Strategic Advisor with DLA Piper
George R. Salem established the Law Offices of George R. Salem, PLLC in January 2005. In November 2005 he entered into a relationship as Strategic Advisor with DLA Piper, where he is focused on assisting in the development of DLA Piper's Middle East and US Department of Labor practices. From 1990-2004, Mr. Salem was a partner at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, where he headed that firm's Middle East and USDOL practices. During the course of his career, Mr. Salem has negotiated some of the most significant settlements in the field of labor law, among them the resolution of all pending ERISA cases against the Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund, the E.O. 11246 discrimination case against Harris Trust and Savings Bank, and several major OSHA and FLSA settlements, including the major FLSA settlement involving Food Lion. On behalf of various Middle East clients, Mr. Salem headed the legal teams that handled the acquisitions of major assets, including refineries in the Middle East. In addition, he headed the legal team that successfully brought suit against the Department of Treasury on behalf of the owners of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was destroyed by the U.S. Navy. From 1985 to 1989, Mr. Salem served as the Solicitor of Labor. As the U.S. Department of Labor’s chief legal officer, he was responsible for enforcing more than 130 laws that regulate the nation's workplace, including those guaranteeing minimum wage through the Fair Labor Standards Act, ensuring occupational safety and health pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and maintaining pension security under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Mr. Salem headed a staff of 850 lawyers and support staff in 13 national offices and 16 regional and sub-regional offices around the country. Mr. Salem played key roles in the Reagan-Bush '84, Bush-Quayle '88, and Bush- Cheney '00 campaigns. In addition, he served as a member of the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as chairman of the Tripartite Advisory Panel on International Labor Standards, the legal arm of the President's Committee on the International Labor Organization. In 2022 Mr. Salem was appointed by the Biden Administration’s USAID Administrator as the inaugural Board Chair of the Partnership for Peace Fund (PPF) Advisory Board, a bipartisan board established by Congress pursuant to the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA). Mr. Salem has written and spoken extensively on labor law and related topics and has lectured in Moscow, Beijing, Cairo, and Geneva. He is also active in several professional associations, and is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in American Politics, Who's Who in Finance and Industry, The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, The International Who's Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Washington Super Lawyers and Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers, and The Best Lawyers in America. In addition, he was named by The National Law Journal as one of the top 26 labor lawyers in the United States. He is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Salem co-founded the Arab American Institute in 1985 and currently serves as its chairman, and has served as treasurer of United Palestinian Appeal, Inc. since 1982. He is a past president of the National Association of Arab Americans and has served on the board of directors of the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee. In 2003 he was named to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy’s Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World, which was assembled at the request of Congress to study the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts in these regions. On behalf of the Bush Administration, Mr. Salem served as an official observer to the Palestinian elections held in February 2005, and also as President George W. Bush’s representative to the funeral of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. In 1992 Mr. Salem received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The award is presented annually to Americans of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their own ethnic groups and to American society.
Elias F. Aburdene
President, Rock Creek Corporation
Mr. Aburdene is currently the President of Rock Creek Corporation, an investment company. Elias launched his career with Citibank, New York in 1976. He has been in the world of finance and investments for the past 41 years. Elias holds a BA in Economics Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut and a Masters from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a specialization in International Economics. He is on the advisory board for the Washington Metro Area of BB&T Bank. Additionally, Elias serves on the Board of Regents of Bethlehem University and the Bethlehem University Endowment (USA) and for the Center for Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Elias is married with three adult children.
Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou
Faculty Director of the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy
Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou is a non-resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. She is spending this semester as a Research Scholar at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she was Faculty Director of the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy. Prodromou served a diplomatic appointment as Vice Chair and Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (2004-2012), and she was also a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group (2011-2015). She is a co-president of Religions for Peace. Her research interests focus on the intersections of geopolitics, religion, and human rights, with particular focus on the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The author of two edited volumes and many book chapters, her most recent publication deals with Russian influence-building through religious soft power, in The Kremlin Playbook 3: Keeping the Faith. She has published widely in peer-review journals, including Journal of World Christianity, Journal of Democracy, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Orbis, Survival, European Journal of Political Research, among others. Prodromou is a frequent commentator and contributor in US and international media platforms, and she has offered expert testimony and briefings to policymaking bodies such as the US Helsinki Commission, the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She has held visiting research appointments from the Center for American Progress, the Hedayah International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, Harvard University, and Princeton University, among others. She holds a Ph.D. and an S.M. in political science from MIT, an M.A.L.D. in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), and a B.A. in history and international relations from Tufts University. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She is married to Dr. Alexandros Kyrou, and they are happy parents to their daughter, Sophia.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Executive Director Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Cannon holds an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, an MBA from North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management, and an MA in bioethics from Trinity International University. She received her first doctorate in American History with a minor in Middle Eastern studies at the University of California (Davis) focusing on the history of the American Protestant church in Israel and Palestine and her second doctorate in Ministry in Spiritual Formation from Northern Theological Seminary. She is the author of several books including the award-winning Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World, Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age, and editor of A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, Leadership Magazine, The Christian Post, Jerusalem Post, EU Parliament Magazine, Huffington Post, and other international media outlets.