Our International Board of Advisors & Directors
OUR ACCLAIMED ADVISORY BOARD
Historian and Author of the
Georgia Institute of Technology
Expert on Disenfranchisement, Media and Languages in the Arab World
Professor of Psychology &
Copley Research LLC
Author & Security/Investigations Expert
Former US Ambassador to the Netherlands
Former Dean of Harvard
Director of Audio Visual at the New York Museum of Modern Art
Former Danish Minister of Education
Marketing and Communications Guru
The Advisory Board
Middle Eastern Affairs & Education Advisors
Cynthia Schneider | Former US Ambassador to the Netherlands
Expert in cultural diplomacy, focusing on relations with the Muslim world.
Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and Organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. From 1998-2001, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, during which time she led initiatives in cultural diplomacy, biotechnology, cyber security, and education. Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, as well as the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Additionally, she co-directs the Timbuktu Renaissance, an innovative strategy and platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development, which grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative as a Senior Non Resident Fellow within Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy.
Professor Schneider teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. She also organized exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Dr. Schneider publishes and speaks frequently on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs, particularly the Muslim world. Her writings range from blogs for the Huffington Post, CNN.com, and Foreign Policy to policy papers for Brookings. Dr. Schneider has a PhD and BA from Harvard University and serves on various Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards.
Laith Al-Shawaf | Professor of Psychology and Content Advisor
Laith Al-Shawaf, Ph.D., is a researcher and an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.
He has worked as a statistical consultant, taught and conducted research in several different countries, and been a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He is also an elected member of AGYA, the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
His research (together with collaborators) has been featured in outlets such as the BBC, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Psychology Today, Slate, World Economic Forum, and Time Magazine, and his essays for general audiences have appeared in Areo and PopMatters. In 2019, the Association for Psychological Science named him a Rising Star. He’s thrilled to have joined the IBB team. You can find him on Twitter at @LaithAlShawaf.
Natalie Khazaal | Expert on Disenfranchisement, Media & Language in the Arab World
Dr. Natalie Khazaal (2019 ACLS fellow) is Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. She grew up in the largest port city on the Black Sea, and received her doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Los Angeles. Dr. Khazaal has taught classes on Arab culture, media, and globalization that develop students’ critical thinking, curiosity, and cultural tolerance at Georgetown University, UCLA, Carleton College, Middlebury College, and TAMU. She was the founding faculty advisor for No Lost Generation-Texas, a student initiative that connects with aid organizations, NGOs, governments, and the private sector to help with the global refugee/migrant crisis relief efforts. She was also a founding board member of the Cannon River STEM School and a cultural consultant for the 2005 Spielberg movie Munich.
Dr. Khazaal studies the links among disenfranchisement, media, and language. Her latest book “Pretty Liar” is the only study that explores the role of audiences in the development of media legitimacy during violent crises with a focus on Lebanon, while her work on speciesism in the media has received international recognition in Spain, Turkey, Australia, Canada, and the US. Currently, she is co-editing a volume on displacement, borders, and animals that will be of interest to scholars, journalists, and (non)governmental organizations devoted to social justice. She is a 2019 fellow of the ACLS/Luce Program in Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs for her work on the making of a novel minority of atheists in Arab communities.
Merete Riisager | The Former Danish Minister of Education, Denmark
An expert in educational science and large-scale education programs, Merete Riisager has been working with designing, planning and implementing education in both schools, youth education and private sector for 15 years. She has been a Minister of Education in Denmark from 2016-2019 and worked with analyzing and addressing cultural issues and integration of migrants in Scandinavian educational tradition. She has developed and implemented programs focusing on enforcing freedom rights, citizenship and critical thinking in educational systems. She has also worked with STEM and digitalization, aiming to strengthen knowledge about hard science and the use of technology in societies, developing programs that both use technology for enabling good education, reduce “technological noise” in the classroom and train pupils to understand technology as a means of power. She has set ashore the program “Understanding Technology” in approximately 100 Danish schools, developing a new educational field in the Danish school system. She has also developed a program, focusing on schools with low performance in language skills, enabling first graders to better their spoken language and vocabulary thereby improving their ability to read and write.
She has a Master’s degree in educational science and she has been working with advising private companies within Education and Change from 2004-2010. She has worked as a program manager, designing and implementing large-scale learning and change programs and technology driven development processes.
Omar Mohammed | Historian & Founder, Mosul Eye
Omar Mohammed, Yale World Fellow, 2018, is a historian from Mosul, Iraq known until recently only as the anonymous blogger ‘Mosul Eye’. Through Mosul Eye, Omar set out to inform the world about life under the Islamic State in his city. His focus has now shifted to advocacy of social initiatives for the people of Mosul including the international effort to re-supply Central Library of the University of Mosul.
At the intersection of media, academia and civil society, Omar is motivated to develop new networks of collaboration and innovations in humanitarian action. As a historian and lecturer at the University of Mosul, he focuses his scholarly work on conceptual history and research dealing with local historiographies and narratives, micro histories and Orientalism.
Omar is a regular media commentator on Iraq, has an MA in Middle East History from the University of Mosul, and was named 2013 Researcher of the Year by Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. His doctoral research explores history and historians in 19th and 20th century Mosul. He now lives in exile in Europe.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Flier, MD | Former Dean of Harvard Medical School
A distinguished endocrinologist, researcher, and leader in the field of academic medicine, Dr. Flier served, from 2007 and 2016, as the 21st Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University. A leading authority on the molecular causes of diabetes and obesity, Dr. Flier is now the Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and the George Higginson Professor of Physiology and Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Before being named Dean, he served as Chief Academic Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a major Harvard clinical and research affiliate. Recently Professor Flier has been researching and writing about issues of broad importance to the health professions, including the future of medicine and the health care workforce, and challenges to the ecosystem of biomedical research.
Dr. Flier received a BS from City College New York and an MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he graduated with the Elster Award for Highest Academic Standing. He has authored more 200 scholarly papers and reviews. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Flier’s honors also include the Eli Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association, the Berson Lecture of the American Physiological Society, and honorary doctorates from the University of Athens and the University of Edinburgh. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Edwin B. Astwood Lecture Award from the Endocrine Society and, in 2005, he received the Banting Medal, the highest scientific honor awarded by the American Diabetes Association.
Dr. Flier has served on the boards of a number of not for profit and for profit organizations in the areas of education and biopharmaceuticals.
Business & Media Advisors
Aaron Louis | Director of Audio Visual at the New York Museum of Modern Art
Producer credits include, Think Inc.’s new documentary, ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE, featuring Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. The full feature documentary is directed by Jay Shapiro, co-directed by Desh Amila, and Produced by Desh Amila, Suzi Jamil, and Aaron Louis.
Past Producer credits include a co-production with BAM and WNYC for RadioLoveFest entitled ISLAMOPHOBIA: A CONVERSATION, a panel debate moderated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Aaron was formerly the Producing Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center where credits include 3LD’s co-production with The Public Theater of THE HUMAN SCALE, written/performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning Lawrence Wright, directed by Oskar Eustis (2010 New Yorker Festival); MAKING UP THE TRUTH, written/performed by “This American Life” regular Jack Hitt; SPY GARBO, the Drama Desk-nominated off-Broadway production directed by Kevin Cunningham; and the off-Broadway run of Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and Rachel Eckerling, now a major motion picture.
Bob Pearson | Author & Communications Guru
One of the pioneers of social media marketing, Bob Pearson is globally recognized as a marketing visionary who is driving “pragmatic disruption” in the new world of what is now called Social Commerce. He is an author, frequent speaker, and blogger on digital marketing, as well as an instructor for the Syracuse Center for Social Commerce and the US State Department’s Marketing College. He has written two books(Pre-Commerce and Storytizing) based on key learnings from the firm’s work with innovative companies and individuals. Bob is currently working on his next book, Countering Hate, which he is co-authoring with Haroon K. Ullah (March 2018).
Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function — an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell.
Bob serves as an advisor and investor in many capacities. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board, being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the Emerging Technology Fund for the State of Texas (more than $400MM invested), serving on the boards of The Advertising Research Foundation and MedicAlert Foundation, and acting as an advisor for the University of Texas Center for Global Business and the VETTED Foundation, a new organization focused on helping veterans of war continue their education, network for jobs, and start new companies. Bob resides in Austin, Texas.
Anthony Amore | Security & Investigations Expert
Anthony Amore is an expert in art theft and security. Presently, he is Director of Security and Chief Investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where he is charged with the ongoing efforts to recover thirteen works of art stolen from the museum on March 18, 1990.
Anthony has fifteen years of national security, and crisis management experience with federal government agencies. He was instrumental in the reorganization and regionalization of national homeland security efforts post-September 11th and was the FAA's lead agent responding to the attempted terrorist attack by Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber” in December 2001.
In 2011, he co-authored the Wall Street Journal true-crime bestseller Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists. His second book, The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World was published in 2015 and was a New York Times Crime Bestseller. His third, The Woman Who Stole Vermeer, is due out in 2020.
In addition, he has been a lecturer in homeland security at Fisher College and provides analysis on issues related to security and terrorism for a number local and national news outlets, including the BBC, NBC News, NPR, CNN, FOX, and others.
While with the Department of Homeland Security/TSA, he was nominated by his superiors for a Service to America Medal in 2002 and 2003.
The Board of Directors
Sam Hershey | Chairman of the Board
Samuel Hershey is an attorney at the law firm White & Case LLP. His work focuses on litigation and restructuring, and he maintains an active pro bono practice. Samuel studied English and history at the University of Pennsylvania and Oxford University before receiving his J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Dan Johnson | CEO & Chairman of AFS
Daniel is the Chairman and CEO of American Financial Systems and AFS Securities. He founded both companies, as well as Deferral.com, LLC (a FINRA-registered broker-dealer) and several other companies in Argentina and Mexico, all of which specialize in software or consulting with respect to the optimal funding or on-line administration of non-qualified benefit plans (409A Plans in the US).
With a background in chemistry, immunology, music, and theology/philosophy, Dan studied Japanese and East Asian economics and then business economics at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (HGSAS). Fluent in Japanese, he has lived in East Asia and Latin America and has published research in fields from cellular immunology to finance. Dan has served many years on the Graduate School Alumni Association Council at Harvard, and frequently travels to GSAS global outreach events. He has also been an appointed director for the academic graduate school and served for many years on the Continuing Education Committee of the Harvard Alumni Association. Besides his degrees from Harvard, Dan also holds a Master’s of divinity degree and has had a life-long interest in the complex interactions of science, religious beliefs, politics, economics and the personal search for truth.
Faisal Saeed AlMutar | Founder & President of Ideas Beyond Borders
Faisal is an Iraqi-born award-winning counter extremism advocate, satirist, and speaker. He is an advocate for Universal Human Rights, enlightenment values and the free market of ideas, and is enthusiastic about the intersection of technology and advocacy. He is also the founder of multiple online platforms that together have more than 400,000 subscribers and millions of visitors. He previously worked as a program manager for the Middle East and North Africa to assist dissidents in closed societies worldwide. In 2015, Faisal received the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” from President Barack Obama for his special commitment to education.
Faisal Al Mutar has been quoted in publications like The New York Times, CNN, The Cornell Review, BBC World News, The Spectator , The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Arab American News, ,The Islamic Monthly, World Policy Institute, WNYC,, Pakistan Today, The Nation (Pakistan), Your Middle East, Radio France International.
He has been invited to speak at venues such as Aspen Ideas Festival, Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University and many others to share his experiences and knowledge about living under and countering extremist organizations and dictatorships in the Middle East.
Dr. Steven Pinker | Harvard Professor & Internationally Acclaimed Author
Professor Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”
He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.