Leila Sansour -- Film Maker, Founder & Chief Executive
Leila is the inspiration and drive behind OPEN BETHLEHEM, she founded the campaign and she wrote, directed and produced the film. Leila is the main spokesperson of the campaign, leading the organisation as well as all communications and creative activities.
Leila is an acclaimed film maker with an unconventional portfolio. She is a well known speaker on issues of the Middle East. She has written articles and given talks at the British parliament, The Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs (UK), The Royal College of Defense, The Carter Center, Amnesty International and many other venues.
Leila holds a masters degree in philosophy. She began her career in television working as a producer and commissioning editor for MBC and then moved to produce 15 episodes of Aljazeera’s leading documentary series “Encounter in Exile”.
Sara Apps -- Executive Director
Sara is a passionate advocate for the human rights of Palestinians since first visiting the region in 2007 with the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Sara’s background is in politics – having worked in Parliament, for the London Assembly and in political campaigning roles. She worked for over five years for Palestine Solidarity Campaign as a Campaigns Officer and latterly as the Interim Director of the organisation. Her passion for encouraging people to learn about the situation in Palestine by seeing for themselves led to the setting up of an organisation, Travel2Palestine, which has taken more than 300 people in politics on visits to Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Having graduated with an MA in History of Art from Edinburgh University, Sara has worked for some of the leading campaigning organisations in the UK – Which?, Citizens Advice and the Equal Opportunities Commission - before focusing on the Middle East.
Johnny Hazboun -- Board Member
Johnny Hazboun brings over fifteen years of experience in business development and marketing strategy in the public and private sectors. He executed multiple business strategies for startups in the US and MENA. In 2007 he produced a national public health campaign for Imperial College London Diabetes Center. The campaign was awarded ‘Best use of Public Relations' and remains the largest in the UAE.
Throughout his career, Johnny served as a media and communications adviser for election commissions in Ramallah, Cairo, Tunis, Tripoli and Sana’a. In 2009 he co-founded a software company, TJS, which now has clients across seventeen countries, including Warren Buffets’ Borsheims.
Johnny was born and raised in Bethlehem and currently lives in Boston. He holds a Bachelor in International Business form San Francisco State University, and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.
Joan Taylor -- Board Member
Joan Taylor (or Joan Norlev Taylor) works on the history and archaeology of ancient Palestine, among other topics, and is also interested in travel to the region over time.
She has written numerous books and the following specifically include mentions or extended discussions of Bethlehem: Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish‑Christian Origins (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993; rev. ed. 2003); The Englishman, the Moor and the Holy City: The True Adventures of an Elizabethan Traveller (Stroud: Tempus/History Press, 2006); The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Palestine in the Fourth Century. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea, introduced and edited by Joan E. Taylor, translated by Greville Freeman-Grenville, and indexed by Rupert Chapman III (Jerusalem: Carta, 2003).
She first visited Bethlehem in 1986 and has a special interest in the area of the Church of the Nativity, the archaeology of the town and issues of cultural heritage.
Waël Kabbani -- Executive Producer
Waël is OPEN BETHLEHEM's Executive Producer, with responsibility for media production, distribution and screenings. Waël is a key spokesperson for the campaign and his company Iambic Dream Films has provided extensive support to OPEN BETHLEHEM.
Waël is the executive creative director of Iambic Dream Films, an independent film company producing documentaries. He is an executive producer of critically acclaimed films including “We Are Many”, "Open Bethlehem", and “Life Is Sacred”.
Waël has 2 new films currently in production. “Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story” is the tale of a wildlife TV star who sacrificed both fame and wealth to bring free healthcare to ordinary Americans, and “Studio 17 – The Lost Archives” is a film that reveals the origins of Jamaican recorded music and the birth of reggae. Waël is passionate about the power of creativity and the people who make it happen. He is also an award-winning songwriter and the creator of a global network of animated superheroes called “The Utopians’ Alliance”.