The Dialogue Project Executive Board
Irene Friedland is a Jewish American who has spent several years in Israel/Palestine as a student and community artist working with both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. A non-profit professional, she is currently completing her Masters of Social Work at Fordham University. Irene is drawn to the Dialogue Project as a way to connect with her Muslim and Arab neighbors. She hopes that her ongoing training will further allow her to develop communication and conflict transformation skills that she may apply in her life and on the ground among Israelis and Palestinians.
Marcia Kannry is a Jewish American who lived in Israel for six years. A former Executive Director of The Jewish National Fund, Marcia traveled throughout Israel and the occupied territories during the first intifadah. Her own experience with dialogue at that time began the journey that has led to the creation of The Dialogue Project. Marcia earned her B.A. in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh and has pursued master studies at New York University. She has created inter-group/interfaith organizations for more than 20 years. (President of the Board)
Karen Rockwell El-Badry is recently retired after working at the United Nations Recruitment and Administrative Officer in NY for 35 years. She was responsible for hiring project personnel for technical assistance programs. Karen lived in the Middle East and now resides in Westchester County, New York State.
She is a Board member of the United Nations Association for the USA, Westchester Chapter, and also a coordinator of for a Yonkers public school program, (third grades) entitled, “Peace Makes the World a Better Place.”. The goal of this project is to introduce students to the United Nations and the concept of peace-making. Karen serves on the board of Center for Jewish- Christian-Muslim Understanding and is a Westchester Dialogue Circle participant.
Rev. Charles “Chick” Straut is a retired member of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. A tireless organizer, he has worn many hats throughout his long career of social justice and ministry. Rev. Straut has served as the Consultant to Mission and Social Justice Ministries of The Riverside Church in the City of New York, and as the New York Annual Conference Disaster Response Staff Coordinator. He is considered a good friend to all the city’s residents, and through his work has had opportunities to work with many of the city’s diverse immigrant communities. He has served as Pastor for congregations from New Jersey to Connecticut to upstate New York. Rev. Straut has also devoted his energy to the city’s homeless population through his involvement with the Interfaith Assembly of Homelessness and Housing. Rev. Straut received his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Drew University.
The Dialogue Project Board and Staff
Abir Saleh – Workshop Co Facilitator and Outreach Volunteer
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Abir received her Master’s of Education in School Counseling from Brooklyn College.
Abir joined a Dialogue Circle in 2013. She finds that “The Dialogue is a place where I meet people whose personal backgrounds and attachments to the Middle East are different from my own. Dialogue gives me the safe space to challenge myself as well as others. I hear their stories, just as they learn about my family and history, without fear of judgment. We practice reflection – checking in that we heard the other’s persons intent and work on our own triggers. These are transformative skills that I value in all aspects of my life.”
Daria Somers – Youth Program Coordinator/Facilitator & Executive Administrator
A UCLA theatre graduate, Daria moved to New York to pursue an opera career and can be seen performing with the New York City Opera. She has a passion for encouraging self-exploration and communication among youth and taught academically gifted students music and theatre in Los Angeles. Daria is thrilled to have this opportunity to use her experience as an artist, educator, and mentor.