Board of Directors

Howard Cohen


Majid Alsayegh

Majid Alsayegh is a principal of Alta Management, LLC, which provides real estate development and project management services on large capital projects in both the public and private sectors. He has worked in several Mideast countries as well as the United States. He has worked with numerous organizations to promote better relations between diverse cultures. In addition to his role as Board chair, Majid also serves on the Board of Directors for Intercultural Journeys, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Pyramid Society. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and an M.S. in Management from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Energy and the Environment.

Ellen Frankel

Ellen Frankel served for 18 years as the Editor in Chief and CEO of The Jewish Publication Society, and currently serves as the first Editor Emerita of JPS. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton.

She is the author of twelve books, among them The Classic Tales; The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols; The Five Books of Miriam, published in Hebrew as Midrash Miryam; The Jewish Spirit; and The Illustrated Hebrew Bible. With Rabbi Goldie Milgram, she co-edited two volumes of Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning, and was a contributor to Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel, and Quran, edited by Brian Arthur Brown.

Ellen has also published three books for young people: Choosing To Be Chosen and its sequel, Tell It Like It Is: Tough Choices for Today's Teens.  Her JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award.

She travels widely as a storyteller, lecturer, and scholar-in-residence. She has received numerous awards and honors, including Hadassah’s Myrtle Wreath Award and Brandeis University’s Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence. In collaboration with Professor Lawrence Schiffman, Ellen is currently at work on a historical novel about the Dead Sea Scrolls, set in the 1st and 21st centuries.

She lives in Philadelphia with her husband. She has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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Theodore Friend

Dorie Friend is a historian, novelist, and teacher of modern global history. He has been President of Swarthmore College (1973-1982) and President of Eisenhower Fellowships (1984-1996). An ecumenical Protestant, he is active in interfaith dialogue that embraces Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’i, and Christians of every kind, and others of any kind.

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Howard Cohen

Howard Cohen is an experienced executive with an extensive background in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. In addition to managing companies in the United States and Great Britain, he has held senior policy and executive positions in federal and state government and nonprofit enterprises, and he has taught management and law at the university level for more than 30 years. Currently, Howard has an active management consulting and public policy practice and teaches courses in Business Ethics at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

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Gity Banan-Etemad

Gity Banan-Etemad is a professor of Pediatrics at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and Attending Physician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Temple University Hospital, with long-standing teaching experience in pediatrics. She has published books, articles, and an entry in Encyclopedia Iranica. Her other interest is in “Health Development” in developing countries through NGO organizations, namely “Health for Humanity.” Through this organization, she has traveled around the world numerous times giving lectures on health issues, continuing medical education in medical schools, hospitals, and public health institutions. In Philadelphia, Gity is a co-founder of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, a founder of Mainline Interfaith Women's Group, and is a member of Devon Interfaith Gathering; these groups serve to promote dialogue between religious leaders, high school students, and diverse faith groups for the advancement of world peace. She is a fourth-generation Baha’i and an active member of national and local Baha’i communities. Gity is married and has three adult children. She and her husband reside in Villanova, PA.

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Fahad Alhomoudi

Fahad Alhomoudi is the founder and president of the Western Studies Institute. In the past he served as Head of Research Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Vice-Dean for Academic Research and Publication, and professor at the School of Law of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. He works as a consultant for Princess Norah bint Abdulrahman University. Through his role as Fulbright Scholar, Fahad has engaged many in extensive Intercultural/Interfaith Dialogue initiatives, including the establishment of the Western Studies Institute. He has been a visiting professor and lecturer at McGill University, Loyola University, and Melbourne University. He was awarded a B.A. in Principals of Religion and an M.A. in Islamic Studies from Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. Fahad's academic research has focused on Prophetic Tradition, Islamic Law and Environmental Law, and Methodology of Muslim Scholars.

Peter A. Baktis

William Cullinan

William Cullinan studied religion at the University of Hawaii and Temple University, where he also taught Asian Religions. Prior to that he taught business and economics for 10 years at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. He also studied Chinese and taught English for four years at Fu Jen University in Taiwan.

William received his B.B.A. in management and his M.S. in economics from Texas A&M University. His interest in different religions came from traveling to various countries, especially Asia. He continues to advance his learning through international travel, conference, and classes. William is particularly interested in interreligious dialogue and hopes to see more dialogue with African nations and various religious groups in the United States.

Harry Halloran

Harry Halloran is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Refining Group. He is also the Chairman and CEO of ARG Resources. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Civil Engineering. After graduating, he entered the Augustinian seminary for four years and earned an M.A. in Theology.  

Harry is also the founder and CEO of Energy Unlimited, Inc. a company involved in the renewable energy field and has served on the Board of The American Wind Energy Association. He is a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Wind, LLC. He serves as Chairman of Terra Green Energy, LLC. Other past positions include: Trustee of Villanova University, Trustee of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and member of the Caux Round Table. He is also the Founding Trustee of the Enlightened World Foundation and the Halloran Foundation. Harry founded Halloran Philanthropies in 2007 with the belief that business is one of the most powerful drivers for positive social change. The purpose of the Halloran Philanthropies is to help create a healthier world community that promotes economic development through microfinance, global business ethics, and community service to revitalize low-income neighborhoods.

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Amid Ismail (ex-officio)

Amid I. Ismail, BDS, MPH, DrPH, MBA, is the Dean and the Laura H. Carnell Professor at the Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University.  He has been an actively funded researcher for over 30 years with expertise in population-based studies, caries research, and interventions to reduce health disparities. His work focuses on the fields of measurement, outcomes assessment, design and planning for complex statistical analyses, survey methods, and organizational management. Amid played a significant role in developing the field of evidence-based dentistry and was a key consultant to the American Dental Association in this area. He also played a leadership role in developing the Community Dental Health Coordinator project for the American Dental Association. Amid has established new innovative programs such as the Advanced Dental Education Residency and Public Health (ADREACH) program, which offers a master's degree in public health and advanced training in general dentistry in community clinics. As Dean, he has developed strong local and global networks between the dental school and other organizations and universities. He has addressed churches in North Philadelphia, connected with local pastors, and collaborated with diverse global organizations and businesses. He has renovated the dental clinics and preclinical laboratories and implemented lean management at the dental school that resulted in a $6M increase in non-tuition-based revenues in five years. He has established educational programs with Kuwait and China, implemented community-based dental residency programs, and developed a novel post-baccalaureate program. Amid also founded Temple University's Bridge to Peace program between Israeli and Palestinian academics and the Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders.  He has received awards from the International Association for Dental Research (H. Trendley Dean Award), the Regents’ of the University of Michigan (Community Service), American Dental Association, and community organizations. He is a member of the International College of Dentistry and the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity.  Amid received his dental training at the College of Dentistry, Baghdad University and completed a master's degree and doctorate in public health at the University of Michigan. He also graduated with distinction from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan where he received his M.B.A. He  is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. 

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Sergio Mazza

Sergio Mazza is now retired, most recently serving as Chairman and CEO of American Surgical Centers, a developer and manager of outpatient surgical facilities. Before purchasing ASC, Inc., he founded SenSound, LLC, a privately held software company that developed and marketed noise diagnostic and quality control software, and served as its CEO. From 1993 to 1999 he served as President and CEO of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and prior to that he had an extensive career in the information technology industry, which included the position of President of Memorex USA, a $300 million mainframe peripherals sales and service organization, and later Memorex Computer Supplies, a $200 million autonomous division of Memorex Telex that manufactured and sold magnetic media and other supplies around the world. Sergio later became a founder of and the managing partner of an Italian software company ATD Srl. He is a past chairman of the board of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, MI, has been a board member of Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT, and was on the board ofSt. Lukes Lifeworks, a “wrap-around” social service agency for people who are homeless and people with special needs in Stamford, CT. Sergio has lived in seven different countries, worked in five of those, and speaks four languages. He has a B..S in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Religion from Hartford Seminary.

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Edward Newman

Alwi Shihab

Leonard Swidler (ex-officio)

Leonard Swidler is a Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue in the Religion Department of Temple University, where he has taught since 1966. At Temple, and as a visiting professor at universities around the world – including Graz, Austria; Tübingen, Germany; Fudan University, Shanghai; and the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur – he has mentored a generation of U.S. and international scholars in the work of interreligious dialogue. He has a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the University of Tübingen and received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin; he also holds honorary doctorates from St. Norbert’s College and LaSalle University.

Leonard has published/edited more than 200 articles and 75 books, including: Jewish‑Christian‑Muslim Dialogue (1978); Religious Liberty and Human Rights (1986); After the Absolute: The Dialogical Future of Religious Reflection (1990); A Bridge to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue (1990); Muslims in Dialogue: The Evolution of a Dialogue over a Generation (1992); Jesus Was a Feminist (2007).