Mehmet Soyer, Board Member-Director of Operations
Mehmet Soyer is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Utah State University. To serve his community, he is a director of Emerald Hills Institute and also He is board member of Interfaith Advisory Council at Utah State University. He is an environmental sociologist with an interest in social inequality. His research agenda consists of examining the critical link between community response and the impacts of energy development through collective behavior, activism, and environmental inequality. He is also interested in pedagogical research to work on how to enhance safe and brave spaces for exploring perceptions of marginalized groups.
His work has been published in journals including Teaching Sociology, The Extractive Industries and Society, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, The Qualitative Report, Communication Teacher among others. Also, He has co-authored a book titled “Sociological Studies of Environmental Conflict” by Rowman & Littlefield Publisher.
He enjoys cooking. Brunch is his specialty! Also, He loves making sourdough bread for his friends and his family. He enjoys bike rides with his kids (Azra and Melih). He and her partner (Gonca) spend a good amount of time taking care of our garden. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Seniha Ozudogru, Board Member-Director of Education
Dr. Seniha Ozudogru, MD is a board certified neurologist in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is a clinical assistant professor in Neurology at University of Utah Health. She arranges Educational Programs at Emerald Hills Institute. She can be reached email@example.com
Sergazy Nurbavliyev, Board Member-Director of Finance
Sergazy received his PhD in Mathematics from University of Utah. He is a data analyst at Overstock Company. He is also a board member at Gandhi Peace Center.
Nurgul Malik, Director of Outreach
Nurgul received her bachelor degree in marketing management. She dedicates herself living in harmony. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Kosorok, Advisory Board Member-Director of Development and Grant Writing
Andrew Kosorok is a professional stained glass designer, consultant, and restoration specialist, and teaches sculpture, stained glass, and drawing. He is an ordained interfaith minister, has received degrees in sculpture from Brigham Young University, and has studied philosophy, comparative religions, hermeticism, alchemy, and the Western mystery traditions. His stained glass work is in numerous homes and churches, and his sculptural work has been in several state, national, and international art competitions. The study of art and art production is the means by which he explores his educational pursuits in the belief that through examining the act of creation, one’s relationship with the Divine can be strengthened. His style is a product of the fusion of his various interests, to build objects as records of the ongoing journey of learning, and to share the continuing process. He can be reached email@example.com
Zeynep Kariparduc, Director of Advisory Board
Zeynep is a mother of 4, wife, lifelong educator, interfaith & community leader, professional artist (Turkish arts & crafts, traditional dance) and Muslim faith representative. She has BA in Language and Literature and MS degree in Business Management and Leadership. She has lived in many countries throughout her life while she taught and learned different cultures. She came to US in 2011 along with her family where she appreciated diverse & inclusive culture and immediately became active member of the community. She has served as Outreach/event Director of Emerald Hills Institute almost 10 years. She has Led and taught weekend school to diverse population. Conducted and led adult classes, art workshops, cooking classes, lectures, panels, exhibits, discussions, luncheons and more. She became active member of interfaith community eventually led her to be Chairperson of Interfaith Round Table. She is a founder of awarded interfaith volunteer group “Talk in Action.” She currently works at the United Way of Salt Lake as Volunteer Projects Coordinator. She received Utah Business Magazine Living Color Gala Diversity & Inclusion award in community engagement category due to her outstanding works bringing diverse population together to create love, harmony and understanding. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently she serves as:
Chairperson-Salt Lake Interfaith Round Table
Director of Advisory Council Emerald Hills Institute
South Salt Lake City Steering Committee Member
UVU Interfaith Community Advisory Board Member
South Salt Lake Interfaith Council Member
Salt Lake City Art Council Living Traditions Committee Member
Dr. Amir M. Arain
He is a professor and an epileptologist that focuses on treatment of refractory epilepsy. He graduated from Dow Medical College, Karachi and did his Neurology residency and Epilepsy fellowship at Vanderbilt University. There he served on the faculty of Department of Neurology as an epileptologist from 2000-2018. He joined University of Utah in July 2018 and currently serves as chief of Epilepsy division.
Dr. Arain has been involved in different research projects in epilepsy. He has done several antiepileptic drug trials including levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, lacosemide, retigabine, brivaracetam, carisbamate, eslicarbazepine and cenobamate. He has published several peer reviewed research articles and has presented data in different scientific meetings. He has trained more than 100 fellows in epilepsy over the years. His interest is in seizure semiology, SUDEP, disparity of care in epilepsy and Geriatric epilepsy.
She is a first generation college student studying Political Science at the University of Utah. Ermina and her family came to the U.S. as Bosnian Muslim refugees in 1998 and settled in Utah. Her passion for educating people on the misrepresentation of Islam stems from her families experiences in their home country. Ermina hopes to help build a bridge of unity by engaging in important conversations with others. In 2019 she served as a congressional intern for Congressman Andre Carson in Washington, DC and was awarded an intern scholarship by the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019. Ermina joined as an Ambassador in March of 2019 and was the first Emerald team member to get promoted to the Executive team. As of April 2020 Ermina serves Emerald Project as our Director of Sponsorships & Outreach.
She is glad to be back at the Bennion Center and grow its Utah Reads program. Previously, she worked at the Eccles School of Business, at Utah Campus Compact, a local chapter of AmeriCorps where she enrolled and exited members completing their AmeriCorps hours in educational, health, and environmental fields, serving vulnerable populations, and as a tutor for Utah Reads. Asma has a M.Ed. in Special Education and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah. In her free time, she enjoys tutoring students using engaging teaching methods, hanging out with her sisters, and eating Thai food.
Rabbi Samuel L. Spector
He was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He attended the University of California, San Diego, where he was an active brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. Rabbi Spector graduated with Cum Laude honors with a B.A. in Judaic Studies, a minor in Behavioral Psychology, and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He received his Masters in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. While in rabbinical school, Rabbi Spector served for three years as the student rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim in Merced, California; a member of the Chaplain Candidate Program for the United States Navy; and as a chaplain intern at Los Angeles County/USC General Hospital. While in school, he led several teen trips to Israel and Eastern Europe. Prior to coming to Congregation Kol Ami, Rabbi Spector served as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Judea in Tarzana, California, where he became recognized for his creation of young professional programming. While there, Rabbi Spector was an Edah Fellow through the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and the President of the West San Fernando Rabbinic Task Force and a delegate to the Jewish Welfare Board. He is currently a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Spector brings his love of working with children and young families to Congregation Kol Ami. He is passionate about adult education, Israel advocacy, social action, and social justice. He is an avid fan of baseball, Jewish history, and traveling, having been to over 50 countries. In his free time, you can find Rabbi Spector hiking, skiing, or playing with Nezek, his Brittany Spaniel, and Walter, his chocolate lab. Rabbi Spector is married to Jill, an Idaho-native, who works in hospitality.
Dr. Dania Al-Hamad
Her clinical interests include growth and puberty disorders, thyroid disorders, adrenal disorders, calcium and bone metabolism disorders, and type 1 diabetes. Her research experience has included childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome and assessing clinical practice guidelines in screening for Type 1 diabetes co-morbidities.
She has been involved in community building and social change for over a decade. She works as a Deputy Director for Promise South Salt Lake. Domoina lives her passion every day by coordinating life-changing services for underrepresented youth. Her work with Promise includes developing programs for social and intellectual skills development and motivation and support toward success in higher education. Domoina holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree from the University of Utah, where she studied Recreation Management. Originally from the Island of Madagascar, Domoina’s pursuit of higher education brought her to the United States. She has fallen in love with Utah, where she enjoys the mountains, hiking nearby canyons, and exploring her interests in the diversity of food, people and culture in the community.
Jean Tokuda Irwin
Jean Tokuda Irwin, holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas (UTMB). Since 1991, she has served as the Arts Education Program Manager for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. She serves on NASAA/AE’s Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion Group & NEA/POL Accessibility Working Group, Spy Hop Advisory Board,. Past professional service includes - panelist for 11 National Endowment for the Arts panels, panels for Ohio, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Arkansas, Kentucky and South Dakota state arts agencies, and reviewer 8 years on the President’s Committee for Arts and Humanities Education; reviewer for Institute of Museum & Library Services Museum Assessment Program; NASAA/AE Advisory Group & Leadership Taskforce, Coalition for Minorities Advisory Committee to the Utah State Board of Education; the Utah Indian Education Taskforce; National PTA Board of Directors (added dance & film to national Reflections Program); Cathedral of the Madeleine Festival Committee; adjunct faculty for Odessa College, Galveston College. Western Texas College and Director of Museums (History & Art); director of Lyon County Historical Society & Museum and Assoc. Dir. of Center for Transportation & Commerce Museum/Art & History. She was the recipient of the Ruby Chacon Award for Arts and Social Justice in 2018, in 2019, the Sorensen Legacy Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts Education and most recently, Utahns for Culture Special Honoree. Her mixed media work appeared in the 2002 Cultural Olympiad featuring 20 works by Utah women and the Year of the Rabbit exhibition and most recently a work in the Clay, Paper, Scissors Gallery in Laramie, WY. She is a lover of books, art museums, the outdoors she crafts visual journals in containers, assemblages and collages. She likes words such as panegyric, jentacular and winklepicker. She is an independent world cinema addict, loves traveling, exploring foreign foods and squiggly ingredients. She abhors bottled water and plastics because of how they impact our planet. Don’t offer her any.
Elizabeth "Libby" Hunter
The Rev. Elizabeth "Libby" Hunter is a compassionate voice and advocate for Utah's most vulnerable. She serves at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark with a focus on outreach and pastoral care.
She is retired from a career in community outreach and advocacy for low-income and homeless Utahns. For years she has been interested in Utah history (especially the stories of famous Utah women), and has researched gravesites and monuments in the Salt Lake Cemetery, located in Salt Lake City's Avenues district. Her research resulted in the publication of an annotated map of the cemetery. She continues to share stories of the famous and infamous buried there.
She received her M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Utah in 2000. She has taught the English language at universities in Turkey and in the United States, and is currently an adjunct instructor in Utah Valley University's English Language learning department. Maddie is a frequent fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, reading, movie watching, and spending time in nature.