Susan Gitenstein Assadi is the co-founder and president of the board of Safed House, a non-profit that assists refugees and recent immigrants in America navigate resettlement as well as provide a digital platform to share their stories. She also is the co-producer of the Safed House videos.
Prior to founding Safed House, Susan was Program Chair and on the Board of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations. Her other non-profit work includes founding a chapter of Seeds of Peace in Arizona and managing public relations for the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, Cordoba House, and the national Bahai organization. In 1992 Susan co-founded a public relations firm, GAPR, in Arizona which focuses on communication services. She is a highly respected national media strategist. Susan has over four decades of extensive experience representing non-profits. Susan holds a MFA from New York University School of the Arts and a BA from Washington University in Political Science.
Sami Assadi, co-founder of Safed House, was born in Safed, Palestine and became a refugee in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Safed House was inspired by his hometown that he left at five years old and never returned to. As a child his family moved from one country to another, dictated by their refugee status. He studied in several countries including Syria, Kuwait, and Italy. A man without a country for most of his life, Sami managed to travel with an international refugee document. He gained valuable experience and survival skills having endured as a permanent refugee. Finally, Sami acquired a visa to the United States, and lived in New York City for twenty years. Now he lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and considers himself among the surviving elder refugees.
Hannah Lillith Assadi is the author of the novel Sonora. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University School of the Arts. Hannah is the head judge of the Safed House Essay contest. She also conducts workshops for writers including improving their skills for college essays and serves on the board. Recently she was awarded the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters. Her novel Sonora was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Award. She was raised in Arizona and lives in Brooklyn.
Jake Gwyn has been a technology consultant for Safed House since 2016 and is developing the website He is a full-stack developer based in Brooklyn, New York. Jake has over fifteen-years experience working in financial institutions, web technologies and systems engineering.
Kathleen Cameron manages leadership programs for Safed House. Kate also is the co-producer of the Safed House videos. She comes to Safed House with a multi-disciplinary approach. Education includes Bsc.ADV (Anatomy / Physiology) Anthropology (MA) Acting (American Academy of Dramatic Arts) and Global Leadership (Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education). Passion projects include communication in health care (Mayo Clinic Arizona) and utilizing the arts to inspire leadership.
Lindsay Rayball is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist working for the non profit Arizona's Children Association as an Outpatient Therapist. Lindsay's primary focus is working with children 5-17 and their families who have experienced trauma or are struggling with life stage changes.
Roger Lurie is a juror for the essay contest. He is an Information Technology Consultant, with an extensive background in senior technology management at Arizona State University. In his semi-retired status, he has recently traveled to Laos on two separate trips to teach English and computer skills in Buddhist Temples. Roger has a passion and caring attitude for mentoring youth through Tempe’s College Connect program, as well as providing career counseling at the Vista Del Camino Community Center. Roger serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Maricopa County in an effort to support and advocate on behalf of youth in dependent care.
Therese Beckman is a juror for the essay contest. In 1958 her family migrated from Iowa to Phoenix, Arizona, where she was educated, raised her family and continues to practice Dental Hygiene. Along the way, she cultivated a number of passions from all styles of dance to needlework and from volunteering for non-profit organizations to becoming an avid genealogist, the last of which has brought her to support Safed House. Her research into family history has brought to light that her European ancestors, who were then called “pilgrims”, “settlers” and “pioneers”, fled to America to escape religious persecution, oppression by hostile foreign governments, forced conscription, poverty and famine - forces which continue to disrupt people’s peaceful lives, driving them to America to be labeled as todays “refugees”.
Jake Nesbitt has worked as a social media consultant to Safed House since 2016. He is developing content for use on social platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Jake has worked as an account executive for GAPR since 2013 and is a graduate of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
Nicole Stumphauzer is the graphic designer for Safed House. She is currently a graphic designer in Los Angeles for a digital media company. Originally from Cleveland, she moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State and instantly fell in love with the west. Some of her interests besides design include traveling, photography, and plants!
Irin Daniels is the director for the Safed house foundational video. With over 25 years of experience ranging from multimedia production at Marmera Creative and business management to music marketing and educational development, Irin is always looking to push the boundaries of creative expression while ensuring the highest quality results in every venture he embarks on. Marmera Creative provides a wide range of services that include music production and film development.
Karen Linehan Mroz, member of the advisory board, is the President of the Roscommon Group Associates. She has traveled and worked in the Middle East since the late 70s. For the past 16 years she headed non-profits working in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza. The focus of which was creative innovative programs primarily for women and children. Recently in Jordan, her work was providing education programs focused on preparing Syrian refugee children for entry in to Jordanian schools and underprivileged Jordanian children with supportive education to remain in school. She was the founding executive director of the Friends of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) USA, president of the Middle East Children's Institute (MECI), a program officer at the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Stephan Said, aka Stephan Smith, member of the advisory board, is an internationally acclaimed musician, writer and activist who has been called this generation's Woody Guthrie&(Billboard Magazine) and favorably compared to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Bob Marley in publications such as the New York Times, Billboard Magazine, BBC, NPR and RFI. An Iraqi-American with immediate family in Baghdad and Mosul and a diverse heritage that combines Christianity and Islam, he is a prominent voice for interfaith dialogue, peace, and global justice. His song “The Bell” was “the first major song against the war in Iraq”(Neil Strauss, NY Times) and hailed as “the antiwar anthem of this generation.”(GNN) Stephan pioneered the use of the internet to distribute mp3’s and music videos for social causes on a mass scale, and his essays on music and global affairs have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive Magazine, CounterPunch, Sing Out! Magazine, Folker Magazine (Germany), The Huffington Post, AlterNet, Counterpunch, and others. Since his last album on Artemis Records, Stephan completed his graduate studies in International Affairs from the New School University.