Chic Dambach is CEO of Operation Respect as well as an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins and American Universities, and he is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He is President Emeritus of the National Peace Corps Association; former President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and former Chief of Staff for Congressman John Garamendi. Previously, he held executive positions in the arts, sports, and health, and he was an “expert” advisor to the director of the Peace Corps. He has served on dozens of nonprofit boards, and he was a senior consultant with BoardSource where he helped write two books on nonprofit governance. His career began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, and his memoir, Exhaust the Limits, the Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder, features a lifetime of service and successful initiatives for peace in Africa. He has been nominated for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, and the Institute for Economics and Peace presented him the Leadership and Service for Peace Award in 2016. He was named the “2016 Peace Corps Champion” for keeping the spirit of service alive. His TEDx Talk “Why Not Peace” is available on YouTube. He was a national champion kayak racer and served as an official for canoe and kayak competition in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and he has an MBA degree from Wake Forest University.
Mandar is a Visiting Scholar in the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University. Prior to this, Mandar worked at Shell for 17 years and managed Shell’s GameChanger social innovation program investing in ideas that create shared value - business value and social impact. Mandar is an acclaimed expert on leadership and social innovation and has spoken on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership at prestigious forums including TEDx, Wharton Business School, Social Innovation Summit, Sustainable Brands, London Business School, etc. He is the winner of the prestigious Ashoka League of Intrapreneurs for designing and delivering an innovation learning program at Shell to over 2000 colleagues using meditation practice. For over a decade, Mandar has taught leadership programs using meditation practices for the International Association for Human Values and the Art of Living Foundation.
Ms. Ekhlas Ahmed was forced to flee the outbreak of civil war in Sudan with her mother, father, and three younger brothers in 2003. Her family was resettled to Portland, Maine, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Southern Maine with hopes of helping resettle other refugees. She is the vice President and Co-founder of Chance to Advance , an non profit organization raising awareness in her community of the violence and needs in Darfur. Additionally, she is writing a book called the Bridge Between, an autobiography in a poetic form to share her experiences and raise awareness about Darfur. Those who are devoted to “The Ellen show” will be familiar with Ekhlas, a teacher of English language at Westbrook middle school. She gives credit to Ellen DeGeneres with helping her learn English. Ms. Ahmed devoted her life to helping refugees navigate culture differences and works outside the classroom to build bridges with the community at-large.