Masoumeh "Masih" Alinejad is an Iranian journalist author, political activist, and women's rights activist. Contracted by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Alinejad currently works as a presenter/producer at VOA Persian Service, a correspondent for Radio Farda, a frequent contributor to Manoto television, and a contributing editor to IranWire.
Alinejad is well known for her criticism of Iranian authorities. She now lives in exile in New York City, and has won several awards, including a human rights award from UN Watch's 2015 Geneva Summit for Human Rights, the Omid Journalism Award from the Mehdi Semsar Foundation, and a "Highly Commended" AIB Media Excellence Award.
In 2019, Alinejad sued the Iran government in a U.S. federal court for harassment against her and her family. She released a book in 2018 called The Wind in my Hair that deals with her experiences growing up in Iran, where she says girls "are raised to keep their heads low, to be unobtrusive as possible, and to be meek".
Ali Arab is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics of Georgetown University. His academic research is focused on statistical modeling for problems in the environment, ecology, epidemiology of infectious and rare diseases, and science and human rights. He frequently publishes in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He also frequently publishes in academic and popular outlets on topics related to human rights. He is actively involved in promoting science and human rights including promoting the role of human rights in science education, and organizing student activities related to science and human rights. Ali serves as the American Statistical Association representative to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Coalition. Ali is a member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA (since 2016).
Ms. Nazanin Boniadi is an Iranian-born, Award-nominated actress and renowned activist. She is an Amnesty International UK Ambassador, with a focus on the unjust conviction and treatment of Iranian youth, women and prisoners of conscience.
Her advocacy work has taken her to the German Bundestag, the UK Parliament, and the US Capitol.
In 2018, she was selected by People Magazine as one of their ’25 Women Changing the World.’ She is also a recipient of the 2020 Freedom House Raising Awareness Award.
Geoffrey Dive has been working for 4 years with his nephew Richard Ratcliffe on the campaign to free his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, one of the most prominent dual nationals being held hostage by the Iranian Government in an effort to put leverage on the UK Government. Originally from the UK, Geoffrey now lives in Annapolis MD. He has 25 years experience as a telecommunications executive and entrepreneur in Europe and USA specializing in optical networking systems for national and international network operators. Since 2009 he has been a consulting engineer focussing on large scale strategic transformation programs in information security for global clients.
Alan P. Gross
Before his sudden imprisonment in Castro’s Cuba, Alan P. Gross spent over thirty years traveling the globe as an International Development Specialist on behalf of private clients, NGOs and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)— an organization dedicated to administering civilian foreign aid and promoting democracy around the world. Gross helped fight poverty and oppression by developing projects to help people in more than 50 countries around the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Gross’s personal and professional communities were shocked when, in December 2009, he was arrested by Cuban officials who wrongly accused him of working for American intelligence services. He was actually working on a humanitarian project to improve wireless access for small communities across Cuba, with a special emphasis on helping Cuba’s small Jewish community. In March 2011, Gross was wrongfully convicted for “acts against the territorial integrity of the state," and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During his captivity, Gross spent 23 hours a day confined to a small Cuban jail cell, almost completely isolated from the outside world. His physical, mental, and emotional health deteriorated continually as he slowly began to lose hope that he would ever return home alive.
Gross’s wife, Judy—along with key congressional activism, Jewish, interfaith and humanitarian groups worldwide—fought for his freedom. Finally, on December 17, 2014, after being unjustly imprisoned for 1,841 days, the Cuban government released Gross on humanitarian grounds.
Gross presently lives in Washington, DC and Tel Aviv.
Sam Goodwin was unjustly imprisoned in Syria during the summer of 2019. His release marked the first time a captive American had been freed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Goodwin played division I ice hockey at Niagara University before moving to Singapore where he co-founded a game development company and regional NGO, serving for six years as Director of Investor Relations. He has led humanitarian efforts across Asia, Africa and Latin America and is an advocate for the freedom of political hostages globally. From 2010-2019, Sam traveled to every country in the world and wrote about it on his blog. Goodwin speaks about his experiences and has presented to elite athletes, faith groups, at corporate conventions and to the US Military. Sam is pursuing a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a practicing Catholic and speaks conversational French.
Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert
Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert is a Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
She was arrested in Iran in September 2018 after travelling to the country to attend an academic seminar, and spent over 2 years in prison before being released in a diplomatic deal. She is currently writing a book about her experiences.
Barry Rosen’s first view of Iran began in 1967, when he left Brooklyn for a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer. He taught English and he learned Farsi. In many ways, Iran became a second home for Rosen. A decade later, he returned to Iran as the embassy’s press attaché and that home became his prison. On November 4, 1979 he became one of 52 Americans held under brutal conditions for 444 days by Iranian militants. Details of captivity, peculiar as well as profound, are never far from Mr. Rosen’s mind. He was threatened with automatic weapons pointed to his head, a victim of mock executions, held blindfold for days on end, tied hand and foot, and thrown into prison. Torn between his love for Iran, sensitively grounded in the Peace Corps experience, and his anger and frustration over the way his captors violated Iran’s own traditions and norms, Mr. Rosen has been an advocate for the needs of hostages and their families since his release nearly four decades ago. Barry has spoken across the country and abroad about his own personal experience and has sought to detail the impact of terrorism and captivity on the psyche of hostages and their families. He talks candidly about his own experience with PTSD and how that has impacted his own and his family’s lives. After retiring from the Foreign Service, Barry took up the position of Assistant to the President of Brooklyn College, CUNY. He co-wrote wrote The Destined Hour, about his experience in Iran with his wife, Barbara Rosen, and convened a major conference on Iran, which led to the publication of Iran Since the Revolution. Shortly after 9/11 Mr. Rosen headed a Teachers College, Columbia University project to rewrite the elementary school textbooks for the Afghan Ministry of Education. “I felt we needed to return to a culture that I knew and pickup the work of education. We had a history in Afghanistan and that education was the only way to change young Afghan lives.” Mr. Rosen has two graduate degrees, one from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs. The other is from Columbia University’s Department of Middle East Languages and Cultures. Mr. Rosen is honored to be a member of the Advisory Board of Hostage Aide Worldwide (HAW) and looks forward to support those men, women, and families who suffer the trauma of a hostage odyssey.
Xiyue Wang is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Princeton University and a Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow at American Enterprise Institute. He was arrested by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence in August 2016 during his dissertation research trip in Tehran. His interrogator told him that he was detained because he is an American, and the Iranian government wanted to use him as a pawn for making a deal with the US government in order to repatriate Iranian prisoners held in the US and Iranian funds seized by US authorities. He was subsequently convicted by Iran’s Revolutionary Court for espionage and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment without evidence and proper legal representation. Mr. Wang spent forty months in the Evin Prison until he was released through an Iran-US prisoner swap in December 2019.
Nizar Zakka is an internationally-recognized expert in information and communications technology (ICT) policy, bringing more than 20 years of experience representing the ICT sector in the Middle East North Africa region. After earning his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Texas in 1991, Nizar launched several IT companies in his home country of Lebanon, was CEO to the Professional Computer Association and served as secretary general for The Arab ICT Organization (IJMA3). He later was appointed as the Vice President of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance – a consortium of IT industry association members from over 80 countries, representing over 90 percent of the world ICT market. While speaking at a conference in Iran in 2015 on harnessing technology to bridge the digital divide in MENA, Nizar was kidnapped and taken hostage in Tehran where he remained for four years. Released in June 2019, Nizar now advocates for the release of political hostages both in Iran and worldwide and works to enhance internet freedom and the use of technology for peacebuilding globally..