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 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.

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.

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.