Board of Directors
Soren Sudhof graduated from Yale University, where he studied Ethics, Politics, and Economics. A Richard U. Light Fellow, Georg Walter Leitner Fellow, and Fox International Fellow, he explored religious political conflict across Asia and the Middle East, focusing in particular on India and on Iraq, where he spent time in early 2008. He focused on the economic background of these issues, particularly the role of natural resources. Currently, Soren is an investment professional at Parthenon Capital Partners, a director for Vianar Affordable Housing, and is active within the Association of Yale Alumni. In the past, he also worked as strategy consultant for Oliver Wyman, the global management consultancy, and was a part of the founding team of the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, CO.
Tom graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Accountancy from Wake Forest University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While at Wake Forest, Tom served with Teach For America, promoting TFA’s mission and recruiting students to teach in underprivileged communities throughout the United States. He also co-founded the Wake Forest chapter of Habitat for Humanity, where he helped grow the volunteer base to more than 100 students in under a year and organized service-oriented trips abroad. Tom currently works as an investment professional with Parthenon Capital Partners, a private equity firm investing in growth companies within the financial services, healthcare services and business services sectors. Prior to Parthenon, Tom worked with BlackArch Partners, an investment bank focused on sell-side mergers and acquisitions advisory services.
Bilal Wahab is from Iraqi Kurdistan where he is a faculty member at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). At AUIS, he teaches classes on petroleum policy and international politics. He was AUIS’s first research fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies. He is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s (GMU) School of Public Policy where he studies patronage networks, economic and political transition, and Iraq’s petroleum policy. While at GMU, he was the managing editor of Foreign Policy Bulletin for two years. He received a Master’s Degree from the American University in Washington, DC on a Fulbright Scholarship. He also taught at Salahaddin University’s College of Law and Political Science and College of Education in Iraq, and has spoken at numerous campuses and think tanks across the United States, Europe and Iraq. He has made frequent media appearances, including on Aljazeera, National Public Radio, News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He worked at the World Bank, the United Nations, and in numerous USAID programs. His latest publication is on Iraq-Kurdish dispute over the management of the country’s petroleum resources. The report can be viewed here.
Melinda Witter is an academic, and practitioner of conflict mitigation, stabilization, and international development. She has over 29 years of professional experience with program design and management of programs for USAID, World Bank and an array of professional associations and nonprofits. Her specialty focuses on resolving conflict through community based initiatives which also incorporate youth, women, and disability participation. She holds an Executive Master’s degree of International Service from American University in Washington, D.C. with a concentration in Iraqi studies and conflict mitigation, and has worked in Iraq and Afghanistan.
David Slater has been interested in the Middle East since 2005, when he joined the U.S. Army. During his time of service, David studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) and deployed to Iraq twice, in 2008 and in 2011. While deployed, he worked closely with Iraqi civilians, personally witnessing the utter devastation which surrounded them, and therefore decided that he was going to do something to help improve their situation. To that end, after returning to the U.S., he finished junior college then studied International Relations at U.C. Davis. In the summer of 2013, David participated in the University of California Washington D.C program, during which he interned at EPIC and was instrumental in creating the “Iraq Matters” podcast. Currently, David is working as a Caseworker for the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento, where he helps resettle many Iraqi refugees and SIVs.
Zack Bazzi is an international development professional with more than 15 years of military, nonprofit and private sector leadership experience. Most recently, Zack worked in Iraq for a development firm implementing Department of State and USAID projects. Prior to his work in Iraq, Zack held various leadership positions with organizations working on behalf of military veterans. He also served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard for ten years and completed multiple deployments overseas, including Iraq. Zack has a degree in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire and is pursuing an Executive Master’s Degree through Georgetown University’s Emergency Response and Management program starting this fall.
Peter Kjeldgaard is a business development manager at Opower, a tech startup that combines data analytics and behavioral science to help energy utilities save energy and become trusted advisors to their customers. At Opower he is focused on building strategic alliances with energy and technology partners. In the past, Peter worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, consulting for US government agencies, and as a high school teacher. After moving on from teaching, he also spent time as a tutor and mentor for high school students in Washington, DC. Peter holds a M.A. in International Trade & Investment Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and a B.A. in History from Yale University.
Yasmeen Alamiri is an Iraqi-American journalist covering foreign politics and policy in Washington, DC. She covered the White House for several years and has written extensively on the war in Iraq and American foreign policy. She received her undergraduate from James Madison University and her Master’s Degree from American University in journalism. She has long been interested in the cultural and economic implications of war. She travels often to southern Iraq to visit her family, as well as the across the greater Middle East and Europe. Her work has been published in both domestic US media outlets, as well as publications across the globe.