Regional Coordinators are vital members of CMEP’s work with essential roles in providing American Christians opportunities to support balanced and pertinent positions for U.S. policymakers that support peace in the Holy Land.
The objective of CMEP’s grassroots advocacy work is to increase the number of messages/reinforcements sent to U.S. policymakers/implementers/influencers in support of Middle East peace from the grassroots community. To do this CMEP recruits and supports local leaders and organizations that recruit and engage Christians concerned about peace with justice in the Holy Land.
Coordinators work with people in distinct geographical areas to coordinate meetings with Senators and/or Congressional Representatives, increase the number of people responding to CMEP’s calls to contact their elected officials or members of the White House administration, raise awareness and education of grassroots network so as to better equip them to be better advocates for peace in the Holy land.
Coordinators are individual activists who are:
- Committed to working for Middle East peace and stay current on developing issues
- Experienced in faith-based social activism and have a personal history of involvement in church-based groups
- In agreement with CMEP’s principles and policy positions, and stay informed about CMEP’s current advocacy efforts (website),
- Articulate a balanced, informed, and empathetic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through verbal and written communications
- Facilitating and fostering dialogue, whether it is within a congregation, an ecumenical or interfaith gathering, or congressional office, including relating to local Jewish and Arab-American groups engaging in advocacy on the Israeli-Palestinian situation
- Often engaged in multiple activists actions and are publically clear when they are working as a CMEP Coordinator.
Coordinators are committed individuals who will:
- Educate others in CMEP’s federal advocacy and motivate them to respond to CMEP’s calls for action by, among other activities: Providing presentations to local church communities and others interested groups through adult education/forums, mission moments, evening presentations, etc.; Writing articles for congregation or other church newsletters, websites, and other communications
- Conduct local advocacy efforts and outreach to local churches, lay and clergy leaders, and ecumenical and interfaith groups in their own geographic area by: Encouraging people to sign-up for CMEP’s Action Alerts and forwarding Action Alerts to other email lists, including their own; Facilitating/creating opportunities for people to act on CMEP’s Action Alerts, such as encouraging letters to be sent or petitions to be signed after worship services, this includes identify and supporting congregations leaders to make this happen
- Develop and expand networks of relationships with concerned citizens, activists, churches, and other interested groups to increase the audience for CMEP’s Action Alerts and other calls to action by: Providing individual’s contact information (postal address and email address, when known) to CMEP to be contacted; Forwarding CMEP information and Action Alerts to other networks
- Arrange at home meetings with Representatives or Senators in the spring and/or summer.
- Participate in monthly telephone Coordinator meetings to learn the latest on Hill developments, strategize about work in the coming month and share information about local efforts and accomplishments
- Attend CMEP’s Advocacy Conference or send a representative to the conference
- Gracious and deep appreciation from CMEP’s board and staff members
- Access to current information on political developments in Congress affecting Israeli/Palestinian peace through CMEP’s Conference Calls and emails
- Collegial dialogue with other Coordinator through monthly conference calls
- Educational resources provided by CMEP through teleconference meetings with Coordinators, access to CMEP speakers, and online and print materials, and the opportunity to give input and feedback on these resources
- Semi-annual updates of contact information regarding new CMEP members in your geographical area for one-time contact
- Opportunities as an American Christian to participate as a recognized leader in coordinated advocacy for Middle East peacemaking across communions and organizations
- With the support and encouragement of the CMEP staff, enjoy creative opportunities to share your commitment to Middle East peace through developing local events, publications and advocacy efforts, including the ability to have local events publicized by CMEP to CMEP’s supporters
Art & Louise Fisher
Art and Louise Fisher began their Middle East Peace journey in 2009 with a 14-day dual narrative Holy Land pilgrimage. On the first day, they happened to meet an Assistant Director of Churches for Middle East Peace. This trip, and specifically this meeting, sparked their interest and motivated them to become advocates for peace by sharing their experiences. Art and Louise participated in their first CMEP advocacy conference in June of 2009. They have been to several CMEP conferences since then, and hosted former Executive Director of CMEP, Amb. Warren Clark, in Santa Barbara for a speaking event at their church. They served as missioners of the American Friends for the Diocese of Jerusalem and are members of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles’ Bishops Commission on the Middle East, and have sponsored many speakers and events at their church. They sell Palestinian olive oil and olive wood craft items throughout the year, especially at the Alternative Christmas Market and on St. Nicholas Day in December. Both are retired educators and live in Carpinteria. They are Regional Coordinators for California.
Melissa attended the American University of Beirut Lebanon 1969 to 1970 where she met Palestinian students and visited refugee camps. The disturbing stories from friends about the suffering and losses incurred in the Nakba and 1967 war was the beginning of her passion to seek justice for Palestinians. She returned to the US to finish her BA degree in Anthropology, specializing in Arab cultures, and attempted to educate others by sharing her experiences. During her studies In Lebanon she also visited Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and a few years later Tunisia.
Her first trip to Israel was in 2007 on a Holy Land tour of “Where Jesus Walked,“ which allowed only a couple hours in Bethlehem. Seeing the walls and checkpoints, and being told not to say “Palestine” or “Palestinians” was disturbing and surprising. She returned home to Rancho Mirage, CA, and became more active in Southern California with organizations promoting Palestinian rights.
She returned to Israel-Palestine in 2019 as part of the Global Ministries Leadership program, spending two weeks in Bethlehem hosted by Mitri Rahib, going to various cities in the West Bank, and meeting with human rights organizations and religious leaders. The experience left her feeling shocked and angry, yet inspired as she observed how people coped with living under occupation.
After obtaining a Masters in Psychology, she worked 19 years as a counselor at the Betty Ford Center. She continues to work part-time in her Rancho Mirage private practice as a marriage family therapist. She is a member of Saint Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert and hopes to develop a dialogue in that church and other local churches advocating for peace in Israel-Palestine.
She has attended CMEP advocacy conferences, and looks forward to developing and expanding relationships and skills to educate and advocate for justice as a Regional Coordinator in counties south of Los Angeles.
Rosita Michael ( “Mike” ) Abel is a Palestinian-American who worked in healthcare for most of her professional career. Her family originated in Palestine and the Latin America Diaspora. She has traveled to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on peace and medical missions. In 2009, she was part of a diplomatic delegation with the Council of National Interest, visiting five Middle Eastern countries and Israel. In 2011, she spent three months doing a work/study in Palestine/Israel. Mike serves as the Delaware Regional Coordinator, is on the board of Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace, and is the co-founder of DelPHR (Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights). She is the recipient of the 2014 Peacemakers Among Us Award from Pacem in Terris, Delaware, and is part of an annual leadership program in Bethlehem. Through her advocacy and human rights work she presents to a wide range of audiences, including students and churches, about the current reality on the ground in Palestine/Israel.
In 2011 Steve took his first trip to the Holy Land as part of a dual-narrative trip with his church. What he thought would be an once-in-a-lifetime experience turned into a passion and calling after many preconceived perceptions about Israel and Palestine were shattered during the trip. He returned from this trip angered and with a passion to work for justice for Palestinians. He has returned to the Holy Land almost every year since 2011, and during each of these trips he has met amazing people, including Jewish Israelis working to bring peace to the region. On each trip to the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians have filled him with hope that peace is possible and that it is even possible in his lifetime. Along the way he has also learned that for there to be justice for Palestinians there must also be security for Israelis. Steve is a Regional Coordinator for Maryland.
Mary Mobley is a member of the Southeast Michigan (SEMI) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) who made her first visit to Israel/Palestine in 2013. She serves on the SEMI Task Force for their companion synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). Her congregation, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, has a close relationship with The Church of the Good Shepherd at Amman, Jordan and their pastor, Rev. Samer Azar. In 2015, she participated in the founding of Opportunity Palestine, a non-profit for the four K-12 schools of the ELCJHL, and continues to serve on the board. She is also a Global Village Team Leader for Habitat for Humanity, and led a team to Jordan in 2017. Mary is a Michigan Regional Coordinator.
Prior to retirement, Terri Markos was the Director of International Programs and Cultural Outreach at Winona State University in southern Minnesota. She has spent most of her adult life working with international students and faculty regarding immigration, cultural programming, international admissions and recruitment. Terri first traveled to Palestine in 2006 on a study tour out of England, and returned in 2010 with her husband to visit both Syria and Palestine. She traveled on various occasions to the Middle East as part of an effort to encourage students to attend the Winona State and to visit her daughters, one of whom studied in Egypt and another who interned in Dubai. Terri joined the Interfaith Partners for Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel about five years ago and found a group in La Crosse, Wisconsin that shared her concerns about this important area of the world. She served on the church board for St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in La Crosse, and served on the Global Awareness Committee of the La Crosse Foundation. Terri is also a stalwart member of "Women in Black," which stands outdoors in silence for peace every week. She is excited to be working with CMEP to advocate for a peaceful solution to the problems facing the Palestinians and Israelis. Most importantly, she is happy to be connected with CMEP and the other regional coordinators to learn more about the issues and how she can best contribute to furthering CMEP's mission. She is a Regional Coordinator for Southeastern Minnesota.
Lina Genovesi is a member of Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey. As a child of war in Lebanon, Lina was sensitized to the importance of peace in the Middle East, having experienced first-hand the negative impact warring political factions can have on the lives of ordinary people which continue to be subjected to pain and suffering they have no control over. Lina is inspired by CMEP’s message of justice and peace in the Middle East and is excited and honored to be part of CMEP's effort. Lina is employed as an attorney and is blessed with a husband and a daughter.
Victoria Sahouri-Azer received her Juris Doctorate degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law school in 2000, with a concentration in international law. The majority of Victoria’s professional career is in educating and advocating for children’s rights, in the areas of child trafficking with the Youth Advocate Program, and child abuse issues with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Additionally, she also has experience related to capacity building of Palestinian youth and young professionals in the West Bank, with the Arab-Americare Foundation. As a first-generation Palestinian American, Victoria has always felt a close connection to her Palestinian heritage. Given the lack of media coverage of the present-day reality in Palestine/Israel, she is passionate to help raise awareness on the plight of the Palestinian people. Victoria firmly believes that knowledge is a catalyst to change. And the more Americans that are informed about the harsh reality of Palestinian life and existence under occupation, this will impact public opinion in support of Palestinian rights; ultimately leading to increased efforts to promote peace and justice in the region. She also advocates for US foreign policy to be aligned with American values of equality and human rights.
Victoria is honored to be a part of such an incredible and worthy organization, and looks forward to supporting CMEP’s mission to educate churches and individuals about the true reality of what is happening in Palestine/Israel; and to inspire them to become advocates for human rights, equality, and peace for all people in the region. She is a regional coordinator in New Jersey. Victoria lives in Princeton, NJ, and is married with 2 beautiful children.
Ilene Cohen is an American Jew, recently retired after twenty-four years as the executive editor of the political science journal World Politics. She grew up in New York City in a Zionist family deeply concerned about Israel. It was as a college student in the late 1960s and early 1970s that she first encountered a more nuanced set of narratives, both about the 1967 war and the history of Israel, and about the history of Palestinians, Palestine, the occupation, and the Nakba. These concerns have been at the forefront of her thinking throughout her adult life. The Lebanon War of 1982 and the First Intifada in particular were eye opening. Since early in the Second Intifada, she has been sharing her thinking about Israel/Palestine with an email list of more than one hundred people.
Ilene spent two full years living in Israel (1977–78 and 1982–83) and, having close family there, has visited Israel more than fifty times. In recent years visits have included Palestine as well. From November 2017 through February 2018, she was an ecumenical accompanier in the Jerusalem team of Group 68 with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
She is thrilled to be part of CMEP’s advocacy on behalf of justice for the Palestinian people, and is a New York Regional Coordinator.
John Paarlberg is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, having served congregations in Michigan and New York and as a member of the denominational staff of the Reformed Church in America as Minister for Social Witness and Worship. He most recently served as the senior pastor of the First Church in Albany, New York. He retired in 2017.
Since 2005 he has made several trips to Israel/Palestine with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Friends of Sabeel. He helped to organize an interfaith group of Christians, Muslims and Jews who traveled to the region in 2017. John is a Regional Coordinator for New York.
Peggy Rafferty has been a volunteer with Churches for Middle East Peace for many years as a North Carolina Regional Coordinator. In North Carolina, she is involved with several interfaith and human rights organizations that educate and advocate for peace, with attention to justice. A retired Registered Nurse with a BA in history and political science, she has served for 11 years served with the Coalition for Peace with Justice, a non-profit organization in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region of North Carolina that educates the public on the history and current reality in Israel-Palestine, and what justice and peace advocates are doing to improve it. She also advocates for a US foreign policy informed by principles of justice, human rights and international law. She is affiliated with two Presbyterian church communities.
Susan Brogden became involved with Churches for Middle East Peace following a three-month term with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine & Israel (EAPPI). While serving with EAPPI, Susan lived in Bethlehem as part of a three-member team whose work involved providing a protective presence for children as they arrived and departed from school; observing and reporting on issues at Checkpoint 300; meeting with leaders and residents of local villages to learn about the effects of the occupation on their daily lives; and supporting the Christian community. Susan is retired from a career in higher education and non-profit administration. She is an Ohio Regional Coordinator.
Skip Cornett is a retired Lutheran clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations in Southwest Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, after redeveloping what was initially a struggling congregation, he went on staff at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, where he served as Director of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning for 18 years, and was also liaison to the local Jewish community. In that capacity he developed many educational programs with the Jewish Federation and various synagogues, including conversations and programs on Israel/Palestine.
The turning point in his understanding of Israel/Palestine came as the result of his participation in a summer program in 2007 at the International Center of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. At the time, he was taking online political science courses at Virginia Tech. During his time in the West Bank he discovered the topic for his MA thesis, "Israeli West Bank Settlements: Perversion of Realism and Obstacle to Peace." After receiving his MA in political science, he began a volunteer career in education and advocacy for resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. His work has included serving as an educational resource for congregations, synods, and church-based institutions, and teaching a course on this topic as adjunct faculty at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, which included trips to Washington, D.C. for further education and advocacy on Capitol Hill. Simultaneously, he became involved in Churches for Middle East Peace, and became an Ohio Regional Coordinator for CMEP.
Dee Poujade is a United Methodist from Portland, Oregon. She grew up believing that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land.” That view was sharply altered when, about 15 years ago, she heard a presentation by Sandy Olewine, a Methodist missionary who had served in Palestine, about the reality of life in the Holy Land. She was instantly affected, and began reading and learning more. In 2008 she was part of a large (80+) international group of United Methodists who participated in a study tour with David Wildman. Although she had been to Israel as a tourist about 10 years earlier, this trip opened her eyes. She later returned with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and spent three months as a human rights observer (mostly working at agricultural and school checkpoints in the “seam zone”). She came home to help form the Oregon/Idaho (UMC) Holy Land Task Force and has served on it for the past five years, working to educate United Methodists about the reality of the Occupation. Living in Portland, she is able to interact with a large number of diverse people and organizations working for justice for Palestinians. She is a Regional Coordinator for Oregon.
Allan Kellum is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (Virginia). He is active nationally with Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME); locally with NOVA-UUJME; and statewide with the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (www.VCHR.org). Allan has Quaker roots and taught at the Ramallah Friends Schools in Palestine from 1968-70, represented Quakers on the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCC) Division of Overseas Ministries from 1970-75, and worked as a NCC contractor, co-editing their journal SWASIA from 1975-79. In addition, he published The Mideast Observer in Washington from 1979-85 and produced several voting record issues for The Washington Report in the late 1980’s. After a subsequent 25-year career in IT and data management, he returned to working for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine as a volunteer, and works with CMEP staff and volunteers in finding new ways to amplify our voices and augment our effectiveness. Allan is a Regional Coordinator for Virginia.
Claudette is originally from North Dakota and completed her Master and Doctoral Degrees in Educational Administration at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. She taught for several years in Minnesota, Washington, and North Dakota, and served as an elementary principal in the Wausau, WI School District.
Following a MEJDI trip to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in 2017, she co-organized several peace dialogue events for the community. Most recently she was instrumental in bringing the CMEP Pilgrimage to Peace tour to the Wausau area.
In retirement, she has served as an active community volunteer: docent for the Woodson Art Museum, work with the homeless shelter, and tutor for second-language adults.
Currently she leads the Marathon County Retired Educators Association, serves on a self- directed team addressing community needs of the aging, and is a co-chairperson of the Global Mission Team for the East Central Synod of Wisconsin (ELCA).
Claudette is married to Ben Harring, a retired ELCA pastor. Her interests include gardening, wood carving, watercolor painting and bread baking.
Pastor Kent made his first visit to the Holy Land in 2001, serving for one month as an administrative consultant to Bishop Munib Younan in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Living on the Mount of Olives, working with Palestinian Christians, and traveling to Bethlehem, Hebron and Gaza opened his mind and heart to the realities of living under military occupation. Since then he has made three other trips to the Holy Land to attend conferences, and was a tour group coordinator in November 2017.
In 2019 he planned a three month sabbatical serving at a human rights monitor in Israel/Palestine with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a 17 year program of the World Council of Churches. Unfortunately, Israel denied his entry into Israel/Palestine. He has served as the Chair of the La Crosse Area Synod (ELCA) Middle East Subcommittee, as a regional coordinator for CMEP, and was a co-founder of the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network, which stands with the Muslim community to challenge hate speech and Islamophobia. He also has attended conventions held by J-Street and the Islamic Society in North America (ISNA). In addition, he participated in an interfaith delegation to Egypt and Syria sponsored by the National Peace Foundation and ISNA’s Religion and Society Program. Pastor Kent and his wife Lee live in La Crosse with their dogs Juno and Oakley and have three adult children. He is a Wisconsin Regional Coordinator.