Staff

 
 
 Jessica Belt Saem Eldahr - Executive Director

Jessica Belt Saem Eldahr - Executive Director

Jessica is an experienced educator, event organizer and networker across international lines. She joined IARP as Deputy Director in 2015 and was selected to lead IARP as Executive Director in 2018. During Jessica's time at IARP, she spearheaded the first-ever theater project, “Birds Sing Differently Here,” which premiered at the prestigious Guthrie Theater in 2017. She pioneered a successful campaign to restock the shelves of the University of Mosul library with 10,000 books donated from across North America - the largest humanitarian project in IARP’s history.  She has also launched new programs to build bridges in the local community such as IARP's annual potluck and Ramadan iftar. As Executive Director, she currently oversees and manages IARP’s three program areas, budgets, grants, and community relations. Under her leadership, IARP has expanded staff and grown programs to reach new audiences in outstate Minnesota. Jessica has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota. After making her home in the Middle East for over 17 years, she speaks Arabic and returns to the region on an annual basis. Jessica lives with her husband Samer and son in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Email: jessy@reconciliationproject.org

 Erin M. Hart - Director of Development and Communications

Erin M. Hart - Director of Development and Communications

Erin is an international public affairs professional and former diplomat who joined IARP staff in 2018.  She served as a Foreign Service Officer and Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. State Department from 2008 - 2016 before relocating to Minneapolis.  Her assignments included public affairs and consular positions in Washington, DC; Kabul, Afghanistan; Muscat, Oman; and most recently at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  Erin joined IARP as a board member and volunteer in 2015 and was selected as Director of Development and Communications in 2018. In her current position, Erin oversees and manages all communications, media, development and fundraising activities for IARP, recently raising over $15,000 for IARP’s Books for Mosul campaign to restock the University of Mosul library.  Erin holds an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a B.A. in History and German from Grinnell College. Prior to her diplomatic service, Erin worked in Rostock and Berlin, Germany in international exchange. She speaks German and Arabic and enjoys travel, flute, and keeping up with her daughter Penelope.

Email: erin@reconciliationproject.org

 

Board of Directors

 IARP Board of Directors
 
 Salam Murtada

Salam Murtada

Salam Murtada has been a board member with IARP since 2011, and involved in various projects to promote peace and understanding between Iraqi and American cultures. Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, he developed great respect for neighboring Iraq and its immense contributions to our world in the areas of literature, Islamic studies, law, medicine, science, architecture, arts, music and history.  He is a professional civil and environmental engineer, currently working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. His work involves conducting hydrologic/hydraulic modeling for watersheds, floodplains and geomorphic studies. Salam earned an M.S. in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering and an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, both from West Virginia University. He earned a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering and B.S. in Structural Engineering both from the University of Texas at Austin.  In addition to engineering, Salam is a concert pianist and composer who loves to perform at various community venues. His music-related projects involve finding and promoting Arabic classical music. A recent Iraqi Voices documentary included his performance of “Hamuraby,” composed by Beatrice Ohanessian, a prominent Iraqi pianist and composer.

 Ethan Wilensky-Lanford - Vice-chair

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford - Vice-chair

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford grew up in Maine, where he was lucky enough to participate in peace initiatives from a young age. He moved to Minnesota in 2017, after a year spent studying civil society development projects in Kyrgyzstan. He is a doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at Rice University in Houston, where he earned his MA in 2015. Before that, he earned an MS in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City and a BA in Anthropology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  Between degrees, he worked as a reporter for The New York Times in Central Asia and the United States. In addition to writing his dissertation, Ethan is currently employed as an Evaluator for TerraLuna Collaborative. He speaks Russian and some Uzbek. In his spare time, he enjoys cross-country skiing and cooking, and lives in St. Louis Park with his wife Steph and their young son Foss.

 Muntadher (Ali) Al-Jayashi

Muntadher (Ali) Al-Jayashi - Treasurer

Muntadher (Ali) Al-Jayashi is a Registered (Series 7) Capital Markets Analyst with Wells Fargo in Minneapolis, MN, where he works closely with the front, middle, and back office to service over 4,000 prime and safekeeping clients and lead on a major project within the institution. Ali comes from a rich background in sales, fostering client relationships, and process improvement. He worked in sales and event planning for local Twin Cities businesses, including as a certified diamontologist. Ali came to IARP’s board with a proven track record of leadership in his professional career, within the Middle Eastern and Latino community, and local philanthropies, where he contributed to special events, donor relations, and strategic planning. Ali will be attending the University of Minnesota to finish his degree in Finance, a shift from his previous focus of a BS in Biology.

 Kathleen Adam - Secretary

Kathleen Adam - Secretary

Kathleen Adam is a local peace activist and volunteer with a long history of service in education and non-profit organizations.  From 1979-2013 she was a Director of Christian Education for Adult/Youth/Children at various Lutheran Churches. She has experience in nonprofit fundraising, administration, ESL instruction, and special event planning.  She has led or participated in service and mission projects locally, nationally, and globally (Greater Twin Cities Area, Appalachia, and South Africa), and led an international pilgrimage for greater understanding of peace and justice to Palestine/Israel. Kathy holds a BA in Christian Education from Concordia University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Luther Seminary.

 Mohammad Raif Al-Azzawi

Mohammed Raif

Mohammed Raif Al Azzawi is a civil consultant engineer originally from Baghdad, Iraq. In Minnesota, Mohammed has completed certification and serves a wide variety of clients in the Twin Cities areas as a certified insurance producer. He has also worked as an Arabic interpreter with five agencies in Minnesota, most recently as representative of one of those at Mayo Clinic Language Services- International Office. In Iraq, Mohammed served as Project Manager with Danube Management and Consultancy, coordinating with oil and environmental American companies for investment in the Kurdistan Regional Government. Previously, he worked in procurement as an in-country Fiduciary Monitoring Agent for World Bank Projects in Iraq and as a World Bank procurement officer at the Iraqi Ministry of Health. He worked as a Consultant Civil Engineer at the Ministry of Planning-Iraq (2000-2003), Ministry of Housing and Construction (1991-2000), and as project manager and site engineer at different construction projects. Mohammed holds a Master’s degree in Procurement, a Master’s degree in Project Management, and B.Sc in Civil Engineering.

 Dr. Azar Maluki

Dr. Azar Maluki

Dr. Azar Maluki MD, was born in Najaf, Iraq. He is a board-certified dermatologist, and was a consultant physician and professor at the University of Kufa, Iraq. He is married to Shaymaa Jakjook (M.Sc., Geography) and has two sons and one daughter. Azar first visited Minneapolis in 2011 and 2013 with a delegation of Iraqi health professionals as part of the exchange visits between Najaf and Minneapolis organized by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. He arrived in Minneapolis with his family in 2015 and joined the Dermatology Imaging Center in the Department of Dermatology at the UMN-Twin Cities Campus as a Research Fellow. Dr. Maluki has directed one short documentary film as part of the Iraqi Voices project.

 Rev. David Smith

Rev. David Smith

Rev. David Smith, Catholic priest, peace activist, and retired professor of theology, was founding director of the Justice and Peace Studies program at the University of St. Thomas. A 1958 summa cum laude graduate of the University (then College) of St. Thomas with a degree in mathematics, he has studied theology and sacred scripture in Washington D.C., Rome, and Jerusalem. He has traveled extensively worldwide to study poverty, justice, and peace, including travel to Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. In 2003 he joined other U.S. faculty to visit Iraq both before and after the U.S.-Iraq War and in 2012 he re-visited Iraq as a board member of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. He is co-author of the book Understanding World Religions: A Road Map for Justice and Peace (2nd Ed: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015) which studies the ways various world religions interact to support or interfere with justice and peace, with Israel-Palestine as a case study. He has been active with Minnesota Break the Bonds since the fall of 2008, a campaign in response to a Palestinian call, urging the state of Minnesota to divest from Israel bonds until the state of Israel respects international humanitarian law. He has also served on the core team of the Minnesota Peace Team. He is an active member of the Christian “People of Praise—Servant Branch” ecumenical charismatic covenant community.

 Erin Hart

Erin M. Hart

Erin is an international public affairs professional and former diplomat who joined IARP staff in 2018.  She served as a Foreign Service Officer and Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. State Department from 2008 - 2016 before relocating to Minneapolis.  Her assignments included public affairs and consular positions in Washington, DC; Kabul, Afghanistan; Muscat, Oman; and most recently at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  Erin joined IARP as a board member and volunteer in 2015 and was selected as Director of Development and Communications in 2018. In her current position, Erin oversees and manages all communications, media, development and fundraising activities for IARP, recently raising over $15,000 for IARP’s Books for Mosul campaign to restock the University of Mosul library.  Erin holds an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a B.A. in History and German from Grinnell College. Prior to her diplomatic service, Erin worked in Rostock and Berlin, Germany in international exchange. She speaks German and Arabic and enjoys travel, flute, and keeping up with her daughter Penelope.

Email: erin@reconciliationproject.org

 

Board Members Emeritus

Steve Clemens, Founding Board Member, IARP

Kathy McKay, Founding Board Member and former Executive Director, IARP

Luke Wilcox, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company