Abraham Path Initiative Staff
Anisa Mehdi’s many years as a television news producer and director covering the Middle East inform her approach to the role of API’s executive director. Her knowledge of the region, and her production and team leading skills add depth to her work overseeing programming, managing budgets, and interfacing with sponsors, supporters, and the media. Her credits include National Geographic, 60 Minutes, PBS, and ABC News Nightline.
Director of Operations
Ben has many years of global experience in the humanitarian, development, and private sectors. His years living and working in the Middle East have given him an abiding love for the people, culture, and ecology of the region. Ben has a MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and is a great believer in the inspirational power of walking.
Odate has managed projects in Palestine for more than 20 years, working with organizations including UN Women, Diakonia, and the Jerusalem Center for Women. She specializes in community development and women’s empowerment projects. Odate has worked at the intersection of partners and stakeholders, managed donor relations, overseen data collection, and monitored implementation of construction and rehabilitation at women’s centers throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Odate manages API’s multi-year World Bank grant for community-based trail enhancement in Palestine, a program called “ Masar Ibrahim/Abraham Path – Economic Development Across Fragile Communities.” She coordinates independent API programming along the Masar Ibrahim and supervises our work with Bedouin-built trails in South Sinai.
Product and Relationship Manager
Jessica’s deepest roots are in the Middle East. With seven countries in the past three family generations, she is passionate about identity, culture, and cultivating understanding. After completing her BA in Political Science and a minor in Chemistry at the University of Florida, Jessica worked in international exchanges, focusing on civic engagement in Boston. She completed her MA in Government, specializing in Security Studies, as a Rotary Scholar in the Middle East. In Jerusalem, she discovered the Abraham Path. Jessica believes in the power of walking to connect—internally and externally– and the values of hospitality, humility, and listening.
Abraham Path Initiative Board
Founder / Chair Emeritus
William Ury is an author, walker and mediator. He is the founder of the Abraham Path Initiative and co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project. William is the co-author of the global bestseller Getting to Yes and author of The Power of a Positive No. Over the last 35 years, he has mediated between quarreling corporate divisions, battling unions and management, and warring ethnic groups around the world.
Ivan Schouker advises and leads financial services, technology, and professional services firms in transition. He was a board member of the Landmine Survivor Network and Ambassador of the Union for International Cancer Control. He studied economics, business and public law at Columbia University as a Fulbright scholar, the London School of Economics, and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. He lives near Geneva, Switzerland with his wife and two sons.
A lifetime of interest in and concern for the Middle East is at the foundation of Anisa Mehdi’s passion for Abraham Path Initiative. An Iraqi-American of mixed religious heritage, Anisa deeply appreciates the variety and nuance of regional cultures and tensions. For more than 20 years she was a broadcast journalist, winning two Emmys, a CINE Golden Eagle, and numerous prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists for her work in religion and the arts. Anisa is an alumna of Wellesley College and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She lived in Jordan as a Fulbright Scholar, mentoring professional broadcasters and teaching aspiring filmmakers. She affirms the experience of walking as an effective way to create stronger links between people at this vital time for our world.
David assists companies and governments in complex negotiations in his role as Managing Principal of Lax Sebenius LLC. He advises on negotiations ranging from commercial contracts, joint ventures, and strategic alliances to large mergers and acquisitions in a wide range of industries to the settlement of lawsuits to the ending of civil wars. He is the coauthor of 3D Negotiation and The Manager as Negotiator and loves to hike in the mountains.
Josh is the President of Negotiation Works and a co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. Josh has been involved with the Abraham Path from the very beginning, walking stages from Harran to Hebron and the Negev. He most recently served as the Initiative’s Managing Director. Josh is the author of the popular The Negotiator in You series and the creator of the Negotiation Tip of the Week (NTOW) Podcast.
Vice Chair Emeritus
Raed Saadeh is the President of the Arab (Palestinian) Hotel Association and the owner and General Manager of the Jerusalem Hotel, a boutique hotel he conceptualised and designed. He is also the Chairman of the Rozana Associationand a co-founder of the Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil and a large number of other organizations supporting Palestinian culture, rural tourism, fair trade and the arts, including the Network for Experiential Palestinian Tourism Organizations (NEPTO). Raed originally trained as a mechanical engineer with a BSc Summa Cum Laude from Syracuse University, N.Y. and a MSc. at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.
Mona is the president and co-founder of the Rights and Development Center, has served with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and has also served as a Mideast civil society leader during negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She also has served as the Assistant Secretary General at the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities. She holds a Masters degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She is a certified Senior Trainer on Disability Equality.
Alex Chade is a senior partner at Ascet Investments, a private equity and venture capital firm in Brazil with proprietary investments in real estate, tourism and entertainment. Alex is Chairman of the Caminho de Abraão (the Abraham Path friends in Brazil), and the driving force behind the Caminho da Paz, an annual run with thousands of participants celebrating the city’s diversity and coexistence.
Leo D’Acierno Managing Partner of White Rock Holdings and senior advisor at Simon-Kucher, and is the Founder and CEO of LiftRocket, a digital lender that provides disadvantaged borrowers with access to safety net and springboard credit through community self-help
Leo’s maternal grandparents emigrated to the United States from Syria. As a professional, Leo has spent his career helping to revitalize businesses through smart strategy, sales and marketing redesign, strategic pricing and digital reinvention. Since 2017 Leo has served as a senior advisor to the executive director of the Abraham Path Initiative. As a Board member he brings expertise and enthusiasm to Abraham Path Initiative as we transition from ‘start-up’ to an era of ‘grow, produce, and sustain.’
Paul is the managing partner of Richard Gray Gallery, a leading international dealer in Modern and Post War American and European art with locations in New York and Chicago. Paul has acted as advisor and consultant to prominent private collectors and museums for over 20 years. He is currently Vice Chair of the board of the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, and has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Art Dealers Association of America and the Peace Museum
Lionel Sauvage is Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager at the Capital Group in London. He is the founder and chair of FLAX, the France Los Angeles Exchange foundation which is dedicated to developing cultural exchanges between France and Southern California. Lionel was a long-standing Board member of the Landmine Survivor Network, a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace.
James holds the Gordon Donaldson Professorship of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he took the lead in the School’s decision to make negotiation a required course in the MBA Program. Jim currently serves as Vice Chair and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Program on Negotiation.
Karima Zedan is Comcast’s Vice President of Digital Inclusion and Internet Essentials. Karima is an inclusion advocate, impassioned communicator, integrated thinker and change agent that is dedicated to building and inspiring teams that drive impact through mission, authenticity, creativity and humor. As Vice President of Digital Inclusion and Internet Essentials at Comcast, Karima leads Comcast’s signature digital inclusion initiative to connect low-income Americans to the internet at home and support training that provides skills to succeed in a 21st century economy. Internet Essentials is the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful high-speed internet adoption program in the country.