Team

Robert Nicholson President & Founder Robert Nicholson is the President and Executive Director of The Philos Project. He is also co-founder and board member of Passages Israel, an advisory board member of In Defense of Christians, and an adjunct professor at The King’s College in New York City. He holds a BA in Hebrew Studies from Binghamton University, and a JD and MA in Middle Eastern history from Syracuse University. A former U.S Marine and a 2012-13 Tikvah Fellow, Robert founded Philos in 2014 to stimulate a new generation of religious and cultural exchange between the Near East and the West. His written work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, New York Post, Jerusalem Post, Newsweek, Providence, First Things, The Hill, and National Interest.
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 of 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.
Kelly Griffin Managing Director Kelly Griffin is Managing Director of The Philos Project. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and completed her graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. She has been working in the nonprofit space since 2014 with a focus on the Near East and hopes to bring her years of experience to this new role. Outside of the office, Kelly regularly enjoys travel and spending time with family and friends.
Fariza Gulomikova Chief of Staff Fariza Gulomikova is Chief of Staff of The Philos Project. She holds a BA in Media, Culture, and the Arts from King's College as well as an associate degree in Fashion Marketing, She has worked across various industries, including fashion marketing, Christian non-profit organizations, finance, marketing, and the tech sector. Fariza feels a strong sense of belonging to the Philos family due to its alignment with her cultural and ethnic heritage. Originally from Dushanbe, Tajikistan and coming from a Muslim background, she experienced a transformative encounter with the Holy Spirit! Her deep commitment to serving the Lord shapes every aspect of her life, as she strives to honor Him in everything she does.
Girien R. Salazar Director of Development Girien (pronounced "Gideon") Salazar is Development Director at The Philos Project. Girien and his wife first met the Philos Project in 2017 when invited for a trip to Israel on the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, a trip that opened their minds to a new paradigm of Christian engagement with the Near East.

Girien has previously served in various leadership capacities which include Director of Development at SAGU, a private Christian university, minister at Hope City Church (Ciudad de Esperanza), Executive Director of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and the Faith and Education Coalition, volunteer board member for the Latin American Heritage Society, president of the City of Houston Super Neighborhood 34, board member for San Antonio Parks and Recreation, minister at El Tabernaculo Church, and a governor-appointment by Greg Abbott to the OneStar National Service Commission Board.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Church Ministry and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and is in the dissertation phase of his Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies from Dallas Baptist University. He was honorably discharged from the United States Navy Reserves after eight years of enlisted service as a Religious Programs Specialist (PO1).
Margaret Fernandez Development Associate Margaret Fernandez is a Development Associate at the Philos Project. A native Brooklynite, she graduated from St. Francis College with a BA in Communications concentrating in Digital Media, with a minor in Spanish Studies. Margaret is passionate about her Catholic faith and enjoys pursuing truth, beauty, and goodness in God’s creation. Prior to working with the Philos Project she was blessed to work in development and mission in advocating for the dignity of women and families in the NYC region. In her free time Margaret enjoys writing, poetry, travel, baking, and loves living the aunt life to her nine nieces and nephews.

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Alex Giobbi Development Associate Alex Giobbi is one of the Development Associates at the Philos Project. A 2016 graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a B.A. in Professional Writing, Alex has worked almost exclusively in nonprofit development, serving in organizations dedicated to disability employment and advocacy, inner city community revitalization, as well as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. With the Philos Project, Alex's fundraising responsibilities include general funding, as well as the Charles Malik Institute, Pathfinder, and PLI. Alex enjoys building relationships, a skill he developed while serving as treasurer and sports editor for his college’s newspaper and as the Director of Player Personnel for the Danbury Westerners, a summer college baseball team.
Ann Marie Chapman Executive Assistant Ann Marie Chapman is the Executive Assistant at The Philos Project. She graduated from The King's College with a B.A. in Media, Culture, and the Arts and a minor in Theology and first encountered the Near East on a Passages trip to Israel. It was this trip paired with her collegiate ancient Near Eastern-focused classes that spurred her love for the region and drove her to pursue continued involvement through education and experiences. In her free time, Ann Marie enjoys exploring New York, photography, and learning to find joy in all the nooks and crannies of life.
Simone Rizkallah Deputy Director of Education Simone Rizkallah is the Deputy Director of Education at The Philos Project. As a first-generation American of Egyptian-Armenian descent, Simone has a particular interest in matters of religious freedom, culture, and the Eastern roots of the Faith. Her graduate degree is in Theological Studies from Christendom College. Her undergraduate studies and professional background include marketing communications, media, radio, and theatre. She is a frequent guest on Catholic Answers Live and a faculty member of the Avila Institute.

You can find her talks, publications, and podcast episodes on her website www.culturalgypsy.com.
Liza Ashley Assistant Deputy Director of Education Liza Ashley is the Assistant Deputy Director of Education. She holds a B.A. in Humanities from The King’s College.

Before joining the Charles Malik Institute, she worked as a reporter covering topics in religion, ethics, and politics in a wide variety of publications including Newsweek, Religion News Service, and Religion Unplugged. During her tenure, she was awarded the Chandler Award from the Religion News Association, an EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Church Press, and others. She is an alumna of the Humanities at Hertog and the Philos Leadership Institute.
Jesse Rojo Deputy Director of Engagement Jesse Rojo is the Deputy Director of Engagement 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 progress 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.
Rebeca Cruz Assistant Deputy Director of Engagement Rebeca “Becky” Cruz is the Assistant Deputy Director of Engagement at The Philos Project. Rebeca was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States when she was seven years old. She attended Valley Forge Christian College, studying social work. In 2010 she Graduated from the Latin American Bible Theological Institute (ITLA), Assemblies of God in Wayne NJ, studying pastoral ministries. Prior to working at The Philos Project, Rebeca served as the Promotion Director Assistant in a Spanish-speaking Christian Radio Station. She is a pastor's daughter and the youngest of four children. Due to her upbringing, Rebeca has forged a passion and love for serving in the ministry and serving in the community. She now resides in New Jersey with her two daughters Annalyn and Elizabeth.
Matthew Garces Associate Network Director Matthew Garces is an Associate Network Director at the Philos Project. Matthew graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in International Affairs and Political Science and a minor in French. In 2018, Matthew participated in the Philos Leadership Institute and had the opportunity to travel to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank while engaging with topics such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jewish-Christian relations, and the persecuted Church in the Near East.

Prior to working at the Philos Project, Matthew worked with a nonprofit where he mentored dozens of college students as well as spoke in front of hundreds of people at college campuses and conferences on issues relating to Israel and antisemitism.

In his free time, you can find Matthew spending time with his wife, traveling, playing video games, or cracking the occasional dad joke.
Josefa Gonzalez Director of Communications Josefa Gonzalez is the Director of Communications at the Philos Project. She holds a BA in Communication Arts and Multimedia from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Josefa loves the outdoors and has traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe - including Alaska four times. Josefa’s work experience includes three years of strategy consulting in Washington, DC where she helped federal agencies optimize their communications with clarity, simplicity, and efficiency. Josefa has a passion for learning and loves to read books on theology and articles on Near East politics. In her spare time, you can find Josefa taking photos - she is a photographer with a passion for telling stories and creating meaningful images.
Susanna Hoffman Social Media Manager Susanna Hoffman is the Social Media Manager at The Philos Project. She holds a BA in Journalism and Classical Liberal Arts from Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. Susanna is passionate about studying civilizations at the intersection of religion, history, and culture and can be found listening to books and podcasts on various topics. Before joining the Philos Project, Susanna worked as a journalist in the political and human rights spaces as well as in branding and marketing. She loves creating true stories through fine arts, the written word, and compelling digital communication.
Hailey Hancock Graphic Designer Hailey Hancock is the Graphic Designer at The Philos Project. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Hailey is passionate about supporting religious freedom and enjoys learning about different religions and how they shape culture. She has a particular interest in user-centered design and developing unique yet seamless digital experiences.

Although Hailey considers the countryside of northern California her home, she currently resides near Portland, Oregon. She loves hiking, weight training, and spending time with friends in her free time. She also enjoys tackling various DIY projects and taking photos of scenic places she visits.
Krystal Bracy Leadership Network Director Krystal Bracy is the Leadership Network Director at the Philos Project. She is also a board member for the National Center for Black Jewish Relations at Dillard University. A native of Oakland, CA, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley and the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University with concentrations in Homiletics, Black Church Studies and African and African American Studies.

In April 2023, she was presented with the esteemed "Light for Israel" award by the Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern Region, acknowledging her significant contributions to fostering positive relations between the United States and the State of Israel. She is an alumna of the Philos Leadership Institute and a certified religious leader.
Wendell Shelby-Wallace Associate Network Director Wendell Shelby-Wallace is a native of Houma, Louisiana and a proud Morehouse Man. Prior to joining the Philos team, Wendell served as the Director of External Affairs, Strategic Partnerships, and Initiatives at the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeastern United States. He is also experienced as a special advisor with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advising the Atlanta consulate and other missions on partnerships with the African American community. His versatile skill set also includes experience as a teacher in Massachusetts and Louisiana, organizing director of coordinated campaigns in North Carolina, Louisiana, and Virginia, as well as a disaster recovery specialist with the Louisiana Governor's Division of Administration.

In 2023, he was honored with the distinguished NAACP Beloved Community Award in Terrebonne Parish, recognizing his outstanding work in revitalizing Black-Jewish relations, expanding global education opportunities for minority students, and promoting interfaith social justice initiatives.

Apart from work, Wendell enjoys cooking Louisiana cajun-creole cuisine and spending time with family. He also is also a leader with the Morehouse-Israel Covenant Program and the newly relaunched National Center for Black-Jewish Relations at Dillard University.
Andrew Doran Senior Research Fellow Andrew Doran served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State from 2018-21. He previously served as Deputy Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO at the State Department.

He is a co-founder of In Defense of Christians.

He has published extensively on U.S. foreign policy and human rights in the Middle East.

He is an Army veteran and attorney.
James O’Reilly Associate Network Director James O’Reilly is an Associate Network Director at The Philos Project. James graduated from Christendom College with a BA in Philosophy with a specific interest in language and morality. He serves the college now as an alumni class representative. In 2022, he founded The Broken Binnacle, a platform of young Catholic writers who seek to revitalize American culture through writing, art, and the humanities, and to promote and share the Catholic faith. James is an alumnus of the Philos Leadership Institute and a member of the Philos Action League.

Hailing originally from the beautiful hills of the Shenandoah Valley, VA, James now serves The Philos Project in the DC area. Outside of The Philos Project, you can find James playing guitar or soccer, pretending to train for a half marathon, writing essays and poetry, or reading history, philosophy, or a good novel.
Isaac Woodward Director of the Philos Leadership Institute Isaac Woodward is the Leadership Network Associate Director. Prior to his role at Philos, he worked as a philanthropy consultant for political and civil society initiatives across North America. From 2017 through mid-2019, Isaac served as a Public Interest Fellow. During the fellowship, he worked as a research analyst for a network of donors specializing in public policy and political campaigns. During the 2018 election cycle, he conducted research for a political affairs firm. In the wake of the atrocities committed against Christian, Yazidis, and Muslims during the rule of ISIS, Isaac worked as a human rights advocate for an international NGO focusing on humanitarian aid and religious liberty cultivation. During the 114th Congress, Isaac worked in the House of Representatives on a wide range of policy areas while managing constituent correspondence. In 2015, he worked as a program and research assistant for the Education Department at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2014, he served as a Charles Koch Fellow at the American Legislative Exchange Council and as a residential fellow at the John Jay Institute. Isaac graduated from Rutgers University, where he majored in philosophy and political science and minored in classics. He is originally from rural Georgia and now lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Katelyn, and their two dogs.
Dominique Hoffman Associate Director of the Philos Leadership Institute Dominique Hoffman is the Associate Director of the Philos Leadership Institute. Before joining Philos, Dominique spent many years in academia, from her six-year tenure at Florida State University to teaching high school in Madrid, Spain. During her college career, she lobbied and actively worked to combat anti-Semitism on FSU’s campus. After graduating with her M.S. in International Affairs with a concentration in human rights, she joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as an international policy fellow working with embassies in the Middle East. In her current role at Philos, she continues her lifelong quest for a deeper understanding of the Near East and the unique civilizational identities that comprise the region’s rich history and current events. When Dominique isn’t listening to podcasts or reading, she is most likely traveling or planning her next trip.
Dan Harre Leadership Network Associate Dan Harre is the Leadership Network Associate at The Philos Project. He is a graduate of Regent University’s Robertson School of Government where he earned an M.A. in National Security Studies with an emphasis in Middle East Politics. Prior to attending at Regent, he worked as the Statewide Field Director on Josh Hawley’s 2016 attorney general campaign, and as a staff assistant for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. More recently, he worked as a research assistant on two major international religious freedom projects with the Religious Freedom Institute and the Robertson School of Government. Dan is passionate about foreign policy, the MENA region, and international religious freedom.
Hannah Garces Advocacy Associate Hannah Garces is the Advocacy Associate for the Philos Project. Born, raised, and based in New Jersey, Hannah holds a BA in History and Jewish Studies from Rutgers University as well as an MA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Since her first trip to Israel in college, a piece of her heart remains in the land. It’s that passion that drives her in standing up for Israel and against antisemitism. Prior to joining the team at the Philos Project, Hannah worked in the Israel advocacy space with StandWithUs for six years. She also has a background in event planning in the nonprofit space and weddings. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, going on runs, and cuddling up with a good book.

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