Connecting Cultures is led by Lobna Ismail (also known as “Luby”), who founded the company in 1990. In some ways, however, the company’s origins date back much further - Luby’s entire childhood was spent connecting across cultures. To pursue graduate studies and life-long careers in America, her parents migrated from Egypt, and Luby was born shortly after they arrived. Raised in the “Bible Belt” of central Florida, Luby grew up as the only individual of Muslim and Arab-heritage in her school. The eldest American-born family member at home, she quickly became aware of the differences in the cultures around her.

While it would have been an understandable reaction pull away from one’s identity, or even bring attention to it, Luby did neither. She worked to connect the two, building bridges between the Arab Muslim and Southern Christian cultures she encountered. She went on to study international and intercultural relations throughout college and graduate school, eventually turning her life story into the founding of her successful business, Connecting Cultures.

The Last Decade: An Emerging Authority on Islam, Muslims & Arabs

For the last twenty years, Connecting Cultures has delivered expert trainings on religious and cultural diversity – specializing in Arab, Muslim and American cultures.

Here are just a few of the many clients Connecting Cultures has served since its founding:

For Walt Disney World, managers and heads of parks were trained to better serve and accommodate Muslim employees and customers.

For NIKE, Inc., training focused on building awareness of Muslims as a customer base, and increasing company sensitivity to Islamic art as it related to Nike products.

For Darden Restaurants, American and regional crewmembers were taught how communication, work style and job-training differed between American and Arab business.

For Kaiser Permanente, we conducted training on religious diversity in the workplace. This included ways to act considerate and inclusive towards religious and non-religious preferences, and an understanding of the Religious Accommodation law.

For Fairfax County Public Schools (VA), administrators and teachers were trained on cultural and religious diversity in the classroom.

Connecting Cultures also led “Beyond the Pyramids,” a number of educational travel tours to Egypt for teachers and students. It helped participants to learn, firsthand, about Egyptian culture and Islam.

Building Cultural Awareness and Respect

In light of the backlash from the September 11th attacks, Connecting Cultures began a series of cultural competence trainings. Amidst fear and misunderstanding, Connecting Cultures answered the call to foster awareness of Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. That call came on multiple federal, national, and international levels.

Here are just a few of the many clients Connecting Cultures has served during this time:

For the Department of Justice, domestic police officers and first responders were trained on how to considerately interact with Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans; also, ICITAP law enforcement instructors were taught to effectively engage and build Iraqi police forces.

For the Armed Services, members of the Army, Air Force, National Guard, the Marines, and Homeland Security were trained on communicating effectively and building relations with Iraqis, while ensuring safety and success.

For the State Department, hundreds of Arab students, coming to the U.S. for short or long-term stays, were educated on American culture.

For the Foreign Service Institute, we developed the online course content for embassy employees and diplomats on interactions with Egyptians.

For the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), we conducted worldwide trainings on intercultural competence to students from over 60 countries.

For Campbell Soup Company we conducted training on religious diversity in the workplace.

A New Frontier: Disability to Diverse-Ability

After President Luby Ismail’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Connecting Cultures was given the opportunity to explore a new “culture” of disability. Knowing how to communicate, live, work, and engage individuals with disabilities are an essential skill, and helps break down barriers of bias. Connecting Cultures now works to provide the insight and training to craft effective, respectful relations between those of diverse-abilities.

For Microsoft, President Luby Ismail delivered testimony on the challenges of bias towards women, and people living with disabilities.

Connecting Cultures responds to specific client needs, enhancing the way employees and managers build cultural capabilities. Through our programs, companies and individuals can establish an inclusive, productive work environment, both nationally and globally.


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People Don’t Get Along Because They Fear Each Other.

People Fear Each Other Because They Don’t Know Each Other.

They Don’t Know Each Other Because They Have Not Properly Communicated With Each Other.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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