Over a 18-year career, Fersan has dedicated herself to improving policy and changing lives through international development, policy advocacy, campaigning and fundraising, collaborating with national and international agencies including the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations and local governments. Fersan’s advocacy work focuses on women, LGBT and immigrant rights in the U.S., Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa. Fersan’s scholarship focused on Syro-Lebanese immigration to the United States and Brazil, it’s effect on the economy through brain drain and ways to turn it into an economic gain for Lebanon. She was the director of the Immigrants and Global Migration Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC), Gould School of Law (2018-2020), and an Adjunct Professor of History at the American University of Science and Technology, Beirut (2008-2012).
Fersan is the founder and CEO of Global Nexus Solutions, LLC a Los Angeles based consulting firm specializing in global public affairs and social impact. As an international development practitioner, Fersan has advised agencies and governments, including the U.S. Department of State, the Dutch and French governments, and multi-national clients on fundraising, campaigning, policy reform, advocacy, international government and policy affairs, public private partnership building and strategic planning. She trains diplomats, non-governmental organization (NGO) executives and policy advocates on topics such as global migration, gender inclusion, coalition building, fundraising, governance and mobilization. She has a portfolio of $20 million in fundraising throughout her career.
Fersan’s accomplishments include investigating and exposing a sex trafficking network of LGBT Syrian refugees, passing the first public non-smoking ban in a city in the Middle East and North Africa region and creating and facilitating funding of programs to increase the inclusion of women’s political participation both at the local and national levels in Lebanon. She is a Global Women Leader Eisenhower Fellow (2015), named one of UNESCO’s Top 40 Lebanese Women from the Grassroots and has won numerous U.S. Department of State honor awards for her contributions to civil society development.
Other accomplishments include serving as senior program manager for the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Embassy of Beirut (2009-2014). In addition to yearly multimillion-dollar grant management, Fersan designed and executed the first comprehensive mission-wide engagement strategy with the LGBTQ community and regional institutional strengthening programs for women-led NGOs. She advised the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon’s on civil society issues and policy reform and advised national organizations on advocacy campaigns that successfully reformed policies, giving women equal custody rights and increasing their political participation by 50%, and facilitating access to standardized contracts and paid leave for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.
Fersan also worked at the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) regional office in Amman, Jordan as Assistant Regional Communications Director of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2008). She wrote several features about people living with HIV, forced labor of migrant workers, female genital mutilation and LGBTQ rights. She also served as the assistant secretary general of the MENA Catholic schools (2005-2008), led the 2006 post war relief efforts for impacted Catholic schools in south Lebanon, and drafted the MENA Catholic education strategic plan and institutional reform guidelines for the Vatican commission on education.
Fersan was lauded for launching and directing the Youth and Culture Center (YCC) of the city of Zouk Mikael (2008-2014) winning regional and international accolades for building a grassroots organization to national and regional prominence. She received the Guangzhou 2012 Global Deserving Initiative award for contributions to urban human development including job creation, promotion of rural creative industries, the passage of the first public smoking-ban in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and increasing women political participation in local governments.
Fersan received many prestigious awards for her efforts in the fields of development, human rights, women’s empowerment and LGBTQ Rights from the U.S. Department of State (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and the Dutch Foreign Ministry (2014, 2015, 2016). Fersan is featured among the top 40 Lebanese Female Role Models in the UNESCO Career Guidance from Grassroots (2013) and she is laureate of the Eisenhower Fellowship (2015), and a Truman National Security Fellow (2020).
Fersan is Lebanese-American and studies the history of migration from the Middle East to the Americas, climate migration and U.S. immigration policies. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) – Lebanon, earning a master’s degree in History. She received her BA in History from the USEK. She lived in Lebanon, Jordan, Canada and the United States, and traveled to 20+ countries. She is fluent in French, English and Arabic, with a working knowledge in Spanish.
What People Say About Me…
“Eliane is a transformative leader, with a clear vision & ability to develop strategic outcomes while collaborating with & leading her coworkers & external stakeholders towards mutual goals.”
The Hon. Former CA State Senator Martha Escutia, VP of Government Relations, University of Southern California (USC).
“Elle Fersan is a visionary, committed, inspiring, enthusiastic, and a compassionate leader dedicated to a world that works for all, especially in the areas of the global refugee crisis, women and human rights.”
Barry Simon, President, the United Nations Association of the USA, Southern California Division.
“Elle is a strategist who brings analysis for critical systemic change while crafting plans for concrete steps to bring it to life today.”
Brie Loskota, ED, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC.
“In a world of brutal inequality, Elle is a masterful connector with a perspective that inspires cooperation & hope.”
Jordi Ortega, Filmmaker, TORO BRAVO.
“Passionate leader driven by a deep belief in social justice & equity. She is a person of integrity, an amazing networker & incredible team player.”
Dina Sherif, ED, Legatum Center, MIT.
“Elle is a creative leader who gets the job done. She is passionate about driving an inclusive agenda where equity is central.”
Dr. Linda Lopez, LA Mayor’s Chief of Immigrant Affairs.
“Elle is an outstanding leader with a strong global vision. She was one of the top candidates selected for our Women’s Leadership Program in a competitive pool in 2015. She is an excellent public speaker and since her fellowship has given back to Eisenhower Fellowships by speaking at conferences and serving on EF’s newly formed Los Angeles Steering Committee. She is a dynamic passionate leader.”
Erin Hillman, VP of Programs and Operations, Eisenhower Fellowships.
“… I’ve never worked with anyone who was brighter than Eliane. She has it all: the knowledge, the vision, and the communication skills. She is extremely passionate about what she does and very generous in the help she gives. I have learned a lot from Eliane over the years and know I will continue to learn.”
Dr. Omar Fattal, MD, MPH
Deputy Medical Director, Behavioral Health. NYC Health and Hospitals
“Elle Fersan is a passionate, committed leader with the vision, intelligence and energy to move big ideas forward.”
Kate Weber, Executive Director, Public Exchange, University of Southern California
“Eliane is a powerful and visionary female leader, an excellentnetworker and connector and a dedicated internationaldevelopment professional with a strong passion for human rights.I enjoyed working with her, she is an asset to any team.”
Baukje Dijkstra, Diplomat, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“In all of our work together, Elle looked at situations of injustice and saw the potential for how to challenge the status quo, and importantly brought others along with her due to her energy and spirit of possibility.”
Robyn Barnard, Esq. Staff Attorney at Human Rights First
“For me, the best aspect of working with Elle is that I can always feel safe and certain that she will find a way to accomplish any task or project she takes on.”
Jack Harrison-Quintana, Vice President for Social Impact, Executive Director, G4E