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Our Team

Mark Rosenblum

Director

Professor Mark Rosenblum is an award-winning historian at Queens College of the City University of New York where he was Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, the Founding Director of the Center for Ethnic, Racial & Religious Understanding, as well as the Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change. 

 

He is currently Professor Emeritus, Queens College, Special Advisor to the President, Director, Ibrahim Student Leadership & Dialogue Middle East Program with Queens College and Founder & Director of the “America & the Middle East Program” at Queens College. An expert on the Middle East, he has combined academic research and policy analysis with direct involvement in Mid East conflict resolution since the 1980s. Professor Rosenblum has been involved in numerous efforts to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian coexistence: through organizing and moderating six international conferences, hosting a roundtable discussion series televised in the U.S., and launching an Israeli-Palestinian youth dialogue program. 

 

He has received major grants for his Middle East work from the Clinton Global Initiative, the Ford Foundation, and the US Department of Education, among many others. Professor Rosenblum has been selected by the Forward Newspaper as one of the 50 most influential American Jews and was awarded the coveted Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching at Queens College.

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Sophia McGee

Associate Director

The theme that ties all of Sophia’s work together is “bringing people together across difference in order to transform difficult challenges,” a subject she explores in her TEDx entitled “Learning to Take the Leap of Faith.” In Sophia’s first career, she was a singer, dancer, and actress who performed in regional theatre, national and international tours, on and off Broadway, and in films and on television. 

 

Currently, Professor McGee works in the Central Office of Student Affairs at the City University of New York, where she is the Director of Student Engagement and Dialogue for the 25 CUNY Campuses. Sophia is a founding member of the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at Queens College, CUNY. Ms. McGee became Director of CERRU in 2016 and was honored to be able to lead the organization into its second decade before departing to CUNY Central. During her tenure as Director, CERRU was awarded the Speaker’s Initiative at the New York City Council, and as such it has been mandated work on methods for systemic “climate change” throughout the 25 CUNY campuses. Sophia is one of the two original Director/Facilitators of this work. 

 

Professor McGee is also an adjunct lecturer in the History Department. She teaches several courses about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict that are part of the “America and the Middle East: Clash of Civilizations or Meeting of Minds” series originated by Professor Mark Rosenblum. Sophia holds a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MFA in International Affairs from the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University. Her concentration was Conflict and Security, and her regional area of specialization was the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. In addition, Sophia is an SIIS Fellow at Brandeis University. Ms. McGee was a participant in the inaugural CUNY TEDx. She has also spoken about her work on the Brian Lehrer show, as well as at numerous conferences and gatherings at Columbia University, The New School, Queens College, for the International Society of Political Psychology, and most recently at the Urban Clinic at Hebrew University. 
 

Hindy Goldstein

Director of Operations

Hindy is a former business professional and a recent Queens College graduate. After leading a team of medical professionals working in homecare, she returned to college to pursue a degree in Chemistry and Philosophy with plans to attend medical school. While at Queens College, Hindy founded a campus Philosophy Club and served as President to facilitate dialogue and make philosophy accessible for all students. She also served as Vice-President of the Beta Delta Chi Chemistry Honor Society, a society dedicated to offering free chemistry tutoring for Queens College students. As an undergraduate student, Hindy worked as an intern in a neuroscience laboratory for two years specializing in developing neurobiological and behavioral strategies aimed at treating drug addiction, where she helped author two research articles published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependance. She was also the recipient of multiple merit-based scholarships including the Ira Spar MD Scholarship and Con Edison STEM Scholarship.

 

As an Ibrahim Program alumnus with a deep interest in the Middle East, Hindy is honored to have this chance to give back and lead groups of Ibrahim scholars on this experiential journey. 

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Lylah El-Sayed

Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Lylah Elsayed serves as the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a role she has excelled in for over a year. She is dedicated to building strategic partnerships with organizations and stakeholders in the MENA-SWANA region, ensuring that students in her programs are exposed to a wealth of opportunities and experiences. She has served as trip leader from 2017-2020 and program assistant manager from 2014 to 2017. She was selected as a student leader to join the cohort of 2013. 

 

In her current position, Lylah continues her mentorship  post-trip as she advises students on their impact projects, guiding them from ideation to MVP stage and beyond. She also helps students find funding opportunities and pairs them with strategic partners to support their projects.

 

Beyond her role in innovation and entrepreneurship, Lylah is a certified yoga teacher, meditation teacher, and breathwork coach. She focuses her work on bringing trauma therapy to the Middle East and addressing mental health issues with a holistic approach. Lylah is a graduate of Queens College, CUNY, with a degree in Political Science. Her post-graduate journey included her teacher certification by the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University and working as a teacher throughout the Gulf. She has a deep passion for the Middle East and strives to improve its image in the West by highlighting the complex layers that define Middle Eastern culture.

The Founding Ibrahim Family

The Ibrahim family distinguishes itself with the uncommon courage to combat hate and fear of “the other” and connect people across borders, religions, races, ethnicities, and social classes.  The family’s success in business is married to their passionate commitment to all of humanity, not just “selective” humanity.

In 2009 a distinguished American Muslim family, S.A. Ibrahim, his wife Nina and son Winston, expanded its philanthropic mission to combat violence and enhance understanding of the Middle East by launching a student travel and exchange program, the Ibrahim Student Leadership & Dialogue Middle East Program (ILDME).

The Ibrahim Family’s determination and passion to found this program has its roots in the aftermath of the horrific events of 9/11.  Like most Muslim families the Ibrahim’s were shocked and dismayed to see those professing their faith carry out such infamy.

S.A. Ibrahim is a seasoned and extremely successful executive with almost 40 years of leadership experience in the finance and tech sector.  He was most recently the CEO of Radian Group, a global credit risk management company headquartered in Philadelphia with significant operations in New York and London.

As a passionate and effective advocate of diversity, inclusion, interfaith relations and cross cultural engagement, S.A. is active in a broad spectrum of educational, religious and policy non-profit organizations including: the Middle East Institute, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the American Jewish Committee and the Muslim-Jewish Council. He was also the first Muslim to serve on any board of the Anti-Defamation League.

Along with the Department of State and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, he funded a trip to Dachau and Auschwitz for a group of Muslim leaders from around the world. He is also in his tenth year of nurturing the Ibrahim Program and continuing its bold expansion.

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As the Co-Founder of ILDME, Winston Ibrahim shares his father’s passion for the fusion of business and philanthropy.  He’s a sustainability-based entrepreneur with a laser like focus on creating a dramatic decline in the consumer’s use of plastic.  As the Co-Founder & CEO of Hydros, a filtered on-the-go water bottle enterprise, Winston has produced the first technology of its kind that provides for the most convenient way to get portable tap water while simultaneously reducing the use of single use plastics.

 

In addition to Winston’s Co-founding ILDME he has engaged in a number of other organizations and philanthropic activities including: the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), NationSwell, and Founding SF Bay Area Ambassador for Nexus Global and India Community Center Silicon Valley.

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