About MELA Members

When describing our members two words come to mind: talent, and character. It really is all about ‘what you know’, and whether or not you have the courage to apply yourself, make mistakes, and discover new things.

Talent and character have no color, race or belief system, and they can be found in all sectors of society. Experience and attitude is what unites our members; the proven pursuit of excellence, and even a propensity to take risks, is what all MELA graduates have in common.

We take that raw potential, and try to create the psychological, logistical and social connections to transform instinct and passion into something deeper. MELA is about sharpening purpose. Insisting on clear thinking. We are implementation focused, challenging you to ask ‘when’ at the same time as ‘how’? 

This is not a specialized professional association or business guild. We are not a club. We are a family and community of talent that will one day come to represent a critical mass; a group of autonomous idealists and realists who believe that character, integrity and conscience are more than slogans. 

You’ll recognize us when you see us. We’ll have a spark in our eye. We believe that collaboration can be much more effective than competition, if the right conditions are in place. We understand that self-development within a community, is the best way of helping yourself and reaching your ultimate goals.

Board of Directors

So what about transparency and selection? Who identifies MELA leaders? How does the MELA governing body function? 

The board has various committees and subcommittees that are responsible for financial sustainability, member network development, participant selection to MELA's Master Class and brand management. MELA is looking for people who want to strengthen their leadership skills and make a difference locally, regionally and globally; individuals of integrity and character with the kind of authentic vision and clarity that can transcend borders, and even languages. The majority of the Board are from the region and work within the region. 

In addition, participants from each MELA Master Class nominate two members of a class to serve on the MELA Board alongside, and with the same voting strength, of every other board member. No other organization in the region has this unique structure. Over time, the structure of the MELA board will consist of MELA Master Class graduates.

The primary role of the MELA board as stipulated in its by-laws and articles is to: 

  • Determine strategy and direction 
  • Insure the integrity and relevance of the MELA brand regionally and globally
  • Assist in the identification, interviewing and selection of Master Class participants
  • Insure MELA financial transparency and sustainability
  • Grow the strength of the MELA network and link its members to global sister networks across 40 countries
Dr. Amer Al Rawas
Chair of the Board
Mr. Khalid Al-Manaa
Incoming Chair
Mrs. Meisa Batayneh
Outgoing Chair
Shk. Hassan Alkabbani
Board Member
Mr. Michael Kouly
Board Member
Mr. Jim Crupi
Board Member
Mr. Andrew Summers
Mrs. Neveen El Tahri
Board Member
Hashem Al Baghli
Board Representative MELA 7
Rasha Tarifi
Board Representative MELA 7
Yasmine El Hini
Board Representative MELA 8
Yousuf Al Yousuf
Board Representative MELA 8
Ammar Shams
Head of Corporate Sustainability at HSBC Bank
Iyad Masrouji
CEO at Jerusalem Pharmaceuticals


Our speakers are pretty amazing people. One of the things that makes the MELA experience unique, is that the training is one-on-one. A team of twenty global business leaders with extensive international, personal and professional networks pay for their own travel to volunteer, mentor and coach participants during the 10 day Masterclass . No other program in the region does that.

The simple fact is, that if you want to become the best, you have to learn from the best. The problem is that for many young people, this requires the kind of access they simply don’t have. Is it any wonder why change can sometimes feel so slow?

MELA facilitation goes beyond general outlook to technical skills based training, examining best practices and innovative approaches in leadership, management, business development, social media, communication, marketing and new trends in education and civil society.

Crucially, this program includes a knowledge of Arab markets as well as Western Markets – providing the kind of guidance and context that is difficult to find anywhere. The idea is to provide MELA members with the insight required to apply new ideas to their reality, and bring new products and services to market

Aisuluu Bedelbayeva
John Hagerty
Umidjon Ishmukhamedov
Michael Grant
Don Harkleroad
Bobby Henebry
VP, SeaBridge Investment Advisors, LLC
Riyadh Moosa
Ashok Mittal
Heather Parillo
Chief People Officer, Bone Daddy's House of Smoke
John Haines Roberts (Johnny)
Richa Mittal
Talal Hajjar
Deputy General Manager, Al- Hayat Building Materials Company
Philip B. Smith
Patti Wilkie Proietti
Meri Nikoghosyan
Executive Director, VISTAA Consulting
Khudabuksh K. Walji
Luke Simons
Tinatin Karosanidze
Dean, Free University of Tbilisi
Yasmin Walji
Susan W. Simons
John West
Abdullo Kurmanov
Amer Fatayer
Bakai Zhunushov
Faye E. Crupi
Ghareb Al-Mahmoud
Feruza Tatybaeva
Jaafar Al-Sarraf
Lela Machaidze
Nigyar Mammadova
Steven Raab
Noor Bint Asem
Sajjan Agarwal
Raheel Waqar
Asha Agarwal
Salma Alshuhail
Andrea Bednar
Tasneem Khan


We’re very lucky to work with supporting partners and sponsors from the private and public sector. MELA has received support from generous individuals who are leaders in their fields regionally and internationally, and are role models for the new generation.

Our sponsors don’t simply support us financially, but have also offered priceless guidance, expertise and logistical and volunteering support in the past.

Affiliate Networks

MELA has taken years of preparation and a great deal of thought.As a result, we have several institutional siblings that continue to inspire out work.