2015 AEP Forum: Mixing Education and Business with Culture

David Hamod is President and CE0 of National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce and has been a prominent and active member of the U.S. business community for nearly three decades. In the past, he worked for the Brookings Institution, IBM, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and The New York Times, among others. He has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on numerous occasions, and he has been interviewed on business competitiveness issues by many media organizations. Over the years, Mr. Hamod has served as an advisor to such entities as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Greater Washington Board of Trade, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Middle East Policy Council, and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). Mr. Hamod is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (M.A.) and University of Iowa (B.A.). He was selected as the University of Iowa’s “Distinguished Young Alumnus” for 1999-2000 and, ten years later, the U.I. Honors Program chose him as its first “Outstanding Alumnus.”


*Ann Schodde is founder, President Emeritus and Senior Advisor to the Center for Citizen Diplomacy, an initiative of PYXERA Global based in Washington, D.C. She is also President of her own consulting firm, AOS International, that serves U.S. based non-profit organizations, particularly those with international interests. Her prior positions include senior management positions at Drake University, V.P. of Des Moines Area Community College, and Executive Director of the Iowa International Center. During her career Ann has managed programs with and for private foundations, professional associations, and government agencies including the Stanley Foundation, World Food Prize Foundation, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, World Affairs Councils, Sister Cities International, USAID, and U.S. Departments of State and Education. She holds a BA degree from the University of Wisconsin and M.Ed. from Cornell University. Ann joined the AEP Board in 2014.

*John Kiser is AEP co-founder, a writer and lecturer with an MA in European History from Columbia University and MBA from University of Chicago. In 1977, he founded Kiser Research, Inc., a technology search business that consulted with corporate R&D departments to acquire rights to intellectual property from the Soviet bloc. His first book, Communist Entrepreneurs, Unknown Innovators in the Communist World, was groundbreaking in helping change perceptions about soviet ingenuity. After a sabbatical in France (1994-95) where he learned more about the Islamic world through the lens of the French-Algerian love-hate relationship, John sold his business to explore this intriguing relationship through his writing, beginning with The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria, and Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader, which ultimately became the intellectual core for the Abdelkader Education Project. He is on the boards of Religions for Peace, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and the William & Mary Greve Foundation. John lives in Virginia with his family, and remains an active AEP partner.

Tamar Miller works with social benefit organizations and is interested in strategies, such as citizen diplomacy, that have potential to build more power toward justice and peace. Previously, her consulting practice ranged from working with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society introducing Harvard and MIT faculty to meditation as a pedagogic practice; to crafting a parliamentary campaign in Kuwait; to strategic evaluations for the Fetzer Institute’s science and spirituality unit. Tamar was VP Education and one of three founders of American Higher Education, Inc. based in Cambridge, MA, and was Partner in Middle East Holdings, a business development firm in Boston and Dubai. Beginning as Director of Leadership Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School, she then held the position of Executive Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East. Tamar is active on the board of directors of the Parents’ Circle and the Israel Palestine Center for Creative Regional Initiatives, and was on the founding board of the Alliance for Middle East Peace. Tamar holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Judaic Studies, Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. She has three grown daughters and lives in Cambridge, MA. U.S.A.

Ameena Jandali is a founding member and Content Director for Islamic Networks Group (ING). She co-designs and develops ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. She’s also appeared on many news outlets speaking on issues relating to American Muslims. She currently team teaches a class on Islam at San Francisco City College. Ameena received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in History from the University of Illinois.

Marcia Powell is an instructional coach and curriculum consultant at Iowa Learning Online who has taught science and computer integration since 1988. She is a Iowa finalist for Excellence in Science Teaching and serves on the NE Regional STEM hub and the Thought Leader’s Circle for the Center for Teaching Quality. Her MA is from the University of Northern Iowa in education. She works with middle school and high school students, as well as adults, in building virtual communities and developing curriculum. Her hobbies include working with kids on STEM projects, walking dogs, and drinking coffee. She likes connecting with others via the CTQ Collaboratoryand @marciarpowell on Twitter.

Karla Duff (@teacher6th) is a middle school teacher in Oelwein, Iowa. She currently teaches social studies and reading to 6th graders. Her active classroom includes PBL units, technology exploration, student-directed learning, and a coffee mug. She teaches with an amazing interdisciplinary team that makes learning happen.


*Chuck Montgomery is Senior Managing Attorney for MidAmerican Energy Company (a Berkshire Hathaway company), an electric and gas utility serving US Midwest. Chuck serves on the board of PYXERA Global, parent organization of the Center for Citizen Diplomacy dedicated to advancing people-to-people exchanges around the globe. Chuck has been a leader in the Center’s involvement in the Arab Fellowship Program, a partnership with Young Arab Leaders, Business for Diplomatic Action, and others. In 2009, he served on a World Affairs Council fact-finding mission in Iraq. In February 2011 he participated in leadership meetings for the U.S.-Pakistan Leadership Forum. Chuck also serves on the board of CultureALL, a Des Moines based non-profit providing Iowans, especially students, discovery-filled experiences that teach about other cultures. Chuck received his law degree from University of Iowa.

H.E. Ambassador Madjid Bouguerra was recently assigned to the Embassy of Algeria in Washington DC and has been an ambassador to Zambia, Niger, China, and German. He has held leadership positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1973 and has been a member of the Algerian delegation to numerous sessions on the UN General Assembly. http://www.algerianembassy.org/ambassador/biography.html.

Dr. Ismael Chikhoune, MD, received his doctorate in medicine at the University of Medicine of Algiers in 1982. His professional experience spans several countries and fields. He served as the President of the Algerian-American Association of Northern California from 2002-2004. Currently, Dr. Chikhoune is the President/CEO of US-Algeria Business Council (USABC), a private independent nonprofit business association working to promote trade between Algeria and the United States. USABC hosts events featuring key US and Algerian trade officials, leading trade delegations, and organizing sector-specific symposia bringing together businessmen, government decision-makers, media figures and experts. The USABC and the US Department of State hosted the first US-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Algeria in December 2009. Additionally, Dr. Chikhoune is the founding member of the Algerian American Foundation for Culture, Education Science & Technology, a founding member of the Algerian Startup Initiative, a founding member of the Casbah Business Angels, and a founding member of AIDA (Algerian International Diaspora Association). Dr. Chikhoune speaks Arabic, Berber, English and French. Dr. Chikhoune resides in the United States, is married and has three daughters.

Abdelmalek Sahraoui is currently GGI FILAHA manager and responsible for management of an agricultural group of companies located in western Algeria. As President/CEO of Petroser SARL, he is the primary driving force behind the establishment of the large Algerian Energy private company Petroser. Mr. Sahraoui is CEO/President of Promo-invest and is the leading power behind the establishment and development of a group of companies specialized in different sectors such as agriculture, energy and construction. In addition, he is president of “In the Footsteps of the Emir” in Mascara, Algeria.
Mr. Sahraoui was brought up in Mascara, Algeria, and later attained a mechanical engineering degree from the International Technical Institute in 1995.

*Dr. Belgacem Haba is a board member of the Algerian American Foundation as well as a co-founder of the Haba-Boudia Foundation., Dr. Haba is originally from El-Meghaier, wilaya d’El-Oued, Algeria. He joined Google Data Center Platform as a senior staffer in 2013. Prior, he was Vice President and Senior Fellow at Tessera since 1996. Dr. Haba co-founded Silicon Pipe, Inc., a high-speed interconnect start-up-company. Dr. Haba earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University, California in the field of solar energy. He also holds two master’s degrees; in applied physics and materials science from Stanford University. In 1980, Haba received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Bab-Ezzouar, Algeria. Dr. Haba holds 300+ issued patents and 1000+ patents and patent applications. In 2012 and 2014 he was listed among the top 100 inventors worldwide. He has authored numerous technical publications, and his work has been honored widely.

Dr. Liang Chee Wee is president of Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) with centers in Calmar and Peosta. His prior experience includes being interim president and provost for the Calmar campus of NICC. Dr. Wee held various administrative roles prior to NICC including department chair and associate dean at Luther College (Decorah, IA), where he also served on the International Admissions Committee to review applications and determine how best to support students selected for admission. He attended the University of Arizona in Tucson where he earned a doctorate in business administration. Dr. Wee is a trained facilitator through the Institute of Cultural Affairs whose mission is to “work with individuals and organizations to build communities and partnerships that promote a sustainable and just society.” Dr. Wee has worked with for-profit and non-profit organizations for over 16 years. Dr. Wee is an AEP advisor.

Kathy Hill has been with the International Office of the Iowa Economic Development Authority since 1990. She came to IEDA with 13 years of private industry experience in international trade, which included the position of export manager and assistant distribution manager for a global manufacturing company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Kathy is Manager of the International Office (ITO), Business Development Division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. She manages daily activities of the ITO, and works with Iowa companies interested in developing or expanding their international markets including one-on-one consulting, in-house seminars, trade and educational missions and international trade shows. Kathy has organized and led trade and educational activities to more than 25 countries and facilitated in-bound delegations and dignitaries from throughout the world. Kathy has an associate’s degree from Southwestern Community College, a Bachelor of Science, Business degree from Upper Iowa University, and various international relations Fellows training from institutes such as George Washington University, Thunderbird and the Japan Study Program-Tokyo.


*Kathy Garms, AEP Executive Director and AEP co-founder is proud of her hometown…Elkader, Iowa. In 2007, she revived the Elkader sister city program with Mascara, Algeria, and undertook reorganizing the program, strengthening cultural understanding and renewing friendships between the U.S. and Algeria. Kathy organized the 2008 Elkader launch of John Kiser’s biography, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader and together they created the Abdelkader Essay Contest that evolved into the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP). Kathy has participated in many international events such as Council of Nations/Emir Abdelkader Foundation “Human Rights Seminar” in Algiers. Her presentations provide insights into the Abdelkader Education Project, Emir Abdelkader, Elkader, Mascara and the sister city relationship. Kathy and her husband live near Elkader where they raised their three sons.

* indicates AEP Board member