Leadership and Council Members
Farooq KathwariCo-ChairFarooq KathwariCo-Chair
Farooq Kathwari is the chairman, president and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. He has been president of the company since 1985, and chairman and CEO since 1988.
Mr. Kathwari serves in numerous capacities at several nonprofit organizations. He is a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee; a member of the advisory board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; chairman emeritus of Refugees International; an advisory member of the New York Stock Exchange; former chairman of the National Retail Federation; director emeritus and former chairman and president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance; a director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University; Co-Chair of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council; and a member of the International Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace. He also serves on the boards of the Western Connecticut State University Foundation, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and ArtsWestchester.
He is the founder of the Kashmir Study Group, and he served as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 2010 to 2014.
Recently, Mr. Kathwari was tapped to join the congressionally mandated United States Institute of Peace bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States co-chaired by Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, who formerly led the 9/11 Commission.
Among his recognitions, Mr. Kathwari is a recipient of the 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor and has been inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame. He has been recognized as an Outstanding American by Choice by the U.S. government. He has received the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute Lifetime of Leadership Award; the New American Dream Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants Legacy Award; the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal; the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee;
the National Retail Federation Gold Medal; the International First Freedom Award from the Council for America’s First Freedom; Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award; the Anti-Defamation League’s Humanitarian Award; City of Hope’s International Home Furnishings Industry Spirit of Life® Award; and the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from the National Association of Asian MBAs. He has also been recognized by Worth magazine as one of the 50 Best CEOs in the United States.
Mr. Kathwari holds BAs in English Literature and Political Science from Kashmir University, Srinagar, and an MBA in International Marketing from New York University, New York. He is also the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees.
Stanley M. BergmanCo-ChairStanley M. BergmanCo-Chair
Since 1989, Stanley M. Bergman has been Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc., a Fortune 500® company and the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental and medical practitioners, with more than 18,000 Team Schein Members and operations or affiliates in 31 countries. Henry Schein is a member of the S&P 500® and Nasdaq 100® indexes. Stanley is immediate past President of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Co-Founder of the India-Israel Forum, and Co-Chair of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. He serves as a board member or advisor for numerous institutions including New York University College of Dentistry; the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine; the Columbia University Medical Center; University of the People; Hebrew University; Tel Aviv University; the University of the Witwatersrand Fund; The World Economic Forum’s Health Care Governors; the Business Council for International Understanding, the Japan Society and the Metropolitan Opera.
Stanley, together with his wife, Marion Bergman, and their family are active supporters of organizations fostering the arts, higher education, cultural diversity and grassroots health care and sustainable entrepreneurial economic development initiatives in the United States, Africa and other developing regions of the world.
Stanley is a graduate of The University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and is a South African Chartered Accountant and a NYS Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Raheemah AbdulaleemRaheemah Abdulaleem
Raheemah Abdulaleem serves as Senior Associate General Counsel in the Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration (OA). She advises OA on compliance with federal administrative laws, and represents OA in administrative proceedings. Raheemah has received numerous awards for her work, including national recognition as one of the top lawyers under age 40. Previously, Raheemah advanced the cause of civil rights as a Senior Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Raheemah is the Board Chair of a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that works to provide accessible legal scholarship to Muslims and non-Muslims on issues related to Islamic law, particularly gender and racial equity, conflict resolution, and civil rights. Raheemah speaks frequently on tolerance, diversity, and social justice.
Raheemah earned her JD from Harvard Law School and her BA from Yale University.
Chaplain Tahera AhmadChaplain Tahera Ahmad
Chaplain Tahera Ahmad is Director of Interfaith Engagement and Associate University Chaplain at Northwestern University. In 2014, she was recognized at the White House as a leading Muslim woman, and became the first woman to represent the United States at the International Quran Competition in Indonesia, where she came in sixth in the world. She has been featured in several documentary films about Islam, including the PBS documentary, The Calling.
She studied in the Islamic Chaplaincy and Interfaith Dialogue program at the Hartford Seminary, and received graduate certification from the Women’s Spiritual Leadership Program. Chaplain Ahmad also earned graduate certification in Arabic from Al-Diwan and Al-Azhar Cairo, IIjazat (certifications) in Tajweed (art of Qur’anic recitation), and has taught widely in the United States.
Shakila T. AhmadShakila T. Ahmad
Shakila T. Ahmad is the first female president of the board of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. She spearheaded the creation of an educational DVD, guided tours, and ran a speakers bureau for the Center to increase understanding of Islam, the Muslim community, and mosques in the United States. She is active in interfaith relations and racial justice, and has partnered with AJC locally. She also serves on numerous regional and national civic and community boards. In addition to the Islamic Center, Shakila also seeks to further interfaith and intercultural education and understanding through her involvement with United Way of Greater Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati Foundation, and Xavier University President’s advisory boards.
Shakila earned her BS in Mathematics with a minor in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati.
Mohamad AliMohamad Ali
Mohamad Ali is President and Chief Executive Officer of Carbonite. Under his leadership, Carbonite’s global team is fully engaged in developing and delivering the next generation of data-protection solutions. Driven by a passion for technology, Mohamad previously served as Chief Strategy Officer at Hewlett Packard, where he played a pivotal role in the company’s turnaround. He also worked at IBM, where he created and led the firm’s eight-billion-dollar business analytics software unit, and at Avaya, he oversaw the company’s two-billion-dollar services group. Mohamad serves on the boards of iRobot, Oxfam America, and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.
Mohamad holds three degrees from Stanford University: a Master’s in Electrical Engineering, a BS in Computer Engineering, and a BA in History.
Majid AlsayeghMajid Alsayegh
Majid Alsayegh is a principal of Alta Management, LLC, which provides real estate development and project management services for large capital projects in both the public and private sectors. He chairs both the Board of Trustees of Delaware Valley University and the Board of Directors of the Dialogue Institute, which promotes intrareligious, interreligious, and intercultural dialogue and engagement around the world through the support of scholarship, training, and action.
Majid has an MS from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Energy and Environment, and BS in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines.
Wa’el AlzayatWa’el Alzayat
Wa’el Alzayat is CEO of Emgage USA, a leading Muslim American civic engagement organization, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He previously spent a decade serving in various policy positions at the Department of State, including senior policy advisor to Ambassador Samantha Power; Syria outreach coordinator for Ambassador Robert Ford; and special assistant to Ambassador James Jeffrey. Wa’el was also a provincial affairs officer in Anbar, Iraq, for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad during the Surge of 2007-08. He previously worked as a multimedia advertising business development executive in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He received an MS from Georgetown University and BA in Middle East history and political science from the University of California at Berkeley.
Adam M. AnsariAdam M. Ansari
Adam M. Ansari is a practicing attorney at Levun, Goodman & Cohen, LLP, in Northbrook, Illinois, where his practice focuses on partnership, LLC, and S corporation taxation; representation of closely held businesses; and probate, estate, and special needs planning. Adam has recently devoted a significant amount of pro bono representation to immigrant families, and has appeared on television and radio to comment on issues related to immigration. Adam is also involved in national and local nonprofits and advocacy groups such as Courage for Progress, which supports candidates who stand up to hatred and intolerance and advocate on behalf of immigrant Americans; Logan Services, a 501(c)(3) committed to supporting those with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs.
Adam earned a JD from the John Marshall Law School and an MBA from Dominican University, and will complete his LLM in taxation from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in May 2018. He holds a BA in international relations from Boston University.
Roberta BaruchRoberta Baruch
Roberta Baruch is an Assistant Director of Compliance at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. She previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and in private practice in Boston. She is active on intergroup and interreligious projects, including organizing one with the Asian-American community and participating in an ongoing dialogue with the Maryland Muslim Council. She serves on the Board of the Transatlantic Institute of AJC.
She received a JD from Harvard Law School and an AB from the University of Chicago.
Rabbi Angela Warnick BuchdahlRabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl is the Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City, the first woman to lead the large Reform congregation in its 175-year history. Born in Korea to a Jewish American father and a Korean Buddhist mother, Rabbi Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as cantor or rabbi in North America. Prior to her service at Central
Synagogue, Rabbi Buchdahl served as associate rabbi/cantor at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y.
She earned a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University in 1994. Rabbi Buchdahl was invested as a cantor in 1999 and ordained as a rabbi in 2001 by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow.
Rabia ChaudryRabia Chaudry
Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, a 2016 Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace, an International Security Fellow at New America, co-host and co-producer of the popular podcast Undisclosed, which examines wrongful convictions, and author of the New York Times bestselling book Adnan’s Story. She is the Founder of the Safe Nation Collaborative, a training firm for countering violent extremism. She practiced federal immigration and civil rights law for over a decade, and has been the public advocate for Adnan Syed, the convicted man at the center of the hit podcast Serial, for seventeen years. She is a frequent public speaker and writer on extremism, religion, and criminal justice, and has published a widely-read piece in Time magazine on her fellowship with the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Rabia received her JD from the George Mason School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Steven H. CollisSteven H. Collis
Steven H. Collis is Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of AmerisourceBergen Corporation, one of the largest wholesale pharmaceutical distribution companies in the world. He previously served as Executive Vice President and President of AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group, and was Senior Vice President of AmerisourceBergen and President of AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group.
Rabbi Joshua M. DavidsonRabbi Joshua M. Davidson
Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson is senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. From 2002 through 2013 he served as senior rabbi of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua, New York. He is a past president of both the Westchester Board of Rabbis and the Chappaqua Interfaith Council. In 2009, he was honored for his interfaith efforts by the Westchester Jewish Council and AJC, on whose New York board he sits. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Imam Plemon T. El-AminImam Plemon T. El-Amin
Imam Plemon T. El-Amin is the Imam Emeritus of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, one of the largest and most progressive mosques in the U.S. He is the former Director of the Clara Mohammed Elementary School and W. Deen Mohammed School of Atlanta. He is the Director of World Pilgrims, which takes Muslims, Christians, and Jews on journeys throughout the world to develop and deepen friendships. He serves on the Boards of the Interfaith Community Initiatives, Truly Living Well Organic Gardens, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, and the Atlanta Majlis Ash-Shura.
Imam El-Amin is a native of Atlanta and a graduate of Harvard University.
Eli EpsteinEli Epstein
Eli Epstein is former CEO and majority shareholder of Calco, a producer of calcined petroleum coke, and a joint venture partner with Conoco Inc. He initiated the acquisition of calcining assets from British Petroleum in 1989, and established Venco as one of the world’s leading suppliers of carbon to basic industry. His extensive contacts with the Arab Middle East have generated several projects, including Children of Abraham—an internet-based initiative which allows young Muslims and Jews to discover their common heritage and practices. He initiated visits by leading Orthodox rabbis to the United Arab Emirates to build bridges of understanding and cooperation. He was also instrumental in initiating an interfaith educational initiative sponsored by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi that included religious leaders from the three Abrahamic faiths, which was hosted by Yale University.
He received an MBA from Columbia University in 1979.
David HarrisDavid Harris
David Harris, AJC’s CEO, has led the agency since 1990. Described by the late Israeli President Shimon Peres as the “foreign minister of the Jewish people,” he has been invited to speak at some of the world’s most prestigious forums. He has been honored a total of 14 times by the governments of Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine for his international efforts in defense of human rights, advancement of the transatlantic partnership, and dedication to the Jewish people. David has been invited to serve on four official U.S. government delegations to international conferences. He has written hundreds of articles, op-eds, letters, and reviews in leading media outlets, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Times of Israel. From 2001 to 2015, he had a weekly spot on the CBS Radio Network that reached millions of listeners across the United States.
Educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics, he has been a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University and Oxford University.
Aziza HassanAziza Hassan
Aziza Hassan is Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. An experienced mediator and conflict-transformation practitioner, she has extensive experience in program management and coalition-building, working with diverse groups to deliver quality programming that developed the skills of its participants in the areas of civic engagement, advocacy, service learning, leadership, conflict transformation. and diversity training. Aziza’s work has been featured on Ozy, Yahoo News, MSN.com, Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett, the United States Institute for Peace, Arabic radio and television, as well as in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the L.A. Times, the Jewish Journal, and InFocus. Her two years of AmeriCorps service gave her hands-on experience in community organizing and group problem-solving. She earned the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” in 2006, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2015-16. Aziza is currently on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Interfaith Advisory Council and is a volunteer mediator with the Los Angeles City Attorney office.
Aziza earned her Master’s in History from Wichita State University, and her BA from Bethel College-North Newton.
S.A. IbrahimS.A. Ibrahim
S.A. Ibrahim is the former CEO of Radian Group Inc., and the first Muslim to serve on any board of the Anti-Defamation League. He heads the Nina and S.A. Ibrahim Foundation, which is devoted to increasing religious tolerance through student travel and exchanges. Along with the Department of State and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, he funded a trip to Dachau and Auschwitz for a group of Muslim leaders from around the world. Together with his son, Winston, he created the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project in the Middle East, which provides opportunities for high-achieving U.S. undergraduate students of diverse faiths to develop their leadership skills and gain first-hand experience with dialogue efforts in the Middle East.
S.A. holds an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania and a BE in Engineering from Osmania University in India.
Representative Steven IsraelRepresentative Steven Israel
Congressman Steven Israel is Chairman of Long Island University Global Institute and a former United States Representative from New York’s third congressional district, serving from 2001 to 2017. He is a member of the Democratic Party and was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee until November 2014. He supported increased regulation on gun ownership and voted for the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Before serving in Congress, he served on the town board of Huntington, New York.
Daisy KhanDaisy Khan
Daisy Khan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), a women-led organization committed to peacebuilding, equality, and justice for Muslims around the globe. A frequent public speaker and media commentator, she lectures on Islam in America, women’s rights within Islam, and violent extremism. Among her numerous awards are the Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action Award, and Women’s E-News “21 leaders for the 21st Century.”
Daisy graduated with a BFA from the New York School of Interior Design, and spent twenty-five years as an interior architect for Fortune 500 companies before committing to full-time community service.
Humera KhanHumera Khan
Humera Khan is Executive Director of Muflehun, a resource center that seeks to prevent and counter hate, extremism, and violence, especially online. She also advises multinational organizations, governments, and law enforcement agencies in several countries on these issues. In 2012, she received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for her work, and in 2014 testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on countering radicalism. Based on her eighteen years of experience in security strategy and her knowledge of theology, she designs meta-narratives to combat extremism through scenario planning, strategy formulation, and threat assessment, using agent-based modelling, morphological analysis, and system dynamics.
Humera holds four degrees from MIT: MS in technology & policy; nuclear engineering; BS in art & design and in nuclear engineering. She also has a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies from the School of Islamic and Social Sciences, an affiliate seminary of the Washington Theological Consortium.
Suhail A. KhanSuhail A. Khan
Suhail A. Khan is a Senior Fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement and Director of Government Affairs at Microsoft. He was a senior political appointee in the George W. Bush administration and on Capitol Hill. In 2010 and 2013, he led delegations of American faith leaders to commemorate the Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz. In 2015, he was part of a Shalom Hartman Institute visit to Israel, and in 2016 spoke at the Republican National Convention, participating also on an AJC panel on anti-Semitism.
He received his JD from the University of Iowa and his BA from the University of California at Berkeley.
Farhan LatifFarhan Latif
Farhan Latif is president of the El-Hibri Foundation, based in Washington D.C., which strives to build an inclusive America through community organizing. He previously led the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research think tank that empowers American Muslims to contribute to democracy and pluralism. He also founded Strategic Inspirations, a social-impact consulting firm. He is a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and serves on the executive committee of the Muslim Giving Project Fund that was launched at Stanford University. Farhan’s career has been chronicled in two books, Mecca and Mainstreet: Muslim Life in America After 9/11, and Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam by Genieve Abdo and Akbar Ahmad.
Farhan received a Master of Arts from Harvard University and a BA in business management and marketing from the University of Michigan Dearborn.
David LevinDavid Levin
David Levin is the former President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education and led its transformation from a traditional textbook publisher to a learning science company with a vision of unlocking the full potential of each learner. David previously served as chief executive of UBM, a multinational media company headquartered in London, and prior to that as chief executive of Symbian Software, the software group that built the operating system to power the first generation of smartphones.
David holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford University.
Moses S. LibitzkyMoses S. Libitzky
Moses S. Libitzky is President and Founding Principal of Libitzky Property Companies, based in San Francisco. Since 1983, he has been involved primarily in real estate. He participates extensively in community activities, serving on the Boards of a number of nonprofit and charitable organizations, including the Libitzky Family Foundation, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Jewish Community Federation, and Lehrhaus Judaica.
Senator Joseph LiebermanSenator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Joseph Lieberman is a former United States Senator and Attorney General of the State of Connecticut. He was the Democratic Vice- Presidential nominee in 2000, and retired from the United States Senate following the end of his fourth term. During his tenure, Senator Lieberman helped shape legislation in virtually every major area of public policy, including national and homeland security, foreign policy, fiscal policy, environmental protection, human rights, health care, trade, energy, cyber security, and taxes. He currently serves as the Senior Counsel to Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP in New York.
Senator Lieberman received his JD and BA from Yale University.
Deborah E. LipstadtDeborah E. Lipstadt
Deborah E. Lipstadt is an American historian at Emory University and the author of five books, one of which, Denial–originally published as History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier–has been made into the major motion picture Denial. She was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, helping design the section on American Responses to the Holocaust. She was appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and has often been called upon by members of the U.S. Congress to consult on political responses to Holocaust denial.
Deborah received her Ph.D and MA from Brandeis University and her BA from the City College of New York.
Imam Mohamed MagidImam Mohamed Magid
Imam Mohamed Magid serves as Imam of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia, and is the chairman of International Interfaith Peace Corps. Imam Magid has also served as President of the Islamic Society of North America. Under his direction, the ADAMS Center has grown to be one of the largest Muslim community organizations in the Washington Metropolitan Area. He also holds the Chairmanship of the Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action, and is a Chaplain of the George Mason University Campus Ministry. He is also the Vice Chairman of Muflehun, a think tank which focuses on confronting violent extremist thought through research-driven preventative programs within a religious paradigm. Imam Magid has a long history of commitment to public service through organizations such as The Peaceful Families Project. Imam Magid has co-authored three books: Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples, Reflections on the Qur’an and Change From Within.
Rabbi Noam E. MaransRabbi Noam E. Marans
Rabbi Noam Marans is AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, heading the agency’s national interfaith outreach and advocacy. A recognized leader of Catholic-Jewish dialogue, he played a central role in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the transformational Nostra Aetate document, delivering a keynote address at the official U.S. Catholic commemoration and participating in multiple audiences with Pope Francis. He has also expanded AJC’s engagement with Muslims, Latino Evangelicals, and Mormons, and leads efforts to turn back anti-Israel initiatives within Mainline Protestant denominations. He spearheaded AJC’s constructive criticism of the controversial Oberammergau Passion Play, which resulted in mitigation of the production’s anti-Jewish elements.
Before arriving at AJC in 2001, he served for sixteen years as rabbi of Temple Israel in Ridgewood, NJ. He earned a B.A. in political science at Columbia University and an M.A. and Rabbinical Ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary, which has recognized him with an honorary doctorate for decades of service to the Jewish people. He is a past president of the Northern New Jersey Board of Rabbis and serves as treasurer of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Ahmad E. NassarAhmad E. Nassar
Ahmad Nassar is President of NFL Players Incorporated, the National Football League Players Association’s licensing and marketing business, overseeing all operations of this company that takes in $160M a year. He leads commercial negotiations with the NFL and other key partners, and frequently works with the players associations of other professional sports on business and legal issues of mutual importance. Ahmad co-founded and launched Athlete Content & Entertainment, a start-up company focused on delivering athlete lifestyle content across all media, as well as the OneTeam Collective. He received Sports Business Journal’s prestigious Forty under 40 award, and taught sports law at Georgetown University.
Ahmad received his JD from the University of Chicago School of Law, and his BA in economics and Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan. Ahmad was law clerk to the Honorable Denise Page Hood, Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Michigan, and then worked in the Washington, D.C. offices of Latham and Watkins and Patton Boggs.
Dean ObeidallahDean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah, a lawyer turned writer and award-winning comedian, has been using his skills to counter bigotry for years. He is the co-director/co-producer of the comedy documentary entitled “The Muslims are Coming!” It features a stand-up comedy tour of Muslim-American comedians performing free shows across the South and West in the hopes of countering anti-Muslim bigotry. Dean is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show,” making him the first Muslim American to host a national radio show. He is also a columnist for The Daily Beast and writes weekly for CNN.com Opinion. He co-created the comedy show “Stand up for Peace,” along with Jewish comic Scott Blakeman, which they perform at colleges across the country to foster understanding between Muslim- and Jewish-Americans. In 2015, Dean co-created and coproduced the first ever Muslim stand-up comedy festival in U.S. history. He is also the co-creator/co-producer of the annual NY Arab- American Comedy Festival. For more details, please visit: www.deanofcomedy.com.
Sheryl OlitzkySheryl Olitzky
Sheryl Olitzky is Executive Director and cofounder of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, designed to foster abiding relationships built on mutual trust, respect, and friendship between Muslim and Jewish women living in the same communities. Emerging out of a local women’s group that she cofounded, the Sisterhood is the first national grassroots organization of its kind. Committed to countering anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment, it has grown in just a few years into a national movement with members throughout the United States and Canada. Sheryl has extensive training and wide experience in identifying unmet needs in the marketplace and facilitating/moderating group discussion. Prior to her involvement with the Sisterhood, she was a marketing executive at several firms, including Procter & Gamble, and President of one of the largest pharmaceutical market research firms in the U.S. Sheryl also teaches high school and university students around the world about building interfaith relationships, gives presentations to women’s groups about the power of interfaith dialogue and engagement, and leads trips for Muslim and Jewish women to locations of interest to both groups. She has written for The Huffington Post, The Interfaith Observer, and The Forward.
Talat M. OthmanTalat M. Othman
Talat M. Othman is President of Grove Financial, Inc. He is the Founding President of the Arab-American Business and Professional Association, cofounder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, and co-founder and former President of the Islamic Cultural Center, Northbrook, IL. He opened the 2000 Republican National Convention session with a du‘ā, or Muslim benediction, marking the first time a Muslim had addressed a major U.S. political gathering.
He received an Honorary Doctorate from the Catholic Theological Union, and Illinois Governor Jim Edgar proclaimed November 1, 1997 Talat M. Othman day in Illinois.
Eboo PatelEboo Patel
Dr. Eboo Patel is the founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, dedicated to the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a divisive barrier. For over fifteen years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and colleges and universities to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, and is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground and The New Interfaith Leadership: A Primer.
Eboo holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.
Daniel PincusDaniel Pincus
Daniel Pincus is a consultant with The Quantic Group, which provides services to the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, vaccine, OTC, nutraceutical, and device industries. He has been involved with AJC since 2006, first with ACCESS NY, serving on the Board and the Steering Committee, and then as co-chair. He also created and chaired the Global ACCESS Steering Committee. In 2011, he became the first ACCESS member to join the national AJC Board of Governors. He continues to serve ACCESS NY as co-chair of the national ACCESS Muslim-Jewish Task Force. Dan also serves on other boards, including Decadancetheatre, Bet Hatfusot, and the Muslim Jewish Conference.
He is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Bioengineering.
Abigail PogrebinAbigail Pogrebin
Abigail Pogrebin is an author of several books, including My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew, Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk about Being Jewish, for which she interviewed 62 famous Jews about their religious identity, and One and the Same, about the realities of life as a twin. Formerly a producer for Charlie Rose and Bill Moyers at PBS and Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes, she has written for Newsweek, New York Magazine, The Forward, Tablet, and The Daily Beast. She has moderated conversations for AJC, the Manhattan JCC, the Streicker Center, the Shalom Hartman Institute, the Jewish Week, and the Bronfman Foundation. She is the current President of Central Synagogue in New York City.
Abigail graduated summa cum laude from Yale University.
Emmy RossumEmmy Rossum
Emmy Rossum is an actress and singer currently starring in Showtime’s dark comedy series “Shameless,” where she also directed an episode. Rossum’s performance at age 13 in the musical film Songcatcher earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the category of “Best Debut Performance.” Four years later, in 2004, her starring performance as Christine in the film musical The Phantom of the Opera earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination, as well as the National Board of Review’s “Best Female Breakthrough Performance” Award and the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s “Best Young Actress” Award in 2005. In 2007, Rossum recorded her first album for Geffen records, “Inside Out,” which showcased her classically trained voice as the primary instrument. She wrote and recorded all her own songs. She released her second album, “Sentimental Journey”—a collection of 1940s standards—in January 2013. Emmy is a passionate advocate for animal rescue, having worked side by side for over 10 years with the Best Friends Animal Society.
Emmy earned her high school degree through Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth and Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development.
David SableDavid Sable
David Sable has been Global Chief Executive Officer of Y&R, one of the world’s largest marketing communications networks. He first worked at Y&R in 1976 and has held senior roles in other Y&R family companies, including Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe, as well as Wunderman, where he helped transform the agency into one of the world’s leading digital networks. David chairs the Advertising Council’s Board of Directors, and for many years was a Director-at-Large of the 4As.
David is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and a LinkedIn Influencer, and has blogged The Weekly Ramble since 2006. He also was an Executive Producer on MTV’s highly acclaimed REBEL MUSIC series. In 2013, Fast Company named David one of the “10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses.” He serves on the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s National Board and was founding chair of its NY Board. He serves on NY’s Volunteer State Office of National and Community Service Commission and served 14 years on the NY Cultural Advisory Committee. He sits on the Boards of UNCF and the Christopher Reeve Foundation, and is deeply involved with the Special Olympics.
Rabbi David N. SapersteinRabbi David N. Saperstein
Rabbi David N. Saperstein is Director Emeritus of the Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism, having previously been its Director for 40 years, and Senior Advisor to the Union for Reform Judaism for Policy and Strategy. He is also a Senior Fellow at both Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, and its School of Foreign Service’s Center for Jewish Civilization. He has served as U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. A rabbi and an attorney, Ambassador Saperstein taught seminars in First Amendment church-state Law and in Jewish law at Georgetown University Law Center. Over the course of his long career, Ambassador Saperstein has chaired or co-chaired several national interreligious coalitions, including the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and served on the boards or executive committees of such national organizations as the NAACP, People for The American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Religious Partnership on the Environment, and the World Faith Development Dialogue.
Rabbi Yehuda SarnaRabbi Yehuda Sarna
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna is the University Chaplain at New York University (NYU) and Executive Director for the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU. Ordained at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Sarna believes that there is no contradiction between deep rootedness in one’s own tradition and relevance in the broader public sphere. As a faculty member at the Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service, Rabbi Sarna established the first academic minor in Multifaith Leadership at any major research university. In 2012, he co-founded the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership, together with Chelsea Clinton, Linda Mills, and Imam Khalid Latif.
Rabbi Julie SchonfeldRabbi Julie Schonfeld
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, and served on President Obama’s White House Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2012, she was part of a mission of religious leaders that went on a six-city tour to Indonesia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel to highlight the role of religion in advancing Middle East peace.
She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also received her Master’s degree in Judaic studies, and earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University.
Imam Talib M. ShareefImam Talib M. Shareef
Imam Talib M. Shareef is President and Imam of the historic Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, a prominent African American mosque in Washington, D.C. He is the vice chair and national chaplain of the Muslim Veterans Association, after having served in the U.S. Air Force for over 30 years. He participated as the primary Imam in the Abuja Peace Declaration organized by the International Global Peace Foundation and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria. He is President of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and was the first Imam with military service to offer a prayer at an opening session of the U.S. Congress. Under the high patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, Imam Shareef received the Kingdom’s highest Royal Medal and honor for his outstanding interfaith leadership. He has been honored at the White House and has spoken at the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and at peace conventions in Northern Ireland, South America, South Korea, and South Africa.
Arsalan SulemanArsalan Suleman
Arsalan Suleman is a Counsel in Foley Hoag LLP’s International Litigation & Arbitration Practice. He primarily advises sovereign States and State-owned companies in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South and Southeast Asia. Arsalan is also a non-resident fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, and was previously U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In that role he engaged with the OIC, its member countries, and relevant civil society leaders on key foreign policy issues, and worked to deepen and expand partnerships in areas of mutual interest, such as human rights, countering violent extremism, health, education, entrepreneurship, and science and technology. He previously served as Counselor for Multilateral Affairs at the State Department.
He earned a Master’s in International Peace Studies from Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a George Mitchell Scholar. He also holds a JD from Harvard Law School. Arsalan graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service as an International Security Studies major with a certificate in Muslim-Christian Understanding. He clerked in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and worked as a litigation associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
Dr. Sayyid M. SyeedDr. Sayyid M. Syeed
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is National Director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), heading up its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington, DC. Dr. Syed has been active in fostering understanding among world religions participating in interfaith dialogues from local to international levels in the U.S.A. and Canada, and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. In 2000, he was invited to a dialogue in the Vatican by the late Pope John Paul, and in 2008, he led the American Muslim leadership delegation that met with Pope Benedict in Washington. Syeed served on the Taskforce for the Integration of Muslims in the American Mainstream, and was instrumental in pioneering the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign with American Muslims Against Anti Muslim Sentiment established by various Christian and Jewish denominations together in 2010.
Dr. Syeed was born in Srinagar Kashmir, and migrated to the United States in the mid-1970s.
Rabbi David WolpeRabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe, named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek, is Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. He is the author of eight books including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times, and David, the Divided Heart. Rabbi Wolpe has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and UCLA. He is a columnist for Time.com and has also published in the New York Times, the LA Times, and other news media, and has appeared often on television.
Rabbi David Wolpe was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Azhar Azeez, Guest of the CouncilAzhar Azeez, Guest of the Council
Azhar Azeez serves as director of fund division at Islamic Relief U.S.A. A member of the Association of Funding Professionals, Azhar oversees seven Islamic Relief regional offices, creates fund development plans, and manages events, mail campaigns, corporate fundraising campaigns, motivational speakers, and community activities. A member of the ISNA Executive Council since 2002, he was elected its president in 2014. Azhar is a regular speaker and fundraiser for local, regional, and national events, and has written for many newspapers and appeared often in the media. He previously worked for major U.S. corporations such as General Electric, American General Life, and Capital One.
He earned a Bachelor’s in finance from Osmania University, a Master’s in business administration, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Islamic studies. His global email newsletter on issues related to Islam and Muslims reaches more than 15,000 subscribers weekly
Kenan Basha, Guest of the CouncilKenan Basha, Guest of the Council
Kenan Basha is a Principal at Rockbridge Growth Equity and the current Board Chair of the national Muslim Student Association (MSA), which coordinates the work of campus MSAs. He was formerly a Principal at K.K.R. & Co, a leading global private equity fund with over $50 billion of assets under management. Prior to K.K.R., Kenan worked at J.W. Childs Associates. He started his career in Morgan Stanley’s Industrials Investment Banking group, working extensively on a wide range of merger, acquisition, and financing transactions.
Kenan earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, graduating with distinction.