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.
Mohammed Zakir is the President of Acustrategy, a business and data analytics firm he started in Houston in 2008. In the past he has worked for Charles River Associates and Simon-Kucher & Partners and he founded Silk Route Crafts, a venture to promote fair trade and opportunities for women artisans in Pakistan. Mohammed also started and runs an education scholarship program for inner-city youth in Karachi that raises funds from the Pakistani diaspora in the United States. Mohammed belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra group, a small and culturally distinct sect of Shia Muslims based primarily in Western India. He handles public relations for the group’s Houston Chapter. Mohammed received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Economics from Middlebury College and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Bilal Wahab is from Iraqi Kurdistan, and is currently a doctoral student at George Mason University where he studies economic and political transition in the petroleum-rich Middle Eastern states. He served as the governance advisor for citizen participation in public decision-making at USAID’s Local Governance Program where he worked with local authorities and civil society organizations in five northern Iraqi provinces to promote transparency and accountability toward democratic governance. Prior to that, he worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In the run up to Iraq’s first democratic elections, he worked for the International Republican Institute and the American Development Foundation, where he trained election candidates, monitors and journalists. He also taught at Salahaddin University’s College of Law and Political Science and College of Education, and spoken at numerous campuses across the United States. His most-cited article appeared in Middle East Quarterly, entitled “How Oil Smuggling Greases Violence in Iraq.”
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. In Iraq, he worked closely with Iraqi civilians and personally witnessed the utter devastation surrounding them, and 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 and then studied studied International Relations with a focus on Peace and Security at UC Davis. David is a former EPIC intern, and was instrumental in the creation of the “Iraq Matters” podcasts. David still serves in the Army Reserves, and also volunteers his time with the Sacramento office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he works with 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.
Nathaniel Hurd is Policy Advisor for Conflicts and Disasters for World Vision US, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the world. For more than 10 years, he has been working to advance policies and initiatives to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq. After graduating from Hamilton College with a bachelor’s in international relations, Nathaniel became a researcher and analyst, focused on Iraq issues ranging from public health to economics to disarmament. As a researcher, Nathaniel briefed Congressional staff, UN officials, and media outlets on Iraq policy and its related humanitarian issues. Later he worked for Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee, leading their advocacy and policy on countries in crisis – including Iraq at IRC – to ensure humanitarian needs on the ground were met. On several missions with IRC, Nathaniel met vulnerable Iraqis, in Iraq and in neighboring countries hosting Iraqi refugees, surveyed their situation, and co-authored reports that were shared with the Administration and Congress and were reported on in the press. Nathaniel has a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
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