Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani is a self-perpetuating body that establishes policies for, and has oversight of, the University and its management and operations.


Barham Salih, Chair
Jill Derby, Vice Chair
Azzam Alwash, Secretary
Kamaran Ahmed, Chair of Land and Buildings Committee
Henri J. Barkey, Chair of Academic and Student Relations Committee
Rachel Bronson
Newman T. Halvorson, Jr.
Narmin Othman Hassan
Khider Masum Hawrami
Richard D. Legon, Chair of Governance Committee
Kanan Makiya
Raghida Ghandour Al-Rahim
Salahalddin Saeed Ali
JP Schnapper-Casteras
David Skaggs, Chair of Audit Committee
Mary Oakes Smith
Stein Sture
Shwan Taha
Dov S. Zakheim, Chair of Advancement and External Relations Committee
Bakhteyar Shamsadeen

Barham A. Salih is the founder of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He is a veteran Kurdish politician with years of public service and leadership in both the Kurdistan Region and in Iraq. Salih served as prime minister of the Kurdistan Region from 2009-12. He was elected to a leadership role at the first conference of the Political Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party after the liberation of Kurdistan from dictatorship in 1992, and was also chosen to head the PUK office in the United States. Following the first parliamentary elections in the same year, he became the representative of the newly formed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to the US. During his time in America he was active in improving Kurdistan’s relations with the West, and his vigorous campaigning against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial Ba’ath regime helped to influence decision-makers in Washington. The PUK leadership asked Salih to take over as prime minister of the KRG from 2001-04. After the fall of the Ba'athist regime, he was appointed deputy prime minister of the Interim Iraqi Government in mid-2004, the minister of planning in the transitional government in 2005, and deputy prime minister in Nouri Al-Maliki’s cabinet after the 2005 elections. In addition to his role as deputy prime minister, he was also in charge of the economic portfolio and head of the Economic Committee. Salih earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and construction at the University of Cardiff, and a doctoral degree in statistics and computer applications in engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987. He is married to Dr. Sarbagh Salih, a women’s rights activist. They have a son and a daughter. He is fluent in Kurdish, Arabic and English.

Jill Derby is a governance consultant with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), where she has worked for more than ten years to enhance governance effectiveness and performance among American and Canadian higher education boards. Derby is a cultural anthropologist who received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis with a concentration on the Arab Middle East. She served on two Nevada college faculties before transitioning to a policy role on the Nevada Board of Regents. In 1988 she was elected to three terms on the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents where she served as board chair. In 2011 she received a U.S. Senate appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which is a federal advisory board that advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on the accreditation and certification process for institutions of higher education.

Azzam Alwash is the recipient of the 2013 Goldman Prize for excellence in protecting the environment. He was also named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2013. Born in Kut, Alwash is the founder and CEO of Nature Iraq, a nongovernmental agency that works to protect, restore and preserve Iraq’s natural environment. After earning a postgraduate degree and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Southern California, he spent 20 years working with Pacific Soils Engineering, a consulting firm specializing in geological, geotechnical and environmental services in Southern California. He has also served on the board of directors of the Iraq Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization promoting democracy and human rights in Iraq. In 1998, Alwash started Eden Again, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, to bring attention to the environmental disaster caused by Saddam Hussein’s destruction of the marshlands in southern Iraq. He gives speeches to international audiences and continues to promote the restoration of Iraq’s southern marshlands, as well as education reform in Iraq.

Kamaran Ahmed is the minister of construction and housing in the Kurdistan Regional Government. Prior to joining the government, Mr. Ahmed had a successful career as an engineer in the private sector, first as a site engineer for a variety of private companies in the region, and then as the founder of an engineering bureau to design and supervise private sector projects. During this time, he also worked with Kurdistan Save the Children to create computer training centers as well as variety of other projects. In 2003, Mr. Ahmed began working with the Sulaymaniyah International Airport, as the head of the Supervision Board, a consultant for the Civil Aviation Organization, and finally as the general director of the Sulaymaniyah International Airport from 2006 to 2009. Ahmed graduated with a bachelors degree from the Engineering College at the University of Sulaimani. 

Henri J. Barkey is the Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor in International Relations and chair of the International Relations Department at Lehigh University. A leading expert on Turkey, from 1998-2000 he served as a member of the U.S. State Department policy planning staff working primarily on issues related to the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and intelligence. Respected worldwide as an authority in the field, he has provided expertise and opinion editorials in all forms of media, invited lectures, and conferences including The Washington PostLos Angeles Times, C-SPA and the PBS News Hour. Recent interviews have focused on Turkey’s status as one of America’s regional allies amidst the uncertainty of the Arab Spring, the escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel, and the affects of the Syrian crisis. He is widely published and has authored, co-authored and edited five books, among them “Iraq, Its Neighbors and the United States,” with Phebe Marr and Scott Lasensky. Barkey has taught at Princeton, the State University of New York, and the University of Pennsylvania. He recently completed a two-year position as a non-resident visiting scholar in the Carnegie Middle East program, and was also visiting fellow at Columbia University.

Rachel Bronson is the senior fellow for global energy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs where she directs the Council’s activities on the changing US energy landscape and its implications for US foreign policy, national security, and economic competitiveness. Her previous position, vice president of programs and studies included overseeing more than 150 programs the Council runs annually. Her shift in responsibilities is a testament to the increasing focus that the organization is placing on its research capacity and policy impact. Prior to that, she served as senior fellow and director, Middle East Studies, at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Earlier positions include senior fellow for international security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and adjunct professor at Columbia University. Bronson's book “Thicker than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia,” has been translated into Japanese and published in paperback. Her writings have appeared in publications such as Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest,The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. She has commented widely on foreign affairs in outlets such as NPR, CNN, the PBS News Hour, the Charlie Rose Show, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Bronson has served as a consultant to NBC News and the Center for Naval Analyses. She has testified before the Congressional Anti-Terrorist Finance Task Force, Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, and the 9/11 Commission. In 2012, Bronson was named by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine as one of '100 Women to Watch'.  She was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of '20 Women to Watch' in 2008. In 2003, Bronson was named a Carnegie Corporation Scholar. She earned a B.A. in history at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

Raghida Ghandour Al-Rahim is a member of the acquisition committee of the Middle East and North African Art Collection at the Tate Museum and the British Museum. Born in Beirut, her family soon moved to Amman, where she spent her formative years. After spending several years in the United States and Europe as an artist, she moved back to Amman and managed the Flying Carpet Art Gallery where she met artists and patrons of the arts, an experience which encouraged her to further expand her role in the art world. In 1984 she moved to Washington D.C. where she directed the Arab American Cultural Foundation and helped run the Alif Gallery in Georgetown. In 1996 she relocated to London, where she has remained since, as an active patron of the arts at the Serpentine Gallery. Al-Rahim earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Santa Clara in 1974 and has painted at the Ecole des Arts Plastiques in Paris. Her philanthropic work is extensive; notably, she is a member of APPEAL, which works towards creating scholarships for art students in Lebanon, and a member of Give a Child a Toy, a charity based in the UK and Lebanon which raises funds for medical treatment of underprivileged children all over Lebanon. She has three daughters. Presently, she divides her time between London and Beirut.

Newman T. Halvorson, Jr. is a retired partner of Covington & Burling LLP. He is practiced in the areas of federal income tax law, federal tax litigation, state tax law, exempt organizations and trade associations law, criminal law, and general litigation. He was an assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia in the civil, grand jury, and felony trial sections from 1983 to 1985, and an associate independent counsel under the Ethics in Government Act from 1987 to 1990. Halvorson is a former trustee and chairman of the board of The Potomac School; former director and chairman of the board, and current officer and member of the audit and investment committees, of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation; a trustee and member of the executive committee, and former chairman of the board, of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; former president of the Cleveland Park Historical Society; former senior warden and member of the Vestry of Christ Church, Georgetown; and trustee and member of the finance committee of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum (Decorah, Iowa). He received his LL.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a member of the Board of Student Advisers. He received his A.B., magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1961 to 1967. He is married with two children and three grandchildren.

Narmin Othman Hassan is a Kurdish politician with experience in both the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the government of the Republic of Iraq. She most recently served in the cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki as minister of the environment, a post which she also held under his predecessor, Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari. In that cabinet she also served as minister of human rights. In the interim government, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, she was minister of women’s affairs and briefly minister of health in the cabinet of Ayad Allawi. Othman also established the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues in the KRG and became its first minister. She was the minister of education, as well as temporary minister of higher education and temporary prime minister of the KRG on numerous occasions. She currently sits as a member of the Central Committee of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Additionally, she is responsible for the Professional Board in the Democratic Organization Bureau of the PUK. She is currently affiliated with a number of women’s and democratic organizations in Iraq, including Nergis Magazine, a publication of women’s issues, where she is editor-in-chief. At the same time she is managing director of Hewtaw, an organization that advances democratic causes in Iraq. She has founded or helped to found numerous charitable organizations including the Kurdistan branch of Save the Children; ‘Asuda’, an NGO fighting violence against women; KORD, a Handicap International sanctioned organization; the ‘BAS’ (Balad As-Salam) movement against violence; and Education TV, the first education-based television channel in Sulaimani. Othman earned a B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Baghdad in 1971. Upon completing her degree she worked in the education sector until 1979. She has published extensively in Kurdish and Arabic and has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. Othman speaks Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Swedish, and English.

Khider Masum Hawrami is the president of Koya University in Koya, Iraq. Between 1974 and 1975, he was the director of the Health Division of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, after having served as the director of the Health Division 2 of the Sherwane Mazen Hospital in Kurdistan. He was an honorary lecturer and senior research assistant at the London Hospital Medical College, followed by eight years as a research fellow, in different capacities, at the Virology Department at St. Bartholomew’s and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 2002, he became the head of research and development in respiratory viruses, the team leader of the VZV Group, and a senior scientist in the Virology Department. Most recently, Hawrami was appointed as the president of Koya University After receiving his Bachelor of Medicine from Cairo University, Hawrami received a Diploma in Clinical Tropical Medicine from the University of Liverpool, a asters in Clinical and Tropical Medicine from The London School of Hygiene and Medicine, and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of London. His work on respiratory viruses, VZV, diabetes and other topics has appeared in numerous peer reviewed international journals, and he has presented at 27 internationally peer reviewed conferences. 

Richard D. Legon began his tenure as the fourth president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in 2006. Legon is frequently invited to address meetings of national higher education associations, and also testifies on behalf of America’s unique form of citizen governance, he has led more than 100 retreats for boards of public and private institutions as well as institutionally related foundations. His experience working across public and independent higher education – with governing bodies (campus and system boards) and boards of public institution – related foundations, as well as other not-for-profit organizations--extends over 35 years. He has written extensively on the growing challenges and responsibilities facing board governance with a focus on board structure, fund-raising and institution leadership. During his tenure as president, AGB has led on issues related to institution cost, education quality oversight and board leadership. Currently, he is leading the association’s renewed efforts to address the complex challenges associated with board oversight of intercollegiate athletics, an issue that AGB has paid special attention to in recent years. Legon is a graduate of George Washington University, from which he also holds an MPA. He serves on the governing board of Spelman College and previously served on the governing boards of Virginia State University and the University of Charleston (WV). He received an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Charleston in 2007. Legon and his wife, Fran, make their home in Fairfax, VA; they are the  grandparents of one grand-daughter.

Kanan Makiya is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Born in Baghdad, he left Iraq to study architecture at M.I.T, later joining Makiya Associates to design and build projects in the Middle East. In 1981, he left the practice of architecture and began to write a book about Iraq. “Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq,” which became a bestseller after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Makiya's next book, “The Monument,” is an essay on the aesthetics of power and kitsch. Both “Republic of Fear” and “The Monument” were written under the pseudonym, Samir al-Khalil. “Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World,” was published under Makiya's own name and it was awarded the Lionel Gelber Prize for best book on international relations published in English in 1993. In 2000 he published “The Rock: A Seventh-Century Tale of Jerusalem,” a work of historical fiction that tells the story of the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Along with these books, Makiya has written for The Independent, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and The Times. He has been profiled in many books and publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He has collaborated on several films for television, the most notable of which exposed for the first time the 1988 campaign of mass murder in northern Iraq known as the Anfal. The film, originally aired on BBC, and was broadcast by PBS Frontline under the title 'Saddam's Killing Fields.' It received the Edward R. Morrow Award for Best Television Documentary on Foreign Affairs for 1992. In 2003, he founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, a NGO based in Baghdad and the US dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence and identity formation. The Memory Foundation has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Baath era documents and has been supported by the Iraqi and US Governments, as well as many foundations.

Salahalddin Saeed Ali is currently the president of University of Sulaimani. He holds a masters degree in Geology and Rock Mechanics and completed his Ph.D. in Hydrogeology from Belgrade University, Serbia, in 2007. Prior to his current position, he had also served as lecturer, professor, and dean of the college of science at University of Sulaimani. He has worked as an hydrogeological consultant with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (2003-04), Ministry of Agriculture (2004-06), and the Governorate of Sulaimani since 2007. He leads more than 30 academic and administrative committees at the University of Sulaimani, and supervises several M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates at the university. He has attended and spoken at many local and international academic and technical conferences and workshops. Dr. Ali has also been published in both local and international journals. This year, his paper on the evaluation of a site for dam construction in Kurdistan was published in the Journal of Civil Engineering and Construction, USA.. Dr. Ali is currently member of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Kurdistan Geological Society, Iraqi Geological Society, and Kurdistan Academician Society, in addition to the Board of Trustees of AUIS. 

JP Schnapper-Casteras founded the first student exchange program between Stanford University and postwar Iraq in 2004 and served as a fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation, and on Stanford University’s Board of Trustees. Schnapper-Casteras is a regular commentator on international affairs and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project. Schnapper-Casteras practices law in the Washington office of Sidley Austin, specializing in appellate and complex commercial litigation. Before joining Sidley Austin, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and to the Honorable Scott W. Stucky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He received his J.D. with Pro Bono Distinction from Stanford Law School, an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and an M.A. in Sociology and B.A. with honors in Political Science from Stanford University.

David Skaggs holds positions as co-chair of the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics, a member of the U. S. Public Interest Declassification Board, adjunct professor of law at the University of Colorado and a senior strategic advisor & independent consultant with McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP. He served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from January 2007 to September 2009. Prior to these positions, Skaggs was executive director of the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government and counsel to the Washington-based law firm, Hogan & Hartson. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado (1999-2002). These positions followed 12 years in Congress (1987-99) as the U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District of Colorado and three terms in the Colorado House (1981-87), the last two terms as minority leader. Skaggs served on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Prior to joining the Appropriations Committee, he was a member of the (then) Public Works & Transportation Committee and the Science, Space & Technology Committee. During his time on the Hill, Mr. Skaggs was a leader in efforts to improve the House of Representatives. He was a founding co-chairman of the House Bipartisan Retreat, the first such meeting in history, held in March 1997. He was also co-founder of the Constitutional Forum, a series of seminars with distinguished guest lecturers who led member discussions of constitutional issues. During the 104th Congress, Mr. Skaggs was chairman of the Democratic Study Group, the principal policy and reform organization of House Democrats. After earning a B.A. in philosophy from Wesleyan University, Skaggs received an LL.B. from Yale Law School. He served on active duty in the U. S. Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971, with assignments on Okinawa, Vietnam, and at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, and with a Marine Reserve unit in Colorado, attaining the rank of Major.

Mary Oakes Smith is the founder and president of the Iraqi Women’s Fellowship Foundation that brings women faculty in the sciences and technology to top U.S. universities for up to one academic year. The fellows return to their Iraqi universities with cutting edge knowledge in their fields, as well as new teaching and research technologies. The program establishes cultural exchange and long-term relationships between the fellows’ home and host universities. Smith has had a 30 year career with the World Bank, specializing in industry, energy and telecommunications. She worked with Iran for eight years, and she also managed two major financial replenishments for the International Development Association, achieving $31 billion in total funding. She was appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the Advisory Board for the Fund for International Partnerships, the UN counterpart to the UN Foundation, guiding the development of strategic frameworks for funding for children and health, women and population, the environment, and peace and human rights. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the UN Association for the National Capital Area, a member of the US Digital Freedom Initiative Business Roundtable, an active member of the Bretton Woods Committee and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

Stein Sture serves as vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which is a position that he has held since 2005. Between spring 2009 and fall 2010 he served as interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. He also served as dean of the graduate school between 2005 and 2009. Sture holds the Huber and Helen Croft Endowed Professorship in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He has also served as associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and department chair in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering. Between 1976 and 1980 he was on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He received his education in public schools in Oslo, Norway, a degree in engineering mechanics from the Schous Institute of Technology, in Oslo, and three degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  His fields of expertise are in the areas of experimental and analytical modeling in solid mechanics, geomechanics, computational geotechnics, and geotechnical engineering. Sture has presented more than 40 plenary or keynote lectures at national and international conferences, and more than 50 invited lectures at universities, government laboratories and industrial institutions. He has served as a consultant to nearly 30 public and private organizations and has served as organizer and general chair of seven major national and international scientific and engineering conferences, as well as organizing 12 national-level workshops and short courses. He served as elected national director of the American Society of Civil Engineers; chair of the Engineering Mechanics Division, governor of the Engineering Mechanics Institute, ASCE; Board of Governors, of the Geo-Institute of ASCE, and the U.S. National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. He has received ASCE’s Walter Huber Research Prize, the Richard Torrens Awards, the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Research Award, and the Max Peters Service Award.

Shwan Taha has more than 10 years of experience managing money in the MENA region, including Turkey, Greece and Pakistan. From 1997 to 2006 Shwan worked for Franklin Templeton as part of Mark Mobius's emerging markets team. Responsible for investments in the MENA region, he established two research and investment offices, one in Dubai and a second in Istanbul. In 2006, Shwan joined a two-man team to manage a hedge fund that was funded and sponsored by George Soros. Taha left the partnership with Soros to found Melak Investments, an investment advisory firm concentrating on opportunities in Iraq. Heis also the chairman of Rabee Securities, a premier Iraqi Stock Exchange firm founded in Baghdad and regulated by the Iraq Stock Exchange.  Rabee Securities maintains offices in Baghdad, Erbil, Sulaimani and Istanbul. Taha obtained an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from George Washington University. He is married with three children and resides and works in Iraq, Turkey and the United States.

Dov S. Zakheim is senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton. From 2001 to 2004, he was under secretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense (DOD). From 2002 to 2004, he was DOD’s coordinator of civilian programs in Afghanistan and he also helped organize the 2003 New York (UN) and Madrid donors conferences for Iraq reconstruction. From 1987 to 2001, he was both corporate vice president of System Planning Corporation, a technology and analysis firm based in Arlington, VA; and chief executive officer of its subsidiary, SPC International Corp. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he served as senior foreign policy advisor to then-Governor George W.Bush. From 1985 to 1987, Zakheim served as deputy under secretary of defense for planning and resources. Earlier, he was principal analyst in the National Security and International Affairs Division of the Congressional Budget Office. Zakheim has served on numerous government, corporate, non-profit and charitable boards. His government service includes the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (1991-93), the Task Force on Defense Reform (1997), and the Board of Visitors of the Department of Defense Overseas Regional Schools (1998-2001). He chairs the National Intelligence Council’s International Business Practices Advisory Panel, and is a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan; the Defense Business Board, which he helped establish, the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel, the Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. A 1970 graduate of Columbia University, Zakheim also studied at the London School of Economics. He holds a doctorate in economics and politics from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Zakheim is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a former adjunct senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct scholar of the Heritage Foundation. He has also been an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College (CT).  He is the recipient of the Department of Defense’s highest civilian award in 1986, 1987 and 2004.

Dr. Shamsadeen has more than 40 years industrial experience in Iraq and the United Kingdom. He has served as government relations director and a senior advisor for the UAE-based Crescent Petroleum Company in Kurdistan-Iraq since 2009. Prior to joining Crescent, Shamsadeen provided technical advisory services to UK industries through his own company, BNS Engineering Ltd.  From 1988 to 2007, he worked in various UK industrial organizations as senior designer and development engineer, technical manager, and technical consultant in the field of electrical engineering and manufacturing. He has also been involved in projects that transfer technology from UK industries to South Africa and Poland.