Board of Trustees

Christopher Straub

President and Treasurer

Christopher Straub worked on Middle Eastern policy at the U.S. Department of Defense between June 2002 and February 2009, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.

Mr. Straub served on the staff of the U.S. Senate from 1988 to 2001, successively as staff designee on the Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) and Senator J. Robert Kerrey (D-NE), Minority Staff Director of the SSCI, and chief of staff to Senator Kerrey.

Prior to this Mr. Straub served twenty-two years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and specialist in the Arab world, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1988. Mr. Straub’s military awards include the Silver Star and Legion of Merit. He has also received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Mr. Straub was educated at Columbia College (BA, English) and earned an MA in Middle Eastern history at the University of Kansas. He is also a graduate of the Defense Language Institute (Syrian Arabic Course) the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.

Margaret Casscells-Hamby
Vice President

Margaret Casscells-Hamby is an entrepreneur and commercial real estate investor and manager. She owns and operates several commercial real estate properties and a diverse portfolio of companies including a music promotion company, an entertainment company and billboard company. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Licensed Real Estate Broker in Florida.

Mrs. Casscells-Hamby was educated at the University of Virginia (MA, Economics). She is a Certified Public Accountant, graduated with an MBA from the University of Maryland and earned a Masters in Taxation from the University of Central Florida.

She is the sister of the late Honorable S. Ward Casscells III, M.D., a founding member of the AMAR U.S. Board.

Alison Hills

Alison C. Hills recently joined Chevron as International Government Relations Manager with a focus on Chevron’s upstream business in the Middle East. Prior to joining Chevron, Ms. Hills spent 12 years with ExxonMobil where she held senior policy and government relations positions in Doha, London, Houston and Washington DC. Her policy work has included multi-stakeholder initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility, human rights, and transparency.

Prior to working in the energy industry, Ms. Hills worked in New York and Egypt as a management consultant and journalist. She also spent time in Egypt consulting for the UNDP.

Ms. Hills was educated at Columbia University (B.A. in Middle East History) and received her Masters from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She also studied in Damascus, Syria as a Fulbright scholar. Ms. Hills was born and raised in Rome and speaks Italian, French and Arabic. She currently lives in Washington DC and has two daughters.

Chris Stott

Christopher Bryan Robert Stott is a space entrepreneur. He is best known for co-founding the regulatory and orbital frequency services company, ManSat, and the commercial spaceline, Excalibur Almaz.

Early in his career, Stott worked extensively in British and American politics as an Office Manager, Staff Aide, and Speech Writer in the British House of Commons and House of Lords, and as an Intern in the US Senate and as a political aide on two US Presidential Campaigns. Stott also served as Special Projects Director with Life Education International, children’s health education and drug prevention program and United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He has also taught international space law at the University of Houston–Clear Lake and lectured at the University of Houston Law Center.

Chris Stott was previously Director of International Commercialization & Sales with Lockheed Martin Space Operations’ $3.4 billion Consolidated Space Operations Contract with NASA. He came to Lockheed Martin from the Boeing Space & Communications Company in Huntington Beach, California, where he worked International Business Development for the Delta Launch Vehicle program.

Stott is also a Founding Trustee of the ISU International Institute of Space Commerce and the Manna Energy Foundation, working to bring renewable energy to developing nations via micro economics. He is an Honorary Member of the Manx Astronomical Association; Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (published); Member of the Reform Club; Conservative Party, and Tory Reform Group; and a Fellow of the International Institute of Space Law (published) and the International Institute of Space Commerce.

Col. Roberto N. Nang, MD, MPH, MSS

Roberto N. Nang is Vice President of Strategic and Global Health Initiatives at Seneca Solutions, and an adjunct professor of Global Health at the National Defense University (NDU) and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).

He has previously served as the Joint Medical Chair (JMC) for Global Health at NDU and Senior Medical Advisor of the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the U.S. Army War College.
Col. Nang aims to lead, work, teach, and mentor about critical issues in public health by promoting humanitarian principles and championing health as a national strategic imperative. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit. He has also received the Humanitarian Service Medal, and United Nations Special Service Medal. As a major, he commanded a Medical Evacuation Company in Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Restore Hope in 1993. As a colonel, he commanded the 31st Combat Support Hospital Medical Task Force in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, from 2007-2008

Col. Nang graduated from West Point in 1982. He went on to obtain his MD from the University of Utah in 1987 and his Master of Public Health from the University of Washington. He also received a Master in Strategic Studies from the US Army War
College in 2010.

Leslie Schweitzer

For over four decades, Ms. Schweitzer has founded entrepreneurial enterprises in emerging and post conflict markets. She has amassed on-the-ground experience in over 20 countries in Middle East, Europe, South and Central America, and Asia. She was one of the first American women to do business in China and pioneered U.S.-China trade beginning in 1977 as a co-founder of Noble Trading Company.

As Senior Trade Advisor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce she created TradeRoots, a national grassroots trade education program to build support for international trade agreements such as China PNTR, TPA, CAFTA, and others. She initiated a public private partnership tween Turkey and US and worked on expansion of the Iraq Business Council.

Currently, Schweitzer is the CEO of the Osage Group, an international consulting company focused on economic development in third world countries.

Schweitzer founded FAUAF in 2009 to support not for profit, private, co-educational, non-sectarian higher education in Afghanistan. Ms. Schweitzer raises awareness of women’s issues through her leadership in establishing the International Center for Women’s Economic Development at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), focused on collaboration in support of economic empowerment and entrepreneurism. Schweitzer is a Member of the Board of Trustees of (AUAF),  U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, the Advisory Board of International Programs-University of Kansas, D.C.-Virginia DEC, Ayenda Board of Trustees (Bamiyan) and International Stability Operations Association Advisory Council.


Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne founded the AMAR Foundation in 1991. She is the Executive Chairman of AMAR ICF based in London. She has worked in a variety of charitable and political roles linked to the Middle East for almost 25 years.

She is a World Health Organization Envoy for Health as a Tool for Peace and Development.

Baroness Nicholson served as a member of the House of Commons from 1987 to 1997, when she was created a Life Peer in the House of Lords. She also represented the South East region of England in the European Parliament from 1999-2009 where she was Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq, and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Baroness Nicholson is the Founder President of the Caine Prize for African Writing, a Founder Member of the Booker Prize Foundation and of the Booker Prize for Russian Fiction and a Prize Committee Member of the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations.

Former Trustees

In Memoriam:

The Honorable S. Ward Casscells III, M.D.

Former Vice President (2010-2012)

The late S. Ward Casscells III, M.D. was a former Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) in which capacity he administered the $45 billion Military Health System (MHS) and was principal advisor to the United States Secretary of Defense for health issues.

Dr. Casscell’s served as the John Edward Tyson Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Public Health, and Vice President for External Affairs and Public Policy, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston as well as Senior Scholar at the Texas Heart Institute. He was a founder of the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research (CABIR) at U.T/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

A leader in disaster medicine, and pandemic preparedness, Dr. Casscells was a first responder and medical coordinator during Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunamis, the Peru Earthquakes, and other disaster situations. In 2002 he was named “Hero of the Flood” by the Memorial Hermann Hospital for his work on the front lines of Tropical Storm Allison.

He received a B.S. in Biology (cum laude) from Yale University in 1974 and his M.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Medical School in 1979.

Dr. Casscells died on October 14, 2012, after a long and heroic battle with cancer. A statement on the life of Dr. Casscells from Baroness Nicholson is available here.


Senior Counselor on Health & Medicine Emeritus:
Dr. Kazem Behbehani

Dr. Kazem Behbehani is AMAR’s Senior Counselor on Health and Medicine Emeritus. He joined the World Health Organisation in 1990. He became WHO Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Governing Bodies in 2003 and in 2005 became a WHO Envoy.

He co-chairs Harvard University’s Science Advisory Board for the Environment and Public Health and is a member of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)’s Ethics Review Committee.

Dr. Behbehani is actively involved in environmental and health issues, health management, application of information technology to health (eHealth), and development of interactive educational materials for public, professional and medical use (eLearning). He has received several awards and scientific recognition and has more than 100 scientific publications and a book on science and technology to his name.

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