Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of the Duke Islamic Studies Center is an international board comprised of Muslims and non-Muslims. The Board includes members of the public and private sectors as well as scholars. The Board provides strategic advice on program initiatives to the DISC Director and staff, assists with fundraising activities, and helps raise the profile of the Duke Islamic Studies Center at home and abroad.

DISC Advisory Board Members (2018-19):

Attila Aşkar: Attila Aşkar is President Emeritus of Koç University in Istanbul and serves as a Professor of Mathematics at the University.  Prior to his current position, Dr. Aşkar served Koç University as President, Provost, and the founding Dean of Arts and Sciences.  His previous academic appointments included positions at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul, Brown University, Princeton University, Paris University VI, Max-Planck Institute in Göttingen and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Attila Aşkar recognitions include the Science Achievement Award, the Senior Scientist Award of the National Research Council of Turkey (Tubitak), and the Information Age Award of the Ministry of Culture of Turkey.  He was elected by peers as a permanent member of the National Academy of Sciences of Turkey (TUBA).  Attila Aşkar received his Engineering Diploma from the Technical University of Istanbul in 1966, his PhD from Princeton University in 1969, and was a post-doc at Brown University. His recent research interests include scattering of classical and quantum waves, and nonlinear differential equations. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Near Eastern Studies Program at Princeton University, and is a member of the Global Relations Forum (The Turkish Council on Foreign Relations).  He has served on the Board of Directors of Koç Holding, the Advisory Board of the Center for Excellence in Education based in Washington DC, and the Advisory Board of Hisar School in Istanbul.

D. Randall Benn: D. Randall Benn has his BA and JD from Duke University where he received several academic awards and was very involved in campus life. Benn has also served as a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Benn is an experienced lawyer, lobbyist and strategic consultant. As a Partner at two of the world’s largest law firms he built an environmental, energy and public policy practice representing Fortune 500 corporations, municipal governments, non-profits, trade associations and startups. At the USEPA he was Attorney-Adviser to the head of the US water program and was responsible for key Clean Water Act policy and legislative issues. He served as Senior Policy Advisor for The Cordoba Initiative, focusing on building strategic alliances between the Muslim and Western worlds. He lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. He serves or has served as a member of the President’s Council, Common Cause; a founding Board Member and Executive Committee Member of the Clean Water America Alliance; Advisory Board Chairman of Love Thy Neighbor; Friends of Interfaith Youth Core; Board and Assembly Member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, DC,; and Board Member of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

Johny Chaklader:  Mr. Chaklader advises clients on export controls, economic sanctions, customs matters, anti-bribery, and foreign boycotts under the U.S. Commerce Department’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) economic sanctions regulations, Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) regulations, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and international sanctions regimes.  Mr. Chaklader graduated from Colgate University as an Alumni Memorial Scholar with a B.A. in Geology in 2003.  He completed his J.D. at the Howard University School of Law and M.B.A. in Finance at the Howard University School of Business in 2010, where he served as staff editor of the Howard Law Journal.  Mr. Chaklader is completing a master’s degree with a focus on Sustainable Development and International Trade from Harvard Extension School. 

Kate Deyst: Kate Deyst has focused her expertise and energy for the past 15 years on fighting food insecurity and poverty. She is a trustee of the Eos Foundation, whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by investing in children's futures. She is a former Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Food Project (Lincoln and Roxbury, MA), and a co-founder of and former executive director of Growing Places (Leominster, MA), an organization that donates vegetable gardens and gardening support to low-income residents of North Central Massachusetts. She received a B.A. from Harvard University in 1984, a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in 1992, and did post-doctoral research at Brown University.

James P. Gorter, Emeritus Board Member: Jim Gorter served as Chair of the DISC Advisory Board from 2006 – 2012. He graduated from Princeton University in 1951 and attended the London School of Economics on a Woodrow Wilson fellowship. He is a retired partner and member of the Management Committee of Goldman Sachs. He has two children who graduated from Duke.

David Graham: David Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S politics, national and global news, and music. He was previously politics editor at The Atlantic and before that reported for Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Wall Street Journal, and Abu Dhabi's The National. In 2009, he graduated from Duke University, where he studied history and Arabic and was the first recipient of a certificate in Islamic Studies.

Christiane Gruber: Christiane Gruber’s primary field of research is Islamic book arts, paintings of the Prophet Muhammad, and Islamic ascension texts and images, about which she has written two books and edited a volume of articles. She also pursues research in Islamic book arts and codicology, having authored the online catalogue of Islamic calligraphies in the Library of Congress as well as edited the volume of articles, The Islamic Manuscript Tradition. Her third field of specialization is modern Islamic visual culture and post-revolutionary Iranian visual and material culture, about which she has written several articles. She also has co-edited two volumes on Islamic and cross-cultural visual cultures. She is currently writing her next book, titled The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images.

Ali Hashemi:  Ali Hashemi is a Managing Partner at Avicenna Partners.  Ali is a healthcare strategist and a widely-consulted expert on healthcare in the countries of the MENA+T region. Prior to founding Avicenna Partners, Ali was the founding member and leader of the Middle East Healthcare Practice for Booz & Company, a top-tier international management consultancy, where he led healthcare strategy and investment advisory assignments for private equity, corporate, institutional and public sector clients across the Europe, Middle East and Asia, and across all major verticals including services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, devices and biotech. A United States national, Ali was previously based in New York City as a member of Bain & Company’s Healthcare and Private Equity practices. Ali studied Medicine and received his MBA concurrently from McGill University as part of a joint MD/MBA program. Ali also received a B.S.E. with Distinction from Duke University with a dual major in Biomedical Engineering and Religion and a minor in Chemistry.

Katherine Henderson: Rev. Henderson is Head of Auburn Seminary and is author of "God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith are Changing the World" (Continuum, 2006), She is an international leader in theological education and has pioneered programs for excellence in religious leadership of all faiths and progressive moral leadership in the public square.  Rev. Henderson has spearheaded innovative educational programs, ranging from convening CEOs of major American corporations to review the ethics of their business practice to multifaith women’s organizing to infusing mainstream media with responsible engaging religious voices.

Seeme Gull Khan Hasan: Mrs. Hasan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and migrated to the United States in 1971. She is a graduate of the prestigious Kinniard College for Women (Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan). Mrs. Hasan is the founder and co-chairman of Muslims for America and the independent record label iSufiRock.  Mrs. Hasan also serves as Chairman of the Hasan Family Foundation. Through the Hasan Family Foundation, Mrs. Hasan will continue to build bridges between America and the Muslim World, between disadvantaged youth and the arts, using the arts and culture as the connecting stones, and between the voices of independence and freedom and the greater society.  Among her many accomplishments, her generosity made possible the founding of the Colorado Music Fest at Colorado State University at Pueblo.  As an active supporter of the performing arts, she was appointed by the governor to the Colorado Council on the Arts. Mrs. Hasan is also a trustee of the Kennedy Center’s National Symphony Orchestra and an advisory board member of Bravo Music Festival in Vail, CO.  Mr. and Mrs. Malik and Seeme Hasan have four children: Asma, Muhammad, Aliya and Rehan.

Bruce B. Lawrence, Emeritus Board Member:  Bruce Lawrence is Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, where he taught for four decades. He holds a PhD in History of Religions from Yale University and has been awarded honorary ThDs from both Virginia Theological Seminary and Episcopal Divinity School. The inaugural director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, Lawrence is currently a member of the DISC Advisory Board as well as the Academic Advisory Board of the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies. He is a Carnegie Scholar whose current research examines how religious minorities negotiate citizenship in NE Africa (Egypt and Ethiopia) as also in SE Asia (Indonesia and the southern Philippines).

Mona Malik:  Mona Malik is a community leader and social worker with over fifteen years of experience in leading and creating community services programs for domestic violence, clergy training, conflict resolution, youth engagement and other social services required for immigrant communities in Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and the growing American Muslim community.  Over the past five years, Malik has led key non-profits that are focused on issues impacting women and youth both within religious settings and other organizations.  Malik is the current president of the Peaceful Families Project and the SVP of Operations at Legal Advantage in Bethesda, MD as well as a board member of the Virginia Department of Social Services. 

Bettye Musham, Emeritus Board Member: Bettye Martin Musham is a graduate of Duke University School of Nursing. In 1978 she founded Gear Holdings, Inc. to develop and implement brands through design, licensing and marketing. Bettye Musham has served on various corporate boards and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a founding member of the DISC Advisory Board.

Kimberly Reed, Chair: Kim graduated from Duke University in 1986 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1989. After two decades practicing in major international law firms in the US, Russia, and central Europe, she is the CEO of Reed International Law & Consulting, LLC. Her current law and consulting practice concentrates on foreign investment and infrastructure in Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. She served as Director of International Operations for Obama for America in 2008 and is a former Assistant Dean and Professor of Law at UNC. She has been an active member of the Duke alumni community where she currently serves as Chair of the Duke University Women's Forum and as a Board member of Duke DC.  She is formerly a Vice-President of the Duke University Alumni Association.  

Behdad Shahsavari: Based in PwC’s Strategy&'s Amsterdam office, Behdad Shahsavari is a Partner and the leader of the European Consumer and Retail Practice, as well as co-leader of the Digital Practice. He focuses on the development of corporate strategy, large scale transformation and change programs, post-merger integration (PMI), and organizational structure and design.With extensive experience in life sciences and agriculture, Behdad has also developed commercialization and retailing strategies for a variety of new products, modeled the economics of seed genetics, and developed value chain positions for innovations. Behdad graduated magna cum laude from Duke University with a B.A. in economics, religion, and comparative area studies.

Elsie Vance: Elsie has served as an international consultant, based in Istanbul and New York, for twenty years, providing strategic, marketing and governance services, primarily to leadership NGOs.  She serves on the Board of Trustees of Robert College of Istanbul, and the Advisory Board of the Vance Center for International Justice of the Bar Association of New York City.  Vance is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Turkey’s Global Relations Forum, a Turkish Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to moving to Istanbul, Vance worked from 1987 to 1994 as Vice President of the New York City Partnership, the leading business leadership organization in New York dedicated to promoting the social and economic climate of the city. Prior to that, she worked in leadership positions in the United States Senate from 1970 to 1986.  A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Ms. Vance received an M.B.A. from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey in 1995.