We all experience powerful life-changing moments, and this story tells one of mine. I started coaching refugee boys soccer five years ago. Our teams were called the Fugees and competed all over Georgia. At first, I expected to be involved in their lives as a coach; never did I think that these kids would become my extended family. One day during my first season, I was dropping a kid home when I looked over at him and noticed he was holding his stomach.
"What's wrong?" I asked. "I am hungry," he responded.
"Don't worry about it, you'll be home soon and you can get something to eat." I responded, thinking that he was trying to get me to pick up some fast food for him.
"No, there is no food at home," he reported.
I struggled to understand, "There must be something, bread, cheese..."
"No, Coach, it's that time of the month.""Time of the month?" Later I found out that "time of the month" means the time the food stamps run out. That night I walked him to his apartment. Inside, it was complete darkness. I looked for food, but there was none. Instead, I found his mother huddled in the corner of the living room, rocking back and forth, shaking her head, and muttering, "I work hard every day, every day I work."
After buying groceries and trying to draw a budget for his family (and failing miserably), I realized that I had barely scratched the surface. I felt so naive and helpless. Children living less than five miles away were going to bed hungry, because their parents weren't getting paid enough to make ends meet.
This is just one of many experiences with my players that has completely changed the way I see the world. The past five years have been a wonderful yet terrifying journey led by the children I coach, who guide me and keep me accountable every day for the decisions I make. It is because of them that I have founded the Fugees Family, and it is for them that I ask you to join our family.
David Williams, President
David is a Partner in the Atlanta law firm of Sheley Hall PC, a law firm that specializes in real estate transactions, leasing and workouts. David’s extensive experience includes work as a Partner in the Atlanta offices of both Seyfarth Shaw and King & Spalding. David’s specialty is representing real estate funds in connection with the formation and structuring of the funds, the acquisition, development, financing and disposition of the funds’ real estate portfolios. David studied French and German at Oxford University and earned his J.D. at the University of Chicago Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, and the American Bar Association.
Sara Beth Watson, Secretary/Treasurer
Sara Beth is a Manager in the Corporate Strategic Federal Tax Services group at the Atlanta office of Grant Thornton LLP, where she has specialized in Research & Development tax credits and other corporate tax incentives for the past 5 years. Sara Beth is a member of the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition, Project Understanding Class of 2009, a young leadership program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Atlanta. Sara Beth is a Georgia CPA and a member of the AICPA. She earned her MMA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and her Master of Accountancy from the University of Florida.
Kathy Bremer is the Managing Director of BoardWalk Consulting, a non-profit consulting group specializing in matters involving non-profit board development. Kathy has extensive experience in both public relations and non-profit management. For 8 years, she was Partner and Managing Atlanta Director of Porter-Novelli. Kathy also worked for several years as the Senior Vice President for External Relations for CARE, managing strategic planning, marketing, fundraising, and corporate partnerships.
Joy DiBenedetto is the Founder and Chief Editorial Strategist for Human Unlimited Media, a.k.a. HUM and HUMNEWS, working to build the world’s first and only full world, all-nation news agency. Until March of 2008, she was vice president of network booking and research for the CNN News Groups. She joined CNN in 1995, and went on to create and manage GuestSource, CNN’s guest booking service for television and radio affiliates. Prior to this, Joy was a press officer for CARE, the international relief organization, and a caseworker handling senior citizens for New York City.
Elise Eplan is currently self-employed as a Philanthropic Consultant. In the most recent past, Elise served as Vice President for Special Initiatives of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Prior to this, Eplan was the Program Director for The America Project, an urban community development program of The Carter Center. Elise was also the founding president of Hands On Atlanta, and she currently serves on the Hands On Atlanta advisory board. Elise is also the past President of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
Susan Hamilton is a community volunteer involved in a number of civic activities. Susan earned her degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill and worked in commercial banking with NCNB in Charlotte and C&S Bank in Atlanta. Upon leaving banking, Susan served as a fundraising consultant to nonprofit companies with Coxe & Associates. She has also been a part-time teacher, and started her own container gardening business with a friend while raising her children. In the past, Susan was a board member of Odyssey, an educational summer enrichment program in Atlanta, and continues to serve on their Advisory Board.
Peter Hasbrouck is a Partner at law firm, Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon, LLP, a 15 lawyer general practice law firm specializing in Labor and Employment law and other commercial and civil litigation representing large and small business owners. Peter is a graduate of the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Political Science in 1981 and Emory Law school with a J.D. in 1985. Peter is married to Cathy O’Malley Hasbrouck (also a lawyer, B.A. UNC Chapel Hill (1986) and J.D UNC Chapel Hill (1989)) and has have two children, Clare (16), a sophomore at Woodward Academy, and Henry (14), a freshman at Westminster.
Lynda Herrig is an Associate Partner at Newcomb and Boyd where she began her career as a mechanical engineer. Her work has included mechanical system design and project management responsibilities on over 80 projects. Lynda is a LEED 2.2 Accredited Professional and is also an ASHRAE HFDP Healthcare Facility Design Professional and serves as a corresponding member of ASHRAE's Technical Committee TC9.6 Healthcare. In 1997, Lynda took a 10 year break from Newcomb and Boyd to teach science at The Paideia School before returning to the firm in 2007. She is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and is on the board of a small non-profit called GAIA Vaccine Foundation. Lynda holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Smith College.
Esmael Hill is a Managing Principal at The Net Lease Group, focused on the acquisition and disposition of single-tenant, net lease assets. Prior to founding The Net Lease Group in 2011, Esmael formed and managed the Net Lease Services practice within Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta office. Esmael has also worked as an Investment Banker in Atlanta with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., and as a Project/Construction Lender in the SunTrust Commercial Real Estate Finance Group. Esmael received a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Real Estate from Georgia State University. He is an active member of the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers), the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, and the Atlanta Silverbacks Soccer Club.
Betsy Holland is Director of Corporate Responsibility for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. In this role, she oversees the company’s community outreach efforts, corporate contributions, government affairs, and environmental sustainability programs. She began her career at Turner Broadcasting in 1997 as one of the founding members of the company’s Corporate Affairs department. She is a member of the LEAD Atlanta class of 2006, a program of Leadership Atlanta. Betsy currently sits on the Board of Directors for ToolBank USA, and serves on the Board of Deacons at Morningside Presbyterian Church. She is a graduate of Smith College and holds her certification in community relations from Boston College.
Beth Jordan is currently involved in outreach at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. As a member of the Northside Missions Board, Beth has been instrumental in launching “A Great Day of Service,” a service initiative encouraging volunteerism among Northside members. Beth also has a passion for service work in Central and South America. She has been an active volunteer at The Westminster Schools of Atlanta, serving on the Parent Council for over fourteen years, and she volunteers at RRISA (Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Service of Atlanta) with the Threads of Hope program. Beth has experience as a Software Engineer for Columbia Chemicals, and as a consultant at Arthur Andersen with an emphasis in Management Information Systems. Beth graduated from The University of Georgia with a degree in Management Information Systems.
Eason Jordan is the founder and CEO of Poll Position, a hybrid news, market research, and social media company. He previously launched and led Praedict, an international information services company. Jordan worked for 23 years with CNN, where he served as Chief News Executive and President of Newsgathering and International Networks. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the ONE Campaign.
Holly Leeson is involved in outreach and missions at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. In her previous work, she was a private job coach for young adults with autism entering the workforce for the first time. Prior to that, Holly spent 10 years teaching in the Fulton County, Clayton County and Atlanta City School systems where her focus was on severely emotionally disturbed adolescents. Part of her tenure teaching was at the South Metro Psycho educational program, a facility serving children who could not be educated in a traditional school setting. Holly has also held a number of volunteer positions at Morris Brandon Elementary, and at Lovett and Westminster Schools. At Lovett she served on the new parent capital campaign. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Education.
Luma Mufleh, ex officio member
Luma is founder and director of Fugees Family, Inc., which incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2006. Luma has coached soccer for over 10 years, and is currently the head coach of the Fugees Soccer teams. She has owned two small businesses: Fresh Start for America, a cleaning business employing refugee and immigrant workers, and Ashton’s, a coffee shop and café. She earned her BA in Anthropology from Smith College.
Fugees Family, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to working with child survivors of war. We build upon the power of soccer to galvanize these kids by giving them the support and structure they need to realize their vast potential. Five years ago, Coach Luma Mufleh started a Fugees team to provide refugee boys with free access to organized soccer. Since then, our programming has grown to include year-round soccer for 86 boys and girls aged 10-18, after-school tutoring and soccer for 50 elementary-aged students, a private academy serving 36 students, and an academic enrichment summer camp.
The Fugees Family provides a space for the kids to heal and meet others like them, from different countries, who have been through similar experiences. The players might begin by regarding one another with distrust or even hostility. By conducting drills with various players grouped together and enforcing an English-only policy at all times, the kids learn to cooperate. Africans and Asians, Northern and Southern Sudanese, Muslims and Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims - they all play on the same team, finding their commonalities instead of focusing on their differences. Their bonds make them more secure in their own identity and more capable of acclimating to the mainstream.
The Fugees Family works to afford our kids equal access to the educational opportunities others in their age group have, helping them to acquire the social and academic skills necessary to succeed. Our goal is for the players to work hard and graduate from high school with a plan for college, technical school, or job training. We are committed to an approach that takes the whole individual into account: we are consistently involved in all areas of the kids' lives, we set high expectations on and off the field, we foster a familial atmosphere, and we have fun.
Her Majesty Queen Noor
Queen Noor is an international public servant and an outspoken voice on issues of international exchange and understanding, Arab, Muslim and Western relations, and conflict prevention and recovery issues such as refugees, missing persons, poverty, climate change and disarmament. Her peace-building work has focused on the Middle East, the Balkans, Central and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Queen Noor’s work in the Arab world has focused on national and regional human security issues in the areas of education, conservation, sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. (She is also actively involved with international and UN organizations that address global challenges in these fields.)' Since 1979, the initiatives of the Noor Al Hussein and the King Hussein Foundations have transformed development thinking in Jordan and the Middle East through pioneering best practice programs in the fields of poverty eradication and women’s empowerment, microfinance, health, and arts as a medium for social development and cross-cultural exchange.
A long-time advocate for a just Arab-Israeli peace and for Palestinian refugees, Her Majesty is a board member of Refugees International and an outspoken voice for the protection of civilians in conflict and displaced persons around the world. She has traveled extensively throughout the Balkans since her first humanitarian mission in 1996 after the tragic fall of Srebrenica. She is a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), created through the Dayton Accords to promote reconciliation and conflict resolution through the search for, recovery, and identification of missing persons from the armed conflicts in the Balkans. ICMP's groundbreaking forensic DNA identification system is the leading provider of DNA-assisted identifications to governments worldwide dealing with catastrophes and human rights cases
Queen Noor has been an advisor to, and global advocate for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines since 1998, travelling to Central and Southeast Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to advocate for the ban with governments and support NGOs, and landmine survivors struggling to recover and reclaim their lives. She is a founding leader of Global Zero, an international movement working for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. She represented Global Zero at the historic 2009 UN Security Council meeting and was an advisor to the 2010 documentary film, Countdown to Zero about the escalating global nuclear arms threat.
Queen Noor has made environmental priorities an essential component of her work to promote human security and conflict resolution. Not long after her marriage, Queen Noor became patron of Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), the Middle East’s first environmental NGO. RSCN programs were early models for conservation and sustainable development, and have also provided training and capacity building to institutions throughout the Middle East.
Queen Noor chaired Jordan’s National Commission in 1990 which developed the region’s first National Environment Strategy and received the United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Award for her activism in environmental protection, in promoting awareness, and in initiating community action for the preservation of Jordan’s natural heritage. She is Patron of IUCN, the oldest international conservation organization in the world, Founding President and Honorary President Emeritus of BirdLife International, and trustee emeritus of Conservation International
She has published two books, Hussein of Jordan (KHF Publishing, 2000) and Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life (Miramax Books, 2003), a New York Times best seller published in 17 languages.
Six-time Academy Award nominated Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most successful and respected producers and executives in the film industry today. As a testament to her standing in the film community, she previously held the position of governor and officer of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. Among her credits are three of the highest grossing films in motion picture history: E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, JURASSIC PARK, and THE SIXTH SENSE.
Kathy believes that the story of the Fugees perfectly encapsulates what it fundamentally means to be an American. When Luma, who also came from another country, realized that the modern day refugee can sometimes become lost and forgotten, she found a way to create a community through soccer that enabled those very children to stand up and be recognized, and to help build a stronger, better, more diverse America."
Kennedy heads The Kennedy/Marshall Company, which she founded in 1992 with director/producer Frank Marshall. The Company is currently in pre-production on Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN, to be released in 2012. To be released in late 2011 is the animated feature THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, another Kennedy/Marshall and Spielberg collaboration, this time with the added producing talents of Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson. The film is based on the iconic character created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, better known to the world by his pen name Hergé. Also in 2011, Kennedy/Marshall debuts another Spielberg helmed film, WAR HORSE, based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, A theatrical adaptation of Morpurgo’s novel is currently running in both London’s West End and on Broadway; the New York show recently won 6 Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Direction of a play.
In 2010, Kennedy/Marshall produced Clint Eastwood’s HEREAFTER, a somber look at life and death and what lies beyond, starring Matt Damon. In recent years the Company has produced THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, an epic love story written by Oscar-winner Eric Roth and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and THE SPIDER CHRONICLES, based on the popular children’s books about the unseen world of fairies. Kennedy also executive produced (with George Lucas) the long awaited fourth installment of Indian Jones series, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Frank Marshall.
Under the Kennedy/Marshall banner the company has produced such films as THE SIXTH SENSE, (six Academy Award nominations including best picture), SEABISCUIT (seven academy award nominations including best picture), SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, and THE BOURNE series, which collectively reinvented the spy thriller. With the 2007 release of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, the films became the only motion picture series to demonstrate a consistent upward trend in both box office and DVD sales. That same year saw the release of the indie hits PERSEPOLIS (Oscar nominated for Best Animated Feature) and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (Golden Globe winner for best foreign Language Film and Best Director).
Kennedy launched her producing career via a successful association with Steven Spielberg, which began when she served as his production assistant on the film 1941. She went to become his associate on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, associate producer of POLTERGEIST, and producer of E.T. THE EXTA TERRESTRIAL. While E.T. was becoming an international phenomenon, Spielberg, Kennedy, and Marshall were already in production on INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, which she and Marshall produced with Lucas.
In 1982 Kennedy co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and Marshall. While at Amblin, she produced and guided two of the most successful franchises in film history: the JURASSIC PARK series and THE BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy. In add Kennedy produced or executive-produced a slew of critical and box-office hits including TWISTER, BALTO, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, THE FLINSTONES SCHINDLER’S LIST, WE’RE BACK! A DINOSAURS STORY, NOISES OFF, HOOK, AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST, CAPE FEAR, GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, ALWAYS, GREMLINS, THE LAND BEFORE TIME, WHO FRAMMED RODGER RABBIT?, BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, INNERSPACE, AN AMERICAN TAIL, THE MONEY PIT, THE COLOR PURPLE, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE GOONIES, AND FRANK MARSHALL’S DIRECTING DEBUT ARACHNOPHOBIA. Other collaborations with Spielberg include MUNICH, WAR OF THE WORLDS, and A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
Kennedy recently completed her tenure as President of Producers Guild of America, which bestowed upon her its highest honor, the Charles Fitzsimmons Service Award in 2006. In 2008, she and Marshall received the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Award for Career Achievement.
Raised in small Northern California towns of Weaverville and Redding, Kennedy graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in telecommunications and film. While still a student she began working at a San Diego, CA television station. Following jobs as a camera operator, video editor, floor director, and news production coordinator, Kennedy produced the station’s talk show YOU’RE ON. She then relocated to Los Angeles and worked with director John Milius prior to beginning her association with Spielberg.
Angelica's interest in the Fugees begun with their story in the NY Times, which led to a conversation with the kids who requested a bus to travel to their games in."
Angelica Berrie is President of The Russell Berrie Foundation, which has made transformational gifts to:
- Diabetes Care and Research at The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, Columbia University;
- Nanotechnology Research at The Russ Berrie Nanotechnology Institute in Technion University, Israel;
- Interfaith Fellowships to the Pope John Paul II Center for Inter-
- Religious Studies in St. Thomas Aquinas University at the Angelicum, Rome;
Ambulatory Care at the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Humanistic Care, Englewood Hospital in New Jersey;
Cancer Care at the Sister Patricia Lynch Regional Cancer Care Center, Holy Name Hospital in New Jersey;
Arts and Culture at the Russ Berrie Hall in the Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood, New Jersey and the Angelica and Russ Berrie Performing Arts Center in Ramapo College, New Jersey;
Salesmanship at the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales in William Paterson University, New Jersey;
The Russ Berrie Senior Home for Jewish Living at Rockleigh, New Jersey;
Leadership Development with The Berrie Fellows Program through the UJA of Northern New Jersey
Angelica currently serves as Board Chair of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a pluralistic center of study in Jerusalem.
She Chairs the Board of the Center for Inter-Religious Understanding in New Jersey.
She helped found Gilda's Club of Northern New Jersey and became Board Chair of Gilda's Club Worldwide, a free social and emotional support network of clubhouses for families living with cancer across North America.
She is on the Board of the Joint Distribution Committee and Vice-President of Ofanim, a nonprofit organization in Israel whose mission is to deliver high-quality supplemental education to children in the periphery using mobile classrooms.
After the death of her husband, New Jersey sales entrepreneur and philanthropist, Russell Berrie, Angelica assumed the role of Vice-Chair and C.E.O. of Russ Berrie & Co., a global gift company known for its Teddy bears and RUSS Trolls.
She is currently CEO of Kate's Paperie, an iconic New York paper specialty retailer; a partner in Boston International, a wholesale gift company specializing in paper party goods, and Chairman of Global Nomad, an experiential travel design company based in Hong Kong.
Angelica also owns a 55% share of Boston International which has been distributing the Metropolitan Museum's paper goods (stationery) and IHR paper napkins and paper plates (a German company). Boston International clients include: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Party City, Crate & Barrel, Macy's, and Coldwater Creek. Boston International also carries Santoro Swing Cards and other product lines including a gift line called October Hill Collection.
Angelica has been a featured speaker at philanthropy conferences:
Jewish Funders Network West Coast Series: “Inside the Philanthropist’s Studio”,
Los Angeles (2011)
University of Oklahoma’s Women’s Philanthropy Network Symposium on Friends, Family and
Philanthropy in Tulsa, Oklahoma (2011)
2011 Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s 22nd Annual Symposium in Chicago on Women
Worldwide: Leading through Philanthropy
Jewish Funders Network Conference in Philadelphia (2011)
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s New York Times Knowledge Network course on Women
and Philanthropy-The Time is Now, which ran from March 8-15, 2010
The Philanthropic Network Forum in San Francisco (2010)
TPI’s 20th year Symposium for Donors and Corporate Leaders in Boston (2009)
CMS Philanthropy Conference in Florida (2008
Angelica's other adventurous pursuits include skydiving and rappelling. She lives in Edgewater, New Jersey.