Raised right outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, Abby’s a midwesterner with her heart in social justice and human rights for all. Since the end of 2010, Abby Smardon has served as UNRWA USA’s Executive Director, where she oversees projects to raise critical funds and awareness in the United States for UNRWA's work. She travels extensively throughout the region to facilitate and evaluate humanitarian projects to benefit refugees.
Prior to UNRWA USA, Abby worked with refugees and marginalized populations in France. She received her MA in Conflict Resolution in the Arab World at George Washington University and Sciences Po in Paris. Abby is an avid traveler having visited 34 countries, but she’s always looking for ways to visit more!
Ask Abby about: all things UNRWA, Palestine refugees, and pop culture!
A fourth generation Arab American of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, Laila was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She currently serves as UNRWA USA's Director of Communications. Prior to joining the dream team, Laila worked at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Both positions illustrate Laila’s passions: humanitarian concern for the people of Palestine and the fight for social justice.
Laila loves connecting people, ideas, things, to one another for a worthy cause! She holds a BA in Global Affairs (concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa) and a minor in music from George Mason University.
Ask Laila about: connecting, communications, social media, apps, technology, music/piano, my love for all things Spanish, or the law of attraction!
Nada spent her early childhood years in the Middle East before moving to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Growing up near our nation’s capital exposed her to activism from a young age. Inspired by the potential for positive change, she earned a BA in Political Science from Virginia Tech. Nada joined UNRWA USA as its Grants Officer, bringing over ten years of nonprofit experience to the team. In her spare time, she thinks of ways she can be more like both Malala Yousafzai and Dave Grohl when she grows up.
Ask Nada about: Grants, strategic development, Virginia Tech Football, and how much she loves burgers.
Sarah grew up in Seattle and is a Nothwesterner at heart. She moved to Washington, DC after graduating from college and established her career in nonprofit special events and fundraising, advocating on behalf of women’s health and legal services. After taking time away from the nonprofit world running her own personal chef business, she returned to fuel her passion for mission-driven work. From an early age, Sarah used her voice to advocate and organize on behalf of those whose voices are not heard.
Ask Sarah about: how to register for the Gaza 5Ks, cooking, Dolly Parton’s musical anthology and Seattle Seahawks football!
Lena Badr Abdelhamid, Finance and Administrative Officer
Born and raised right outside of DC, in Fairfax, Virginia, Lena has always had a passion for international affairs and global conflict resolution. This led her to get her BA in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. Inspired by her parents, both UNRWA refugees and alumnus, Lena has always held a strong interest in the development and politics of the Middle East, especially concerning the plight of the Palestine refugees. She is very passionate about human rights and is dedicated to working to ensure that human rights are respected for all people, everywhere. Lena supports our UNRWA USA team as the Finance and Administrative Officer.
Ask Lena about: your donations, finances/budget, football (soccer), social media, cooking, yoga, reading!
Nusayba is a Palestinian-American who grew up in the DC area. She joined the UNRWA USA dream team in 2016, prior to which she worked for UNRWA in Palestine, Visualizing Palestine, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and Jadaliyya. Nusayba holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality from the University of Virginia.
In her spare time, she geeks out over feminist theory and avoids learning how to cook.
Ask Nusayba about:communications, volunteering, horror movies, intersectionality, and her aspirations to be a dabke laweeha.