Ambassador Russo brings strong diplomatic and management skills to Layalina as its President, having previously served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President, and also as the United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, with responsibility for two embassies and six countries. Over the past two decades, Mr. Russo has provided strategic planning and tactical advice to foreign governments and international corporations, with extensive experience in the Middle East. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and has been on the Board of Layalina Productions since its inception in 2002. Ambassador Russo also serves on a number of other boards, including the Council of American Ambassadors and the Council for American Universities Abroad. A native of Ohio, Mr. Russo holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University, with additional studies at Case-Western Reserve University and Georgetown University.
Executive Vice President
Leon serves as Executive Vice President of Layalina Productions. He is the executive producer of both seasons of the hit reality series On the Road in America, as well as the producer and Executive Producer of Life After Death, an award-winning documentary about families affected by Al-Qaeda terrorism. Leon also executive produced Layalina’s discussion show Araeh (Opinions). Additionally, Mr. Shahabian serves as Senior Editor of The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media, The Chronicle and Perspectives. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Politics and French Language and Literature, Leon is fluent in Armenian, Arabic, and French. He is a member of the Public Diplomacy Council and joined Layalina as a founding staff member in March 2002.
Corporate Secretary and Treasurer
Phyllis joined Layalina Productions in 2007 as Executive Assistant to Chairman Richard Fairbanks. In June 2013 Phyllis was elected Corporate Treasurer in addition to her June 2012 election of Corporate Secretary.
In 1998, Phyllis worked with Medstar Physician Partners, first as Assistant Director of Physician Billing Services and later as Director of the same department from 2001-2003. Prior to joining Layalina, Phyllis coordinated outpatient operations as the Clinic Administrator for the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital from 2003-2007.
Early in her career, Phyllis managed various medical practices throughout the Washington, DC area. Phyllis is a graduate of Morgan State University and has more than twenty years of healthcare administration. Phyllis also serves as Treasurer for the Pan Hellenic Council of Southern Maryland (2011-present) and Phi Alpha Zeta Chapter - Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc (2011-present). Additionally, Phyllis is a member of the fundraising committee for Health Partners Inc., a non-profit organization providing healthcare to the uninsured and under-insured of Charles County Maryland.
Allyson is the Office Manager at Layalina Productions. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Government and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. In college, she studied Arabic and spent a semester abroad in Jordan traveling through Egypt, Syria, and Israel/Palestine. Prior to her current position, Allyson worked as a research assistant at Klemm Analysis Group, and had an internship with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars focusing on the effects of the Freedom Agenda in Egypt. Allyson is originally from Plainfield, New Hampshire.