Our Team

LEADERSHIP

Dr. Georgette Bennett

Founder

Shadi Martini

Executive Director


OUR TEAM

Marlene Adler

Director of Operations

Ahed Festuk

Manager of Humanitarian Relief

Betsy Dribben

Director of Policy and Advocacy Initiatives


Dr. Georgette Bennett

Founder

Dr. Georgette Bennett, President of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, is a sociologist by training who has spent the past 25 years advancing interreligious relations. She founded Tanenbaum in 1992 to combat religious prejudice and the Multifaith Alliance in 2013, to mobilize support for alleviating the suffering of Syria's war victims. Among many other honors, Dr. Bennett has been recognized by the Syrian American Medical Society for her work on behalf of Syrian refugees.

Dr. Bennett is also a founding Board member of Global Covenant Partners and a key participant in the Global Covenant of Religions. GCR is made up of an international group of top interfaith leaders who are working to delegitimize the use of religion as a justification for violent extremism. In addition, Dr. Bennett served in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative’s working group which developed recommendations for the Secretary of State on countering religion-based violence.

An active philanthropist, Dr. Bennett focuses her personal charitable activities on conflict resolution and intergroup relations. She serves on the boards of Third Way Institute; and the Jewish Funders Network, where she is currently the Vice Chair, was formerly the Chair of the Membership Committee, and co-chaired the 2015 Annual Conference. Additionally, she is an Overseer of the International Rescue Committee. In the U.K. she serves on the Advisory Board of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.

In February 2015, Dr. Bennett was invited to give a lecture to help launch the Faith Centre at the London School of Economics (LSE). Later that month, Dr. Bennett and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke at New York University. Also in 2015, Dr. Bennett received the Activist Award from Project Kesher and the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary. Dr. Bennett delivered the keynote address at the 2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations, calling on NGOs and the UN to respond to the Syrian refugee disaster and a growing global migration crisis.

Dr. Bennett has a Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University, a B.A. from Vassar College, and an advanced degree in Banking, with highest honors, from the American Bankers Association/University of Delaware. She has authored four books and over 50 articles. In 1987, her book, Crimewarps: The Future of Crime in America, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In that work, Dr. Bennett predicted—more than 25 years ago—that cybercrime and white collar crimes would be a major threat and wrote extensively about the link between religious extremism and violence.


Shadi Martini

Executive Director

As it has with so many other victims of this crisis, the Syrian war turned businessman, Shadi Martini, into a refugee, an activist, and an advocate for greater cooperation across faith and cultural lines.

Now, as the Executive Director of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), the nation’s leading interfaith response to the Syrian crisis, Mr. Martini will implement his broader vision to expand the organization’s humanitarian aid program, and bring critical awareness of the crisis to the forefront of public consciousness, to encourage activism needed to change the current U.S. immigration policy.

In his former role as Director of Humanitarian Relief and Regional Relations, Mr. Martini traveled throughout the U.S. and the Middle East, forging partnerships with like-minded humanitarians on the ground who were willing to help by donating or delivering life-saving aid. From his vantage point, Mr. Martini is able to provide briefings based on first-hand knowledge of the crisis to government officials, civil society leaders, the media, and various secular and faith-based organizations. The partnerships he has facilitated between organizations focused on addressing similar issues, and the people-to-people engagement he has fostered, are helping to plant the seeds for future stability in the region

In March 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on those providing aid to anyone suspected of being in the opposition, Martini, then the General Manager of a hospital in Aleppo, and his comrades worked covertly to provide aid to wounded and ill civilians. This secret network was discovered in mid-2012, forcing him to flee his country.

Immediately, Martini began organizing assistance programs for Syrian refugees and Internally displaced Syrians. Martini founded Refugee Support Group; a humanitarian aid organization based in Bulgaria. He was elected by Bulgarian NGOs to serve on the Bulgarian crisis commission to help overcome the obstacles to aiding and integrating refugees.His work attracted partnerships with numerous faith-based organizations in the U.S. and abroad, which led to his involvement with the Multifaith Alliance.

In his new role, Mr. Martini expects to strengthen and expand existing efforts in the U.S. and abroad to effect large scale policy and cultural changes,and secure lasting solutions to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Marlene Adler

Director of Operations

Marlene Adler had an eight-year career at Bear Stearns where she was vice president of Marketing. Following that, she joined Walter Cronkite as Chief Operating Officer for the documentary production company they built together in collaboration with the Discovery Channel. She also served as Cronkite’s Chief of Staff and manager throughout their almost 20-year relationship that ended with is passing in 2009.

Adler then became Managing Director for corporate communications, government and client relations for Cententia Group LLC, a private equity company with a focus in the oil & gas industry in Louisiana.

When Cententia closed in 2012, Adler began a collaboration with Colonial Pictures, a U.K. production company, as Associate Producer for two PBS documentaries. The first, One PM Central Standard Time, commemorated the 50thAnniversary of the JFK Assassination and the journalistic standards of Walter Cronkite in his coverage of that tragedy. The second, JFK & LBJ: a Time for Greatness, aired in August 2015 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

In 2013, Adler joined the Green Mountain (U.S.) Fund L.P., a Fund of hedge funds, and served as its Chief Operating Officer. In 2015 she became Director of Communications and Development for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), a project of the Tides Center, and now serves as MFA’s Director of Operations.

Betsy Dribben

Director of Policy and Advocacy Initiatives

Betsy Dribben, the Director of Policy and Advocacy Initiatives for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, is an attorney with decades of international political and policy experience.

Betsy began her career as a legislative and press aide on Capitol Hill, working for senior members of the House and Senate. She has also been a public relations director for two major nonprofits, including having worked on two sets of Presidential Debates.

She has nearly twenty years advocacy experience at the European Parliament and a decade at the United Nations. At the UN, she served as the chief representative for two nonprofits in their environmental and economic work. Her efforts resulted in key language in the Rio Pus 20 United Nations agreement and regulations in the European Union pertaining to environmental problems.

Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, Newsday and the LA Times wire.

As Director of Policy and Advocacy Initiatives for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, she works on policy and advocacy focused on the Syrian refugee crisis and U.S. resettlement of refugees.

Betsy holds a BA degree from Wheaton College (Norton, MA) an a JD from George Mason University's School of Law.

Ahed Festuk

Manager of Humanitarian Relief

​Ahed Festuk, an activist from Aleppo, Syria, was one of Syria's pioneer women demonstrators. When the war erupted, she worked as a paramedic on the frontlines, and remained in Aleppo's rebel-held side until late November 2015.

Festuk also joined several local organizations, helping them provide humanitarian relief and raising funds to expand their efforts. Simultaneously, she became a member of the ancillary staff of the Aleppo local council.

Before seeking asylum in America in 2016, Festuk was contracted to train hostile-environment and first aid responders inside Aleppo.

In 2019, she joined the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees as Manager of Humanitarian Relief and is a prominent member of the Syrian Women's Political Movement.