Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development; Director, Columbia Global Centers | Amman

Professor Safwan M. Masri is Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. In this role, he directs a number of Columbia’s global initiatives and is responsible for the development of an expanding network of Global Centers, located in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Tunis. These centers work to advance Columbia’s global mission and extend the University’s reach to address the pressing demands of our global society.

Masri holds a senior research scholar appointment at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He joined the faculty of Columbia Business School in 1988 and was appointed Vice Dean in 1993, a position he held for thirteen years. He previously taught engineering at Stanford University, and was a visiting professor at INSEAD (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires) in France.

A scholar on education and contemporary geopolitics and society in the Arab world, Masri’s work focuses on understanding the historic, postcolonial dynamics among religion, education, society, and politics. He is the author of Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly (Columbia University Press, 2017), which examines why Tunisia was the only country to emerge from the Arab Spring as a democracy. Masri’s writings on education and current affairs have been featured in the Financial Times, Huffington Post, and Times Higher Education.

Masri is an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association. He was founding chairman of both King’s Academy and Queen Rania Teacher Academy in Jordan, and served as an advisor to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah. He is a trustee of International College in Beirut and of the Welfare Association (Taawon) in Ramallah, and a member of the advisory board of the School of Business at the American University in Cairo. Masri has served on the governing boards of Endeavor Jordan, the Children’s Museum Jordan, Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA), and Aramex.

Masri earned his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University in 1982; his Master of Science in industrial engineering, also from Purdue, in 1984; and his Ph.D. in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University in 1988. He was honored with Columbia’s Singhvi Professor of the Year for Scholarship in the Classroom Award in 1990, the Robert W. Lear Service Award in 1998, and the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in a Core Course in 2000. Masri has also been honored with the 2003 American Service Award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Paris

Paul LeClerc began his tenure as Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Paris on July 1, 2012.  LeClerc’s academic interests are Voltaire and the French Enlightenment.  He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in French at Columbia and wrote a dissertation on Voltaire that was awarded distinction.  He is the author, editor, and co-editor of six scholarly volumes, all published by the Voltaire Foundation of Oxford University.  His foreign honors include the French Legion of Honor (Officier), the French Order of Palmes Academiques (Officier), and the Spanish Order of Isabel the Catholic (Commander), as well as honorary doctorates from Oxford University and La Nouvelle Sorbonne.  In 2004 LeClerc received the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award  for Distinguished Achievement and he holds honorary doctorates from nine American colleges and universities.  In addition, President Bill Clinton named him to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Prior to joining the Columbia staff, LeClerc was President and CEO of the New York Public Library (1993-2011); President and Professor of French of Hunter College, CUNY (1988-93); Provost, Academic Vice President and Professor of French, Baruch College, CUNY (1984-88); University Dean for Academic Programs, CUNY (1979-84); Instructor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor of French, Union College (1966-79).

Throughout his career, LeClerc has been committed to international educational and cultural relations.  He directed terms abroad for Union College students in France, was instrumental in creating the CUNY-Universities of Paris Exchange Program, the first large-scale exchange program between an urban US university system and a European counterpart, created exchanges between the Hunter College Master of Fine Arts program and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and between the Baruch College School of Business and the University of Paris-Dauphine, and organized landmark exhibits at the New York Public Library with European partner libraries.

LeClerc is presently Chair of the Advisory Board of the Columbia Maison Francaise and a Trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the J.Paul Getty Trust, The Voltaire Foundation (Oxford University) and the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.  He is an Honorary Trustee of the New York Public Library and past Trustee of Union College, the National Book Foundation, and a variety of other non-profit educational and cultural organizations.

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul
İpek Cem Taha is a Turkish entrepreneur, journalist, and an active board member of several local and international organizations. İpek is the Founding Director of Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul since its inception in 2011. The Center is working to build collaborative programs and projects that link Columbia University to Turkey, and the Istanbul Center to the seven other Global Centers worldwide. Her mandates include programming on such issues as education, sustainability, peace and conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, social entrepreneurship, public health as well as work on the history, culture and future of cities, and specifically that of Istanbul. 
After graduating from Robert College of Istanbul, İpek received her B.A. degree with Honors in Political Science from Amherst College. She holds an M.B.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and an M.I.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of International and Public Affairs.
In her early career, İpek Cem Taha was an Associate at Bankers Trust Company (Deutsche Bank) in New York, in the International Capital Markets Group. She was a co-founder and partner of Netwise between 1996-2007, an Internet communications company with clients including multinationals and financial institutions. Between 2007-2011, she was working with Melak Yatırım, providing consultancy for multinational private equity funds.
Between 2005-2010, İpek was producing and hosting ‘Global Leaders,’ a television program on NTV networks, consisting of interviews with personalities such as Pele, Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz and Madeleine Albright.  Before creating Global Leaders, İpek was for eight years a columnist for daily newspapers, including Milliyet, Yeni Yüzyıl and Sabah. 
İpek Cem Taha is a founding board member and active leader in several non-profit organizations in Turkey, including URAK (National Competitiveness Research Institute), KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association) and SAHA, an association that supports Turkish contemporary art internationally. Since 2012, İpek Cem Taha is a Trustee of Robert College of Istanbul. She has also been a board member of the Strategic Advisory Council of the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration, and of the International Advisory Council of Columbia University. 
Elected an Eisenhower Fellow in 2003, İpek Cem Taha represented Turkey as a young leader in their Multi-Nation Program. She has also been named an Honorary Professor of Public Relations and Communications from the Ionian University in 2012 for her work in the consolidation of friendship, peace and cooperation between Greece and Turkey. İpek recently joined Allianz Turkey’s Advisory Board in 2015.
Director, Columbia Global Centers | Santiago

Karen Poniachik has been Director of Columbia Global Centers | Santiago since September 2011. She is also a member of the corporate boards of directors of Metro S.A. and Nuevo Pudahuel as well as an advisor Maersk Container Industries San Antonio.

She serves in the advisory councils of the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Chile, and of Universidad Católica’s Center for Corporate Governance. She also teaches the “Corporate Compliance” segment of the Corporate Governance Certification Course offered by Universidad Católica.

Ms. Poniachik was Chile’s Minister of Mining in 2006-2008, time during which she chaired the boards of directors of state-owned companies Codelco, Enap and Enami.  From March 2006 to March 2007 she also served as Minister of Energy. She was Chile’s Special Envoy to the OECD in charge of the country’s accession process to the Organization, which was successfully completed in January of 2010. Previously, she was Executive Vice-President of the Foreign Investment Committee (2000-2006); and Director of Business and Financial Programs at the Council of the Americas in New York (1995-2000).

Karen Poniachik graduated as a journalist from the Universidad Católica de Chile (1987) and holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York (1990).

She has served in the corporate boards of E.CL, British American Tobacco Chile, and Terpel Chile. In addition, she was visiting fellow at the University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy (for 2010-2011 academic year) and adviser to the World Economic Forum’s Mining & Metals Industry Group (March 2008 - May 2010).

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro

Thomas J. Trebat is Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro. He joined Columbia after a lengthy career on Wall Street dedicated to economic research on Latin America. Prior to joining ILAS in February 2005, Tom was Managing Director and Head of the Latin America team in the Economic and Market Analysis department of Citigroup. He joined Citicorp Securities in 1996 as the head of Emerging Market Research. Previously, he worked at Bankers Trust, the Ford Foundation, and Chemical Bank. As a senior international economist at Bankers Trust, he was involved in many aspects of country debt negotiations in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America during the 1980s. At the Ford Foundation, he served for four years as the Regional Director for Latin America and Caribbean Programs. At Chemical Bank, Tom organized and directed the emerging markets research group. Mr. Trebat has a Ph.D in economics from Vanderbilt University and remains active in teaching and publishing. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. His book, "Brazil's State-owned Enterprises: A Case Study of the State as Entrepreneur," was published by Cambridge University Press in 1983.

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai

Ravina Aggarwal is director of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai. Prior to joining Columbia, she was a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office from 2007-2015, where she was responsible for strategic planning and grant-making for programs on development, social justice and public policy, with a focus on the fields of education, media and technology, and arts and culture.  

Dr. Aggarwal’s work in the philanthropy sector followed a long career as a sociocultural anthropologist.  After receiving her doctoral degree from Indiana University in 1994, she joined the Department of Anthropology at Smith College, where she became a tenured faculty member and also served in the Women’s Studies Program.   Her research was based on extensive fieldwork in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in South Asia and her areas of study and teaching included political anthropology, peace-building, cultural studies, gender, and development. 

Dr. Aggarwal is the author of several publications including Beyond Lines of Control: Performing the Border in Ladakh, India (Duke University Press, 2004).  She is co-founder of the journal Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism and a founding trustee of Ladakh Arts and Media Organization, a non-profit society.

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi

Murugi joined the Nairobi Center from her previous role as associate professor of nutrition and health care management at Appalachian State University, where she conducted research on the health of vulnerable populations and the efficacy of public health nutrition interventions in domestic and international settings. In that role, Murugi was also East African Coordinator for the African Nutritional Sciences Research Consortium. She holds a PhD in nutrition and food systems from the University of Southern Mississippi, and an MEd in Psychology and a BEd in Education, both from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya.