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Staff & Interns

Staff

Tarek Abuata

Executive Director

Born into a Palestinian Christian family in Bethlehem, Abuata moved to Texas during the first Palestinian Intifada when he was 12. He was the executive director of Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace and of Love Thy Neighbor. Additionally, Abuata worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams, the United Palestine Appeal, and the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestinian Authority, researching legal and policy issues. Abuata holds a J.D. from the University of Texas Law School.

Rochelle Watson

National Organizer

Watson has 20 years’ experience as a community organizer. She was a project manager for Art Forces, a mural-based social change organization based in San Francisco. Watson co-founded the Olympia Rafah Sister City Project after her friend, Rachel Corrie, was killed by the Israeli military in 2003 while protecting a Palestinian home facing demolition. In 2010 Rochelle co-founded Olympia BDS, which led to the Olympia Food Co-op becoming the first U.S. grocery store to boycott Israeli goods.

Ramah Awad

Communications Coordinator

Awad grew up in the Bay Area and finished high school in Ramallah, Palestine. She recently graduated from Stanford University, where she studied history and anthropology. Her senior honors thesis focused on the plight of Palestinian refugees from Syria. Awad is a researcher in the American Friends Service Committee's Economic Activism program and an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement in the Bay Area and nationally.

Ashleigh Zimmerman

Data Specialist

Zimmerman formerly served as the executive director of the Muslim Community Network, fighting Islamophobia and challenging New York police’s unwarranted surveillance of Muslim communities. She also helped develop the Om Sleiman CSA, an organic farm started on land reclaimed by the village of Bil’in through years of non-violent resistance to Israeli expropriation. Zimmerman is a graduate of the School for Creative Activism, where she focused on innovative means of making for-profits more accountable and non-profits more business savvy.

Mandy Erickson

Editor

Erickson earned a bachelor’s in English and a master’s from the University of California. She has written restaurant reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle, freelanced for the National Catholic Reporter and various alumni magazines, and written a cookbook. She edits journals and newsletters for several nonprofit organizations.

Amy McLaughry

Chief Number Cruncher

With a bachelor’s from the University of Kansas and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, McLaughry started her career in banking. She now runs her own bookkeeping business, serving nonprofit organizations, helping them with their financial reporting requirements. She is also the treasurer for the Community College of Aurora Foundation.

 

Interns

Stephen Welty

Stephen Welty has a master's in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His special research interests include the political agency of NGOs, counterterrorism, and international humanitarian law. He has become convinced that physical involvement in political movements must enhance the development of any academic theories about Middle Eastern politics and international relations. Determined to experience everyday life in the region, he hopes to travel to the Middle East with his power wheelchair.