Dr. Nancy Okail is a scholar and advocate of human rights, justice and democracy. Okail has over 20 years of experience working on issues of democracy, rule of law, human rights, and security in the Middle East and North Africa region. She analyzes these issues and advocates in favor of human rights through testimony to legislative bodies, providing policy recommendations to senior government officials in the U.S. and Europe. She was named as one of the top 150 powerful women in Washington, DC by the Washingtonian Magazine in 2019.
In 2020, Okail was appointed as as a visiting scholar at the Center for Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University focusing on accountability on the global level and the intersection of Human rights and technology, where she developed the Covid19 Crisis Accountability Network (CAN) project, which seeks accountability of all abuses conducted under COVID19 through documentation and collective action. Prior to joining Stanford, she has served as the executive director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), which has become one of the most internationally-renown policy research organizations working on the MENA region. Okail was the director of Freedom House’s Egypt program. Okail has also worked with the Egyptian government as a senior evaluation officer of foreign aid and managed programs for several international organizations, including the World Bank and UNDP.
Her policy analysis and political commentary and op-eds are featured in top journals such as the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian and several others. She is frequently interviewed on international media such as CNN, MSNBC, BBC world, NPR, and AlJazeera. She regularly participate on panels on current affairs and analysis at world fora and academic institutes including Stanford University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, King’s College, LSE, Delphi Economic Forum, The Halifax International Security forum and others.
Okail was one of the 43 nongovernmental organization workers convicted and sentenced to prison in a widely publicized 2012 case for allegedly using foreign funds to foment unrest in Egypt. She was then exonerated by a court ruling in December of 2018.
She holds a PhD from the University of Sussex in the UK; her doctoral research focused on the power relations of foreign aid.