Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s Board of Directors includes members of the Arab-American community and those interested in Arab cultural education — parents, educators, and professionals with various community affiliations. “Friends of Al-Bustan,” was formed in Fall 2006 as a committee of volunteers to support the board and raise funds for the organization.
Omar Harb, Chair
Dr. Harb is a Palestinian-American who grew up in Ramallah. He obtained his bachelors from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. After completing a Post Doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the genomic database group at the University’s Department of Biology where he works as their scientific outreach manager. The genomic database provides online tools for scientists worldwide working on parasites like those that cause malaria. Dr. Harb and his family have attended several Al-Bustan music performances and are firm believers of the role that music can play in cross-cultural communication and understanding.
Andrea Imredy Saah, Treasurer
Ms. Imredy Saah, a Hungarian-American married to a Palestinian-American, is an estates and trusts attorney in private practice. She has been involved in cross-cultural education initiatives since childhood, having lived in German-speaking countries for 9 years and traveled extensively in Eastern and Western Europe. She earned a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, an M.A. in Intercultural Administration from the School for International Training in Vermont, and a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Kentucky. In addition to her work in estate planning, she has devoted much of her working life to nonprofit organizations seeking to bring economic, political and social justice to disadvantaged communities. Her two sons have attended Al-Bustan’s summer camps and percussion workshops.
Lamia Barakat, Secretary
Dr. Barakat, an Arab-American, earned her Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Currently, she is Director of Psychosocial Services in the Division of Oncology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Her pediatric psychology research program is focused on the adaptation of children with chronic health conditions and their families, particularly sociodemographic and family factors in disease management and quality of life and the development of evidence-based interventions to promote adaptation. She served on the board of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee from 2001-2003. Her three daughters, ages 16 and 11-year-old twins, have participated for several years in Al-Bustan programs.
Mr. Abuammar is a Palestinian-American pharmaceutical executive experienced in sales, strategic marketing, and country operations. His tenure spans more than 25 years at several major pharmaceutical companies. Born and raised in Baqa El-Gharbiyyah near Nazareth, he holds American/Israeli citizenship and has lived in the US since 1983. Abuammar is also a poet and has published in several Palestinian journals and magazines since 1976. Al-Bustan’s mission is near and dear to his heart as his wife and two daughters are also involved in the arts.
Mr. Barakat is a consultant with expertise in directing the delivery of information technology, financial management, process analysis, and risk management consulting. He is currently Chief Operating Officer at CTN Solutions, an information technology business. He holds an MBA from Drexel University and BA in Business Administration from Villanova University. He is the father of two children ages 19 and 16, who both attended Al-Bustan summer camps. He enjoys running, cycling, and golf in his free time.
Dr. Bdeir, a Palestinian born and raised in the village of Kofor-Kasem, north-west of Jerusalem, has a Ph.D. in Pharmacy/Biochemistry from Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He joined the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine as a post-doc in 1997 and was appointed research assistant professor in 2003. As the father of four boys, three of whom have returning campers/counselors at Al-Bustan Camp, he has a personal interest in supporting educational and cultural initiatives within the Arab-American community and encouraging cross-cultural exchanges among youth and families.
Amal El-Khoury Kouyoumdji
Ms. El-Khoury Kouyoumdji, a Lebanese-American, has a BA in French Literature and a BA in Sociology from the Lebanese University, a Degree in Education from Université du Québec à Montréal, a BA in Comparative Literature from McGill University, and a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies in French and Comparative Literature from Université Paul Valéry, in Montpellier. In Lebanon, she worked for LBC TV, and for Terre des Hommes, an international non-profit organization dedicated to children’s rights. In Canada, she taught French, ran a preschool program, and worked for LBCI TV. She moved to the US in 1996. After a wide range of volunteer work, she served on the Multicultural Board at Friends School, Mullica Hill, and participated in several projects aimed to encourage cross-cultural dialogue. Through her research, she developed a special interest in Arab writers of English and French expression. She currently helps run the Youth Program at St. Maron’s Church in Philadelphia. She is also the community correspondent for The Maronite Voice, the Eparchial monthly publication. She is the mother of an eight year old girl.
Ms. Hamaty is second generation Lebanese. She has a degree in music education from West Chester University (WCU) and still enjoys performing. She currently serves as the Senior Donor Relations Officer at WHYY. Prior to that, she worked at Saint Joseph’s University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Opera Philadelphia, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. All of Ms. Hamaty’s professional experience has been devoted to the non-profit sector and much of that experience was in arts administration. Her volunteer experiences include: past board member, WCU’s School of Music Advisory Committee; former chairman, Old York Road Volunteer Committee for The Philadelphia Orchestra; former board member and former board secretary, Commonwealth Youthchoirs; current member, Middle East Collaborative, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and current member, Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Abington Friends Meeting. Her daughter has benefited greatly from participating for several years in Al-Bustan’s summer and percussion programs.
Ms. Hess, a general and vocal music teacher at Germantown Friends School, has over 10 years of music and teaching experience in Philadelphia and abroad. She developed a love for cross-cultural living and learning as a child, growing up between France and the U.S. After earning a B.A. in both Biology and Music at Lehigh University, she moved to Guatemala to teach and work in community development for four years. For the last seven years, Ms. Hess has been creating and implementing new curricular ideas specifically geared toward middle school music students at GFS. Her musical interests include singing, piano, percussion, and ethnomusicology. She has enjoyed working with Al-Bustan through programming at GFS over the years and took the Intro to Arabic Music class in June 2010. She recently completed her Master’s in Music Education from Boston University. She is also the mother of two boys, ages 5 and 7 years.
Ms. Mowafi, an American married to a Jordanian-American, recently relocated to Philadelphia from Amman, Jordan where she lived with her family for 12 years. While in Amman, Lisa was a volunteer accountant for the international development organization Mercy Corps, and a part-time consultant for Integrated Services, Indigenous Solutions-a socioeconomic and technical consultancy in the Middle East. She has a BA in Finance from Illinois State University. Ms. Mowafi is currently a real estate agent in Philadelphia. She is always excited to share her knowledge of Arab culture with others. .
Ms. Navarro is an intercultural trainer and consultant in Philadelphia for businesses, universities, and communities. She has a Masters from the University of Pennsylvania and has been involved in the field of intercultural communication for about 25 years. She worked for a large Japanese corporation in Tokyo for 6 years, developed the curriculum and teacher training program for a language and culture institute in Puerto Rico, managed the intercultural training department for an international company in Philadelphia, and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Tokyo, UCLA, and UC Irvine. Her work, study and travel have taken her to Asia, Europe and Latin America, where she met her husband, a jazz saxophonist. She grew up in Chestnut Hill, where her parents are artists in sculpture and painting. Since attending her first student exchange program for the summer in Mexico City at the age of 13, Ms Navarro has been committed to international exchange, interfaith dialog, and deepening cross-cultural awareness, knowledge and skills for children and adults.
Hazami Sayed, Executive Director
Ms. Sayed, an Arab-American and graduate of Columbia University and Stanford University, is an architect and has worked in the fields of architecture and urban development in Philadelphia and New York City. Her past areas of research were community development and affordable urban housing in which she was a consultant and taught a seminar at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a photographer and has exhibited her work in Philadelphia. As the founder of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, she has been responsible for developing and managing the various initiatives. Sayed is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation’s 2012 Transformation Award given to Philadelphia-area women artists committed to art-making for social change. She is the mother of two boys, ages 19 and 16 years.