frank 2020 Speakers

Debbie Almontaser


Dr. Debbie Almontaser is an internationally recognized, award-winning educator, speaker and authority on cross cultural understanding. She is an influential community leader and the Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group, Inc.

Dr. Almontaser was the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, NY. A twenty-five year veteran of the NYC Public School System, she taught special education, inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity advisor. Currently, she is the Board President of the Muslim Community Network ( She frequently lectures, serves on panels, and facilitates teacher and public workshops on cultural diversity, conflict resolution, Arab Culture, Islam, Muslims in America, interfaith coalition building and youth leadership at schools, universities, libraries, museums, faith-based organizations, churches, synagogues, as well as national and international conferences.

Liba Beyer

Policy Advocate and Activist

As Director, Global Campaign, Liba Beyer launched Human Rights Watch’s first ever campaigns unit. She develops global, national, and local advocacy campaigns for public engagement to advance policy goals and promote human rights values. Beyer oversees a range of public engagement and media initiatives including a Persuasion Lab, strategic partnerships and social targeting for HRW. She previously served as the organization’s senior director of public advocacy, engaging donors and the public in advocacy campaigns and serving as the point person for supporters in more than 20 cities to engage with programmatic work. Beyer developed and led the donor trip program, produced hundreds of international special events, led dozens of human rights defender tours, as well as opened Human Rights Watch’s Midwestern and Canadian offices. 

Beyer received her MPA from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and worked extensively in the field, consulting on organizational strategic management, fundraising, impact evaluation and human rights research in Rwanda, Indonesia, Thailand, Israel, and the Occupied Territories. Beyer previously worked at the United Nations Association, the Hillel Foundation, and the 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund. 

Keith Bound, Ph.D.


Keith Bound started his narrative design and audience engagement research consultancy Receptive Cinema in 2016. His company specialises in the construction of suspense and science of storytelling to optimise cognition, emotion and engagement in movies and episodic television drama. He applies his scientific model of audience engagement to validate creative storytelling decisions to deepen engagement and audience experience consistently. In 2018 he developed a research collaboration with the Future Media Convergence Institute (a subsidiary to China’s state News agency, Xinhuanet) to create a research proposal that will shape cinematic storytelling for 21st century across digital devices.

Since 2013 Keith has presented his research in fear, suspense and science of storytelling at six international conferences in USA and Europe. He has written numerous articles about suspense, fear and science of storytelling for a variety of social media platforms including Hammer Films, a famous horror film production company based in the UK. His interviews about his research have been broadcast on ABC Australia, Radio New Zealand, BBC 5 Live and BBC Nottingham, UK. Keith received his interdisciplinary PhD (film studies, media psychology, psychophysiology and computer science) from the University of Nottingham, UK in 2016. His dissertation, ‘Terror & tension’ psychophysiological suspense: defining a framework to measure cinematic suspense in 21st century horror films led to the development of a scientific model of suspense and engagement that comprise of three layers: rhythm of emotion, rhythm of suspense and rhythm of engagement. The model is used in two ways, first to identify filmmakers’ narrative blind spots that decrease engagement and secondly to validate creative storytelling decisions to deepen engagement.

As an innovative narrative designer, his bio-feedback interactive movie concept eMovie was selected as a finalist in the Cisco i-prize Global Innovation Competition 2010. In 2009 he exhibited his interactive film installation: Receptive Cinema at ThinkTank, Birmingham Science Museum, UK. This practice-led research project, investigated complex issues concerning interactive film, narrative, human computer interaction and multi-video stream manipulation.

Kendal Broad Ph. D.


K.L Broad has a Ph.D. in Sociology (1998) from Washington State University and is currently an Associate Professor in the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at the University of Florida. In general, Dr. Broad’s work focuses on the interpretive and identity work associated with social movements. Specifically, Dr. Broad’s work has centered on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer (LGBTQ) movements in the US, paying particular attention to hate crime campaigns, transgender activism and work by “straight” allies. Presently Dr. Broad is conducting research about anti-racist interpretive and identity work by a group of gay men.

Erica Ciszek, Ph.D.


Erica Ciszek’s research, teaching and service are closely tied to commitments of advocacy and social change. Through rigorous qualitative methods and development of critical theory, Ciszek’s research examines the intersections of public relations and social change. Her work encompasses a triadic focus: (1) activism as public relations (conceptualizing social movement organizations as strategic communicators); (2) public relations as activism (conceptualizing public relations practitioners as organizational change agents); and (3) activism and strategic communication (considering how key stakeholders engage with communication materials aimed at them). 

Historically public relations and activism have had a contentious relationship within the practice as well as within the academy. Ciszek’s research is part of a thread of pioneering scholarship in public relations that is part of what Moloney and McKie (2015, p. 154) call “the activist turn” in the discipline. 

Before launching her academic career, Ciszek worked as a strategic analyst for Mullen Advertising and Public Relations. Additionally, she has worked in strategic analytics, market research and contributed to LGBT newspapers and magazines. As someone with professional experience in strategic communication working with nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies, Ciszek recognized the lack of diversity and representation that often characterizes the fields of public relations and advertising. Through her research and teaching, Ciszek is committed to making a space for marginalized voices and perspectives that have historically been written out of research. Her research has been published in the top journals in the field, including the Journal of Communication, as well as advocacy journals such as the Journal of Homosexuality

In addition to academic venues, Ciszek’s work, “LGBT advocacy in the digital age: Participatory media and the empowerment of an LGBT public,” has been translated by the Freedom House into Russian for distribution online. 

Thomas Coombes

Human Rights Strategist and Communications Expert

Thomas Coombes is a human rights strategist and communications expert from Ireland. He founded his own consultancy called hope-based communications in July 2019 to help non-profits communicate as effectively as companies and governments, with a particular focus on using integrated comms strategies and digital marketing to change narratives.

Thomas has spent 15 years working in public relations, speechwriting and branding for big global organizations: Amnesty International, Transparency International, the European Commission.

Thomas grew up in the west of Ireland but is a citizen of the world. He holds Irish, French and British nationality, has a Dutch partner and lives in Berlin. He has lived and worked all over Europe and speaks six languages. He sits on the board of two UK human rights groups – Rene Cassin and Rights Watch UK. When he isn’t thinking about how to reframe human rights, he spends his time blogging about world literature and triathlon-training.

Amanda Cooper


She worked as a communications director and press secretary for labor organizations, providing critical strategic and tactical support to dozens of successful organizing, corporate and political campaigns. She used the latest opinion data to create media strategies, messages, and even picket signs and chants with broader appeal. She revolutionized the training of worker spokespeople, bringing workers inside the strategy to become more focused, passionate, and effective.

Before joining the labor movement, Amanda was the media relations manager for the Brennan Center for Justice, and her early career included roles in public relations and development for the Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, NY and for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

Amanda is proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the Guttmacher Institute, which advances sexual and reproductive health worldwide.

Amanda is one of the only people she knows who actually uses her undergraduate degree, having earned a B.A. in communications and political science from UCLA. She lives in Alameda, California with her husband and daughter.

Alice Evans


Through comparative research on strengthening corporate accountability, Alice explores how to resolve global collective action problems and improve workers’ rights. She has published on the causes of falling inequality in Latin America; social movements; rising support for gender equality; cities as catalysts of social change; and the politics of maternal mortality. She is a Lecturer at King’s College London, with previous appointments at Cambridge and the LSE.

David Ford

Founder, SoulBuffalo

Founder and CEO of SoulBuffalo, an expedition company with operating experience in over 80 countries, servicing the Fortune 500. We’ve spent the last four years heavily focused on purpose-driven expeditions aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, each with the mission to drive large scale systemic change in the world. 

Luisa Guaracao


Luisa is a senior coordinator at Burness. She started off as an intern in 2017 and was hired full-time 6 months later. Half of Luisa’s time is spent managing the Frank Karel Fellowship, a summer program that matches first-generation and/or minority college students with leading nonprofits in the D.C. area. A former Karel Fellow herself, Luisa was invited to speak atfrank in 2018 about her experience as a Fellow.

The other half of Luisa’s time is spent working with clients, like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Voices for Healthy Kids and ChangeLab Solutions, to elevate and advance issues related to children’s health. Luisa helps clients with their messaging, media pitching, policymaker outreach, project management and event planning needs.

Prior to joining Burness, Luisa interned at Fleishman Hillard, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Miami Herald. She graduated from the University of Florida with a dual degree in public relations and Portuguese. Luisa spends most of her spare time (and money) flying back and forth between Miami, San Francisco, Colombia and Texas visiting family and friends.

Chloé LaCasse

Activist and Educator

A storyteller and educator, Chloé came out as transgender in 2016. She would quickly find her voice while volunteering with trans peers and allies on the historic New Hampshire transgender nondiscrimination campaign of 2017-2018. Since becoming a regular volunteer with the ACLU and organizing with the progressive nonprofits like Rights & Democracy and most recently Freedom For All Americans.

Within organizing Chloé discovered her love and natural ability to communicate on the big stage. She’s become an established voice in the New Hampshire LGBTQ community, appearing on panels, leading rallies and even on local radio programs.

Chloé breaks down tradition, myth and prejudices with hilarious anecdote. She welcomes folks into a larger world with vulnerability and thought provoking insights. As she invites us all to ask; what is gender, and how did this construct come to define the human experience?

“Coming out as trans saved my life. Not because I finally got to live in femme & technicolor, but that I gave myself permission to meet, know and fall in love with a person I was told never existed.”

For through the darkness I stumbled upon love, and in its infinite reservoir I found immortality.

Aundre Larrow

Photographer and Activist

Aundre is a Florida native, Brooklyn-based portrait photographer who has spent the last few years shooting editorial and lifestyle content for his clients. He most recently shot the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with The North Face, NY Fashion week and a portrait project about Amendment 4 in Florida. Throughout the years, he has always pursued the truth that can be found in portraiture and his current work is the next chapter of that.

Laura Ligouri

Laura Ligouri


Laura Ligouri is the Executive Director and Founder of Mindbridge, a not-for-profit organization connecting psychological and neurobiological insight to non-profit and government sponsored humanitarian efforts. Mindbridge’s Services include research where interdisciplinary methods and procedures are used to design, collect and analyze data answering questions of central importance to human rights organizations and civil society spaces; assessment where psychological and neurobiological tools are used to help evaluate program performance and impact; and education where the latest science is made accessible through workshops, seminars and publications, translating research into meaningful impacts in peoples’ lives. Laura’s interest in the intersection of neuroscience and human rights emerged as a coordinator and researcher at the Saxelab Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at MIT, where neurobiological research often sought to understand the biological underpinnings of implicit bias, inter-ethnic social conflict, violence and conversely collective empowerment and change. Laura’s work on inter-ethnic social conflict sought to elucidate the bidirectional, mutual constitution of culture and neurobiological processes that give rise to bias, discrimination and violence. To date Laura has written numerous scientific publications and has conducted research in conjunction with the DRAPER Institute, the McGovern Institute, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), OSCE Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights, the Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund, among others. Today, Laura is a lecturer in the Psychology and Honors Programs at the University of Southern Maine. For more information on Mindbridge please visit us at

Shanelle Matthews

Activist and Communicator

For more than ten years, Shanelle has partnered with social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns to inspire action through storytelling and communications. From the Sierra Club, to the ACLU, to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, she’s collaborated with political influencers and changemakers to transform complex ideas into persuasive political messaging that inspires people to action.

To strengthen the field of strategic communications, in 2016, Shanelle founded the Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), a go-to hub for cutting edge skills-building, values-aligned political education, and cross-movement collaboration for grassroots social justice communicators. By providing training, professional development, and networking, RadComms serves as a conduit for communicators to disseminate frameworks, information, critical inquiry and analysis into more mainstream and academic communications spaces.

Additionally, to close a gap in progressive media training for impacted communities, Shanelle developed Channel Black, a tailored training program that prepares progressive spokespeople to make critical, real-time interventions on racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and power in the United States through the media.

In the fall of 2017, Shanelle joined The New School, a University in Manhattan as its inaugural Activist-in-Residence. Today, she is faculty there in the social justice scholarship program. She holds a degree in Journalism and New and Online Media from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University.

When she’s not working, Shanelle designs craft cocktails based on her favorite Black feminist books. She lives and plays in Brooklyn with her dog Nala.

Robin Nabi


Robin Nabi is a professor of Communication and the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She received her AB in Government from Harvard College and her MA/PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.  Her research focuses on illuminating how message-evoked discrete emotions influence health and social issue decision-making.  Her current research investigates the impact of emotional sequencing in persuasive messages, the emotional framing of health/science news, and the effects of media use on stress and well-being.  She has served as a managing editor of Media Psychology, as associate editor of the Journal of Communication, and on the editorial board of numerous top communication journals.  She is a past chair of the Mass Communication Division of the International Communication Association as well as the Communication and Social Cognition Division of the National Communication Association.  She is a recipient of the 2018 Innovation in Theory Award from the Mass Communication Division of ICA, a 2017 inductee as a Fellow of the International Communication Association, and Distinguished Research Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Lauren Parater


Lauren’s work sits at the intersection of strategic communications, social innovation, and systems change. She has spent the last five years exploring how science and creativity can be used to communicate complex issues within the humanitarian system. Currently, she leads communication activities at the UN Refugee Agency’s Innovation Service. Her work focuses on using storytelling and innovation as powerful tools to create inclusive futures and assist in solving global challenges.

Hans Park


Hans Park is the Strategic Design and Research Manager at the UN Refugee Agency’s Innovation Service. His work is concerned with leading creative direction activities within the team and supporting management of a range of innovation projects, primarily related to Artificial Intelligence, strategic communications, inclusion and diversity

Erica Lynn Rosenthal, Ph.D.


Erica Rosenthal is the Director of Research at the Norman Lear Center, a research and policy center based at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her passion is for using media narratives as a vehicle to challenge stereotypes, move people to action, and generate lasting culture change. She oversees a portfolio of research focused on understanding media narratives and studying their impact on audiences’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Topics have included reproductive rights, opioid abuse, immigration, sexual health, gender-based violence, criminal justice, and more. She has a PhD in social psychology and nearly 20 years of experience evaluating the impact of media and communication initiatives on health and public interest issues. Her graduate research examined the barriers emotional messages pose to media literacy, and the central role of trust. She has published on the power of storytelling in both scholarly journals and popular media, and speaks on the social impact of media and storytelling. Her research has been covered in media outlets including The Washington Post, Newsweek, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Pacific Standard.

Marjan Safinia

Activist and Filmmaker

Marjan Safinia is an Iranian documentary filmmaker whose films examine identity, community and social justice. But You Speak Such Good English explores the first-generation immigrant experience from an insider perspective. Seeds, tells the story of ten brave teenagers from the world’s most troubled conflict zones living side-by-side for one life- changing summer. Collectively her films have played at over 100 international film festivals and been broadcast in North America, Europe and across the Arab world. Most recently she produced and directed work for Google Founder Sergey Brin, the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton’s Next Generation. Until 2018, Marjan was the longest-serving President of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (and the only woman of color to ever lead this organization.) She co-hosts the pre-eminent online documentary community, The D-Word, and is a regular juror, programmer, speaker and connector of all things documentary.

Misty Jones Simpson


Misty Jones Simpson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, TN, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Baylor University. Misty studied Music Technology Innovation at Berklee Valencia in Spain, where she received the Outstanding Scholar award and achieved a Master of Music degree. Specializing in MIDI programming, Ableton Live and pop/electronic music, Misty teaches synthesis and music production at MTSU. Misty has spoken and performed at various festivals and conferences including the Music and Entertainment Industry Educator’s Association Summit, MIT’s EMTech España, Madrid Music Days, the King of Spain’s Impulsa Music Forum and the Association for Popular Music Educators Conference. She presented her thesis work at Sonar Music Festival in Barcelona, which was mentioned by Billboard Magazine, and won an award in Prism’s International B-Side Remix competition, mentioned by Sound on Sound Magazine. Most recently, Misty presented her research entitled “How the Drop Changed Pop”at Ableton’s LOOP Summit.

Amy Lynn Smith

Writer and Content Strategist

Amy Lynn Smith uses strategic communication and storytelling to catalyze action for the greater good. A writer and content specialist focused on issue advocacy, Amy works with nonprofits, foundations, public interest communication firms such as Spitfire Strategies and others to create imaginative, persuasive messaging for every medium.

An award-winning advocate for healthcare reform, Amy often uses storytelling to demystify complex concepts and empower communities. She uses her strategic communication skills on behalf of people who are blind and visually impaired, helping American Foundation for the Blind and American Printing House for the Blind push for systems change and inclusion. Amy brings more than 25 years of experience to movements in support of various social justice issues, such as helping the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Innovation Service tell more impactful stories about their work with refugees.
Amy frequently applies the knowledge she developed through decades performing in and directing theatre as a public speaker and speaker coach, including for the frank gathering. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Mass Communication with a specialization in Public Interest Communications through the University of Florida’s online program.

René Weber, M.D., Ph.D.


René Weber received his Ph.D. (Dr.rer.nat.) in Psychology from the University of Technology in Berlin, Germany, in 2000, and his M.D. (Dr.rer.medic.) in Psychiatry and Cognitive Neuroscience from the RWTH University in Aachen, Germany. He is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California in Santa Barbara and director of UCSB’s Media Neuroscience Lab ( His lab investigates complex cognitive responses to mass communication and mediated narratives with an emphasis on the neural mechanisms of moral conflict, persuasion, media violence, cognitive control, and flow experiences. Current projects focus on attention disorders (ADHD) and media-multitasking and on the analysis of moral narratives and moral conflict in global news and entertainment. He was the first communication scholar to regularly use fMRI to investigate a series of various media effects, from the impact of violence in video games to the effectiveness of anti-drug PSAs. He has published four books and more than 120 journal articles and book chapters (October, 2019). His research has been supported by grants from national scientific foundations in the United States and Germany, as well as through private philanthropies and industry contracts. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association.

His research focuses on attention disorders and media-multitasking, moral judgment and conflict in narratives, media violence and aggression, persuasion neuroscience, cognitive control and flow experiences.

Lizz Winstead

Comedian and Activist

Lizz Winstead has built her amazing career hilariously responding to the world. As co-creator and head writer of ​Comedy Central’s​ “The Daily Show,” Winstead has forever changed the way people get their news. As co-founder of Air America Radio, she hosted her own show called  “Unfiltered”, sharing the mic every morning with the amazing Rachel Maddow and Hip Hop legend, Chuck D. As a stand-up she continues to tour, bringing her rapid response brand of comedy to theatres across the country and in 2014, was initiated into the Harvard Lampoon.  

Winstead has now taken her satirical brilliance one step further, combining it with her passion for reproductive rights to form her latest passion project, ​Abortion Access Front​, a non profit organization made up of comedians, writers and producers who create videos that use humor and outrage to expose sexist, anti choice politicians in all 50 state legislatures. AAF also spends 4 months out of the year doing shows across the country and providing support to independent abortion providers and local activists helping them to remove the stigma around abortion.  

In addition to performing and her activism, Winstead authored ​Lizz Free Or Die,​ a funny and touching book of personal essays, that ​Elle​ magazine called, ​“Sharply witty and iconoclastic” 

Winstead’s talents as a comedian and media visionary have been recognized by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Most Creative People issue among other print media. Winstead continues to appear on ​Comedy Central, HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher​ and NPR, as well as her regular commentary on ​MSNBC. 

Winstead has a lot to say about politics and current events, and when she says it, it is always insightful and hilarious! 

Key Estime

Karel Fellow

Key Estime is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar studying anthropology at Mount Holyoke College. As a first-generation, low-income, queer student of color, Key is deeply committed to building youth leadership and intergenerational collaboration. They are a youth leader at the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), a small non-profit that helps youth transition into adulthood. As a youth leader, Key is responsible for mentoring ten students. They’ve also designed a new curriculum around empowerment and founded a 20K scholarship program to help high school students attend college. This past summer Key was a Karel Fellow. As a Fellow, they interned at Martha’s Table, a nonprofit that supports strong children, families and communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food and family supports. When they are not bustling around networking, Key loves to hang out with friends, sprawl across the floor, and dream of a utopia filled with painless belonging and communit

Camryn Jackson

Karel Fellow

Camryn Jackson is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar studying journalism and sociology at Mercer University. As a contributing writer and reporter for her school’s TV station, Camryn has developed a strong interest in storytelling. She is captivated by the stories of civil and human rights defenders and hopes to one day tell those stories as a documentary journalist. Camryn is also a mentor to high school girls, facilitating tough conversations around sexual assault and harassment and offering advice about how to navigate college as a woman of color. This past summer Camryn was a Karel Fellow. As a Fellow, she interned at Mary’s Center, a nonprofit that provides medical, social and education services to families in the greater Washington D.C. area.

Maryam Iftikhar

Karel Fellow

Maryam Iftikhar is an honors student at Montgomery College studying social sciences. She was born in Pakistan but moved to the U.S. when she was one year old. Last Fall, she worked with students in Jordan on a sustainability project that sought to tackle challenges facing the global tourism industry. As the research leader, Maryam collaborated with a multi-disciplined research team, pulling insights from hospitality, economics, international relations and computer science, to develop a comprehensive solution to the assigned problem. Maryam is the president of her school’s Model UN Club and has planned and participated in collaborative panels and service-learning projects, on campus. This past summer Maryam was a Karel Fellow. As a Fellow, she interned at Families USA, a leading nonprofit and national voice for health care consumers that is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care.

Davin Phoenix

Educator and Author

Davin Phoenix is a teacher and scholar of race, emotion and political behavior. A first generation college graduate, Davin researches how race interacts with various spheres of U.S. politics to shape the attitudes, emotions and behavior of both everyday people and elites. Past and current work explores how race influences the emergence of anger, pride and hope in response to politics, how protests and media narratives on policing have influenced state legislative activity post-Ferguson, and how religious views shape the policy preferences and political behavior of people of color. His research has appeared in Politics, Groups and Identities, The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and The National Political Science Review. Additionally, his perspective on the intersections of race, emotion and politics have been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and National Public Radio.

Davin’s book, entitled The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics was published in January 2020 with Cambridge University Press. Integrating theories from psychology, political behavior and Black politics, The Anger Gap argues that both the stigmatization of Black anger in the public consciousness and the lack of collective agency felt by African Americans make anger over politics less prevalent and politically potent for Black Americans than White Americans. To test that argument, the book utilizes original experiments, forty years of survey data, and emotion discourse analysis of rhetoric from political elites across the ideological spectrum. The book makes a critical distinction in how emotions translate to behavior across racial groups.

Since 2016, Davin has served as Co-Director of the First Generation First Quarter Challenge, a peer mentorship program providing scaffolding and support to first year social science students seeking to become the first in their families to graduate from a four-year university. Davin is a recipient of multiple recognitions for his teaching and mentoring, including the 2017-18 Dean’s Honoree for Teaching Excellence Award, the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the Black Leadership and Advancement Coalition, and a 2019 UROP Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research.

Kareem Emara


Kareem is an Egyptian activist and one of the leaders of the Arab Spring in 2011. Kareem’s leadership experience was mainly through the student movement that thrived after the Arab Spring and was elected as spokesperson of the Student Union. Kareem participated in writing the legislation regulating public higher education in Egypt and in crafting the Egyptian Constitution.

Kareem received his medical degree from the prestigious Cairo University Medical School in 2014. He received the MEPI fellowship for Tomorrow Leaders from the US Department of States in 2015 where he studied conflict resolution and democratic institution. He, also, research on political participation and international relations at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard University. 

Kareem is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.

Rachel Grant


Grant previously served as an assistant professor in Xavier University of Louisiana’s Mass Communication Department teaching classes in strategic communication, social media management and media law.

Her academic research looks at media studies of race, gender and class and she has conducted extensive research with social movements, social justice, and Black feminism. Her dissertation focused on Black female journalists advocating for Black women during the Cold War period, specifically the Rosa Lee Ingram case.

She is currently conducting a study that explores the media discourse of historic, national symbols and the continuation of systemic racism and oppression. She has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Celebrity Studies and Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication Journal.

Iman Zawahry

Filmmaker and Lecturer

Zawahry is an accomplished filmmaker whose films have shown in 100 venues worldwide.  Her film “Tough Crowd” won a Student Emmy Award and qualified as a finalist in the NBC Comedy Short Cuts.  She was a recipient of the coveted Princess Grace Award, which is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging artists, for her film “UnderCover.”

Zawahry was a consultant on the television shows “The Odyssey” and “The Big C” and recently wrapped her directorial debut feature film. She is currently writing a feature that advanced to the final round of Sundance Writer’s Lab.

In 2014, Zawahry collaborated with the not-for-profit-organization Islamic Scholarship Fund to create the first-ever American-Muslim film grant that helps fund filmmakers who are presenting a positive narrative of Muslims in America.