CIEL is a collective of strategists with expertise in strategic planning, design thinking, innovation practice, media strategy, content production, design processes (including service, graphic, and product), communications strategy, and audience and stakeholder engagement. Our subject matter expertise ranges from human rights and international development, to climate change, racial justice, gender issues, and migration/refugee issues. 

Our Founder

Lina Srivastava is the founder of CIEL, catalyzing and amplifying social impact through creative media. Lina is a strategist who combines technology, culture, art, and storytelling for social transformation by:

  • bringing new narrative forms and distribution techniques to human rights and global development initiatives

  • using cultural expression and cultural identity as foundational elements of social transformation

  • integrating needs expressed by local communities as instrumental in program design.

Lina is the co-creator of the My City project, and the lead on the Transformational Change Leadership storytelling project. She has worked strategic project design to a group of social impact organizations, including UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, AARP, the U.S. State Department, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The former Executive Director of Kids with Cameras, and the Association of Video and Filmmakers, Lina has been involved in engagement campaigns for several documentaries, including Oscar-winning Born into Brothels, Emmy-nominated The Devil Came on Horseback, Oscar-winning Inocente, Sundance-award winning Who Is Dayani Cristal?, and climate change film How To Let Go of the World and Let Go of All Those Things Climate Can’t Change. She has taught design and social entrepreneurship at Parsons, The New School of Design, and is on faculty in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Design and Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts, where teaches on media, engagement, activism, and innovation. Lina has been an advisor to Global Grassroots, Donor Direct Action, Studio Rev, Lakou Mizik, Tech4Good and Circle of 6 App, Electric South, and Memria. She is a Fulbright Specialist candidate, on the US State Department’s American Film Showcase roster, a Rockwood Institute/JustFilms Fellow, a recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation leadership grant, a Civic Hall Labs Fellow, a Boehm Media Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Lina is a graduate of New York University School of Law.  

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Our Senior Strategists

Linda Raftree supports strategy, program design, research, and technology in international development initiatives. She developed and co-organizes MERL Tech, a series of events and discussions about technology-enabled monitoring, evaluation, research and learning. Linda advises Girl Effect Mobile (GEM) on digital safety, security and privacy and supports the organization with research and strategy. She co-led the development of Catholic Relief Services’ Digital Data Policy and was part of the team that developed USAID’s Responsible Data Policy. Since 2011, Linda has been advising The Rockefeller Foundation’s Evaluation Office on the use of ICTs in monitoring and evaluation. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she worked for 16 years with Plan International. She has published discussion papers on adolescent girls and ICTs for UNICEF, the role of ICTs in child and youth migration for the Oak Foundation, mobile technologies and youth workforce development for the mEducation Alliance, ICT-enabled monitoring and evaluation for Rockefeller and technology and civic engagement for ONE. Linda is a co-founder of Regarding Humanity, which encourages debate and dialogue around the portrayal of ‘the poor’ in the media, social impact work, and non-profit marketing. She runs Technology Salons in New York City and advocates for ethical approaches for using ICTs and digital data in the humanitarian and development space. Linda writes “Wait, What?” a blog about technology and community development. Follow Linda on Twitter. 

James Carter is a writer, curator, experience designer and producer. He was a founding member of terraNOVA Collective and its associate artistic director for eight years. Multi-platform stage plays include FEEDER: A Love Story (terraNOVA/HERE, NYC) and NY_Hearts (One Muse Presents & The Brick Game Play Festival). He served as marketing manager for terraNOVA Collective and the Ensemble Studio Theater. James is an editorial associate for The Civilians’ Extended Play and has written articles for The Creators Project, ArtsFwd, and Theatre Communications Group. He also teaches digital storytelling to youth and young adults with MIRA. Follow JD on Twitter.

Sahar Ghaheri is a multi-disciplinary designer, who works with socially minded companies and non-profits to develop solutions for the communities they serve. She is co-founder of dh studio, a Brooklyn-based design consultancy that creates products, brands, and experiences that effect positive change internationally.  She has a BFA in Graphic Design and Photography from Washington University in St. Louis and holds a Master's of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute. Find Sahar on LinkedIn.

Vanessa Parra is a media professional with over ten years of experience focused on managing complex campaigns requiring deployment to humanitarian emergencies, cultivating relationships with high-profile media outlets, and sensitive, timely responses to acute emergencies. Most recently a Senior Press Officer for Oxfam America, Vanessa has served as the Press and Information Officer for Refugees International, Associate Director of Communications for Humanity United, and Media Relations Officer for International Rescue Committee. Follow Vanessa on Twitter.

Ishita Srivastava is a digital content producer, filmmaker, and culture change enthusiast. As Deputy Director of programs at Breakthrough, she has produced and directed multiple digital projects about gender, most notably THE G WORD, an interactive storytelling platform about people’s personal stories about gender norms and gender-based violence. Ishita also headed up Breakthrough campaigns about immigrant women’s rights, #ImHere, Restore Fairness, and Deport the Statue. She has directed and produced numerous videos and animations, for those campaigns and other Breakthrough projects, focusing on shifting cultural norms about gender and engaging men in gender justice. Born and raised in New Delhi, she holds a BA in English literature from St. Stephens College (Delhi), a BA in media and communications from Goldsmiths College (London), and an MA in cinema studies and culture and media from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Follow Ishita on Twitter.