Board of Directors
Tonia Khouri Chairman
Tonia Khouri is President of In Defense of Christians and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Ms. Khouri is a wife and mother of three, and has an advanced degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has been a leader in both her local community and faith community for many years. She served for six years as a County Commissioner and Chairman of Economic Development for DuPage County and was recognized as Woman of the Year by the Phoenician Club of Chicago. She previously served as Vice President of IDC, and is the Regional Vice President of Mid-America for National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM).
Andrew Doran Director
Andrew Doran is Vice President of In Defense of Christians and serves on the Board of Directors. He has served on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff from 2018-21. He previously served at the U.S. Department of State on the executive secretariat of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (2008-09). He is a cofounder of IDC, where he previously served as vice president and senior policy advisor (2014-17), and has been a board member and senior research fellow with the Philos Project. He has published numerous articles on essays, and is also an U.S. Army veteran.
Christine Haddad Director
Christine serves on In Defense of Christians’ Board of Directors. For many years she has tirelessly served the Christian minority communities of the Middle East in many capacities. Christine hails from Nabatieh in south Lebanon and, during the Lebanese Civil War, relocated to Beirut. There, she earned a bachelor of science degree in Business from Notre Dame University—Louaize. Christine was a member of the Notre Dame University—Louaize Choir from 1993-1998. Christine has dedicated the last 18 years to raising her triplets while engaging in advocacy work and serving her community. She is an active volunteer at Saint John’s College High School in Washington, DC, and serves her home parish of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Maryland.
Board of Trustees
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.
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.
Dr. Nadim G. Haddad
Dr. Nadim G. Haddad is a Board-certified Gastroenterologist who received his medical degree from Texas Tech University. He continued his studies at Georgetown University where he studied medicine and gastroenterology. Dr. Haddad has twenty-eight years of professional experience and holds awards from the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American College of Gastroenterology. He is a member of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American College of Specialists in Digestive Diseases, and the MMG Governing Council. Dr. Haddad has given over 28 lectures on topics varying from Pancreatic Cysts, Colon Cancer, Therapeutic Endoscopy, and the Role of Endoscopy in Treatment of Biliary Tumors. Beginning in the early 2000s, Dr. Haddad began teaching medical courses on endoscopy, which he continues to teach to this day. Alongside teaching, he has been a mentor to six MDs and he has directed the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. He participated in a study with the aim to enhance endoscopic technology and was the Site Leader for the Clinical Evaluation of Polyflex Project focused on the procedural use of stents in esophageal cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Furthermore, Dr. Haddad has twenty-five original papers in refereed journals on a variety of topics. He has authored several books such as Neoplasms of the Esophagus and Iatrogenic Gastrointestinal Complications.
A reputable telecom identity across the Middle East and Africa, Charles has over 25 years of worldwide management consulting and expertise in the telecom and engineering sectors. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, he is currently involved in several Middle East companies and non- profit organizations, and has initiated and led a variety of high-profile and successful telecom companies in the United States, the Middle East and Africa. Charles is co-founder and managing director of Mada Communications, a leading wireless data and voice operator in a number of countries across the Middle East and Africa. Mada is a joint venture with Zain, a pioneering mobile operator across the Middle East and Africa. Mada is also a founding member of the Regional Cable Network, (RCN), the first terrestrial fiber optic system bridging the East to West from the Middle East Gulf region to Europe. Charles holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from Georges Mason University, Virginia, US.
Antoun Sehnaoui is a Lebanese banker and businessman. He is the current Chairman of Société Générale de Banque au Liban SGBL and the finance house FIDUS Wealth Management. He is also the Vice-Chairman of Société Générale de Banque – Jordan and a member of the Board of Directors of the Banks’ Association in Lebanon. He also supports the Beirut International Film Festival and the Beirut Art Center. Sehnaoui has established himself as the embodiment of the modern Lebanese businessman, an entrepreneur with a strong belief in the future of his country and one who is not shy in taking risks in realizing its vast potential.
Board of Advisers
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.
Fady Chamoun is the President/CEO of Seasoned Brand LLC, overseeing a number of entities specializing in restaurants, real estate, and manufacturing. In 1994, after having owned over 50 Little Ceasar’s Pizza stores, Fady Chamoun exited the pizza business and built a new restaurant concept, Aladdin’s Eatery in Lakewood Ohio 1994. Aladdin’s Eatery is an American Lebanese concept focused on healthy food, accommodating different dietary lifestyles and restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, diabetic, and heart healthy diets.
Currently, Seasoned Brands LLC restaurant group includes 40 restaurants in 6 different states; 33 Aladdin’s Eatery restaurants, two fast casual Lebanese restaurants named Sittoo’s, two upscale Lebanese restaurants named Taza- A Lebanese Grill, three new farm-to-table restaurants named The Oak Barrel and Forage Public House, and BOLD Food & Drink. In 2004, Mr. Chamoun won the Northeast Ohio Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Mr. Chamoun is an active member in many social and charitable organizations; he’s a very active parishioner of St. Maron church in Cleveland, Ohio, and a fierce activist for a better Lebanon. He is also a board member of the Metro Health Cancer Society and Lakewood Hospital. He is an active member in the American Task Force for Lebanon and a member and President of the Holy Spirit University Foundation. In 2005, Mr. Chamoun was one of the original founders of the Northern Ohio Lebanese American Organization in the Greater Cleveland area.
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.
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.
Alexis Moukarzel served as Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of the Holy Spirit in Kaslik, Lebanon, from 2001 to 2007. He is an architect and academic whose research focuses mainly on the evolution of Church art and architecture, and their interaction with their cultural context. He was designated by the Maronite Patriarcate as its representative in the “Comité de la sauvegarde de la Qadisha”, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and elected president of the Committee from 2000 to 2005.
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.
Vincent A. Sheheen
Vincent was the South Carolina Democratic Nominee for governor in 2010 and 2014 and is currently a South Carolina State Senator. After the horrific murder of his senate seatmate and eight others in Charleston in 2015, Vincent served as the drafter, chief sponsor, and leader of the legislation that was ultimately passed and lowered the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse.
He has been named the Legislator of the Year by numerous groups including the Solicitors Association, Association for Career and Technology, Homebuilder’s Association, Farm Bureau, Rural Water Association, Gifted and Talented Educators Association, the Wild Turkey Federation, Parks and Recreation Association, and many other groups. Sheheen received the Conservation Leadership Award from the League of Conservation Voters.
Vincent is a dedicated member of his church, active in the Camden Rotary Club, and still volunteers in local elementary schools reading to young students.
Vincent met his wife, Amy, while both were students at Clemson University, and they were married while he was in law school at the University of South Carolina. They live in Camden with their three sons, 22-year old twins Austin and Joseph and 18-year old Anthony, who have attended the same public schools that Vincent did many years ago.
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.