Our Board

Mrs. Shannon Fairbanks - Chairman


SAFShannon Fairbanks is the Founder and Chairman of the Fairbanks Investment Fund, a U.S. private equity fund, investing in middle market manufacturing companies in France and the Benelux countries which seek strategic growth in global markets. Mrs. Fairbanks is currently Chairman of the boards of Clarion Industries, U.S., and ProteoNic, the Netherlands, and a Board member of Invectys S.A., and Routin S.A., France, and ERA Group, U.S. Mrs. Fairbanks was most recently Lead Director of ING Direct, U.S., through its $9 billion sale to Capital One Bank.

Mrs. Fairbanks formerly served in a number of high level U.S. government positions, including as Executive Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the major U.S. federal bank regulatory agency for the U.S. savings and loan industry, during the “S&L Crisis” (from 1983 to 1987); as Deputy Assistant Director for Economic Policy on the White House Domestic Policy Staff of President Ronald Reagan (from 1981 to 1983); and as a Presidential Appointee on the founding board of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), until 1994.

Mrs. Fairbanks is currently a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the French-American Foundation, New York (2002–present), has served as a Board member of the French-American Foundation, France (2006–2010); is a member of the National Committee of the Aspen Music Festival (2001–present); and of the International Women’s Forum, Washington, D.C. (1996–present).

Mrs. Fairbanks graduated from Newton College of the Sacred Heart (Boston) B.A. Philosophy, and received double Masters’ degrees in Public Policy from Columbia University in 1979.

The Honorable John E. Chapoton - Director

John E. Chapoton has been a partner of Brown Advisory, an investment firm based in Baltimore, MD, since 2001. Mr. Chapoton is in charge of the Washington, DC office of the firm. Prior to 2001, he was the managing partner of the Washington office of the Vinson & Elkins law firm.

From 1981 to 1984, during the first term of President Reagan, Mr. Chapoton served as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy of the U.S. Treasury Department. In that position he served as the Administration’s principal spokesman before the Congressional tax-writing committees. During his tenure, three significant tax acts were passed: the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981; the Tax Equity & Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982; and the Deficit Recovery Act of 1984. Until his departure from the Treasury Department in August 1984, Mr. Chapoton chaired the task force that developed the initial tax proposals that later became the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Mr. Chapoton graduated with honors from the University of Texas and the University of Texas Law School. A frequent speaker on the subjects of federal taxation and fiscal policy and the political climate for tax legislative initiatives, he is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association’s Tax Section (former Vice Chair), and a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel (former Regent). In addition to Layalina, Mr. Chapoton serves on the Boards of Saul Centers, Inc. (NYSE) and StanCorp Financial (NYSE).

Mr. Woods Fairbanks – Director

woodsfairbanks Mr. Fairbanks is an experienced archivist and a technology venture capital investor. He obtained his B.S. in Business Economics at Sophia University (Tokyo), his MLIS degree at the University of Washington 
(Seattle) and his post master’s ARM degree at Western Washington University. He is currently an investor in and Director of Clarion Industries, the only U.S. consolidated laminate and boards manufacturer. He was formerly Echo Archives Manager at Microsoft, a Software Test Engineer at Windows International, a Technology Manager at Walt Disney Enterprises (Tokyo) and a Financial Analyst at Salomon Brothers.

Dr. Raja Kamal - Director

kamalDr. Kamal is the Senior Vice President at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Previously, Kamal was the Senior Associate Dean at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, prior to which he served as Director of New Initiatives and International Development at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. During his sixteen years at Harvard, Dr. Kamal internationalized the activities of the Kennedy School and negotiated dozens of programs with governments and private sector organizations.

An economist by training, Dr. Kamal was an adjunct professor of economics and international business at Boston University. He holds advanced graduate degrees in economics, mass communication, and administrative sciences and is a frequent contributor to newspapers in the United States and abroad. He has contributed editorials on global affairs to the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, USA Today, Middle East Times and The Daily Star, among many others. His work has also been published in Arabic, Chinese, German, French, Russian and Spanish newspapers.

Mr. Eli Khoury - Director

EliKhouryMr. Khoury is a strategic communications specialist seasoned in corporate and government image and brand development. He is acknowledged as having raised the standard of communications in the MENA region as a result of the practices he introduced.

Born in Beirut in 1960, Mr. Khoury started his career at the early age of 17 as an editorial cartoonist publishing controversial political cartoons during the first chapters of Lebanon’s civil war. In 1980, he moved to Los Angeles where he studied Communication Arts.

Returning to his native country at the close of the war in 1990, Mr. Khoury began harnessing his talents into the advertising industry. In 1992, he launched the Saatchi & Saatchi Levant agency, which shortly after became one of the largest recipients of advertising awards in the region.

In 2000, he launched Quantum Communications, a policy and strategic communications advisory that evolved into an undisputed regional reference in socio-political reforms and counter terror communication. Ultimately, both companies expanded to become part of Quantum Group. Yet, while catering to a new advertising world in ever-changing times, the agency switched global networks towards M&C Saatchi Worldwide in 2010.

The Group currently hosts Brand Central, the branding and strategic design firm; Vertical Middle East, a regional media planning and buying agency; Firehorse Productions, a television content company; and Mercury, the Group’s nascent digital publishing arm.

Throughout the years, Mr. Khoury embraced communications from a democratic entrepreneurship and socio-political consciousness perspective. Hence, he naturally found himself at the forefront of the battle of ideas in the post-September 11 world order.

A liberal democrat and a citizen and patriot of Lebanon, Mr. Khoury was among the key planners and promoters of the 2005 Cedar Revolution and its ensuing pro-independence March 14 Movement, which ended Syria’s decades long occupation of Lebanon and initiated the restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty. He has equally co-founded the Washington-based Lebanon Renaissance Foundation out of his belief in strengthening US-Lebanese bilateral relations. Khoury also kicked off Beirut’s influential web portal, Now Lebanon, and has co-published the Beirut Spring with veteran journalist Ghassan Tweini of An Nahar.

Ms. Judith Kipper - Director


Judith Kipper, an internationally recognized Middle East specialist, is director of Middle East Programs at the Institute of World Affairs. She consults to the private sector and is a partner, International Strategic Insights, LLC. Ms. Kipper established and directed the Council on Foreign Relations Middle East Forum (1985-2007) and was also the director of the Middle East Studies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.. She was an international affairs consultant to ABC News (1985-2007). Previously, she was a guest scholar at The Brookings Institution and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. She travels frequently to the Middle East, particularly to the Gulf States including Saudi Arabia. She also meets regularly with government and business leaders, and others in the region.

Ms. Kipper is the co-editor of The Middle East in Global Perspective (Westview Press, 1991); and supervised The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel’s Policies, and The Arab-Israeli Military Balance and the Art of Operations. She contributes to publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post and comments on television and radio in the United States, Europe, Japan, China and the Middle East. She speaks frequently to university, business, economic, and banking groups on Middle Eastern and international affairs. She has briefed The Brookings Institution Board of Trustees, Council on Foreign Relations Corporate Program, Chase Manhattan Bank Board, Institutional Investor Council, Lockheed Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, Shell Oil Company, ExxonMobil, Bear Stearns, World Trade Institute and many other institutions in the United States and internationally.

During the Gulf crisis, Ms. Kipper testified as an expert witness before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Appropriations Committee. She was with Peter Jennings of ABC News in Baghdad, Iraq for an extensive interview with President Saddam Hussein (November, 1990). She arrived with Ted Koppel of ABC News in Kuwait just after its liberation. She also went to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza during the Gulf Crisis. Ms. Kipper was in Moscow for an ABC News interview with President Gorbachev in July, 1991 which she negotiated and again right after the August coup for the ABC News Town Meeting with Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

Ms. Kipper has broad based experience in international relations. She was the international affairs advisor to the publisher and editor at the French newsweekly L’Express in Paris. With a special interest in emerging countries, she drove from Paris to India for six months and then spent a year in Israel and Egypt before returning to the United States. She served on the board of Middle East Watch, a human rights organization; is a member of the advisory board of Search for Common Ground in the Middle East and serves on the board of the Institute of World Affairs.

The Honorable Tom Korologos - Director

korologosAmbassador Korologos started out as a journalist with the New York Herald Tribune, the Long Island Press, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Associated Press. He was a U.S. Air Force officer from 1956 to 1957. He earned his B.A. degree at the University of Utah and in 1958, an M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where he received the Grantland Rice Fellowship and a Pulitzer Fellowship. From 1962 to 1971 he worked for Wallace F. Bennett of Utah. He served in the Nixon and Ford presidential administrations, and has worked closely with President George W. Bush.

Ambassador Korologos has had a wide and varied Washington, DC experience. He has served as a senior staff member in the U.S. Congress, as an assistant to two Presidents in the White House, was a prominent businessman, and most recently was a senior counselor with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad. He was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium from 2004 to 2007. In addition, he was a long-time member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that has jurisdiction over all non-military U.S. Government radio and TV broadcasting overseas.

Mr. Leon G. Shahabian - Director

Leon Shahabian Headshot copy Mr. Leon Shahabian serves as President & Executive Producer of Layalina Productions, Inc. He is currently in post-production on the first season of American Caravan, a reality series featuring six young Americans traveling across five Arab countries in the footsteps of the Arab Spring. Yemeniettes, his award-winning feature documentary on female youth entrepreneurship in Yemen, is currently on the festival circuit.

Mr. Shahabian has executive produced the three seasons of the hit reality series On the Road in America, Season I (2007-2008, MBC1 and the Sundance Channel, distributed by Warner Brothers and New Line Television), Season II (2010, MBC1 and MBN), and Season III (2011).

Mr. Shahabian has created, written and executive produced the first season of Generation Entrepreneur, a youth entrepreneurship reality series (2013, Orbit Showtime Network). He also executive produced and produced Back from the Brink (2011), a feature documentary on countering violent extremism, and produced and executive produced the award-winning documentary Life After Death (2009, Al-Arabiya and MBN). His other credits include executive producing the Sister Cities documentary Windy City, White City (2004) as well as Araeh (2003).

Mr. Shahabian co-founded Layalina Productions in 2002 and served as its Corporate Treasurer from 2004 through 2012. He also served from 2005 until 2011 as the Senior Editor of The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media, the Google News listed bi-weekly press review. He serves since 2008 as the Senior Editor of Perspectives, a public diplomacy op-ed series.

Mr. Shahabian is a frequent guest lecturer at leading universities and think tanks. He also serves as a writer and director for a New York based video game studio.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with degrees in International Politics and French Literature, Mr. Shahabian is fluent in Armenian, Arabic and French. He is a life member of The Public Diplomacy Council and a 2013 recipient of the Penn State Alumni Achievement Award.

Mr. Bruce Sherman - Director

Bruce Sherman - Photo (34 Profile) (1)Mr. Bruce Sherman is founder and president of Sherman Media Group (SMG), LLC. Launched in February 2016 in Washington, DC, SMG designs and develops broadcast and digital media around the world. Services include strategy, research, audience analysis, partnership development, fundraising, and impact assessment.

Long experienced in international broadcasting and media development, for more than twenty years Mr. Sherman served in varying capacities as strategy, research, and business development lead at the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, parent organization of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, among other BBG media properties. During this period, BBG’s worldwide audiences grew from 85 to 226 million with corresponding annual budget growth from $425 to $740 million.

Mr. Sherman served as the architect and principal author of all BBG strategic plans from 2000 to 2015. He founded BBG’s global market and audience research program in 2000 and expanded it to a $12 million annually, and subsequently developed BBG’s impact model, capturing performance across audience, media, and government sectors using a basket of research-driven quantitative and qualitative indicators.

In 2001, three weeks after the events of 9/11, at the request of then-Senator Joe Biden, Mr. Sherman conceived Initiative 911, BBG’s master plan for responding to violent extremism worldwide. Senator Biden delivered the plan personally to President George W. Bush. Initiative 911 led to the creation of Radio Sawa and Alhurra TV ($115 million) in Arabic for the 22 countries of the Middle East and multiplatform, multilingual 24/7 broadcasting to Afghanistan and Iran, and major expansions in Pakistan, Indonesia, and other countries.

From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Sherman was senior director responsible for BBG’s Office of Strategy and Development in charge of global business expansion with a staff (fulltime and contract) of 50 and budget of $10 million. Under his leadership, BBG’s global media partners grew from roughly 2400 to more than 3000, and global audiences rose from 166 to 226 million.

During this period, Mr. Sherman designed and led BBG’s current Africa expansion ($40 million over five years), involving new languages, 15 custom-built FM stations (in Bamako, Bujumbura, Dakar, Juba, N’Djamena, Niamey, et al), TV products, affiliate partners, and expansion of local audience and media engagement. He spearheaded BBG’s new B2B digital distribution platform, Direct, which in two years has acquired more than 1300 subscribers from around the world.

Mr. Sherman was also responsible for managing BBG’s relations with other international media entities. He served as chief BBG liaison to the DG7, the informal consortium of government-funded media enterprises from seven leading democracies, including (in addition to BBG) BBC, Deutsche Welle, RNW, France Médias Monde (France 24 TV, Radio France International, et al), NHK (Japan), and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

For five years prior to joining the BBG, Mr. Sherman was deputy director of Radio Marti, managing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. broadcasting service for Cuba, comprising a staff of 150 and an annual budget of $12 million.

Mr. Sherman earned his master’s degree in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD and Santa Fe, NM, and his bachelor’s degree in political science and government at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. He did post-undergraduate studies in Spanish at La Universidad de los Andes and Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and is a fluent Spanish speaker.

He is married to Jane Tillinghast Sherman, a paintings conservator. They have three children: Sam (20), Meredith (17), and Christopher (15).

The Honorable Michael Sterner - Director

IMG_20160512_123417 Ambassador Sterner was a career United States diplomat for 25 years. Following retirement from government service in October 1981, he was a partner of The IRC Group, a Washington-based international consulting firm.

From 1977 until his retirement, Ambassador Sterner was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, with special responsibility for Middle East negotiations. He participated in the negotiations leading up to Camp David, in the Egypt-Israel peace treaty negotiations, and in the talks to establish autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza. His last assignment before retirement was to head the U.S. negotiating team that successfully concluded agreement to establish a multinational peacekeeping force in Sinai.

Ambassador Sterner received the Wilbur J. Carr Award from Secretary Haig in 1981 “in appreciation for a distinguished career of creative contribution to American foreign policy.”

Ambassador Sterner served as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates 1974-76. Prior to that he had assignments in Aden, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. He served on the Egypt, Arabian Peninsula and Arab-Israel desks in Washington, and from 1969-70 attended the National War College. He was appointed Director of the Egyptian Affairs in 1970 and in 1973 was also appointed to be a member of the U.S. delegation to the Geneva Middle East Peace Conference.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Sterner was a government relations representative for the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia from 1951-53. He served in the U.S. Army 1954-56.

Ambassador Sterner is a member of the Middle East Institute and the Council on Foreign Affairs. He is the author of numerous articles on international affairs and the Middle East in newspapers and professional journals. He has also served as a mediator for the District of Columbia Superior Court, and as an arbitrator for the DC Bar.

Ambassador Sterner received a B.A. degree in government from Harvard College in 1951. He speaks Arabic and French. He is a widower, has two children, and lives in Washington, DC.