OUR TEAM BIOS
A peacebuilder and leader, Hamze Awawde is committed to inspiring and empowering youth to create change. Before joining Hands of Peace as Regional Manager of the Palestinian Delegation, Hamze recruited young participants for skill-building and conflict resolution programs with YaLa Young Leaders, where he developed the YaLa Online Academy, YaLa Press, and YaLa Social Media channels. Most recently, Hamze organized and recruited 130 young activists from the Middle East and Africa for a 6-week online leadership course and coordinated an online Facebook for Journalists program with the International Center of Journalists. Hamze earned an MA in Global Community Development from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Business Administration and Economics from Birzeit University in Ramallah.
A retired human resources professional whose career was in the Fortune 100 high-tech industry, Debby is Executive Director of Hands of Peace. Debby has been part of Hands of Peace almost from the beginning – as a volunteer, host family, Board member, and twice as Board Chair. She is a member of Glenview Community Church and lives in Glenview, IL. Debby believes that Hands of Peace provides a safe space for young leaders to become change agents in their communities and beyond.
As Founder of Hands of Peace, Gretchen has served many roles over the life of the organization, focusing on leadership, strategic planning, and fundraising as the organization has grown. Gretchen currently serves on the Board of Directors, where she invites supporters to discover how they can find meaningful ways to support the mission and the always-growing financial needs of the organization. Gretchen holds a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Hamilton College and an MBA from the University of Chicago. From 1985 to 1997, Gretchen worked for First Chicago Capital Markets, as an economist, securities trader and fixed income expert; she left as a Managing Director.
Rana Haddad is the Regional Manager of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel Delegation for Hands of Peace. She began her career with Hands of Peace as a participant in 2003 and an XL in 2004. She then came back as a chaperone in 2008, and was promoted to Regional Manager in 2009. She has received her BA in Pharmacy from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and currently works as a pharmacist at Meuhedet, which is the third largest health care provider in Israel. She balances her job as a pharmacist with her work for Hands of Peace and continues to help develop young leaders dedicated to peace in the Middle East.
Husam Jubran brings his extensive peace and conflict resolution experience to Hands of Peace as Director of Facilitation. Engaged in community organizing and activism from a young age, he earned a Fulbright to attain a masters degree in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding from Eastern Mennonite University and now educates others in conflict management, crisis management, and nonviolence. As a tour guide, Husam works for Mejdi Tours which offers dual narrative tours of Israel/Palestine. Husam also works as a political and interfaith tour guide to the Holy Land. Husam also served as a representative of Palestine and Jordan in Synergos’ social entrepreneurship programs from 2007 to 2017.
Emily is excited to join Hands of Peace as Chicago Site Director. She participated in the summer program as a Hand in 2015 and as an XL in 2016. She also participated in the Hands of Peace/EcoPeace Collective Impact Project in 2018 and was awarded the Rooftop Consciousness Award in 2020. Inspired by her Hands of Peace experience, Emily wanted to explore further the intersection between environmental justice, peace, and security within communities affected by armed conflict. She graduated with honors from Tulane University in May 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a B.A. in Political Science: International Relations. In August 2021, she graduated from Tel Aviv University with an M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, as well as received a mediation certificate from the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution under the auspices of UNITAR. Emily specializes in feminist foreign policy and the ways in which increasing women’s leadership and amplifying historically excluded voices leads to more equitable, transformative, and holistic peace and policymaking.
As Director of Development, Diana Kutlow is responsible for strategic planning and development of fundraising initiatives for Hands of Peace. Diana has a BA in history from Barnard College at Columbia University, a Master’s in Peace and Justice from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at University of San Diego (USD), and a certificate in Non-Profit Management from USD. Diana joined Hands of Peace after a long tenure at the Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice, where she managed the Distinguished Lecture Series, and served as Director of Development and Alumni Relations for the Kroc School. In previous positions at the New York Post, CBS Sports and ABC Sports, she covered national and international sports events, including several Olympic Games.
Deborah brings her award-winning media, public relations and branding savvy to Hands of Peace as Marketing and Communications Manager. Deborah has partnered with many high-profile clients for event planning, messaging and brand development. Her creative leadership helped to propel NBC 7 San Diego, an NBC-owned television station, to long-term ratings success. Deborah has been rewarded with multiple regional Emmys, a national Emmy and four San Diego Press Club awards for journalistic excellence. She is also the proud recipient of the YWCA “Women and Industry” TWIN Award and she was recently inducted into the National Television Academy’s Silver Circle, a prestigious honor roll of professionals who have made significant contributions to television.
Kevin Ouellette is a Southern California local from Santa Barbara who has lived in San Diego for over a decade. He attended San Diego State and received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Kevin recently received a Master’s from the Joan Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. Passionate about working in the Peace Studies field, Kevin worked at the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences as a Governance and Community Programs Assistant. He also served as Program Associate for the San Diego Diplomacy Council, facilitating diplomatic simulations for the Global Leadership Youth Program.
Wayne took on the position of Operations Manager in 2022 after having been a Hands of Peace volunteer for the previous 8 years. He is responsible for managing all of the technical and data aspects of the organization. He has a B.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Illinois, and an A.D. in Computing from Harper College. Wayne has been an ESL teacher for over 30 years. He also volunteers for several other organizations, and makes quilts in his free time.
Ayala Shalev brings a unique combination of skills, commitment and vision to Hands of Peace as Regional Manager of the Jewish-Israeli Delegation. Fluent in English and Hebrew, Ayala is passionate about peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. Ayala has managed the Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony and worked with The Parents Circle – Families Forum, co-leading its Young Ambassadors for Peace Program. She also created a volunteer program that presents creative workshops for young cancer patients at Shiba Hospital in Tel Aviv. Throughout her peacebuilding career, Ayala has created both uninational and binational dialogue programs – designed for participants to see “the other.” Ayala graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tel Aviv University with a BA and an MA in Democratic Education.