Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel
Fahed Abu-Akel is Founder and Executive Director of the Atlanta Ministry with International Students Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in Kafr Yasif, in the Galilee, of Christian Palestinian parents. He was ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA in 1978 and has served on the mission staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Rev Fahed was instrumental for mission trips to Kenya, Haiti, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine. He has served the Presbyterian Church in numerous executive capacities including Moderator of its 214th General Assembly, General Assembly Commissioner, board member of the National Middle Eastern Ministries Committee, and member of the Outreach, Christian Education, and Peacemaking Committees of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. He is former vice chair of its Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns and a past board member of the Christian Council and Interfaith Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta. Rev. Fahed has been honored for his life-long dedication to interfaith dialogue and international understanding by many organizations. The National Conference of Christians and Jews honored him with the Clergy of the Year Award, the Arab-American Community with its Georgia Award, and the Greater Atlanta Presbytery with the 1998 Peace Making Award. Kiwanis International named him Outstanding Kiwanian and the National Presbyterian Men’s Organization honored him as 2003 Man of Year. He has a BA from Southeastern University, a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Divinity from the McCormick Theological Seminary. Rev. Fahed has served as Adjunct Professor of World Religions at the Interdenominational Theological Center and currently serves a member of the HCEF Advisory Board.
Arjunia Ayoub-Oakley was born in Amman, Jordan to Palestinian parents from Ramallah. She immigrated to the United States when she was less than 2 years old. Her parents initially moved to Grand Rapids, MI and then to the DC area, where she principally grew up.
Arjunia finished her college education after her kids were born and then earned a Master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins. She started working for Montgomery County Public schools as a teacher assistant in 1997 and in 2004 began as a regular teacher until the present. She is certified as an English and Generic Special Education teacher, Secondary English teacher, and Reading Specialist.
Arjunia has been involved in humanitarian work for Palestine since 1985, working primarily with Palestine Aid Society, which was founded by Anan Ameri. In 1993 and for some years later her family attended Quaker Friends meetings; she was also active in that community in fundraising efforts for Palestinian groups, including the Ramallah Friends School.
Rev. Dr. Alex Awad was born and raised in Jerusalem. After graduation from St. George’s High School, he studied in Europe and then moved to the United States. He finished a BA degree at Lee University and an MA in Education at North Georgia University. He received an MA in Missions and Evangelism from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
For the last 26 years Rev. Awad with his wife Brenda served as missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Israel/Palestine. Until recently he was the pastor of an international church in East Jerusalem and taught courses at Bethlehem Bible College, where he served as a faculty member, dean of students, and board member. In June 2015, Rev. Awad was awarded an honorary doctorate at Bethlehem Bible College’s annual commencement. Until his retirement in June 2015, Rev. Awad directed the Shepherd Society which is the humanitarian arm of Bethlehem Bible College. Many needy Palestinians seek the help of the Shepherd Society in meeting emergency needs such as food, medicine and employment.
Rev. Awad has written Through the Eyes of the Victims and Palestinian Memories; both books reveal the realities of life under Israeli military occupation. He has published numerous articles that call for justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. He and his wife live in Eugene, Oregon, and have three children and two grandchildren.
Zeina Azzam worked as Director of Educational Outreach at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, from 1994 to 2013. She is now Publications Editor for Arab Center Washington DC. Previously, she also served as Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center. A Palestinian whose parents fled Haifa in 1948, Zeina spent her childhood in Beirut then moved to the United States. She writes about Palestine and the refugee experience, and her articles have been published in Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Common Dreams, Jadaliyya, Al Jazeera English, and Middle East Eye. Her poems have appeared on the Split This Rock website, in Miznaand Sukoon magazines other poetry journals, and in five edited volumes, including Gaza Unsilenced. Zeina volunteers as a mentor for youth from Gaza for the writing program, We Are Not Numbers. She is also active in Grassroots Alexandria, a local civil rights advocacy group in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives. Her academic background includes an MA in Arabic Literature from Georgetown University, an MA in Sociology from George Mason University, and a BA in Psychology from Vassar College.
Philip was born in Jerusalem in 1952, four years after his family was driven out of their home in what became Israeli West Jerusalem. He received his education at the Anglican St. George’s School in Jerusalem and later studied political science at the American University of Beirut. He returned to Jerusalem to teach at several schools in the West Bank and at Birzeit University. Philip was active in the nonviolent struggle against the Israeli occupation; he was among Palestinian progressives who pioneered relations with anti-occupation Israelis.
Philip came to the United States at the age of 27 to continue his university education, earning a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Economics from the University of New Mexico. He has lived and worked in several countries in the Middle East. He currently works as an economist in Washington, DC, and lives in Vienna, VA with his wife and three children. He is a founding member, in 2000, of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace and the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace. Philip has addressed audiences across the United States on Middle East peace and justice issues, and he has occasionally blogged on the Huffington Post.
Luma is currently the Executive Director of Operations at WHUT, where she started five years ago as the Director of Administration. During this time Luma honed her many skills by managing a number of outreach and production initiatives including “Facing the Mortgage Crisis,” “Looking for Lincoln,” and “Arab American Stories.” Luma also actively participated in the planning and implementation of the “Raising Readers” outreach campaign to promote literacy in young readers. Currently she is responsible for overseeing all station operations, with a special emphasis on fiscal management and oversight of all outreach and station grant activities. She is also heavily involved in all areas of development from programming to membership. She has served as the Executive Producer for a number WHUT’s locally produced program series such as “Evening Exchange” and “Vocal Point.” Prior to joining WHUT Luma worked as the office manager for the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, an organization committed to maintaining the presence and growth of the Arab Christians in the Holy Land. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Beirut Arab University and is a Certified Field Technician and Producer.
Nahida Halaby Gordon
Nahida Halaby Gordon is professor emerita of statistics and currently serves on the boards of Friends of Sabeel North America and Embrace the Children of Palestine. She served as Senior Fulbright Scholar at Birzeit University, Palestine, and is a founding member of the Interfaith Committee for Peace in the Middle East. A life-long Presbyterian, Nahida is a church Elder and serves on several Presbyterian Church (USA) committees. Born in Jerusalem, she is a Palestinian-American who was driven from her home during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba; her book, Palestine is Our Home: Voices of Loss, Courage, and Steadfastness, is an expression of her passion for peace and justice for the people of Palestine. In addition to extensive professional publications, she has published articles on Palestine in the Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, CounterPunch, and Unbound
Jonathan Kuttab is a Palestinian attorney and human rights activist. He grew up in Jerusalem and studied in the United States, graduating from University of Virginia law School. He worked a couple of years at the Wall Street Law firm of Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander. He is a member of the Bar Associations in New York, Israel, and Palestine. Jonathan founded a number of human rights organizations including Al Haq and the Mandela Institute for Palestinian Prisoners. He is the Chairman of the Board of Holy Land Trust and is active in many other civil society organizations in Palestine and internationally. He was the Head of the Legal Committee negotiating the Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the PLO and has been active in peace and justice issues for many years. Jonathan is a recognized authority on international law, human rights, and Palestinian and Israeli affairs.
Maher Massis is a resident of Northern Virginia — married with two daughters Lina and Petra. He received his Masters in International Affairs and Law from the American University and his Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on Comparative Politics and International Relations from the University of Houston. He had taught at various colleges and universities and now is in the real estate business. Maher had several articles and studies published in the Arabs Study Quarterly, Palestine Chronicle, Jordan Times, and had been interviewed by local TV News networks and various international media. Most recently he edited an anthology of poems — Poems For Palestine published in 2016. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to charity. Maher has also volunteered at various organizations such as the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation and also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Coalition of Palestinian American Organizations. Maher strongly believes that a Palestinian Christian narrative must be part of the discussion on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the peace process and as a board member has spoken at various panels and events.
Paul is a Palestinian American who lived in Jordan as a child and moved to the United States in 1970. He has a BS in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University and an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Maryland. He is a licensed civil engineer with about 25 years of experience specializing in land development and public works in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Paul has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East. He has been active with several organizations working for peace and justice in the Middle East, including Virginians for Middle East Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the Arab American Democratic Caucus of Virginia. He was an Obama Delegate to the Virginia State Convention in June 2008, and has served on various Get-Out-the Vote and Democratic campaigns. Paul is a founding member of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace. He lives with his wife and son in Vienna, VA.
Ghassan J. Tarazi
Ghassan was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, four months after they were forced to leave their home in Jerusalem. His family then immigrated to Brooklyn, New York in 1956. He received BA and MA degrees in History, with a focus on Middle East History, and completed a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Virginia Tech. He spent 37 years in public education, ending his career as a professor in the teacher preparation program at James Madison University. Ghassan served, in a post-retirement role, as Executive Director of United Palestinian Appeal, Inc. He is also chair of the Alliance of Baptists’ Community for Justice in Palestine and Israel. He and his wife have organized and led members of their church on trips to Israel and Palestine and have been very involved in the Palestine struggle for justice in Palestine and Israel locally, nationally, and internationally. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace.