Dr. Yehuda Paz was the founding chairman of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, the forerunner of AJEEC-NISPED.
One of the founders of Kibbutz Kissufim in the Western Negev, Dr. Paz immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1950. For many years, he headed the Central Union for Co-operative Initiative in Israel and was active in organizing the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
Over the course of his life, Dr. Paz received numerous international awards, including the Rochdale Award from the ICA and the Golden Dove of Peace Award.
Dr. Paz died in 2013, leaving behind an extensive legacy of social change that continues to inspire AJEEC-NISPED’s mission.
Dr. Elsana-Alh’jooj was born and raised in Lakiya, a Bedouin municipality in the northern Negev. She holds BA in Social Work from Ben-Gurion University, and an MA in Social Work and a PhD in Community Organizations from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
In 2000, she joined Dr. Yehuda Paz and established AJEEC (Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation) within NISPED to promote equal rights and empowerment within the Bedouin community and to foster a shared society in the Negev for Arabs and Jews.
Dr. Elsana-Alh-jooj has won numerous awards, including the Genius Prize from the Einstein Legacy Project and the Human Rights Prize from the New Israel Fund. In addition, she was named one of the 101 most influential people in Israel by The Marker newspaper.
Today, Dr. Elsana-Ahl’jooj serves as general manager of McGill-ICAN, an international organization that works to reduce inequality and promote civil society and social justice through community development and peace-building processes.
Avri was born and raised on Kibbutz Maabarot and today is a member of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. He is a father of three and grandfather of two.
Present roles: Avri is retired and is involved in the alternative currencies project.
Past roles: Avri directed the economic department of the National Kibbutz Movement for five years; He managed Kibbutz Yad Mordechai’s honey production factory and served as director of various hitech and biotech companies. He was also director of Kibbutz Kramim and during his term he led the development of a shared living model for religious and secular Jews.
Vision: “The road to shared living is an in-depth understanding of one another and the ability to understand the “other”. When we are successful in this mission, our society will prosper”.
Vivian is a member of Kibbutz Be’eri, a mother of two and grandmother of two.
Current roles: Vivian is a member of Kibbutz Be’eri situated next to the Gaza Strip and member of the board of directors of Alhudaj’ – a fitness center in Rahat dedicated to Bedouin women. She volunteers in the “Road to Recovery” nonprofit organization and is active in Women Make Peace.
Past roles: Vivian was one of AJEEC-NISPED’s founders. She served as the organization’s CEO from 1998-2014.
Vision: “The key to the future of Israel is mutual respect among all of its population groups”.
Born in Israel, Mully is the son of Holocaust survivors. He is a married with three sons and six grandchildren
Current roles: In addition to his position at AJEEC-NISPED, Mully sits on the board of IsraAid, serves as chair of the board of the Beit Zvi School for Performing Arts and serves on the boards of the Academic College of Israel and of various public companies and cooperatives. He has lectured in the field of international development and cooperatives since 1983.
Past roles: Mully served as Deputy Mayor of the Ramat-Gan Municipality ;Deputy CEO of Hevrat HaOvdim coop; Chair of IMC – The Israel Management Center ; and Chair of Rabin First in Labour (R.A.) .He was a Lecturer and Project Director at the Afro-Asian Institute for Labour, Economy, and Cooperative Development; and the Internal controller for the Clalit health services’ subsidiary companies. He also was the founding chair of Beit Immanuel, a company focusing on informal education. He has participated and continues to participate in humanitarian aid and sustainable economic and cooperative development projects throughout the world.
Vision: “Sustainable human and economic development is the key to conflict resolution, the creation of peace and equality. Activities must be carried out with a participatory approach, combining external experts who work within the framework of local knowledge and tradition. Activities must also be effective and emphasize people’s partnership and focusing on their needs. I believe in the establishment of prosperous cooperatives and societies, based on equality and thus working to advance peace and sustainable human development, thereby contributing to “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world).”
Ouda lives in Tel Sheva. He holds a BA in Economics and Business Management and a MA in Economics from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Current roles: For the past 26 years, Ouda has held various positions in the local councils, municipal economics, resource management and socio-economic development. He serves as comptroller for Segev Shalom local council.
Past roles: Ouda was a member of the Council of Comptrollers. He also was a professional consultant on volunteerism for diverse and leading public forums in the Negev in particular and in Israel, in general.
Vision: “This is the time of the Negev and the time of its residents. During the past decade, we have been witnessing positive winds of change that demand that we commit even further to developing the region. In the Negev, there is room for us all… as equals. We need honesty, commitment and dedication to bring together all the stakeholders – the central and local government, the commercial sector, the third sector and the general population for the betterment of all the Negev’s residents.”
Rania is 37 years old. A gynecologist, she was born in Rahat and lives in Beerhseva. She is a mother to two young girls.
Current roles: Rania works at the Clalit HMO, Soroka University Medical Center and is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She also volunteers in the Arab Physicians Organization of the Negev.
Vision: “We need to empower Bedouin women so that we achieve equality on three levels: vis-a-vis men, vis-a-vis Jewish women and vis-a-vis women in the country’s center. I believe in the importance of educated women – that is power. The more educated they are, the stronger they are and they are able to raise the next generation differently.”
Shifra was born in Netanya and lives in Omer. She is a mother of two and a grandmother of three.
Current roles: Director of the Martin Springer Center for Conflict Resolution, Member of the Council for Higher Education since 2016, works for accessibility to higher education for marginalized groups such as the Bedouin community, the ultra-orthodox, Jews of Ethiopian heritage, and more.
Past roles: For many years, Shifra worked as a psychologist. At the age of 40, she returned to the university and earned her Master’s and Doctorate degrees. During her tenure at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, she served as Director of the Department of Education, managed the educational psychology program, founded programs for conflict management and served as university point person for sexual harassment.
Vision: “Today we are living together but not cooperating together and thus we need to improve and to raise awareness about the rights of minorities.”