On Thursdays, the performance will be followed by a public forum with an expert panel. All panels are moderated by Dr. Conrad Fischer. Here are our panelists:


August 10

Loubna Mrie

Loubna Mrie is a Syrian activist who participated in the initial stages of the revolution. She later became a photojournalist with Reuters based in Aleppo, where she covered the ongoing conflict in the Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, and Hama governorates. Originally from the Syrian coastal city of Jableh, she is currently based in New York City where she is a researcher and commentator on Syrian and Middle Eastern affairs. Her work has been published in the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, among other publications. Loubna is an asylum seeker and is currently completing my masters at NYU. 

Hasan Azad

Hasan Azad holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from Columbia University.  His work examines—among other things—the multifarious ways media-political narratives construct Muslimness as an object of fundamental Otherness.  He is the editor-in-chief of the forthcoming online platform Ta’seel Commons, which contextualizes variegated discussions around Islam for the critical reader.  Hasan is widely published, with articles ranging from Islamic Philosophy to Islam and Animal Ethics, from Islamic Politics to Post-colonial Muslim Subjects, from Digital Islam to Islam and Artificial Intelligence.  Hasan is a Sufi-Christian.  Having been a long-time practitioner of Sufism, he was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Christmas Eve 2016 following a conversion experience on Easter of the same year.  He is currently studying Christian theology at Union Theological Seminary, and is working towards his second PhD examining artificial intelligence through a religious-ethical lens.  He is the author of the novel Red and Green Oil on Water.

Sarah Sayeed

Sarah Sayeed is a Senior Advisor in the Community Affairs Unit of the Mayor’s Office of New York City. She previously worked at the Interfaith Center of New York, conducting the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Retreats for Social Justice as well as Catholic-Muslim dialogue and joint social service projects and taught communication at the School of Public Affairs, Baruch College. Sarah volunteers with Women in Islam, Inc., an organization that empowers women within a social justice, human rights and Islamic framework. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Near East Studies from Princeton University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.


August 17

Leonard S. Rubenstein

Leonard Rubenstein is Director of the Program in Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Center for Human Rights and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a core faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins University.  Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins in 2009, Mr. Rubenstein was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and for a decade before that, Executive Director and then President of Physicians for Human Rights.   His current work focuses on the protection of health and human rights in conflict, and has been deeply involved in supporting Syrian health workers struggling to survive while themselves targeted for attack. Len founded and chairs the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, a group of humanitarian, human rights, health provider organizations working at the global and national levels, that seeks to reduce attacks on and interference with health workers, patients, facilities and transports.  He is recipient of numerous awards, including the American Public Health Association’s Sidel-Levy award for peace.

Chris George

For the past 12 years, Chris George has been the Executive Director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, the New Haven-based refugee resettlement agency that welcomed 530 refugees to Connecticut last year. Chris has spent most of his professional life living in, or working on, the Middle East.  Before returning to Connecticut in 2004,  he worked seven years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Chris directed a legislative strengthening project with the Palestinian Parliament and later established an emergency assistance program for Palestinian nonprofits. From 1994 to 1996, Chris was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch – Middle East.  Prior to that, he worked with Save the Children for nine years (mostly in the West Bank and Gaza) and three years with American Friends Service Committee, (mostly in Lebanon).  Chris began his international career in 1977 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Muscat,Oman. Altogether, he spent more than 16 years living in the Middle East. He speaks Arabic.

Rama Issa-Ibrahim

Executive Director at Arab American Association of New York, is no stranger to non-profit management, community outreach, fundraising, and social justice. Most recently, Rama Issa was the Lead Advisor on Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Relations at the NYC Commission on Human Rights working to increase the Commission's efforts to engage the Arab and Muslim communities citywide. Prior to joining CCHR, Rama was the Programs and Policy Associate at the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC, working closely with funders, government agencies and non-profit organizations to increase opportunities and equity for all NYC residents. She spent her first 4 years in NYC working for the Arab-American Family Support Center, a sister organization, in strengthening public-private partnership, and program design and implementation. After graduating college she worked with refugee youth for 10 months at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut while interning at the UNDP's Democratic Governance Unit. Rama is proficient in English, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Sarab Al-Jijakli

is a long-time Syrian-American community organizer and Advertising Executive. He is the founding  National President of the Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP), and is focused on empowering the Arab-American and Muslim community.  As an outspoken community advocate, Sarab has also led various solidarity efforts with the Syrian revolution and has participated in dozens of initiatives for Syria in recent years, including political and humanitarian campaigns. For example, in late 2012, Sarab visited an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Syria to identify key humanitarian needs and to raise awareness in the U.S. Sarab is called upon regularly for his perspective on Syria, and is regularly invited as a guest speaker for various universities, think-tanks, and NGOs.  He has appeared in the media on MSNBCCNNAl-Jazeera, and other news outlets, on issues relating to the Arab-Americans and Muslim-American community as well the unfolding developments in Syria.

Dr. Homer Venters

is the Director of Programs for Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Charged with overseeing PHR’s research, investigations, and training work, Dr. Venters arrives with over a decade of experience as a physician, epidemiologist, and human rights activist. Dr. Venters is also a clinical associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine. Prior to joining PHR, Dr. Venters led the health service in the NYC jail system where he and his team incorporated a human rights framework to the system of care for incarcerated people. His work included research on the health consequences of solitary confinement, measuring injury and death from security forces and racial disparities in security practices. Dr. Venters has also conducted trainings and workshops on these topics internationally. Dr. Venters received his M.D. from the University of Illinois, residency in social internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and fellowship in public health research at New York University.


August 24

Zaher Salhoul

Dr. Sahloul is the immediate past president of and a senior advisor to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a humanitarian and advocacy organization that provides medical relief to Syrians and Syrian refugees. Last year, SAMS served 2.5 million patients in five different countries. (The organization’s vital work is featured in the recent documentary film 50 Feet from Syria, which is available on Netflix.)
Dr. Sahloul is also the founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, a coalition of 14 US-based humanitarian organizations working in Syria. He is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and is a practicing physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine. He has written about the medical and humanitarian crisis in Syria for Foreign Policy and the Huffington Post, among other outlets.

Suzanne Akhras

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder & president of the Syrian Community Network. She is also the founder of Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Midwest Foundation, having served as its president from 2004- 2006. She has a bachelors degree in history and education from the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) from Lewis University, and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management Suzanne currently resides with her husband and three children in the West suburbs of Chicago and in her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.

Sarah Leah Whitson

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, oversees 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 political rights. She has published widely on human rights issues 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. She speaks Armenian and Arabic. 
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Racha Mouaiweh

leads Physicians for Human Rights’ Syria mapping project, which documents attacks on medical facilities and personnel through a rigorous combination of open-source research and field source reporting. She also conducts research investigating human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Syria to author reports, briefing papers, and press releases for PHR. Prior to joining PHR, Mouawieh worked in Beirut as the Syria and Lebanon Research Assistant with Human Rights Watch (HRW), where she worked on a range of human rights issues including refugee and detainee issues, indiscriminate attacks, use of banned weapons, besieged areas, and attacks on health care. Her research and documentation contributed to HRW’s report “If the Dead Could Speak,” analyzing the Caesar photographs of people who died in Syria’s detention centers. Mouawieh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law, an LLM in International Law, and an MA in Social Development Studies, all from the Sorbonne University in Paris.