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Managing Change at the Grass Roots of the Middle East: A Panel Discussion with the Near East Foundation

220 Eggers Hall, Strasser Legacy Room

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Panelists will discuss NEF’s work on the ground with refugee, displaced, and other conflict-affected populations to develop sustainable solutions to local development challenges, and create opportunities from within. Moderated by Peter Castro, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence. 

Panel Members are: 

Dr. Charles Benjamin / PRESIDENT: Dr. Benjamin has over twenty-five years of experience in international development, with extensive experience in community development and natural resources management throughout the Middle East and Africa. He began his affiliation with the Near East Foundation in 1993 as Country Director in Morocco. Before joining NEF he spent several years in Morocco as a Fulbright Scholar and as a Peace Corps Volunteer. After leaving Morocco, Dr. Benjamin was Senior Manager for a large international development consulting firm based in Washington DC and a Professor of International Environment Issues and Development at Williams College in Williamstown (MA). Dr. Benjamin became NEF’s President in 2010. Under Dr. Benjamin’s leadership, NEF has seen steady growth. Dr. Benjamin holds a PhD from the University of Michigan with a focus on decentralization and local institutional development in West Africa. He is a published author in the areas of natural resource management and policy.

Salah Abu-Eisheh / COUNTRY DIRECTOR, PALESTINE, AND REGIONAL PROGRAM COORDINATOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST: Mr. Abu-Eisheh joined the Near East Foundation in 2004 as Project Manager. Since 2010 he has served as NEF’s Palestine Country Director and Regional Advisor. Prior to joining the Near East Foundation, Mr. Abu-Eisheh worked as Program Coordinator for the Land-O-Lakes Foundation and as Technical Supervisor for the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture-Veterinary Services. A native of Nablus, Mr. Abu-Eisheh holds an undergraduate degree in agriculture and a master’s in business administration (MBA) from An-Najah National University in Nablus.

Mireille Dika, Deputy Country Director, Lebanon: Ms. Mireille Dika joined the Near East Foundation in 2016 as Deputy Country Director in Lebanon, where she currently oversees all programs for NEF's Lebanon office. Prior to working at NEF, ​Ms. Dika  spent the past decade working for INGOs​. She served as the Country Director at​ ​Solidar Suisse-Lebanon, Head of Mission for Lebanon and Syria at Relief International, and  Program Manager at International Relief and Development, Lebanon. ​Ms. Dika graduated from Lebanese University with a degree in English and Architecture, where she first developed her passion for humanitarian and social work.

If you require accommodations, please contact Deborah Toole by email at or by phone at 315.443.2367. 

Sponsored by the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

We’re Turning 100!

To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.