BIOGRaphieS

Christian Skoog

Christian Skoog, a Swedish national, has more than 20 years of professional experience working on human rights, humanitarian crises and emergencies, as well as managing UNICEF offices in different countries. Prior to joining the team in Mexico in September of 2016, Skoog was the UNICEF Representative in Guatemala, where he promoted the organization's work to protect the rights of children and adolescents in that country. Previously, he served as UNICEF's Representative and Deputy Representative in Mauritania and in Haiti, respectively. With the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) he was responsible for being the UN regional coordinator east of Afghanistan.He has also worked in United Nations offices in Indonesia, New York and Geneva. Christian holds a master's degree in Economic Development from Stanford University in California and a bachelor's degree in quantitative economics from the same institution.

 

Maria Woltjen

Maria Woltjen is the founder and Executive Director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago Law School. The Young Center is a national organization that advocates for the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children. These are children from all corners of the world—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, India, China, Romania, Somalia. They are apprehended as they cross the border and then detained around the country. The federal government appoints the Young Center to serve as Child Advocate – similar to a guardian ad litem – for the most vulnerable of these children. The Young Center now has offices in Chicago, Houston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Harlingen, Texas. Throughout her 30 years as an attorney, Ms. Woltjen has focused on children’s rights, at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the ChildLaw Center at Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, and for the past twelve years at the University of Chicago Law School. Ms. Woltjen’s focus is on reforming the immigration system—in which children are treated as adults—into a justice system that recognizes children as children, with rights and protection needs all their own. Ms. Woltjen is the recipient of the American Constitution Society 2013 Ruth Goldman Award.

 

Dr. Zaher Sahloul

Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul is the Executive Director of MedGlobal and Co-Chair of Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. He is a Critical Care specialist serving patients in the Chicagoland area and the  president of Pulmonary Consultants. Between 2011 and 2015, Dr. Sahloul led the transformation of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) into a globally-recognized medical NGO representing the Syrian American diaspora, serving hundreds of thousands of Syrian patients and refugees. He co-founded SAMS Global Response to address the refugee crisis in Europe, as well as the American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), a coalition of 14 humanitarian organizations. He co-chairs the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, and sits on the advisory boards of the Syrian Community Network (SCN) and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

 

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the Founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network (SCN), a community-based refugee support network that promotes the spirit of community and family, promoting Syrian culture and refugee-awareness in host cities. Suzanne is also the founder of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Midwest Foundation, serving as its President from 2004-2006 and as SAMS National Foundation President from 2005-2007. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in History from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University. Suzanne is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Additionally, Suzanne has also served as a PTA president and as a board member at her children's school.

 

Steve Lehmann

Steve Lehmann is Co-Founder of Threadies, a social enterprise that creates psychological coping tools for child refugees around the world. He is also Assistant Director of the UChicago Innovation Fund, an early-stage venture fund dedicated to commercializing technologies generated at the University of Chicago and its affiliated labs.

Steve has worked on a variety of new ventures in the technology, social enterprise, and international development sectors. His experiences range from leading product development for a Silicon Valley FinTech startup, to advising Fortune 100 companies on patent strategy, to advocating for refugees on Capitol Hill.

Steve holds an MBA from Notre Dame and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Valparaiso University, where he was also a Scholar in the Humanities.