Filling the GAPs

Philanthropy Support in the Arab Region

Advisory Committee Members:

The advisory board, which is chaired by Atallah Kuttab,  include members with international and/or Arab experience:


* International: Barry Gaberman (US), Rien van Gendt (Netherland), Christopher Harris (US), Barry Knight (UK).

* Arab Region: Zeina Akr (Lebanon), Saed Karajah (Jordan), Dina Sharif (Egypt) – two others are considered, one from the Arab Gulf Countries and another from the Arab Maghreb countries.

* Founders: Ebba Augustin (Germany/Palestine) and Atallah Kuttab (Palestine)

Brief on the Advisory Board and Founders follows:


Zeina Adra is holder of Social Sciences degree in Marketing/Management from the Lebanese American University (formerly known as Beirut University College), has over 16 years of practical, management and research experience.  As a Partner and Executive Director for Information International, Ms. Adra leads the Beirut-based research and consultancy firm in survey research, database collection and analysis of projects for the Arab World and the Near East in the areas of health, education, agriculture, infrastructure facilities and demographic and socio-economic studies (including project evaluation and impact assessment).


In addition to working with Information International, Ms. Adra is Founder and Program Director of the Social and Cultural Development Association (INMA), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that was established in 1997 and services clusters of villages and specific neighborhoods throughout Lebanon. For INMA, Ms. Adra directs national, sustainable projects in tourism and agriculture that focus on health, education, environment, cultural and income generating activities.

Ms. Adra has significant experience working on international development and donor-funded projects, through which she has conducted needs assessment, reviews of literature, qualitative and quantitative studies, structured questionnaires for surveys based on random sampling, field visits, training and supervising of field surveyors, analysis of data and preparation of reports.She has also established and maintained close contacts with international donors, NGOs and UN agencies, local banks, financial institutions, auditors and Government of Lebanon ministries and local municipalities, which provide her with the ability to coordinate and meet with key stakeholders and city officials throughout Lebanon.  


Ebba Augustinis a Political and Social Scientist, has more than 18 years of development experience as project manager, advisor, management coach and consultant in the Middle East.  Her engagement started in the late 80s with her PhD research on Women Political Mobilization during the first Palestinian Intifada. For eight years she managed projects and programs for the German Agency for Technical Cooperation GTZ in the Middle East, Europe and Africa and later provided consultancy services for international and national organizations in the Balkans, Asia, Europe and the Maghreb. In 2000 Ms. Augustin represented the Graduate School-USDA in Washington as Country representative in Egypt. Since 2001 a resident of Amman-Jordan her work has focused on advisory services, research, strategic planning, impact monitoring and moderation of high level meetings and conferences for public and private sector actors, civil-society groups, international and multi-national organizations in the Arab Region and Europe. Mrs. Augustin has served as board member and provides voluntary services to Middle Eastern philanthropic organizations and in 2011 founded SAANED for Philanthropy Advisory in the Arab Region and assumed CEO position at SAANED.


Barry Gabermancompleted 35 years with the Ford Foundation as Senior VP where he was responsible for managing the meetings and affairs of the foundation’s Board of Directors.  For five years he was Chairman and President of Boardsource, which is dedicated to advancing the public good by building exceptional nonprofit boards and inspiring board service.  Currently he is Chair of the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Chair of OXFAM America.  He received the Council on Foundation's 2006 Distinguished Grantmaker Awardfor his untiring passion for philanthropyHe has served on the boards of the Council on Foundations, the Independent Sector, the European Foundation Centre, the International Fellowships Fund, Hispanics in Philanthropy, the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation. He is also the past chair of the Foundation Center and the chair emeritus of the Coordinating Committee of WINGS (Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support). 


Christopher M. Harris is currently Senior Consultant to the Foundation Center in New York and to the Bernard van Leer Foundation in the Netherlands.  Until last year  he served for ten years as the Senior Program Officer on Philanthropy at the Ford Foundation where he worked on strengthening new and existing philanthropy in the U.S. and globally.  The special focus of his work was on how philanthropy can be best used as a tool for social justice and peace.  His grants focused on increasing and improving funding by foundations for rights and justice efforts—racial, human, economic, civil, women’s, sexual and cultural rights as well as for peace and reconciliation.  He supported the founding of the Arab Human Rights Fund, Trust Africa and the Brazil Human Rights Fund.  He managed the design of the Foundation’s $100 million International Initiative to Strengthen Philanthropy, a support and learning network of 20 foundations across the globe; co-chaired the Foundation’s worldwide Philanthropy Learning Group; and was a member of the Ford Foundation Foreign Policy Task Force.  He founded the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace, on which he still serves.  His work also included funding research and strengthening philanthropic infrastructure and foundation accountability.

Prior to his time at Ford, Harris was a vice president at the Council on Foundations where he directed work on professional development and international issues.  Earlier he served with the Council of Chief State School Officers, where he focused on improving education for marginalized students, and worked closely with federal agencies, Congressional staff, state departments of education and advocacy groups on policy development and legislation.    Harris also has substantial overseas experience.  He has worked on education and training in the West Bank and Gaza, and served on the founding staff of the International Relief/Development Project in Somalia and Ethiopia.  He has a doctorate in education from Harvard University and was on the Editorial Board of the Harvard Educational Review

He is currently on the editorial board of Alliance magazine (UK), the advisory board of the John Gerhart Center on Philanthropy and Civic Engagement (American University in Cairo), the board of directors of the Friends of the Fondation de France and is a trustee of the Philanthropy Bridge Foundation (London).   He also serves as senior advisor to the China Foundation Center (Beijing) as well as on several other advisory committees in the U.S. and other countries.  He has edited several books on education policy and written a number of articles on philanthropy.


Barry Knight is executive director of CENTRIS, Barry has worked as an adviser to the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Global Fund for Community Foundations, Sabanci Foundation, Foundations for Peace and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre. He is co‐chair of the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace, which is developing a learning community of practitioners across the globe. His earlier career includes appointments at the Home Office and Cambridge University. He has written books about civil society, voluntary action, economic development, democracy and social justice.


Atallah Kuttab holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. He spent 3 years working in engineering consulting in the private sector and 10 years in education in planning, teaching and research at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. Dr. Kuttab was a GTZ technical consultant for informal sector employment in Zambia for 3 years, and served with Save the Children for 11 years, most recently as Middle East Regional Manager, covering operations in Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. His management specialty areas are in staff management, fundraising and in forging private sector/ non-government sector  relationships to further development efforts. He joined Welfare Association as the Director General in August 2005 supporting Palestinians primarily in Palestine and Lebanon. He is a Founding Member of Arab Human Rights Fund and Founding Member of the Arab Foundations Forum.  He also a member of the Editorial Board of Alliance Magazine, Global Philanthropy Leadership Initiative, and WINGS Coordination Committee.


Dina H. Sherif has been the Associate Director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement since it was established in 2006 at the American University in Cairo.  Further to that, she also frequently consults with companies based in the Arab region with regards to their corporate social responsibility efforts.

Prior to her position at the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, she was the Deputy Director of Projects at Financial Technical Consulting Services, a consultancy firm that specializes in rural development in sub-Saharan Africa, where she travelled extensively throughout Africa. Ms. Sherif also has wide-ranging experience in development at the local level in Egypt through her work at the Institute for Cultural Affairs in the Middle East and North Africa, and her work at Environmental Quality International. Further to the above, she is currently a board member of the Arab Media Forum for Environment and Development, a US Based NGO called Soliya, the Alashanek ya Baladi Association (For You My Country), and Tawasol; all based in Egypt.

Ms. Sherif’s overall experience has led her to be qualified in project management, strategic planning, the design of public awareness campaigns, monitoring and evaluation, program design, organizational capacity building and socio-economic research. Over Ms. Sherif’s ten years of experience, her work has been applied to the following areas: environment, education, women’s empowerment, youth development, food security, agricultural development, public health, service learning and strategic philanthropy.

Ms. Sherif is co –editor and contributing author of the book: From Charity to Social Change: Trends in Arab Philanthropy.

Ms. Sherif holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in Development Studies, both acquired from the American University in Cairo and is currently working on a PhD in Philanthropy Studies at Indiana University Purdue in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Rien van Gendt (1943) has retired on October 1, 2007 as Executive Director of the Van Leer Group Foundation in Amstelveen (Netherlands). Previously he worked in the University of Amsterdam, in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris (France) and in the public sector as Deputy Secretary of the Scientific Council for Government Policy in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister (Netherlands) and as Deputy Director of the State Administration Limburg (Netherlands). He worked in the private sector as Chief Executive Officer of Wilma Vastgoed B.V., an international real estate development and management company (Utrecht, Netherlands) before joining the Bernard Van Leer Foundation (The Hague, Netherlands) in 1988 as Executive Director. In 2002 he was appointed Executive Director of the Van Leer Group Foundation. After his retirement in October 2007 he has started ‘Van Gendt Philanthropy Services’.

At present he serves on the supervisory/advisory boards of several foundations, not-for-profit organizations and corporations in the Netherlands and the United States, like the Van Leer Group Foundation (Amstelveen, Netherlands; also Member of their Investment Committee), Bernard van Leer Foundation (The Hague, Netherlands), Bernard van Leer Stiftung (Lucerne, Switserland), Crecor BV (Amstelveen, Netherlands), Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (New York, USA), Flowfund (Hilversum, Netherlands), European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Foundation 1818 (The Hague, Netherlands), Marie and Alain Philippson Foundation (Brussels, Belgium), European Foundation Center (Brussels, Belgium), Weekendschool (Amsterdam, Netherlands), International Council on Security and Development (London, UK), Partners in Health (Boston, US), Dance4Life International (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and the Cooperating Dutch Philanthropic Organisations/SBF (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

He chairs the Board of Alliance Publishing Trust (London, UK), the Board of the Dutch Association of Foundations/FIN (The Hague, Netherlands) and chairs the Investment Committees of Foundation 1818 and the Flow Fund.

In 2005 Rien van Gendt received the Distinguished Grantmaker Award in the United States.


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