Staff

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Executive Director

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 formerly served as the senior director of Advocacy and Outreach for World Vision U.S. on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC; as consultant to the Middle East for child advocacy issues for Compassion International in Jerusalem; as the executive pastor of Hillside Covenant Church located in Walnut Creek, California; and as director of development and transformation for extension ministries at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.

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. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, Leadership Magazine, The Christian Post, Jerusalem Post, EU Parliament Magazine, Huffington Post, and other international media outlets.
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Kyle Cristofalo
Director of Advocacy and Government Relations

Kyle holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Messiah College, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Kyle was first introduced to Middle East advocacy work during a semester abroad in Cairo, Egypt. After graduating from college, Kyle spent 10 months serving with the Mennonite Central Committee in Bethlehem, Palestine, where he was seconded to work with Bethlehem Bible College. Most recently, Kyle served as the Program Assistant for Middle East Policy at the Friends Committee on Legislation where he helped coordinate lobbying work on Middle East policy and trained grassroots advocates on how to lobby their Congressional representatives.

Nicole Morgan
Operations Manager

Nicole earned her Masters in Theological Studies with an emphasis in Public Policy from Palmer Seminary of Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA.  Before joining CMEP, Nicole worked with an educational non-profit near Chicago and as a high school teacher near Atlanta. Nicole believes deeply that the way we love our neighbors says a lot about our love for God. She lives near Atlanta, GA.

Katie McRoberts
Director of Communications

Katie is the Director of Communications. She currently lives in Berlin and works remotely. She has a B.A. in International Affairs in the Middle East from James Madison University and an M.A. in Comparative Religion – Islam from the University of Washington. Previously, she worked at Bellevue Presbyterian Church as their Editor-in-Chief on the Communications Team.

Elli Atchison
Donor Ambassador

Elli Atchison’s love for Jesus initially brought her to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage in 2012. But it is her love for all of God’s people that has continued to send her back every year since. The friendships she has made with Israelis and Palestinians over the years inspire her to work as an advocate for just peace.

As an educator and a mother, Elli is motivated to help improve the lives of children living in the region. She has volunteered with World Vision, sponsored projects for children in Palestine, and currently helps lead an interfaith ministry for peace with justice in her community. She is proud to serve along side the staff of CMEP, volunteering as the Ambassador of Donor Engagement and a Regional Coordinator. Elli and her husband primarily live in Orlando, where they stay busy homeschooling their three children, traveling, and volunteering in their community.
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Sara Burback
Director of Outreach

Sara Burback served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan as an English teacher. Her experience there led her to the University of Denver's Korbel School of International Studies, where she earned her MA in International Human Rights and served as an intern in World Vision's Advocacy office, where she focused on addressing advocacy work within the faith-based community regarding Israel and Palestine. She recently worked as a Program Coordinator at the United States Energy Association in Washington, DC, creating workshops and exchanges addressing capacity-building and energy access needs in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. She's served as a volunteer with CMEP for the And Still We Rise Summit, is a regular contributor to the online periodical Shared Justice, and participates annually in Bethlehem's Right to Movement marathon in defense of the basic human right to movement.

Ambassador Warren Clark Fellows


Andrew Wickersham
Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow

Andrew Wickersham serves as a CMEP Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow. He previously served as the Government Relations Intern during the fall of 2017 after recently completing his MA in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago. As a history student with interests in nationalism, identity, and minority rights, Andrew has been interested in the Middle East politics for many years. His stay in the West Bank with host families during the fall of 2014 prompted him to become engaged on the issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. His passion for politics led him to look for ways to advocate for a just and peaceful resolution to Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in Washington, D.C after graduating.     

Jennifer Atala
Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow
Jennifer Atala, a Palestinian American, has a consulting business where she advises entrepreneurs, private businesses, and associations in business development, B2B marketing, and strategy. Most recently, she led private sector competitiveness for the private sector and USAID in Palestine. 
 
Prior, Ms. Atala led software development and data analytics projects in the private sector in the U.S., managed a job creation and stabilization program for USAID in Afghanistan, led microfinance impact initiatives in Egypt, and worked with the financial institutions group at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC. 
 
She graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) with an M.A. in International Economics and Development and with a B.A. from the University of Chicago.  Based between Ramallah and Haifa, she is also an active yoga teacher and Truman National Security Project Fellow. 
www.atala.me

Volunteers


Jessica Hill
Volunteer

Jessica Hill holds a B.A in History from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She was first introduced to the Holy Land by participating in an archaeological excavation in the region during 2014. Her specific areas of interest are women’s advocacy, and peace building through faith based initiatives. As a religious Jew, she is also particularly interested in working Jewish millennials to explore their relationship with the Holy Land and educate about the realities on the ground. Jessica is currently a regional coordinator with CMEP and served CMEP as an intern Spring 2017.

Celia Riley
Volunteer

Celia is a volunteer with the CMEP Communication team. She has a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration, moving to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to work as a Research Analyst on Capitol Hill. After returning from a 2011, dual-narrative trip to the Holy Land, Celia searched for ways to become involved with advocacy. For three years, she led teams from National Community Church to Bethlehem to learn from organizations and local peacemakers that pursue justice and reconciliation. Upon return, she connected team members to CMEP’s advocacy work and approach to holistic policy.

Interns


Marissa Deweerd
Intern

Marissa DeWeerd is a 2018 Middle East Partnership Intern who just received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Religious Studies from Mount Allison University. She spent part of 2016 living in Amman, Jordan, actively learning about the area's language, culture and politics. Since then, she has been involved in various programs within her community, and is ecstatic to begin working again in the region that so captivates her. She is currently working out of Amman, where she enjoys Knafeh and continuing to practice her Arabic. 

Isabelle Foley
Intern

Isabelle is a Government Affairs intern at CMEP and a rising Fourth Year at the University of Virginia. She is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Foreign Affairs and Religious Studies, as well as a French minor. She is particularly interested in Middle Eastern politics and Abrahamic religions, and works for the UVA Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Conflict. Her travels throughout the MENA region have taken her to Lebanon (the home of her maternal family), Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia. After graduation, she hopes to make her first trip to the Holy Land with visits to Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. 

Michelle Guzman
Intern

Michelle is a summer Research Intern at CMEP and a Class of 2018 graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and English. She also has a Conflict Analysis and Resolution Certificate from UC Irvine’s School of Social Sciences. At UC Irvine, she was involved in the Olive Tree Initiative, which is a conflict analysis and resolution organization on campus that studies the conflict in Israel and Palestine, as well as other conflicts around the world. Last summer, she traveled with the Olive Tree Initiative as a Student Diplomat to Washington, D.C., New York, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine to study the conflict at a deeper level. On the trip, she and her fellow Student Diplomats met with 70+ speakers ranging from key politicians to civilians living through the conflict. Her studies and experiences in the region have made her very passionate about working towards peace. 

Maya Ungar
Intern

Maya is our 2018 summer Research and Government Affairs Intern. She is studying International Studies, Political Science and French at the University of Arkansas. In a previous trip to Israel and Jordan she was first exposed to Middle East culture and became fascinated with it. This has prompted her passion for studying and working for peace in the region. This year, Maya will be entering her junior year, trying out tons of new vegetarian recipes, and studying abroad in the Spring. 

Karina Richardson
Intern

Karina is our 2018 Communications + Outreach Intern. She is studying Global Development and Digital Media/Photography at Seattle Pacific University. In 2016, Karina lived in Amman, Jordan learning Arabic and engaging in Middle Eastern politics and culture. She has joined the CMEP team to continue advocating for peace and justice in the Middle East through visual and written communications. This year Karina is hosting her first photography exhibit, graduating in June, and searching for the best camping spot in the San Juan Islands.

Jena Al-Barzinji
Intern

Jena Al-Barzinji is a 2018 graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied Middle Eastern Studies and Economics. She wrote an honors thesis analyzing how current representations of Muslim and Arab characters in television arise from and extend a long genealogy of demeaning, stereotypical portrayals within the broader contexts of Islamophobia in the West. While at UVA, she studied Arabic for four years and was an event/content planner for the Arabic Conversation Club. She is of Iraqi-Palestinian heritage and she is interested in learning more about the Arab Israeli conflict.