US Program Leadership

Ginna Brelsford, Executive Director

Ginna Brelsford is the Executive Director of Sahar. Ms. Brelsford brings over 20 years of experience in government, business and the non-profit world of international development. Ginna’s commitment to gender equality and access to education began with a focus on literacy in Brazil and spanned two decades of work in Russia, Latin America and Asia.

A former executive director at Pura Vida Coffee Company, Ginna is known for her ability to blend social entrepreneurial innovation with poverty eradication. She has served at the gubernatorial level as well as worked with the Russia America Foundation on a number of USAID projects promoting civil society and economic development.

A strong advocate for women’s empowerment, she authored a book on women leaders in Alaska and toured with Bono to eradicate HIV/AIDS for the One Campaign at World Vision. An explorer of frontiers, Ginna was among the first woman to ski across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska.

Ms. Brelsford’s diverse experiences have led her to the conclusion that education and literacy acquisition are key to poverty eradication. A lack of education is the root of many issues in the developing world, and she feels privileged to direct an organization that helps solve them by giving more girls the opportunity to learn.

Ginna Brelsford (L) with Sahar Fellow, Airokhsh Qaisary

Qxhna Titcomb, Operations & Campaign Manager

Qxhna Titcomb is the Operations Manager at Sahar. She is a graduate of Tufts University, with a bachelor’s in International Relations as well as a minor in Chinese. Qxhna began working at Sahar in February of 2017. Before that she spent time running a cross-country sports showcase series to increase media devoted to women in sports.

As a young child Qxhna traveled around the globe learning languages and experiencing different cultures. In high school and college she spent time in Jordan and Morocco, respectively. This enriched her experience with foreign cultures and brought to light the fact that the world needs more cultural understanding. Qxhna has a passion for gender equity, particularly in the realm of education and sports. 

Airokhsh Qaisary, Fellow Advisor

Airokhsh Faiz Qaisary is Sahar’s first Fellow, working in our Seattle office from June 2015 to June 2016 and will continue to serve in an advisory capacity as she attends graduate school in Boston. Qaisary graduated in 2015 from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She attended Juniata through The Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, a prestigious program that partners with leading U.S. colleges and universities to educate and provide leadership training and guidance for the next generation of women leaders in Afghanistan.

Qaisary first became involved with Sahar as an intern for the organization during the summers of 2013 and 2014 in Mazar-i-Sharif, the town in northern Afghanistan where she attended high school. Throughout her internships Qaisary visited the numerous schools Sahar has built in Balkh Province, interviewed students, took photographs, made a short film, and lent her insight to Sahar’s movements on the ground in Afghanistan.

Mina Ekramnia, Senior International Research Intern

Mina Ekramnia joined Sahar in the fall 2017 as a Senior International Research Intern. As a University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy & Governance Graduate student, Mina is assisting Sahar in designing curriculum on Mental Health issues for girls as part of Sahar’s Early Marriage Prevention Program. Mina will also assist in implementing evaluation and monitoring program to assess the program.

Charlotte Gong, Intern

Charlotte Gong is a rising Senior at The Bush School. Interested in communications and working in the nonprofit world, as well as passionate about the topic of girls’ education, she is working with Sahar this summer to support their communications. She is focused on organizing research to make information more accessible for Sahar supporters and citizens who are interested in making a difference for girls education in Afghanistan. She is also bringing a youth perspective to Sahar’s outreach efforts, and buildling connections with her high school. Through this experience, Charlotte hopes to continue to support girls’ education and influence her own community.

Mahsheed Mahjor, Fellow

Mahsheed started working with Sahar in September of 2017. She graduated with honors from Muhlenberg College in Allentown Pennsylvania with double majors in International Studies (Conflict and Peace Studies concentration) and Women in the Socio-Political World (Self-Designed).

Prior to joining Sahar as a fellow, Mahsheed has worked with organizations inside Afghanistan and the United States. Among others, she has worked in the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) division of the International Republican Institute (IRI). WDN works toward encouraging and supporting women across the globe to participate in politics and run for their respected local and national offices. Additionally, she worked with Human Resources office at Roshan, one of the largest telecom companies in Afghanistan.

Mahsheed hopes to work on women’s social, economic, and political empowerment and the role that they play in peace and conflict resolutions area, nationally and internationally. The first step towards this goal is that women and girls should have the opportunity to get educated. She believes that the path towards a peaceful Afghanistan and world is education. A true democratic nation is possible only when all its citizens are educated – when there is an understanding and respect for those who are different from them. Therefore, the work that Sahar does in Afghanistan is extremely important. Mahsheed is excited to be a part of a dynamic team that make education possible for Afghan women and girls.

Shogofa Amini, Fellow

A native of Mazar-e-sharif, Afghanistan, Shogofa traveled to Seattle from
Massachusetts to begin her fellowship with Sahar in July of 2018. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Regis College in Weston, Mass., graduating with honors in 2016. During her time at Regis, Shogofa was a member the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences, was accorded the Mary C. Bryan Award for an essay on women’s rights in Afghanistan, and was named a “Pillars of the Community” honoree.

Shogofa’s childhood education was interrupted in 1995 due to the ascendancy of the Taliban, but she has since dedicated her life to learning and service, with a focus on the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan. She began contributing poetry to the Afghan Women’s Writing Project in 2009 and attended the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) in 2010 before making her way to the U.S. to
further her education. In addition to her studies, Shogofa served as an intern for the Feminist Majority Foundation, contributing to a project aimed at providing more educational programs for women in Afghanistan. She also worked in the office of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, researching immigration issues.

Shogofa believes that being a woman in Afghanistan is not about being oppressed, weak and afraid, but rather involves learning what is necessary to become strong. Her desire is to promote the education of women, support their rights, and advocate for gender equality. Shogofa is confident that her passions will be supportive of Sahar’s mission to create real, positive change for the girls and women of Afghanistan.