Marjan Ehsassi

Founder and President @ Black Fish Advocates

Marjan H. Ehsassi, Founder and President of Black Fish Advocates, is an ardent believer in the power of engagement, inclusiveness and policies that bring citizens together. She has worked to enhance the space for civil society in some of the most complex environments including Iran and North Korea.

Marjan’s work has focused on strategy, policy and the design and implementation of programs in the area of democracy & governance, peace & security, rule of law, and women’s empowerment. She managed the National Democratic Institute’s programs in China’s mainland, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Nepal and set-up the Institute’s first office in Seoul to build the capacity of North Korean defector groups. Prior to NDI, she was a Senior Program Manager with ABA-ROLI managing rule of law programs in the Middle East and North Africa. Marjan also worked with the Gender Equality Group at the World Bank where she contributed to the publication of “The Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa.”

She began her legal career with Blake Cassels & Graydon in Toronto, Canada and was later a corporate litigator with the New York offices of Shearman & Sterling. Prior to law school, she worked in Kenya with the Canadian International Development Agency and with the International Center of PEN International. Marjan earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto and received an LL.M from McGill University in Montreal. Originally from Iran, she was born in Geneva and has lived and worked in Canada, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Marjan speaks English, French and Farsi with native fluency and understands Spanish and Arabic.