The Board of Trustees for the American University of Afghanistan
Mr. Arsalan Lutfi, Chair
Ms. Ella Studer, First Vice Chair
Professor Erik Jensen, Secretary
Mr. David. J. Grizzle, Treasurer
David S. Sedney, AUAF Executive Chair and President
Dr. John H. Alexander earned his Medical Degree from Kabul University School of Medicine, Kabul, Afghanistan in 1978. Serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Dr. Alexander is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery (ABS), a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Dr. Alexander is a developer and pioneer in the field of obesity surgery. D-Magazine listed Dr. Alexander as a "Best Doctor" in 2005 and 2007.
Farhad Azima is an international entrepreneur and business executive. For more than 30 years, Mr. Azima has held leadership positions in numerous industries, including commercial airlines, aircraft leasing, logistics, security, finance, and hotels. He has served in positions of trust and honor under presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and Governor Mel Carnahan of Missouri, as well as many of the Congressional leaders of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. President Clinton appointed him to the United States Economic Development Commission in 1999. In 1988, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and has also been honored for his significant role in economic development, in particular his pioneering development of the airline industry. Mr. Azima was presented the Award for Lifetime Achievement by William Jewell University in 1996.
The Bayat Family has dedicated itself to engaging in philanthropic and business endeavors that would bring about positive contributions to the development of Afghanistan. Today, they are the name behind three of the largest organizations in Afghanistan: Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC), Ariana Radio and Television Network (ATN), and the Bayat Foundation.
Michelle S. Bayat, Esq. is the Director of Foundation Relations and New Initiatives at the Bayat Foundation. The Bayat Foundation is a U.S. based nonprofit organization which focuses its efforts on rebuilding Afghanistan. In 2014, Michelle graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, and subsequently, obtained her Master of Business Administration (MBA). Michelle graduated with her Juris Doctorate in 2018.
Michelle and her family have always been thoroughly involved in humanitarian work. While in law school, Michelle focused her attention on practices such as Immigration Law, Criminal Defense Law, Human Rights, Public Policy, Government Law, and Environmental Law. The common denominator between all of the practices that interested Michelle was the opportunity to help and serve as a voice for those who were in need of an advocate. Michelle is currently an Attorney with Holland & Knight law firm based out of Jacksonville, Florida.
Christian Destremau is a historian and writer. He co-authored Louis Massignon: Le Cheikh Admirable (written in 2005 with Jean Moncelon), which won the Grand Prix de la Biographie de l'Académie française. His most recent book is Ce que savaient les Alliés (What the Allies Knew), based on thousands of secret messages written by the German and Japanese militaries during World War Two, and unearthed by Mr. Destremau in the British Library. Mr. Destremau has been very active with Human Rights and has volunteered in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has authored several books since. He is a partner with a venture capital firm in Paris.
Emal is a senior investment professional focused on the education sector at Sterling Partners, a global private equity firm. He is also on the founding team & head of strategy at Cintana Education, a company founded in partnership with Arizona State University to enable universities around the world to increase quality and scale. Prior to that, he was Head of Strategy as well as Chief of Staff to the Founder & CEO at Laureate Education, the largest international network of degree-granting higher education institutions with over 1 million students across 25 countries. In his role, he was responsible for leading strategy and corporate development/M&A, driving various strategic and business development initiatives, working directly with the Board of Directors, and for leading the Company’s B Corp certification (social impact) when it became the largest B Corp in the world. Prior to Laureate, he was Director of Strategy and Planning at Saint-Gobain, a $60 billion French conglomerate, where he also led global business development for the company’s alternative energy business. Emal started his career in investment banking.
Emal serves or has served as a board member or observer on several education companies/institutions, including Coursera, the American University of Afghanistan, the World Affairs Council in DC and ReCoded, a United Nations-funded non-profit coding school for refugees. Additionally, he is a member of the Education Leadership Council at the Brookings Institution, where he writes on global education trends, and a Board Advisor at The Aspen Institute’s workforce analytics initiative. Emal is also a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. Emal also published the book “Our Shared Stories: An Afghan Diary”, a collection of personal stories from around the world with 100% of the proceeds dedicated to supporting girls’ education in Afghanistan. Emal holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics with a minor in German from UCLA and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
David Edwards is the James N. Lambert ’39 Professor of Anthropology at Williams College. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Michigan, he is the author of three books on Afghanistan (most recently Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan) and the co-director and producer of the film, Kabul Transit (2006). Edwards has received research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
David Grizzle is a senior executive with significant accomplishment in a broad range of leadership positions at Continental Airlines and as the head of the 33,000-employee air traffic control operation of the Federal Aviation Administration. During a 22-year airline career, he headed up at different times the legal, international business development, corporate strategy, marketing and customer experience functions, and directed two separate bankruptcy reorganization teams. He served as senior infrastructure advisor and attaché with the US State Department in Afghanistan and has led in turbulent organizational and cultural environments with highly unionized employee groups. He is adept at assessing cultural and marketplace transition opportunities and developing innovative, strategic approaches to successfully reposition the organization. He obtained both a B.A. in government (Magna Cum Laude) from Harvard College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and is a Member of the Bars of the States of New York and Texas.
Yalda Hakim is an award winning foreign correspondent and currently anchors the flagship programme ‘Impact with Yalda Hakim’ on BBC World News. She joined the BBC in December 2012 as a anchor and correspondent. She made her on-screen debut in March 2013 presenting a special three part series of the current affairs show, Our World entitled, Iraq: Ten Years On. In addition to her presenting duties, Yalda continues to deliver hard hitting journalism not only for the Our World strand, but also across BBC News in both television and radio.
Her interview with President Trump’s National Security Advisor HR McMaster made global headlines when he accepted that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US elections. Yalda has reported extensively on the rise and fall of the so called Islamic State in Iraq. She has travelled to the world’s youngest nation South Sudan which has been embroiled in a brutal civil war. She reported that more than 4 million people were on the brink of famine in the devastated country. She has also highlighted the plight of people in the secretive state of Eritrea, reported from Turkey following the failed coup attempt, covered the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal, kidnapping by drug cartel’s in Mexico and jihadism in Sweden. She has investigated and reported on people-trafficking and torture of Ethiopian migrants in Yemen and following the Bangladesh garment factory collapse uncovered workers still being put at risk in unsafe premises.
Yalda also conducts high profile interviews with global leaders and public figures including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Hollywood actor and director Angelina Jolie, the Dalai Lama, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, Syria’s Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to name a few. Yalda often moderates and chairs high profile events including the Nobel Peace Prize Summit, World Economic Forum, Halifax International Security Forum and the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi. Before joining BBC World News,
Yalda was the presenter of SBS Dateline in Australia. From a headline-making investigation in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province to her reporting from Libya during the Arab Spring, Yalda has built up a wealth of journalistic experience around the world.
Yalda was born in Afghanistan and moved to Australia in the late 1980s after her family fled when the Soviet Union invaded.
Eklil Ahmad Hakimi was born in 1968 in Kabul, Afghanistan. After graduating from Istiqlal French High School in 1985, he obtained his Master’s Degree from the Kabul Polytechnic Institute. Upon the completion of his studies, Mr. Hakimi joined the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Due to the worsening situation in Kabul, Mr. Hakimi and his family moved to the United States (U.S.) in 1994. During his time in the U.S. he worked in engineering, banking, management, and strategic planning.
In 2002, Mr. Hakimi returned to Kabul to serve as an advisor to the Finance Ministry of Afghanistan. During this time, he played a significant role in capacity building for the Ministry. In 2003, as a founding member of the Civil Service and Administrative Reform Commission, Mr. Hakimi began working to improve the structures of the Afghan government’s administrative and financial institutions.
Mr. Hakimi was appointed as Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to China in 2005. At this time, he also began serving as non-resident Ambassador to Vietnam and Magnolia. In 2009, Mr. Hakimi began his next appointment as Ambassador to Japan and non-resident Ambassador to the Philippines and Singapore. In March 2010, he returned to Kabul as the Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, and in February 2011, he became Ambassador to the United States.
During his time as the Extraordinary Representative and Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States, Mr. Hakimi played a vital role in securing aid and support for Afghanistan. His efforts have paved the way for the implementation of important national and regional projects for the future of Afghanistan. Mr. Hakimi us the former Minister of Finance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Dr. Kerry Healey is internationally recognized for her nearly three decades of service in academia, government and humanitarian work. She took office as Babson College president in July 2013. Under Healey’s leadership, Babson has further strengthened its reputation and position as the recognized global leader in entrepreneurship education. In September 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Babson College the No. 1 undergraduate school for entrepreneurship in the United States for the 21st consecutive time.
Healey served as the 70th lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. She introduced, enacted and implemented a wide range of policy and legislative initiatives for the Romney-Healey administration highlighted by a bi-partisan effort to successfully craft Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation health care-reform legislation.
In 2008, Healey was appointed as a founding member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan (PJRA), and has led numerous philanthropic initiatives both in the United States and abroad.
Healey earned her AB in government from Harvard College and her PhD in political science and law from Trinity College, Dublin.
Shamim Jawad has over 18 years of experience as a seasoned financial consultant, an accomplished fundraiser, and a diligent human rights activist. She is the Founder and President of Ayenda Foundation, a non-profit public charity established in 2006. Ayenda Foundation funds, manages and operates schools for orphans and underprivileged children in Afghanistan. Shamim is a longstanding advocate for access to education for children and economic empowerment for women with proven ability to serve in challenging environment and create synergy between organizations to enhance efficiency and deliver timely services in fragile societies.
She is a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, established by Mrs. Laura Bush in 2005. More globally, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). Shamim’s national and international board membership and affiliations include prestigious women’s organizations in Washington, DC such as International Women’s Forum (IWF), The Council on Women’s Leadership at the Meridian International Center, International Neighbor’s Club, Capital Speaker’s Club. She is the recipient of the prestigious Liberty Award from Dialogue on Diversity for her efforts to defend women’s rights and advocate social welfare for women in Afghanistan.
She started her career with TIAA-CREF in New York City and eventually moved to the San Francisco office where she worked her way up as a Financial Consultant serving prominent academic institutions and high net value individuals. She moved to Washington, DC in October of 2003 to support her husband as the newly appointed Afghan Ambassador to the United States.
Shamim studied at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Human Relations and completed fellowship programs at the Harvard University, as the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation Fellow, as well as the University of Cambridge, England. She currently lives in London, UK with her husband who recently appointed as Afghan Ambassador to the Court of St. James.
Prof. Erik G. Jensen, is a lawyer trained in Britain and the United States. Over the last 30 years he has, taught, written and practiced in the field of law and development in thirty-five countries, as a Fulbright scholar, an advisor to the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank. He has also served as Senior Advisor for Governance and Law to The Asia Foundation, and as Director of the Rule of Law Program at Stanford Law School. At Stanford, Mr. Jensen teaches courses on state-building and rule of law. Prof. Jensen is the faculty advisor to students who drive three incredible field-based projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Rwanda. The flagship and pioneer among these three projects (started in 2007) is the Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP) that features a partnership between the American University of Afghanistan and Stanford Law School. His Stanford students have written 12 textbooks critically analyzing the laws of Afghanistan, most of which have been translated into Dari and Pashto.
Mr. Jawed Ludin is a well-known and highly respected politician and political scientist with extensive experience working for the Afghan government. Mr. Ludin’s political career started in November 2001 when he took part in the organization of the United Nations-sponsored Bonn Conference that laid out the democratic framework for the post-Taliban Afghanistan. In early 2003, he returned to Afghanistan to take up his first political post as Presidential Spokesman and Director of Communications for President Hamid Karzai’s government. In May 2005, he was appointed as President Hamid Karzai’s Chief of Staff. Mr. Ludin has served in several capacities, including Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs. Mr. Ludin has also served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada and as Afghanistan’s envoy to the Nordic countries, accredited Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland (2007-2009). Mr. Ludin has written extensively on Afghanistan, the region as well as on conflict and development issues, including co-authoring a book on conflict management strategies (Zed Books UK, 2002).
Mr. Lutfi, a founding member of TriVision since 1994, is the company’s Creative Director and Executive Vice President. TriVision is an award-winning creative marketing and media communication agency with locations in downtown Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia, in downtown Baltimore, as well as in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is the driving force behind the company’s design and marketing departments, both for TriVision and for its clients. Mr. Lutfi has led many commercial and government projects involving brand campaigns, web solutions, and media communications, and strategic communications, PR, and Advertising.
Mr. Lutfi earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Art Studio with a concentration in Visual Information Technology from George Mason University. He has received many honors and awards for his achievements including Best Map Design for the United airlines at the Dulles International Airport, and an ICT Appreciation Award from the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense. He has led the project management for numerous projects both in the United States and in Afghanistan that relates to marketing, Information Technology, PR and digital communications. Some of his attest work include the brand refresh of Export-Import Bank of the United states and he has been actively involved in the integrated marketing rollout plan of many more brands.
Dr. M. Ishaq Nadiri is the Jay Gould Professor of Economics at New York University (NYU). He served as the Senior Economic Advisor to the President of Afghanistan (SEAP) from 2005-2008. He also served as Chairman of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and was the Co-Chair of the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Board (JMCB). From 1972-1978, Dr. Nadiri served as Chairman of the Economics Department at NYU. He also founded and served as the first director of the C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics. Dr. Nadiri also helped raise funds for the development of Afghanistan at conferences in London and Paris.
Professor Samizay is an architect and urban planner with extended international experience in teaching, research and professional practice. His teaching experience includes diverse courses in architecture and urban planning. His academic administrative experience includes Head of the Department of Architecture at Kabul University and Director of the School of Architecture and Construction Management at Washington State University. His research area includes vernacular architecture and architectural heritage preservation. He is author of two books and numerous articles on architecture and planning. Parallel to his academic work, he has had a design and planning practice. His building design projects include housing, governmental and academic buildings. His urban planning work includes city and university master plans. He lives and practices in Seattle, Washington.
Leslie M. Schweitzer is the Founder and Chairman of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, which supports not-for-profit, non-sectarian, private, coeducation institutions of higher education in Afghanistan, such as AUAF. Schweitzer is the CEO of The Osage Group, a consulting company working in third world countries. She is the former Senior Trade Advisor for United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC), where she developed and directed the TradeRoots Initiative, a national grassroots international trade education program designed to raise the public awareness of international trade. Schweitzer has over forty years of experience in the international trade arena. She pioneered U.S./China business beginning in 1977, and is proficient in foreign negotiation, marketing, product development, bartering, counter purchase and manufacturing, as well as experience in analyzing growth potential of foreign companies. Before joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Schweitzer’s background includes founding and managing a full service offshore apparel manufacturing and marketing company in 1987 geared to acquiring advantageous foreign manufacturing sources for U.S. companies. The company specialized in utilizing and developing consumer product industries in third world and developing countries. Schweitzer also owned and managed factories in the Caribbean that produced labor intensive apparel for U.S. and foreign retail stores, manufacturers, and catalog companies.
In 1977 Schweitzer co-founded Noble Trading Company, which assisted U.S.-based companies with product sales to China, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, South America and the Caribbean. Clients included Pepsi World Trade and Motors Trading Company of General Motors. Schweitzer also developed manufacturing facilities in these countries to produce consumer products for export. She has also been involved in international business ventures in the Soviet Union and Finland. In addition to these activities, she is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship in international trade and has been a member of various boards, including the American Management Association, CARESBAC, Operation Enterprise, and the Department of Commerce’s Trade Advisory Board. Currently Schweitzer serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Afghanistan, Advisory Board for International Programs at the University of Kansas, Advisory Board of AMAR (Iraq) and AYENDA (Afghanistan), and Advisory Board of The International Stability Operations Association. Schweitzer attended the University of Kansas and University of Copenhagen and received her B. S. in International Relations from George Washington University. She is the mother of two sons.
David Sedney is an independent analyst/commentator on national security and foreign policy. He is also a Senior Associate (non-resident) with the International Security Program at CSIS in Washington, D.C. Most recently (2016-2017), Mr. Sedney was the Acting President of the American University of Afghanistan, guiding the reopening of the University after a series of Taliban attacks had closed it. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, PBS, Al Jazeera, VOA, Australian and Turkish national TV and radio and on Public Radio International. His views have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, the Guardian, Business Week, and other media. Mr. Sedney has testified before the U.S. Congress and appears as a speaker at think tanks and academic institutions.
Mr. Sedney served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia (2009–2013) and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia (2007–2009). He was Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the U.S. embassy in Beijing (2004–2007) after service as DCM and Charge d’ Affairs at U.S. embassies in Kabul and in Baku. Earlier, he served as a U.S. diplomat in China and Romania and in Washington, where he was twice detailed to the National Security Council. He is on Board of Trustees of the American University of Afghanistan and the Board of Advisors of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies.
Mr. Sedney holds a B.A. from Princeton University, an M.Sc. (with distinction) from the National War College, and a J.D. from Suffolk University. Mr. Sedney received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) in July 2017 from the American University of Afghanistan.
Mr. Sedney has been awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Service (twice), the Defense Intelligence Director’s Award, the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award (six times), and the Department of State's Meritorious Honor Award (twice). He also received the John Carroll School’s Charles K. Riepe Alumni award in 2012.
Ms. Studer is Senior Vice President of Operations for KBRWYLE’s Government Services U.S. Operations, Maintenance and Logistics. Ms. Studer manages a project portfolio of over $1 Billion and is responsible for business development, oversight and execution of federal sector operations and strategy for globally disbursed product lines. This includes base support, infrastructure services, contingency response operations, and maintenance and engineering related services throughout the world.
Prior to her role at KBRWYLE, Ella retired from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) after 26 years where she was a member of the senior executive service and head of DLA’s enterprise support office. In this position, Ella managed a $1 billion budget, multi-billion-dollar programs and 1,400+ people at nine field locations worldwide.
Ms. Studer has a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, and received her undergraduate degree in business management from Malone College.
Chris Taylor is the Chairman and CEO of Novitas Global Solutions, formerly the Chief Executive Officer at Mission Essential Personnel, L.L.C, a global professional services firm employing over 4,300 Afghans and specializing in training and technical services in defense and national security programs, language, and cultural awareness services, development and stabilization programs, intelligence support, and specialized staffing. Chris is also the Chairman of the Board of Managers of Justice Services International, a joint venture formed to support global peacekeeping and rule of law solutions.
Chris spent 14 years in the Marine Corps as an enlisted infantryman and Force Recon Marine. As a Marine, he held both operational and policy leadership positions and was twice selected for meritorious promotion. Chris finished his undergraduate degree while serving on active duty. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1999, he attended graduate school at The College of William & Mary where he earned his MBA in 2002 and received the Dean’s Award for Leadership and Service at graduation. He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied international security and political economy, and earned a Master of Public Administration degree in 2008. He was also the Director of the Harvard Defense & Security Initiative and a member of the Defense Leadership Project at the Harvard Center for Public Leadership and the co-author of the report, “Changing the National Security Culture”.
Chris is a member of Leadership Hampton Roads (LHR), a non-profit organization that analyzes the political, social, educational, economic, and other public policy challenges of the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, and then creates and executes action plans to improve the quality of life for all in the region. In 2005, Chris was awarded the “Modeling the Way” Leadership Award for his exemplary leadership at LHR.
Chris founded Future American Leaders, a non-profit that provides leadership development for young Americans who will lead in all sectors of American society. He also contributed Chapter 10 – “The Achievements and Challenges of Military Leadership” to the book, Leadership: Succeeding in the Private, Public, and Not-for-Profit Sectors by Ronald R. Sims & Scott A. Quatro, which won the 2005 Choice Magazine Award for Outstanding Academic Text.
Debra Zumwalt is the Vice President and General Counsel for Stanford University and responsible for the legal work for Stanford University (including three hospitals and a national laboratory). Before becoming the Stanford General Counsel, Ms. Zumwalt was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. She specialized in complex civil litigation and higher education law. She was the managing partner of the Silicon Valley office and a member of the firm’s governing board. Ms. Zumwalt received her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1979. She has served as a court-appointed arbitrator and is the past President of the Santa Clara Bar Association, a former trustee of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and an officer and director of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services and a former board member and Treasurer of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.
Ms. Zumwalt is also a director of the Academy of Art University, a trustee of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) and a director on two public company boards. She frequently speaks on legal and governance topics and was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in California.