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Our Team

Excerpt of a manuscript showing Islamic astrologers at an Observatory

Our Name

Our name and our logo reflects the symbolism of quasars as the most luminous objects in the universe, and the beauty and heritage of the gold embrodiered black Kiswa covering the Kaaba in Mecca.  Building on our understanding of science, culture, history, and each other can help us create peace, prosperity, and a sustainable future.

Described as “cosmic lighthouses,” quasars are luminous beacons at the outskirts of the universe. Quasars are incredibly bright sources of radiation at the center of distant massive galaxies. The most luminous objects in the universe, they outshine host galaxies by factors of more than a hundred. Shining as bright as almost 600 trillion suns, quasars are fueled by supermassive black holes at the heart of young galaxies in the process of forming. 

What is Quasar?

Artist's rendition of a quasar by Wm Keck Observatory from Futurity.com

Black & Gold

Beautiful gold embrodiery on the black silk and cotton of the Kiswa covers the Kaaba in Mecca with elegant calligraphy and Qu'ran verses. The Kaaba stands at the center of Mecca, the most sacred site in Islam. The Kaaba, which means "cube," is an ancient stone sanctuary originally built by Abraham and his son Ishmael, and re-dedicated by the Prophet Mohammed. A symbol of how the sacred and worldly meet, the embedded Black Stone is a meteorite fallen from the sky that links heaven and earth.

Kaaba covered by Kiswa in the center of Mecca by Izzudin Helmi Adnan from Unsplash

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THE

TEAM

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia

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Our team is diverse in experience, knowledge and expertise, ranging from international relations to space exploration, healthcare, reforestation and biodiversity, eco-tourism, K-12 education, and humanitarian causes. Team members are based in Washington, DC; Tyons Corner, Virginia; Cape Canaveral, Florida; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. What unites us is a common vision that our work with QII can be like dropping pebbles in the water, creating ripples of peace, prosperity, and sustainable futures.

Meet the Team

Zeyad Alshammari, Ph.D.

Co-Founder & Executive Director

International Relations & Public Policy

Geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs, with a focus on building economic and diplomatic relationships between the U.S., MENA, and GCC countries. Skilled in geopolitical risk analysis, public policy development, conflict resolution, and peace building. Served with U.S. Congressional Member; U.S. Dept of Defense; Saudi Center for International Partnerships; Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia in NYC. Named "Top 100 Most Influential Geopolitics Experts World Wide."

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Carol Loftur-Thun, CPHIMS

Co-Founder & Board President

CEO, Interim CEO & Leadership Coach

Executive Director of Health Tech Access Alliance, and CEO of Minerva Medica LLC with 20 years experience in nonprofit start-ups & turnarounds. Led efforts to raise over $31 million, and managed local and international nonprofits with over 90 employees to address mental health, suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and homelessness. Change management expert focused on health system transformation, and certified leadership coach. Born in Ecuador, studied in India thru Fulbright program, lived in Beirut, now Virginia.

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Rebecca Smith, Ed.D

Board Director & Treasurer

Education Consultant & Professor

Professor, trainer, teacher, and school district leader in North Carolina for 32+ years. Interim Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer for charter school. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum K-12, Middle School Principal, and Director of Gifted and Arts Education for public school district. Led team to develop curriculum for Google Workbench. Fulbright scholar to People's Republic of China, led teacher exchange with the Chinese Confucian Hanban Institute Partnership, and studied in India thru the Fulbright program. 

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Jack Kennedy, Esq, M.S.

Senior Advisor, Space & Tourism

Space Tourism, Law, & Public Policy

Visionary attorney and entrepreneur with extensive experience in spaceports, space law and policy, and space education. A former state Delegate and Senator with a Masters of Science in Space Studies, Jack was appointed to Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and helped guide enactment of first Spaceflight Liability & Immunity Act, and ZeroGravity, ZeroTax state law. Developed CubeSat Challenge and ThinSat programs with local schools, and hosted NASA DEVELOP program site. Launched Xplore The Planet space tourism travel agency in Florida.

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Robert Loftur-Thun

Senior Consultant - Sustainability

Capacity-Building, CEO, CTO & CFO

Over 15 years experience in the private sector including interactive multimedia publishing, broadband web-based TV, and Solar PV. 15+ years experience in nonprofits, as college IT director, adjunct professor of video design, and CEO of US Foundation providing capacity building, developing funder and corporate partnerships, and providing technical assistance on reforestation and biomass heat energy for int'l environmental NGOs. Certified in reforestation greenhouse gas accounting, biodiversity finance, and sustainable tourism. 

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Hadeel Ibrahim

Strategic Partnerships Advisor

Entrepreneur & NGO founder

 

Business development consultant based in Jordan & U.S. with aviation, defense, high tech, education, pharmaceutical and renewable energy companies. To empower women economically, founded Arab-European Businesswoman Council in Paris, and Arab-American Businesswomen Council in Washington, DC, in collaboration with American and European Chambers of Commerce, EBRD, UN Women, World Bank, CAFRAJ, and IPEMED. Liaison with women ministers in Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia.

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Juno Beach Florida by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

Terry Lawson Dunn

EcoTourism & Education Advisor

Author, Educator, Artist, Entrepreneur, Guide

Innovator and catalyst in crafting unique environmental education and outdoor experiences to engage non-scientists. Uses written word, visual art, and leadership skills to galvanize, connect and inspire others. Founder of Eco-Trip Match, a global ecotourism business based in New Mexico, and an annual international nature tour guide awards program. Painter and author of award-winning book “Art of the National Parks,” as well author of educational curriculums on biodiversity, wildlife conservation, and the environment. 

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Santa Fe Doorway in New Mexico by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash 

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Kasun Millawithanachchi, Ph.D.

Peace Project Manager

Peace Studies, Data Analysis, Research 

 

A self-motivated natural leader with a Ph.D. in Political Science focuses on peace, U.S. territory peace, and post-conflict reconciliation. Over ten years of comprehensive experience in public policy, research and analysis, and peace education policy and program assessments. Served with Sri Lankan Mission to United Nations, State Ministry of Defence Sri Lanka, and instructor in Howard University. Co-Founder and researcher of the United State Peace Organization. 

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Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Lincoln Memorial in by Kelli Dougal on Unsplash

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

US Capitol Dome at Night By Darren Halstead on Unsplash

Hail, Saudi Arabia

Hail, Saudi Arabia

Tent Campfire by Sami Salim on Unsplash

New Mexico, USA

New Mexico, USA

White Sands National Monument by Meredith Fontana on Unsplash

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Cape Canaveral, Florida

SpaceX Falcon launch by SpaceX on Unsplash

Jordan

Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Thulusdhoo, Northern Province

Where We're From