Mr. Ghassan Salameh – Chair and Patron
Chairman and CEO, Rubix Holding
Director since 2017
Mr. Salameh holds a MBA from the University of San Francisco, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University. He has held senior level positions in the management and technology consulting industry, including Booz Allen Hamilton, where he was Executive Vice President and Senior Partner, and CH2M where he was Director of International Infrastructure Business.
Mr. Salameh is a recognized global leader in transportation and infrastructure planning and development. He led the strategy, growth, and execution of businesses at the executive level for multiple companies and created businesses across major cities around the world. Mr. Salameh played key roles in major international conferences as well as authoring multiple papers focused on issues such as public-private partnerships, advanced technologies, and management. Mr. Salameh serves on the Boards of the United Palestinian Appeal; Rubix Holding; and UNRWA, USA where he is the Chairman of the Board.
He and his wife, Suava, are Gold Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
The Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Ph.D. – Vice Chair
Bishop Emeritus of Tucson
Director since 2019
Gerald Kicanas was born in Chicago, Illinois, to parents of Lebanese heritage. He obtained his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago in April of 1967. Following Ordination, he earned an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago
Father Kicanas spent 25 years in seminary formation for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He served as Rector, Principal, and Dean of Formation at Quigley Preparatory Seminary. In 1984, he was appointed Rector of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. During his tenure as Rector, he served as a lecturer in Community and Organization Development at Loyola University.
Pope John Paul II appointed Father Kicanas as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago on the 24th of January 1995 with Ordination in March of that year. He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Tucson in Oct. of 2001 and succeeded to the position of Bishop of Tucson in March of 2003.
Bishop Kicanas served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. He is the former Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Kicanas’ resignation as Bishop of Tucson on the 3rd of October 2017.
Following in the words of his Episcopal Motto “Justice Begets Peace,” Bishop Kicanas has been a tireless advocate on behalf of immigrants, the poor, and for peace among the peoples of the Middle East.
Bishop Kicanas received the Archbishop Pietro Sambi ‘Star of Bethlehem Award for Services to the Bethlehem University Foundation’ in November of 2019 in recognition of his advocacy for peaceful coexistence between the people of the Holy Land and his support of Bethlehem University as a means of achieving that peace.
Brother Michael O’Hern, FSC – Treasurer
President Emeritus of Christian Brothers Investment Services Inc.
Director since 2019
Brother Michael O’Hern is President Emeritus of Christian Brothers Investment Services Inc. where he served as President and CEO for 28 years. He guided the investments of multiple religious organizations, ensuring the ethical use of invested funds, challenging corporate entities to act with justice according to Catholic Social Teaching, and meeting personally with individual leaders of congregations and organizations in the United States and abroad.
Brother Michael earned his bachelor’s degree from Lewis University and an M.A. in history from Michigan State University and in administration from Northwestern University. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Lewis University for work done on Catholic Responsible Investing.
Brother Michael spent years fulfilling the educational mission of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, first as a high school history teacher, then as principal of two Catholic high schools in Chicago, and finally as high school superintendent for the Archdiocese of Chicago, during which time there were 60 high schools.
Brother Michael has served on multiple boards including Christian Brothers Services, the District Council for the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest, La Salle University in Philadelphia, Saint Mary’s Press, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and Saint Mary’s College of California. He previously served on the Board of the International Catholic Stewardship Council as Treasurer.
Mr. Elias Aburdene – Secretary and Patron
President and CEO, Rock Creek Corporation
Director since 2002
Born in Bethlehem, Mr. Aburdene is President and CEO of Rock Creek Corporation, an investment company. He holds a master’s degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, specializing in International Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut. He has been working in the world of finance and investments for over four decades. He is currently President and CEO of Rock Creek Corporation, an investment company.
Mr. Aburdene is a member of several Boards, including the Bethlehem University International Board of Regents, the Board of Advisors for the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, the Board for the American Friends of the Bethlehem Development Foundation, and the Board of Directors for UNRWA.
Mr. Aburdene and his wife, Annette, are Legacy Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Ms. Katie Acuff, Esq.
Associate Vice President for Advancement, Tulane University
Director since 2016
Ms. Acuff earned her Juris Doctor degree with the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Economics and Finance from the Catholic University of America. She has spent her professional career in development and fundraising, largely with the Catholic University of America and then Tulane University, where she is currently employed.
She has also served as a Fundraising Consultant and Advisor to Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Newt Gingrich.
A member of the Virginia State Bar, and a Member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Ms. Acuff has been a part of a number of organizations, including serving as Treasurer of the Board for Operation Spark, Fundraising Consultants for the Saint Bernard Project, Fundraising Consultant, Former Advisory Board member for Son of a Saint, and Athletics Advisory Board member for the Catholic University of America.
Ms. Lisa Marie Conte Browne – Patron
Exec Director and Exec Board Member, Friends of the Uffizi Gallery
Director since 2019
A resident of South Florida and native of New Jersey, Ms. Browne received her Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Her studies continued at Florida Atlantic University, The New School in New York, and the Lorenzo de’ Medici School in Florence.
She began her professional career working for more than thirty years at Aqua Gulf Services, a diversified worldwide shipping company founded by the Browne family. In 2006, she followed her passion for the arts by establishing the Friends of the Uffizi Gallery, a U.S. based charity with a mission of art conservation, historic preservation, and education regarding the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Ms. Browne serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Uffizi Gallery and Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation. She previously served on the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art Board of Directors and the Nova Southeastern University Art Museum Board of Governors.
She is the 2019 recipient of the Madeline Fiadini LoRe Foundation for Cancer Prevention Award.
Mrs. Helena Christine, Esq. – Patron
Legal Counsel at the University of Alabama
Elected April 2020, Term commences November 2020
Helena Christine is currently legal counsel at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, with a focus on economic development and institutional management. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. She holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and Master of Jurisprudence from Oxford University.
In 1994, she was admitted to the Alabama Bar and in 1989 as a Solicitor in England and Wales.
Before her work at the University of Alabama, Helena was an attorney at HealthSouth Corporation (2000-2006), the Birmingham law firm, Bradley Arant (1994-2000), and practiced law in the United Kingdom (1988-1993).
She and her husband Brian are members of the Southeastern Lieutenancy Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and are Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Mrs. Ann S. Dickson – Patron
Retired Program Budget Director, U.S. Department of Defense
Elected April 2020, Term commences November 2020
A retired civil servant, Ann Dickson plays an active role in the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, and other Catholic philanthropic organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Emmanuel College, an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Virginia Tech, and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the University of San Francisco.
Ann worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in various offices as a Program/Budget Analyst and Program/Budget Officer (1963-1999). She was Catechumenate Director at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, Arizona (1999-2008). Ann is a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and is the Justice and Peace Coordinator for the Tucson Section of the Western Lieutenancy. Ann was instrumental in creating the Most Rev Sir Gerald F. Kicanas KC*HS Endowed Scholarship at the Bethlehem University Foundation. She also received the “Archangel Award” of the Western Lieutenancy for her work in establishing the endowed scholarship.
Ann is a Patron of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Guy J. Di Spigno, Ph.D. – Patron
Psychologist and Corporate Executive
Director since 2019
Dr. Di Spigno brings to the Board of the Bethlehem University Foundation over three decades of demonstrated leadership in organizational effectiveness, higher education, corporate governance, and strategic planning. He is a licensed clinical psychologist listed in the National Register of Health Providers in Psychology. Guy holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University; Master degrees from both the Institute of Pastoral Studies of Loyola University Chicago and Northern Illinois University; and a Bachelor of Science from Carroll University.
In 1991 he was a co-founder of Executive Synergies, an international consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness. Guy has served as President and CEO of Executive Synergies since 1998. Some of his other business leadership positions include responsibilities as a partner and organizational psychologist for Medina & Thompson; Director of Management Development at Borg-Warner; and organizational development consultant with Hay Associates.
Regarding higher education governance and fundraising, Dr. Di Spigno has served on the Board of Trustees of Carroll University, Council of Regents of Loyola University Chicago, and Advisory Board of the College of Continuing Studies at Northwestern University. Guy has also served as a clinical assistant professor of psychology at Roosevelt University of Chicago.
Dr. Di Spigno is also a Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Guy and his wife Gisela have been active members of the Order serving as co-chairs of the Pilgrimage Committee for the North Central Lieutenancy and co-section leaders for the Archdiocese of Chicago before moving to Florida and the Southeastern Lieutenancy. Both Guy and Gisela are also active members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Dr. Di Spigno is a Life Member of the American Psychological Association, an active member of the Society of Industrial & Organizational Psychology and the Society for the Psychology of Religion & Spirituality.
Dr. Di Spigno and his wife, Giselle, are Bronze Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Her Excellency Vicki Downey, DGCHS – Patron
Lieutenant, Eastern Lieutenancy, EOHSJ
Director since 2017
Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Vicki Downey moved to New York in 1999. She was responsible for the immigration and importation department of a large Italian shoe company before transferring to a small independent immigration law firm in 2002.
In 2006, she left the corporate world to focus on her charitable endeavors. She initially concentrated on The Daughters of the British Empire, serving four years as the New York State President, and then its National President for an additional three years – she still serves as an Honorary National Vice President. In 2012, she became the Chief of Staff of the Mountbatten Institute, retiring in 2015. She remains as President of her own small logistics company. She is a World Fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Program and is on the Board of The Allied Forces Foundation, The Anglosphere Society, and the Victoria Home. Most recently, she has been concentrating on working with the Halo Trust to clear landmines in the Holy Land, left over from the 1967 Six-Day War, particularly at the Baptismal site of Jesus.
In 2004, she became a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and was appointed to the Lieutenancy Council in 2011. She was appointed Lieutenant of the Eastern Lieutenancy in January 2016, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the Eastern Lieutenancy.
Vicki Downey is a Bronze Patron of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Mr. George Felton – Patron
Director of College Player Personnel
for the San Antonio Spurs
Director since 2019
Born and raised in the Bronx, and a proud graduate of All Hallows High School, an Irish Christian Brothers school, George Felton has spent his career in basketball. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he was recruited on a basketball scholarship. After graduation, he came back to his Alma Mater as Head Coach after having served as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech and Kentucky. He was responsible for recruiting players who later became NBA stars. George gained a reputation as the best recruiter in college basketball, which led to his opportunity with the National Basketball Association.
A former scout for the Indiana Pacers, George is currently the Director of Player Personnel for the five-time world champion San Antonio Spurs. He has been with the Spurs since 2006.
For George, who received both a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, it is all about people. He speaks to student groups, players, and coaches on his message of the Four Circles of Life: Spiritual, Academics, Social/Career, and Athletics/Health. Through his work, he had the opportunity to visit Bethlehem University and was immediately impressed by the students, faculty, and staff. He has visited the University several times a year since his first visit and considers it his mission to share the inspiring story of Bethlehem University with his friends.
George lives with his family in South Carolina. He is a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The Reverend Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, J.C.L., M.Div.
Rector, Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception
Director since 2017
Monsignor Rossi was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Scranton in 1987 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at the University of Scranton and a Master of Divinity at Saint Joseph’s College and Seminary in New York. After his ordination, then Father Rossi served as Parochial Vicar and teacher at a number of parishes and schools in that diocese, as well as later serving as the Director of Pilgrimages. After earning his licentiate in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, he was assigned as the Associate Rector and Director of Pilgrimages at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In 2004 he was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paull II, and in 2005, Monsignor Rossi was appointed Rector of the Basilica. As part of his duties as rector, he spends significant time fundraising for capital projects, operational expenses, and programmatic support.
Monsignor Rossi is a member of the Canon Law Society of America; the National Association of Shrine and Pilgrimage Apostolate; the Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree; a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; and the Catholic University of America Board of Trustees.
Monsignor Rossi has received several notable awards and honors including the UNIC National Presidential Award, the Frank J. O’Hara Award from the University of Scranton, and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope Francis.
The Honorable George Salem – Patron
Law Offices of George R. Salem PLLC and Strategic Advisor, DLA Piper US LLP
Director since 2013
A highly regarded and well-respected legal expert on labor and Middle East issues, George Salem has had a long career working in government and the private sector. From 1985-1989 he was the Solicitor of Labor of the United States. After leaving the federal government he was a partner at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP until 2004, where he headed the firm’s Middle East and U.S. Department of Labor practices. In 2005, Mr. Salem established the Law Offices of George R. Salem, PLLC.
George Salem co-founded the Arab American Institute and currently serves as its Chairman, and he serves as Treasurer of United Palestinian Appeal. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the American Friends of the Bethlehem Development Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
In 1985, he was appointed Deputy Solicitor, and in 1986 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the Solicitor of Labor of the United States of America, a position he held until 1989. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as Chairman of the Tripartite Advisory Panel on International Labor Standards, the legal arm of the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization. He is the past president of the National Association of Arab Americans and has served on the Board of Directors of the American-Arab Anti-Discriminatory Committee. He was also named to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy’s Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World. George Salem has received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
George Salem and his wife Rhonda are Bronze Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Mr. Joseph Starshak – Patron
Principal, Starshak Winzenburgh & Company
Director since 2017
Mr. Starshak graduated from the University of Notre Dame and was designated a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He earned further degrees in economics from Oxford University. Commissioned in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he was released from active service as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, after which he joined the Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. After a number of assignments, he retired as Chief of Staff of the Midwest Intelligence Area with the rank of Captain.
Mr. Starshak holds an MBA from the University of Chicago. He worked for The Northern Trust Company for 16 years, as an investment banker. In 1991, he joined with others to form the investment banking firm of Starshak Winzenburgh & Co. The firm's clients include the University of Chicago and affiliates, Saint Xavier University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois Student Assistance Corporation, New Mexico Student Loans, and other non-for-profit and private corporations.
Mr. Starshak holds a mayoral appointment to the Chicago Board of Health, and he serves on the Loyola University Library Board and on the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Real Estate and Properties Committee. He is a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Mr. Starshak and his wife, Mary Clare, are Bronze Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
Ex officio Directors:
Brother Peter Bray, Ed.D., FSC
Vice Chancellor (President)
Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD is the 8th Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, assuming the role in February of 2009. He brings more than 30 years of Catholic education experience as a teacher, consultant, administrator, and expert in leadership and educational systems. Brother Peter complements his practical experience with a doctorate in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego with a focus on leadership approaches that facilitate change in educational institutions.
Prior to Bethlehem University, Brother Peter was the Director and CEO of the Wellington Catholic Education Center in New Zealand where he led the creation of a master’s level educational partnership with the Australian Catholic University and the utilization of online delivery for the Center’s educational programs.
H.E. Professor Bart McGettrick
Dean Emeritus at Glasgow University and Liverpool Hope University
Chair, Bethlehem University International Board of Regents
Professor McGettrick was Principal of Saint Andrew’s College of Education from 1985 until it merged with the University of Glasgow in 1999. He then became Dean of the newly created Faculty of Education and was appointed to a personal professorship of Education, which he held until 2005 when he went to Liverpool Hope University.
He is Chair of the International Board of Regents of Bethlehem University. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Saint John the Baptist Vatican Foundation, supporting education and culture in the Middle East. He is also the first Chairman of the Scottish Forum for Professional Ethics, and of the Hope Forum for Professional Ethics.
He is Dignitary of Honor of the Grand Magisterium of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a member of The Holy Land Commission.
Brother Belayneh Medhanit FSC, Ed.D
Vice President for Advancement at Bethlehem University
Brother Belayneh Medhanit FSC, Ed.D. is a De La Salle Christian Brother who is currently serving Bethlehem University as Vice President for Advancement. Brother Belayneh is an Ex officio member of the Bethlehem University International Board of Regents and the Bethlehem University Foundation Board of Directors.
Previously, Brother Belayneh served as a Sector Coordinator of Ethiopia for De La Salle Christian Brothers, a board member of the Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission (ECC-SDCO) and Metemamen Microfinance Institution, in addition to his role as an instructor and Vice president for Academic Affairs of the Ethiopian Catholic Higher learning Institute (ECUSTA).
Earlier, Brother Belayneh served as principal of three K-12 schools including St. Joseph School in Addis Ababa.
Brother Belayneh received his Undergraduate and Masters education at Lewis University, in Illinois and his Ed.D. St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. His Doctoral dissertation is published as a book entitled “The old wine in a new skin: Acculturation experiences and Socialization pattern of Ethiopian immigrant students in US – What is lost what is found”
Dr. Samir Abu-Ghazaleh – Patron
Retired Gynecological Oncologist
Board Director 2008-2019
Emeritus Director since 2019
Born in Haifa, Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh earned a MB.B, Ch. Degree (equivalent to M.D.) from the Ain Shams University Medical School in Cairo, after receiving his undergraduate degree from Nahara College in Cairo, Egypt. He completed residencies and graduate work in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Dakota Affiliated Hospitals and in Gynecologic Oncology at Duke University Medical Center. He then established a private practice in South Dakota.
Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh has over four decades of experience as a gynecologic oncologist and is the author of numerous articles on gynecology and oncology. From 2000-2006, he was appointed by President Clinton to the National Cancer Advisory Board. He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Arab Western Institute, a member of the Advisory Board of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, and a Board Member of the American Task Force on Palestine. Dr. and Mrs. Abu-Ghazaleh are Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh is a member of the Order of Malta.
Dr. Samir and Mrs. Mary Abu-Ghazaleh are Legacy Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation. Dr. and Mrs. Abu-Ghazaleh are the underwriters of the Patrons of the Bethlehem University Foundation.
The Reverend Monsignor Archimandrite Robert L. Stern – Patron
Former Secretary General, Catholic Near East Welfare Association
Board Director 1998-2006
Emeritus Director since 2006
Monsignor Robert Stern was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1958 and served the Archdiocese for over 27 years in a variety of capacities including inner-city parish ministry, archdiocesan canonical and financial administration, coordination of archdiocesan Hispanic pastoral affairs, and lay leadership development. For the next 26 years he served the Holy See, leading two Vatican agencies, Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.
Monsignor Stern is a graduate of Amherst College, prepared for priestly ministry at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, and earned a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He holds honorary doctorates in Humane Letters from Amherst, Saint Thomas Aquinas College, and Bethlehem University.
Monsignor Stern is a founding member both of the International Board of Regents of Bethlehem University, serving as its Chair from 1994-2007, and of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem University Foundation, serving as its Chair from 1999 until 2006. He is also an Affiliated Brother of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
He has the ecclesiastical ranks of Protonotary Apostolic, Mitered Grand Archimandrite of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Canon of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. He is also a Knight Chaplain Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Monsignor Stern is a Legacy Patron of the Bethlehem University Foundation.