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!
Laila Mokhiber, Director of Communications
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 (piano) 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!
Lori Mosher, Program Manager
As a teenager, Lori left home in southern New Jersey to attend an international scout camp in England. That experience sparked her interest in global citizenship, social justice, and peacebuilding. This passion led her to pursue an MS in International Education (with a focus in Peace Education) from Drexel University and a BA in International Studies (with a focus in International Development) from American University.
Lori spent almost ten years working for humanitarian and development organizations before joining UNRWA USA as our Program Manager. She enjoys recruiting and connecting volunteers, advocates, and donors to UNRWA’s crucial work in support Palestine refugees.
Ask Lori about: volunteer opportunities, joining the UNRWA alumni network, her love for the Chesapeake Bay, her mischievous bunny rabbit, scouting, sailing, and exploring National Parks.
Medhini Kumar, Communications and Development Officer
Not unfamiliar with the 'where are you really from?' question, Medhini considers herself a citizen of the world with Coloradan and Indian roots. Passionate about social justice, refugee rights, and dignity for all people, Medhini aims to contribute to a more just world through her work with UNRWA USA.
Prior to this role, Medhini worked in various humanitarian capacities with international NGOs in Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. Stateside, she has worked within the human rights/anti-terrorism practice group at Motley Rice LLC. She holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a BA in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies from Emory University, degrees that would most likely cause Edward Said to turn in his grave.
Ask Medhini about: international humanitarian/human rights law, Palestine refugees, the merits and flaws of various map projections, Lord of the Rings, and all things ice cream.
Ruben Kahvedjian, Finance and Administrative Officer
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ruben got his start managing his family's business and Jerusalem institution -- Elia Photo Service (look it up!). He went on to work for four years covering Israel/Palestine stories for the Financial Times newspaper before relocating across the Atlantic to the United States in 2009. Since then his career has been all about numbers working for an international school in Washington DC and now as the Finance and Administrative Officer for UNRWA USA.
Ask Ruben about: life in the Old City, your donation record, how many languages he speaks, Armenian recipes, his food truck, carpentry, bike-riding, and his favorite dad jokes.