Board of Directors

AAFSC Board of Directors provide critical philanthropic, partnership-building, and advisory support for our free programming.

Rawaa Nancy Albilal

President and CEO

Rawaa Nancy Albilal is the President and CEO of the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC). She joined AAFSC in March of 2017. She brings to AAFSC her vast executive experience in organizational development, strategic planning, and in building community stakeholder collaboration initiatives. Prior to joining AAFSC, Nancy served as the Vice President for Development at the Foundation Center. She was responsible for leading the charge in cultivating relationships with donors, and persuading grantmakers to join Foundation Center in its effort to strengthen under-resourced nonprofits. Prior to her work at Foundation Center, Nancy served as director of social services at the Department of Child and Family Well-Being for the City of Newark, where she was responsible for strategic planning, resource development, and evaluation. She led the areas of health planning, research, evaluation, and funding for lead-free safe housing; and oversaw grantmaking for housing, community development, HIV/AIDS, environmental health, childcare, and nutrition. Ms. Albilal served as the department’s lead contributor to the recommendations and the plan articulation strategies behind the Children’s Bill of Rights. Previously, she was vice president for knowledge management, COO, and executive vice president for community impact for the United Way, serving mainly in New Jersey for 10 years. Ms. Albilal served as a consultant and lecturer for Rutgers University teaching cultural diversity and inclusion. She is published in refereed journals, and has deep knowledge on issues of diversity, grantmaking, resource development, impact measures, and program design. She is a graduate of Rutgers and Princeton.

Naseem Haffar

Chair, Private Investor

Naseem Haffar is a retired Managing Director with over 30 years experience in investment banking and real estate finance. Haffar started his career in the early 1980s at Irving Trust Company (now BNY Mellon), and then joined JP Morgan’s Loan Trading desk where he subsequently became Head of Sales and represented JPM on the board of Directors of the Loan Syndications & Trading Association. He later joined Societe Generale, where he built the Loan Sales & Trading desk.

Haffar was a member of the Whitney Museum photography acquisition committee. He is on the board of directors of the Arab American Democratic Action Fund and Noor Theater. He has an MBA in Finance from Columbia University School of Business and a BS in Business and International Relations from the University of Minnesota. He’s fluent in English, Arabic, and conversational in French.

Matthew Brogan

Treasurer, Poetry Society of America

Matt Brogan is a consultant, producer and writer. He works with foundations, nonprofit organizations and individuals to develop compelling, thoughtful strategies and to create and manage new initiatives in a variety of fields, including the arts, education, public space and social justice. He has produced major cultural projects in a wide range of disciplines and media, including exhibitions, festivals, public art projects, books and documentaries. His poems and fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines and he is the editor of This Place (Hatje Cantz, 2019). He has also authored several research studies, most recently, “Art, Migration and Public Space,” for the Open Society Foundations.

Jeanine Shama

Secretary, Allen & Company LLC

Jeanine is a native New Yorker of Brazilian and Palestinian descent with experience in multi-cultural environments within the private and non-profit sectors. Jeanine currently works for a boutique investment bank managing Human Resources.

Her previous experience includes managing a global talent initiative for Citigroup as well as for working as an organization development consultant for non-governmental organizations in the West Bank with BirZeit University. She also worked for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee post 9-11 as their Chief Administrative Officer.
She is currently a member of the Advisory Committee for Cultural Engagement at the Metropolitan Museum, which engages NYC communities to experience the Met, a pro-bono consultant with the Taproot Foundation, and a volunteer guide with Musicians on Call.

She has a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree from New York University. She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

Christine Moore Vassallo

Soprano and Educator

Christine Moore Vassallo is a soprano and educator whose opera career has spanned over two decades both domestically and internationally in such places as the Leipzig Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, and as a recitalist in Spain, Germany, Scotland, England, the Middle East and in North America. She has been active in New York City's Arab-American community for the last 15 years, mostly through her work as AAFSC Board Secretary, and as a former board member of ADC-NY and former music co-curator at Alwan for the Arts. She is dedicated to the empowerment of immigrants.

David Pollak

Reverence Capital Partners

David Pollak is Director of Capital Partnering at Reverence Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm focused on thematic investing in middle-market financial services companies. From 2006-2008, Pollak served as Co-Chairman of the New York State Democratic Party. In 2008, he was the New York State Director for the Obama for America Campaign. Pollak has lectured internationally about US politics, economics and financial policy. He is a guest lecturer on Asset Management at the Fordham School of Business in New York and has lectured at Columbia University, McGill University, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Pollak received his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, and his BA in Economics and Politics from the Colorado College.

David Tayeh

Investcorp

David Tayeh is Head of Private Equity – North America. He is a member of the Firm’s Operating Committee and serves on its Investment Committee and the Financial and Risk Management Committee.

David rejoined Investcorp in 2015, having left the firm in 2011 to join CVC Capital Partners as a Partner. From 1999 to 2011, David was a member of Investcorp’s private equity team and acted as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Jostens, Inc., a former Investcorp portfolio company. Prior to Investcorp, David was a Vice President with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

David currently serves on the boards of directors of AlixPartners, Arrowhead Engineered Products, Fortune Fish, HealthPlus, ICR, KS Group, Paper Source, PRO Unlimited, Revature and United Talent Agency.

David holds a BA degree in Politics, Economics, Rhetoric and Law from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mohamed El Beih

Angelo Gordon

Mohamed El Beih joined Angelo Gordon in 2021 and is a Managing Director and Head of Europe, Middle East & Australasia for the Firm’s investor relations efforts. He focuses onbusiness development and managing the firm’s strategic institutional partnerships across the regions. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. El Beih was a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group and a member of the management committee for Blackstone’s Hedge Fund Solutions Group (“BAAM”). At Blackstone, Mr. El Beih was primarily involved with institutional client coverage, business development, and managing Blackstone's sovereign relationships in the Middle East. He was also involved in building networks and deal sourcing for BAAM’s special situations group, in addition to BAAM’s broader business strategy and product development efforts.

Before joining Blackstone in 2007, Mr. El Beih was an Investment Advisor at Morgan Stanley International in London, where he was responsible for Middle East client coverage and business development. He had previously worked at Goldman Sachs in London and spent five years as a Financial Advisor for Associated Securities Corp. in Los Angeles, California.

Mr. El Beih is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves as a Board Member and Vice Chair of ABANA, the leading U.S. organization for finance professionals and institutions with interest in the Middle East and North Africa. He is also on the Board of the Arab-American Family Support Center, a non-profit organization that provides trauma-informed social services for immigrants and refugees from all ethnicities and backgrounds in New York City.

Mr. El Beih received a BA in International Relations from the University of Southern California, where he graduated magna cum laude, and his MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Rita Gail Johnson

Consultant

Rita Gail Johnson has been a management consultant for most of her career, specializing in strategic planning and merger integration. She was a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she led merger integration assignments in the US, Europe and the Middle East, and has held business development positions at the political risk consultancies Eurasia Group and Oxford Analytica. For the past several years Rita has been actively involved with nonprofit organizations in the arts, education, human rights and social services as a program director, pro bono consultant and Board member. Rita has an AB from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Roberta Baum

Educator

A native from the Chicago area, Roberta moved and settled in Brooklyn with her husband 27 years ago to raise her family. During this time, Roberta volunteered at Packer Collegiate Institute. She was as an active member of the Parent Association performing in various roles for over twelve years. Serving the greater Brooklyn community remained important to Roberta, so she embarked on a philanthropic project at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). For 5 years, Roberta served as both committee member and co-chair of BBG’s annual Family Party, an event to raise funds to support children’s education at BBG.

Roberta joined the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) in October 2009 and instructed Beginner and Intermediate ESL classes. Roberta implemented student-centered lessons with a thematic focus. She also empowered intermediate students through journal writing. Lastly, Roberta helped organize Reading Buddies, a collaborative reading exchange between The Packer Collegiate Institute’s elementary school children and beginning adult ESL students – a multi-layered cultural exchange for all. Roberta left the employment of AAFSC to pursue a master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Hunter College. Roberta speaks Italian, French and studied Russian.

Shahla Naimi

Google

Shahla Naimi is a program manager at Google, leading a team within Research and Machine Intelligence focused on digital literacy. Prior to her work at Google, she led multi-country programs for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture focused on preserving Islamic heritage and enabling economic development. She holds a BA from Yale University and a MA from Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement. She lives in Jackson Heights, and grew up in south Los Angeles.

Susan Peters

Twelve Letter Films

Susan Peters (CASA ’98) is a co-founder and producer at Twelve Letter Films. She has a long history in nonprofit management, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She is a senior advisor to and former president of ABANA, an association for finance professionals with interest in the MENA region, and was executive director to the board of King’s Academy, where she led strategic planning, development and policy for a new co-ed boarding school outside of Amman, Jordan.

She has lived in Egypt and Jordan, as well as in Morocco, where she was assistant director of the Arabic Language Institute in Fez from 1994 to 1997. Susan was a founding board member and president of ArteEast, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes the contemporary arts of the Middle East, and is on the advisory committees of Noor Theatre and The Welfare Association. She is a partner at Terratron, a real estate and hospitality company.

In 2017, Twelve Letter Films, co-founded with her husband Jim Cricchi, released its first documentary, Los Lecheros, about undocumented workers in Wisconsin dairy farms. Susan holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has completed language studies at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Middlebury College and the Arabic Language Institute in Fez.

Tony Kutayli

The Olayan Group

Tony Kutayli is the Manager of Corporate Communications at The Olayan Group.
Before joining Olayan in 2009, Kutayli worked as the Communications Coordinator at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) conducting interviews, writing press releases, monitoring the media for Arab and Muslim stereotypes, and organizing community outreach events.
He was also the coordinator the Anthony Shadid Intern Program at ADC, creating and administering a summer long program for up to 20 interns from across the United States.

Kutayli holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University.