Mark Smith, Founder/Managing Director
Founder Mark Smith has a long history of improving and protecting the world he cherishes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and an MBA with Honors from Ateneo de Manila University, among multiple other accreditations, certifications and collegial certificates from internationally recognized organizations. Armed with extensive knowledge and experience, Mark founded Development Now Initiatives Corp to improve and protect the world and its peoples by responding to the basic needs of people by providing supplies, services, initiatives and developmental programs in environmentally friendly ways. Mark believes that we, as a Global Community, can prevent, control, and learn from all natural or manmade crises by working together as global stewards.
Prior to founding DNI, Mark has worked and led operations in more than 50 countries, most of which were conflict, post-conflict and remote regions. He is fluent in multiple dialects of International business, which allows him to effectively communicate with partners and donors in various areas of the world. His proven track record of effectively creating and managing interfaces of development programming, operational and financial sustainability, and building effective partnerships in Executive and senior leadership roles with private, public, and non-government agencies gives him a unique perspective to identify and solve problems. Mark’s ability to work across multiple disciplines of agriculture, engineering, communications, security, operations, manufacturing and construction, to progress women empowerment, capacity development, WASH, Mine Action, urban poverty, youth skills development and inclusive growth and migration in the public sector allows him the ability to steer the organization more effectivel
Travis Beard aka NOTB412
Travis Beard is a multi-directional artist who expresses his creativity through a range of disciplines. His projects traverse music, film, photography and festivals. His work is edgy and thought-provoking, questioning the status quo and pushing audiences to consider the world from an alternative perspective.
Travis has lived and worked globally, he spent ten years working as a freelance photojournalist in the late 90s – 2000s. In 2001, Travis first visited Afghanistan, where he contracted the so-called Afghan Bug. Addicted to Afghan culture, he subsequently moved to Kabul permanently in 2006 where he taught at the country’s first media school – AINA.
He went onto co-found a skateboard school – SKATEISTAN, which won an Oscar for best short documentary in 2019. Under Travis’ company, Argus, he also co-founded a street art school – WALLORDS and the country’s first contemporary music & arts festival – SOUND CENTRAL FESTIVAL 2011 to 2013.
Travis’ debut feature documentary, ROCKABUL, focused on the music scene in Afghanistan told through the perspective of the Afghan band, District Unknown, and had its World Premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival 2018. It has since screened at 51 festivals around the world and won multiple awards.
Travis was a camera operator in production of KABUL AT WORK (2013), FRAME BY FRAME (2015) and AFGHAN CYCLES (2017). Travis also contributed with footage used on MOTELY’S LAW (2015), JIRGA (2018), SOFT SKIN (2021).
Weeda was born in Afghanistan and has faced great social and economic obstacles, but her drive for education and empowerment has led to great achievements in her life and impact on the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Weeda’s father died when she was only a teenager. After his death, other members of her family and people in her village became opposed to her pursuing an education. Every morning, before most people woke up, Weeda started her walk to school barefoot. Once she made it out of her street, she would put her shoes on and walk head down, wearing a hijab, taking different routes every day to avoid being recognized. After her primary and high school education, despite the enormous pressure and threat of punishment, she pursued her studies in Law & Political Science at Kabul University.
By the time Weeda was in her early 20s, she began a career working for an internationally recognized company that provided security for Americans. Utilizing her skills and knowledge, it was not long before she secured a senior level position. Soon after her promotion, her extended family members and villagers learned that she was working with foreigners and she faced threats due to her work, as the local community viewed it as not culturally acceptable. She had no option other than to flee the country so she could continue her professional career and promote human rights from outside the country.
Weeda serves DNI as an Afghanistan Human Rights Advisor to assist in assessment for human rights cases and to work on programs to improve the livelihoods of women at risk, who are often at extreme threat and in need to protection
Fawad was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. When his father died due to the armed conflict of the time, he was forced to the street to sell maps and postcards to foreigners to support his family as in the very impoverished and gender sensitive community he dwelt in his mother and younger siblings had no means to support themselves.
Through generous unofficial aid of the international community, Fawad was able to seek education and the Afghanistan-Turk High school and graduated with honors. He was employed as the key Actor for the Oscar nominated film entitled “Buzkashi Boys” under the Afghanistan Film Project and attended the Oscars in Hollywood California as a nominee. Fawad went on to use his talents with the Association of German National Public Radio and TV by translating, interviewing and writing BLOGS regarding the challenges of his country. Fawad continues to be a role model and inspiration to underprivileged youth of his community and works with many local organizations that continue to assist youth, underprivileged, those that suffer from poverty and minorities.
Elmer’s mother was forcibly displaced due to an abusive relationship with her husband. Elmer was homeless in his native country of El-Salvador at the age of 9. Working by any means necessary and seeking refuge to survive was difficult at the time of the Civil War which no one especially children should endure. Elmer’s ambition to the Basic Human Rights led him to graduate from the El-Salvador Police academy. He latter served as a law enforcement officer and went on to serve the National guard greatly improving his livelihood. Due to the massive earthquake in his native country he fled to the United States as his home country was devastated and the United States offered him the hope of enjoying what most people take completely for granted.
Not knowing a word of English and without the necessary skills to support himself, Elmer taught himself the new language by reading periodicals at a Public library and worked any odd job he could find to pay the expensive tuition of a technical school and earn a license that qualified him for stable full time employment and support himself Elmer holds certifications from the EPA, ( Environmental Protection Agency) NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) NPGA (National Propane Gas Alliance) & NORA (National Oil Research Alliance).
Elmer has always placed his community first. Upon being naturalized in his new country his first priority was to return the goodwill that was offered to him from the various persons of the communities he has been part of.
Growing up in the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo, Snezana had the unfortunate experience of being raised in a conflict area. Her university studies were interrupted by the civil war and subsequent NATO bombardment in 1999. Rather than leave the country, she chose to contribute to its rebuilding and was employed by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as a language assistant working with international Organizations. She spent the better part of a decade working towards supporting the repair and rebuilding of inter-ethnic relations by serving in various positions to include uniformed patrol, narcotics investigations, to human trafficking. Following the completion of United Nations activities in Kosovo, Snezana was employed by the Kosovo Privatization Agency where she worked to further stabilize the region. Due to the success of the International Community to stabilize her home country she latter immigrated to the United States to pursue a career in the healthcare sector, specifically working with the elderly and other vulnerable populations in upstate New York to bring valuable knowledge back the community that she grew up in.
John brings with him an impressive background in law enforcement investigations, he has coupled his expertise in the criminal justice field with his passion for human rights, working with international organizations such as the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Union. Specializing in criminal investigations and internal affairs, he has served as a police officer, detective, and FBI Task Force Agent investigating violent crime and human trafficking in North Carolina for over eleven years. More recently, he has spent six years as a supervising investigator in New York State where he managed a field office dedicated to protecting the rights of the developmentally disabled. Internationally, he has worked in the fields of human rights, police reform, and the security sector for over ten years in conflict/post-conflict areas such as Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, and Ukraine. He holds a MA in Diplomacy with an International Terrorism concentration from Norwich University.
Ioana is a Government and Policy Advisor with a well-rounded background in the private, public and NGO sectors across different geographies, including the UK, Middle East and South America. She has a body of experience in government reform and innovation, foreign policy and international affairs and one of her main professional objectives is to formulate, influence and implement policy that reflects equality and human rights.
She is currently consulting for the World Bank’s Governance and Social Protection practices and has previously worked as a Government and Foreign Policy Advisor at the Tony Blair Institute. She started her career as a Public Sector consultant at Accenture UK where she advised clients such as the UK Ministry of Justice on advancing programs of reform and innovation. She also had the opportunity to work on the company’s global Corporate Social Responsibility team where she was dedicated to improving the impact of large programs in collaboration with NGO partners from over 20 countries.
She considers herself a global citizen striving to debunk misconceptions, stereotypes and generalizations. She is trilingual and continuously seeks to improve her language abilities. She has an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and during her studies she gained practical experience in this area by working at Minority Rights Group International and Fundación Ciudadanos del Mundo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.