Omar Baddar, Advisory Board
Omar Baddar is a political analyst, digital producer, and human rights advocate based in Washington, DC. He serves as the communications director for the Institute for Middle East Understanding. has previously served as deputy director of the Arab American Institute, a producer with Al Jazeera, executive director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts, and former director of the Palestine Cultural Center for Peace in Boston, MA. He holds a master’s degree in political science, with research focusing on U.S. policy toward Palestine and Israel. He has participated in dozens of panels, lectures, and debates on college and university campuses throughout the US. His media appearances include the BBC, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, Voice of America, and other outlets, and his writings have appeared in Salon, the Huffpost, the Daily Beast, and Jadaliyya, among other platforms.
Nafisa Haji, Advisory Board
Nafisa Haji is a novelist and educator. She is the author of “The Sweetness of Tears” (HarperCollins, 2011) and “The Writing on My Forehead” (William Morrow, 2009). Ms. Haji was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles, and has lived in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family originally migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states, and later to the United States. Ms. Haji previously taught elementary school in downtown Los Angeles for seven years in a bilingual Spanish program, and speaks Spanish fluently. She has served on the board at the Marin Interfaith Council, where she represented the International Association of Sufism. She holds a BA in American History from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Ben Freeman, Advisory Board
Ben Freeman is the Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, where he works to expose how foreign governments are influencing U.S. public policy and elections. This work builds upon his book, The Foreign Policy Auction, which was the first book to systematically analyze the foreign influence industry in the U.S. Dr. Freeman earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, completing a dissertation that investigated the ability of foreign governments to effectively lobby for economic and military assistance from the United States. Upon graduation, Dr. Freeman taught in the Political Science Department and the Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M. His work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, and CNN, and he has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Aisha Jumaan, Advisory Board
Aisha Jumaan is president of the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. YRRF works to increase the awareness of the U.S. public and U.S. policymakers regarding the humanitarian crises underway in Yemen, support relief and reconstruction efforts, and facilitate campaigns to bring peace to the country. Aisha is currently working with as an Independent consultant coordinating health related projects in Yemen. Between 2010 and 2012, Aisha supported the CDC’s Field Epidemiology training Program. Prior to that, she was the director for HPV Vaccines: Evidence for Impact project at PATH. She was with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1995 to 2008. She served as team leader for varicella and zoster vaccination program. Previous positions within CDC have been with the National Immunization Program, the Division of Cancer Control and Prevention, the Nutrition Division, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. She has also held the position of assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, Epidemiology Department at Emory University.
William Hartung, Advisory Board
William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Program at CIP and a senior adviser to the center’s Security Assistance Monitor. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and the co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations. He has been a featured expert on national security issues on CBS 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, the PBS Newshour, CNN, Fox News, and scores of local, regional, and international radio outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post, the Hill, and Medium.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Advisory Board
Sarah Leah Whitson served as executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division from 2004 to 2019, where she oversaw the work of the division in 19 countries, with staff located in 10 countries. She has led dozens of advocacy and investigative missions throughout the region, focusing on issues of armed conflict, accountability, legal reform, migrant workers, and human rights. She has published widely on human rights and foreign policy in the Middle East in international and regional media, including The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Los Angeles Times, and CNN. She appears regularly on Al-Jazeera, BBC, NPR, and CNN. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Whitson worked in New York for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Whitson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is on the board of the Artistic Freedom Initiative. She speaks Armenian and Arabic.
Rahim Kurwa is an Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois – Chicago. He has served on the steering committees for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the National Students for Justice in Palestine. Mr. Kurwa received his PhD in Sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2018. His work is focused on understanding how communities reproduce racial segregation in an era governed by fair housing law, particularly through policing. More specifically his work touches upon the family implications of the policing of housing assistance, the interrelatedness of policing and segregation, and the history of policing in public housing and its successor programs.
Josh Ruebner, Advisory Board
Josh Ruebner is the Senior Principal at Progress Up Consulting. He has two decades of experience as an analyst for Congressional Research Service and as a policy director for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. He is the author of two books: “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” (Verso Books, 2013) and “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State?” (Olive Branch Press, 2017). Mr. Ruebner’s analysis and commentary on U.S. policy toward the Middle East has appeared in media outlets including NBC, ABC Nightline, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Middle East Report, and more. Mr. Ruebner is a former analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, a federal government agency providing Members of Congress with policy analysis. He holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.