Board Members & Staff
John Makhoul was born in Deirmimas, Lebanon and graduated from the American University of Beirut with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 1964. He received an M.S. from the Ohio State University in 1965 and a Ph.D. in 1970 from MIT in electrical engineering. Since then, he has been with BBN Technologies, Cambridge, where he is now a Chief Scientist responsible for research in various aspects of speech and language processing, including speech recognition and machine translation. He has received a number of professional awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), including the Third Millenium Medal in 2000; in April he will be receiving the 2009 James L. Flanagan Speech & Audio Processing award and medal “for pioneering contributions to speech modeling.” Mr. Makhoul has a long history of volunteerism. While at MIT, he served as President of the Arab Club. He has also served as Secretary and then as President of the AAUG. For many years, he was active with the AUB alumni, serving as Secretary then President of the AUB New England Chapter, and then as Secretary and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the AUB Alumni Association of North America.
Randa Shedid, Vice President
Randa Shedid was born in Cairo, Egypt. Shedid holds an undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University in Cairo, a J.D. from the New England School of Law and a law degree (Licence en Droit) from Cairo University Law School. An attorney since 1997, she was commissioned by the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CULTNAT) which is affiliated with Bibliotheca Alexandrina and supported by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, to write a text in Arabic about the development of Antiquities Laws in Egypt, for the purpose of a publication by CULTNAT. Before that she was employed by the ACLU for 6 years and responsible for incoming complaints. Ms. Shedid is currently a Commissioner at the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC), an active Board Member with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Massachusetts (ADCMA) and a founding member of the Center for Arabic Culture, MA (CAC) and its Arabic School.
Noreen Hafez Ayan
Noreen Hafez Ayan was raised in upstate New York and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the American University of Beirut and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Lebanese American University. Ms. Hafez currently works as a Marketing Product Manager for Burst Media, one of the largest online advertising networks. She has held positions at Twentieth Century Fox and Open Source Development Network/VA Linux, as well as owning and operating her own website design and marketing firm. She is an active volunteer and co-founded the Network of Arab American Professionals, Boston Chapter. She has been an active board-member of NAAP-Boston’s chapter for over five years and has helped grow the organization to eight chapters nation-wide. She has contributed with website assistance and volunteered at several local Arab-American organizations including ADC-MA, Harvard Arab Alumni, MIT Arab Student Organization, and the Palestinian American Congress. She’s also a contributing organizer for the AUB New England Alumni chapter.
Ruth Faris, Secretary
Ruth is a clinical social worker and therapist in Somerville, MA. Ruth worked for many years in human resources, focusing on Employee Assistance, management coaching, and career development, so she brings that enhanced understanding of the workplace to my work. She is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner and use this tool as appropriate. Closest to her heart, She is devoted to yoga.
Farrah Haidar, Treasurer
Farrah Haidar has been a leader within the Arab-American community for almost 20 years. She founded the Network of Arab-American Professionals’ Boston chapter and helped it grow to over 700 members in addition to volunteering for several other Arab-American organizations. Her professional experience includes 15 years of managing marketing communications for a wide variety of companies. Farrah has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California State University, Hayward and a Masters of Business Administration from Boston University.
Munir Jirmanus was born in Jerusalem to parents who had immigrated to Palestine from Lebanon. In 1948 his parents lost their house & land as part of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and ended up going to Lebanon to start a new life. Munir graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1964 with a B.S. in Physics, and with an M.S. in Theoretical Physics from Tufts University in 1966. He subsequently went back to Lebanon and taught at the Lebanese University, then came back to Tufts where he received a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics in 1973. After brief teaching stints at Tufts University and AUB he joined Janis Research Company, one of the world leaders in designing & supplying cryogenic equipment to the Low Temperature Physics research community. He is currently Vice President and Technical Director responsible for developing new products for Laboratory Cryogenics at Janis.
Munir is married to Naila Saba who also graduated with physics degrees from AUB (B.S. 1968) and Tufts (Ph.D. 1973). They have two daughters who were born and educated in public schools and private universities in Massachusetts, and they both have very strong connections to Lebanon & Palestine. Munir and Naila have had a long history of involvement in Peace & Justice issues in the Arab American community in Boston, first as students and subsequently after they returned to Boston in 1978. They have organized local & regional educational conferences about Palestine / Israel for the Presbyterian Church USA, and for Sabeel, where Munir is co-chair of the New England chapter. They have also worked on the campaigns of several local and national politicians and are members of the Massachusetts Peace Action, the Boston Alliance for Water Justice, the local BDS movement and work closely with Jewish Voice for Peace in Boston.
Abed Kanaan was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. He holds a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University. Mr. Kanaan currently works for a British Defense firm that specializes in robotics and defense system development. He has worked on various projects including developing robotic equipment for several US government agencies. He is active within the Arab-American community and has been a member of the American Lebanese Engineering Society (ALES) for the past two years. Mr. Kanaan was a founding member of CAC and is currently its Treasurer and a member of the CAC school committee. In addition, Mr. Kanaan was instrumental in initial database organization and development of the organization’s long term strategic plan.
Raymonda Khoury, Esq.
Raymonda was born in Beirut, and holds a license en droit from the Lebanese University School of Law and a LLM in International Banking from Boston University School of Law. Raymonda specializes in the financial services industry and had a long career working for Fidelity Investments in different positions in Compliance, Risk and Legal functions. She is currently working as a consultant, and is a certified mediator. Raymonda is also involved with 1for3 Organization which seeks to provide long term water resource solutions and other humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugee camps in the west bank.
I was born in Haifa, Palestine, and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. I attended the National Evangelical School in Beirut, and was selected by the American Field Service Student Exchange Program to attend the senior year of high school at Eastern High School in Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived the whole year with an American family. Back in Lebanon, I attended Beirut College for Women for two years, and transferred to the American University of Beirut to obtain my B.S. in Nursing. I was on the faculty of the Nursing School teaching for two years, until I moved to the United States with my husband. In Boston, I sat for the Nursing State Board Exam, and obtained my nursing license. However, I did not practice nursing because I wanted to be at home with my three children.
Later, I attended New England School of Art and Design and graduated with an Associate degree in Interior Design. I moved into the Fine Arts in Painting and Sculpture, and am currently a member of multiple art societies and exhibit my work in various galleries in the Boston area. I have been a member of a choral society for as long as I remember. As a flutist, I play with various flute choirs and recently began volunteering my time with a pianist to play music in nursing homes.
For nearly a decade I have been committed to establishing, transforming and leading successful interdisciplinary divisions in higher education. Recognized for my drive for excellence, my commitment to strategic collaboration and building a foundation upon common goals has resulted in an array of successes for 1) a multicultural, multinational, and diverse student base; 2) internally across all departments in the institution; 3) all academic and student affairs divisions (student enrollment and services, advising, website and marketing, registration, IT and library resources, institutional research); and 4) externally with educational institutions and industry partners.
I am currently the Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at Roxbury Community College, the largest minority-serving institution of higher education in New England. I have actively built the division to become a STEM center of excellence, developed, managed, assessed and evaluated programs, and increased the number of direct reports (full time and adjunct faculty members and technical and support staff) by 160%; generated academic and technical opportunities for more than 2,500 students, thereby increasing recruitment, retention and graduation rates by an additional 10%; and managing over $4M in budget and grants, and most recently integral in being awarded with $20.7M to establish a Life Sciences Institute.
My passion is to create and facilitate opportunities for students and faculty to empower their lives through education and through synergistic partnerships with industry, universities, K-12 schools and the community. I have established and chaired the four Program Advisory Boards in my Division, and serve on several advisory boards for academic programs and state education initiatives. As a proud Iraqi immigrant, Arab-American- Muslim, I have been serving the Arab/Muslim community with my family all my life, including membership and teaching Arabic at the Islamic Center of Boston, Quincy and Wayland. We have participated and supported many Center for Arabic Culture (CAC) activities and events, including my children attending the Arabic School. It would be an honor to serve on the Board of CAC, where its mission resonates with my own, and where I may contribute with in many areas with my expertise and background in higher education leadership, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, serving public institutions, and fund-raising/development. My desire is for continuous, preservation and promotion of our Arabic heritage and culture for our families and to the community at large and for sustainability and growth of organizations such as CAC.
Naela Sharuk was born in Jordan and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the American University of Beirut and a Masters in Business Administration from American International College. Naela completed post-graduate work in Political Science at State University of New York at Albany. Naela was appointed as treasurer of the American University of Beirut Alumni Association’s Northeast Chapter where she was also an active member of the Social Committee. Naela currently works as a Mortgage Officer for Mortgage Master, Incorporated. Her hobbies include yoga and oil painting.
George Frangieh, M.D.
Born in Northern Lebanon, Dr. Frangieh is an ophthalmologist in private practice and an active member of the Arab-American community in Massachusetts. Prior to being in private practice, he was Head of Staff at the University of Southern California’s residency program. He was also named active chairman of the Ophthalmology Department at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and completed a fellowship with a specialty in Cornea and External Eye Diseases at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frangieh earned his Bachelors Degree in Biology with honors at the American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts and a medical degree from the AUB Medical School.
Alma Richeh, LL.M. CAC Program Coordinator
Alma Richeh was born in Damascus, Syria. Alma holds a law degree from Damascus University and an LL.M. degree in international legal studies from the American University, Washington College of Law in Washington D.C. She worked at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Damascus as an advocate to determine the refugee Status. For 8 years, Alma was a conductor for Al Farah Choir in Damascus. She conducted the choir’s youth division, where ages ranged between sixteen and twenty three, and lead the choir in many events and concerts. She concentrated on fundraising for humanitarian causes and children’s rights.
In Boston, she worked as a research intern at the Boston Consortium for Gender Security and Human Rights at the University of Massachusetts. Her research concentrated on the rights of women in countries of the Middle East from the legal, historic, cultural, religious and humanitarian perspectives.
Alma is currently conducting the CAC Children Choir, the first Arab American children choir in MA and an Arabic teacher at CAC Arabic School.
Erica Lush, CAC Web Designer
Erica graduated in May from Boston University with a degree in Linguistics and minors in Arabic and Speech Pathology. She studied abroad in Jordan and has also traveled in the region. Erica hopes to pursue a career where she can use knowledge of Arabic language and culture to make a positive difference, hopefully through working in humanitarian aid. Currently she is excited to be working with the Center for Arabic Culture, renovating the website. In May 2015 the CAC started working as a contracter web designer at the CAC.