MEET OUR LEADERSHIP
Zoë Adams - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
As Co-Founder and Executive Director, Zoë leads The Strongheart Group in their strategic use of storytelling aligned with advocacy to drive widespread change on complex social issues. After spending years working in resource poor communities, she chose to focus her energy on amplifying the voices of individuals who have lived through these issues and could have the power to impact systems level change. Prior to founding Strongheart, Zoë was a senior executive in the media, technology, public policy and economic development sectors with Fox Family Worldwide, Fox Kids Europe and TechAmerica. Her work in both the corporate and non-profit sectors has given her a unique perspective on creating impact. Zoë is skilled at building partnerships, recognition, and momentum to create visibility, advance public policy, and transform global issues.
Zoë’s passion for unlocking human potential began when she was a teenager. At 18, she founded her first non-profit organization to inspire agency in youth and support youth-led environmental activism. Years later, she co-founded Strongheart’s former Fellows Program, an innovative educational program to help adolescents from war-torn backgrounds build resilience, excel in their endeavors and achieve their dreams. Four years ago, after seeing the difference that an individual’s voice can make when heard by the right audiences of policymakers, high-level influencers, media and changemakers, Zoë pivoted Strongheart into the work it is doing today.
Benafsha Tasmim - Change Agent Program Director
Benafsha Tasmim has played a vital role in shaping Strongheart’s Change Agent Program through its design, development, and day-to-day activity. She brings to her leadership role a deep understanding of the pathway from adversity to empowerment, having lived in Pakistan as an Afghan refugee for eight years during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and persevering despite adverse circumstances to complete her education. With over 7 years of experience in the social justice and international development fields, she has developed the ability to impact the lives of at-risk populations to help them reach their goals and full potential. Benafsha’s experiences, both personal and professional, give her an authentic and personal understanding of youth engagement, educational programs, and advocacy.
Prior to joining Strongheart, first as a Youth Advocacy Coordinator and Child Marriage Program Manager, Benafsha began her career as a Psychosocial Trainer at American Friends Service Committee where she taught teachers how to help students cope with the daily stress and trauma caused by insecurity and violence. In an effort to further address the complex needs of youth during conflict, Benafsha began working as the Education Coordinator for Skateistan. There, she wrote curriculum, conducted workshops, and oversaw a creative virtual exchange program between children from Afghanistan and around the world, all focused on improving the mental health and well-being of youth in Afghanistan. She has also worked for RTI International in Washington, D.C., where she launched a digital platform which puts young people at the center of the conversation about the youth livelihood crisis to share with one another and inform policy and programs. Mental health and child marriage have been consistent threads in her work with youth, and Benafsha brings a nuanced and personal understanding of these issues to her work with Strongheart. Born in Afghanistan, Benafsha studied Psychology and Educational Sciences at Kabul University in order to understand more about how war impacts the way people think and behave and how to break cycles of violence. Benafsha holds a master’s degree in International Development from SIT Graduate Institute and serves as an advisory board member of Skateistan.