HVE Studies Associates
The Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies Program is supported by an international interdisciplinary collection of HVE Studies Associates, including counterterrorism experts, academics, government officials, faith-based leaders and former extremists who will provide their respective expertise to identify potential community-driven solutions intended to reduce the risk of recruitment and radicalization. The biographies of these extraordinary professionals are presented here. You are encouraged to contact them if their respective focus area(s) might assist your community, organization or efforts in responding to the challenges presented by violent extremism.
- Paul Carillo (bio)
- Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (bio)
- Justin Hienz (bio)
- Brie Loskota (bio)
- Doron Pely (bio)
- Christian Picciolini (bio)
Paul Carrillo grew up in South Los Angeles, raised around drugs, gangs, violence and poverty. Many of his family members were gang affiliated and as a teen he realized how hard it was to remain positive in a troublesome environment. With family members murdered and friends getting put away in prison, he found a way out. Paul is the Executive Director of Southern California Crossroads, a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 2005, that provides youth with alternative programs to gangs, drugs and violence. For more than a decade, he has worked in the youth and gang violence field, providing services in schools, hospitals, jails and in various communities throughout Los Angeles.
In 2010, Paul was an original steering committee member for Google’s SAVE (Summit Against Violent Extremism) which took place in Dublin, Ireland. Various types of formers and survivors participated in the three-day event that focused on youth radicalization, similarities between gangs and religious extremists while also fostering a level of restorative justice with survivors of terrorism and gang violence.
In 2012, Paul co-founded the annual L.A.Gang Violence Prevention and Intervention Conference which brings professionals from around the globe together to share best practices, data proven models, new trends and solutions to the youth and gang violence epidemic. He was recently awarded the “Hospital Hero Award” by the Hospital Association of Southern California for implementing violence prevention programs for youth in L.A. County. Paul has also visited El Salvador, Guatemala and Dominican Republic as a consultant, sharing his expertise in the area of youth and gang violence prevention. Current projects include research on the issue of cyber violence.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program, and a lecturer at the Catholic University of America. He is also the chief executive officer of Valens Global, a consulting firm focusing on the challenges posed by violent non-state actors.
It is this latter topic—violent non-state actors and the changing nature of armed conflict—that has served as a unifying theme in Gartenstein-Ross’s research and professional work for over a decade. His body of work concentrates on, but has not been limited to, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist organizations with transnational ambitions. Gartenstein-Ross is the author or volume editor of twenty books and monographs, including Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011), and has published widely in the popular and academic press, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, and Terrorism & Political Violence. He also frequently conducts field research in relevant regions, including North Africa, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.
Gartenstein-Ross’s client work has provided the opportunity to put his academic study of violent non-state actors into practice. His client work has included live hostage negotiations in the Middle East, border security work in Europe, performing risk assessments for the oil and gas industry, designing crisis simulations for major academic institutions, and story and series development for major media companies. He also regularly lectures for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace (LDESP) program, and has designed and led training for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance.
Gartenstein-Ross has presented his research at events sponsored by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Uppsala University (Sweden), the Combating Terrorism Working Group (Belgium), O.P. Jindal Global University (India), the National Defense College (Abu Dhabi), the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel), and the Defense Intelligence Agency, among others. He has been featured in the Distinguished Speaker Series at the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), and has been a keynote speaker at the Global Futures Forum.
Gartenstein-Ross has taught classes or been on faculty at a number of major academic institutions, including the the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, and the Takshashila Institution (India). He holds a Ph.D. in world politics from the Catholic University of America and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. Gartenstein-Ross can conduct research in five languages.
Justin Hienz is a subject matter expert on religious extremism, terrorist messaging, and homeland security strategic communications. He is the owner of Cogent Writing, LLC, a Washington, DC-based strategic communications company working with public and private sector clients, many of them in the homeland security community. Cogent provides and executes communication strategies that employ a mix of digital tools and ghostwritten content to deliver greater exposure for clients and their message.
Hienz is also a security analyst investigating trends in terrorist radicalization and recruitment, particularly the growing threat from ISIS. He works closely with the Somali-American community in Minneapolis-St. Paul to monitor and track ISIS recruitment efforts, and he works with the Safe Communities Institute on public safety and security research projects across the country.
Previously, Hienz worked with the Homeland Security Strategic Communications practice of a DC public relations firm. Before that, he was the editor and technical writer for a security consulting firm in the Middle East, providing risk mitigation and security vulnerability assessments to domestic and international clients.
Hienz’s self-authored and ghostwritten work has appeared in numerous mainstream and trade media outlets. He is the Executive Editor for Security Debrief, a blog on homeland and national security, and he sits on the Board of Directors for the Average Mohamed Foundation, a non-profit organization countering violent extremist messaging. Hienz holds Master of Arts degrees in journalism and religious studies from the University of Missouri.
Brie Loskota is the executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) at the University of Southern California. CRCC, which was named a Pew Center of Excellence in 2002. CRCC is a creative nexus where scholars, practitioners and thought-leaders interact to produce research and programs that bring new insight into the roles of religion in the public square. In her capacity as managing director, Loskota oversees the Center’s strategic planning, media presence and relations with foundations and government agencies. She also conducts research, develops programs and seeds new ventures across CRCC’s areas of expertise.
Loskota’s research examines how religious groups change and how they make change in the world. Specifically, her work focuses on the evolving landscape of religious communities, building the capacity of faith-based organizations, and facilitating partnerships between government agencies and faith groups. Loskota speaks and writes frequently on topics including interfaith engagement, faith-based human services and religious identity. Her writing have appeared in Religion Dispatches, Huffington Post, Zocalo, Los Angeles Magazine, Trans-Missions, the Brookings Institute, the Aspen Institute and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Her work and commentary have also been featured in the Los Angeles Time, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting, the Voice of America and Take Part Live.
She received her M.A. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, studied Hebrew at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and completed her B.A. in history and religion at the University of Southern California. She also received a certificate in Counterterrorism from USC CREATE. She is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Dr. Doron Pely
Having lived and worked for extended periods in several countries including Israel, Holland, the United Kingdom and the U.S., Dr. Pely has developed an interest and an expertise in the ways different cultures interact with each other, particularly in conflict and conflict resolution contexts.
Doron’s professional career spans a wide spectrum of activities, including active duty military service, undercover police intelligence, scientific programming and system analysis, journalism, international business intelligence, entrepreneurship, executive management, large-scale risk analysis, and cross cultural negotiations and conflict resolution.
Doron is the Executive Director of the Sulha Research Center (www.sulha.org), in Shefa’amer, Israel, where he conducts extended ethnographic study of Muslim/Arab customary justice practices. He is also a managing partner at Market Info Group LLC (www.marketinfogroup.com) – a Colorado-based business intelligence company.
Doron publishes in peer-reviewed journals, exploring the place of honor, revenge and forgiveness in Muslim customary justice, the place of women in Muslim dispute resolution, and the similarities and differences between Muslim and Western dispute resolution approaches. Additionally, he has published several fiction and non-fiction books, and his latest book, titled “Muslim-Arab Mediation and Conflict Resolution: Understanding Sulha” was published in March 2016 by Routledge (UK).
Doron teaches and lectures on cross cultural conflict mitigation, conflict de-escalation, and Muslim/Arab dispute resolution practices at universities such as Tufts University, Hampshire College, UMASS Boston, US Military Academy West Point, The Inter Disciplinary Center (IDC), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University, as well as at community centers and mediation groups in mixed-communities municipalities.
Doron holds a BSc in Computer Science from California State University, Hayward, an MA in Dispute Resolution (with exceptional excellence) from UMASS Boston, and a PhD in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King’s College, London.
Doron is a licensed private pilot and a licensed paragliding pilot.
Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, an author, and a reformed extremist. His work and life purpose are born of an ongoing and profound need to atone for a grisly past, and to make something of his time on this planet by contributing to the greater good.
After leaving the violent hate movement he was part of during his youth, he began the painstaking process of rebuilding his life. Picciolini earned a degree in International Business and International Relations from DePaul University, began his own global entertainment and media firm, and was appointed a member of the Chicago Grammy Rock Music Committee and the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival.
In 2010 and 2011, he was nominated for three regional Emmy Awards for his role as executive producer of JBTV, one of America’s longest-running nationally broadcast music television programs. He has worked as an adjunct professor at the college level, and as the community partnerships manager for Threadless, a company that combines a thriving online art community with a highly successful e-commerce business model. Additionally, in 2013, he contributed to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s and Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen’s New York Times best seller, The New Digital Age.
Most notably, in 2010 he co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities and organizations gain the knowledge necessary to implement long-term solutions that counter all types of racism and violent extremism.
In 2015, Picciolini published his memoir, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, where he details his involvement in the early American white power skinhead movement.
An explorer by nature, Picciolini loves to learn new things and thrives on challenging himself with “positive disruptive thinking.” He values kindness, unselfishness, sincerity, and respect for all people, and believes that small ideas can change the world.