Leadership

Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development; Director, Columbia Global Centers | Amman
Biography
Professor Safwan M. Masri is Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. As an ambassador for Columbia, he cultivates relationships with Columbia alumni and with international leaders, essential to the continued development of a global Columbia. In this role, he helps coordinate various University-wide global initiatives, and works to extend Columbia’s reach to match the pressing demands of our global society.
 
Professor Masri is responsible for the development of an expanding network of Columbia Global Centers, located in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. The Centers promote and facilitate the engagement of faculty, students, and alumni with the world, address global challenges, and advance knowledge and its exchange. He has been Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Amman since its founding in 2009.
 
Professor Masri has been a member of the Columbia Business School faculty since 1988 and was appointed Vice Dean in 1993, a position he held for thirteen years. He was Visiting Professor at INSEAD in 1990 and 1991, and has also held teaching positions at Stanford University and Santa Clara University. He 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. Professor Masri was honored with the 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. He has also been honored with the 2003 American Service Award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
 
Professor Masri is Founding Chairman Emeritus of King’s Academy and of the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, Honorary Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, Trustee of International College, Trustee of the National Children’s Museum in Jordan, Director of Endeavor Jordan, and Director of the Luxury Education Foundation. He is also a member of the advisory boards of the School of Business and the Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo. Professor Masri has served as Advisor to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, and as director of the Arab Bankers Association of North America, Aramex, and the Nuqul Group.
 
Professor Masri’s scholarship is focused on education and contemporary geopolitics and society in the Arab world. He is particularly interested in understanding the historic, postcolonial dynamics among religion, education, society, and politics.
Director, Columbia Global Centers | Santiago
Biography

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 | Paris
Biography

Paul LeClerc has been Chair of the Advisory Board to the Columbia Maison Francaise since March 2010, and was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of French in 20111-2012. In April 2012 he was named by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger as Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Paris, housed in Paris in Columbia's Reid Hall building. Dr. LeClerc will direct the center  mostly from Columbia's campus in New York City.

Paul LeClerc is President Emeritus of the The New York Public Library, which he presided from 1993 until his retirement in June 2011. During his tenure at the NYPL, Dr. LeClerc oversaw the merging of the branch and research library systems, led more than $500 million in capital projects, created notable programs and exhibitions, and increased by more than twofold the Library's endowment. 

Prior to presiding The New York Public Library, Dr. LeClerc was President of Hunter College, the largest public institution of higher education in New York City and the flagship college within the City University of New York system. Before Hunter College, he served successively as University Dean for Academic Affairs, and Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for CUNY/City University of New York, and also Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Baruch College.

Dr. LeClerc earned his Ph.D. with distinction in French literature from Columbia University in 1969, writing his dissertation on Voltaire. He has maintained strong ties to his alma mater as a long-standing member of the Maison Française Advisory Board and now its Chair. Dr. LeClerc is the author or co-editor of five scholarly volumes on writers of the French Enlightenment and his contributions to French culture earned him the Order of the Academic Palms (Officier) in 1989 and the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier) in 1996. Dr. LeClerc has received honorary doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Paris III-La Nouvelle Sorbonne, and Brown University, among others, and he is currently a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, Union College, and The National Book Foundation. President Clinton appointed him to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is also a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul
Biography
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 | Rio de Janeiro
Biography

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
Biography

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
Biography

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 MA in Psychology and a BA in Education, both from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya.