“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Speakers’ Biographies



Friday – Saturday, November 5-6, 2010
The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center
3900 Harewood Road, Washington, DC

Awards Banquet
Friday, November 5, 2010

Reception: 6:00PM

Dinner: 7:00PM

Bethesda Marriott
5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda, MD




The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, S.T.D.

Archbishop, Archdiocese of Washington President and Chairman, The Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation, Inc.

The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, S.T.D. is the sixth Archbishop of Washington. He was installed in June 2006. He is known nationally for his catechetical and teaching ministry and for his efforts on behalf of Catholic education. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including the best-selling catechisms, The Teaching of Christ and The Catholic Way.

While serving on numerous national and international bodies, Archbishop Wuerl is also currently chairman of the board of directors of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, chancellor of The Catholic University of America and chairman of the board of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. He is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and a member of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. He is the former chairman of the board for the National Catholic Educational Association and of the board of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Archbishop Wuerl is a member of the Board of Directors of the Commissariat of the Holy Land for the United States and has visited the Holy Land on numerous.

In April 2008, Archbishop Wuerl hosted in Washington Pope Benedict XVI on the Holy Father’s historic journey to the United States.  He is also active in community activities, joining with civic and business leaders to promote education, service to the poor, pastoral assistance to refugees and immigrants as well as interfaith understanding.

Archbishop Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University while attending the North American College, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome in 1974. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1966, and ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1986 in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment toWashington


Ambassador Maen Areikat

Chief of Missions

General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the US

Maen Rashid Areikat was born October 12, 1960 in Jericho in the occupied West Bank.

Prior to his appointment to Washington, Mr. Areikat served for 11 years at the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) of the PLO in Ramallah, most recently as its Deputy Head and Coordinator-General (2008-2009).  Mr. Areikat first joined NAD in 1998, when it was headed by current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and served as its Director-General until March 2008.  In addition to overseeing NAD’s day-to-day operations, Mr. Areikat was responsible for overseeing the work of the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), which provides legal, policy, communication and technical support to Palestinian Negotiating Teams and to the Palestinian Leadership.

Prior to his service at NAD, Mr. Areikat spent six years at Orient House (1993-1998), the headquarters of the PLO in Jerusalem and of the Palestinian Negotiating Team to the Madrid peace talks.  While at Orient House, he served as spokesperson for the late Mr. Faisal Husseini, former PLO Executive Committee member in charge of Jerusalem Affairs, and later as Desk Officer for the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa in Orient House’s International Relations Department.  Mr. Areikat previously took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun/Erez in Gaza and Taba in Egypt in 1996, in Jerusalem in 1997 and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation at the Wye River negotiations in 1998.

During the course of his career, Mr. Areikat has traveled extensively throughout the region and abroad, including numerous official visits to Washington, DC and several European capitals, and has participated in various conferences and symposiums on the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Areikat earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1983 and his MBA in management from Western International University in 1987.  He received his diplomatic training at the Ministry of External Affairs in Ottawa, Canada in 1993 and 1994, and completed a training course in good governance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2001.

Mr. Areikat is joined in Washington by his wife Jumana and their three boys, Rashid (10 years), Saif (8 years) and Amr (5 years).

Berlanty Azzam

Berlanty Azzam

Bethlehem University Student

from Gaza

Berlanty Azzam is a recent graduate of the School of Business, Bethlehem University. Born in Kuwait in 1987, she had to flee with her family to Gaza as a result of the Gulf War in 1991. After completing her undergraduate schooling there, she applied to Bethlehem University in 2005. That year the Israeli Military Occupation Authority instituted the siege of Gaza precluding all travel, even for students who had been accepted by or studying at Palestinian universities on the West Bank. After many obstacles, Bethlehem University and the Latin Patriarchate were able to gain permission from the Israeli authorities for Berlanty to enter the University. Her dream had come true when she heard: ”You are considered a Bethlehem student.”


For the next five years, she diligently pursued her B.A. all the while the Israeli authorities precluded her visiting her family in Gaza even at Christmas time. Barely two months before graduation, Berlanty was suddenly arrested by the Israeli military. Blindfolded, handcuffed, interrogated, her personal effects taken, she was deported, dropped off at night in the no-man’s land on the Israeli-Gaza border. Her crime: her Israeli issued ID showed that she had lived in Gaza 5 years earlier.


Despite appeals by the University, the Latin Patriarch, and numerous Israeli and international human rights organizations, the highest courts of the State of Israel denied her request to finish her degree. To right this blatant wrong, Bethlehem University made special arrangements for Berlanty to complete her degree in Gaza. She graduated on January 10, 2010.


Berlanty is deeply grateful for all who supported her, most especially Bethlehem University. But her future is limited as she cannot leave Gaza. However, she still considers herself fortunate knowing that a million young people in Gaza do not have the opportunity she had while the collective punishment of her people continues under the Gaza blockage.


Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J

Editor in Chief, America Magazine

HCEF Advisory Board

Drew Christiansen, S.J. has been editor-in-chief of the national Jesuit weekly America since 2005. From 1991 to 1998, he headed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of International Justice and Peace, and from 1998-2004 he continued to serve as counselor for international affairs to the USCCB.  At the request of the Holy See, he organized and staffed a coalition of bishops’ conferences working in support of the church in the Holy Land.

Father Christiansen served as the lead staff person in the drafting of the bishops’ 1993 peace pastoral, The Harvest of Justice Is Sown In Peace, which provided the basis for USCCB’s post-Cold War policy. He is co-author of Forgiveness in Conflict Resolution (2004), and co-editor of Peacemaking: Moral and Policy Challenges for the 90s (1994) and of Michel Sabbah, Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land (New City. 2009). Father Christiansen was also the U.S. bishops’ principal advisor for their 1991 pastoral statement on the environment, Renewing the Earth, and he organized and supervised the bishops’ environmental justice program, which sparked parish, diocesan and regional environmental activities. He is co-editor of And God Saw It Was Good”: Catholic Theology and the Environment (USCCB, 1996).

In 1996, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem invested Father Christiansen as a Canon of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem) for his work for the Church in the Holy Land. Pope John Paul II appointed Christiansen as expert for the 1997 Synod of America, and he served as a member of the Holy See Observer Delegation to the November, 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle. The same year he served as an expert at the First Congress of Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East at Fatqa, Lebanon. In 2003, he received the Manhattan College Peace Studies Award.
Father Christiansen served a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for the Mennonite-Catholic Dialogue and is a consultant to the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. He is a participant in the official (USCCB) national Jewish-Catholic dialogues and is a member of the current round of the U.S. Methodist-Catholic dialogue.

Father Christiansen was ordained a priest in 1972 and received his doctorate in religious social ethics from Yale University in 1982. He has twice been a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Washington, D.C. (1977-1980, 1998-2002), serving as the center’s acting director in 2002. He has been associate professor of theology and staff fellow of the Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame (1986-1990); assistant professor of social ethics, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union (1981-86) and director, Center for Ethics and Social Policy, Berkeley (1982-86).

Recent articles include “Metaphysics and Society: A Commentary on Caritas in Veritate” (Theological Studies, March 2010) and “The Ethics of Peacemaking,” (Journal of Ecumenical Studies, forthcoming). Other recent articles have appeared in Civilta Cattolica  and Popoli (Italy), Projet and Christus (France), Razon y Fe (Spain), Mensaje (Chile), Faith in International Affairs, Ecumenical Trends and Seminary Journal (USA) as well as America.

Jack Curran

Brother Jack Curran

Vice President for Development, Bethlehem University

Brother Jack Curran, FSC, PhD, is in his eighth year as Vice President for Development at BethlehemUniversity, the first university established in the West Bank and the only Catholic university in the Holy Land. Together with Father Ray Webb from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Chicago and as part of an international comparative Human Rights and Religion project developed through Radbound University, The Netherlands, Brother Jack has conducted an empirical–theoretical exploratory study that explored the relationship between human rights and religion among Muslim and Christian adolescents and young adults in the Bethlehem region. Brother Jack, together with the Student Ambassadors group that he founded at the University in 2003, often welcome international dignitaries and visitors from various Church and faith traditions, diplomats, academics, and pilgrim groups – engaging them in discussions about the significance of education in the human development of the West Bank and its impact on a realization for a future of justice and peace.   Before going to Bethlehem in 2003, Brother Jack served in senior administrative posts at Saint Mary’s College in California and Manhattan College in the Bronx. He earned his doctoral and master degrees in social work from the University of New York at Albany and has a B.A. in physics and religious studies from Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY

Juan Jose Daboub

Juan José Daboub

Chief Executive Officer

Global Adaptation Institute


Juan José Daboub, PH.D. recently appointed CEO of the Global Adaptation Institute based in Washington, DC. He is also a Professor at Princeton University and a member of the Board of Directors of several Companies in the USA and in Latin America.

He was the Managing Director of the World Bank Group from 2006 to 2010. During his tenure he was responsible for the Bank’s operations in 110 countries (in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean), and for the Human Development and Sustainable Development Networks. In addition, Juan oversaw other administrative vice-presidencies and functions, including ISG (Information Systems Group), WBI (World Bank Institute), and INT (Integrity Department).

Prior to joining the Bank, he was concurrently Minister of Finance in El Salvador and Chief of Staff to the President where he helped effectively navigate the country through regional economic challenges – securing and sustaining El Salvador’s investment grade rating, dollarizing the economy and completing a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. During this appointment, he coordinated donors and oversaw the reconstruction of El Salvador after the two earthquakes in 2001.

Juan distinguished himself in both the public and private sectors, as well as in academia. He led family-owned businesses for nearly a decade before joining the Board of CEL, El Salvador’s electric utility and presided the Salvadorean electric distribution companies.

Subsequently, he was named President of ANTEL, the state-owned telecommunications company that he re-structured and privatized through a competitive process. For twelve years, he served three different Governments, and then returned to the private sector.

In 2004, he founded with former President Flores of El Salvador the America Libre Institute, where he worked in several projects implementing proven public policies that work throughout Latin America. Juan was born into a closely knit Arabic Family, raised in El Salvador and educated in the United States. He is married and has four children.


Fr. Jamal Daibes

Dean of Arts, Bethlehem University

Fr. Jamal Daibes has been a priest at the Latin Patriarchate since 1988. After attending the Seminary in Beit Jala, he continued his studies in Dogmatic Theology at the Gregorian University (Rome). He teaches dogmatic theology at the Latin Seminary and at Bethlehem University. Since 2003 he is Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies and is Dean of the Faculty of Arts since 2008. He is a member of the Theological Reflection Committee and the Committee of Dialogue with Jews at the Latin Patriarchate. One of the authors of the Kairos Palestine document.


Hugh M. Dempsey,

D. Ed., K.M. Ob.

Conference Co-Chair

Deputy Executive Director/COO, The Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation, Inc.

Vice President, HCEF Board of Directors

Dr. Hugh Dempsey is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of The Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation, Inc. and Vice President of HCEF Board of Directors.

Prior to accepting the position in Washington, D.C, Dempsey served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies.

Dr. Dempsey served the not for profit community as Founding President of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, his adopted home county.  In 1998, at the invitation of the United States Agency for International Development, Dr. Dempsey was one of only three foundation heads selected to travel to Poland, to assist with the development of philanthropy among the emerging wealthy in the country after the fall of communism.

In late 1992, Dr. Dempsey purchased a publishing company in  Pittsburgh, which later became the Dempsey Group, Inc. Among the firm’s largest management consulting clients were the Vatican Museums, Lions’ Clubs International Foundation, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Charitable Foundation. In the case of the Vatican Museums, Dempsey personally functioned for four years as the Vatican Museums’ representative in America.

Dr. Dempsey served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Pittsburgh’s Eye and Ear Institute. Six months later, after the departure of the CEO, he was named as Executive Director and CEO.

Dempsey was recruited for the Eye and Ear Institute while serving as an administrator at the Benedictine Order’s Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His tenure there began in 1978, while completing his doctoral dissertation in the field of early childhood education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. From I978 to 1986 Dempsey served as the founding director of the Saint Vincent College Drug and Alcohol Prevention Project.  Simultaneous with that appointment, Saint Vincent College’s President asked Dempsey in 1980 to head that college’s Office of Institutional Research. In 1985, after an unsuccessful, but enlightening run for the Pennsylvania state senate, Saint Vincent College asked Dempsey to establish and head the college’s Major Donor/Planned Giving Program.

In the public arena of higher education, He served as member and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Westmoreland County Community College from 1986 to 2002.

Prior to Saint Vincent, from 1976-1978,  Dempsey served in the Elementary Education Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in child development, children’s literature and student teacher supervision.

Dr. Dempsey spent five years teaching first and second grade while also serving as the building principal in a three room country school in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Dempsey has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni of his two alma maters, Bloomsburg University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received the 2001 President’s Award from the Order of Malta and been honored with the Vatican Museums’ highest honor, the Antonio Canova Medal.


Youssef Habesch

Country Officer, Middle East & North Africa, International Finance Corporation

World Bank Group

Youssef Habesch is an investment officer of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and currently IFC’s country representative for Palestine. As the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, IFC is the world’s largest multilateral private sector investor in emerging markets. It has committed almost $200 million in investments in Palestine.


Mr. Habesch, after receiving his MBA from George Washington University in 1994, joined Cairo Amman Bank in Ramallah, Palestine where he helped develop the corporate banking and investment department.  In 1997 he served in corporate finance at Banque Paribas in Paris and London. He returned to Palestine to work in the private sector, believing that a thriving private sector is an important factor for the success of the peace process. Mr. Habesch is a board member of Pharmacare Pharmaceutical Co. in Ramallah


Faris Hadad-Zervos

Adviser, Official Dept/Div.,

World Bank

Faris Hadad-Zervos is an official of the World Bank in Washington, DC where he manages the operational policy response in the Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations Department. From 2006 to 2008, he served in the Jerusalem office of the Bank as Deputy Director for the West Bank and Gaza. From 2008-2009, he took a leave of absence from the World Bank to serve as Deputy Head of Mission for the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem. Previously, he served as the World Bank country representative in Iraq and Jordan.



Amira Hass

Correspondent, Ha’aretz Newspaper

Amira Hass is a correspondent for Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily. She was born in Jerusalem in 1956 to Jewish immigrant parents who survived the Nazi Genocide. As a correspondent she has been reporting on the Palestinian Occupied Territories since the early 1990’s.  For the last 13 years she has lived in Ramallah, the West Bank. She has also lived for three years in Gaza. She describes her work as “writing about the Israeli occupation and Apartheid regime and about Israelis through the experiences of Palestinians”.  She also covers internal Palestinian issues.  In 2009 she spent five months in Gaza, collecting testimonies on the ground on the Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008-9 code named ‘Cast Lead’. Her reportage in Ha’aretz gave her Israeli readers a different story than that told by the military authorities.  She is the author of the book “Drinking the Sea at Gaza” (2000). She is also the author of two books of collected articles. One Domani andra peggio comprises a collection of columns in the Italian weekly Internazionale (2005). The other is a collection of Ha’aretz articles, Reporting from Ramallah (2003).

Samir Hazboun

Samir Hazboun

Executive Director

DATA Research and Consulting Institution in Bethlehem


Samir Y. Hazboun is the Executive Director of DATA, Research and Consulting Institution in Bethlehem serving in this capacity since 1993. He has served as an expert for the World Bank on the West Bank and Gaza economies and later in similar capacity with UNESCO and other UN agencies. He has held various academic positions at Birzeit University, including Chair of the Department of Economics (1986-89) and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce & Economics (1989-1993). He has also been Associate Professor at Al-Quds University, Institute of Economics and Management in Jerusalem.

Dr. Hazboun has published extensively in the field of economics and development in Palestine. Some of his books include: Israel and Palestine: Between Disengagement and the Economic Roadmap, Aix Group (2005); Envisioning the Future of Jerusalem, IPCC (2003); and Divided Cities in Transition, IPCC (2003). He has been an invited speaker at numerous international conferences dealing with issues of industrial development, agriculture, labor force, and unemployment in the Palestinian Territories.

Dr. Hazboun earned a doctorate in Applied Economics in 1983 from the University of Economics of Prague, the Czech Republic. He is the current Chair of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Other past and present memberships include Board Member of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the Arab Economics Association, and the Ankara Forum for Economic Cooperation. He is listed in “Who’s Who in the World” (1993).


Imam Yahya Hendi

Muslim Chaplain,

Georgetown University

Imam Yahya Hendi is the Muslim Chaplain at Georgetown University, the first American University to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain. Imam Hendi is also the Imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick, Frederick, MD and is the Muslim Chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

He also serves as a member of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America. He has served as an adjunct faculty member for Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Science and Osher’s Lifelong Learning Institute of John Hopkins University, Fordham University and Hartford Seminary. Imam Hendi also teaches a very popular course at Georgetown University called: Inter-religious Encounter.

Mr. Hendi’s undergraduate education was in Islamic Studies and his Master’s and PhD education were in comparative religions with interest in Christianity, Judaism, comparative religions and inter-religious dialogue and relations. He has written numerous publications on many topics, including women in Islam, women and gender relations in Islam, the second coming of the Messiah, Islam and biomedical ethics and religion and Islam in the United States.

A sought-after speaker, Imam Hendi has presented a multitude of interfaith and general lectures in the USA, Asia, Africa, Europe, central Asia, Eastern Europe, Australia and the Middle East over the past 10 years and he has been to more than 63 countries and 45 US states for conferences. Mr. Hendi was one of the Muslim leaders who met with President Clinton during his Presidency. He also met with the President Bush in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy and continued to meet him many times during his presidency.

Imam Hendi often visits and lectures at churches and synagogues hoping to create a new positive relationship between the followers of the three Abrahamic religions. In his lectures, Imam Hendi focuses on issues related to gender relations, domestic violence, world peace, social, economic and political justice, and inter-religious and interfaith issues.

Imam Hendi appeared on many national and international television and Radio shows as an expert on interfaith dialogue and on Islam and Muslims (i.e. CNN, ABC, Fox, Kuwait TV, Nile TV, Pakistan Channel-II, RAI, MSNBC and Al-jazeerah). Imam Hendi recently engaged nationally and internationally on raising awareness on issues of the 21st century which included: 1) environmental responsibility, 2) a peaceful resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, 3) eliminating poverty, 4) fighting against the growing sense of militarism, and 5) empowering Muslims to reform the way they practice and understand Islam.

Mr. Hendi serves on national and international interfaith councils such as the Appeal of Conscience, the National Inter-religious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. Imam Hendi is the founder and the Secretary General of Clergy Beyond Borders, and the founder and the president of the newly founded organization, Imams for Universe, Dignity, Human Rights and Dialogue.

In May 2002, Imam Hendi was chosen by Hartford Seminary to receive its annual “James Gettemy Significant Ministry Award” for his dedication to his Ministry and for his work to promote peace building between people of different religions. In February 2009, Imam Hendi was honored by the Baltimore field office of the FBI for fighting terrorism, drugs and violence in America.

Imam Hendi offers inter-religious and Muslim retreats, and leads Jum’ah (Friday Services). He also councils students on academic, professional and social issues. Imam Hendi is sought after expert on Islam and conflict resolution issues. Imam Yahya Hendi believes that with love and education–the world will be a better place to live in.


Hussein Ibish, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow,  American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP)

Hussein Ibish is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) and Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud  Foundation for Arab-American Leadership..

Ibish has made thousands of radio and television appearances and has written for many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He was the Washington, DC Correspondent for the Daily Star (Beirut).

Ibish is editor and principal author of 3 major studies of Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Arab Americans 1998-2000 (ADC, 2001), Sept.11, 2001 – Oct 2011, 2002 (ADC, 2003), and 2003-2007 (ADC, 2008). He is author of “At the Constitution’s Edge: Arab Americans and Civil Liberties in the United States” in  States of Confinement (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), “Anti-Arab Bias in American Policy and Discourse” in Race in 21st Century America (Michigan State University Press, 2001), “Race and the War on Terror,” in Race and Human Rights (Michigan State University Press, 2005) and “Symptoms of Alienation: How Arab and American Media View Each Other“ in Arab Media in the Information Age (ECSSR, 2005). He is also the author, along with Ali Abunimah, of “The Palestinian Right of Return” (ADC, 2001) and “The Media and the New Intifada” in The New Intifada (Verso, 2001). He is also the editor, along with Saliba Sarsar, of Principles and Pragmatism (ATFP, 2006).

His most recent book is What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda? Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal (ATFP. 2009).

From 1998-2004, Ibish served as Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American membership organization in the United States. From 2001-2004 he was Vice-President of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom. He has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Dr. Judith Mendelsohn Rood

Professor of History and Middle East Studies at Biola University

Dr. Judith Mendelsohn Rood is Professor of History and Middle East Studies at Biola University, La Mirada, CA. Previously she was Associate Professor at William Tyndale College where she was Director of the Middle East Studies and Global Studies programs. She has published extensively in the field of Ottoman and Modern Middle Eastern History. Her scholarly publications have appeared in the International Journal of Turkish Studies, the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, the Arab Studies Journal, the Jerusalem Quarterly, the Review of Faith and International Affairs, and other journals. At Biola University she teaches the history of the Middle East and Islam and historiography. She specializes in the history of Jerusalem and its environs.  Her excellence in scholarship was recognized with the Provost’s Award in 2006. She is a member of numerous professional societies including the American Historical Association, the Middle East Studies Association, the Turkish Studies Association and the Conference of Faith and History. She is fluent in Arabic, French, Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Latin and Hebrew.

Dr. Mendelsohn Rood received her doctorate in History from the University of Chicago in 1993. Her dissertation Sacred Law in the Holy City is a widely cited resource on the Ottoman and Khedival rule of Jerusalem. Previously, she earned a M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University in 1982 and a B.A. in History from New College in 1980.

Nir Ori

Ori Nir

Spokesperson, American

for Peace Now (APN)

Ori Nir joined Americans for Peace Now in 2006, following a 24-year distinguished career in journalism, mainly focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He started his career in 1982 at Israel Television (Channel One) at the Arab Affairs Desk of the news department. Later as a correspondent for Ha’aretz Daily Israel’s leading newspaper, he covered all aspects of Palestinian affairs, starting with the first Palestinian uprising (intifada) and the troubled implementation of the first phases of the Oslo Accords. Later, he covered Israel’s Arab minority for Ha’aretz. From 1996-2000, he was the San Francisco based correspondent for his newspaper. Subsequently, as the Washington correspondent for H’aaretz and Forward, America’s largest and most influential independent national Jewish weekly newspaper, he covered U.S. Middle East policy and the diplomatic efforts to advance Arab-Israeli peace.

Mr. Nir is a highly regarded news analyst, appearing frequently on national news programs such as the PBS’s Newshour, ABC’s Nightline, CNN, NBC and overseas TV programs. His opinion articles and analyses appear regularly in major American newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, and the Baltimore Sun.

Mr. Nir holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Eastern history and Arabic literature from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also served on the faculty. He is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic.


Fr. Emil Salayta

Head of the Ecclesiastical

Tribunal Court of the

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

HCEF Co-Founder

Fr. Emil Salayta born in Madaba, Jordan, is the Head of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal Court of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He serves as an advisor to the Patriarchate on international relations and is co-founder of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF). He holds a Doctorate in Law from the Lateran University in Rome. Since ordination, Fr. Salayta has served as parish priest, educator and community leader. He was pastor of the St. Joseph Parish in Jifna. He served as director of its grade school and the high school in Ramallah in the Northern West Bank serving both Christian and Muslim youth. He has also been a teacher at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary in Beit Jala and at Christ the King Church in Amman, Jordan. He founded the Birzeit housing initiative for Christian families. From 1994-2001, Fr. Salayta was the Director General of the Educational Department of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. For the past 11 years beginning with the partnership between the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC and Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in Birzeit, he has been expanding these church partnerships throughout the U.S.


Dr. Saliba Sarsar,

Conference Co-Chair

Associate Vice President & Professor of Political Science, Monmouth University, NJ

Secretary, HCEF Board of Directors

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, born and raised in Jerusalem, is Professor of Political Science and Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives at Monmouth University. He received his elementary and secondary education at Collège de Frères and St. Joseph’s College in the Old City. Following the completion of a B.A. in political science and history interdisciplinary, with summa cum laude, from Monmouth in 1978,  he earned a doctoral degree from Rutgers University in political science, with specialization in Middle East affairs. He is the author of several articles and commentaries on the Middle East; editor of Palestine and the Quest for Peace (American Task Force on Palestine, 2009); and co-editor (with Hussein Ibish) of Principles and Pragmatism: Key Documents from the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP, 2006) and (with Drew Christiansen) of Patriarch Michel Sabbah—Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land (New City Press, 2009). Sarsar is active in Arab-Jewish dialogue and peace building, for which he received the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice in 2001. Among his awards are the Global Visionary Award from Monmouth University in 2007, the Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence from Monmouth University in 2006, and the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice in 2001. In April 2003, Sarsar was featured in The New York Times, “His Mission: Finding Why People Fight—A Witness to Mideast Conflict Turns to Dialogue and Peace.” Sarsar is a member of the Board of Directors of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, American Task Force on Palestine, Water Resources Action Project, Inc., and Jacob Landau Institute. He is also advisor to the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought.


Rabbi Gerald Serotta

Shirat HaNefesh Congregation

Clergy Beyond Borders

Rabbi Gerald Serotta is the Executive Director of Clergy Beyond Borders, a recently created NGO whose goal is to train and empower clergy from all faiths to become involved in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.  He has been involved in interfaith work through the Fellowship of Reconciliation (beginning with a reconciliation mission in 1975 to Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Palestine, and Israel) and the Interfaith Committee for Peace in the Middle East. He has a decades long record of activism in seeking solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, beginning in 1973 when he co-founded Breira; in 1980 he was the Founding Co-Chair of New Jewish Agenda.

Rabbi Serotta has been very active in community affairs throughout his career. He was the Founding Chair of Rabbis for Human Rights, North America. He also served as a Board Member of the Faith and Politics Institute, an interfaith, bi-partisan effort to bring spiritual reflection to the work of the US Congress. He has served on a numerous other Boards including those of Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and Tikkun Magazine.

Gerald Serotta is the Rabbi at Congregation Shirat HaNefesh (Song of the Soul) in Chevy Chase, Maryland. While on Sabbatical he completed an assignment as Senior Rabbinic Scholar-in-Residence at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Serotta served as a university chaplain for 27 years. He is a past chair of the Board of Chaplains at The George Washington University and a past-president of the Association of Jewish Campus Professionals.

His undergraduate degree is from Harvard and he has an honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Divinity) degree from Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained Rabbi in New York in 1974. He holds Masters degrees from Hebrew Union College in Hebrew Literature, and from New York Theological Seminary in Pastoral Counseling. He also did graduate work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has been an instructor in the International Conflict Resolution program at Eastern Mennonite University.

He and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, live in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with their three children, Zack, 22, and the twins, Jeanne and Micah, 15.


Mr. Hashim Hani Shawa
Chairman & General Manager
Bank of Palestine

Hashim Shawa is the Chairman and General Manager of the Bank of Palestine, assuming this position in 2007. After receiving the B.Sc. (Honors) from University College of London, Mr. Shawa began his banking career at Citigroup in 1997. There he held various management positions in Corporate and Private Banking working in the UK, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In 2005 he joined HSBC in Switzerland as a director of the group’s Middle East and North Africa business. He developed the HSBC Private Banking business in the Gulf and established its onshore presence in Kuwait.

The Bank of Palestine (BoP) established in 1960 and headquartered in Ramallah, is the first and largest national bank of Palestine with branches in the West Bank and Gaza. Its capital base is $100 million and its assets are over $1.3 billion. BoP is a leader in SME Finance and Micro Finance sector in Palestine


Howard Sumka 2010.09.29

Dr. Howard Sumka

Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator

Middle East Bureau, US Agency for International Development

Dr. Howard Sumka is a Minister Counselor with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  As a 25-year veteran of the Foreign Service, he began his career with USAID serving for six years in the Nairobi regional office for east and southern Africa.   He is currently the Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East.  From 2006 until August 2010, he was based in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as Director of the USAID Mission to the West Bank and Gaza.  He led the Mission’s assistance programs for economic, social, and democratic development for the Palestinians.  His team oversaw the design and implementation of more than $1.6 billion in foreign aid. From 2002 to 2006, he served in Sarajevo as the Director of the USAID Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He led a program of economic restructuring, democracy building, and post-conflict reconstruction.  As the USAID Director in Tirana, Albania from 1999 to 2002, he led USAID’s response to the Kosovo refugee emergency and its post-emergency reconstruction and development programs.

Prior to joining USAID, Dr. Sumka worked in the Office of Policy Development and Research in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He holds a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina and has also earned degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. Earlier he was on the research staff at the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies for five years and on the faculty of the University of Kansas.


Ambassador Philip Wilcox

President, Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)

Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr. (Ret.) is President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a Washington D.C.-based foundation devoted to fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in September 1997 after 31 years of service.


Born in Denver, CO on February 1, 1937, he attended public schools there. He graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in History in 1958, and obtained an LL.B. from the Stanford Law School in 1961. After law school, he taught school in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He practiced law for three years in Denver with the firm of Holme, Roberts and Owen.


Ambassador Wilcox entered the Foreign Service in 1966. He has served abroad at U.S. embassies in various capacities: as Press AttachÈ in Vientiane (Laos), Political and Economic/Commercial Officer in Jakarta (Indonesia), and as Chief of the Economic/Commercial Section in Dhaka (Bangladesh). His last overseas assignment was as Chief of Mission and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem. At the U.S. State Department, Ambassador Wilcox has served as Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Management, Deputy Director for UN Political Affairs in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Director for Regional Affairs in the Bureau for Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Director for Israeli and Arab-Israeli Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs. He also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research and as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism.

After his retirement, Ambassador Wilcox was appointed by the Secretary of State to serve as a member of an Accountability Review Board, chaired by Admiral William Crowe (Ret.) to examine and make recommendations concerning the terrorist bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1998.

Ambassador Wilcox speaks French and Indonesian. He is a graduate of the National War College, and has been awarded the U.S. State Department’s Meritorious, Superior, and Presidential Honor Awards. He is a board member of the Middle East Institute and Americans for Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and a member of The Washington Institute for Foreign Affairs and Dacor-Bacon House. He and his wife Cynda live in Bethesda, MD.


2016-10-24T07:27:10+00:00 May 2nd, 2009|Categories: Conference|