The full list of confirmed speakers for the first annual

Assyrian National Policy Conference will be available soon. 

Dr. Alda Benjamen

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER

PENN CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER 

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM

The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Alda Benjamen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Rescue Initiative. She was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. She recently completed her doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds a master’s degree in Syriac studies from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Abbas Kadhim

SENIOR FELLOW

FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE 

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Abbas Kadhim is an academic and author with research interests in Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and Islam. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkey in 2006. Between 2005 and 2013, Dr. Kadhim was an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs/Middle East Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Prior to joining SAIS, Dr. Kadhim held a Senior Government Affairs position at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, DC.

Lise Grande

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION FOR IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Lise Grande of the United States assumes the role of Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and UNDP Resident Representative since 17 January 2014. Ms. Grande also serves as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Ms. Grande holds degrees from Stanford University, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York.

Dr. Mariam Georgis

PHD, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

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Assyrians and Indigeneity

Mariam Georgis completed her doctorate in the Political Science Department at the University of Alberta, located on unceded Papaschase Cree territory in Treaty Six territory. She specializes in International Relations and Comparative Politics of the Global South. Her dissertation, “Postwar Iraq (2003-2016): A Postcolonial, Grassroots Approach to the Crisis of Democratic Nation Building” first, problematized the impact of the American-led invasion and occupation on domestic politics in post-Saddam Iraq using critical postcolonial/decolonial, 'history from below' and Subaltern approaches. Second, it explored the potential for democratization "from below" by examining Iraqi articulations of the state. Her research interests include critical international relations theories, race and Indigeneity, critical security studies, colonial modernity, violence and nation building, and Middle East politics with a focus on Indigenous politics. Originally an Assyrian from present-day Iraq, she is a settler on Algonquin, Anishnabek, Haudenosauneega, and Huron-Wendat territory.

MURAD ISMAEL

CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

YAZDA

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The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Murad Ismael is the Executive Director and a board member of YAZDA, a nonprofit organization established to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group in the United States and the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Murad’s motivation is to help genocide victims and raise awareness to protect minorities who have been a subject of persecution based on identity. Murad received his M.S. and MCE degrees from Norwich University and the University of Houston in Texas.

Hannibal Travis

PROFESSOR OF LAW

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. Professor Travis has published widely on genocide, cultural survival, and human rights. He is currently an editorial advisory board member of Genocide Studies International (University of Toronto Press), and has served as a peer reviewer for manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Routledge, and Genocide Studies and Prevention (the journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars). 

JULIANA TAIMOORAZY

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

IRAQI CHRISTIAN RELIEF COUNCIL

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Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Juliana Taimoorazy is the Founder and President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC) and senior fellow at the Philos Project. She started the Iraqi Christian Relief Council in 2006 to help foster awareness about the plight of the Iraqi Christians, and to raise funds to deliver food, shelter and medicine to Iraq. Over the years, ICRC has delivered millions of dollars in aid to vulnerable Christian minorities in Iraq. 

Her own unique story as a refugee has made her a strong leader and an unshakable voice for Christians in Iraq today. She has appeared on numerous media programs including BBC, Fox News, CRTV, and in various publications including the Wallstreet Journal, Newsmax, and more.

DR. EFREM YILDIZ

VICE PRESIDENT

UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA

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PRESERVING ASSYRIAN

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Efrem Yildiz was elected in 2017 to serve as Vice President of the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. He was previously the Chair of Aramaic Studies at the University of Salamanca's Department of Languages. 

An ethnic Assyrian from the village of Harbule in southeastern Turkey, he has written extensively on Assyrian heritage and identity.

DR. SIMO PARPOLA

PROFESSOR EMERITUS

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

Recipient of the Inaugural David B. Perley 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Simo Parpola is Professor Emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki. Dr. Parpola received his PhD in Assyriology from the University of Helsinki in 1971. The main focus of his research has been on the study of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in all its aspects, but he has contributed to a number of studies, including that of modern Assyrian identity. He also taught at the University of Chicago, and contributed to the university's Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project until its completion.

Dr. Parpola is internationally recognized as one of the foremost scholars on ancient Assyria, and has a long and impressive list of publications on various topics in Assyriology and Assyrian identity. 

MOURAD WAHBA

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

UNITED NATIONS

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Mourad Wahba (Egypt) is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. He was appointed to this position by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in November of 2016 and assumed duties on 1 February 2017.

Mr. Wahba began his career with the United Nations in 1993, as a Senior Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General. Before joining the UN, Mourad was an Associate Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, and a Visiting Lecturer on International Political Economy at the Institute for Diplomatic Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt (1987-1993).

SARKAWT SHAMS

CO-FOUNDER

KURDISH POLICY FOUNDATION

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Sarkawt Shamsulddin is the co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation, as well as KAID organization focused on humanitarian programs. He is also a board member of Nalia Media Corporation, the largest and only privately-owned media institution in Iraq. Mr. Shamsulddin was previously the NRT TV Washington Bureau Chief (2015-2018), Consular Assistant and Cultural Adviser at the United States Embassy Baghdad (2009-2011), and Political Adviser at the U.S. Consulate General Erbil. He is now one of the co-founders of a new movement in Iraq called the New Generation Movement. 

As a journalist, he has published dozens of articles in English, Arabic, and Kurdish on Middle Eastern politics and Iraqi and Kurdish affairs. His articles have appeared on CNN, the National Interest, The JPost, Financial Times, NRT TV, Rudaw, Kurdish Policy, and the Hill.  He has been a critical voice in Iraqi Kurdistan against the KRG's internal politics. He is an advocate for freedom of the press, political pluralism, and minority rights in Iraq. 

DR. ANAHIT KHOSROEVA

LEADING RESEARCHER
DEPARTMENT OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES 

INSTITUTE OF HISTORY, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Anahit Khosroeva is an ethnic Assyrian born in Armenia. She is the Leading Researcher in the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. Dr. Khosroeva received her PhD in Genocide Studies from the Oriental Institute of Armenian National Academy of Sciences in 2003. She published her first book entitled Assyrian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Turkish Territories in the Armenian language. The publication was sponsored by the Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan. She has gone on to author dozens of articles on the history of the Assyrian people in various languages, including Armenian, Russian, and English. 

WILFRED BET-ALKHAS

LECTURER OF ASSYRIAN LANGUAGE

SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The Murder of Mar Benyamin Shimun and
the Secularization of the Assyrian Question

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas is a lecturer of Assyrian language and history at San Jose State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures. He was also the founder of an online magazine called Zinda, which was the most influential source of news related to Assyrians in its time with tens of thousands of subscribers all over the world. The last issue of Zinda was published in 2009. 

Professor Bet-Alkhas is an ethnic Assyrian who was born in Iran.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

30th DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Assyrian Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

United States Congressman Brad Sherman represents the 30th Congressional District of California, which includes a sizable Assyrian population. He has been a leading voice for justice and recognition of the 1915 Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide in U.S. Congress for nearly two decades. 

Watch Congressman Sherman's 2017 Assyrian Martyrs Day message.

The full list of confirmed speakers for the first annual

Assyrian National Policy Conference will be available soon. 

Dr. Alda Benjamen

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER

PENN CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER 

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM

The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Alda Benjamen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Rescue Initiative. She was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. She recently completed her doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds a master’s degree in Syriac studies from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Abbas Kadhim

SENIOR FELLOW

FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE 

  • Grey Twitter Icon

Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Abbas Kadhim is an academic and author with research interests in Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and Islam. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkey in 2006. Between 2005 and 2013, Dr. Kadhim was an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs/Middle East Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Prior to joining SAIS, Dr. Kadhim held a Senior Government Affairs position at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, DC.

Lise Grande

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION FOR IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Lise Grande of the United States assumes the role of Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and UNDP Resident Representative since 17 January 2014. Ms. Grande also serves as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Ms. Grande holds degrees from Stanford University, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York.

Dr. Mariam Georgis

PHD, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

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Assyrians and Indigeneity

Mariam Georgis completed her doctorate in the Political Science Department at the University of Alberta, located on unceded Papaschase Cree territory in Treaty Six territory. She specializes in International Relations and Comparative Politics of the Global South. Her dissertation, “Postwar Iraq (2003-2016): A Postcolonial, Grassroots Approach to the Crisis of Democratic Nation Building” first, problematized the impact of the American-led invasion and occupation on domestic politics in post-Saddam Iraq using critical postcolonial/decolonial, 'history from below' and Subaltern approaches. Second, it explored the potential for democratization "from below" by examining Iraqi articulations of the state. Her research interests include critical international relations theories, race and Indigeneity, critical security studies, colonial modernity, violence and nation building, and Middle East politics with a focus on Indigenous politics. Originally an Assyrian from present-day Iraq, she is a settler on Algonquin, Anishnabek, Haudenosauneega, and Huron-Wendat territory.

MURAD ISMAEL

CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

YAZDA

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The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Murad Ismael is the Executive Director and a board member of YAZDA, a nonprofit organization established to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group in the United States and the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Murad’s motivation is to help genocide victims and raise awareness to protect minorities who have been a subject of persecution based on identity. Murad received his M.S. and MCE degrees from Norwich University and the University of Houston in Texas.

Hannibal Travis

PROFESSOR OF LAW

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. Professor Travis has published widely on genocide, cultural survival, and human rights. He is currently an editorial advisory board member of Genocide Studies International (University of Toronto Press), and has served as a peer reviewer for manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Routledge, and Genocide Studies and Prevention (the journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars). 

JULIANA TAIMOORAZY

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

IRAQI CHRISTIAN RELIEF COUNCIL

  • Grey Twitter Icon

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Juliana Taimoorazy is the Founder and President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC) and senior fellow at the Philos Project. She started the Iraqi Christian Relief Council in 2006 to help foster awareness about the plight of the Iraqi Christians, and to raise funds to deliver food, shelter and medicine to Iraq. Over the years, ICRC has delivered millions of dollars in aid to vulnerable Christian minorities in Iraq. 

Her own unique story as a refugee has made her a strong leader and an unshakable voice for Christians in Iraq today. She has appeared on numerous media programs including BBC, Fox News, CRTV, and in various publications including the Wallstreet Journal, Newsmax, and more.

DR. EFREM YILDIZ

VICE PRESIDENT

UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA

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PRESERVING ASSYRIAN

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Efrem Yildiz was elected in 2017 to serve as Vice President of the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. He was previously the Chair of Aramaic Studies at the University of Salamanca's Department of Languages. 

An ethnic Assyrian from the village of Harbule in southeastern Turkey, he has written extensively on Assyrian heritage and identity.

DR. SIMO PARPOLA

PROFESSOR EMERITUS

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

Recipient of the Inaugural David B. Perley 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Simo Parpola is Professor Emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki. Dr. Parpola received his PhD in Assyriology from the University of Helsinki in 1971. The main focus of his research has been on the study of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in all its aspects, but he has contributed to a number of studies, including that of modern Assyrian identity. He also taught at the University of Chicago, and contributed to the university's Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project until its completion.

Dr. Parpola is internationally recognized as one of the foremost scholars on ancient Assyria, and has a long and impressive list of publications on various topics in Assyriology and Assyrian identity. 

MOURAD WAHBA

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

UNITED NATIONS

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Mourad Wahba (Egypt) is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. He was appointed to this position by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in November of 2016 and assumed duties on 1 February 2017.

Mr. Wahba began his career with the United Nations in 1993, as a Senior Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General. Before joining the UN, Mourad was an Associate Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, and a Visiting Lecturer on International Political Economy at the Institute for Diplomatic Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt (1987-1993).

SARKAWT SHAMS

CO-FOUNDER

KURDISH POLICY FOUNDATION

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Sarkawt Shamsulddin is the co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation, as well as KAID organization focused on humanitarian programs. He is also a board member of Nalia Media Corporation, the largest and only privately-owned media institution in Iraq. Mr. Shamsulddin was previously the NRT TV Washington Bureau Chief (2015-2018), Consular Assistant and Cultural Adviser at the United States Embassy Baghdad (2009-2011), and Political Adviser at the U.S. Consulate General Erbil. He is now one of the co-founders of a new movement in Iraq called the New Generation Movement. 

As a journalist, he has published dozens of articles in English, Arabic, and Kurdish on Middle Eastern politics and Iraqi and Kurdish affairs. His articles have appeared on CNN, the National Interest, The JPost, Financial Times, NRT TV, Rudaw, Kurdish Policy, and the Hill.  He has been a critical voice in Iraqi Kurdistan against the KRG's internal politics. He is an advocate for freedom of the press, political pluralism, and minority rights in Iraq. 

DR. ANAHIT KHOSROEVA

LEADING RESEARCHER
DEPARTMENT OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES 

INSTITUTE OF HISTORY, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Anahit Khosroeva is an ethnic Assyrian born in Armenia. She is the Leading Researcher in the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. Dr. Khosroeva received her PhD in Genocide Studies from the Oriental Institute of Armenian National Academy of Sciences in 2003. She published her first book entitled Assyrian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Turkish Territories in the Armenian language. The publication was sponsored by the Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan. She has gone on to author dozens of articles on the history of the Assyrian people in various languages, including Armenian, Russian, and English. 

WILFRED BET-ALKHAS

LECTURER OF ASSYRIAN LANGUAGE

SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The Murder of Mar Benyamin Shimun and
the Secularization of the Assyrian Question

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas is a lecturer of Assyrian language and history at San Jose State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures. He was also the founder of an online magazine called Zinda, which was the most influential source of news related to Assyrians in its time with tens of thousands of subscribers all over the world. The last issue of Zinda was published in 2009. 

Professor Bet-Alkhas is an ethnic Assyrian who was born in Iran.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

30th DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Assyrian Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

United States Congressman Brad Sherman represents the 30th Congressional District of California, which includes a sizable Assyrian population. He has been a leading voice for justice and recognition of the 1915 Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide in U.S. Congress for nearly two decades. 

Watch Congressman Sherman's 2017 Assyrian Martyrs Day message.

REP. JEFF DENHAM

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

10th DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Assyrian Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

United States Congressman Jeff Denham represents the 10th Congressional District of California, which includes a sizable Assyrian community, most notably in Turlock. He has been a strong advocate for the rights and aspirations of Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq.

 

In February 2018, Congressman Denham introduced the Nineveh Plain Restoration Act which supports the safe return of displaced peoples to the Nineveh Plain, the establishment of a self-governing province, and the swift rehabilitation of the area that was recently ravaged by ISIS.

MOTHER OLGA OF THE SACRED HEART

DAUGHTERS OF MARY OF NAZARETH

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Recipient of the Inaugural

AANF Humanitarian Award

Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, founder and mother servant of Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, was born and raised in Iraq, where she lived through four wars. In 1993, as a young lay woman, she started a lay movement called Love Your Neighbor, through which she invited young men and women from Christian and Muslim communities to be a part of this community to serve the needs of the poor in Iraq. In 1995, she established the order of Marth Maryam Sisters - Missionaries of the Virgin Mary, the first order for Religious Sisters in the Assyrian Church of the East in 700 years. In her homeland, Mother Olga was involved in pastoral ministry for college students and youth in parishes throughout Iraq. She also served prisoners, the homeless, the elderly, and the handicapped of war for many years. She came to the United States in 2001 for her studies, where she has continued to serve vulnerable communities. In 2005, she was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

ALBERTO FERNANDEZ

RETIRED U.S. AMBASSADOR

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Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Alberto M. Fernandez is President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN). MBN provides news and information in Arabic to the Middle East and North Africa. As President of MBN, Amb. Fernandez oversees and manages two television networks (Alhurra and Alhurra-Iraq); Radio Sawa; and all of MBN’s digital and social media properties. Prior to joining MBN, Amb. Fernandez was Vice-President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and is a member of the board of directors at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) at George Washington University.

He was a Foreign Service Officer from 1983 to 2015 and served as the State Department’s Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications from 2012 to 2015. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Sudan. He held senior public diplomacy positions at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Guatemala, Kuwait, and in the Department’s Near East Affairs (NEA) Bureau.

MICHAEL YOUASH

BOARD MEMBER

NINEVEH PLAIN DEFENSE FUND

Securing the Nineveh Plain

Michael Youash currently serves on the board of the Nineveh Plain Defense Fund, a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides non-munition supplies to the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) in Iraq. Mr. Youash has worked extensively on issues of governance and security affecting Assyrians, specifically in relation to the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. He is an expert on questions of legislation and advocacy in the context of American-Iraqi engagement, and has led and coordinated advocacy efforts by the Assyrian community in the United States over the past decade. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto. 

ASHUR ESKRYA

PRESIDENT 

ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY - IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS 

Ashur Eskrya was first elected to serve as the President of the Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq (AAS) in 2010. Mr. Eskrya is a civil engineer and longtime advocate for Assyrian rights in Iraq. He holds a degree from the University of Technology in Baghdad. Through his work with the AAS, he has overseen projects to promote Assyrian education and economic development in Assyrian villages, and has delivered millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Assyrians and other minorities in times of crisis. 

UZAY BULUT

ASSOCIATE FELLOW

PHILOS PROJECT

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Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist and political analyst formerly based in Ankara. She graduated from Istanbul’s Bogazici University in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Translation and Interpreting Studies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Media and Cultural Studies at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. She is a fellow at the Middle East Forum (MEF) and her writings have appeared in a variety of publications including the Gatestone Institute, the Clarion Project, the Armenian Weekly, PJ Media, CBN News, the Algemeiner, Rudaw, International Business Times UK and the Voice of America. Bulut’s journalistic work focuses mainly on Turkey’s ethnic and religious minorities, anti-Semitism, political Islam and the history of Turkey. She is currently based in Washington, D.C.

CRISPIN SMITH

STRATEGIC DIRECTOR

ALEPH POLICY INITIATIVE

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Crispin Smith is a British researcher working on foreign policy and international law, with a particular focus on Iraq. He has researched and consulted for government agencies, NGOs, and international organizations working in Iraq, Syria and the wider region. He also advises working groups in the U.K. House of Lords, and has briefed representatives of various governments on related policy issues. In 2016, Crispin led a research team for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, investigating minority rights in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The public findings were published in 2017 in a report entitled "Wilting in the Kurdish Sun: the Hopes and Fears of Religious Minorities in Northern Iraq." 

Mr. Smith holds a BA in Assyriology and Arabic from the University of Oxford, and is a candidate for Juris Doctor at Harvard Law School. 

ISMAEL ALSODANI

RETIRED IRAQI BRIGADIER GENERAL

IRAQI DEFENSE ATTACHE TO THE U.S. (2007-2009)

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Securing the Nineveh Plain

Brigadier General Ismael Alsodani (Ret.) served for nearly thirty years in the Iraqi Army in various staff and command posts.  He served as Iraqi Defense Attaché for the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in the United States from 2007 to 2009.

DR. FADI DAWOOD

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

NATO ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

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Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Fadi Dawood, is a Senior Research Fellow, NATO Association of Canada, and Sessional Lecturer, Lakehead University Orillia Campus. He is a historian of the modern Middle East, with a particular interest in minority communities of Iraq and Syria. His doctoral dissertation at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, examines the political and social lives of Iraq’s Assyrian community during the period of the British mandate. He is also the co-editor on a book project that examines state-society relations in Iraq entitled State-Society Relations in Iraq: Citizenship Under Occupation, Dictatorship and Democratization published by I.B Tauris in 2017.

NADIA YOUNAN

PHD CANDIDATE

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

Preserving Assyrian Cultural Heritage

Nadia Younan is PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Her research on memory, trauma, and resilience in Assyrian music and dance expressions is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Nadia holds a Master of Arts, Ethnomusicology (York University, 2013), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Specialized Honours in Music (York University, 2011). Her multi-sited, ethnographic fieldwork also examines the transnational network of Assyrians in diaspora, and the significance of cultural expressions under circumstances of exile and displacement.

SARGON SAADI

DIRECTOR

Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Sargon Saadi was born in 1988 in Qamishli, Syria, but moved to the US in 2006 to study cinematography at Columbia College Chicago. He graduated with his Bachelor's Degree in Film and Video in 2011. After graduating, he worked on numerous of projects ranging from independent films to mainstream productions. After the turmoil that swept the traditional Assyrian homeland, Sargon, an ethnic Assyrian, turned his focus to the region and directed two award-winning documentaries: The Last Plight (2014) and Silence After the Storm (2016).

Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo

ADJUNCT LECTURER OF SYRIAC STUDIES

THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Preserving Assyrian Cultural Heritage

Nicholas Al-Jeloo is a socio-cultural historian with expertise in indigenous Middle Eastern Minorities, Eastern Christianity, the history of the Middle East and Islamic World, as well as interfaith and intercultural relations. As a scholar in the fields of Middle Eastern, Syriac and Modern Assyrian Studies, he has been active in research and fieldwork for the past 17 years.

Dr. Al-Jeloo is currently a lecturer at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, specializing in Syriac Studies. In, 2013 he finished his doctoral dissertation at the University of Sydney, focusing on the socio-cultural history and heritage of ethnic Assyrians in Iran. He also has an MA in World Religions (Eastern Christianity) from Leiden University, and a BA in Semitic Languages. Dr. Al-Jeloo has co-authored a Modern Aramaic Phrasebook and Dictionary (Hippocrene Books, 2007), and his most recent publications include a chapter on Iraq’s ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities in the upcoming volume: The Legacy of Iraq: Intervention, Occupation and Withdrawal (Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

MARTIN YOUMARAN

PRESIDENT

ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL FEDERATION

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On Assyrians in America

Martin Youmaran is the current President of the Assyrian American National Federation. He was born in Lebanon, where his family sought refuge after fleeing violence in Iraq. A former U.S. Marine, Mr. Youmaran has been an advocate for Assyrian rights in the traditional Assyrian homeland for decades. He has served the community in various capacities through the years. In addition to his work with the AANF, Mr. Youmaran currently serves as a board member on GISHRU, which affords Assyrian students and young professionals the opportunity to visit their homeland. 

Dr. Alda Benjamen

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER

PENN CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER 

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM

The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Alda Benjamen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Rescue Initiative. She was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. She recently completed her doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds a master’s degree in Syriac studies from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Abbas Kadhim

SENIOR FELLOW

FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE 

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Abbas Kadhim is an academic and author with research interests in Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and Islam. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkey in 2006. Between 2005 and 2013, Dr. Kadhim was an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs/Middle East Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Prior to joining SAIS, Dr. Kadhim held a Senior Government Affairs position at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, DC.

Lise Grande

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION FOR IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Lise Grande of the United States assumes the role of Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and UNDP Resident Representative since 17 January 2014. Ms. Grande also serves as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Ms. Grande holds degrees from Stanford University, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York.

Dr. Mariam Georgis

PHD, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

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Assyrians and Indigeneity

Mariam Georgis completed her doctorate in the Political Science Department at the University of Alberta, located on unceded Papaschase Cree territory in Treaty Six territory. She specializes in International Relations and Comparative Politics of the Global South. Her dissertation, “Postwar Iraq (2003-2016): A Postcolonial, Grassroots Approach to the Crisis of Democratic Nation Building” first, problematized the impact of the American-led invasion and occupation on domestic politics in post-Saddam Iraq using critical postcolonial/decolonial, 'history from below' and Subaltern approaches. Second, it explored the potential for democratization "from below" by examining Iraqi articulations of the state. Her research interests include critical international relations theories, race and Indigeneity, critical security studies, colonial modernity, violence and nation building, and Middle East politics with a focus on Indigenous politics. Originally an Assyrian from present-day Iraq, she is a settler on Algonquin, Anishnabek, Haudenosauneega, and Huron-Wendat territory.

MURAD ISMAEL

CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

YAZDA

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The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Murad Ismael is the Executive Director and a board member of YAZDA, a nonprofit organization established to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group in the United States and the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Murad’s motivation is to help genocide victims and raise awareness to protect minorities who have been a subject of persecution based on identity. Murad received his M.S. and MCE degrees from Norwich University and the University of Houston in Texas.

Hannibal Travis

PROFESSOR OF LAW

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. Professor Travis has published widely on genocide, cultural survival, and human rights. He is currently an editorial advisory board member of Genocide Studies International (University of Toronto Press), and has served as a peer reviewer for manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Routledge, and Genocide Studies and Prevention (the journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars). 

JULIANA TAIMOORAZY

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

IRAQI CHRISTIAN RELIEF COUNCIL

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Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Juliana Taimoorazy is the Founder and President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC) and senior fellow at the Philos Project. She started the Iraqi Christian Relief Council in 2006 to help foster awareness about the plight of the Iraqi Christians, and to raise funds to deliver food, shelter and medicine to Iraq. Over the years, ICRC has delivered millions of dollars in aid to vulnerable Christian minorities in Iraq. 

Her own unique story as a refugee has made her a strong leader and an unshakable voice for Christians in Iraq today. She has appeared on numerous media programs including BBC, Fox News, CRTV, and in various publications including the Wallstreet Journal, Newsmax, and more.

DR. EFREM YILDIZ

VICE PRESIDENT

UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA

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PRESERVING ASSYRIAN

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Efrem Yildiz was elected in 2017 to serve as Vice President of the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. He was previously the Chair of Aramaic Studies at the University of Salamanca's Department of Languages. 

An ethnic Assyrian from the village of Harbule in southeastern Turkey, he has written extensively on Assyrian heritage and identity.

DR. SIMO PARPOLA

PROFESSOR EMERITUS

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

Recipient of the Inaugural David B. Perley 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Simo Parpola is Professor Emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki. Dr. Parpola received his PhD in Assyriology from the University of Helsinki in 1971. The main focus of his research has been on the study of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in all its aspects, but he has contributed to a number of studies, including that of modern Assyrian identity. He also taught at the University of Chicago, and contributed to the university's Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project until its completion.

Dr. Parpola is internationally recognized as one of the foremost scholars on ancient Assyria, and has a long and impressive list of publications on various topics in Assyriology and Assyrian identity. 

MOURAD WAHBA

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

UNITED NATIONS

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Mourad Wahba (Egypt) is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. He was appointed to this position by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in November of 2016 and assumed duties on 1 February 2017.

Mr. Wahba began his career with the United Nations in 1993, as a Senior Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General. Before joining the UN, Mourad was an Associate Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, and a Visiting Lecturer on International Political Economy at the Institute for Diplomatic Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt (1987-1993).

SARKAWT SHAMS

CO-FOUNDER

KURDISH POLICY FOUNDATION

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Sarkawt Shamsulddin is the co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation, as well as KAID organization focused on humanitarian programs. He is also a board member of Nalia Media Corporation, the largest and only privately-owned media institution in Iraq. Mr. Shamsulddin was previously the NRT TV Washington Bureau Chief (2015-2018), Consular Assistant and Cultural Adviser at the United States Embassy Baghdad (2009-2011), and Political Adviser at the U.S. Consulate General Erbil. He is now one of the co-founders of a new movement in Iraq called the New Generation Movement. 

As a journalist, he has published dozens of articles in English, Arabic, and Kurdish on Middle Eastern politics and Iraqi and Kurdish affairs. His articles have appeared on CNN, the National Interest, The JPost, Financial Times, NRT TV, Rudaw, Kurdish Policy, and the Hill.  He has been a critical voice in Iraqi Kurdistan against the KRG's internal politics. He is an advocate for freedom of the press, political pluralism, and minority rights in Iraq. 

DR. ANAHIT KHOSROEVA

LEADING RESEARCHER
DEPARTMENT OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES 

INSTITUTE OF HISTORY, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Anahit Khosroeva is an ethnic Assyrian born in Armenia. She is the Leading Researcher in the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. Dr. Khosroeva received her PhD in Genocide Studies from the Oriental Institute of Armenian National Academy of Sciences in 2003. She published her first book entitled Assyrian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Turkish Territories in the Armenian language. The publication was sponsored by the Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan. She has gone on to author dozens of articles on the history of the Assyrian people in various languages, including Armenian, Russian, and English. 

WILFRED BET-ALKHAS

LECTURER OF ASSYRIAN LANGUAGE

SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The Murder of Mar Benyamin Shimun and
the Secularization of the Assyrian Question

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas is a lecturer of Assyrian language and history at San Jose State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures. He was also the founder of an online magazine called Zinda, which was the most influential source of news related to Assyrians in its time with tens of thousands of subscribers all over the world. The last issue of Zinda was published in 2009. 

Professor Bet-Alkhas is an ethnic Assyrian who was born in Iran.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

30th DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Assyrian Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

United States Congressman Brad Sherman represents the 30th Congressional District of California, which includes a sizable Assyrian population. He has been a leading voice for justice and recognition of the 1915 Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide in U.S. Congress for nearly two decades. 

Watch Congressman Sherman's 2017 Assyrian Martyrs Day message.

REP. JEFF DENHAM

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

10th DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Assyrian Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

United States Congressman Jeff Denham represents the 10th Congressional District of California, which includes a sizable Assyrian community, most notably in Turlock. He has been a strong advocate for the rights and aspirations of Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq.

 

In February 2018, Congressman Denham introduced the Nineveh Plain Restoration Act which supports the safe return of displaced peoples to the Nineveh Plain, the establishment of a self-governing province, and the swift rehabilitation of the area that was recently ravaged by ISIS.

MOTHER OLGA OF THE SACRED HEART

DAUGHTERS OF MARY OF NAZARETH

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Recipient of the Inaugural

AANF Humanitarian Award

Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, founder and mother servant of Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, was born and raised in Iraq, where she lived through four wars. In 1993, as a young lay woman, she started a lay movement called Love Your Neighbor, through which she invited young men and women from Christian and Muslim communities to be a part of this community to serve the needs of the poor in Iraq. In 1995, she established the order of Marth Maryam Sisters - Missionaries of the Virgin Mary, the first order for Religious Sisters in the Assyrian Church of the East in 700 years. In her homeland, Mother Olga was involved in pastoral ministry for college students and youth in parishes throughout Iraq. She also served prisoners, the homeless, the elderly, and the handicapped of war for many years. She came to the United States in 2001 for her studies, where she has continued to serve vulnerable communities. In 2005, she was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

ALBERTO FERNANDEZ

RETIRED U.S. AMBASSADOR

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Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Alberto M. Fernandez is President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN). MBN provides news and information in Arabic to the Middle East and North Africa. As President of MBN, Amb. Fernandez oversees and manages two television networks (Alhurra and Alhurra-Iraq); Radio Sawa; and all of MBN’s digital and social media properties. Prior to joining MBN, Amb. Fernandez was Vice-President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and is a member of the board of directors at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) at George Washington University.

He was a Foreign Service Officer from 1983 to 2015 and served as the State Department’s Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications from 2012 to 2015. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Sudan. He held senior public diplomacy positions at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Guatemala, Kuwait, and in the Department’s Near East Affairs (NEA) Bureau.

MICHAEL YOUASH

BOARD MEMBER

NINEVEH PLAIN DEFENSE FUND

Securing the Nineveh Plain

Michael Youash currently serves on the board of the Nineveh Plain Defense Fund, a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides non-munition supplies to the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) in Iraq. Mr. Youash has worked extensively on issues of governance and security affecting Assyrians, specifically in relation to the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. He is an expert on questions of legislation and advocacy in the context of American-Iraqi engagement, and has led and coordinated advocacy efforts by the Assyrian community in the United States over the past decade. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto. 

ASHUR ESKRYA

PRESIDENT 

ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY - IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS 

Ashur Eskrya was first elected to serve as the President of the Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq (AAS) in 2010. Mr. Eskrya is a civil engineer and longtime advocate for Assyrian rights in Iraq. He holds a degree from the University of Technology in Baghdad. Through his work with the AAS, he has overseen projects to promote Assyrian education and economic development in Assyrian villages, and has delivered millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Assyrians and other minorities in times of crisis. 

UZAY BULUT

ASSOCIATE FELLOW

PHILOS PROJECT

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Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist and political analyst formerly based in Ankara. She graduated from Istanbul’s Bogazici University in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Translation and Interpreting Studies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Media and Cultural Studies at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. She is a fellow at the Middle East Forum (MEF) and her writings have appeared in a variety of publications including the Gatestone Institute, the Clarion Project, the Armenian Weekly, PJ Media, CBN News, the Algemeiner, Rudaw, International Business Times UK and the Voice of America. Bulut’s journalistic work focuses mainly on Turkey’s ethnic and religious minorities, anti-Semitism, political Islam and the history of Turkey. She is currently based in Washington, D.C.

CRISPIN SMITH

STRATEGIC DIRECTOR

ALEPH POLICY INITIATIVE

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Crispin Smith is a British researcher working on foreign policy and international law, with a particular focus on Iraq. He has researched and consulted for government agencies, NGOs, and international organizations working in Iraq, Syria and the wider region. He also advises working groups in the U.K. House of Lords, and has briefed representatives of various governments on related policy issues. In 2016, Crispin led a research team for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, investigating minority rights in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The public findings were published in 2017 in a report entitled "Wilting in the Kurdish Sun: the Hopes and Fears of Religious Minorities in Northern Iraq." 

Mr. Smith holds a BA in Assyriology and Arabic from the University of Oxford, and is a candidate for Juris Doctor at Harvard Law School. 

ISMAEL ALSODANI

RETIRED IRAQI BRIGADIER GENERAL

IRAQI DEFENSE ATTACHE TO THE U.S. (2007-2009)

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Securing the Nineveh Plain

Brigadier General Ismael Alsodani (Ret.) served for nearly thirty years in the Iraqi Army in various staff and command posts.  He served as Iraqi Defense Attaché for the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in the United States from 2007 to 2009.

DR. FADI DAWOOD

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

NATO ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

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Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Fadi Dawood, is a Senior Research Fellow, NATO Association of Canada, and Sessional Lecturer, Lakehead University Orillia Campus. He is a historian of the modern Middle East, with a particular interest in minority communities of Iraq and Syria. His doctoral dissertation at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, examines the political and social lives of Iraq’s Assyrian community during the period of the British mandate. He is also the co-editor on a book project that examines state-society relations in Iraq entitled State-Society Relations in Iraq: Citizenship Under Occupation, Dictatorship and Democratization published by I.B Tauris in 2017.

NADIA YOUNAN

PHD CANDIDATE

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

Preserving Assyrian Cultural Heritage

Nadia Younan is PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Her research on memory, trauma, and resilience in Assyrian music and dance expressions is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Nadia holds a Master of Arts, Ethnomusicology (York University, 2013), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Specialized Honours in Music (York University, 2011). Her multi-sited, ethnographic fieldwork also examines the transnational network of Assyrians in diaspora, and the significance of cultural expressions under circumstances of exile and displacement.

SARGON SAADI

DIRECTOR

Under Siege from All Sides: 

Assyrians in Syria and Turkey

Sargon Saadi was born in 1988 in Qamishli, Syria, but moved to the US in 2006 to study cinematography at Columbia College Chicago. He graduated with his Bachelor's Degree in Film and Video in 2011. After graduating, he worked on numerous of projects ranging from independent films to mainstream productions. After the turmoil that swept the traditional Assyrian homeland, Sargon, an ethnic Assyrian, turned his focus to the region and directed two award-winning documentaries: The Last Plight (2014) and Silence After the Storm (2016).

Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo

ADJUNCT LECTURER OF SYRIAC STUDIES

THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Preserving Assyrian Cultural Heritage

Nicholas Al-Jeloo is a socio-cultural historian with expertise in indigenous Middle Eastern Minorities, Eastern Christianity, the history of the Middle East and Islamic World, as well as interfaith and intercultural relations. As a scholar in the fields of Middle Eastern, Syriac and Modern Assyrian Studies, he has been active in research and fieldwork for the past 17 years.

Dr. Al-Jeloo is currently a lecturer at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, specializing in Syriac Studies. In, 2013 he finished his doctoral dissertation at the University of Sydney, focusing on the socio-cultural history and heritage of ethnic Assyrians in Iran. He also has an MA in World Religions (Eastern Christianity) from Leiden University, and a BA in Semitic Languages. Dr. Al-Jeloo has co-authored a Modern Aramaic Phrasebook and Dictionary (Hippocrene Books, 2007), and his most recent publications include a chapter on Iraq’s ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities in the upcoming volume: The Legacy of Iraq: Intervention, Occupation and Withdrawal (Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

MARTIN YOUMARAN

PRESIDENT

ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL FEDERATION

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On Assyrians in America

Martin Youmaran is the current President of the Assyrian American National Federation. He was born in Lebanon, where his family sought refuge after fleeing violence in Iraq. A former U.S. Marine, Mr. Youmaran has been an advocate for Assyrian rights in the traditional Assyrian homeland for decades. He has served the community in various capacities through the years. In addition to his work with the AANF, Mr. Youmaran currently serves as a board member on GISHRU, which affords Assyrian students and young professionals the opportunity to visit their homeland. 

2018 Speakers

Dr. Alda Benjamen

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER

PENN CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER 

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM

The Future of Minorities of Iraq

Alda Benjamen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Rescue Initiative. She was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. She recently completed her doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds a master’s degree in Syriac studies from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Abbas Kadhim

SENIOR FELLOW

FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE 

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Abbas Kadhim is an academic and author with research interests in Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and Islam. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkey in 2006. Between 2005 and 2013, Dr. Kadhim was an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs/Middle East Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Prior to joining SAIS, Dr. Kadhim held a Senior Government Affairs position at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, DC.

Lise Grande

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION FOR IRAQ

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Lise Grande of the United States assumes the role of Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and UNDP Resident Representative since 17 January 2014. Ms. Grande also serves as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Ms. Grande holds degrees from Stanford University, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York.

Dr. Mariam Georgis

PHD, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

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Assyrians and Indigeneity

Mariam Georgis completed her doctorate in the Political Science Department at the University of Alberta, located on unceded Papaschase Cree territory in Treaty Six territory. She specializes in International Relations and Comparative Politics of the Global South. Her dissertation, “Postwar Iraq (2003-2016): A Postcolonial, Grassroots Approach to the Crisis of Democratic Nation Building” first, problematized the impact of the American-led invasion and occupation on domestic politics in post-Saddam Iraq using critical postcolonial/decolonial, 'history from below' and Subaltern approaches. Second, it explored the potential for democratization "from below" by examining Iraqi articulations of the state. Her research interests include critical international relations theories, race and Indigeneity, critical security studies, colonial modernity, violence and nation building, and Middle East politics with a focus on Indigenous politics. Originally an Assyrian from present-day Iraq, she is a settler on Algonquin, Anishnabek, Haudenosauneega, and Huron-Wendat territory.

MURAD ISMAEL

CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

YAZDA

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The Future of Minorities in Iraq

Murad Ismael is the Executive Director and a board member of YAZDA, a nonprofit organization established to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group in the United States and the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Murad’s motivation is to help genocide victims and raise awareness to protect minorities who have been a subject of persecution based on identity. Murad received his M.S. and MCE degrees from Norwich University and the University of Houston in Texas.

Hannibal Travis

PROFESSOR OF LAW

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. Professor Travis has published widely on genocide, cultural survival, and human rights. He is currently an editorial advisory board member of Genocide Studies International (University of Toronto Press), and has served as a peer reviewer for manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Routledge, and Genocide Studies and Prevention (the journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars). 

JULIANA TAIMOORAZY

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

IRAQI CHRISTIAN RELIEF COUNCIL

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Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Juliana Taimoorazy is the Founder and President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC) and senior fellow at the Philos Project. She started the Iraqi Christian Relief Council in 2006 to help foster awareness about the plight of the Iraqi Christians, and to raise funds to deliver food, shelter and medicine to Iraq. Over the years, ICRC has delivered millions of dollars in aid to vulnerable Christian minorities in Iraq. 

Her own unique story as a refugee has made her a strong leader and an unshakable voice for Christians in Iraq today. She has appeared on numerous media programs including BBC, Fox News, CRTV, and in various publications including the Wallstreet Journal, Newsmax, and more.

DR. EFREM YILDIZ

VICE CHANCELLOR

UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA

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PRESERVING ASSYRIAN

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Efrem Yildiz was elected in 2017 to serve as Vice Chancellor of the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. He was previously the Chair of Hebrew and Aramaic Studies at the University of Salamanca's Department of Languages. Though he specializes in Semitic languages, he is fluent in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, Turkish, and modern Aramaic. 

He obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, two degrees in Ecclesiastical and Biblical Studies, and his Doctorate in Biblical Theology.

An ethnic Assyrian from the village of Harbule in southeastern Turkey, he has written extensively on Assyrian heritage and identity.

DR. SIMO PARPOLA

PROFESSOR EMERITUS

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

Recipient of the Inaugural David B. Perley 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Simo Parpola is Professor Emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki. Dr. Parpola received his PhD in Assyriology from the University of Helsinki in 1971. The main focus of his research has been on the study of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in all its aspects, but he has contributed to a number of studies, including that of modern Assyrian identity. He also taught at the University of Chicago, and contributed to the university's Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project until its completion.

Dr. Parpola is internationally recognized as one of the foremost scholars on ancient Assyria, and has a long and impressive list of publications on various topics in Assyriology and Assyrian identity. 

MOURAD WAHBA

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

UNITED NATIONS

Rebuilding and Resettlement: 

The Nineveh Plain After IS

Mourad Wahba (Egypt) is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. He was appointed to this position by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in November of 2016 and assumed duties on 1 February 2017.

Mr. Wahba began his career with the United Nations in 1993, as a Senior Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General. Before joining the UN, Mourad was an Associate Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, and a Visiting Lecturer on International Political Economy at the Institute for Diplomatic Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt (1987-1993).

SARKAWT SHAMS

CO-FOUNDER

KURDISH POLICY FOUNDATION

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Perspectives on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-Referendum

Sarkawt Shamsulddin is the co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation, as well as KAID organization focused on humanitarian programs. He is also a board member of Nalia Media Corporation, the largest and only privately-owned media institution in Iraq. Mr. Shamsulddin was previously the NRT TV Washington Bureau Chief (2015-2018), Consular Assistant and Cultural Adviser at the United States Embassy Baghdad (2009-2011), and Political Adviser at the U.S. Consulate General Erbil. He is now one of the co-founders of a new movement in Iraq called the New Generation Movement. 

As a journalist, he has published dozens of articles in English, Arabic, and Kurdish on Middle Eastern politics and Iraqi and Kurdish affairs. His articles have appeared on CNN, the National Interest, The JPost, Financial Times, NRT TV, Rudaw, Kurdish Policy, and the Hill.  He has been a critical voice in Iraqi Kurdistan against the KRG's internal politics. He is an advocate for freedom of the press, political pluralism, and minority rights in Iraq. 

DR. ANAHIT KHOSROEVA

LEADING RESEARCHER
DEPARTMENT OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES 

INSTITUTE OF HISTORY, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Legacies of the Assyrian Genocide and the Simele Massacre

Anahit Khosroeva is an ethnic Assyrian born in Armenia. She is the Leading Researcher in the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. Dr. Khosroeva received her PhD in Genocide Studies from the Oriental Institute of Armenian National Academy of Sciences in 2003. She published her first book entitled Assyrian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Turkish Territories in the Armenian language. The publication was sponsored by the Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan. She has gone on to author dozens of articles on the history of the Assyrian people in various languages, including Armenian, Russian, and English. 

WILFRED BET-ALKHAS

LECTURER OF ASSYRIAN LANGUAGE

SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The Murder of Mar Benyamin Shimun and
the Secularization of the Assyrian Question

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas is a lecturer of Assyrian language and history at San Jose State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures. He was also the founder of an online magazine called Zinda, which was the most influential source of news related to Assyrians in its time with tens of thousands of subscribers all over the world. The last issue of Zinda was published in 2009. 

Professor Bet-Alkhas is an ethnic Assyrian who was born in Iran.