Advisory Board

Bonnie Abaunza

Bon­nie Abaun­za has ded­i­cat­ed her life to human­i­tar­i­an work, human rights and social jus­tice advo­ca­cy. She present­ly con­sults for the Unit­ed Nations agency, the Inter­na­tion­al Labour Orga­ni­za­tion, assist­ing with out­reach to the enter­tain­ment com­mu­ni­ty. From 2009–2014, Bon­nie led the Spe­cial Projects & Phil­an­thropy divi­sion for Acad­e­my Award win­ning com­pos­er, Hans Zim­mer. Her ini­tia­tives includ­ed rais­ing human­i­tar­i­an aid for Haiti, Pak­istan and Japan for Inter­na­tion­al Med­ical Corps, and work­ing with Madeleine Albright and the Nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Insti­tute to advo­cate for the dis­en­fran­chised Romani peo­ple in Europe. She launched a suc­cess­ful online advo­ca­cy effort with Eliz­a­beth War­ren for pas­sage of the Dodd-Frank Bill and the cre­ation of the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau.

Pri­or to join­ing Hans Zimmer’s com­pa­ny in 2009, Bon­nie served as Vice Pres­i­dent, Social Action and Advo­ca­cy at Par­tic­i­pant Media, where she devel­oped social action cam­paigns to pro­mote the doc­u­men­taries and fea­ture films pro­duced by Par­tic­i­pant Media. She has also served as Direc­tor of the Artists for Amnesty pro­gram for Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al from 2001 to 2007, rais­ing  Amnesty’s pro­file in the enter­tain­ment indus­try and the vis­i­bil­i­ty of human rights cam­paigns with the public.

She has received com­men­da­tions for her human rights work from the Unit­ed States Con­gress and from the City of Los Ange­les, a Life­time Achieve­ment Award from Unlike­ly Heroes, Women in Lead­er­ship Award from the City of West Hol­ly­wood, Glob­al Cham­pi­on Award from the Inter­na­tion­al Med­ical Corps., KCET Local Hero/Hispanic Her­itage Award, and was named Good­will Ambas­sador to the Gov­ern­ment of East Tim­or (appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent and Nobel Peace Lau­re­ate, Jose Ramos-Hor­ta). She is a Senior Non-Res­i­dent Fel­low for Enough Project’s Fel­lows Pro­gram, is a Board mem­ber of the ACLU Foun­da­tion (South­ern Cal­i­for­nia), a Board mem­ber of and Chair­man of the Advi­so­ry Board of’s Human Rights Campaign.

Bon­nie grad­u­at­ed from UCLA with a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence with spe­cial­iza­tion in Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions. She is flu­ent in Spanish.

Mehnaz M. Afridi

Pro­fes­sor Mehnaz M. Afri­di is the Direc­tor of the Holo­caust, Geno­cide and Inter­faith Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter at Man­hat­tan Col­lege in the Bronx, where she teach­es con­tem­po­rary Islam and the Holo­caust. The author of the 2017 title Shoah Through Mus­lim Eyes, she taught Judaism and Islam at Anti­och Uni­ver­si­ty, Los Ange­les. Orig­i­nal­ly from Pak­istan, raised in Europe and the Mid­dle East, she brings a mul­ti­cul­tur­al per­spec­tive to Islam. Her deep inter­est in Judaism and Mod­ern Jew­ish Dias­po­ra has led her to numer­ous inter­faith con­fer­ences, invi­ta­tions by non-Mus­lims to expound on the intel­lec­tu­al and the­o­log­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ties between Jews and Mus­lims. Her recent research projects are focused in Italy, Mus­lims and Jews in Ital­ian cul­ture; she taught in Rome and received a grant from the Nation­al Endow­ment of Human­i­ties to attend a sem­i­nar in Venice, Italy. Read an arti­cle about Mehnaz’s “Ask a Mus­lim” lec­ture series. Mehnaz once pre­sent­ed her talk, An Illu­mi­nat­ed His­to­ry of Jew­ish-Mus­lim Rela­tions at Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Center.

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Shohreh Agh­dashloo has worked with and been a sup­port­ing mem­ber of The Markaz/Levantine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter since 2007, when she appeared on stage in a Lev­an­tine pro­gram with author Zara Housh­mand and poet Sholeh Wolpé. In 2011, on behalf of the LCC, she received a Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press Asso­ci­a­tion award.

After estab­lish­ing a the­atre and film career in her native Iran, work­ing with such direc­tors as Abbas Kiarosta­mi, Moham­mad Reza Aslani and Ali Hata­mi, Shohreh Agh­dashloo went to Eng­land dur­ing the 1979 Islam­ic Rev­o­lu­tion, where she earned a B.A. in Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions. For a time she con­sid­ered becom­ing a full-time jour­nal­ist, but emi­grat­ed to Los Ange­les dur­ing the 1980s, where she mar­ried fel­low Iran­ian actor and play­wright Houshang Touzie and con­tin­ued her act­ing career. In 2003 she co-starred with Ben Kings­ley and Jen­nifer Con­nel­ly in House of Sand and Fog, and sub­se­quent­ly received an Acad­e­my Award nom­i­na­tion for Best Sup­port­ing Actress. She has worked exten­sive­ly in Hol­ly­wood, in such films as X Men: The Last Stand, Amer­i­can Dreamz and The Lake House. Shohreh Agh­dashloo has also made a name for her­self in Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion, in such series as 24, Will and Grace, ER and House of Sadam—for which she received an Emmy Award for Out­stand­ing Sup­port­ing Actress. In 2012 she starred on the Lon­don stage as Bernar­da Alba in Fed­eri­co Gar­cia Lorca’s The House of Bernar­da Alba. While she comes from a Mus­lim fam­i­ly, Agh­dashoo has made a point of play­ing char­ac­ters from oth­er reli­gions, and she has spo­ken out on behalf of the rights of Baha’is in Iran.

Ammiel Alcalay

Ammiel Alcalay is a first-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can, born in 1956, whose fam­i­ly comes from for­mer Yugoslavia and the Balka­ns. He is a poet, trans­la­tor, crit­ic and schol­ar born in Boston.Ammiel Alcalay is poet, trans­la­tor, crit­ic, schol­ar and activist; he teach­es in the Depart­ment of Clas­si­cal, Mid­dle East­ern & Asian Lan­guages & Cul­tures at Queens Col­lege and is a mem­ber of the fac­ul­ties of Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Com­par­a­tive Lit­er­a­ture, Eng­lish, and Medieval Stud­ies at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter where is also Deputy Chair of the PhD Pro­gram in Eng­lish. He was the first hold­er of the Lan­nan Vis­it­ing Chair in Poet­ics at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty and has been a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. His lat­est book, Islanders, a nov­el, is out from City Lights in 2010. Scrap­met­al: work in progress came out with Fac­to­ry School in 2007. from the war­ring fac­tions [sic], a book length poem ded­i­cat­ed to the Bosn­ian town of Sre­breni­ca, came out in 2002, and is due for a 2nd edi­tion in 2010. Poet­ry, Pol­i­tics & Trans­la­tion: Amer­i­can Iso­la­tion and the Mid­dle East, a lec­ture giv­en at Cor­nell, was pub­lished in 2003 by Palm Press. Oth­er books include After Jews and Arabs: Remak­ing Lev­an­tine Cul­ture (Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 1993), the Cairo note­books (Singing Horse Press, 1993), and Mem­o­ries of Our Future: Select­ed Essays, 1982–1999 (City Lights, 1999). He has trans­lat­ed wide­ly, includ­ing Sara­je­vo Blues (City Lights, 1998) and Nine Alexan­drias (City Lights 2003) by the Bosn­ian poet Semezdin Mehmedi­novic, Keys to the Gar­den: New Israeli Writ­ing (City Lights, 1996), and the co-trans­la­tion of a Hebrew nov­el (with Oz Shelach), Out­cast, by Shi­mon Bal­las (City Lights, 2007). A Lit­tle His­to­ry, a book of essays on pol­i­tics and poet­ics is due out in 2010 from Beyond Baroque. He has also been involved as an activist on many domes­tic and inter­na­tion­al issues. He has been a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to the Vil­lage Voice and his poet­ry, prose, reviews, crit­i­cal arti­cles and trans­la­tions have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York­er, Time Mag­a­zine, al-Ahram, The New Repub­lic, Grand Street, Con­junc­tions, Sul­fur, The Nation, and var­i­ous oth­er pub­li­ca­tions in the Unit­ed States and abroad. Along with Anne Wald­man and oth­ers, he was one of the ini­tia­tors of the Poet­ry Is News Coali­tion, and he orga­nized, with Mike Kelle­her, the Olson­Now project. Most recent­ly, he is the founder and gen­er­al edi­tor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poet­ics Doc­u­ment Ini­tia­tive. He has been on the nation­al advi­so­ry board of The Markaz/Levantine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter since 2001.

Reza Aslan

Dr. Reza Aslan, an inter­na­tion­al­ly acclaimed writer and schol­ar of reli­gions, is a con­tribut­ing edi­tor at the Dai­ly Beast. Reza Aslan has degrees in Reli­gions from San­ta Clara Uni­ver­si­ty, Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Bar­bara, as well as a Mas­ter of Fine Arts from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa, where he was named the Tru­man Capote Fel­low in Fic­tion. He is a mem­ber of the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions, the Los Ange­les Insti­tute for the Human­i­ties, and the Pacif­ic Coun­cil on Inter­na­tion­al Pol­i­cy. He serves on the board of direc­tors for both the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and secu­ri­ty issues, Abraham’s Vision, an inter­faith peace orga­ni­za­tion, and PEN USA, as well as The Markaz/Levantine Cul­tur­al Center’s nation­al advi­so­ry board.

Aslan’s first book is the New York Times best­seller, No god but God: The Ori­gins, Evo­lu­tion, and Future of Islam, which has been trans­lat­ed into thir­teen lan­guages, short-list­ed for the Guardian First Book Award in the UK, and nom­i­nat­ed for a PEN USA award for research Non-Fic­tion. His most recent book is How to Win a Cos­mic War: God, Glob­al­iza­tion, and the End of the War on Ter­ror, fol­lowed by an edit­ed anthol­o­gy, Words With­out Bor­ders: Writ­ings from the Mid­dle East, which will be pub­lished by Nor­ton in 2010.He has writ­ten for the Los Ange­les Times, the New York TimesSlateBoston Globe, the Wash­ing­ton Post, the Nation, and oth­ers, and has appeared on Meet The Press, Hard­ball, The Dai­ly Show, The Tavis Smi­ley Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Col­bert Report, and Nightline.

Aslan is Cofounder and Chief Cre­ative Offi­cer of Boom­Gen Stu­dios, the first ever motion pic­ture com­pa­ny focused entire­ly on enter­tain­ment about the Greater Mid­dle East and its Dias­po­ra com­mu­ni­ties, as well as Edi­to­r­i­al Exec­u­tive of Born in Iran, he now Reza Aslan has been a fre­quent guest on the Dai­ly Show and many oth­er cable news sta­tions. His many books and edit­ed antholo­gies are impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the dia­logue about Islam and the West, and US – Iran rela­tions. He is now the Waller­stein Pro­fes­sor at Drew University’s Cen­ter on Reli­gion, Cul­ture, and Con­flict in New Jersey.

Fabian Alsultany

Dubbed by Bill­board Mag­a­zine as the “World Music Impre­sario,” Fabi­an Alsul­tany is a live event pro­duc­er and music indus­try exec­u­tive with over two decades of expe­ri­ence cre­at­ing cut­ting edge con­certs and tours. In 2010, he was hired by Katharine King to co-pro­duce the Twi­light Dance Con­cert Series on the San­ta Mon­i­ca Pier. He also pro­duces the night pro­gram­ming at the annu­al TED Con­fer­ence in Long Beach, CA. Alsultany’s con­sid­er­able reach extends through­out the music busi­ness to artists, man­agers and agents. He pre­vi­ous­ly devel­oped and launched the Events Divi­sion for Putu­mayo World Music, was Direc­tor of A&R and Fes­ti­vals at Palm Pic­tures for music indus­try leg­end, Chris Black­well, and found­ed Uprise Man­age­ment where he rep­re­sent­ed some of world music’s biggest stars. He found­ed GlobeSon­ic in 2000 and has been DJing par­ties inter­na­tion­al­ly ever since. He has pro­duced and guid­ed the cre­ation of dozens of albums, com­pi­la­tions, and con­certs. Fabi­an brings to bare a life­long pas­sion for inspir­ing peo­ple through live music expe­ri­ences. He is the cofounder of the Tadasana Fes­ti­val.

Sami Shalom Chetrit

Sami Shalom Chetrit is a dis­si­dent Israeli poet, edu­ca­tor, film­mak­er and his­to­ri­an whose lat­est book The Mizrahi Strug­gle in Israel: 1948–2003, has been trans­lat­ed into Ara­bic by Samir Ayash and pub­lished by Madar (Ramal­lah). Chetrit received his Ph.D in 2001 from The Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem, Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence, writ­ing on Mizrahi pol­i­tics in Israel. He received a Mas­ter of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs in 1991 from Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, with a spe­cial­iza­tion in Mid­dle East­ern stud­ies. He was born in 1960 in Moroc­co and grew up in an immi­grant work­ing class neigh­bor­hood in the port city of Ash­dod. His pub­lished poet­ry includes Poems in Ash­do­di­ans, poems from 1982–2002 (Andalus, 2003). Sev­er­al of his poems appear in Eng­lish trans­la­tion in the anthol­o­gy Keys to the Gar­den (City Lights 1999), edit­ed by Ammiel Alcalay. In 2003 he co-pro­duced and direct­ed with Eli Hamo (cin­e­matog­ra­phy and edit­ing) the doc­u­men­tary film “The Black Pan­thers (in Israel) Speak.” His new doc­u­men­tary is “Come Moth­er” on his mother’s gen­er­a­tion of Moroc­can women in Israel.

Peter Cole

Peter Cole is the win­ner of a 2007 MacArthur Award. He is a trans­la­tor, pub­lish­er, and poet who brings the often over­looked works of medieval Spain and the mod­ern Mid­dle East to Eng­lish-speak­ing audi­ences.  His high­ly regard­ed trans­la­tions of the poet­ry of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Shmuel HaNagid, two of the great Hebrew poets of the Andalu­sian “Gold­en Age,” offer read­ers a lyri­cal illus­tra­tion of the extra­or­di­nary Arab-Jew­ish cul­tur­al part­ner­ship that flour­ished in tenth- through twelfth-cen­tu­ry Spain.

A poet him­self, Cole’s trans­la­tions infuse medieval verse with con­tem­po­rary mean­ing while remain­ing faith­ful to the orig­i­nal text.  His ren­der­ings of HaNagid’s poems in par­tic­u­lar, long regard­ed as “untrans­lat­able,” retain the sub­tleties, com­plex­i­ties, and for­mal ele­gance of the orig­i­nal verse.  Under­ly­ing Cole’s trans­la­tions is an implic­it mes­sage of cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal cross-fer­til­iza­tion that is also evi­dent in his work as a poet and a pub­lish­er.  His Ibis Edi­tions pub­lish­es lit­tle-known works trans­lat­ed from Ara­bic, Hebrew, Ger­man, French, and Ladi­no, enlight­en­ing Eng­lish-speak­ing audi­ences to the thriv­ing lit­er­ary tra­di­tion of the Lev­ant.  By fos­ter­ing lit­er­ary dia­logue in and about the Mid­dle East, Ibis pro­vides an occa­sion for intel­lec­tu­al and cul­tur­al col­lab­o­ra­tion.  In a region mired in con­flict, Cole’s ded­i­ca­tion to the lit­er­a­ture of the Lev­ant offers a unique and inspir­ing vision of the cul­tur­al, reli­gious, and lin­guis­tic inter­ac­tions that were and are pos­si­ble among the peo­ples of the Mid­dle East.

Peter Cole began his under­grad­u­ate stud­ies at Williams Col­lege (1975–1977) and received a B.A. (1980) from Hamp­shire Col­lege in Amherst, Mass­a­chu­setts.  He is the author of two vol­umes of poet­ry, Rift (1989) and Hymns & Qualms (1998), and has also pub­lished many vol­umes of trans­la­tion from Hebrew and Ara­bic, includ­ing Select­ed Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (1996), Select­ed Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol (2001), Taha Muham­mad Ali’s So What: New and Select­ed Poems, 1971–2005 (2006), and The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poet­ry from Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian Spain, 950‑1492 (2007).  He is the co-edi­tor of Ibis Edi­tions, which he co-found­ed in 1998, and has been a vis­it­ing writer and pro­fes­sor at Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty, Mid­dle­bury Col­lege, and Yale University’s Whit­ney Cen­ter for the Human­i­ties in the fall of 2006.

Among Cole’s trans­la­tions from con­tem­po­rary Hebrew and Ara­bic poet­ry and fic­tion are also Love & Select­ed Poems of Aharon Shab­tai (Sheep Mead­ow), J’Accuse, by Aharon Shab­tai (New Direc­tions), So What: New & Select­ed Poems, 1971–2005 by Taha Muham­mad Ali (Cop­per Canyon Press), The Col­lect­ed Poems of Avra­ham Ben Yitzhak (Ibis) and The Shun­ra and the Schemet­ter­ling, by Yoel Hoff­mann (New Directions).

Cole has received numer­ous awards for his work, includ­ing fel­low­ships from the John Simon Guggen­heim Foun­da­tion, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties, and the 1998 Mod­ern Lan­guage Asso­ci­a­tion Trans­la­tion Award. J’Accuse received the 2004 PEN-Amer­i­ca Award for Poet­ry in Translation.

Dorit Cypis

Dorit Cyp­is is an award win­ning artist, edu­ca­tor and medi­a­tor. Her work has been pre­sent­ed inter­na­tion­al­ly at muse­ums and oth­er cul­tur­al con­texts. For­eign Exchanges, an ini­tia­tive since 2007, offers con­flict engage­ment and diver­si­ty skills through medi­a­tion and aes­thet­ics. Dorit is Found­ing Mem­ber, Medi­a­tors Beyond Bor­ders and past Chair/MBB Mid­dle East Ini­tia­tive; she found­ed Kul­ture Klub Col­lab­o­ra­tive, artists work­ing with home­less youth to bridge sur­vival and inspi­ra­tion; direct­ed FAR, Foun­da­tion for Art Resources, part­ner­ing with pri­vate and pub­lic orga­ni­za­tions to sup­port cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion in urban set­tings by artists. On Polic­ing, a cur­rent projectweaves her strengths to design com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment events in vul­ner­a­ble neigh­bor­hoods where local youth and police offi­cers engage through col­lab­o­ra­tive and inter­de­pen­dent efforts. Dorit was award­ed a Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship and a Rauschen­berg Foun­da­tion Res­i­den­cy in 2014 and has taught through­out USA, Cana­da, Israel, Hol­land and France. She earned a Mas­ters of Fine Art, Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute for the Arts, and Mas­ters of Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion, Pep­per­dine University.

Lucy DerTavitian

Lucy Der­Tavit­ian is Lebanese-Armen­ian, born in Beirut. She has lived and trav­eled wide­ly in the Mid­dle East, and was at one time an anchor and one of the pro­duc­ers of KPFK 90.7 F.M, Paci­fi­ca Radio’s South West Asian and North Africa col­lec­tive. Lucy is also a mem­ber of Women in Black-Los Ange­les as well as a speak­er bureau mem­ber for Peace Over Vio­lence. She has been a tele­vi­sion writer in Lebanon and the Unit­ed States.

Nile Regina El Wardani

Nile Regi­na El War­dani, MPH, MPhil, Ph.D. cur­rent­ly lec­tures at, and in Glob­al Pub­lic Health. Pre­vi­ous­ly she taught at  the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty in Cairo, Egypt in the Grad­u­ate School of Glob­al Affairs and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy.  A mul­ti-cul­tur­al per­son, Nile speaks Eng­lish, French, Ara­bic and Span­ish. She holds a PhD and MPhil from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don in Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and a Mas­ter in Pub­lic Health from UCLA.

She has worked for over 25 years in Africa, the Mid­dle East and USA as a pro­gram manager/business devel­op­er in the fields of pub­lic health and inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment. She spe­cial­izes in pub­lic health edu­ca­tion, human rights, repro­duc­tive health and women’s empow­er­ment. She was award­ed the Mid­dle East Award for Social Sci­ence Research for her research on pol­i­cy, gov­er­nance, human rights, and civ­il soci­ety. Nile has con­sult­ed for UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, and the Egypt­ian Min­istries of Health, Edu­ca­tion and Infor­ma­tion. She has worked with bilat­er­al donors includ­ing USAID, Finni­da, Dani­da and Dutch Aid and many NGOS in the ME and Africa.

In the cul­tur­al realm, Nile has pro­duced for the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera, San­ta Fe Music Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les Cham­ber Orches­tra, and Carnegie Hall as well as venues in Paris and Cairo. Ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing lives and bridg­ing gaps between peo­ple, Nile pro­duced the world’s first pedi­atric AIDS ben­e­fit at Carnegie Hall in 1989 that was tele­vised on NBC. A vision­ary, Nile sub­se­quent­ly devel­oped the indige­nous Egypt­ian pro­duc­tion of Sesame Street (Alam Sim­sim) with a focus on nutri­tion, safe­ty and hygiene.

In media, she co-host­ed/pro­duced Radio Intifa­da (for five years) a week­ly one-hour radio show cov­er­ing the pol­i­tics and cul­ture of the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA) on Paci­fi­ca Radio 90.7 FM (Los Ange­les). She cur­rent­ly serves on the UCLA School of Pub­lic Health Alum­ni Board of Direc­tors and the Advi­so­ry Board of Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter which cham­pi­ons a greater under­stand­ing of the Mid­dle East/North Africa (MENA) region by pre­sent­ing cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams that bridge polit­i­cal and reli­gious divides. She con­tin­ues to cov­er cul­ture, trav­el and design for Obelisque Mag­a­zine (Cairo, Egypt) and blogs at

 Jordan Elgrably

Found­ing Direc­tor (Emer­i­tus) of The Markaz, Jor­dan Elgrably made his mark on Los Ange­les, orga­niz­ing pub­lic pro­grams from 1996 to 2016 that were designed to bring togeth­er Amer­i­can and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing Arabs and Jews and oth­er groups, to build rela­tion­ships and address conflict.

A writer, edi­tor, cura­tor and pro­duc­er of pub­lic pro­grams, Jor­dan is of Moroc­can and French her­itage. He has been pas­sion­ate­ly com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing Arab/Muslim/Christian and Jew­ish rela­tions for many years. In addi­tion to The Markaz/the Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter, which he co-found­ed in 2001, he found­ed the New Asso­ci­a­tion of Sephardi/Mizrahi Artists & Writ­ers Inter­na­tion­al in 1996 and Open Tent Mid­dle East Coali­tion in 1999. He has launched sev­er­al inde­pen­dent projects and orig­i­nal ini­tia­tives, among them the Sul­tans of Satire: Mid­dle East Com­ic Relief; Beirut­Los; and New Voic­es in Mid­dle East­ern Cin­e­ma, which received major­ing fund­ing from the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press Asso­ci­a­tion (Gold­en Globes) for many years.

Jor­dan attend­ed the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris (for­mer­ly ACP) and was based for a num­ber of years in Paris and Madrid, where he worked as a jour­nal­ist and asso­ciate pro­duc­er for TF1. His essays, arti­cles and sto­ries have appeared in many antholo­gies and peri­od­i­cals. A long­time mem­ber of PEN Cen­ter, the inter­na­tion­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion for writ­ers and jour­nal­ists, he was also a mem­ber of the Los Ange­les Press Club, and the Arab and Mid­dle East­ern Jour­nal­ists Asso­ci­a­tion. His work has received con­sid­er­able recog­ni­tion and hon­ors in many cir­cles. In 2008, the L.A. Week­ly fea­tured Jor­dan in its Peo­ple of the Year issue; he received the Local Hero Award from the Foun­da­tion for World Arts and Cul­tures in 2008; in 2011 he was an Annen­berg Alche­my fel­low and in 2013, 2015 and 2017, Jor­dan was nom­i­nat­ed for the James Irvine Lead­er­ship Award. He is the recip­i­ent of the 2015 Rachel Cor­rie Con­science and Courage Award from the ADC. He was a 2016 Ari­ane de Roth­schild Foun­da­tion Fel­low. Jor­dan lives in France with his wife and son.

Noora Elkoussy

Noo­ra Elk­oussy is a first-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can of Egypt­ian her­itage, and a grad­u­ate of Occi­den­tal College’s Diplo­ma­cy and World Affairs pro­gram. Her aca­d­e­m­ic spe­cial­ty is the Mid­dle East and Peace and Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion. She has spent most of her post grad­u­ate years in the non-prof­it world, work­ing in inter­na­tion­al dis­as­ter relief and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions, and lat­er dab­bling in busi­ness. Noo­ra is one of Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Center’s orig­i­nal mem­bers, hav­ing rolled up her sleeves as a vol­un­teer back in the days when sev­er­al of the cofounders were active with Open Tent Mid­dle East Coalition—this was in the Spring of 2001, short­ly before the cen­ter was offi­cial­ly announced. Noo­ra has helped to define the center’s mis­sion, and imple­ment its pub­lic pro­grams. Noo­ra spent sev­er­al years as the direc­tor of inter­na­tion­al pro­grams at HOBY, a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion which pro­vides lead­er­ship sem­i­nars, work­shops and oth­er ser­vices to stu­dents and recent grad­u­ates. She has orga­nized numer­ous inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences. She is now based in Cairo with the Inter­na­tion­al Med­ical Corps help­ing Libyan refugees.

Cheryl J. Faris

Cheryl J. Faris is a native of Fall Riv­er, Mass­a­chu­setts, and has lived in Los Ange­les for over 30 years. She was a cor­po­rate Labor & Employ­ment attor­ney for AT&T for 21 years, and cur­rent­ly teach­es Law and Social Stud­ies. As a Lebanese-Amer­i­can, Cheryl has long been involved with the Arab-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. She sits on the Nation­al Board of the Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee, as well as on the local Los Ange­les Steer­ing Com­mit­tee. She was the first woman pres­i­dent of the Arab-Amer­i­can Lawyers’ Asso­ci­a­tion. For 16 years, she served on the Exec­u­tive Board of the South­ern Chris­t­ian Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence (SCLC). Cheryl lives with her hus­band Patrick King and their two col­lege-age children.

Rebecca Gonzalez-Tobias

Rebec­ca Gon­za­lez-Tobias is an inter­faith edu­ca­tor and social jus­tice advo­cate. Pro­gram Direc­tor of the Raoul Wal­len­berg Insti­tute of Ethics, she designs and facil­i­tates com­mu­ni­ty pro­gram­ming that seeks to fos­ter a cul­ture of peace on a local, nation­al and inter­na­tion­al level.

In an effort to bring ethics to gov­ern­ment and pub­lic pol­i­cy she reg­u­lar­ly address­es civic and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions on behalf of Tikkun and the Net­work of Spir­i­tu­al Pro­gres­sives, for­ward­ing the agen­da out­lined in Rab­bi Michael Lerner’s ver­sion of a Glob­al Mar­shall Plan. Recent­ly intro­duced to fed­er­al leg­is­la­tors on Cap­i­tal Hill (HR1078) the bill offers prac­ti­cal and sub­stan­tive leg­isla­tive steps to expe­dite the erad­i­ca­tion of pover­ty, home­less­ness and social inequity in the US and abroad.

As a fel­low at the Office of High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights in Gene­va she assist­ed Spe­cial Rap­pa­teur Miguel Alfon­so Mar­tinez in the draft­ing of res­o­lu­tions for the Work­ing Group for Indige­nous Pop­u­la­tions for the Human Rights Sub-Com­mis­sion meet­ing held in August 2005. Rebec­ca serves as a del­e­gate to the UN’s Tri­par­tite Forum on Inter­faith Coop­er­a­tion for Peace and the Com­mit­tee of Reli­gious NGOs. She resides on the board of the LA-PSR’s Non-nuclear Pro­lif­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee, the LA plan­ning and coor­di­nat­ing coun­cil for the Par­lia­ment of the World’s Reli­gions, and is a US rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Inter­faith Encounter Asso­ci­a­tion of Israel/Palestine.

She has been invit­ed as guest lec­tur­er and pre­sen­ter on issues of ethics and inter-cul­tur­al coop­er­a­tion at the Palaise de Nations in Gene­va, the Glob­al Assem­bly of the Unit­ed Reli­gions Ini­tia­tive in Maya­pur India, the IHRC/CIDH UCLA Brain Trust, Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty North­ridge,  Arling­ton West and oth­ers. Her work has been a con­cert­ed effort to build coali­tions and to empow­er cit­i­zen advo­ca­cy in an effort to improve the lives of all stake­hold­ers on the planet.

Rebec­ca attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don in 1984, grad­u­at­ing from Flori­da Inter­na­tion­al Uni­ver­si­ty in 1989 with a degree in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and Com­par­a­tive Reli­gion. In 1996 she went on to study ethics, cul­ture and mys­ti­cism of ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam through­out Turkey with the Catholic Sis­ters of Notre Dame Col­lege. In 2003 she attend­ed the Eli­jah Inter­faith Acad­e­my of Jerusalem study­ing sacred tests of the Abra­ham­ic faiths with Rab­bi Alon Goshen-Gottstein who is a found­ing mem­ber of the World Con­gress of Imams and Rabbis.

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Han­dal is an award-win­ning poet, play­wright, and writer. She is the author of two poet­ry books, The Nev­er­Field and The Lives of Rain (short-list­ed for The Agnes Lynch Star­rett Poet­ry Prize/The Pitt Poet­ry Series and recip­i­ent of the Mena­da Award); two poet­ry CDs Trav­el­ing Rooms and Spell; the edi­tor of The Poet­ry of Arab Women: A Con­tem­po­rary Anthol­o­gy (Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets Best­seller; win­ner of the Pen Oakland/Josephine Miles Award); and co-edi­tor of Lan­guage for a New Cen­tu­ry: Con­tem­po­rary Poet­ry from the Mid­dle East, Asia & Beyond (Nor­ton, 2008). Her work has been trans­lat­ed into more than fif­teen lan­guages and she has been fea­tured on NPR, KPFK, PBS Radio as well as The New York Times, The San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle, Reuters, Mail & Guardian, The Jor­dan Times and Il Piccolo.Her poet­ry has also been set to music and per­formed at venues such as Lin­coln Cen­ter; and has been fea­tured in numer­ous galleries/traveling exhi­bi­tions, most recent­ly, Glass Cur­tain Gallery, Chica­go. Han­dal has been involved either as a writer, direc­tor or pro­duc­er in over twen­ty the­atri­cal and/or film pro­duc­tions. She is cur­rent­ly play­wright-in-res­i­dence at The New York The­atre Work­shop and part of the pro­duc­tion team for the fea­ture film, Gibran. Nathalie Han­dal was cho­sen as one of the most pow­er­ful Arab women of 2011.

Bana Hilal

Bana Hilal was born and raised in Beirut, where she received her B.A. from the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Beirut. She also has an Inte­ri­or Design­er Degree from the New­port Beach Inte­ri­or Design­er Insti­tute, and has worked in real estate prop­er­ty man­age­ment. Bana is a com­mu­ni­ty activist who has long com­mit­ted her­self to human­i­tar­i­an issues that involve empow­er­ing women and assist­ing under­priv­i­leged chil­dren, as well build­ing bridge of under­stand­ing between diverse com­mu­ni­ties. She is Co- Pres­i­dent of AAUW (Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Uni­ver­si­ty Women), Lagu­na Beach Branch—an inter­na­tion­al women’s orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates equi­ty for women. She is active with the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Beirut, and the Daniel Bliss Soci­ety Lead­er­ship Com­mit­tee, and is past pres­i­dent of the Lebanese Ladies Cul­tur­al Soci­ety, an orga­ni­za­tion that teach­es under­priv­i­leged stu­dents in Lebanon. She is also Pres­i­dent and Founder of WIN, Women’s Intel­lec­tu­al Net­work in Orange Coun­ty, a group that ded­i­cates itself to build­ing a strong com­mu­ni­ty of women. She is a past board mem­ber of Con­tacts of Orange Coun­ty, pro­fes­sion­al women’s group, past board mem­ber of Art Matrix, an orga­ni­za­tion that encour­ages art as means of expres­sion for Stu­dents, and has been a mem­ber of sev­er­al orga­ni­za­tions that pro­vide sup­port for the com­mu­ni­ty. She has been a mem­ber of Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Center’s nation­al advi­so­ry board since 2007. In Decem­ber 2010 she received the East-West Bridge­builder Award, along with Jodie Evans and Rox­ana Saberi.

Richard Horowitz

New  York native Richard Horowitz is a com­pos­er, pro­duc­er, arranger, and musi­cian (key­board, ney, and per­cus­sion). He is best known for his work on The Shel­ter­ing Sky, direct­ed by Bernar­do Bertoluc­ci, which was award­ed the 1990 Gold­en Globe and LA Film Crit­ics Music Awards;Any Giv­en Sun­day, direct­ed by Oliv­er Stone, which was award­ed the 2000 BMI Music Award; and Majoun an album released on Sony Clas­si­cal in 1997, with Sus­san Dey­him. He per­formed his score for 1999 Three Sea­sons, (direct­ed by Toni Bui pro­duced by Har­vey Kei­t­el, Jacon Kliot and Joan­na Vin­cente) live at the Sun­dance Film Festival’s 25th Anniver­sary Ben­e­fit in New York in 2006. Horowitz is known for cre­at­ing a unique son­ic lan­guage by fus­ing togeth­er his roots in clas­si­cal, jazz and elec­tron­ic music with the inten­si­ty of the trance music he first expe­ri­enced in Moroc­co at the age of nine­teen. Vis­it hisWiki page. Vis­it his site.

Elie Karam

Elie Karam is an award-win­ning play­wright, direc­tor and actor. Born in Beirut, he fled the Lebanese civ­il war to Vien­na and Mon­tre­al to study Dra­mat­ic Arts. Relo­cat­ing to post-war Beirut, he has writ­ten and direct­ed crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed plays expos­ing impor­tant issues in the Mid­dle East. His eclec­ti­cism has led him to write for French lit­er­ary mag­a­zines, teach work­shops at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, work in adver­tis­ing for Grey World­wide as well as exhib­it art work in muse­ums and cre­ate a hit Arab TV show. He’s been invit­ed as a res­i­dent author at the Roy­al Court The­atre in Lon­don and his plays have been per­formed at the The­atre du Rond-Point in Paris and La Mama in New York. His new play “Tell Me About the War So I’ll Love You” received the pres­ti­gious Beau­mar­chais lit­er­ary grant, the Lyon Author award and has been pub­lished in France by Actes-Sud. It was pro­duced at the world-renowned Avi­gnon The­ater Fes­ti­val in 2010. Elie Karam divides his time between Beirut, Paris and Los Ange­les. He served as the artis­tic con­sul­tant for Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter pro­grams based on his many years’ expe­ri­ence in the­atre, tele­vi­sion and pub­lic events.

Elias Khoury

Elias Khoury is cur­rent­ly the Glob­al Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor of Mid­dle East­ern and Islam­ic Stud­ies at New York Uni­ver­si­ty. Born in Beirut in 1948, He is the author of eleven nov­els, four vol­umes of lit­er­ary crit­i­cism, and three plays. Since 1975, with the pub­li­ca­tion of his first nov­el, he has been in the Beirut van­guard of new Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture, which was seek­ing to cre­ate new dimen­sions in the move­ment of modernism.

Khoury’s com­mit­ment to Pales­tin­ian human rights began when he vis­it­ed a refugee camp in Jor­dan at age nine­teen. Khoury has been an advo­cate ever since, devot­ing his ener­gies to the Pales­tine Research Cen­ter in Beirut and speak­ing out in arti­cles, essays, and through his fic­tion. Khoury is the edi­tor in chief of the cul­tur­al sup­ple­ment of Beirut’s dai­ly news­pa­per, An-Nahar. In 1998, he was award­ed the Pales­tine Prize for Gate of the Sun, and in 2000, the nov­el was named Le Monde Diplomatique’s Book of the Year. Elias Khoury is a pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al and a cul­tur­al activist who plays a major role in con­tem­po­rary Ara­bic cul­ture and in the defense of the lib­er­ty of expres­sion and democ­ra­cy. Khoury’s lat­est nov­el to be trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish is Yalo.

“In Humphrey Davies’s spar­e­ly poet­ic trans­la­tion, Gate of the Sun is an impos­ing­ly rich and real­is­tic nov­el, a gen­uine masterwork.” —
Lor­raine Adams, New York Times

Lis­ten to an inter­view with Elias Khoury.

Laila Lalami

Laila Lala­mi was born in Rabat, and edu­cat­ed in Moroc­co, where she earned her B.A. in Eng­lish from Uni­ver­sité Mohammed V in Rabat. She earned her M.A. from Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege, Lon­don, and her Ph.D. in lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Los Ange­les Times, The Nation, The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and else­where, and has been wide­ly anthologized.

Her debut book of fic­tion, Hope and Oth­er Dan­ger­ous Pur­suits, was pub­lished in the fall of 2005 and has since been trans­lat­ed into Span­ish, Dutch, French, Por­tuguese, and Ital­ian. The book touch­es on a theme famil­iar to many Amer­i­cans: ille­gal immi­gra­tion. How­ev­er, this col­lec­tion of short sto­ries tells of young peo­ple mak­ing a har­row­ing jour­ney by boat from Moroc­co to Spain, all in search of a bet­ter life. She was short-list­ed for the Caine Prize for African Writ­ing in 2006. She is cur­rent­ly Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Cre­ative Writ­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia River­side. Her first nov­el, Secret Son, was pub­lished in 2009. While Lalami’s North African upbring­ing influ­ences both her writ­ing and her teach­ing, she uses her full life expe­ri­ence to “inform her work.” Vis­it her site.

Mark LeVine

Mark LeVine a schol­ar, musi­cian and activist with well over a decade of expe­ri­ence liv­ing and work­ing in the Mid­dle East, from Moroc­co to Iraq. As an gui­tarist and ‘oud­ist he has worked with Mick Jag­ger, Ozomatli, world music artist Has­san Hak­moun and blues and jazz greats Dr. John and John­ny Copeland. As an activist he has worked with var­i­ous groups with­in the glob­al peace and jus­tice move­ment and spo­ken at some of its sem­i­nal gath­er­ings, such as the Prague S26 Coun­ter­sum­mit against the IMF in 2000. As a jour­nal­ist he has writ­ten wide­ly in the US and Euro­pean press, includ­ing Le Monde, the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, Mid­dle East Report, and Asia Times. As a schol­ar he has held posi­tions at the Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Advanced Stud­ies at New York Uni­ver­si­ty, the Soci­ety for Human­i­ties at Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, and the Robert Schu­man Cen­tre for Advanced Stud­ies at the Euro­pean Uni­ver­si­ty Insti­tute in Flo­rence, Italy. LeVine is present­ly Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Mid­dle East­ern His­to­ry, Cul­ture and Islam­ic Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine. His oth­er books include Twi­light of Empire: Respons­es to Occu­pa­tion (co-edi­tor, Perce­val Press, 2003), Over­throw­ing Geog­ra­phy: Jaf­fa, Tel Aviv and the Strug­gle for Pales­tine(Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 2004) and Reli­gion, Social Prac­tice, and Con­test­ed Hege­monies: Recon­struct­ing Mus­lim Pub­lic Spheres, (co-edi­tor, Pal­grave Press, 2005).Two of his most recent books are Why They Don’t Hate Us, Unveil­ing the Axis of Evil (One World 2005) and Heavy Met­al Islam, Rock, Resis­tance, and the Strug­gle for the Soul of Islam, Ran­dom House (July 2008). Read an inter­view with LeVine.

Alfred Madain

Alfred Madain aka DJ Al-Fareed was born and raised in Jor­dan and has trav­eled wide­ly through­out the Arab/Islamic world. He moved to Los Ange­les in 1980. He received his B.A. and teach­ing cre­den­tial from Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty Los Ange­les, and is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing course work for an M.A. He has more than 15 years of expe­ri­ence in the edu­ca­tion field. He has also worked in the field of Ara­bic music and eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy and pro­duces the online radio show, Radio Al-Fareed. He has giv­en lec­tures on the under­stand­ing of musi­cal expres­sion through the under­stand­ing of region­al dialect. His work with Muwasha­hat (a musi­cal form based on an Ara­bic poet­ic form invent­ed in the 9th cen­tu­ry) has giv­en him an excep­tion­al under­stand­ing of the form and struc­ture of the lan­guage. He has attend­ed many con­fer­ences and work­shops on Eng­lish lan­guage acqui­si­tion and has worked on apply­ing those the­o­ries to the Ara­bic lan­guage. He has worked indi­vid­u­al­ly to coach singers and actors in the Los Ange­les area, help­ing them acquire con­ver­sa­tion­al abil­i­ty for their work. Alfred has also worked on the music for sev­er­al the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions, and has been a per­former in the Kan Zaman orches­tra since its incep­tion in the 1990s. Alfred has been a sup­port­er and activist with the Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter for most of its history.

Juliana Maio

Born in Egypt, raised in France and for­mal­ly edu­cat­ed in the Unit­ed States, Juliana Maio is an enter­tain­ment attor­ney, writer, and co-founder with her hus­band, pro­duc­er, Michael Phillips, of Light­house Pro­duc­tions, a film and tele­vi­sion com­pa­ny based in Los Angeles

Juliana has recent­ly com­plet­ed her first nov­el, Cairo, a work of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion that takes place in the fall of 1941, when Egypt, under British “pro­tec­tion”, looked like­ly to be next to fall to the Axis pow­ers. Had that hap­pened, the entire out­come of the war could have changed

The sto­ry fol­lows an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who is search­ing for a refugee sci­en­tist believed to be hid­ing with­in Cairo’s large Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. Juliana’s life­long inter­est in her own roots and in the his­to­ry of Jew­ish-Arab rela­tions inspired her to write this nov­el, which is now being devel­oped as a motion pic­ture film.

Saree Makdisi

Lebanese-Pales­tin­ian-Amer­i­can schol­ar and writer Saree Mak­disi has already carved a niche for him­self in aca­d­e­m­ic and intel­lec­tu­al cir­cles. He is the author of Roman­tic Impe­ri­al­ism: Uni­ver­sal Empire and the Cul­ture of Moder­ni­ty and William Blake and the Impos­si­ble His­to­ry of the 1790s. Also a pro­lif­ic writer on polit­i­cal affairs, in 2008 he pub­lished his third book,Pales­tine Inside Out: An Every­day Occu­pa­tion (Nor­ton). He has writ­ten in pub­li­ca­tions rang­ing from Stud­ies in Roman­ti­cism, the Oxford Ency­clo­pe­dia of British Lit­er­a­ture, Race and Impe­r­i­al Cul­ture, and the Cam­bridge Com­pan­ion to Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture, 1740–1830, to the South Atlantic Quar­ter­lyBound­ary 2Crit­i­cal Inquiry, and the Lon­don Review of Books. On a recent vis­it to Cairo, Mak­disi gave three lec­tures at Ain Shams Uni­ver­si­ty and the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty in Cairo on “The revival of Ori­en­tal­ism”, “William Blake” and the “Pales­tin­ian Nakba.”

Terrence McNally

Ter­rence McNal­ly is a radio host (KPFK 90.7fm in LA, WBAI 99.5fm in NY), fea­tured jour­nal­ist at, and a pop­u­lar speak­er, con­sul­tant and coach, spe­cial­iz­ing in mes­sage, sto­ry, and nar­ra­tive for non­prof­its and social entre­pre­neurs. A few years out of Har­vard, Ter­rence left Boston and teach­ing for Los Ange­les and the enter­tain­ment indus­try. He want­ed to reach larg­er audi­ences. After twen­ty years as an actor, direc­tor, screen­writer (Earth Girls Are Easy—star­ring Geena Davis, Jeff Gold­blum and Jim Car­rey), song­writer and record pro­duc­er (clas­sic nov­el­ty songs and Julie Brown’s God­dess in Progress, #4 EP in the Vil­lage Voice 1985 Crit­ics Poll), he real­ized he wasn’t ful­fill­ing his vision. Now it all comes togeth­er in his media and con­sult­ing work, as he seeks, spreads, and encour­ages sto­ries of a world that just might work.

On Free Forum—his week­ly radio show in Los Ange­les (KPFK 90.7fm) and New York (WBAI 99.5fm)—McNally engages the most vision­ary thinkers, writ­ers, and doers he can find to make sense of the cur­rent moment and shed light on the path ahead.

One week Michael Lewis explains the Wall Street crash, the next Father Greg Boyle and one of the thou­sands of gang mem­bers he’s hired at LA’s Home­boy Indus­tries, offer hope. Oth­er recent guests include Atul Gawande MD of The New York­er, Tem­ple Grandin, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, out­spo­ken Afghanistan Par­lia­ment mem­ber Malalai Joya, Cor­nel West, Craig Ven­ter, and Robert Wright. Guests are invit­ed to express their authen­tic selves, share their pas­sion as well as their ideas, and explore new ter­ri­to­ry. Final­ly, Ter­rence makes sure com­plex and impor­tant ideas make sense to lis­ten­ers. All based on the fact that he believes we can do bet­ter, and wants to find out how. McNal­ly is also a recur­ring host on KCRW’s syn­di­cat­ed NPR shows, To the Point and Left, Right, and Cen­ter. Inter­views appear in print at

As a speak­er, writer, con­sul­tant, and coach, Ter­rence helps foun­da­tions, non-prof­its, pub­lic agen­cies, and pro­gres­sive cor­po­ra­tions tell their best sto­ries. He speaks and offers work­shops on how to tap the unique pow­er of narrative—not only to engage audi­ences, both inside and out­side your orga­ni­za­tion, but also to bet­ter define for your­self who you are. He works with indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions to more effec­tive­ly deliv­er their mes­sages in per­son or in writ­ing, live or through the media.

Clients include Arent Fox, Bank Of Amer­i­ca Neigh­bor­hood Excel­lence Ini­tia­tive, CERES, CDC/Centers for Dis­ease Con­trol, Friends Of The Earth, Glaxo-SmithK­line Patient Advo­cates, Green­peace USA, Intel Cor­po­ra­tion, Inter­face Floor­ing, The Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion, John D. & Cather­ine T. Macarthur Foun­da­tion, Her­man Miller, NASA, NASD Investor Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion, Nemours Foun­da­tion, Pfiz­er Foun­da­tion, US Cli­mate Action Net­work, and Vol­un­teers Of America.

McNal­ly is also a respect­ed facil­i­ta­tor and mod­er­a­tor. In prac­tice, he mod­els and pro­motes respect and pro­duc­tive lis­ten­ing, encour­ages and focus­es com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cre­ativ­i­ty, and coop­er­a­tion; resolves con­flicts; clar­i­fies and aligns vision, mis­sion and objec­tives; and devel­ops plans for effec­tive action.

He is also co-author with Hyla Cass MD of Kava: Nature’s Answer to Stress, Anx­i­ety, and Insom­nia. Ter­rence has served on the boards of Earth Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Office, Show Coali­tion, and Edu­ca­tion 1st, and is an annu­al par­tic­i­pant at the Con­fer­ence on World Affairs in Boul­der, Colorado.

Vis­it his web site.

Vera Mijojlic

Vera Mijo­jlic has been a jour­nal­ist and cul­tur­al reporter as a well as an activist on behalf of human rights and refugees. Hail­ing from ex-Yugoslavia, her career path reflects her diverse inter­ests in cin­e­ma, his­to­ry, cul­tur­al her­itage and the pol­i­tics of cul­ture of the Balka­ns and East­ern Europe. In Los Ange­les since 1992, she found­ed the first-ever fes­ti­val of films from South East Europe, the South­east Euro­pean Film Fes­ti­val. Pri­or to 1992 Vera worked for major inter­na­tion­al motion pic­ture com­pa­nies film­ing in ex-Yugoslavia, includ­ing loca­tion film­ing for the his­toric ’84 Win­ter Olympic Games in Sara­je­vo. She also served as direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and PR for the Avala Film Stu­dios in Bel­grade, and wrote exten­sive­ly about films and cul­tur­al events for numer­ous dai­ly papers, mag­a­zines, and cul­tur­al reviews. Vera is a fre­quent pub­lic speak­er at trade and com­mu­ni­ty events, and guest lec­tur­er at uni­ver­si­ties. She takes pride in her com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, and has a dis­tin­guished record in human­i­tar­i­an work.

Amitis Motevalli

Although new to the Lev­an­tine advi­so­ry board in 2012, Ami­tis Mote­val­li was privy to the ear­ly con­ver­sa­tions about cre­at­ing a Mid­dle East­ern cul­tur­al arts cen­ter for Los Ange­les back in 2000. Born in Tehran, Iran, Ami­tis moved to the US in 1977; in 1995 she received a BA from SFSU in Art with a minor in Women’s stud­ies, and in 1998 an MFA from Clare­mont Grad­u­ate Uni­ver­si­ty. Her work as an artist incor­po­rates a com­bi­na­tion of near-east­ern aes­thet­ic with a west­ern art edu­ca­tion. Mote­val­li states, “Being an immi­grant in the US shows in my work cul­tur­al plu­ral­i­ty, nat­ur­al and learned. In all of my work, I cre­ate a dia­logue that presents alter­na­tives to dom­i­nant canons in research and reflec­tion of the present as well as history.”

Ami­tis Mote­val­li is a recent recip­i­ent of the Cen­ter for Cul­tur­al Inno­va­tion Artis­tic Inno­va­tion Award, the Dan­ish Arts Coun­cil Inter­na­tion­al Res­i­dent Artist Award, the Cal­i­for­nia Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion Fel­low­ship and the Visions of Cal­i­for­nia Award, a James Irvine Foun­da­tion Fel­low­ship and the NEA/Warhol Foun­da­tion artist fel­low. Mote­val­li is also the direc­tor of The William Grant Still Arts Cen­ter. She cur­rent­ly lives and works in Los Ange­les, exhibit­ing art inter­na­tion­al­ly as well as orga­niz­ing to cre­ate an active and resis­tant cul­tur­al dis­course through infor­ma­tion exchange, either in art, ped­a­gogy or orga­niz­ing artist and edu­ca­tors. Vis­it her site.

Babak Nahid

Babak Nahid is Founder and Pres­i­dent of Non­prof­i­topia, a peer-based non-prof­it con­sul­tan­cy ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions ful­fill their mis­sion. A non-prof­it man­age­ment con­sul­tant, edu­ca­tor and pub­lish­er, Babak has launched and led inno­v­a­tive, sus­tain­able pro­grams that help improve qual­i­ty of life for diverse pop­u­la­tions at world-class orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Relief Inter­na­tion­al, Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders and the Amer­i­can Red Cross. He is also the founder and pub­lish­er of Suit­case, an inter­na­tion­al jour­nal of cul­ture and human rights.

An Ange­leno born in Iran and edu­cat­ed in the UK and the US, Babak is cur­rent­ly explor­ing new ways in which tech­nol­o­gy and the Inter­net can help inspire, empow­er and grow pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ties and orga­ni­za­tions by enabling col­lab­o­ra­tive prob­lem-solv­ing, knowl­edge bar­ter­ing, and an open glob­al exchange of social and cul­tur­al capital.

Mariam Atash Nawabi

Mari­am Atash Nawabi is an attor­ney, social entre­pre­neur, and activist. A found­ing mem­ber of the Afghanistan Advo­ca­cy Group—a nation­al net­work of Amer­i­cans engag­ing with pol­i­cy­mak­ers regard­ing devel­op­ment and secu­ri­ty in Afghanistan-she has expe­ri­ence in the legal, diplo­mat­ic, busi­ness, media and civ­il soci­ety sec­tors. Mari­am served as Senior Advi­sor to the Afghan-Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce and Afghanistan Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce, and has also worked at the Embassy of Afghanistan, serv­ing as Com­mer­cial & Trade Coun­sel. She was active­ly involved in pro­mot­ing invest­ment to Afghanistan and mar­ket devel­op­ment in Afghanistan.

Mari­am has also tak­en part in inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences and speak­ing engage­ments on issues relat­ed to Afghanistan’s eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, legal reform, women’s rights, and civ­il soci­ety capac­i­ty build­ing. In May 2003, Mari­am trav­eled to Afghanistan to meet with women lead­ers, orga­ni­za­tions and mem­bers of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Com­mis­sion regard­ing approach­es to women’s rights in the new con­sti­tu­tion. Mari­am cur­rent­ly serves on the Board of Direc­tors of sev­er­al non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions engaged in capac­i­ty build­ing efforts in Afghanistan, includ­ing the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty Foun­da­tion of Afghanistan, Aschi­ana Foun­da­tion, and Nooris­tan Foun­da­tion. She is a grad­u­ate of the George­town Uni­ver­si­ty Law Cen­ter (J.D., cum laude 1999), where she served on the edi­to­r­i­al board of Law and Pol­i­cy in Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness and of George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty (B.A., Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, sum­ma cum laude, 1995), where she was a recip­i­ent of the Peat-Mar­wick, Data­tel and John C. Wood schol­ar­ships and a White House intern. Mari­am joined LCC’s nation­al advi­so­ry board in May 2009.

Karman Pasha

At the age of three, Pasha moved from Karachi, Pak­istan, his birth­place, to the pri­mar­i­ly Hasidic Jew­ish neigh­bor­hood of Bor­ough Park, New York. After grad­u­at­ing from Dart­mouth with a degree in Com­par­a­tive Reli­gion, he became a jour­nal­ist at the Wall Street Jour­nal, where he sub­se­quent­ly inter­viewed top world fig­ures such as for­mer Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Shi­mon Peres, for­mer Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Benazir Bhut­to, and for­mer Peru­vian Pres­i­dent Alber­to Fuji­mori. Pasha ten­rolled at Cor­nell Law School and the Tuck School of Busi­ness at Dart­mouth. With his joint JD/MBA degrees, he began work­ing as an attor­ney at the pres­ti­gious New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Whar­ton & Gar­ri­son. He then moved to Los Ange­les to pur­sue a career in Hol­ly­wood. He served as the writer and co-pro­duc­er of the Emmy-nom­i­nat­ed ter­ror­ism dra­ma, Sleep­er Cell. Pasha also holds an MFA from UCLA film school. He is a writer and pro­duc­er of NBC’s series Kings, which is a mod­ern day retelling of the Bib­li­cal tale of King David. Pre­vi­ous­ly he served as a writer on NBC’s remake of Bion­ic WomanRead his blog. His web site.

Miko Peled

Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: An Israeli Jour­ney in Pales­tine. He is a peace activist who was born in Jerusalem into a well-known Zion­ist fam­i­ly. His grand­fa­ther, Dr. Avra­ham Kat­snel­son was a Zion­ist leader and sign­er on the Israeli Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence. His father, Mat­ti Peled was a young offi­cer in the war of 1948 and a gen­er­al in the war of 1967 when Israel con­quered the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and the Sinai. Miko’s unlike­ly opin­ions reflect his father’s lega­cy. Gen­er­al Peled was a war hero turned peace­mak­er. The gen­er­al clear­ly stat­ed that con­trary to claims made lat­er, the 1967 war was one of choice, and not because there was an exis­ten­tial threat to the state of Israel. He then ded­i­cat­ed his life to the achieve­ment of Israeli Pales­tin­ian peace. Once a two-stater, today Miko believes in a bina­tion­al demo­c­ra­t­ic state for Israelis and Pales­tini­ans liv­ing togeth­er in what was Man­date Pales­tine. Vis­it

Heather Raffo

Heather Raf­fo is the recip­i­ent of a Susan Smith Black­burn Prize Spe­cial Com­men­da­tion and the Mar­i­an Seldes-Gar­son Kanin Fel­low­ship for “Nine Parts of Desire”. Most recent­ly she has received a 2005 Lucille Lor­tel award for Best Solo show as well as an Out­er Crit­ics Cir­cle Nom­i­na­tion and a Dra­ma League nom­i­na­tion for Out­stand­ing Performance.

Raffo’s oth­er recent act­ing cred­its include: Sarah Woodruff in the world pre­miere of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Ful­ton Opera House. Off-Broad­way: Over The Riv­er and Through the Woods, the Off Broadway/National Tour of Mac­beth (Lady Mac­beth), The Mer­ry Wives of Wind­sor (Mis­tress Page) and The Rivals all with The Act­ing Com­pa­ny. Region­al­ly: Oth­el­lo (dir. Jack O’Brien), Romeo and Juli­et (dir. Daniel Sul­li­van), As You Like It (dir. Stephen Wadsworth), Mac­beth (dir. Nicholas Mar­tin), and Com­e­dy of Errors (dir. John Ran­do) all with The Old Globe The­atre in San Diego.

Raf­fo received her BA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, her MFA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of San Diego and stud­ied at the Roy­al Acad­e­my of Dra­mat­ic Art, Lon­don. Orig­i­nal­ly from Michi­gan, she now divides her time betwee New York and Los Ange­les. Her father is from Iraq and her moth­er is Amer­i­can. She ded­i­cates “Nine Parts of Desire” to the many mem­bers of her fam­i­ly still liv­ing in Bagh­dad today and to the Iraqi women she has inter­viewed. Vis­it her web site.

Ella Habiba Shohat

Pro­fes­sor Ella Habi­ba Shohat teach­es cul­tur­al stud­ies and Mid­dle East­ern stud­ies at New York Uni­ver­si­ty. She has lec­tured and pub­lished exten­sive­ly on issues hav­ing to do with race, gen­der, Euro­cen­trism, Ori­en­tal­ism, post/colonialism, transna­tion­al­ism and dias­po­ra, often tran­scend­ing dis­ci­pli­nary and geo­graph­i­cal bound­aries. A sub­stan­tial part of her work has exam­ined the­ses issues in rela­tion to the ques­tion of Arab Jews. Her books include: win­ner of the Kather­ine Singer Kovacs Award Kathrine Unthink­ing Euro­cen­trism (co-authored with Robert Stam, Rout­ledge, 1994), Taboo Mem­o­ries, Dias­poric Voic­es (Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2006), Israeli Cin­e­ma: East/West and the Pol­i­tics of Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas Press, 1989), Talk­ing Visions: Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Fem­i­nism in a Transna­tion­al Age (MIT 1998), as well as the co-edit­ed vol­umes, Dan­ger­ous Liaisons: Gen­der, Nation and the Post­colo­nial Per­spec­tives (Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 1997), Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, Post­colo­nial­i­ty and Transna­tion­al Media (Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2003), and The Cul­tur­al Pol­i­tics of the Mid­dle East in the Amer­i­c­as to be pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Press. Flag­ging Patri­o­tism: Crises of Nar­cis­sism and Anti-Amer­i­can­ism, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Stam, was recent­ly pub­lished by Rout­ledge Press, and cur­rent­ly they are in the final stages of writ­ing The Cul­ture Wars in Trans­la­tion (to be pub­lished by NYU press).

Janet Sternburg

Janet Stern­burg is a poet and essay­ist, best known in the lit­er­ary world for edit­ing the clas­sic two-vol­ume set, The Writer on Her Work, long rec­og­nized as a ground­break­ing work on women and writ­ing. Nor­ton issued a spe­cial anniver­sary edi­tion in 2000 with a new intro­duc­tion by Julia Alvarez. The Writer on Her Work has been named one of the 500 Great Books by Women: Thir­teenth Cen­tu­ry to the Present, and has been rec­og­nized by the Lit­er­ary Guild, Writ­ers Digest Book Club, Qual­i­ty Book Club and the Com­mon Reader.

Stern­burg has also had a career in film and the­ater. She pro­duced and direct­ed award-win­ning films for pub­lic tele­vi­sion, among them Vir­ginia Woolf: The Moment Whole, fea­tur­ing Mar­i­an Seldes, on being a woman and a writer. She cre­at­ed, curat­ed, and wrote the thir­teen-part series, Through Her Eyes, the first nation­al­ly tele­vised series of inde­pen­dent films by women. In addi­tion, Stern­burg served as the Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer in Media for the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, where she direct­ed an inter­na­tion­al fel­low­ship pro­gram. For sev­en years she served as direc­tor of the Writ­ers in Per­for­mance Series at the Man­hat­tan The­atre Club, where she pio­neered new ways to present lit­er­a­ture on stage. Those events includ­ed Stockard Chan­ning in Colette and Zoe Cald­well in Isak Dine­sen.

Also an accom­plished pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Sternburg’s pho­tog­ra­phy has been exhib­it­ed nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly, pur­chased by major col­lec­tors, and is in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of the muse­um of the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. In 2002, a six-page port­fo­lio of her work appeared in the dis­tin­guished inter­na­tion­al pho­tog­ra­phy mag­a­zine Aper­ture, along with a solo show at the James Fran­cis Trez­za gallery in New York City. Art Jour­nal also pub­lished an eight-page port­fo­lio of her work.

Stern­burg cur­rent­ly is a mem­ber of the fac­ul­ty of crit­i­cal stud­ies at the Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of the Arts, where she teach­es in the writ­ing pro­gram. She has received many awards and fel­low­ships includ­ing the Albert Camus Award in French Lit­er­a­ture from the New School, the Dale Djeras­si Fel­low at the Djeras­si Artist Res­i­dence Pro­gram, and fel­low of the Mac­Dow­ell Colony, the Mil­lay Colony and the Blue Moun­tain Artist Retreat, as well as mul­ti­ple Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties grants. She cur­rent­ly serves on the board of direc­tors of PEN Cen­ter West, where she has served as vice pres­i­dent and chair of the Lit­er­ary Awards.

Rowan Storm

Rowan Storm has been an active mem­ber and per­former with the  Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter for sev­er­al years. In 2012 she joined the nation­al  advi­so­ry board. With more than 25 years of expe­ri­ence with cul­tures and drum­ming of the Mid­dle East and Mediter­ranean, Rowan Storm is rec­og­nized inter­na­tion­al­ly as a per­former, edu­ca­tor and frame drum design­er. Rowan is pio­neer­ing the sym­met­ri­cal frame drum play­ing posi­tion with her most recent design, Remo’s Thin­line Frame Drum. The nar­row frame and light weight enable both hands to engage equal­ly in cre­ative rhyth­mic expres­sion, pro­mot­ing bal­ance between both brain hemi­spheres. Rowan’s first sig­na­ture drum is an updat­ed ver­sion of the arche­typ­al women’s frame drum of Iran, the Rowan Storm Day­ereh by Coop­er­man and by Remo.

Based in Athens, Greece for many years, Rowan has col­lab­o­rat­ed with some of the great­est mas­ters of Mid­dle East­ern music, includ­ing Nas­er Musa, Soheil Kas­par, Souren Baron­ian, Ross Daly, Omar Faruk Tek­bilek, Sah­ba Motallebi and Moham­mad Reza Lot­fi. Rowan teach­es frame drum work­shops and per­forms in pres­ti­gious venues through­out the US, Europe and the Mid­dle East, includ­ing Istanbul’s Cemal Reşit Rey Con­cert Hall, Ankara’s Mid­dle East Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty, Greece’s Epi­davros Ancient Amphithe­ater, Euro­pean Music Con­ser­va­to­ries, New York’s Lin­coln Cen­ter, San Francisco’s Asian Art Muse­um, Craft and Folk Art Muse­um of Los Ange­les and the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Muse­um of Art (LACMA).Vis­it her site.

Sandy Tolan

Sandy Tolan, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at USC’s Annen­berg School for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Jour­nal­ism, is a radio and print jour­nal­ist who has report­ed from more than 30 coun­tries over the last 28 years. He is the author of two books and has writ­ten for more than 40 news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, and pro­duced hun­dreds of doc­u­men­taries and fea­tures for NPR and Pub­lic Radio Inter­na­tion­al. Since 1982 he has report­ed from Amer­i­can Indi­an coun­try, along the U.S.-Mexico bor­der, across New Eng­land and the Amer­i­can West, in Latin Amer­i­ca, the Mid­dle East, the Balka­ns, East­ern Europe, and South and East Asia. A cen­tral focus of his work has been the inter­sec­tion of land con­flicts, racial and eth­nic iden­ti­ty, nat­ur­al resources, and the glob­al econ­o­my. He is a co-founder of Home­lands Pro­duc­tions, an inde­pen­dent pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny focus­ing on doc­u­men­tary work for pub­lic radio. He was a lead pro­duc­er for the Home­lands series Work­ing, month­ly pro­files on work­ers around the world broad­cast on pub­lic radio’s Mar­ket­place. Cur­rent­ly he is senior pro­duc­er for The Hunger Chron­i­cles (in devel­op­ment), an inter­na­tion­al doc­u­men­tary col­lab­o­ra­tion with NPR and Mag­num Photos.

Sandy is the author of two books: Me and Hank, A Boy and His Hero 25 Years Lat­er, an explo­ration of race and sports in Amer­i­ca; and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Mid­dle East, which was a final­ist for a Nation­al Book Crit­ics Cir­cle award, and which won Booklist’s “Top of the List” award in non­fic­tion, and the Christo­pher Award for works “affirm­ing the high­est val­ues of the human spir­it.” The book also won hon­or­able men­tion for the Sophie Brody Medal for Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture from the Amer­i­can Library Association.

Sandy has gar­nered more than 25 nation­al and inter­na­tion­al jour­nal­ism awards, most­ly for his radio work, includ­ing a duPont-Colum­bia Sil­ver Baton, three Robert F. Kennedy awards, a Unit­ed Nations Gold Medal award, and two hon­ors from the Over­seas Press Club. He has writ­ten for the New York Times Mag­a­zine, Audubon, the Nation, the Los Ange­les Times Mag­a­zine, the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, USA Today, and dozens of oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. He was a 1993 Nie­man Fel­low at Har­vard University.

Terence Ward

Ter­ence Ward is the author of the acclaimed mem­oir Search­ing for Has­san, which recounts the sto­ry of he and his family’s return to Iran after an absence of more than 25 years. The film rights were pur­chased by James Ivory and the screen­play is being writ­ten in Tehran by Kam­bouzieh Par­tovi, with the film to be direct­ed by Bah­man Gob­a­di. Ter­ence recent­ly wrote to tell us that, “They are tak­ing gam­ble, but they real­ly believe that the film could ‘make his­to­ry’ by pre­sent­ing a dif­fer­ent face of the extra­or­di­nary peo­ple in Iran…who are so far removed from the lunatic politi­cians. In fact, every­one now agrees that Bush and Ahmedine­jad are two heads of the same coin.”

Search­ing for Has­san is the won­drous and touch­ing sto­ry of the Wards’ quixot­ic jour­ney, ulti­mate­ly reward­ed by an emo­tion­al reunion with their lost friend. They trav­el into an unimag­in­ably rich Per­sian past, to the very ori­gins of civ­i­liza­tion, and across the land­scape of con­tem­po­rary Iran, a sur­re­al kalei­do­scope of ancient tra­di­tions and West­ern pop cul­ture. Ward cre­ates a vivid por­trait of Islam’s unique imprint and explores the deep con­flicts between Iran and its Arab neigh­bors, antic­i­pat­ing the new “Great Game” now being played out in cen­tral Asia. Ward’s keen knowl­edge of Iran­ian cul­ture and his­to­ry, infused with the urgency of his per­son­al jour­ney, reveals a coun­try that is both wild­ly alien and inex­tri­ca­bly linked to the Amer­i­can imagination.

Ter­ry was born in Boul­der, Col­orado, and spent his child­hood in Sau­di Ara­bia and Iran. He speaks Ara­bic, Ital­ian, Greek, Indone­sian, and Far­si and has been a man­age­ment con­sul­tant advis­ing cor­po­ra­tions and gov­ern­ments in the Islam­ic world. He divides his time between Flo­rence, Italy and New York. Recent­ly he spoke in Rome with Israeli nov­el­ist A. B. Yehoshua on “Mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism and Lit­er­a­ture in the Glob­al Conflict.”

Susanna Whitmore Fránek

Susan­na Whit­more Fránek is a native of Los Ange­les and a descen­dent of one of L.A.’s His­pan­ic found­ing fam­i­lies whose roots go back to California’s pre-mis­sion days. She spent many years abroad, liv­ing and trav­el­ing exten­sive­ly in both Mex­i­co and Spain. An ongo­ing inter­est in Ara­bic music and cul­ture led her to teach and per­form Mid­dle East­ern dance dur­ing her sev­en years in Spain, while she also pur­sued stud­ies in Fla­men­co and North Africa dance forms. More recent­ly she has made a point of attend­ing the Mid­dle East Music and Dance Camp in Men­do­ci­no each year.

Upon her return to L.A. in the 80s, Susan­na went to work for La Opinión, L.A.’s Span­ish-lan­guage dai­ly news­pa­per, where she expand­ed the port­fo­lio of adver­tis­ers, served as a cul­tur­al liai­son between cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca and the His­pan­ic com­mu­ni­ty, col­lab­o­rat­ed on var­i­ous sales-relat­ed projects with the Los Ange­les Times. Susan­na also worked as VP of Sales at the Wave Com­mu­ni­ty News­pa­pers, a group of week­ly pub­li­ca­tions tar­get­ing South­ern California’s African Amer­i­can and His­pan­ic communities.

Cur­rent­ly Susan­na is a co-founder/­part own­er of a mul­ti­cul­tur­al mar­ket research bou­tique as Prin­ci­pal and SVP of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment where she has devel­oped key rela­tion­ships with­in major cor­po­ra­tions and mul­ti­cul­tur­al adver­tis­ing agen­cies, sell­ing His­pan­ic, Asian and African Amer­i­can con­sumer-relat­ed qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive research and con­sult­ing. She has also spear­head­ed doc­u­men­tary-style film pro­duc­tion, com­pli­ment­ing stud­ies on His­pan­ic urban youth, bar­ber­shop dis­cus­sions with African Amer­i­can men, iden­ti­ty mak­ing among Hmong stu­dents, an exposé on L.A.’s Asian Indi­an com­mu­ni­ty, and the growth of store-front Evan­gel­i­cal church­es cater­ing to His­pan­ic immigrants.

Susan­na grad­u­at­ed from UC San­ta Bar­bara with a BA in Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Stud­ies com­bin­ing Span­ish Lit­er­a­ture, His­to­ry and Anthro­pol­o­gy. She is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a Master’s Degree in Cul­tur­al Anthro­pol­o­gy at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Los Ange­les. Her the­sis top­ic is on the cul­tur­al move­ment evolv­ing with­in the Mid­dle East­ern music scene in Los Ange­les, and the musi­cians that are using musi­cal per­for­mance and col­lab­o­ra­tion to encour­age inter­cul­tur­al exchange and under­stand­ing to pro­mote a dia­logue of co-exis­tence and peace. Her goal is to make a doc­u­men­tary film to nar­rate this grow­ing movement.

Sholeh Wolpé

Sholeh Wolpé serves on Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Center’s nation­al advi­so­ry board and is the poet­ry edi­tor at Lev­an­tine Review, an online jour­nal about the Mid­dle East. She is an award-win­ning poet, lit­er­ary trans­la­tor and writer. Born in Iran, Sholeh has lived in Eng­land, Trinidad and the Unit­ed States. She is the author of two col­lec­tions of poet­ry Rooftops of Tehran, and The Scar Saloon, and a book of trans­la­tions, Sin: Select­ed Poems of Forugh Far­rokhzad for which she was award­ed the Lois Roth Trans­la­tion Prize in 2010.

Sholeh is a region­al edi­tor of Tablet & Pen: Lit­er­ary Land­scapes from the Mod­ern Mid­dle East edit­ed by Reza Aslan (Nor­ton), the edi­tor of 2010 Iran issue of the Atlanta Review which became the journal’s best­selling edi­tion, and the edi­tor of an upcom­ing anthol­o­gy of poems from Iran, The For­bid­den: Poems from Iran and Its Exiles (Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan State Press, 2011). She is also a con­tribut­ing edi­tor of Los Ange­les Review of Books.

Sholeh’s poems, trans­la­tions, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of lit­er­ary jour­nals, peri­od­i­cals and antholo­gies world­wide, and have been trans­lat­ed into sev­er­al lan­guages. She has been thrice nom­i­nat­ed for the Push­cart Prize and been fea­tured on NPR, Voice of Amer­i­ca and Dodge Poet­ry Fes­ti­val. Sholeh holds Mas­ters degrees in Radio-TV-Film (North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty) and Pub­lic Health (Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty). She lives in Los Angeles.

Elio Zarmati

Elio Zarmati—A native of Egypt, Elio Zarmati is a con­sul­tant to soft­ware and hard­ware com­pa­nies in the area of dub­bing and sub­ti­tling motion pic­tures and stream­ing video, Elio has been the CEO of Vox­Works. As the for­mer Pres­i­dent and CEO of Gelu­la & Co., Inc., a com­pa­ny he built into the world’s pre­mier provider of sub­ti­tles for DVD in thir­ty-four lan­guages, Elio has been instru­men­tal in devel­op­ing indus­try-wide process­es and stan­dards for both the­atri­cal and DVD release of sub­ti­tled films.

Pri­or to this, he enjoyed a career as a direc­tor, writer, pro­duc­er and edi­tor of motion pic­tures and tele­vi­sion films in Europe and the Unit­ed States. Born in Egypt of Ital­ian-French Jew­ish par­ents, Elio moved to France after the Suez War and received a bilin­gual edu­ca­tion in France and Eng­land. A grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris, (Sor­bonne), he joined the staff of the NBC News Paris Bureau in 1968 as a reporter and cov­ered the stu­dent upris­ings all over Europe. In 1973, he estab­lished per­ma­nent res­i­dence in Los Ange­les. He serves on the Advi­so­ry Board of Lev­an­tine Cul­tur­al Cen­ter and on the Advi­so­ry Board of the Inter­na­tion­al Res­cue Com­mit­tee. He pre­vi­ous­ly owned the Local Hero book­store in Ojai, Cal­i­for­nia, where he also runs DMZ Pub­lish­ing.

Joyce Zonana

Joyce Zonana, born in Cairo and raised in New York City, earned her Ph.D. in Eng­lish at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. Before com­ing to BMCC (Bor­ough of Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege) in 2006, she taught for 15 years at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Orleans, where she was also Direc­tor of Women’s Stud­ies. Sev­er­al chap­ters from her new mem­oir, Dream Homes: From Cairo to Kat­ri­na, an Exile’s Jour­ney (Fem­i­nist Press 2008), have appeared in jour­nals and books, includ­ing Merid­i­ans, Inter­na­tion­al Sephardic Jour­nal, Jew­ish Women’s Lit­er­ary Annu­al, and Becom­ing Amer­i­can: Per­son­al Essays by First Gen­er­a­tion Immi­grant Women. Her schol­ar­ly arti­cles, on fem­i­nist the­o­ry and 19th cen­tu­ry British lit­er­a­ture, have appeared in Hud­son Review, Signs, Vic­to­ri­an Poet­ry, Tul­sa Stud­ies in Women’s Lit­er­a­ture, and Jour­nal of Nar­ra­tive Technique.