Lola Nashashibi Grace, Founder & Executive Chair
In 2005, venture philanthropist Lola Nashashibi Grace founded the Middle East Children’s Institute (MECI) to develop and implement programs for children in the Middle East who are victims of war and to provide a network which facilitates partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) actively involved in the region. Today MECI is an NGO which is recognized internationally for its innovative multifaceted, integrated programs addressing the most urgent needs of women and children.
Lola has led an active career in investment banking and asset management and is engaged in philanthropic and community endeavors relating to international development, education and biological/genetic research. She was an investment banker for Morgan Stanley and First Boston in corporate finance prior to spending 15 years in the investment management and financial advisory business.
Lola serves on the Advisory Board of Citi Private Bank EMEA. She is Honorary Trustee of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a genetic and cancer research institute, where she served as Vice Chairman, Treasurer and chaired the audit and finance committees. She founded the Women in Science project in Switzerland for the Center for Integrated Genetics at the University of Lausanne. Lola is a member of Women Moving Millions and is co-leading a task force on the international refugee crisis.
She holds BA, MA, and MBA degrees from Stanford University.
She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Raised in Latin America, Lola speaks four languages and has five children. She has also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award.
Lina Farouqi - Regional Director
Lina joined MECI after more than 30 years of management experience in Jordan’s educational and nonprofit sectors. As the Assistant Country Director at AMIDEAST, Lina oversaw numerous aspects of the organization’s national activities, including scholarship programs, higher education initiatives and international exchange programs. She went on to management and directorship positions at the Arab Academy of Banking and Finance, where she oversaw multi-million dollar operations for the Academy Training Center.
Julie Delaire - Programs Manager : Julie is an experienced Programs Manager. Having lived in Jordan since 2013, she has done consistent work in raising awareness and funds for the cause of Syrian Refugees. Julie has a strong field knowledge and background as she spent years implementing programs among locally based charities all over the Kingdom with teams of local and international donors, workers and volunteers. An International Relations Master Graduate, she specialized in the question of Syrian Refugees in Jordan by presenting a thesis on the subject. The Jury of her work granted her the honors.
Dina Al-Masri - Programs & Administrative Assistant : Dina joined the staff after volunteering at MECI programs and gaining a passion for work in humanitarian aid and community support. A graduate of the Middle East University, she seeks to support MECI’s mission while polishing her work skills and professionalism.
Maha Zo'abi - Education Specialist, Rana Zu'mot - Education Specialist, Aroub Nemrat - Psychosocial Support & Child Protection Officer, Nour Almoghrabi - Life Skills Trainer, Sally Albess - Data Entry Officer, Aya Hamideh - Data Entry Officer, Hassan Alsaad - Field Officer, Mahmoud Alsowi - Field Officer, Louren Badra - Field Officer, Lama Ibrahim - Field Officer, Noor Qudah - Field Officer, Ahmad Refaie - Field Officer
Mohammed Said, Palestine Program Director
“MECI is my mission and together we work for and on behalf of the children and youth in Palestine”
Mohammed is a passionate advocate of children and youth who believes in cultural diversity, equality and social justice. He holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development and has over 15 years’ experience in the field of Child Safeguarding, Youth development and Employability, and Women Economic Empowerment projects. Mohammed joins MECI Palestine from SOS Children's Villages International where he held numerous positions: Programme Director, Children's Village Director, Child Protection National Focal Point and Development Officer. As MECI Palestine Program Director, Mohammed is responsible for establishing MECI’s presence and strengthening its rootedness in Palestine. Mohammed leads the implementation of MECI's comprehensive child-centred community development model in Beit Rima, and the expansion of the program into other communities where the needs are greatest.
Samah Asfour - Associate Director of Development & Communications
Samah’s dedication and determination to give back to Middle Eastern communities stems from her personal connection to the region. Samah, an American-born Palestinian shaped her educational and career goals to reflect this passion. Samah received her B.A in political science and global gender studies from the University at Buffalo. After graduation, she embarked on a Fulbright teaching assignment, lecturing at a local university in Amman, Jordan.
Samah also holds a M.A. degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, concentrating on educational development, and women and gender. Combining ethnographic research with political economy, her master’s thesis uncovered the effects of urbanization on contemporary social relationships in Amman. Based in our New York office, Samah joined the MECI team in July 2018.
Clare Lofthouse - Program Officer
Clare has a B.A. Honours in international development studies from the University of East London, UK and the American University in Cairo, Egypt where she conducted fieldwork on marginalised communities. She also has an M.A. degree in Humanitarian Action from Uppsala Universitet in Sweden. Having completed her masters, she worked for 2 years on research, guidelines and policy around sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian and fragile settings at World Health Organization.
More recently, she has worked in Evia, Greece with Lighthouse Relief Hellas as a Programme Manager for Women and Youth Child Health in mainland refugee camps. The programme was scaled to four camps in two regions and focused on access and education around reproductive health, breastfeeding, safe spaces for women and girls empowerment, and gender-based violence prevention. Clare joined MECI in spring 2017, and is now based in the Swiss office working on strategic development and planning, fundraising and communications as well as leading a project with the local governmental bodies in the response to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.