Find out the story behind the headlines and learn how we can respond.
DR. GEORGETTE F. BENNETT
Founder & President, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding Founder, Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees
Dr. Georgette Bennett, President of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, is a sociologist by training who has spent the past 22 years advancing interreligious relations. She founded Tanenbaum in 1992 to combat religious prejudice and the Multifaith Alliance in 2013, to mobilize support for alleviating the suffering of Syria's war victims. Among many other honors, Dr. Bennett has been recognized by the Syrian American Medical Society for her work on behalf of Syrian refugees.
An active philanthropist, Dr. Bennett focuses her personal charitable activities on conflict resolution and intergroup relations. She serves on the boards of Third Way Institute; and the Jewish Funders Network, where she is currently the Vice Chair, was formerly the Chair of the Membership Committee, and co-chaired the 2015 Annual Conference. Additionally, she is an Overseer of the International Rescue Committee. In the U.K. she serves on the Advisory Board of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
MR SHADI MARTINI
As it has with so many other victims of this crisis, the Syrian war turned businessman Shadi Martini into a refugee, an activist, and an advocate for greater cooperation across faith and cultural lines. Now, as the Senior Syria Advisor to the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, Mr. Martini travels throughout the U.S. and abroad to raise awareness of the crisis, encourage greater public engagement, facilitate partnerships between organizations focused on addressing similar issues, and plant the seeds for future stability in the region by fostering people-to-people engagement. He frequently presents to government officials, civil society leaders, the media, and various secular, faith, and interfaith gatherings.
He was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria and graduated from the High School Aleppo Scientific College. Martini attended college in Lebanon where he received his BA from Beirut University College in 1993. After graduation, Martini went to Bulgaria and formed his own manufacturing company. In 2009 he returned to Syria to run his family’s business.
In March 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on those providing aid to anyone suspected of being in the opposition, Mr. Martini, then the General Manager of a hospital in Aleppo, and his comrades worked covertly to provide aid to wounded and ill civilians. This secret network was eventually discovered in mid-2012, forcing him to flee his country.
In 2014, Martini founded Refugee Support Group, a humanitarian aid organization based in Bulgaria. For the past several years he has partnered with various faith-based organizations in the U.S. and abroad, which led to his involvement with the Multifaith Alliance. In that capacity, he continues his work in the Middle East and also coordinates major relief efforts for Syrian refugees flooding into Europe.
Martini is fluent in Arabic, English and Bulgarian. In April, he became a United States citizen.