People

Founder of Connecting Cultures, Inc., President Lobna "Luby" Ismail is a training specialist with over twenty years experience in the areas of cross-cultural communication, cultural competence, Arab and American cultures, Islamic awareness and religious diversity.  Her most recent training offer is Disability to Diverse Ability: Building a Disability Friendly Work Environment. Since a young age, Luby has hardly gone a day without bridging barriers between differing religions, cultures, and lifestyles. She

provides in- depth, professional training and testimony on the specifics of effective communication across multiple diverse factors.

Accomplished with both academic and practical experience, Luby holds a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a B.A. in International Service from The American University in Washington, DC. Her travels have led her throughout Europe and the Middle East, including the countries of Spain, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel. After her selection by the U.S National Council for U.S. and Arab Relations, Luby participated in a study visit to Saudi Arabia. She journeyed as both a Peace Fellow for Seeds of Peace, and a Malone Fellow in Middle East and Islamic Studies.

Luby has presented at the Arabian Society for Human Resource Management conference in Bahrain, and annual conferences for the Society for Human Resources' Workplace Diversity. She professionally lectures and educates on the most recent emerging cultural, Islamic, and religious diversity issues. She has trained hundreds of law enforcement and military officers on both Arab and Muslim Americans.

The multiple books Luby has authored include Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa, Finding Diversity, and The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America. She is featured in multiple other titles, such as Sherry Mueller's Working World, and recommends the multi-media programs Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts and Ouch! Your Silence Hurts.

Frequently, Luby is employed as a cultural expert by national media and major international news programs. She has recently received press in the Associated Press, The Washington Post, BBC World News and PBS' Religion and Ethics News.

As an intercultural trainer, Luby recently helped launch America's Unofficial Ambassadors, as well as Change the Story, a site that offers interactive learning and applicable communication techniques on Islam. She was also fundamental in developing two new dialogue initiatives, intended to break down barriers between faiths. To support her work, visit 20000 Dialogues and Ground Zero Dialogue, a nationwide campaign to stimulate discussion between those of different faiths.

Luby is married with three children, Sharif, Zakaria, and Laila.

 

 
Alexander Kronemer | top

The co-founder of UPF, Alex Kronemer is a frequent writer and lecturer on religious diversity, Islamic awareness and cross-cultural communication. He has earned a Master's Degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University, where his research concentrated on religious philosophy and comparative religion. In 1996, he was awarded a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship for the Middle East and Islamic Studies, which funded his study tour of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Alex's work is published in numerous essays, newspapers, and journals, and he is featured in the Southern Quarterly, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the Washington Post. His work can also be found in multiple book anthologies, including "Islam and Democracy," in the Wilber Prize winner, Taking Back Islam, and "What Would Muhammed Say About Terrorism," in Up from the Ashes, a September 11th memorial book. He has received multiple grants and writing awards, including a 2000 grant from the Montgomery Commission of the Humanities, and 1989 Halberstam Writing Fellowship.

His lectures on religious diversity and Islam have reached as far as the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of State, the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C., and the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. He has presented to corporations such as Nike, Aetna, and Disney, and lectured at the universities of Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, and Yale. In 2000, Alex served a one-year appointment as a political appointee at the Bureau of Human Rights in the U.S. State Department, focusing on U.S. foreign policy and Islam. During that year, Alex also served as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland.

Appearing as a CNN commentator on several occasions, Alex worked on CNN's historic coverage of the Hajj in 1998, which was broadcast to 400 million viewers. Since then, his expertise is heard on many radio interviews, such as NPR and the Voice of America.
 
Alex is co-executive, founder and producer of UPF films. The creator and co-producer of the popular PBS documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, his program received national broadcast. From its success, UPF earned funding from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and over 2,000 individual businesses and institutional donors.

His past films include: Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, a PBS program documenting the Islamic roots of the European Renaissance; the 2007 American Black Film Festival: Best Documentary winner, Prince Among Slaves, thetrue story of an enslaved African prince; On a Wing and Prayer, the tale of one American Muslim's dream to receive his flying license; and UPF's first theatrical release, Allah Made Me Funny, and honest and humorous look at the lives of three American Muslim comedians. His most current film, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, explores the themes of Islamic art and architecture throughout history and over nine different countries. The film premiered to a sold-out theatre on December 1st, 2011, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Further information on the film can be found here.

Jean Abinader | top

Jean AbiNader has spent more than 35 years in the fields of education and training, marketing, association management, international relations, public affairs, and human resources development. 

He holds a B.A. in Political Science; an MPIA in Intercultural Communications; and completed post-graduate studies in Organizational Communications at the University of Pittsburgh.

Capabilities in Training, Education, and Strategic Communications

Mr. AbiNader began his 35 years of global experience as a training consultant to American and foreign government agencies and private companies.  He specializes in the development of management and personnel systems for international start-up and expansion projects,  He trains and consults requiring on cross-cultural communications and management for new business development in Arab countries. 

He provides a range of management and training services including:

  • Leadership and team building development programs
  • Global business development and negotiations workshops
  • Briefings and orientations on overseas assignments
  • Specialized training programs in project management and supervision of multicultural staffing

Jean has developed and managed a variety of training/coaching programs in a variety of disciplines and environments:

  • Cross-cultural briefings for employees/professionals from the U.S. to various overseas destinations
  • Cross-cultural briefings for employees/professionals from Arab countries to the U.S.
  • Technical and ESL training for Middle East military personnel in preparation for their skills and OTC programs
  • Technical and ESL training for Middle East and American employees of energy, manufacturing, and services companies
  • Comprehensive design of HR systems and training components for national telecommunications system in Saudi Arabia
  • Negotiations coaching for professional staff for a major European/American automobile manufacturing company
  • Negotiations coaching for U.S. defense contractors targeting clients in the GCC countries
  • Capacity-building for Arab social services professionals
  • Briefings on media ethics and related topics for professionals from Europe and the Middle East
  • Briefings for USG personnel on critical assignments in Arab and Muslim countries

Mr. AbiNader writes frequently on topics related to US-Arab relations including corporate and government policy analysis, public diplomacy, economic reform and development, and intercultural communications. He has chaired and participated in international conferences on US-Arab relations, and provides analyses to Arab and American government clients on trade, investment, education, and economic development issues. Jean is an advisor to several US government agencies on issues related to the recruitment and retention of speakers of critical languages; provides a range of orientation services to US government employees on cultural competence in overseas assignments; and  advises a number of USG agencies on issues related to economic and political concerns in relations with Arab and Muslim countries.

As COO of the Moroccan American Center (MAC), Mr. AbiNader oversees operations of three NGOs working on behalf of Morocco in the United States on a range of public affairs, cultural and educational programming along with trade and investment promotion activities. He has extensive media contacts to national and international media ranging from BBC and CNN to Reuters, international news outlets, satellite broadcasting, and public policy organizations.

He has wide-ranging experience and expertise on information programming for Arab and American clients including the production and management of small and large scale exhibitions, special events, trade delegations, speaking tours, advertising supplements, and other projects to promote messages, enhance and articulate positions, and advocate issues. He combines strong interpersonal and marketing skills with his expertise in public speaking and coaching on a broad range of political, social and economic development issues. Mr. AbiNader also leads a graduate seminar in international marketing at Georgetown University.

 

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You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

- Mahatma Gandhi


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