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Kathryn Haddad

Executive/Artistic Director

Kathryn Haddad (Executive/Artistic Director) is a writer, teacher and community organizer whose work explores contemporary Arab American experiences and reflects on the political reality of life for Arab and Muslim Americans. 


Kathryn founded Mizna – one of the few Arab American Arts and literary organizations in the United States where she served as its Artistic and Executive Director for twelve years.  Kathryn is a 2004 – 05 recipient of an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship for her work with the Arab American community.  As a writer, she received three Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowships as well as awards from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis.  She is a recipient of the 2018 Kay Sexton Award from the Minnesota Book Awards for her work with the Arab American Community, and is a 2019-20 Jerome Artist Fellow.


Kathryn Haddad

Board of Directors


Board President

Joseph R. Farag is Assistant Professor of Modern Arab Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Politics and Palestinian Literature in Exile, published in 2017, and his scholarly writings have appeared in the Journal of Arabic Literature, Middle East Literatures, and the International Journal of Islamic Architecture. Farag's research focuses on the intersection between modern Palestinian cultural production and Palestinian history and politics. 




Jawdy Obeid is a child of Palestinian immigrants. He has been active in the Arab American and Muslim American communities. He volunteers with and supports Palestinian Human Rights Organizations. He has a masters degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.  He has worked professionally in Kathy Haddad’s Road To City of Apples, and Willie Nour’s Turbulence for New Arab American Theater Works,  Ismail Khalidi’s play Sabra Falling at Pangea World Theater, and several staged readings for Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision’s program.



Khaldoun Samman is Professor of Sociology at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of The Clash of Modernities (Routledge 2010) and Cities of God and Nationalism: Mecca, Jerusalem, and Rome as Contested World Cities (Paradigm 2007) and co-editor of Islam and the Orientalist World-System (Paradigm 2008). He is widely known as a local master of Arab percussion who has been teaching Arabic drumming in the Twin Cities for the past several years. Growing up in Zarqa Jordan, his favorite memories of childhood usually involved listening to the beautiful sounds of Arabic music. When Khaldoun’s family moved to New Jersey, a lot of this came with them. Khaldoun has been studying Arab percussion intensively over the past 13 years traveling across the United States and to Jordan to study with the masters of Arabic drumming.  He has performed widely in the Twin Cities, including venues like the Science Museum in St. Paul, the Festival of Nations (multiple performances), the Fringe Festival in Minneapolis, as well as in Mizna sponsored events, and in several local Twin Cities Arab weddings. Khaldoun is the lead instructor for New Arab American Theater Works program, Yalla Drum!



Andrea Shaker (Secretary) is a professor of art at the College of St. Benedict | St. John's University. She earned her BA from Georgetown University and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and French at l'Université de Fribourg. Her photographic artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo and group shows in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Glasgow. Her film work has screened at the Walker Art Center and the Twin Cities Arab Festival, has been aired on Twin Cities Public Television and is part of the Ruben/Benston Moving Image collection at the Walker Art Center. 



Raised in a nomadic upbringing, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf is the author of three books: Gorgorkii Yimi, a collection of short stories in Somali, The Lion’s Binding Oath, a collection of short stories in English, and Somalis in Minnesota. His short stories appeared in Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali studies, Mizna: An Arab-American literary magazine. His play ”Tales of Time” was given several staged readings at New Arab American Theater Works in collaboration with Pangea World Theater. “A Crack in the Sky” was produced at the History Theatre in Saint Paul and others at Mixed Blood. His mental health publications appeared in Journal of Muslim Mental Health; Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology; International Society for Traumatic-stress Studies, Psychiatry Times. He has a BS in creative writing and psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; and an MPA (Master of Public Affairs) from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota.