The Middle East Children’s Alliance Board of Directors
The Middle East Children’s Alliance Founding Advisors
Sen. James Abourezk
Dr. Swee Chai Ang
Dr. Fathi Arafat
Prof. Naseer Aruri
Rabbi Leonard Beerman
Prof. Joel Beinin
Prof. Noam Chomsky
Dr. Charlie Clements
Dr. Davida Coady
Hon. John Conyers
Angela Y. Davis
Hon. Ronald Dellums
Prof. Troy Duster
Hon. Jackie Goldberg
Rabbi Burt Jacobson
Hon. Grantland Johnson
Prof. Mel King
Ibrahim Abu Lughod
Prof. Hilton Obenzinger
Father Bill O’Donnell
Prof. Edward Said
Rev. Gus Schultz
Prof. Hisham Sharabi
Marc Van Der Hout
Prof. Dick Walker
Hon. Maxine Waters
The Middle East Children’s Alliance Staff
Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch, Executive Director, is a Palestinian refugee from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. He is the cofounder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh. Zeiad is also a filmmaker, journalist and educator who has worked with Palestinian and international media and has participated in the production of several documentary films. He was the co- producer and production manager of Promises, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. He completed his Master of Arts in Social Justice and International Relations from the World Learning School for International Training Graduate Institute.
Waed Abbas, Palestine Projects & Social Media Coordinator, completed her masters in Humanitarian Action with a focus on Statelessness and Forced Migration. Before joining MECA, she worked with different local and international organizations including Amnesty International, Save the Children, and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
Deborah Agre, Development Director, worked as a volunteer direct mail fundraising consultant to MECA from 1991 until she joined the staff in June 2003. She is responsible for direct mail, major donor and foundation fundraising as well as the newsletter and other communications. She has worked in fundraising and communications positions at The Breast Cancer Fund, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Women’s Health Rights Coalition. She was a Senior Consultant at Mal Warwick & Associates, a direct mail fundraising agency working for progressive causes and candidates. Deborah has two school-age sons and she is involved in efforts to build political and financial support for the Berkeley Public Schools.
Wafaa El-Derawi, Nutrition Coordinator, has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. She began her work with MECA as a trainer in our nutrition project with women in Gaza. Wafaa has also volunteered with the Union of Health Work Committees as a health educator to raise the awareness about the importance of healthy nutrition and highlight the dangers of malnutrition, especially for children.
Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. She was born in Khan Younis, Gaza and has dedicated herself to developing community based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra is also the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work Committees. Dr. El-Farra has a son, two daughters, and two grandchildren.
Zak Habash, Communications & Admin Coordinator, is an Arab-American who spent their childhood between the US and the Arab world. They attended UC Berkeley and later transferred to the American University of Beirut to study agriculture. While in Lebanon, Zak worked with displaced peoples on projects aimed at growing food in their communities and strongly believes in self-empowerment. Zak believes that the road to liberation begins with having sovereignty over our food.
Voulette Hattar, Volunteer Coordinator and Shop Palestine manager, describes herself as a reader, a writer, an organizer, an educator, a passionate soul, a quiet revolutionary, and a product of the strong women who raised her. Voulette graduated in 2020 from UC Berkeley with degrees in Ethnic Studies and Arabic. Before working with MECA, she had positions with Friends of Sabeel North America, the American Friends Service Committee, and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association in Palestine.
Nancy Ippolito, Finance Director, was the publisher at China Books & Periodicals and Pacific View Press before her work at MECA. She joined the staff of MECA and Alliance Graphics in 2003 and oversees administrative and financial affairs for both organizations.
Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director Emeritus, is a life-long peace, justice and disability rights activist. She has led nearly twenty delegations of North Americans to Palestine/Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon. She has lectured on the issue of Middle East politics and the plight of the children in the region to dozens of schools, universities, conferences, religious institutions and community groups and she is a frequent speaker at anti-war rallies. Barbara is also the former President of the Berkeley Board of Education. She has four grown children and seven grandchildren.
Ghada Mansi, Maia Project Coordinator, is an engineer living in Deir El Balah town in Gaza, Palestine. She oversees the installation of new water purification units for schools through Gaza, regularly checking the water quality at each school, and following up any necessary maintenance and repairs. Ghada is also the cofounder of the Sketch Engineering Company which aims to use engineering to improve life for the local community by solving some of the problems for everyday life under occupation and siege in Gaza.
Patrick O’Neill, Bookkeeper and Administrative Coordinator, spent most of his life in the Arabian Gulf where he completed his education in International Studies and later worked as an educator and program coordinator at a not-for-profit K-12 school. An activist and artist, he has always been committed to raising awareness about issues surrounding the Middle East, social justice, and the environment. In addition to his work at MECA, Patrick works to promote Arab Culture through the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Penny Rosenwasser, Special Events Coordinator, just published (2013) Hope into Practice, Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears. In 1992 she published a book of interviews, Voices from a ‘Promised Land’: Palestinians and Israeli Peace Activists Speak Their Hearts. Penny has produced over one hundred educational and cultural events for MECA, and has organized and led four women’s peace delegations to Palestine/Israel. She produced and hosted many radio programs on these issues and has toured the country with her slide shows, “The Face of Occupation” and “Women Waging Peace.” Penny is also active with Jewish Voice for Peace; her dissertation was on the psychological effects of Jewish oppression on Jews.
Josie Shields-Stromsness, Program Director, lived and worked in Palestine for six months before joining the staff of the Middle East Children’s Alliance. She volunteered with the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (now the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign) in Jerusalem and the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp. Josie regularly visits MECA partners and projects in Palestine.
Jody Sokolower, Coordinator of the Teach Palestine Project, is an educator and Palestine solidarity activist. From 2009-2017 she was the managing editor of Rethinking Schools, a progressive magazine for K-12 teachers and teacher activists. Before that, she taught middle and high school students, HIV test counselors, and women immigrants. In addition to her work inspiring teachers to include Palestine in their curriculum, she supports teachers and future teachers as an instructor and curriculum consultant.
Ali R. Wihaidi, Gaza Projects Coordinator, holds a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), with a focus on marketing and strategy. He previously worked with several organizations that aim to achieve social justice among marginalized communities. He’s committed to assisting communities in Palestine to utilize their unique skills in leveraging the Palestinian economy. Ali oversees the coordination of multiple projects funded by MECA in the Gaza Strip.