Board of Advisers
Thomas G. Abraham
Thomas G. Abraham is a nationally recognized business entrepreneur and civic leader. He is the son of the late Genevieve and Anthony R. Abraham who was the last living member of the founding members of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, founded by Danny Thomas.
Anthony R. Abraham and his late wife Genevieve devoted their lives to helping others through the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation founded in 1976. Thomas G. Abraham currently serves as Chairman and has made numerous trips to Lebanon in support of the foundation’s work in the past decades. The foundation has provided millions to numerous worthy causes, for over 30 years in Lebanon. Among those organizations in Lebanon are The Genevieve Abraham School of Nursing, The Lebanese Hospital-Geitawi, The School for the Blind and Deaf, The Spastic Center, and The Crèche St. Vincent de Paul, Lebanese American University, The Lebanese Order of the Night s of Malta, Beirut Marathon, The Rene Moawad Foundation, Little Sisters of Nazareth, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and many others.
Mr. Abraham was born in Beirut, Lebanon on January 6, 1952, and is a life-long resident of the Miami area. He attended the University of Miami, and University of Denver in the 1970’s prior to embarking upon his career in the automotive industry and was instrumental in the creation of a number of startup’s that dealt with the technology industry. He is committed to continuing to search out those endeavors that will help empower those in need.
Former U.S. Attorney General, Governor and U.S. Senator John Ashcroft serves as founder and Chairman of The Ashcroft Group and The Ashcroft Law Firm. In 1985, Mr. Ashcroft was sworn in as Governor of Missouri, where he served two terms. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, where he served until assuming the role of Attorney General. As a member of the Senate Judiciary, Foreign Relations and Commerce Committees, he worked to reform laws regulating the banking, telecommunications, aviation, transportation and information technology industries. Mr. Ashcroft previously served as Missouri’s Attorney General. He was raised in Springfield, Missouri, received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago.
Thomas Farr serves as President of the Religious Freedom Institute, a non-profit that works to advance religious freedom for everyone, both as a source of individual human dignity and flourishing, and as a source of political stability, economic development, and international security.
A leading authority on international religious freedom, Dr. Farr served for 28 years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1999 he became the first director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. He subsequently directed the Witherspoon Institute’s International Religious Freedom (IRF) Task Force, was a member of the Chicago World Affairs Council’s Task Force on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy, taught at the National Defense University, and served on the Secretary of State’s IRF working group.
From 2008 – 2018 Dr. Farr was Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He also directed the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center.
A PhD in History from the University of North Carolina, Farr is a senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He serves as a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, and as a member of the advisory councils for the Human Rights Program at Catholic University, the international division of Alliance Defending Freedom, the Alexander Hamilton Society, and the National Museum of American Religion.
His many published works include World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press, 2008), a book that has shaped U.S. religious freedom legislation and foreign policy.
Ambassador Alberto M. Fernandez
Ambassador Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice-President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). He was previously President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN), which provides news and information in Arabic to the Middle East and North Africa.
He is a member of the board of directors at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) at George Washington University. He is also a non-resident Fellow in Middle East Politics and Media at the TRENDS research and advisory center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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.
Amb. Fernandez was a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, he was a recipient of a 2008 Presidential Meritorious Service Award, the 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy, a 2003 Superior Honor Award for his work in Afghanistan, among many other awards.
He speaks fluent Spanish and Arabic in addition to English.
Neemat G. Frem is President & CEO of INDEVCO Group, a Lebanese-owned and based multinational manufacturing Group employing over 10,000 people worldwide. In January 2013, he launched Loubnan El Afdal – Better Lebanon a national initiative with political, economical and social dimension, with a clear roadmap for a renewal in the Lebanese national contract as an attempt for a restructuring change in the Lebanese continuous political crisis. Frem graduated from the American University of Beirut with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
As ANCA Executive Director, Hamparian serves as the organization’s national point-person with the Administration, United States Congress, the media, and the Washington, DC foreign policy community. In cooperation with Eastern and Western U.S. regional offices, more than 60 local chapters, dozens of coalition partners, hundreds of community affiliates, and thousands of grassroots activists, he works on a broad range of legislative, policy, research, political, campaign, media, coalition, and community-related concerns. Hamparian has testified before Congress, lectured at the National Defense University, the Foreign Service Institute, and USAID, been quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, and has appeared on CNN.
Dr. Kamal Ibrahim KAMAL IBRAHIM, M.D., F.R.C.S (C), MA, Spine Deformity Surgeon Clinical Professor, Loyola University Chicago
M.D., F.R.C.S (C), MA, Spine Deformity Surgeon Clinical Professor, Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Kamal is an advocate for human rights, religious freedom, and Christian’s rights in Egypt. He is a member of number of international Coptic human rights organizations. Dr. Ibrahim raised almost two million dollars fund to establish a chair for the studies of Coptic Heritage at American University in Cairo, the chair is active since 2003. He has conducted, for many years, numerous humanitarian medical trips, to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and recently to Ethiopia to treat and perform surgeries and to teach modern spine surgery. Dr. Ibrahim is the Past-President of the internationally prestigious spine society “Scoliosis Research Society”. Dr. Ibrahim, beside his medical career, has obtained in 2004 MA degree in International Relations from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Dr. Ibrahim lives in Chicago for last 38 years with his Wife Lucy, a Psychiatrist.
Nadine Maenza is a noted speaker, writer, and policy expert with more than two decades of experience as an advocate for working families and a champion for international religious freedom.
Nadine is the founding Executive Director of Patriot Voices, where she has provided her expertise to shape the organization’s special emphasis on public policies that help working families. Drawing on her extensive network and coalition-building experiences, she has helped build unique coalitions on issues such as paid family leave, health care, and tax reform. She also served as the Chairman of Hardwired Global, an organization working to stop religious oppression around the world. She has advised several major organizations on faith engagement, policy development, and strategic partnerships through The Clapham Group including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The College Board, The Anne E. Casey Foundation, and the Humane Society of the United States.
She was appointed by President Donald Trump to the Commission for International Religious Freedom in May 2018 and elected Vice Chair in June 2019. In addition to speaking at several conferences abroad on Freedom of Religion or Belief, she has also represented USCIRF in delegations to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. She is most honored to have met with persecuted communities of various faiths from around the world.
She has served as a senior advisor to Rick Santorum and other presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns. She has decades of experience in fundraising and coalition building, having worked with presidential and U.S. Senate super PACs, served as the finance director for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, and as a consultant to the Republican National Committee. She worked on Capitol Hill in both the House of Representatives and then in the Senate for former Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz,
Nadine’s writings on various policy topics have been published in several publications domestically and internationally. She attended Pennsylvania State University. She is married with three children and lives outside of Philadelphia in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Malek founded Conquest Capital Group in 1999, where he currently serves as Managing Partner and Portfolio Manager, after departing UBS as the Global Head of FX and Derivatives Proprietary trading in Europe and the Americas. Mr. Malek received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Engineering and Applied Science from the California Institute of Technology (“Caltech”), and received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Reed College. Mr. Malek’s research has been published extensively in academic journals and books including Risk Books and The Journal of Alternative Investments. Mr. Malek has a lifetime concern and commitment for the Christian communities of the Middle East.
Robert Nicholson is the Executive Director of the Philos Project, an American nonprofit that seeks to promote positive Christian engagement in the Middle East. Robert is also the publisher of “Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy.” He holds a BA in Hebrew Studies from Binghamton University and a JD and MA (Middle Eastern history) from Syracuse University. A former U.S. Marine and a 2012-2013 Tikvah Fellow, Robert has published articles in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Mosaic, Canon & Culture, and Syracuse Journal of International Law & Commerce. His work focuses on spreading the vision of a new multi-ethnic and multi-religious Middle East based on freedom and rule of law.
Nermien Riad is the executive director of Coptic Orphans, an award-winning international Christian development organization that works with Egyptian children through grassroots partnerships and volunteer networks, especially those who have lost a parent. Ms. Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after a visit to Egypt, her childhood home, volunteering for 12 years before becoming executive director in 2000. She has worked for the US Department of State and the Internal Revenue Service. Ms. Riad has been recognized by the National Council of Nonprofits and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area Community for her work with Coptic Orphans. In addition to serving Egypt’s Christian community, Ms. Riad has been an advocate of the rights of Christian communities in the Middle East, signing the May 7, 2014 on behalf of Christians and Other Small Religious Communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
Larry Ross is President of A. Larry Ross Communications, a full-service agency he founded in 1994 to provide cross-over media liaison emanating from, or targeted to, the Christian market. He has more than 39 years of experience in mainstream and Christian public relations, providing senior strategic PR counsel at both agency and corporate levels to help individuals and organizations influence public opinion through the power of story. Newsweek magazine headlined Mr. Ross’ as “Point Man for God” and a New York Times Magazine personal profile feature quoted him as saying his job is “…to find the sweet spot where faith and culture intersect.” His work includes consultation and ongoing representation for many of the world’s most influential Christian leaders, including Pastor Rick Warren; Christian ministries; churches; and national theatrical film releases, such as “The Passion of The Christ.”
Alex Shalaby is a retired Telecommunications Executive with extensive experience in telecommunications both domestically and internationally. After immigrating with his wife Magda to the United States from Egypt in 1969, Mr. Shalaby spent more than 28 years with AT&T. He continues to be active in his professional field as well as with various NGO’s dealing with Human Rights issues and development, primarily those working in his native land and the Middle East regions.
In 1966, Shalaby graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria in Egypt and earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from San Jose State University in California. He currently lives with his wife in the Washington, DC area.
Mark Tooley is Institute on Religion and Democracy’s (IRD) president and editor of IRD’s foreign policy and national security journal, Providence. Prior to joining the IRD in 1994, Mark worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and is a native of Arlington, Virginia. A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988, when he wrote a study about denominational funding of pro-Marxist groups for his local congregation. He attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia. Mark Tooley became president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) in 2009. He joined IRD in 1994 to found its United Methodist committee (UMAction).
He is the author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church, published in 2008; Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century, published in 2012; and The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War, published in 2015. His articles about the political witness of America’s churches have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, First Things, Patheos, World, Christianity Today, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, Washington Examiner, Human Events, The Washington Times, The Review of Faith and International Affairs, Touchstone, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, and elsewhere. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television.
Samuel Tadros is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. At Hudson, he is researching Middle Eastern politics, Islamist movements and religious freedom.
He is also the Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hoover Institution, a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he teaches Middle Eastern politics, and the co-host of Sam & Ammar at Al Hurra TV, a program dedicated to covering Middle Eastern political and social developments from a classical liberal perspective. He has received his MA in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University and his BA in Political Science from the American University in Cairo.
His articles have previously been published by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, National Review, World Affairs, and the Weekly Standard.
He is the author of Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity __(2013) and __Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt (2014) both by Hoover Press.
Michael Wear is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert and strategist at the intersection of faith, politics and American public life. As one of President Obama’s “ambassadors to America’s believers” (Buzzfeed), Michael directed faith outreach for President Obama’s historic 2012 re-election campaign. Michael was also one of the youngest White House staffers in modern American history: he served in the White House faith-based initiative during President Obama’s first term, where he led evangelical outreach and helped manage The White House’s engagement on religious and values issues, including adoption and anti-human trafficking efforts.
Today, Public Square Strategies LLC is a sought-after firm that helps religious organizations, political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape.
Michael is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America. He also writes for The Atlantic, Christianity Today, USA Today, Relevant Magazine and other publications on faith, politics and culture. He serves on the national board of Bethany Christian Services, the nation’s largest adoption agency, and holds an honorary position at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Center for the Public Understanding of Religion. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum. Michael and his wife, Melissa, are both proud natives of Buffalo, New York. They now reside in Washington, D.C.