Rula Halawani

Growing a deeply rooted and expansive movement—of people, resources, and hope.

By design, Rawa is fueled by and in turn continuously expands and strengthens an ever-growing local and global network of people who want to support new solutions for Palestinian society.

As our support cycle begins, our multi-sector and diversely located Community Cluster members will draw from their unique networks to seek out community development initiatives for prospective funding, and will collaboratively and democratically select from simple concept notes describing these initiatives. This highly collective process benefits from community members’ existing affiliations and varied perspectives, as well as carries the potential to create new partnerships and exchanges.

Since our funding model encourages projects that are cross-sector and draw from and/or generate local resources (including capital), Rawa grants will further strengthen the local Palestinian social fabric. The funding process will incentivize new, creative affiliations and collaborations amongst and between established institutions, local businesses and industry, small unregistered groups, and so on. And, as we reach out to global foundations and donors to offer an alternative platform for supporting Palestinian communities, Rawa’s model also creates new connections between global and local people, without unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks. 

As the pilot model progresses, this page will continue to map and visualize the expanding affiliations and connections of the Rawa network.

Community Clusters

We are influential Palestinian community members who have years of experience working on the ground with Palestinian communities and organizations. We are the heart of Rawa.

We belong to four Community Clusters (numbering 25-30 total at any time), which represent geographic areas fragmented by Israeli military occupation and diverse in needs and perspective: 

  1. West Bank 
  2. East Jerusalem
  3. Gaza Strip
  4. ‘48 /Israel

We have strong links and connections to our communities, and access to wide networks from diverse fields. We have a history of support to Palestinian communities and organizations, and are inspired by alternative and participatory funding mechanisms; we bring knowledge, experience, and/or a desire to learn and contribute. We understand that new collective participatory structures are a means to channel democratic principles, alternative governance, civic engagement, and respect and tolerance for diverse opinions and beliefs. We are strategic thinkers who respect divergent opinions and cultivate leadership qualities in ourselves and others.

Current members work in diverse, multi-sector community development fields, including: youth engagement, women’s rights, arts and culture, agriculture, cultural heritage and preservation, political advocacy, environment and sustainable economies, local governance and civic engagement, and education. Many of us are engaged in the new wave of youth initiatives, or in place-based popular resistance initiatives. Cluster members currently committed to serving for a 3-year term are independent activists and cultural practitioners, and affiliated with a number of local organizations:

To maintain a balance between group continuity and a dynamic, fair, and innovative process, we have term limits, with a handful of new members rotating every year after the 3-year pilot.

Current cluster members are (* indicates individuals who are also on the Advisory Committee):




Maya Abu Alhayyat

Maya is a writer and book publisher who specializes in youth and children’s stories and works to develop writing and story-telling in Palestine. She founded The Palestine Writing Workshop, which she has run since 2013, working with children, parents, teachers, and young writers to provide opportunities and resources that support cultural life across Palestine.

Alaa’ Abu Saa’         

Alaa’ is a musician, artist, activist, and community organizer. For six years he was affiliated with Theatre Day Productions, and later ran programs and services at the Popular Art Center in Ramallah. He co-founded Dar Qandeel in Tulkarem, a youth-focused culture and development association which promotes volunteerism, cultural expression, campaigns and coalition building. He is presently consultant for several grassroots youth centers in Palestine, supporting them in developing youth empowerment initiatives and programs.

Basma Abu Swai     

Basma has decades of experience in development analysis and policy. She is an advisor, researcher, and consultant at CARMA for business solutions. She has worked for UN Women, Ministry of Social Affairs-Palestine, Ma’an Development Center, UNICEF, and UN Water to name a few. She was affiliated with General Federation of Independent Labor Unions and the National Child Protection Steering Committee. She is on the steering committee of Aid Watch Palestine, and a board member of Dalia Association and Farashe Yoga.

Fatin Farhat              

Fatin is a cultural activist and community organizer who has many years of experience running arts and culture programs in the West Bank nonprofit and public sectors. She was previously the Director of the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center and the head of Cultural Affairs for the Ramallah Municipality. She is currently an expert for the UNESCO Convention 2005, Med Culture program and the Drosos Foundation. She is a member of Palestine’s National Group for Cultural Policy (Culture Resource Cairo) and is a PhD student in cultural policy at the University of Hildesheim, Germany.

Jamal Juma’*            

Jamal, born in Jerusalem, holds a bachelor degree in Arabic literature from Bir Zeit University and a Master of Business Administration (MMBA) from the City University-London. Jamal co-founded many civil society organizations, such as the Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee (PARC), the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE), and the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), where he contributed to the establishment of the Popular Campaign against the Wall and today still coordinates Stop the Wall (STW). He contributed to the founding of the grassroots National Committee for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) in 2005 and is a member of the secretariat of the Committee on behalf of STW. In 2013, he helped establish the Land Defense Coalition (LDC), an umbrella working to enhance coordination and cooperation between grassroots movements, initiatives, and organizations and expand the popular grassroots base. As part of these efforts, and in collaboration with colleagues and the Popular Committee in the Jordan Valley, STW and LDC founded the Popular Council for the Protection of the Jordan Valley to unify the efforts of the residents.




Muntaser Edkaidek  

Muntaser has worked for decades in community service and volunteered in various community centers. He currently directs the Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society, which creates a safe and healthy play environment for the children and youth of the Old City, develops educational, cultural, psychological, health, sport, and entertainment programs for youth and adults, and protects the center land from any kind of future settlement or confiscation and to ensure it remains open and accessible to Old City residents. He holds a Master’s degree in Jerusalem Studies and a high diploma in Sports Management from FIFA, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Political science with a minor in Journalism. In 2015, he attended the Philanthropreneurship Summit in France. 

Anan Ghaith             

Anan Ghaith is the Executive Director for the Jerusalem Tourism Cluster, a nonprofit network that supports community-based tourism that illustrates the unique Palestinian identity in Jerusalem. Anan has a bachelor’s degree in International Tourism Management and Marketing, and a professional diploma in event Management & Marketing from Middlesex University.

Jamileh Sahlieh*      

Jamileh is a seasoned supporter of Palestinian civil society. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development. She currently works with UN Women as the Women Human Rights Projects Manager, contributing to the organization's work to protect, empower, and promote women’s rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. For several years she managed programs and strategies for the NGO Development Center (NDC) the leading organization of support and re-granting in Palestine. She has also worked with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for more than 17 years, where she has managed relief, development, and civic engagement programs in the West Bank and Gaza. She is a volunteer organizer for support services for the poor and the elderly in Jerusalem, and a board member of the Four Homes of Mercy under the auspices of the Arab Orthodox Association of Homes and Shelters.

Fida Touma              

Fida is currently the director of Taawon’s Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Program, focused on restoring historic buildings and community centers and activating participation and community access. Previously, she was co-director and manager of programs at Riwaq for Architectural Conservation. Fida is a board member of Dalia Association, and affiliated with the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid, and Women’s Studies Center.




Bessan Abdel Salam Shehadeh

Besan has extensive experience working with funding and media organizations. She is currently the coordinator of Rosa Luxembourg Foundation in Gaza and an active member of Falastiniyat.

Reem Abu Jaber

Reem is Executive Director of Nawa for Culture and Arts Association, a grassroots organization offering training and programs in literacy, arts therapy, performance, and community development. For many years prior, she was the Executive Director of the Qattan Center for the Child in Gaza. She is affiliated with Al Nayzak Organization for Supportive Education & Scientific Innovation and the MA’AN Development Center.

Abdallah Al Sayyed

Abdallah is a youth activist, community organizer, and trainer. He is affiliated with the Culture and Free Thought Association in Gaza and a founding member of Ahel youth coalition.

Moheeb Shaath

Moheem has extensive experience supporting youth development programs and services. He currently leads initiatives at the Palestinian Centre for Youth Economic Empowerment. Previously associated with the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) in the Gaza Strip, he later managed Sharek Youth Forum’s programs and management. In 2014 he completed a fellowship in Democracy and Leadership at Syracuse University, and he is currently completing a Master’s degree in development. Moheeb is also affiliated with the Ma’an Development Center and Engineering Association Gaza.

Ahmed Sourani*

Ahmed holds a Master’s degree in Participation, Power, and Social Change from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Currently a policy and institutional development advisor at OXFAM in Gaza, Ahmed previously managed programs at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and advised and directed the Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee (PARC). He has participated in a number of civil society organizations and regional and international initiatives, as a member of Advisory Board of Grassroots International’s Resource Rights for All and the ESCWA Regional Expert Group on Development under Crises, founder of Gaza Urban & Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP), founding member of the Arab Network for Urban Agriculture, the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty, and the Palestinian Strategic Group for Conflict Transformation. 




Nur Abdi*             

Born and raised in Akka and currently living in Ramallah, since 1997 Nur has worked with almost all types of civil society organizations, including NGOs, governmental bodies, public and international organizations, and donors (humanitarian and developmental) in the Middle East. He has worked with the Palestinian Children Relief Fund (PCRF) as their Pediatric Oncology program manager, as a business development and marketing consultant with the YWCA Palestine, and with Save the Children as strategic development specialist.

Fathi Marshoud

Fathi has been the Director of Shatil Haifa Office since 1998 and Senior Organizational Consultant since 1992. An expert in evaluation of projects, organizations and consultations, Fathi holds a BA in Political science from Haifa University, an advanced Diploma in community work, an MA in Education from the Hebrew University, and an MA in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  

Nadim Nashef 

Nadim is a leader of youth development and mobilization initiatives for Palestinian citizens of Israel. He is the current director of 7amleh: The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media. He founded and served from 2001-2017 as the director of Baladna Association for Arab Youth located in Haifa. He was previously affiliated with Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, and served as director of Cegas for Arab student guidance and as a founder of the youth branch of the Balad/National Democratic Assembly Party. He is also the founder of 7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Development and a member of Al Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. In the past he also served as a board member of Ittijah Union of Arab NGOs in Israel, Youth Action for Peace, Tawasul youth camp network, and other civic and local initiatives.

Nidaa’ Nassar

Nida has been a central figure in various popular committees and movements: the movement against the Prawer-Begin Plan; the committee against civil service (for Palestinian citizens of Israel); the committee against murder of women; and a founding member of the Palestine Forum of Solidarity Movements with Palestine. Nidaa’ is a Research Assistant at Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, and holds both a BA degree in Social Work and an MA in Conflict Research, Management and Resolution from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Nidaa’ has worked in several Palestinian civil society organizations, particularly relating to youth and women. She is currently a board member and was a project manager at Baladna Association for Arab Youth and is a member of the Political Bureau of Balad. She has also worked with Association for Arab Youth; Al-‎Manarah Association for Persons with Disabilities in the Arab Community; Women Against Violence (WAV) and Assiwar: The Feminist Arab Movement; and Elhawakeer: Association for Society, Agriculture and Environment Development based in Nazareth. Nidaa also contributed and published guiding materials on working with youth in various social and political venues. 

Sameye Sharqawi   

Sameye is a feminist activist and a community organizer. She currently leads Al Bir (the Well): Cultivating Culture and Community, an organization that seeks to develop life skills, cultural expression, and independence for women in Wadi Ara in the Haifa District. She is also associated with the Palestinian Feminist Forum, Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, and an active member on the committee fighting against honor killings and the murder of women.


We are people with decades of experience in international philanthropy and activism. We are responsible for administration, management, outreach, operations, fundraising, public relations, and evaluation.

From September 2014 to September 2016, independent consultants MK (full bio below) and Terry Greenblatt lead the groundwork for developing and establishing Rawa. Terry has played a role in Middle East and US women’s, racial, and peace and justice initiatives; she is the current Senior Development Advisor at Ploughshares Fund. We also thank Areej Daibas, who joined Rawa in 2015 as co-coordinator and has worked on NGO and public sector development projects in Palestine for the past 18 years, for her effort during Rawa's development and for her continued support with translation. 

Rawa Team Members 

Khalil Gharra             

Operations and Community Relations. Khalil has volunteered in cultural, political, and social youth projects and movements across Palestine—in his village Jatt, Jerusalem, Palestine 48, and the West Bank—working on issues such as violence, civil service, and house demolitions. He is a published author, with articles in various local and Arab Palestinian websites. He participated in the 2014-2015 Youth for Change project, organized by four local Palestinian institutions, and in 2016 he served as the coordinator of the "Continuity and Return" project between Baladna—Arab Youth Association and the Badil Foundation in Bethlehem. He holds a BA in Political Science and Philosophy and a BA in Social Sciences and Anthropology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is interested in studying Palestinian place and history, and specifically the Nakba as a central event for understanding the social, political, economic and cultural layers in Palestine. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

Colleen Jankovic     

Development & Communication. Colleen works on development and communication projects for Rawa and for alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, as well as consults on writing projects for professors and scholars around the world. She received a doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and for nearly a decade published, won research grants, taught, and gave public lectures on Palestinian and Israeli cinema, with a focus on gender and sexual politics. Her chapter on Palestinian animated cinema was recently published in Animation in the Middle East: Practice and Aesthetics from Baghdad to Casablanca (2017; edited by Stefanie van de Peer). She lives in Seattle, WA.


Strategy & Partnerships. MK is an independent advisor and consultant with expertise in media, philanthropy and cultural and civil society development. His most recent partners and clients include International Media Support, Danish Center for Culture and Development, Salzburg Global Seminars, Open Society Foundations, Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace Network, Hivos, and Sundance Institute. His professional skills range from facilitation and creative brainstorming to strategic restructuring and institutional and stake-holder learning processes. From 2004 to 2012, he was Program Officer at the Ford Foundation’s regional office in Cairo. During his tenure he worked on the development and sustainability of arts and culture spaces, networks and service infrastructure. He also programmed and managed a cluster of grants that supported alternative and emerging media platforms and media reform initiatives, as well as a cluster of grants that supported the development of local philanthropy in the MENA region.

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Administration & Finance

Josie co-leads Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) and has lived and worked in Palestine. She is the in-house MECA representative at Rawa. She volunteered with the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (now the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign) in Jerusalem and the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp. She has also lead delegations to Palestine/Israel. Josie is married and has a son. 

Advisory Committee

We are an oversight group made up of 1 Team member, 4 Community Cluster members (1 from each cluster), and 4-6 individuals from our large network of Friends & Supporters. We ensure 360-degree communication, oversee fiduciary, legal, and administrative responsibilities and development, and serve as strategic thought leaders who assume responsibility for the well-being of the fund, represent and share their specific knowledge areas and experiences, and serve as an advocate for Rawa and the Palestinian communities it serves. Our term limits ensure a dynamic process and prevent gatekeeping.

Advisory Committee Chairperson

Fadya Salfiti              

Fadya was born in Kuwait to parents from Nablus. She studied International Relations in San Francisco while working as a grassroots activist on women and youth empowerment, advocating for and working on a myriad of issues pertaining to the Palestinian cause. In 1992, she returned to Palestine and settled down in Jerusalem, holding posts with several international, regional, and Palestinian organizations, including the UNDP Rural Development Programme, the Italian Cooperation Agency, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Tamer Institute for Community Education, and the Palestinian Planned Parenthood Association, among others. Her experience in multiple developmental issues; engagement with youth; and work with several outfits as a program specialist on education, health, and the Palestinian private sector have enabled Fadya to work on a wide range of cross-sectorial needs. She is married and the proud mother of her daughter Sarouna.

Advisory Committee Members

Nur Abdi, from the ’48 Community Cluster 

Jamal Jumaa’, from the West Bank Community Cluster 

MK, Rawa Team member

Jamileh Sahlieh, from the East Jerusalem Cluster

Ahmed Sourani, from the Gaza Community Cluster 


We are an ever-growing global network of people who want to support new solutions for Palestinian society. Rawa looks to us for advice, connections, to host fundraising events, provide capacity building to community groups, and build community. Friends include:


Haki Abazi Nadia Hijab Saeeda Mousa
Ziad Abbas Sandi Hilal Nora Lester Murad
Anan Ameri Jenny Hodgson Ariadne Papagapitos
Suad Amiry Serene Huleileh Jack Persekian
Jabir Asaqla Barbara Ibrahim Emma Playfair
Hania Aswad Ramzi Jaber Omar Al Qattan
Fateh Azzam Tefeda Jarbawi Kavita N. Ramdas
Aaron Back Penny Johnson Steve Riskin
Sam Bahour Ghassan Kasabreh Rina Rosenberg Jabareen
Nadia Ben-Youssef Sari Kassis Nadia Roumani
Filiz Bikmen Ziad Khalaf Nadia Saah
Judy Blanc Avilla Kilmurray Gerry Salole
Joel Campagna Barry Knight Majeda Al Saqqa
Ana Criquillion Rema Hamami Shadia Sbait
Rula Dajani Atallah Kuttab Raja Shehadeh
Nabila Espanioli Sharry Lapp Nancy Smith
Naila Farouky Barbara Lubin Salim Tamari
Barry Gaberman Fathi Marshood Marwan Tarazi
Raymond Georis Noha El-Mikawy Ala Tartir
Matilde Gomis-Perez Omar Mismar Aida Touma-Sliman
Christopher Harris Rauda Morcos  

Fiscal Sponsors



Rawa functions as a basket fund under the institutional and nonprofit fiscal umbrella of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) located in Berkeley, California. As the fiscal sponsor for Rawa, MECA provides charitable receipts for contributions, keeps records and accounting of all funds donated, and sends grant funds to Palestinian organizations.

Rawa also has a secondary fiscal sponsorship with Network of European Foundations (NEF), for donors and foundations that prefer to donate through a European entity.