Speaker Bios

IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Forum

Speaker Bios

Amal Alachkar
IIE-SRF Alumna from Syria
University of California, Irvine

Dr. Amal Alachkar is a Syrian neuroscientist whose research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. She graduated from the Aleppo University School of Pharmacy in 1996 and served as a community pharmacist in Aleppo. In 2000, she was awarded a scholarship to complete her postgraduate education at the University of Manchester, UK, where she received a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. Upon her return to Syria in 2004, she joined the Aleppo University School of Pharmacy, where she was later promoted to Associate Professor and served as Associate Dean for administrative and students’ affairs. Dr. Alachkar established the first neuroscience laboratory in Syria where she led several research projects in the field of behavioral and molecular neuroscience, in particular in genetics of psychiatric disorders. In August 2011, she was granted the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, completing her fellowship year at Pennsylvania State University.

With the beginning of the Syria revolution in 2011, Dr. Alachkar was among the academics that supported the student movement demanding dignity, freedom of speech, and justice for all Syrians. By the end of the Humphrey program in June 2011 she realized that her life would be in danger should she return to Syria. Support from the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) allowed Dr. Alachkar to join the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2012-2014, where she conducted research on mental disorders. Since 2014, she has been supported by UCI and holds the position of Visiting Associate Professor. Dr. Alachkar’s research focus is to study the brain circuits that underlie mental experience and behavior, and understand the neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and depression in order to develop more effective therapies for these illnesses. She published around 35 articles in international journals.

Dr. Alachkar has participated in a number of activities to raise awareness about the situation in Syria. Her most recent work on the impact of the Syrian tragedy on education and scholars is titled: “Orphaned Minds: the Exodus of Syrian Scholars.”

Leila Alieva
IIE-SRF Fellow from Azerbaijan
University of Oxford

Dr. Leila Alieva is an expert on politics and security in Azerbaijan and the surrounding Black Sea region with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Moscow State University and founded in 2004 the Center for National and International Studies (CNIS), a think tank in Baku that coordinates and publishes research on Azerbaijani and regional policy issues. As its director, Dr. Alieva has led the Center’s efforts to promote democratization in Azerbaijan and its integration into European political and social structures. She currently represents CNIS as part of the Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance and Stability working group of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, an EU program to support democratic transformation in six former Soviet republics. An IIE-SRF fellowship has allowed Dr. Alieva to join St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, where she has continued her research within the College’s Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre on regional security relations, EU integration, social transformation, and the influence of natural resources on state and democracy building.

Mark A. Angelson
Vice Chairman, Institute of International Education
Chairman, IIE Scholar Rescue Fund

Mark Angelson is a Vice Chairman of IIE, Chairman of the IIE 2019 Centennial Committee and Chairman of IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund and selection committee. Recent publications (with Dr. Allan Goodman) include "Protect Scholars in Fight Against Terrorism", Indianapolis Star, 2015; "Offering Refuge to Endangered Scholars", Los Angeles Times, 2014; and "Preserving Syria's Intellectual Capital", Chicago Tribune, 2013.

Mr. Angelson is a Director and Treasurer of the Joseph R. Biden Foundation and is the Former Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago and Former Chairman of the Mayor's Economic, Budgetary and Business Development Council. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and its membership committee, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce.

At Northwestern University, Mr. Angelson is a member of the Board of Trustees and its investment committee and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. At Rutgers University, he is the Richard D. Heffner Public Service Professor, a member of the Board of Governors and the Chairman of its Finance and Facilities Committee. He also is a Member of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Mr. Angelson's 20 year business career included service as CEO of RR Donnelley with 60,000 employees, $11 billion in revenues and 600 locations in 43 countries. He and RR Donnelley were the 2005 recipients of the Harold H. Hines Award from the United Negro College Fund. In 2006, Mr. Angelson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from John Marshall Law School. Prior to his business career, he had a 20 year career as an international lawyer based in each of Singapore, New York and London.

Rob Blecher
Deputy Program Director
International Crisis Group

Dr. Robert Blecher is the MENA Deputy Program Director at International Crisis Group (ICG), where he helps oversee the research of the program’s regional analysts. He was previously the organization’s Project Director and Senior Analyst for Israel/Palestine. Before joining ICG, he consulted with NGOs and the UN, and prior to that, taught at the University of Richmond and Stanford University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Middle East history, focusing his dissertation on Syrian history. Dr. Blecher has lived for many years in Damascus, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman. His areas of expertise include the geopolitics of the Middle East, violent extremism and modern conflict, US policy toward the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts, and Jordan.

Emily Borzcik
Senior Program Officer
IIE Scholar Rescue fund

Emily Borzcik is the Senior Program Officer with the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and is responsible for applicant in-take and vetting, presentations of scholar applications to the IIE-SRF Selection Committee, scholar placement, and the monitoring of a caseload of approximately 100 IIE-SRF fellows. Ms. Borzcik holds a B.A. in Social Welfare and Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. in International Education from New York University. While at NYU, she worked with the NYU School of Law on developing global internship opportunities for students as well as with the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development's Multinational Institute of American Studies. Prior to joining IIE-SRF, Ms. Borzcik served with the Peace Corps as a community health educator in Armenia and taught in a public school in the Republic of Georgia. She has lived in Denmark, England, Armenia, and the Republic of Georgia.

Xiangming Chen
Dean and Director
Center for Urban and Global Studies
Trinity College

Dr. Xiangming Chen is the founding Dean and Director of Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies and is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Sociology and International Studies. He graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University and received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University. He holds the positions of Distinguished Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai and honorary research fellow at the Institute of Economics of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves on the Council for the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Gerald Doyle
Vice Provost for Student Access, Success, and Diversity Initiatives
Illinois Institute of Technology

Gerard Doyle served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment and Financial Aid at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for five years before assuming a new role as Vice Provost for Student Access, Success, and Diversity Initiatives. The focus of this new office and team is to create the ideas, relationships, and collaborative partnerships within and across institutions that enable long-term sustainable enrollment pathways to higher education. In June 2012, Doyle and his team launched the IIT Syrian student initiative, which eventually enrolled 26 students during the 2012-13 academic year. This work has led to the establishment of the IIE Syrian Higher Education Consortium which now has forty university and college members.

Dmitry Dubrovsky
IIE-SRF Fellow from Russia
Columbia University

Considered one of the leading Russian experts in such domains as ethnic and religious discrimination, hate crime and speech, and minorities’ rights, this IIE-SRF fellow holds a master’s in ethnology from the European University at St. Petersburg and a Ph.D. in history from the Russian Academy of Sciences, an academic background that has informed his work on tolerance education concerning migrants and other minority groups in Russia. In 2004, he established the St. Petersburg State University Human Rights Program in partnership with Bard College in the U.S., serving the program as both a lecturer and its director. In addition, he has contributed to curriculum development, advised students, and taught core courses on human rights, political theory, and historical memory, among others. With IIE-SRF support, he joined Columbia University’s Harriman Institute.

Allan E. Goodman
Institute of International Education

Dr. Allan E. Goodman is the sixth President of the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit organization in the field of international educational exchange and development training. IIE conducts research on international academic mobility and administers the Fulbright program sponsored by the United States Department of State, as well as over 250 other corporate, government and privately-sponsored programs. Since its founding in 1919, the Institute has also rescued scholars threatened by war, terrorism, and repression. Rescued scholars and other alumni of Institute-administered programs have won 68 Nobel Prizes.

Previously, Dr. Goodman was Executive Dean of the School of Foreign Service and Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of books on international affairs published by Harvard, Princeton and Yale University presses. Dr. Goodman served as Presidential Briefing Coordinator for the Director of Central Intelligence in the Carter Administration. Subsequently, he was the first American professor to lecture at the Foreign Affairs College of Beijing, helped create the first U.S. academic exchange program with the Moscow Diplomatic Academy for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, and developed the diplomatic training program of the Foreign Ministry of Vietnam.

Dr. Goodman has served as a consultant to Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the United States Information Agency, and IBM. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a founding member of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Co-President of the Partner University Fund (PUF) Grant Review Committee, and a member of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program and the Jefferson Scholarship selection panels. He also serves on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees of the Education Above All Foundation.

Dr. Goodman has a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.S. from Northwestern University. He also holds honorary degrees from Chatham, Susquehanna, and Toyota Universities; Dickinson, Middlebury, Mount Ida, and Ramapo colleges; and The State University of New York. He has received awards from Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, South Florida, and Tufts universities, and the Légion d’honneur from France. He was awarded the inaugural Gilbert Medal for Internationalization by Universitas 21 in May 2012.

Henry G. Jarecki
Chairman Emeritus
IIE Scholar Rescue Fund

Dr. Henry G. Jarecki is Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Falconwood Corporation, an investment banking company managing investments in numerous businesses including PsychoGenics, Inc., a biotechnology company, and Gresham Investment Co., Ltd. (both of New York), the Guana Island Hotel Corporation, and Audubon Holdings, Ltd., a real estate holding and development company (both in the British Virgin Islands).

Dr. Jarecki's business career, which started in 1970, has included the management and, in 1986, the sale to Standard Chartered Bank of London, England of control of The Mocatta Group, an international bullion dealing enterprise with offices in six countries that was founded in London in 1671; the founding, management, and ultimate sale in 1995 to Societé Génerale of Paris, France of Brody White & Co., Inc. and Brody White (UK) Ltd., an international commodity trading and brokerage group; the management (as Chairman until its sale in 1999 to America Online, Inc.) of MovieFone, Inc., a public company engaged in the provision of information and ticketing services for motion pictures; and the founding and management of PsychoGenics, Inc., a drug discovery and contract research enterprise located in Tarrytown, New York.

A Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology since 1963, Dr. Jarecki is licensed to practice medicine and surgery in Connecticut, New York and the British Virgin Islands. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also a founder and Manager of CCBT Limited of London, England, a developer of computerized therapeutically-validated interventions for psychological disorders.

Dr. Jarecki was born in Stettin, Germany and received his medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1957. He has written extensively about both financial markets and medicine. His eleemosynary activities include being a Governor of the Community College of the British Virgin Islands, a founder of the Youth Empowerment Project of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and a Director of The Classical Theatre of Harlem. Dr. Jarecki joined the Board of Trustees of the Institute of International Education in 2000.

Thomas S. Johnson
IIE Board of Trustees

Thomas S. Johnson was Chairman and CEO of GreenPoint Financial Corp. and GreenPoint Bank from 1993 until he retired in 2004. Prior to his tenure at GreenPoint, Mr. Johnson was President and Director of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company from 1989 to 1991. His career in banking started in 1969 at Chemical Bank and Chemical Banking Corporation where he became President and Director in 1983.

After graduating from Harvard in 1964, Mr. Johnson began his career by starting the Master of Business Management Program at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines—the first full-time graduate business school in Asia. From 1966 to 1969 he served as a special assistant to the Comptroller of the U.S. Department of Defense in the Pentagon.

Mr. Johnson joined the Board of Trustees of the Institute of International Education in 1989 and was elected the Chairman of the Board in January 2003. Mr. Johnson is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the U.S.-Japan Foundation and is a Trustee or Director of The Inner City Scholarship Fund, United Way of New York City, The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., and The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum Foundation, and a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is Trustee Emeritus and former Chairman of Trinity College, former Trustee and Chairman of the Union Theological Seminary, former Trustee and Treasurer of The Asia Society, former Trustee of The Cancer Research Institute, and a former Member of the Group of Thirty, Consultative Group in International Economic and Monetary Affairs.

Mr. Johnson currently sits on the Boards of Alleghany Corporation, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. Inc., The Phoenix Companies, Inc. and is Lead Independent Director on the board of Santander Holdings USA, Inc. He is a former Director of Freddie Mac, North Fork Bancorporation, Prudential Life Insurance Company of America and Online Resources Corp.

Mr. Johnson received a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College in 1962 and an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School in 1964.

H.E. Dina Kawar
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations

Ms. Dina Kawar was appointed as the Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations in August 2014. She has led the Jordanian delegation during Jordan’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council 2014-2015 and became the first Arab woman to ever preside over the Council. In February 2016, she was appointed by the President of the General Assembly as a co-facilitator for the high-level meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly on the large movement of refugees and migrants to take place in September 2016.

Prior to her position in New York, Ms. Kawar served as the Ambassador of Jordan to France from 2001 to 2013, with concurrent accreditation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to the Holy See, since 2002. From 2005 to 2013, she served as Ambassador to Portugal. From 2000 to 2001, Ms. Kawar was Director of Bureau Privé de Sa Majesté le Roi Abdullah II in Paris, France, having previously headed the Paris office of the Bureau de S.A.R Prince El Hassan from 1991 to 2000. From 1985 to 1990 she served in the Bureau’s Amman office.

Ms. Kawar was awarded the Medal of Independence of the first degree by His Majesty King Abdulla II of Jordan and holds a number of decorations including the “Commandeur De La Legion d’ Honneur” from France, the “Medalha de D. Afonso Henriques” from Portugal and the “Insignes de Dame de Grand-Croix de l’Ordre de Saint Grégoire le Grand” from the Holy See.

Ms. Kawar holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Mills College, both in the United States. She attended Harvard’s Center for international affairs in 86-87. She speaks Arabic, French and English.

James R. King
Assistant Director
IIE Scholar Rescue Fund

James R. King is Assistant Director of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. A former Fulbright Fellow in Jordan, Mr. King holds a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from Columbia University and has published original research on Yemen's Zaydi community through a research grant with the American Institute for Yemeni Studies. Previously, he worked on a state stabilization project in Yemen and with the Cordoba Initiative on its Shariah Index Project to measure the quality of governance within contemporary Muslim-majority states. Mr. King is the co-author of two original studies published by IIE and the University of California, Davis that focus on the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on higher education: We Will Stop Here and Go No Further: Syrian University Students and Scholars in Turkey and The War Follows Them: Syrian University Students and Scholars in Lebanon. Mr. King has lived and studied in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen.

Barbara Sheldon
Director of Strategic Planning
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Dr. Barbara Sheldon is Head of Division for Strategic Planning at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and is responsible for the development and implementation of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative for supporting threatened scholars. She has worked in the field of research management for nearly twenty years, fifteen of them at AvH in various positions. Her responsibilities have included the development of a program for implementing “Welcome Centres for internationally mobile researchers” at universities in Germany, creating a German network of Welcome Centres and linking it to a European network of similar institutions (EURAXESS), as well as a program for promoting “research alumni relations”. Previously Dr. Sheldon worked as a fundraiser for the German Academic Exchange Service and as personal assistant to the President of the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Sheldon holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Erlangen, Germany.

Keith Watenpaugh
Professor and Director, Human Rights Studies
University of California, Davis

Dr. Keith David Watenpaugh is Professor and Director of Human Rights Studies at the University of California, Davis. He is a leading historian of Human Rights and humanitarianism, whose most recent book is Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism (California, 2015). Since 2013 he has led the joint UC Davis-IIE No More Lost Generations Project on conditions facing refugee university students and scholars. Dr. Watenpaugh was the lead researcher and co-author of Uncounted and Unacknowledged: Syria's University Students and Academics in Jordan, The War Follows Them: Syrian University Students and Scholars in Lebanon, and We Will Stop Here and Go No Further: Syrian University Students and Scholars in Turkey. These studies were co-published by the UC Davis and the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund.

Sarah Wilcox
IIE Scholar Rescue Fund

Sarah Willcox is the Director of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. With over 15 years in higher education grants administration and non-profit management, she oversees IIE-SRF operations, including scholar selection and assistance, financial administration, program policy development and implementation, outreach, communications, and general publications. Ms. Willcox joined IIE-SRF in 2003 after three years with IIE as an advisor to international Fulbright students. She represents IIE-SRF on the Higher Education Working Group of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), the Welfare of Scientists Working Group of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the European Union’s Temporary Relocation Platform. Ms. Willcox has studied and worked in North and Southern Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. She is currently pursuing a master’s in Human Rights at Columbia University and holds a B.A. in International Studies from Vassar College.

Eblal Zakzok
IIE-SRF Fellow from Syria
Ohio State University

Dr. Eblal Zakzok holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Manchester in the U.K., where he specialized in remote sensing and Geographical information Systems (GIS). After returning to Syria, he joined the Department of Topographic Engineering within the Aleppo University (AU) Faculty of Civil Engineering as an assistant professor and simultaneously taught at new established universities like Al-Furat University in Deir ez-Zor and Al-hasakah, Syria. In these positions, he taught courses on cartography, geodesy, remote sensing, and GIS and supervised master’s and Ph.D. students. Dr. Zakzok has published his research on the identification of environmental pollutants using GIS and remote sensing in international conference proceedings and the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, and he is currently investigating the use of remotely sensed data to monitor the impacts of conflict in Syria on urban and agricultural areas. He began a position in May 2015 with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University.

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