SOURCE: Search for Common Ground; Soliya

Search for Common Ground; Soliya

Search for Common Ground; Soliya

February 05, 2014 10:30 ET

Search for Common Ground and Soliya to Join Together

Groups to Work as One Team Under Leadership of Shamil Idriss

WASHINGTON, DC and BRUSSELS, BELGIUM and NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Feb 5, 2014) -  Search for Common Ground (or "Search"), the peacebuilding organization with operations in 33 countries across four continents, and Soliya, an organization that has pioneered the use of new media in cross-cultural dialogue and education, today announced that Soliya is joining Search to work as one unified team advancing their shared mission.

Separately, Search announced that Shamil Idriss will become its President, effective September 1, 2014 (see: Mr. Idriss, 41, is currently the CEO of Soliya and also serves on the Search Board of Directors. He previously worked for Search for 13 years, including as its COO. Search Founder and President John Marks and Senior Vice President Susan Collin Marks have decided to transition to new roles within Search, effective September 1. The full operational integration of Search and Soliya will be completed soon after regulatory approvals are obtained.

Going forward, operating under Search's auspices, Soliya's programs will retain the Soliya name. Soliya will continue to implement virtual exchange programming and online training, and will seek to leverage Search's global presence and substantial expertise to augment and scale up its programming. The current Soliya team will continue to operate these programs. Current Search employees will continue to operate Search programs.

"Today's announcement represents many things. It demonstrates our mutual determination for persistent and entrepreneurial innovation to drive the world's cross-cultural peacebuilding. It reflects our commitment to cooperation and collaboration as the fundamental means of addressing the most vexing challenges of the 21st century. It marshals the energy and potential of our two groups, and it signals the emergence of a new generation of leaders in peacebuilding. By joining together, we will build on the founding visions of our two organizations to break new frontiers in new ways," said John Marks, Susan Collin Marks, Shamil Idriss and Soliya Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Lucas Welch jointly.

The joint statement continued, "As a pioneer in the use of new media technologies to connect divided communities, Soliya seeks to significantly scale the reach and impact of its programs by drawing on Search's global institutional base and leading expertise in the field of peacebuilding. For its part, Soliya offers Search a scale-able means to advance its mission through innovative educational programming that further strengthens Search's role in the 'preventative' side of conflict transformation -- helping to educate and prepare younger generations to shift the way the world deals with its differences. Soliya's programming is complementary to -- and will further enrich -- Search's work. 

"It will add to Search's toolkit innovative new interactive media work and virtual exchange programming, putting Search on the forefront of what will be a fast-growing sub-set of our field: the use of new and social media to transform conflict.

"We can't think of a better team of peacebuilders than the men and women of Search and Soliya. We have been privileged to work with these extraordinary people and can only imagine what we'll all accomplish together."

Shamil Idriss concluded, "I am thrilled that Soliya and Search will come together and am honored to be named as incoming President. John and Susan's passion for, and commitment to, peace and justice is an inspiration to me and so many peacebuilders of my generation. They have built an incredible team at Search that I very much look forward to joining and leading and I am grateful that they too will remain part of that team for years to come. 

"And I extend a very special acknowledgement to Lucas Welch and Liza Chambers -- co-founders of Soliya -- for their outstanding vision and leadership in creating and building Soliya. Together with Soliya's Board, staff, and volunteers, they pioneered the use of new media technologies to enable virtual exchanges across cultures, moving us closer to a world in which every young person can have a meaningful cross-cultural experience as part of their education. Soliya is a living legacy to Liza's commitment to deep dialogue across difference and Lucas' spirit of relentless innovation. I am indebted to them both for entrusting me to lead Soliya in this direction to do even greater things in the years ahead as part of Search for Common Ground."

About Search for Common Ground
Search for Common Ground works to prevent and end violent conflict in countries that are experiencing violence, facing the threat of it, or dealing with its after-effects. Search has a 32-year track record of equipping individuals and societies with the knowledge and skills to find alternatives to violence. By understanding and tackling the root causes of conflict, and by working with local partners in 33 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, Search helps communities deal with their differences constructively. Learn more at

About Soliya
Founded in 2003, Soliya combines the power of dialogue with the reach of new media -- connecting, inspiring and empowering the next generation of change agents to shift the way our societies relate, from confrontation to cooperation. Through its flagship virtual exchange program -- the Connect Program -- and UN-certified Facilitation Training, Soliya has engaged thousands of students in 27 countries, supporting and training young leaders who are actively bridging divides across nations and within their local communities. Soliya is a pioneer in the field of virtual exchange, which holds the promise of enabling every young person to have a meaningful cross cultural experience as part of their education. Additional information is available at

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