Wa’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.

Abigail 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.

Humera 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.

Sheryl 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.

Majid 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.

Emmy 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.

Kenan 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.

Rabbi 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.

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), heading up its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington, DC. Dr. Syeed 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. Sayyid 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.

Arsalan 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.