MEET THE BOARD
Dr. Hejar Oncel, Co-founder and Executive Director
Dr. Hejar Oncel was born and raised in Northern Kurdistan. He is a graduate of Galatasaray High School, whose alumni include founding fathers of nations born after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. After receiving a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the Bogaziçi University (first American higher education institution founded outside the US), he moved to the USA and earned a Ph.D. Degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and an MBA degree from the UC Berkeley. He grew up in a politically active environment that gave him the opportunity to observe the evolution of the three main pillars of the Kurdish freedom movement: Democratic nation, absolute gender equality, and ecological society. He speaks Kurdish, French, English, Italian, Turkish, and a bit of Norwegian and Russian. He is married and currently working as a management consultant.
Walat Aqrawi, President
After his family immigrated to the United States from Iraqi Kurdistan, Walat has always been dedicated to the Kurdish movement. He has been involved in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region since Gulf War I. He has traveled back to Kurdistan several times since and has been involved in a variety of business ventures and numerous humanitarian efforts. He has been involved in the Kurdish Community of Houston since 1990. He graduated from Houston Baptist University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Walat is a managing partner at Aqrawi and Nguyen Law Firm specializing in Personal Injury, Immigration Law, Family Law, and Criminal Defense. He is very passionate about the Kurdish identity and excited about the Kurdish American Foundation of Houston and its positive impact on individuals involved.
Dr. Mahmood Abbas, Co-founder and Board Member
Dr. Abbas was born in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) in 1952. In his youth, he was part of a Kurdish-Democratic political party in Rojava and was a well-known Kurdish political activist and writer. He earned his Ph. D in the Economics of Geography from the University of Moscow, Russia in 1988 with an emphasis in the Middle East and the Northern African Region. He is one of the founders and board members of the Kurdish National Assembly â€“ Syria (KURDNAS) and currently holds the title of Vice President for the United General Kurdish Writers and Journalists in Syria. Dr. Abbas has published hundreds of political, cultural, and historical articles regarding Middle Eastern tensions in the languages of Kurdish, Arabic, English, and Russian. He currently resides in Houston, Texas with his wife and two children.
Aaron Aiken, Secretary
Mr. Aiken graduated from Indiana University with a double major in Economics and Political Science. After moving to Houston he graduated Cum Laude with a Juris Doctor from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. While attending Thurgood Marshall he made the acquaintance of Board Vice President Walat Aqrawi. After visiting the Northern Kurdistan region of Iraq he agreed to contribute his time and effort to the Kurdish plight and the KAFH. Together with the other members of the Board, they are committed to serving the interests of the Kurdish community in Houston through their legal expertise and professional networking. saying about your business.
Jahan Badri, Co-founder and Board Members
Mr. Jahan Badri was born and raised in Eastern Kurdistan. Jahan has a Master’s degree in Geophysical Science and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Isfahan University of Technology. After moving to Houston, he cofounded the Kurdish American Foundation of Houston to better serve the Kurdish community here in Houston in their effort of integration and in raising awareness of their struggle.