• "We felt a very strong connection that was based on mutual respect despite the fact that a lot of us disagreed fundamentally on political issues."
    Jennifer Koshner
  • "I am a much stronger person for what I have seen and what I have done, and all the friends I've made on this trip."
    Daniel Kaplan
  • "There is really a lot that the program offers and if you come in ready to embrace the things that it offers you can really make it to be a life altering experience."
    Ahmed Youssef
  • "The women entrepreneurs we met with opened my eyes to whole new world, which made my mission to utilize every privilege I have to help women back home."
    Nashwa El-Sayed

Alumni 2016


Zoe Brouns

University of California, Berkeley 2017, Political Science & Arabic

Zoe is a third year student at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Political Science and minoring in Arabic. She plans to concentrate in comparative politics, specifically on democratic transitions in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Zoe grew up travelling around the world living mostly in the Netherlands and later in Namibia, India, and Madagascar. Her passion for international relations stems from her childhood abroad. After graduation, Zoe hopes to work for an international development or non-profit organization.

At Berkeley, she is part of a Panhellenic sorority and is heavily engaged in student government as a Senator for the Associated Students of the University of California creating change across campus. She also helps run and chair one of the largest Model United Nations conferences in the country. As a member of Berkeley MUN, she mentors and teaches high school students about a number of diverse issues—this year, her committee was the Arab League.

Using the knowledge and skills she gained on her Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship, Zoe intends to make change on her campus by continuing to make the Greek system more inclusive through cultural programming, education, and dialogue. She also plans to support interfaith dialogue and create more cohesive and accessible faith-based communities through and within the ASUC, Cal’s student government.


Ahmet Yücesoy

Washington University in St. Louis 2017, International Affairs & Arabic

Born in Chicago, Ahmet enjoyed the experience of growing up in the three cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Saint Louis. In addition to his formal education he learned Turkish language at home from his parents. For the past thirteen years, he has called Saint Louis home where he now attends Washington University in Saint Louis studying International Affairs and Arabic. His interest in the Middle East and in its languages and cultures comes from what he perceives as a unique relationship the region has with religion. Religion seems to be present in nearly all aspects of life. The idioms and expressions that allude to, or often explicitly refer to, the divine strikes him as indicative of a long durée cultural currents in the Middle East, which are not only Islamic, but also Christian and Judaic.

In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball and organizing events of awareness and dialogue through university clubs in which he is involved. In summer 2015, he earned the Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Ibri, Oman. Upon returning to campus, Ahmet will look to start critical discussions on both local and regional socio-political currents in the Middle East. By bringing in guest speakers and participating in campus panels and discussions, Ahmet looks forward to be part of a better and more nuanced understanding of the region and of competing narratives in and about the Middle East.


Batool Chaudhry

Queens College, CUNY 2017, Middle Eastern Studies & Biology | Arabic & Chemistry

Batool is a young Muslim-American who was raised in Brooklyn, NY. In Arabic, her name means pure. Currently, she is studying at Queens College majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology with minors in Arabic and Chemistry. She is the vice president of the Muslim Student Association at Queens College where she helps facilitate on-campus interfaith events. She has recently cofounded ThoughtSpace, an initiative aiming to create a safe space for those who seek to grow intellectually and spiritually by gaining a deeper understanding of faith. Batool is also the first New York State representative of Charity Week, an international organization that promotes global Muslim unity by helping orphans and children in need.

Batool is passionate about faith and women’s rights, and enjoys studying humanistic approaches towards understanding faith. She aspires to promote global healthcare reform particularly within Middle Eastern refugee populations. After her successful completion of the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program in the Middle East, she traveled to Morocco for an intensive Arabic program.


Claudio Josuel

New Jersey City University 2018, History & Secondary Education

Claudio was born and raised in one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in New Jersey state, Jersey City. As a Catholic Afro-Latino of a Dominican and Puerto Rican background, he grew up passionate about cultural diversity, and always aspired to become a bilingual history high school teacher. Currently, he is earning his bachelor degree in History and Secondary Education at New Jersey City University where he serves on several executive boards of the Student Government Organization and university-wide committees.

He is a proud brother of Psi Sigma Phi Multicultural Fraternity Incorporated. Within this organization, he learned about and embraced other cultures while establishing a unique bond with men of different ethnicities. Upon understanding these men culturally and socially, he began raising awareness within his community about the racial and ethnic inequalities. As a son of a US Navy Veteran, Claudio grew a desire and passion to learn more about the Middle East, its cultures, religions, and history.

Claudio, through what he experienced with the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program plans to host workshops and panel discussions centering on religious and cultural tolerance along with his colleagues and in collaboration with other cultural organizations from his campus.


Elijah Moses Villapiano

New Jersey City University 2017, National Security Studies & Economics

Called as “Ironman” by many of his friends, Elijah is a rising junior at New Jersey City University working on completing his B.S. in National Security Studies. Aspiration to conduct ISR operations and craft counterterrorism defense strategies, Elijah is serving in the US Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. His career mission is steadfast in the dedicated pursuit toward preserving and safeguarding the vulnerable sanctity of human life. He has worked alongside law enforcement agencies on a local, state, and federal levels.

His international volunteer experience and legal research expertise at the New Jersey Attorney General Office earned him a Foreign Language Fellowship from the Department of Defense to study Arabic language and literature in summer of 2015. He plans to use his Ibrahim Fellowship experiences as a vital stepping stone, applying these lessons toward his graduate studies in the Levant and in preparation for his active duty service overseas.

Elijah is a coffee connoisseur and a political wonk at heart. His hobbies include scuba diving, baking with his two sisters, Rachel & Ariel, and powerlifting.


Gabriella Cook Francis

Hunter College, CUNY 2016, Political Science, concentration in Philosophy | Human Rights

Gabriella is a senior at Hunter College pursuing an honors major in Political Science with a concentration in Philosophy and a minor in Human Rights. An Arizona transplant, Gabriella is deeply involved in various academic activities at Hunter as a Roosevelt Scholar, Thomas Hunter Honors Student, Hunter Model UN alumna, and a JFEW Scholar. She is fascinated by women’s issues, foreign policy, political rhetoric, and the arts. She has traveled to thirty-one different countries ranging from Mauritius to Montenegro. Additionally, she has interned with the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, the International Rescue Committee, and Semester at Sea.

Gabriella’s undergraduate research focuses on women’s political mobilization in the post-Arab Spring Middle East and the Syrian refugee crisis. She aspires to become a diplomat to serve the United States government abroad. Gabriella plans to collaborate with a fellow Ibrahim alum, Jacob Kessler to co-lead the Navigating Critical Conversations Club at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. The Club fosters open intercultural, interracial, and interfaith dialogues on pressing domestic and foreign policy issues.


Malak Elshafei

University of Pennsylvania 2017, Health & Societies

Malak is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying Health and Societies. Ethnically Libyan and originally from the diverse city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Malak is familiar and even resonates with those afflicted by conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East region. As a result, she invests her efforts and time to better understand regional complexities, and hopes to be a part of the recovery process of Libya working specifically with health care systems.

Malak is the treasurer of Penn’s Muslims Student Association and a representative of Faith Fund, a funding arm for the different religious group activities on campus. She is also a member of the Global Impact Collaborative, which consults for non-profit organizations around the world. During her free time, she enjoys participating in interfaith discussions with Penn’s Hillel and boxing with the on-campus boxing club.

Malak plans to utilize her Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship experience to educate her surrounding communities on the realities of conflicts in the Middle East as well as enhance her education and credibility regarding Middle Eastern politics and development.


Michael Momayezi

University of Georgia 2016, International Affairs and Arabic | Spanish 

Michael was born on the Mexican-American border in Laredo, Texas. He grew up surrounded by English and Spanish languages and his father’s Iranian culture. His multicultural upbringing sparked his interest in global affairs and foreign languages at a young age.

Michael is a rising senior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs and Arabic. He is active in the Persian Student Union which aims to spread cultural and political knowledge about Iran and its Middle Eastern neighbors through collaboration with organizations like Athens for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association. Passionate about the Middle East, Michael is conducting undergraduate research with a university faculty member about contested religious spaces in Jerusalem. After his successful completion of the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program in the Middle East, he returned to Jerusalem to work as a research assistant to support his research.


Selena Rincon

Harvard University 2017, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

Selena was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and is of Mexican heritage. She has always been interested in learning about her culture and that of others. She is a junior at Harvard University concentrating in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a secondary in French. She has traveled throughout the Middle East and studied abroad for a semester in Amman, Jordan. While in Jordan, she conducted a research on special needs children and the services they receive.

After her successful completion of the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program in the Middle East, she traveled to Morocco for an intensive Arabic program. She hopes to return to Morocco next year and conduct a research on its education system. Selena aspires to join the Foreign Service after completing a master’s in Near Eastern Studies.After spending time with the Ibrahim Fellowship, Selena hopes to encourage other students within her community to participate in the program and to have thoughtful conversations related to the Middle East and conflict resolution. She intends to use her learning experiences during the program throughout the campus dialogue about the Middle East, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Sophia Adler

Queens College, CUNY 2017, Psychology & Business and Liberal Arts

Sophia is a junior at Macaulay Honors at Queens College majoring in psychology major with a minor in business. She was the student president of Queens College Hillel where she supervised an array of programming including interfaith, LGBT, Shabbat, and Israel-related events. She also volunteers with Sunrise On Wheels to help engage hospitalized children in interactive play during and before treatments.

Sophia is passionate about social justice, pluralism, and Judaism. Throughout her college years, she participated in fellowships and internships to explore each of these topics. Her hobbies include reading, playing guitar, and inviting strangers to her Shabbat (Sabbath) meals.  Sophia plans to utilize her Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship experience to facilitate interfaith and conflict dialogue on her campus and in her community.


Yarah Shabana

Queens College, CUNY 2018, Media Studies & Business Honors | Journalism & Psychology

Yarah is a Queens College student majoring in Media Studies with minors in journalism, psychology, and business. Her passion about cultures, faiths, and languages motivated her to work for the Three Faiths Forum. She delivers speeches in local high schools to raise awareness about diversity and help build cross cultural, cross-faith understanding and acceptance.

Yarah was born and raised in the US with a gap of 10 years which she spent in Egypt. In her parent’s native land, she volunteered at AIESEC to help other students find internships abroad. This experience strengthened her communication skills and allowed her to interact with people of different nationalities.

Yarah loves to travel, read, write, and sing. She writes for her college paper, The Knight News and aspires to become an international news correspondent reporting unbiased news to her audience.


Yoni Rabinovitch

Queens College, CUNY 2017, Environmental Science, Geology & Business and Liberal Arts

Yoni grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in Riverdale, NY where he attended a yeshiva day school from kindergarten through high school. He spent his summers in Israel, and eventually chose to take a gap year before college where he studied at a program on a West Bank Settlement, Efrat which combined religious studies with volunteerism.

Yoni is the vice president of the Queens College Hillel. In this capacity, he is working on creating and on-campus educational programs to foster political dialogue related to issues in the Middle East. He writes for Queens College Voices where he blogs about futurology, and for an online magazine, The Mideast Beast where he writes satire about the Middle East. In his free time, Yoni can be found cooking, reading, or scouring Netflix for obscure documentaries and foreign films. He is an avid hiker, angler, and cyclist. His passion lies in green tech innovations, particularly those in the Middle East and developing nations. After graduation, Yoni hopes to work in the region building and promoting pan-Middle Eastern water infrastructure environmental projects.


Zachary Narin

Brandeis University 2018, Politics & Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Zach was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and moved to New York City at the age of nine. Although at a young age he questioned his role and place in his modern Orthodox Jewish community, he has come to realize that such experiences have laid the foundation for his independence and nonconformity. Zach spent a transformative gap year before college at Jerusalem’s Harman Institute, volunteering and studying Jewish texts.

He is a rising sophomore at Brandeis University, where he hopes to major in Politics and Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Outside of class, he holds leadership positions in JStreet U and his fraternity, AEPi, and has spent this past summer interning at UJA-Federation New York, in the Leadership and Engagement Department.

He is interested in exploring possible careers in law, politics, and the Jewish community. His vigorous curiosity, propensity to question, and chutzpah push him to continuously engage in difficult conversations surrounding issues he cares deeply about.


Waseem Iqnaibi

Queens College, CUNY 2017, Biochemistry & Political Science | Business and Liberal Arts

Waseem is a bearded man who loves religion, science, and politics. As a junior, he is pursuing a bachelor degree in Biochemistry and has completed a Political Science minor at Macaulay Honors College at Queens. After these studies, he wishes to travel abroad to study Islamic Jurisprudence. His aspires to become a physician and to found an Islamic high school in NYC.

In his free time, he enjoys watching documentaries and playing pool. His curiosity sparks his passion to debate, learn about aviation, and question mainstream knowledge. His passion to contribute to cross-cultural understanding motivates him to impart his knowledge to others and to be willing to correct wrong behavior around him within his capacity.

He is also the founder and CEO of a new company called WindshieldTickets.com, in which he defend clients’ NYC parking tickets and gets a majority of them dismissed. He plans to significantly scale his business in the upcoming year while he completes his studies.


Yano Windmiller

Washington University in St. Louis 2018, International and Area Studies | Jewish Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Yano is a Sophomore International and Area Studies major at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses primarily on the Middle East, specifically the intersection of conflict and development. After graduation, Yano will commission as an Officer in the United States Army.


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