Co-founders

Ziad Nahas

 
Dr. Nahas is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the American University of Beirut. He also holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to joining AUB, Dr. Nahas directed the Mood Disorders Program and was the Medical Director of the Brain Stimulation Laboratory at MUSC.

Upon moving back to Lebanon in 2011 and chairing the department of psychiatry at AUBMC, Dr. Nahas realized the absence and urgent need for a community advocacy for mental illness. Not only was stigma a problem in the community, but also the need to raise awareness about mental illness and create a support network for patients which served to decrease suffering and ease access to treatment. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Nahas also found that patients and family members often struggled with the financial expenses needed to treat mental illness. No one should suffer from mental illness because of stigma or lack of funds.

Nayla Abou Haidar Seikaly

 
Nayla Abou Haidar Seikaly had long been planning to bring together a group of people in Lebanon who shared with her the same compassion towards mental illness and the need to raise awareness about mental illness in Lebanon. Being a patient who has experienced mental illness herself, Nayla joined and contributed to the establishment of Embrace with passion and commitment. Founding Embrace has helped Nayla raise awareness about mental illness through conveying the perspective of patients themselves. Through Embrace, she is also reaching out and helping many other patients who feel supported and understood by others going through similar experiences.

Mia Atoui

 
Mia Atoui holds a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and a Master’s degree in public health from the American University of Beirut (AUB). As a psychologist who is continuously engaged in patient care, Mia has always appreciated the need to practice psychology not only in the private setting of the clinic and hospital, but also to be immersed in the community and bring direly needed psychological services into the community. Founding Embrace has been an opportunity to reach out to the community, spread awareness where it is needed, and allow others who are in need to reach out to us as well.
 
 

Michella Nahas

 
Michella Nahas holds a BA degree in Psychology and is currently working on her Master’s degree in sociology at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She has many years of experience working within the field of psychology, particularly in women’s issues and suicide prevention. Embrace is a passion for Michella, she believes everyone should have access to proper treatment and care they need to live a full and productive life.

Core Team

Farah Yehia, Executive Member

 
Farah holds a Master's in Public Health from the American University of Beirut (2013) with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. She held the position of Mental Health Advocacy Coordinator at the Department of Psychiatry at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) for two years. Farah is passionate about public health policy and patient advocacy. She is now pursuing her doctoral studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.
 

Rana Gebara, Executive Member

 
Rana Gebara joined the team of Embrace in October 2013 wanting to help spread awareness about mental health and mental illness knowing the urgency and dire need for such an initiative in Lebanon. Rana is a full time professional dedicating her spare time to Embrace's cause.

Pia Zeinoun, Executive Member

 

Dr. Zeinoun is a clinical psychologist specializing in psychological assessments for children and young adults presenting with a wide range of developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Zeinoun joined the Department of Psychiatry in 2008, soon after graduating with summa cum laude from Illinois University with a master’s degree in Clinical–Counseling Psychology. In 2013, Dr. Zeinoun completed a post-graduate residency in psychological/neuropsychological assessment at the KKI. She has completed her doctoral research at Tilburg University, where she investigated new methods in test development and adaptation, with the purpose of developing culturally-appropriate tests in Arabic. Within the Department of Psychiatry, she has published research on test development in Arabic, and cross-cultural psychology. Dr. Zeinoun is a Fulbright alum, an international member of the American Psychological Association (APA), and serves on the executive board of the 2011-2013 Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) and Embrace. She is a strong advocate for mental health and an Executive member of Embrace.

 
 

Omar Ghosn, Executive Member

We are constantly told to put ourselves in others’ shoes. In doing so, we often forget the importance of being comfortable in our own shoes, after all we are going to be stuck in them for quite a while. Dr. Ghosn hopes that with in an initiative such as this one, individuals suffering from mental illness can begin to get comfortable in their own shoes without having to worry about the stigma that, more often than not, creates a barrier to getting help. He believes that EMBRACE is taking one of the first of many steps on a journey towards a better understanding and more supporting Lebanese community.

 

Chant Kazandjian, Project and Fundraising Coordinator 

Chant is a registered nurse and a clinical mental health counselor. He joined the Embrace Fund after completing his graduate studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and serving as a clinical mental health counselor at the PRACTICE. He specializes in mental health and substance abuse disorders, while also receiving extensive training in expressive arts, career, spirituality, multicultural, and school counseling. He is a member of the American Counseling Association, Chi Sigma Iota- the international honor society for counselors-, and the Lebanese Order of Nurses. He is a National Certified Counselor in the United States. As a Fulbright alumnus, his goal is to lead mental health reform efforts in Lebanon and to train the next generation of mental health professionals. His research interests are in leadership, mental health, counseling, nursing, and education. Chant holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (With High Distinction) from the Lebanese American University (2013) and a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2016).

 

diana

Diana Yehia, Translator

 
Diana hold a Bachelor's in Sociology from the American University of Beirut. As a believer in Embrace's mission, she chose to dedicate her skills and free time to help fulfill it. Currently, Diana handles all translation needs of the organization. She is an avid reader, a nature lover, and a loving mother and wife. 
  

Hala Haouili, Fundraising Officer

 
Hala holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from AUB (2014), where she is currently pursuing her Master's in Public Health with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. As a licensed dietitian, she previously devoted time for community work through her fieldwork across all regions in Lebanon, as part of her position as research consultant at AUB. Hala greatly believes in Embrace's mission and hopes that her past experience in organizing events, along with her commitment to this cause, will help deliver successful fundraising initiatives to support patients with mental illnesses.

 

 

Lea Zeinoun, Fundraising Officer 

 
 
 
Lea is an LAU graduate with a BS in Biology. She has previously volunteered in teaching school children at the St. Jude Children’s Cancer Center. After hearing about Embrace, Lea felt inspired to help out; she signed up as a volunteer and it all began from there. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health at AUB. Her hope is that people in Lebanon become more open to the idea of mental illness and to relieve this issue of its taboos and misconceptions.
 

Field Officers

Farah Tabaja

 

Jana Aridi

 

Fadi Halabi

 

Lynn Abu Khadra

 

Michel Daher

 

Najla Beydoun

 

Pascale E. Nakhle

 

Reem Alaeddine

 
Lila

Lila Khederlalian

 

Sima Naamani

 

Sumer Ziady

 

Tanja Van Deer

 

Yassmin Smaili

 

Nour Bou Malham