Our Team

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Catherine Rielly, Ph. D.

Executive Director and President

Catherine Rielly  has been president of Rubia since it received its 501c3 non-profit status in 2009. In 2013, Rachel Lehr passed the torch to her as Executive Director.  Previously Dr. Rielly taught international community economic development for eight years at Southern New Hampshire University’s School of Community Economic Development where she was Professor and International Academic Program Chair.

A Political Economist, she has conducted research, training, and technical assistance for the past twenty-five years on women’s empowerment, public policy, economics, democratization and governance, for the following organizations:  the Harvard Institute for International Development, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNDP, the Asian Development Bank, USAID, the Governments of Mali, Zambia, and Uganda, and the Kennedy School of Government. Her research focuses on women’s economic empowerment and fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS through building women’s financial independence. As a Fulbright Scholar in Cameroon, she conducted doctoral research on women’s participation in informal savings and credit organizations and the gender-specific division of labor and income.

She received her Ph.D. and Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; and her B.A in History from Stanford University.  Dr. Rielly has conducted comparative research and written journal articles on policy processes in over twenty countries.

Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn!


Rachel Lehr, Ph. D.

Founder of Rubia, Inc.

Award winning artist and scholar Rachel Lehr’s academic training in linguistics and Persian, at Barnard College and University of Chicago, took her traveling across Central Asia during the 1970s-80s.  

While studying and living in Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, Rachel developed a deep interest in the culture and arts of the region, and in the lives of its women and children.  In 2000 Rachel reestablished contact with a community of Afghans then living as refugees in Pakistan. Following her first trip to Pakistan, Rachel helped found Rubia.

Rachel's work and research focuses on the domestic spheres occupied by rural Afghan women, capturing the rhythm and vitality of life in women's private spaces.

Her scholarship has concentrated on dialects of Persian spoken in Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. She received her doctorate in linguistics at the University of Chicago, where she wrote a descriptive grammar of Pashai, an endangered language spoken in Darrai Nur, a rural mountain community in eastern Afghanistan. In 2017, she published The Carpetbaggers of Kabul and Other American-Afghan Entanglements, together with Jennifer Fluri.


Mary Rose Scozzafava, Ph.D.

Board Member

Dr. Mary Rose Scozzafava is a retired partner at Wilmer Hale in Boston. Her practice focused on helping clients identify and protect their intellectual property with an emphasis on strategically building their patent portfolios and intellectual property litigation. She is an experienced attorney who has represented a variety of technology clients, particularly those in the alternative energy and medical fields. Over the course of her career, she has advised on all aspects of intellectual property and has represented clients in patent litigation in Federal Courts and before the International Trade Commission. She is a partner in the firm's Intellectual Property and Litigation/Controversy Departments, and a member of the Intellectual Property Litigation and Nanotechnology Practice Groups. She joined the firm in 2001.

With respect to patent advice and prosecution, Dr. Scozzafava has extensive experience in client counseling and patent prosecution in technical areas such as solar cells, energy storage, renewable fuels, chemistry (including pharmaceutical formulations, polymers and coatings), pharmaceuticals and materials science (including self-assembled materials, microfluidics, superconducting materials). Dr. Scozzafava has experience with patent litigation in the International Trade Commission (ITC) and in the Federal Courts, involving various aspects, electronic devices, semiconductor fabrications and pharmaceuticals. She has represented clients such as Proctor & Gamble and Intel in a variety of jurisdictions.  Prior to joining the legal profession, Dr. Scozzafava held a research position in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Susan Foster, MSW, MPH

Board Member

Susan Foster brings over 25 years of clinical, research, and program evaluation experience to her consulting practice. Her research and consulting focuses on community-based initiatives intended to create systems change.  She has designed and conducted numerous evaluations of the development and implementation of collaborative structures intended to integrate diverse service systems and to influence policy change. Ms. Foster has also written papers and articles for publication on primary care and mental health, school mental health, and evidence-based practices and co-occurring disorders in chronic homelessness. Her research career builds on years of clinical social work experience in primary care, substance use, and HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Foster currently provides consultation to non-profit organizations, national research firms, and foundations in the areas of research, evaluation, and strategic planning.  Ms. Foster received her Master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Health from Columbia University in 1986, and she is a licensed clinical social worker.


Nabila Baba-Ali, Ph.D., MBA

Board Member

Dr Nabila Baba-Ali is currently a Consulting Systems Engineer at ODA Optics where she is responsible for providing R&D support to ODA’s international clients.

She grew up in Algeria and has a BSc in Physics from the university of Science and Technology in Algiers, Algeria, a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Nottingham University in Nottingham, UK and an MBA from the Open University Business School in Milton Keynes, UK.

After completing her PhD, she lectured in Engineering at both Oxford University and Nottingham University in the UK. Later in her career, when she moved to the US she worked in R&D for several technology companies, including a startup, mostly in the field of semiconductors. She also worked for Schlumberger, a major oilfield services company, as a Reliability Engineer in France. She has many interests including reading, traveling and Islamic Art.

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Jessica Antoline

Board Member

Jessica Antoline is an educator and historian based in Massachusetts. A full-time teacher at Lexington High School, Jessica also provides translations and consultations for Jewish and other genealogical and family history services for individuals around the world.

Trained in history, archaeology, museum studies, and education, Jessica’s interests can be found at the intersection of identity, ethics, and economics.

Jessica holds a BA in Religion and Archaeology from Boston University, a MA in History & Museum Studies from Tufts University, and is certified to teach both middle and high school social studies. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in education.

In her free time, you can find Jessica dancing, creating fiber arts, and gardening.

Kimberly McLaughlin

Board Member

A native of New York, Kimberly relocated to Yarmouth, Maine in 1997.  She is the executive director of a consumer advocacy organization where she draws from more than twenty-five years of financial and technical risk analysis experience to bring economic justice to families through financial literacy and foreclosure mitigation work.  

Kimberly contributed to Maine legislation that provided consumer protection reforms in the lending industry and during the foreclosure process.  She co-authored a research paper on the subprime mortgage market published by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2008, and is recognized as an expert on the mortgage industry.  She serves on the Board of the World Affairs Council of Maine and was a delegate to the 2011 World Affairs Councils of America Leadership Mission to Azerbaijan.

Kimberly holds a M.S. in Community Economic Development with an International Concentration and aspires to apply her passion for economic justice and international affairs to work with direct impacts on developing nations.  

Zala Ahmad

Board Member

Zala Ahmad is co-founder of Humanitarian Organization for Local Development (HOLD). She has over ten years’ professional experience working for such organizations as UNESCO, a variety of USAID contractors, and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education.

Ms. Ahmad’s areas of expertise are economic development, gender and education. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored Ms. Ahmad’s work for girls’ education during the 10th anniversary celebration of the US-Afghan Women’s Council in 2012.

Ms. Ahmad has a B.A. in Social Development Studies from Iqra University, Pakistan and a M.A. in International Economics and Finance from the International Business School (IBS) at Brandeis University, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar.


Jill Benezra

Sasha Rath


Sasha brings more than a decade of experience in small business operations to provide Rubia with financial oversight and analysis.

Her parents survived the genocide during Pol Pot's takeover of Cambodia and arrived in America as refugees.  She has an emotional connection with Rubia's mission to create opportunity for those in oppressed and war-torn areas.

She currently spends her time learning about law, finance, and public policy development.  She also studies the impact of events, social expectations, laws, and religions on families in different regions of the world and times in history.

Sasha has a BA in English and Comparative Literature from San Jose State University. She is a NALA Certified Paralegal and Massachusetts Notary Public.

Connect with Sasha on LinkedIn!

Keena Gao

Marketing and Sales Intern

Keena is a junior at Lexington High School and supports Rubia with digital media creation and maintenance.

She is responsible for developing marketing campaigns, keeping up the organization’s website, and posting Rubia’s Instagram and Facebook feeds.