Abdullah Alaoudh, Advisory Board

Abdullah Alaoudh is a co-founder of the National Assembly Party (NAAS), Saudi Arabia’s first openly declared political party, which calls for an elected parliament and constitutional safeguards in Saudi Arabia. He is also a signatory to the Saudi People’s Vision for Reform, a blueprint for democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Alaoudh serves as Director for the Gulf at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the nonprofit organization founded by Jamal Khashoggi to promote democracy, the rule of law, and human rights for all of the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He is Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Elliott School at George Washington University and a former fellow at Yaqeen Islamic Institute. Alaoudh has published extensively on Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf and appears regularly in the media as a commentator.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. Previously, Alaoudh served as a Senior Fellow at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for two years, and was also a postdoctoral fellow at Yale Law School.

Alaoudh obtained his S.J.D. and L.L.M. from the University of Pittsburgh in comparative international law. While at the University of Pittsburgh, he completed his dissertation on religious institutions and the influence of the ulama (body of Muslim scholars) in post-revolutionary Arab countries. He received his B.A. in Islamic Law from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia.

Nafisas-Author-Photo (1)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.

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.

aisha-jumaanAisha 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.

Hassan El-Tayyab, Advisory Board

Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s legislative director for Middle East policy. His passion for foreign affairs is rooted in his desire to make life better for people in the Middle East, including his extended family in Jordan. He is convinced that advancing a more peaceful and diplomacy-based foreign policy in the Middle East is critical, not only for the family he loves, but for peace and stability worldwide. Prior to joining FCNL in August 2019, he was co-director of the national advocacy group Just Foreign Policy, where he led their lobbying work to advance a more progressive foreign policy in the Middle East and Latin America. He played a major role in the successful passage of the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s war and blockade on Yemen. His writings and commentaries have been featured in numerous news outlets, including CNN, BBC World News, Politico, The Hill, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Intercept and more.

Sarah Leah WhitsonSarah 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.

ben freemanBen Freeman, Advisory Board

Ben Freeman is a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His work focuses on how foreign governments seek to influence American government and politics. 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. Previously, he was Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy.

Before launching the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, Freeman was the Deputy Director of the National Security program at Third Way. Prior to joining Third Way, he served as the National Security Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight from 2011 to 2013, where he spear-headed creation of the “Foreign Influence Database,” a repository of propaganda distributed by foreign agents that was previously unavailable online.

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, Freeman taught in the Political Science Department and the Bush School of Government and Public Service 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.

hartungWilliam 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.

Rahim Kurwa, Advisory BoardProfile-RahimKurwa-FF-cropped

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.

headshot 2-12-20Seth Morrison, Advisory Board

Seth Morrison has held leadership posts in many local, regional and national non-profit and political organizations. He is the immediate past Chair of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and he serves as the Treasurer for Jewish Voice for Peace Action. His organizational roles outside JVP have included HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ advocacy, environment, health care and local progressive politics.

Professionally, he is retired from a career in consumer marketing and product development for the cable television industry.  As a marketer, he has been responsible for major local and national marketing, PR and social media campaigns for the cable television industry and non-profit organizations.

1480626_10151820100185670_983416879_nJosh Ruebner, Advisory Board

Josh Ruebner is Director of Government Relations at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, and Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Justice and Peace Studies program. He is also pursuing his PhD in Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. He has more than 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. He holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.