The Syria Program’s Advisory Council is a body of venerable individuals committed to supporting the program’s mission to provide insightful and ground research and analysis on all things Syria, in order to better inform a wide range of audiences and to help sustain a more meaningful and impactful policy discussion.
Lubna Alkanawati is a Syrian women's rights activist and the country director for Women Now for Development. Lubna participated from the first days of demonstrations against Syria’s regime and she also led several efforts to secure humanitarian aid into besieged areas. When she observed the decline of women's conditions during the war, she got involved in women’s empowerment projects and joined Women Now for Development as a local director for a women's center. When her family fled the war, she stayed behind and lived under siege in Eastern Ghouta for more than two-and-a-half years – during which she worked to ensure the continuity and availability of services at her center. Since fleeing Syria, she has continued her commitment to the struggle for women's rights. Lubna has been at the forefront of providing capacity-building workshops on gender mainstreaming and leads the facilitation of women’s rights training to continue advocating for the empowerment of Syrian women.
Rime Allaf is a Syrian-born writer, editor, and public speaker. A former Associate Fellow at London’s Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs) for nearly ten years, she has researched, spoken and written about Syria, the region and international relations for two decades, focusing on Syria’s domestic, geopolitical, and socio-economic affairs. She is a Board Member of the renowned Syrian organization The Day After. She has also written copiously about Syria and the region for years on her blog, Mosaics. Born in Damascus, raised between Europe and the US in a diplomatic family, she is a native English speaker, and fluent in Arabic, French, Spanish and German.
Ryan Crocker is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Other academic appointments have included Diplomat in Residence at Princeton University, inaugural Kissinger Fellow at Yale University, the James Schlesinger Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, and TexasA&M where he was Dean of the Bush School of Government. He was a career Foreign Service Officer who served six times as an American Ambassador, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2009. Other recent awards include the inaugural Bancroft Award, presented by the Naval Academy in 2016. Also in 2016, he was named an Honorary Fellow of the Literary and Historical Society at University College, Dublin where he was presented the annual James Joyce Award. In February, the West Point Association of Graduates announced his selection for the 2020 Thayer Award. He is an Honorary Marine.
Michel Duclos, special advisor to Institut Montaigne in Paris, has had a long diplomatic career. He was Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1984-1987), counsellor in the French Embassy in Moscow (1987-1991) and Bonn (1991-1994), head of the Disarmament Department in the MFA (1994-1998), ambassador to Western European Union and the Political and Security Committee of the EU in Brussels (1994-2002), Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations (2002-2006), Ambassador of France to Syria (2006-2009), diplomatic adviser to the French Minister of the Interior (2009-2012), and then Ambassador to Switzerland (2012-2014). Ambassador Duclos is also a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center (Washington).
Ibrahim Hamidi is a Syrian journalist, and Senior Diplomatic Editor at Asharq Awsat, a pan- Arab newspaper based in London. He is one of the founders of SalonSyria www.salonsyria.com, a website to train Syrian journalists and promote freedom of expression. Hamidi was Damascus bureau chief of the Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat for 22 years, and contributes to several other international media outlets and think tanks. Previously, he served as head of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) office in Damascus, in addition to his work with al-Hayat, and as a senior writer for Forward Magazine in Damascus. Hamidi's work focuses on strategic issues in the Middle East, with special insight into Syria's internal and regional politics. He is also a Research Fellow and co-founder of the Syrian Studies Center at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Hamidi is also a co-founder of the Arab Investigative Journalism Program (ARIJ).
Frederic Hof has had a distinguished career with the U.S. Army, Department of State, the Atlantic Council and the international consulting firm AALC, specializing in the Mideast region. He served as ambassador and special adviser for transition in Syria under President Obama and as special coordinator for regional affairs in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, where he advised Special Envoy George Mitchell on a range of Arab-Israeli issues. A Vietnam veteran and graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Naval Postgraduate School, Hof also served as director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, president and CEO of AALC (formerly Armitage Associates LC); a U.S. Army Middle East Foreign Area Officer; and U.S. Army attaché in Beirut and later in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 2001, he directed the Jerusalem field operations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, headed by George Mitchell, then Senate Majority Leader, and was lead drafter of the committee’s report. As an Army officer, he helped draft the Long Commission report investigating the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine headquarters at the Beirut airport. Both reports drew international praise for their fairness and integrity. Awards and honors include the Purple Heart, Department of State Superior Honor Award, Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, and the Defense Superior Service Medal. At Bard since 2018.
Mariam Jalabi is the Representative of the Syrian Opposition Coalition to the United Nations in New York. She is also a founding member of the Syrian Women's Political Movement. She has led the Syrian Opposition’s diplomatic engagement with the Permanent Missions to the United Nations, the UN Department of Political Affairs, and the office of the UN Secretary General. Her work focuses on women’s inclusion in politics and decision-making. Ms. Jalabi’s advocacy and leadership has proven instrumental in framing the narrative on Syria with the UN community. Jalabi has served as a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee to the High Negotiations Committee and was a founding member of the Syrian Non-Violence Movement. Jalabi holds degrees in Political Science from McGill University in Canada, and a Masters Degree candidate from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. She has been honored by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders in the 21st Century” in New York City for 2017 and recognized by apolitical platform as one of the 100 most influential people in global gender policy for 2019.
Ambassador Beth Jones (ret) served 38 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her senior positions included Assistant Secretary for the Near East (Acting), Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia and U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. She also worked as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Near East, Principal Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Senior Advisor for Caspian Energy Diplomacy, Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Warren Christopher; and Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassies Bonn and Islamabad. Her other overseas posts were Kabul, Cairo, Amman, Baghdad and Berlin. Beth is currently a part-time consultant to ExxonMobil’s International Government Relations group in Washington, DC and a landscape pruner with Yankee Clippers. She has served on several nonprofit boards.
Rafif Jouejati has extensive political, humanitarian, and civil society experience in Syria. She is the co-founder and director of the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE Syria), and the principal architect of the Syrian Freedom Charter project, which surveyed more than 50,000 Syrians on democratic aspirations and political transition. Rafif served as spokesperson and Executive Committee member of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, and as spokesperson for the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces during the Geneva II peace process. She is also a founding member of the Syrian Women’s Political Network, a member of the Board of Directors of The Day After, and President of the Board of Directors of Baytna - all established NGOs working within Syria and the region. Rafif is a published author of analytical pieces and op-eds on Syria, including a chapter in the book The Syria Dilemma, and a frequent media commentator and public speaker. A management consultant with extensive industry experience, Rafif is the CEO of a company that helps client organizations evolve to higher levels of capacity and maturity through business development, targeted training, and strategic communication.
Hind Kabawat is a qualified lawyer; the Deputy Head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission in Geneva; and the Director and Adjunct professor of Interfaith Peacebuilding at George Mason University's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution. Kabawat is also a founding member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement; a Board member of Tastakel, a women’s organization dedicated to using non-violence and dialogue to address the ongoing conflict in Syria; and a member of the Kacjid Dialogue Center, an inter-religious platform for dialogue and cooperation in the Arab world. Kabawat was a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School from 2018 to 2019 and was the recipient of the Peacemakers in Action Award from the Tanenbaum Center for Religious Understanding in New York.
Dima Moussa is a lawyer, originally from Homs, Syria. She is a member of the Syrian political opposition and was one of the founding members of the Syrian National Council (SNC). Moussa joined the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (ETILAF) in October 2016, and served as ETILAF Vice President from May 2018 - July 2020. She is a founding member of the Syrian Women's Political Movement (October 2017) and was a member of its General Secretariat from March 2018-June 2020. Moussa is also a member of the Syrian Constitutional Committee (October 2019). Moussa focuses most of her work on legal and human rights issues, as well as women's rights and increasing the visibility, participation, and representation of women in politics and the political process. Moussa received a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a juris doctor from DePaul University (Chicago). She practiced law in the US until the end of 2012. Since 2013, Moussa has worked extensively as a consultant on Syria programming with Syrian NGOs and INGOs.
Wejdan Nassif is an author and activist originally from al-Sweida, Syria. Currently based in France, Ms. Nassif is the co-founder and a member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement (SWPM). She has been an advocate for human rights in Syria since the 1980s and was detained by the Syrian regime from 1987 to 1991. Upon her release, she worked in and around Damascus in a PR company and as an English teacher. From 2011-2014, Ms. Nassif actively participated in the “Women for the Syrian Uprising” and she received political asylum from France in 2014. Since 2015, Ms. Nassif has been a member of the Follow Up Committee of the Syrian Women’s Network. Ms. Nassif is also a former member of the SWPM’s General Secretariat and is the lead organizer of the movement’s largest program, the national consultations, which aim to connect and empower women inside Syria. Additionally, Ms. Nassif is an accomplished author, having published several works, including Lettres De Syrie and A Vau L'Eau, and most recently Words Against Silence.
Ayman Abdel Nour
Ayman Abdel Nour is a leading reformist and the Director of All4Syria Media Platform – the leading independent news service in Syria. A trained engineer and economist, Ayman is also the chairman of Syrian Christians for Peace and a consultant to several multinational organizations (including the UN & the EU) dealing with issues of civil society & economic development in Syria. He has testified to the European Parliament and lectures widely at prestigious universities, including Yale, UCLA, Columbia, Tufts and SciencesPo.
Ambassador Anne Patterson is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (2013-2017) and Ambassador to Egypt (2011-2013), Pakistan (2007-2010), Colombia (2000-2003), and El Salvador (1997-2000). Post retirement, Patterson has served on the Board of Advisors of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, as President of the US Qatar Business Council, and on the Dow Jones Oversight Committee. She retired from the U.S. State Department with the rank of Career Ambassador after more than four decades in the Foreign Service. Amb. Patterson also served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, as well as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, among other important assignments. In July 2017, Amb. Patterson was also appointed to the National Defense Strategy Commission, charged by Congress with conducting a bipartisan and independent review of the country's national security needs.
Dr. Zaher Sahloul is the founder and President of MedGlobal - a medical NGO aiming to reduce healthcare disparity by providing free healthcare to refugees and displaced people in Bangladesh, Greece, Colombia, Yemen, Syria, Gaza, Pakistan, and beyond. Dr Sahloul is also a Critical Care specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is the former President of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the co-founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), and co-founder of the Syria Faith Initiative. Dr. Sahloul sits on the advisory board of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Sahloul received the 2020 Gandhi Peace Award by Promoting Enduring Peace for his humanitarian work in Syria and Medglobal and was awarded the Chicagoan of the Year award in 2016 for his medical work in besieged Aleppo.
Wael Sawah is the Executive Director of Pro-Justice, a California-based non-profit that focuses on human rights violations in Syria. He is the editor of a newly published book entitled Blacklist, which highlights the top perpetrators who committed crimes against humanity in Syria. Wael is also Editor-in-Chief of The Syrian Observer, an online news service focused on Syria. He is a Syrian researcher on issues of civil society in Syria, author of a number of research papers, and co-author of a number of books in Arabic and English, including “Taking to the Streets: Activism, Uprisings and Democratization in the Arab World”. In addition, Sawah is a member of the Annual Middle East Legal Studies Seminar (MELSS) at Yale University and a regular columnist at London-based al Araby al Jadeed.