Dr. Nadia Owediat, Academic Advisor

Academic Advisor

Dr. Oweidat is currently an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University, teaching classes on Islamic thought and history and security of the modern Middle East. She is also a Non-Residential Fellow at New America where she conducts research on countering violent extremism and agents of positive change in the Arab world. Dr. Oweidat, originally from Jordan, obtained a D.Phil. in Oriental Studies, focusing on Arab and Islamic thought, from the University of Oxford in 2014. Nadia has a BA from the University of Jordan in Arabic and English literature and an MA from the University of Wyoming in International Studies, with a focus on the Middle East. Prior to starting her D.Phil., Dr. Oweidat worked for several years as a research associate at the RAND Corporation in Washington DC, leading research into Arab language publications promoting tolerance and critical thinking. She also led research including analysis of the Egyptian reform movement Kefaya, the early history of al-Qaeda, salafi jihadi networks, insurgent strategies in Iraq, Iranian influence in the Arab world and the radicalization of Muslim youth.

Dr. Oweidat has appeared on various Arabic and English networks including BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera Arabic, Al-Arabiyya, BBC Arabic and National Public Radio. Most recently she was on BBC Arabic for an hour in Dunyana (Our World) show. She also participates in symposiums and speaking engagements around the world.

Dan R. Johnson, Board Member

Daniel R Johnson

Treasurer

Daniel is the Chairman and CEO of American Financial Systems and AFS Securities. He founded both companies, as well as Deferral.com, LLC (a FINRA-registered broker-dealer) and several other companies in Argentina and Mexico, all of which specialize in software or consulting with respect to the optimal funding or on-line administration of non-qualified benefit plans (409A Plans in the US).

With a background in chemistry, immunology, music, and theology/philosophy, Dan studied Japanese and East Asian economics and then business economics at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (HGSAS). Fluent in Japanese, he has lived in East Asia and Latin America and has published research in fields from cellular immunology to finance. Dan has served many years on the Graduate School Alumni Association Council at Harvard, and frequently travels to GSAS global outreach events. He has also been an appointed director for the academic graduate school and served for many years on the Continuing Education Committee of the Harvard Alumni Association. Besides his degrees from Harvard, Dan also holds a Master’s of divinity degree and has had a life-long interest in the complex interactions of science, religious beliefs, politics, economics and the personal search for truth.

Aaron Louis, Board Member

Aaron is currently the Director of Audio Visual at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), on the Board of Directors at 3-Legged Dog Media + Theater Group, and a freelance Producer.

Producer credits include, Think Inc.’s new documentary, ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE, featuring Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. The full feature documentary is directed by Jay Shapiro, co-directed by Desh Amila, and Produced by Desh Amila, Suzi Jamil, and Aaron Louis.

Past Producer credits include a co-production with BAM and WNYC for RadioLoveFest entitled ISLAMOPHOBIA: A CONVERSATION, a panel debate moderated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Aaron was formerly the Producing Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center where credits include 3LD’s co-production with The Public Theater of THE HUMAN SCALE, written/performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning Lawrence Wright, directed by Oskar Eustis (2010 New Yorker Festival); MAKING UP THE TRUTH, written/performed by “This American Life” regular Jack Hitt; SPY GARBO, the Drama Desk-nominated off-Broadway production directed by Kevin Cunningham; and the off-Broadway run of Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and Rachel Eckerling, now a major motion picture.

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, President & Founder

Faisal is an Iraqi-born award-winning counter extremism advocate, satirist, and speaker. He is an advocate for Universal Human Rights, enlightenment values and the free market of ideas, and is enthusiastic about the intersection of technology and advocacy. He is also the founder of multiple online platforms that together have more than 400,000 subscribers and millions of visitors.

He previously worked as a program manager for the Middle East and North Africa to assist dissidents in closed societies worldwide. In 2015, Faisal received the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” from President Barack Obama for his special commitment to education.

Faisal Al Mutar has been quoted in publications like The New York Times, CNN, The Cornell Review, BBC World News, The Spectator , The Guardian,  the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Arab American News, ,The Islamic Monthly, World Policy Institute, WYNC,, Pakistan Today, The Nation (Pakistan), Your Middle East, Radio France International.

He has been invited to speak at venues such as Aspen Ideas Festival, Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University and many others to share his experiences and knowledge about living under and countering extremist organizations and dictatorships in the middle east.

Professor Steven Pinker, Advisory Board

Steven_Pinker_2011

Professor Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.