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AMENA-Psy Executive Board



Germine Awad, Ph.D.

Full Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Germine "Gigi" Awad is a Full Professor in the Human Development, Culture & Learning Sciences and Counseling Psychology Programs in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research centers around race and racism, Arab/Middle Eastern American psychology, body image among women of color, and multicultural research methodology. She is the co-author of the Handbook of Arab American Psychology and her work has been published in books, journals, and newspapers/magazines. She is a founding member of AMENA-Psy and served in several leadership roles including Treasurer and Membership Chair. When asked about what the organization means to her, Dr. Awad said "Having an organization like AMENA-Psy is a professional dream for me." On her (very little) downtime, Dr. Awad enjoys swimming, reading, and spending quality time with her husband and two beautiful children. 







Lamise Shawahin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Governors State University 

Lamise Shawahin is an assistant professor of psychology and counseling at Governors State University. Her research centers on Arab and Muslim health. She was the program coordinator for the Muslim Mental Health Conference, and a steering committee member of the American Middle Eastern North African (AMENA) Psychological Association. She is a scholar-activist and was the inaugural chair of the AMENA-Psy advocacy committee. She currently serves as a board member of Arab American Family Services and as the Division 45 MENA Member at Large. She also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health.





Danna Bismar, MS

Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate; University of North Texas

Danna Bismar is a doctoral candidate in the Minority Wellness track of the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of North Texas. Her upbringing as a child of Syrian immigrants led her to develop a particular interest in cultural diversity and multicultural identity development. Currently, Danna’s research is focused on taking a strength-based approach to explore the cognitive and affective components and outcomes of bicultural identity integration among adult children of immigrants. In her clinical work, Danna enjoys serving and facilitating healing for individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and walks of life. She believes in honoring each person’s lived experiences and familial and cultural contexts. She is currently completing her pre-doctoral internship at Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare. Danna previously served on the AMENA-Psy Student Committee for two years and is committed to the advancement of knowledge, research, and practice related to MENA populations. Not only has AMENA-Psy become a professional home for her, but also a community of life-long friends. In her free time, Danna loves to paint, play, and spend time with family and friends. 




Nabil El-Ghoroury, Ph.D., CAE

Executive Director, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

As Executive Director of a mental health association, Dr. El-Ghoroury represents over 32,000 marriage and family therapists across California and advocates on mental health issues. He was formerly the director of the graduate student section of the American Psychological Association, also known as APAGS. Within AMENA-Psy, Dr. Ghoroury served on the steering committee and the founding Board of AMENA-Psy. He co-wrote the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, and obtained nonprofit tax status for AMENA-Psy.  Dr. Ghoroury is thrilled to be working alongside amazing MENA psychologists to create a community for MENA psychologists, students, and allied mental health professionals. "AMENA-Psy is the organization I wish had existed when I was in graduate school." Dr. Ghoroury's hobby is taking photos of street art around the world. To see photos of graffiti and street art he's captured from 5 continents visit his Instagram page (@DrNabil).





Member-at-Large - Research/Education 

Merve Balkaya Ince, Ph.D.

 Postdoctoral Research Associate; Baylor University, Psychology and Neuroscience Department

Dr. Balkaya Ince's professional work revolves around activities that advocate for greater equity, inclusion and social justice in psychological sciences and education. Her current research centers around the development of children and adolescents from minority and immigrant backgrounds, with a particular focus on Muslim American adolescents from AMENA and South-Asian backgrounds. Prior to being elected as a board member, Dr. Balkaya Ince was the recipient of the 2020 AMENA-Psy Outstanding Paper Award (more details) and presented at the first AMENA-Psy Conference. Being a part of AMENA-Psy has provided her a community and safe space where she can finally share the difficulties that come with being minoritized in a society that does not acknowledge her as a minority. She feels incredibly humbled to be part of AMENA-Psy's leadership team and to represent the research and education-related interests as a community. Her favorite quote is, "We are the leaders we've been looking for"- Grace Lee Boggs.



Member-at-Large - Practice/Applied 

Nicole Fleischer, Psy.D.

Pediatric Psychologist, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children

Nicole Fleischer, PsyD, is a pediatric psychologist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA. Her clinical and research interests center around the relationship between chronic illness and mental health in children and adolescents, health disparities, and the role of trauma in mental and physical healthcare.  Dr. Fleischer has a myriad of experiences working with diverse populations, and aims to expand the research and clinical practice of working with MENA populations within academic medical and community settings. She is engaged in local and national efforts to increase visibility of MENA patients, families, and clinicians within the Medical and Psychological communities. Since joining AMENA-Psy, Dr. Fleischer has engaged in efforts through the Advocacy Committee, and hopes to continue advocating for this community. In her free time, Dr. Fleischer enjoys reading, hiking, traveling, and experimenting with new cuisines. Dr. Fleischer is extremely appreciative of AMENA-Psy and the community she has found since joining in 2020. She is appreciative of the wonderful personal and professional relationships she has formed through her involvement with AMENA-Psy.


Member-at-Large - Student 

Haleh Jortani, B.S.

Clinical Psychology, Spalding University

Haleh Jortani is a 2nd year PsyD student in Clinical Psychology at Spalding University. Haleh identifies as a second generation Iranian-American Muslim. Growing up in Kentucky has led Haleh to become very passionate about promoting diversity and increasing representation within Muslim and immigrant populations. Her clinical interests are in working with children, adolescents, and young adults. Broadly speaking, Haleh’s research interests include the practice of cultural humility in university and classroom settings, identity intersectionality, and suicide prevention among marginalized populations. More specifically, Haleh is interested in investigating the protective factors that can decrease stress in Middle Eastern populations such as critical thinking, self-care, coping methods, and resilience. Haleh has also recently become interested in social justice and helping immigrant individuals with power and privilege to gain awareness and explore ways they are upholding oppressive systems. She is currently a crisis counselor for a non-profit organization dedicated to providing crisis intervention and suicide assessment to those in need. During her free time, Haleh enjoys cycling, exploring coffee shops in the city, spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and photography. Haleh instantly found her professional home as she first came across AMENA-Psy’s website a few months ago. She is very grateful that there is a platform that is dedicated to providing support, promoting various opportunities, and bringing awareness to AMENA communities within the mental health field. Haleh is most excited about working with hardworking and passionate colleagues who share the same interests as her. As part of her role, Haleh also works alongside a team of dedicated students also known as the AMENA-Psy Student Committee







Germine Awad, President (2-year term, Jan 2022 - Dec 2023) Email: gawad[at]

Lamise Shawahin, President-Elect (2-year term, Jan 2022 - Dec 2023; followed by a 2-year term as President, Jan 2024 - Dec 2025)  Email: lshawahin[at]

Danna Bismar, Secretary (3-year term, Jan 2020 - Dec 2022) Email: drdannabismar[at]

Nabil El-Ghoroury, Treasurer (2-year term, Jan 2021 - Dec 2022) Email: drnabilpsy[at]

Merve Balkaya Ince, Member-at-Large - Research/Education (2-year term, Jan 2021 - Dec 2022) Email: merve_balkayaince[at]

Nicole Fleischer, Member-at-Large - Practice/Applied (2-year term, Jan 2022 - Dec 2023)  Email: nicole.fleischer[at]

Haleh Jortani, Member-at-Large - Student (2-year term, Jan 2022 - Dec 2023) Email: hjortani[at]