Yossef Ben-Meir, Ph.D., President
Yossef Ben-Meir has been dedicated to the field of international development since he joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1993. In 2000, he co-founded the High Atlas Foundation and served as president of the Board of Directors until January 2011, and since has been leading its operations. Dr. Ben-Meir was a member of the faculty at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco (2009-10). In 2003, he was a research fellow at the American Institute of Maghrib Studies in Morocco. Yossef was also an Associate Peace COrps DIrector (1998-99), managing the agriculture and environment program in Morocco. He writes and publishes on the subject of promoting human development in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of New Mexico (2009) where he also taught, an MA in international development from Clark University (1997), and a BA in economics from New York University (1991).
Fatima Zahra Laaribi, Financial Manager and Women’s Empowerment Trainer
Fatima Zahra is a Marrakech native. She graduated from Cadi Ayyad University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and business management. Fatima Zahra has been working with HAF since October 2012. She has great experience working with rural women on different projects, mainly in the field of empowerment through self-discovery. In her role as Financial Manager, she works closely with HAF’s core staff, President, and Board of Directors to ensure effective accounting functions and financial reporting.
Amina El Hajjami, Director of Projects
Amina was born in the Al Haouz Province, near Marrakech. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in geography from Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech in 2012. While studying, she volunteered with associations in Marrakech and Al Haouz that were involved with local sustainable development. After graduating, she worked with Association N’fis pour le Developpment Economique et Social in the Al Haouz province for three years. While working with the association, she received various certifications relating to her professional development. Amina has been working with HAF since 2014, in establishing and supporting women’s cooperatives and associations and facilitating participatory project planning involving the whole community in a holistic process. She now oversees HAF projects in Morocco.
Kerstin Opfer, Operations Manager
Kerstin Opfer was raised in the German countryside and developed her passion for Morocco while interlacing the Moroccan desert on horseback. Inspired by this experience she volunteered with the High Atlas Foundation in 2016 and contributed to the foundation’s mission for sustainable development. She holds a BSc degree in Biology from the ETH Zurich and an MSc degree in Conservation and Rural Development from the University of Kent. During her MSc studies she conducted part of her research with the foundation, assessing their pro-poor agroforestry project. Since 2018 she works as Operations Manager with the High Atlas Foundation. She is has sound experience in sustainable resource management, community-based conservation and monitoring and evaluation methods.
Ibtissam Niri, Office Manager and Women’s Empowerment Trainer
Ibtissam Niri was born in Marrakech, Morocco, and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Studies, Public Law, from Cadi Ayyad University in 2013. She received a master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomatic and Consular Law from Hassan II University in 2017, and is currently working towards her PhD in Cyberspace at Mohammed V University in Rabat. Ibtissam has volunteered for several associations dedicated to health, education, and sustainable development. In 2013, she became a volunteer at the High Atlas Foundation in Mohammedia, working on participatory democratic planning and management of development projects in Mohammedia City. She is now HAF’s Office Manager and a women’s empowerment facilitator in Marrakech.
Said Bennani, Project Manager, Fes and Ifrane
Said was born and raised in Kalaat M’goung, in the Southeast of Morocco. He joined the HIgh Atlas Foundation in 2016 as an Intern. In 2017, he then started working with HAF as a project manager in Fes and Ifrane regions. Said earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography in 2014 from Cady Ayyad University in Marrakech. He then completed an Internship at the Regional Directorate of Agriculture, also in Marrakech. He is dedicated to helping his country to be a model for human development.
Errachid Montassir, Project Manager
Rachid was born in Rhamna, Morocco. He had studied in OFPPT Center for business management and received his Bachelor’s in English Studies from Cadi Ayyad University. He started as a HAF volunteer, and became a staff member in 2016. Errachid has been leading youth projects, focusing on building empowerment and project development capacities.
Hana Ezaoui, Project Manager, Southern Provinces
Hana Ezzaoui was born in Boujdour, in the Moroccan Sahara. She received her Bachelor’s degree in institutional development from the University of Layoune. Hana has been working with HAF as a participatory facilitator in the province of Boujdour since 2013. She has experience working with local associations, establishing cooperatives, and developing them.
Naima was born and raised in Oujda. She has a PhD in Physics from the University of Metz as well as a Moroccan Ph.D in Physical Sciences from the University of Mohammed I in Oujda. Naima is a Professor of Higher Education, Grade C. Since 2015, Naima has held the position of Pedagogical Advisor at the Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency Training Institute. Previously, she was Director of the Oujda School of Technology for two terms as well as Coordinator of Cnam trainings at UMP. In 2004, Naima was Head of Electrical Engineering Department.
Naima is also active in social work and is a member of several associations: the Office of the Foundation of the Oriental Region in Decentralized Cooperation, chaired by the President of the Regional Council; the Office of the Foundation Omar Ibn Abdelaziz; and the Office of the Happy Childhood, which has a mission to help children in need.
Naima joined the High Atlas Foundation In 2017 as President of the HAF Oriental Association, as well as a Manager of the MEPI project, « Towards an efficient development of the Oriental: capacity building of young people and women of cooperatives. »
Abdeljalil Ait Ali, Agricultural Technician
Abdeljalil was born and raised in Oukaymeden, Al Haouz Province. He has a baccalaureate in Experimental Science and a diploma in agriculture. Abdeljalil worked with many associations in Al Haouz and held many different positions. He worked as a Secretary General of the provincial association of agriculture in Al Haouz, as well as President of the National Committee of Trails and Rounder under the Moroccan Federation of Ski and Mountain Sports. Abdeljalil attended several trainings concerning organic agriculture and agricultural techniques, as well as beekeping. He started his work with High Atlas Foundation in 2014 as Project Assistant and Field Manager, responsible for recording data such as GPS points of trees planted in all sites that HAF has worked in.
Hassan Ait Ouatouch, Project Assistant
Hassan was born near the town of Aguim in the Province of Ourzazate. He has been part of the HAF team since 2014. As HAF’s driver, he is familiar with all the project sites in the different regions of Morocco, and therefore plays an important coordination role as well.
Touria, Office Assistant
Omar Outazki, Nursery Caretaker
Omar was born and raised in Aljamaane village in the Setti Fadma commune. He has worked with Morocco’s High Commission of Water and Forests many years ago, particularly in tree nurseries, Through this work experience, he has been a part of HAF’s team since 2009 as a caretaker in Tadmat nursery.
Abderrahim Beddah, Nursery Caretaker
Hassan Ait Ba, Nursery Caretaker
Hassan was born in Imgdal. He has a background in the agricultural domain and began working with HAF four years ago as a caretaker in the Imgdal nursery. He has participated in several of HAF’s trainings concerning organic agriculture.
Khalid, Nursery Caretaker
Mr. Khalid Naji was born and raised in Oulad Tayeb, Fes in northern Morocco. He earned a gardening diploma after two years of training related to nursery trees and plants. Khalid has worked in many nurseries and joined the High Atlas Foundation in the summer of 2017 as a nursery caretaker in Fes. He has had the chance to plant a lot of trees in his life since a young age, and he continues to plant in the Fes region at HAF nurseries with thousands of seeds.