesses, she currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland with her family.

  • Mr James Russo
    RET Treasurer
    Mr James Russo

    Former CFO of CHF International (Now Global Communities) for development and humanitarian assistance projects. 25 years of experience in domestic and international non profit financial management.

  • Ms Zeynep Gündüz
    President, CEO & RET Board Member
    Ms Zeynep Gündüz

    Zeynep has been RET International’s Chief Executive since 2003, launching the re-engineering of RET International, from its original conception of December 2000 and operational launch in May 2001. RET International has grown in annual income over 25-fold and raised over USD 150 million during these last 15 years, and continues to expand both geographically and thematically, as the needs for protection and education of the vulnerable young people and women, displaced by conflict, violence and disasters grow. Accompanying youth to become actors of positive social change during crises or the socio-economic empowerment of women have become leading themes in RET’s commitment. Zeynep heads a dynamic team of 1100+ dedicated, passionate professionals from Asia, Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, Europe, North America and the Middle East responsible over the last 15 years for RET operations in 28 countries, over 150 projects and programmes, directly benefiting over 1.1 million learners and educators, and nearly 6 million persons, including beneficiary families. The most recent growth is centred in RET’s affiliated organisation in Turkey, which in the four years since its launch has reached over 200’000 beneficiaries. Zeynep joined the RET in 2003, after 23 years in the private sector, where she worked in senior and executive management of large multinational corporations of the Fortune 500 in the automotive and telecommunications sectors, where she was primarily responsible for marketing, communications, public relations, advertising, sponsorships, and corporate social responsibility, responsible for budgets of approximately USD 100 million. Zeynep served on the boards of various philanthropic causes before joining the RET, having also developed CSR strategy and launched a foundation for a leading telecommunications corporation. She graduated from New York University, Stern School of Business with an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Business in 1984, and a Bachelor of Science in 1980. Zeynep is originally from Istanbul, raised in New York City, has resided in a number of cities around the world with her career, and currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland with her family.

Advisory BoardStrategic Guidance from Global Minds

  • Mrs Françoise Demole
    Co-Founder of RET
    Mrs Françoise Demole

    Chairwoman of the International Museum of the Reformation, Former Vice Chair of RET, Former Vice Chair of Fondation pour Genève

  • Dr David Hamburg
    Co-Founder of RET, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation
    Dr David Hamburg

    Dr David Hamburg was President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York between 1982 and 1997. Before this, he had gathered a multitude of experiences from posts around the world, including chief of the adult psychiatry branch at the National Institutes of Health, from 1958 to 1961, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University from 1961 to 1972, a Professor of Human Biology at Stanford from 1972 to 1976, President of the Institute of Medicine from 1975 to 1980; Director of Health Policy Research and Education at Harvard University from 1980 to 1983; and President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1984 to 1986. As well as all of the above responsibilities, Hamburg was a member of the US Defence Policy Board, Co-chair of the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, a member of President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, and a visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School’s department of Social Medicine. In addition to this, he was the founder of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government.

  • Professor Theo van Boven
    Co-Founder of RET, Former Dean of the University of Maastricht, Faculty of Law
    Professor Theo van Boven

  • H.E. Ambassador Emilio Cardenas
    RET Founding Council Member
    H.E. Ambassador Emilio Cardenas

    Chairman / CEO of Hongkong Shanghai Bank Argentina, Former UN Special Envoy

  • HRH Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand
    UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
    HRH Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand

    Princess Sirindhorn has spent most of her adult life active in advocating Education for All. She earned (among many other degrees) a PhD in Educational Development from Srinakharinwirot University in 1986, and her principle of using education as a means for community and social development which she acquired during these studies has proved to be a good base for her involvement in many different community development activities. She has attended numerous training courses and workshops which have augmented her understanding and expertise in effective integrated development, and in addition, her interest in oriental cultures and languages (notably Chinese) has developed and widened her skills-set. She was awarded the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador title in 2005 for her work in empowering minority children through education and preserving their cultural heritage.

  • HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan
    HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan

    Prince El Hassan is a valued member of the RET Strategic Leadership Council, having spent the majority of his life advocating for change in the developing world. He has initiated, founded and remains actively involved in a number of Jordanian and international institutes and committees, including being on the Executive Committee of the International Crisis Group, on the Informal Advisory Group to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a Member of the Committee of UNESCO International Interreligious Advisory Committee, an Honorary Member of UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development, Chairman of the Policy Advisory Commission for the World Intellectual Property Organisation (1999-2002), Co-Chair of the Independent Bureau for Humanitaran Issues, Co-Chair of the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (ICIHI), President of the Arab Thought Forum since 1981, President of the Club of Rome (1999-2007), and Board member for the Center for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the University of Oklahoma. As well as the above, he has established the following organisations and committees: the Al al-Bait University in Mafraq, the Hashemite Aid and Relief Agency, the Islamic Scientific Academy, the Amman Baccalaureate School, and the Al-Hassan Youth Award. He has founded the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan (1970), the Al al-Bait Foundation (1980), and the Arab Youth Forum (1988).

  • The Rt. Hon. Lynda Chalker
    Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, Former UK Minister of Overseas Development
    The Rt. Hon. Lynda Chalker

  • Mrs Zanele Mbeki
    Former First Lady of South Africa
    Mrs Zanele Mbeki

    After her marriage to Thabo Mbeki (later the President of South Africa) in 1974, Mrs Mbeki worked for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees whilst he joined the African National Congress in exile in Lusaka, Zambia. Once back in South Africa, she helped establish and became the Director of the Women’s Development Bank, which includes a non-profit department that extends small start-up loans to rural women. She now holds a Trustee position at the Bank. Her commitment to the social advancement and economic empowerment of women in South Africa has found cause for her to reside on a number of other national and international boards of institutions that promote such social and economic development.

  • Mrs Adame Ba Konare
    Writer and Historian, former First Lady of Mali, former First Lady of the African Union
    Mrs Adame Ba Konare

    Mrs Konaré, writer and historian, is widely recognized and respected for her leadership in promoting help to the underprivileged and the excluded, and has written a number of books and delivered many speeches on these subjects. She is the wife of Alpha Oumar Konaré, the former Chairperson of the African Union and former President of Mali. Before she became the first lady of Mali, she taught at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Bamako, where she was head of the History-Geography department. As an historian she wrote a dictionary of famous women in Mali in which she compiled bibliographies of prominent Malian women, most of them active in the education, health or welfare sectors. She founded and directed the Fondation Partage, a benevolence organisation supporting the underprivileged, and founded the Musée de la Femme, to promote the role of women in Africa.

  • Mrs Barbara Hendricks
    Opera Singer, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
    Mrs Barbara Hendricks

    Ms Hendricks, the greatly admired American soprano, has worked actively with the UNHCR as one of its Goodwill Ambassadors since 1987, visiting refugee camps throughout the world. At the end of 1991 and 1993, she gave two solidarity concerts in the former Yugoslavia (Dubrovnik and Sarajevo), and in 1998 she founded the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, to assist in the prevention of conflicts throughout the world and to facilitate reconciliation and enduring peace where conflicts have already occurred. Barbara Hendricks has received numerous awards for her artistic achievements and humanitarian work: a Doctorat Honoris Causa from the University of Louvain in Belgium (1990), Doctor in Law from the University of Dundee in Scotland (1992), Doctor of Music from the Nebraska Wesleyan University (1988), Doctorat Honoris Causa from the University of Grenoble in France (1996), and an Honorary Doctor of Music from the Juilliard School of Music in New York (2000). In 1986, the French government made Barbara Hendricks a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, and in 1992, she was awarded the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by President François Mitterrand. She has greatly supported the RET since its inception in 2000, and currently lives in Sweden with her family.

  • Dr Kamal Hossain
    Barrister-at Law and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh
    Dr Kamal Hossain

    Kamal Hossain is a Barrister-at-Law and Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is an active member in many organizations, including the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and chairs the Advisory Council of Transparency International. He has travelled on numerous missions, including the Human Rights Mission to Indonesia (relating to the situation in East Timor) with Forum-Asia, the Hong Kong Pre-Election Mission with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Commonwealth Election Observers’ Mission to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He received a degree in Civil Law and a PhD in International Law from Oxford University.

  • Professor Henry Rosovsky
    Former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University
    Professor Henry Rosovsky

    Professor Henry Rosovsky is an American economist and university administrator. He has been the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University twice in his career, and served as Acting President of the Academic Institution in 1984 and 1987. Professor Rosovsky received his BA degree in 1949 from the College of William and Mary and his PhD from Harvard in 1959. He taught economics, history and Japanese studies at the University of California at Berkeley until 1965. He has taught as a visiting professor in Japan and Israel and has worked variously as a consultant with the United States government, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and UNESCO. In 2000, Professor Rosovsky chaired the Task Force on Higher Education and Society with Mamphela Ramphele. The Task Force was convened by the World Bank and UNESCO to explore the future of higher education in developing countries. He is the author of several articles, academic writings and books, and continues to be a front-runner in the fight for higher education in developing countries.

  • Mr Arnauld Akodjenou
    UN Special Envoy to Côte d’Ivoire, DSRSG/ONUCI, Former Inspector Gen. UNHCR
    Mr Arnauld Akodjenou

    Mr Akodjenu has been an employee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees since 1986 for which he was Inspector General. He started at UNHCR working as an Associate Social Services Officer in Dikhil, Djibouti. Since then, he has continued to work in various roles within the international organisation, all over the world, including Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Geneva, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. He now holds the position of Director, Division of Operational Support in Geneva HQ, having previously held the title of Director of Emergency and Security Services. He holds an MA in History and Geography from the University of Benin, a Masters in International Relations from the IRIC of Cameroon, an MA in International Relations and Political Science and a Doctorate in Political Science, both from the Graduate Institute of International Studies of Geneva (HEI).

  • Mr Frederic Vallat
    Former Treasurer and Board Member of the RET, Director, Department of Social Cohesion and Solidarity, City of Geneva
    Mr Frederic Vallat

    Frederic Vallat has worked for over ten years in auditing and consulting firms (in particular Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young, BearingPoint). He has held numerous assignments in both the public and voluntary sectors. In March 2004, Mr Vallat took over the position as the Finance Directorate of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Switzerland. A Certified Accountant, Frederic Vallat holds a Diploma in Communication and Public Management from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and Communication. Since 1999, he has continued to host several courses in accounting and auditing, notably at the Swiss Academy of Accounting, and at the University of Geneva.

RET's Global HeadquartersOur Office in Geneva, Switzerland

  • Zeynep Gündüz
    President & CEO
    Zeynep Gündüz

    Zeynep has been RET International’s Chief Executive since 2003, launching the re-engineering of RET International, from its original conception of December 2000 and operational launch in May 2001. RET International has grown in annual income over 25-fold and raised over USD 150 million during these last 15 years, and continues to expand both geographically and thematically, as the needs for protection and education of the vulnerable young people and women, displaced by conflict, violence and disasters grow. Accompanying youth to become actors of positive social change during crises or the socio-economic empowerment of women have become leading themes in RET’s commitment. Zeynep heads a dynamic team of 1100+ dedicated, passionate professionals from Asia, Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, Europe, North America and the Middle East responsible over the last 15 years for RET operations in 28 countries, over 150 projects and programmes, directly benefiting over 1.1 million learners and educators, and nearly 6 million persons, including beneficiary families. The most recent growth is centred in RET’s affiliated organisation in Turkey, which in the four years since its launch has reached over 200’000 beneficiaries. Zeynep joined the RET in 2003, after 23 years in the private sector, where she worked in senior and executive management of large multinational corporations of the Fortune 500 in the automotive and telecommunications sectors, where she was primarily responsible for marketing, communications, public relations, advertising, sponsorships, and corporate social responsibility, responsible for budgets of approximately USD 100 million. Zeynep served on the boards of various philanthropic causes before joining the RET, having also developed CSR strategy and launched a foundation for a leading telecommunications corporation. She graduated from New York University, Stern School of Business with an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Business in 1984, and a Bachelor of Science in 1980. Zeynep is originally from Istanbul, raised in New York City, has resided in a number of cities around the world with her career, and currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland with her family.

  • Morris Muriithi Njagi
    a.i. Chief Operations Officer
    Morris Muriithi Njagi

    Morris joined RET International in 2012 as Regional Finance Manager for Africa and, in 2014, was promoted to become RET’s Internal Audit and Compliance Manager. In this position, he was mandated to ensure that RET International adhered to donor and host government regulations and protocols as well as internal policies and procedures. He was also instrumental in updating a number of RET’s internal policies and procedures manuals. In 2017, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Chief Operations Officer before assuming the position of Chief Operations Officer in June 2018. Prior to joining RET, he had worked for over 8 years as an External Auditor in various international audit firms as well as being engaged as a Financial and Assurance Consultant. He is well versed in diverse areas of finance and accounting, external and internal audits, project management as well as risk and compliance management. Morris has a rich cultural and experience background having had assignments in over 19 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting, CPA and is on course to completing an MBA in Strategic Planning. Morris speaks excellent English and Swahili and is currently studying French.

  • Dr Bahadır Engin
    Global Human Resources Director
    Dr Bahadır Engin

    Bahadır started working with RET International in August 2016 as Head of Human Resources in Turkey. Before joining us, he had been working in senior managerial positions in the areas of human resources management and labor & industrial relations with several multicultural and international companies, both in Turkey (such as with Turk Telekom) and abroad. Today, he is RET International’s Global Human Resources Director. Bahadır has also previously worked for 7 years as Labour Inspector at the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security, where he conducted inspections in workplaces of several sectors in the areas of labour law, trade union and collective bargaining agreement legislation, occupational health and safety and social security law. During this period he also led European Union founded social policy and employment projects. He has a Bachelor's and MSc degree in Engineering and in 2015 he completed his PhD degree in Social Policy and Employment: Labour Relations & Working Conditions. Bahadır is fluent in Turkish, English and German.

  • Marc Hari
    Administration & Systems Manager
    Marc Hari

    Marc joined RET after having started his career with the World Intellectual Property Organization and then the International Olympic Committee. He first joined RET International in Colombia, before becoming our Regional Monitor for Latin America & the Caribbean, moving from Bogota to our Regional Office in Panama. After a year and a half in Latin America, he returned to Switzerland, but kept a strong tie with RET, acting as a consultant in various communications issues. In August 2012, he joined RET’s Secretariat as Communications Officer and then Communications Manager. Marc has a deeply rooted international background, having lived in Brazil, the Philippines, the United States, Colombia, Panama and Switzerland and speaks French, English and Spanish. He holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Corporate Communications from the Fribourg School of Management and is presently preparing for the PMI-PMP certification. As of April 2018, Marc has taken his experiences gained in communications and is applying them to maintaining and improving RET’s tools, policies and procedures as Administration & Systems Manager.

  • Inge van de Brug
    Information Specialist
    Inge van de Brug

    Inge holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Utrecht University. She worked as a consultant for the Global Forum on Migration and Development (hosted by the International Organization for Migration) in Geneva after finishing her graduate internship at the Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands. Inge joined RET International as a Knowledge Management Analyst to then become RET’s Information Specialist as of April 2018. She is fluent in English and Dutch with a good command of French and German.

Regional StaffConnecting Countries, Operations and Teams

  • George Kihara-Thang’wa
    Regional Director – Operations, East & Central Africa
    George Kihara-Thang’wa

    George has a Bachelors degree in Education from Moi University from 1994, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Nairobi from 2002. Currently heading up the entire Africa team, he works in the Regional Office in Nairobi though travels widely in Africa between all projects (current and planned). He has worked for multiple organisations in Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Yugoslavia and Belgium, and worked as the RET’s Programme Manager for Chad between 2005 and 2008, before being promoted to Regional Manager. In 2012, George was appointed Regional Director for Africa.

  • Osman Menteş
    Area Director - The Silk Route Operations
    Osman Menteş

    Osman has a very diverse and rich professional background spanning over 30 years and across various locations such as Turkey, the US, Sudan, in Kazakhstan (as an attaché at the Turkish embassy) and in various fields of work ranging from child protection and gender issues, to security, border management, UN Peacekeeping, staff training & development and project management. Osman, as RET’s Area Director - Silk Route Operations, brings with him 7 years of international experience in diplomatic and UN Missions (such as Sudan), 10 years of trainer experience and 4 years of project management experience, 2 years as trainer and training coordinator at Durmaz Özel Güvenlik Ltd, Niğde, as well as a year of experience as Manager of Administrative Affairs and Human Resources, Nigtas Inc. Niğde. Osman holds two Masters' Degrees, one related to Humanitarian Interventions in Fragile/Failing States and the second a Master of Science on Defense Analysis related to the Communications Systems for Host Communities from the US Naval Postgraduate School.

  • Remi Mannaert
    Group Director of the Americas
    Remi Mannaert

    Remi has over eighteen years of professional and managerial experience in international cooperation and in the private sector. He has a BSc in Psychology and an MA in International Business, and after spending a couple of years in the private sector followed by work with UNCTAD, he moved to the RET Headquarters in Geneva in 2002 where he worked in Resource Mobilization and then as Development Manager. Since 2008 he has worked as Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean, where he was responsible for contributing to the growth of the RET in Ecuador, launching the organisation in Colombia in 2008, in Panama in 2009, in Costa Rica in 2010, Venezuela in 2012 and Belize in 2015. Remi is fluent in English, French and Spanish, and has advanced knowledge of Portuguese.

  • Abeer El Gazzawi
    Regional Director - Technical Programmes, the Silk Route
    Abeer El Gazzawi

  • Angela Maria Escobar Castañeda
    Area Director Operations, South America
    Angela Maria Escobar Castañeda

    Angela Maria has wide experience in International Law and as a Human Rights Specialist, and has been an International Delegate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies – IFRC for Emergencies Intervention. As National Head of Protection in the Colombian Red Cross for 9 years and International Delegate for emergencies, she has also worked with vulnerable populations for the Red Cross in Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. She spent some time working as National Coordinator for the identification, formulation, implementation and evaluation of international cooperation projects for the (Spanish) Global Humanitarian Foundation. She has written multiple articles on humanitarian action, protection, psychosocial attention and disaster response.

  • Magnolia Santamaría
    Area Director Operations, Central America
    Magnolia Santamaría

    Magnolia graduated from the Central University of Venezuela as an architect, and has a Master in International Cooperation Projects from the Autonomous University of Madrid; she has complemented graduate studies courses on “Integrated Risk and Disaster Management” at the University of Manizales; “International Refugee Law” at the University of Panama; “Community Integration Strategies” at the Specialised University of the Americas and “Design and Implementation of Monitoring and Evaluation Systems for Social Projects and International Cooperation” with the National University of Central Peru. For over 10 years she worked as a consultant for the Latin American and the Caribbean on issues related to reducing the risk of disasters and humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on education and urban risk, working for different agencies of the United Nations System and the International cooperation, among which are the World Bank, UNICEF, UNISDR, OCHA, PAHO / WHO, Plan International, Intermon-Oxfam and USAID / OFDA. At government level she served for over 10 years as national director of educational infrastructure for the Ministry of Education of Venezuela. She joined RET’s team in 2012 as Head of Mission in Panama. She has taught for over 20 years, being a guest professor at the Andres Bello Catholic University and the Central University of Venezuela, the University of Cuyo in Argentina, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and the Henry Dunant Foundation in Chile. She has taught more than a hundred courses, seminars and lectures nationally and internationally and has authored several articles and publications on topics related to her field of expertise.

  • Pelin Sözmen
    Regional Finance & Administration Manager - The Silk Route
    Pelin Sözmen

    Born in Gaziantep, Turkey, Pelin Demir Sözmen joined the ranks of RET International in March 2015 as a Finance Officer. Pelin holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Istanbul University and a Master's degree in the same subject from the University of Gaziantep. A certified public accountant in Turkey, Pelin brought to RET her 10 years of private sector experience she had earned working for the Turkish branch of an Austrian energy company where she was in charge of administration, human resources and accounting as well as financial duties. At RET, Pelin is in charge of all aspects of budgeting and financial reporting to the headquarters, accounting, donor reporting, governmental department compliance and administrative duties for Turkey. As of 2017, Pelin's responsibilities expanded to include finance and administration in the greater area of the Silk Route as the Head of Finance and Administration for RET in the Silk Route. Pelin is married, mother of two girls to whom she taught to value education above all else. She is fluent in English and Turkish and has working knowledge of German.

  • Tayland Lüle
    Regional Logistics Manager - The Silk Route
    Tayland Lüle

  • Zuleyka Maynard
    Regional Internal Audit Manager RET in Latin America & the Caribbean
    Zuleyka Maynard

    Zuleyka is a Panamanian citizen and arrived at RET in May 2015. She has a degree in Animal Biology from the University of Panama, and has also conducted studies in finance, has a master's degree in Business Management and an MBA in Banking and Finance from the Central American Institute of Business Administration (INCAE Business School). She has extensive experience working in international organizations. Initially, she worked in scientific research and environmental education for more than a decade at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. She has worked as Managing Director in scientific institutions and as Manager of Public Programs focused on environmental education. She also worked for several years at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent as Senior Resource Mobilization Officer and participated in several emergency operations due to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010. She has extensive experience in administration of grants and grants from international aid agencies. She has experience in capacity building and fundraising and speaks Spanish and English.

  • TBA
    Regional Finance & Administration Manager – East and Central Africa

Country TeamsLeadership at the Local Level

  • Osman Menteş
    a.i. Country Director RET in Afghanistan
    Osman Menteş

  • Malenie Barnes
    Country Director RET in Belize
    Malenie Barnes

    Malenie Barnes has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Studies from the University of the West Indies. During and for a period after her studies she worked in mainly in the Finance Management field and has extensive experience with international Donor financial systems such as the European Union, USAID / OFDA, DFID, and the Global Fund to name a few. In 2009, she started working with the Belize Red Cross as a Finance Officer and in 2013 assumed the position of Deputy Director General with responsibility for the supervision of programs and operational functions, including human resources, finance and administration. Over the past 7 years she have become more proficient in the area of program/project management, monitoring and evaluation, and increased knowledge in and implementation of community based actions around disaster preparedness and response; health, including HIV/AIDs; youth empowerment, including violence prevention; and livelihoods. She was also privileged to be selected to participate in the IFRC’s Humanitarian Diplomacy Training Course; completed successfully and began implementing techniques. She has now joined RET as National Coordinator for Belize.

  • Murielle Ndikumazambo
    Country Director RET in Burundi
    Murielle Ndikumazambo

    Murielle graduated from the Light University of Bujumbura in Management and Administration in 2007. She is now completing a Masters in International Development from ‘Institut Africain de Gestion des Risques Economiques et Financiers et du Développement International’. She has been a member of the Association of Scout of Burundi (ASB) since 1995 and the Association for the Promotion of Burundian Girls (APFB) since 2002. Between 2006 and 2009, she consecutively served the two organizations as Project Coordinator before joining the RET where she started working as Education Officer in September 2009. She then worked as UNHCR Project Coordinator up to 2012. In 2012, she worked for the Social Fund for Development of the Embassy of France as a Development Officer, in charge of subsidizing NGOs involved in the development sector in Burundi. She reintegrated the RET in October 2014 as Program Manager. Throughout her professional experience she has been able to further develop and utilize her technical skills in project management and development to handle complex and multifaceted tasks, showing a sense of initiative, creativity and enthusiasm.

  • Rolando Morales
    Country Director RET in Colombia
    Rolando Morales

  • Christiane Eppelin
    Country Director RET in Costa Rica
    Christiane Eppelin

    Christiane Eppelin has a Psychology Degree from University of Costa Rica and a Certificate in Human Rights, Gender and Public Policies. Before joining RET as National Programme Coordinator for RET in Costa Rica, she worked with OSA (Office for Monitoring and Consultancy of Projects) serving as Project Officer for Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Previously she taught at the National University of Costa Rica in the Schools of Psychology and Education. Christiane has researched and published articles in gender equity and rights for children and youth. She is fluent in Spanish and French and has working knowledge of English.

  • Félicien Hatungimana
    Country Director RET in Chad
    Félicien Hatungimana

    Felicien holds an Associates Degree in General Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Burundi, and Graduate Certificates in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from the Conflict Management Group [Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA], and in Peacebuilding from the School for International Training of Vermont [USA] Cape Town [South Africa]. Felicien has over 22 years of professional experience, of which 10 are in progressive leadership positions. This experience has been gained through the overall management of several UN and US-funded programs in West, Central and East Africa as well as through various shorter-term consultancies. He has taught many courses nationally and internationally and has authored several publications on topics related to his field of expertise. Before joining RET International in Chad, he worked for many NGOs, managing several peacebuilding programs in insecure regions where limited resources fuel inter-clan tensions.

  • Dieudonné Ombeni
    Country Director RET in the DRC
    Dieudonné Ombeni

    Dieudonné Ombeni obtained a graduate degree in English and African culture at the Pedagogic Higher Institute of Bukavu DR Congo in 2004. He also achieved a degree in Administration and Project Management from the “Université Libre des Pays de Grand Lacs” of Uvira in DR Congo, in 2014. Before joining RET International, Dieudonné worked as a Project Coordinator with women for Women International, with ZOA International and War Child Holland in the DR Congo.

  • Maria Antonia Gonzalez
    Country Director RET in Ecuador
    Maria Antonia Gonzalez

    Maria Antonia Gonzalez has a degree in Political Science and Administration, specializing in Latin American Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid. She is an expert in Gender Equality and is currently pursuing a Masters in International Management and Project Management, with the General Foundation at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She has 15 years of experience in International Cooperation, and has worked in various international NGOs in Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala. She has worked with varied issues including with: Spanish cooperation programs and local governments, coordinating projects in different areas of development, in education with adolescents and youth in contexts of vulnerability, south migration processes, north and south, elimination of child labour, area of labour rights and human rights, vocational, and occupational training, maternal and child health projects, gender equality, post-disaster reconstruction, water and sanitation, risk management, as well as in microfinance and productive partnership projects. She specializes in the management of development and cooperation activities, through the Logical Framework Approach and according to the standards of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and manages tools and coaching skills, team management and organizational strengthening.

  • Regina Muchai
    Country Director RET in Kenya
    Regina Muchai

    Regina has a master of science in Geo-information and Earth observation in urban planning and management from ITC the Netherlands. After her studies, she briefly worked as a planner in private sector in Nairobi where she focused on upgrading slums and small unplanned towns. She later moved to Dadaab refugee camps where she was intensely involved in setting up of the new refugee camps. She then progressed to work as a camp manager with Lutheran World Federation where she worked both in the developmental stages of the camps and during the 2011-12 refugee influx. She coordinated over 15 humanitarian agencies that were providing various services in the camps. She therefore has enormous experience working with refugees and vulnerable communities. Before joining RET in November 2012, she worked with Save the Children (UK) now Save the children International where she focused on Child Protection and education programming. She is currently in charge of the Kenya RET programme.

  • Robson Dias
    Country Director RET in Mexico
    Robson Dias

  • Göksu Koç
    Country Director RET in Turkey
    Göksu Koç

    Göksu holds B.A. degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey. She also completed an interdisciplinary double-degree programme in Social Sciences of METU and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Göksu joined RET International in 2012, while she was completing her master in Berlin. She then became a key actor in RET's registration and launching of operations in Turkey, gaining a profound understanding of the Syrian Crisis, its impact on the region, as well as, strong management and relationship building skills. Göksu is now RET International's National Coordinator in Turkey, she is fluent in Turkish and English, with a basic level of German.

  • Marisol Füves
    Country Director RET in Venezuela
    Marisol Füves