Robert Nicholson

Founder and Executive Director

Robert Nicholson is Founder and Executive Director of The Philos Project. He holds a BA in Hebrew Studies from Binghamton University, and both a JD and MA in Middle Eastern history from Syracuse University. A former U.S. Marine and a 2012-13 Tikvah Fellow, Robert founded The Philos Project in 2014. His advocacy focuses on spreading the vision of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Middle East based on freedom and rule of law. Robert serves on the Board of Directors of Passages, and is a publisher of Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy. His written work has appeared in First Things, The Federalist, The Jerusalem Post, and The American Interest, among others.

Follow Robert on Twitter: @rwnicholson_

Luke Moon

Deputy Director

Luke Moon is the Deputy Director of the Philos Project. Prior to that, Luke served as business manager for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and, before that, as a missionary with Youth with a Mission for 12 years. Luke has lived, worked, and taught in over 45 countries, and has advocated on a number of human rights issues along the way. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from the University of the Nations and an MA in Global Politics from Regent University. Luke is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @lukemoon1

Jesse Rojo

Director of Hispanic Affairs

Jesse Rojo is the Director of Hispanic Affairs at The Philos Project. A native New Yorker of Dominican descent, Jesse holds a BA in Theological Studies from Hyles-Anderson College. He has pioneered bilingual programs to engage and educate the Christian Hispanic community on Israel-related issues, including educational initiatives, alumni networks, and a nationwide leadership conference. In 2016, Jesse founded Israel A Cappella, an initiative to allow Hispanic Christians to connect with the land of Israel through the experiences and testimony of Christian music artists. In addition to his work at the Philos Project, Jesse is a part of Tim Keller’s international church-planting network, Redeemer City-to-City, and is in the process of planting a bilingual church among immigrant and native communities in Yonkers, New York. His work has been published in The Christian Post and Contexto Media.

Follow Jesse on Twitter: @jssrojo

Rebecca Gonzales

Constituent Relations Director

Rebecca Gonzales is the Constituent Relations Director of the Philos Project. She studied Justice and Law at American University, graduating in 2016. An alumna of the Philos Leadership Institute, she served as the President of American University’s chapter of Christians United for Israel. Rebecca has also conducted policy research at the Susan B. Anthony List and Charlotte Lozier Institute. An advocate for the empowerment of women, Rebecca founded American University’s chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women. In her free time, she is a prolific reader, traveller, and connoisseur of hummus.

Vivian Hughbanks

Communications Director

Vivian Hughbanks is Communications Director of the Philos Project. A native of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, she studied politics, German, and journalism at Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan. As News Editor of Hillsdale’s student newspaper, The Collegian, as well as at internships in Washington, D.C., she covered events with Vice President Joe Biden, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential candidates, and many members of Congress. After hours, she loves to read, shop at thrift stores, and travel. Her byline has appeared in The Hill, The Washington Times, The FederalistThe Detroit News, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, and 

Follow Vivian on Twitter: @VivianHughbanks

Nicole Manalo

Executive Assistant

Nicole Manalo is the Executive Assistant of the Philos Project. She holds a BS in Clinical Health Sciences from Liberty University. No stranger to human rights advocacy, Nicole played a key role in the KONY 2012 and MOVE:DC campaigns that raised awareness about atrocities in West Africa. In her free time, she also volunteers at her local church and a New York City food bank. Nicole speaks fluent Tagalog, loves gaming, and enjoys anything related to tech and robotics.

Follow Nicole on Twitter: @nmanalo_21

Young Lee

Project Awaken Manager

Young Lee manages Philos’ Awaken Project. He is from Torrance, California, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hyles Anderson College & Seminary with a BA in Pastoral Theology. He currently serves as a Youth Pastor at Charity Baptist Church in Somerset, New Jersey. Young is the Founder of the Awaken project, and is determined to raise awareness in the Western church of the persecution of Christians, and provide relief to the persecuted peoples in the Middle East. Young is fervent believer in soul winning and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. He believes the gospel of Christ is also fulfilled in feeding the poor, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.

Jessie Owen Payne

Media Director

Jessie Owen Payne is the Media Director of the Philos Project. Jessie graduated from Bob Jones University in 2008 with a BA in Radio and Television Broadcasting and a minor in Public Relations Journalism. She interned with Entercom Communications while in college, did freelance writing for The Greenville News in South Carolina, and worked as a staff reporter and editor for The Springville Journal and The Sun News outside Buffalo, N.Y. Jessie’s passions include fashion, photography, and travel, although she currently stays busy with her husband and two children in Greenville, SC.

Follow Jessie on Twitter: @TheJessieJoy

Lela Gilbert

Lead Blog Contributor

Lela Gilbert is the lead contributor to The Philos Project blog. Lela, a Christian who has been based in Israel and the U.S. since 2006, is an award-winning writer who has authored or co-authored more than 60 books. Her most recently published work is the critically acclaimed Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner. She authored Baroness Cox: Eyewitness to a Broken World; she also co-authored Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians and the award-winning Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion. Lela is an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute and a frequent contributor to Fox News, Algemeiner, The Jerusalem Post, The Huffington Post, and many other publications.

Follow Lela on Twitter: @lelagilbert