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Arab American Women in Government - A Conversation

By: | posted on: Sep 17, 2020

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Date(s) - 09/17/2020
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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Inara Strategies LLC


Date and Time: Thu, September 17, 2020 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM CDT

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Arab Americans are a lesser-known community, despite the high proportion our countries of origin take up on news cycles. We are Christian, we are Muslim. We span the gender identification spectrum. We are athletes, we are academics. We are artists, and we are business-people. We are first-generation immigrants and refugees, and we have been Americans for many generations. We are cultural diplomacy leaders, and we are experts at counter terrorism.

As all eyes are on the 2020 presidential election, we thought it would be an important moment for our voices to be included in the conversation of what it means to SERVE. To serve our American government, together, through the ups and downs of elections cycles, during leadership changes as Administrations change political parties, as women, as experts in our fields, as proud Arab American women.

Below, you will find the biographies of the five women highlighted in this conversation. Please note, this conversation is off-the-record. Thank you for respecting the panelists’ professionalism, career-standing, and the Arab-American community’s important place in government by not sharing messages received from this panel publicly.

Speaker Bios (alphabetical order by last name):

Maha Armush

Maha Angelina Armush is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. During her fourteen-year tenure, she has served in Jordan, Egypt, and Brazil. She has also spent four years serving in Washington, DC, as a refugee resettlement officer helping to bring vulnerable refugees from around the world to the United States. During that time, in 2014 she spent five months in Turkey as a Syrian Humanitarian Advisor.

Maha has spent more than 15 years living in the Middle East and embraces her Arab-American identity not only in her work, but also in her personal life. She was MC and program coordinator for Washington’s “Syria Fest” in 2018, and is featured in the “Patriots and Peacemakers” exhibit at the Arab American National Museum. Maha has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland College Park as well as a Graduate Diploma in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Miami in Florida.

Arab country of origin: Syria

Jennifer Atala

Jennifer Atala is the Founder of Inara Strategies LLC, a global consultancy applying a systems-level approach to design and implement projects and partnerships to catalyze economic growth and impact. She has led country-level initiatives in Palestine, Jordan and Israel and curated partnerships with Fortune 500 & 1000 companies for clients. Jennifer is a frequent speaker on Israel-Palestine, economic growth, tech innovation, and career development.

From 2015-2017, Jennifer implemented the USAID Compete Project in Palestine, managing investments across seven industries and building alliances with international agencies. In DC, she led investment process improvement work for IFC; managed a USAID OTI Afghanistan Program while serving on the State Department Libya Task Force; and was a data scientist for the Department of Defense. In Egypt, Jennifer designed and led social impact initiatives for microfinance institutions, including behavior-driven loan products to combat Avian Flu in partnership with the UN. Earlier, she led civil rights advocacy efforts for the Arab American and Palestinian Israeli communities from Chicago, DC, and Israel-Palestine. Jennifer earned her M.A. from Johns Hopkins SAIS, B.A. from the University of Chicago, and is a Truman National Security Project Fellow.

Arab country of origin: Palestine

Reema S. Ali

Reema S. Shocair Ali is a national security analyst at Morrison & Foerster where she supports all areas of the national security group practice. From 2009-2017, she served in the Pentagon in multiple roles, including as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of the Navy, attorney advisor to the Department of the Navy General Counsel, and as an advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy. In 2010, Reema was selected to serve on the Secretary of the Navy’s team for the President that developed a Gulf Coast recovery and restoration plan following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Previously, Reema was an associate in the Office of Cabinet Affairs, Executive Office of the President. Reema also clerked in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, teaching law and public policy at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, and working for a Member of Congress. Reema was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy in 2017 and is a fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Arab country of origin: Palestine & Syria

Nabeela Barbari

Nabeela Barbari is the Deputy Associate Director of Strategy and Resources within the Cybersecurity Division at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). In this role, she leads a team that develops strategy and oversees the budget and implementation of CISA’s mission to strengthen the security and resilience of the cybersecurity ecosystem.

Prior to this, Nabeela was the Acting Associate Director of Plans and Programs at the National Risk Management Center at DHS/CISA. From 2016-2018 was a Senior Policy Advisor at the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties providing expertise to government officials and leading public engagements on national security policy, countering violent extremism, and civil rights matters. Nabeela also spent 8 years at the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection in a variety of roles related to counterterrorism and public/private partnerships. Nabeela holds two Masters Degrees – one from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Security & Defense and the other from George Mason University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Arab country of origin: Palestine

Nadia Farra

Nadia Farra is the Senior Syria Desk Officer leading a team of six in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department. For over five years she has advised U.S. government leaders on congressional relations, messaging, nonproliferation, sanctions, and political issues in regards to Syria. As part of this role, she helps shape and monitor U.S. efforts to de-escalate violence in Syria and progress towards an UN-led political solution to the crisis in Syria. Nadia entered the civil service in 2011 as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) at USAID where she staffed former Administrator Raj Shah before serving on the Yemen Desk. Nadia earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on International Development from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with a Minor in Arabic from the University of Georgia.

Arab country of origin: Syria

Hosts: Special thanks to our co-hosts, Arab-Americans in Foreign Affairs Agencies (AAIFAA)Inara Strategies LLC, and the Truman National Security Project.

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