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AMENA-Psy Executive Board



Ayse Ikizler, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology, St. Mary's College of Maryland

Dr. Ayse Ikizler is a tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Psychology at a public liberal arts college in Maryland. She teaches courses related to multiculturalism, social justice, and clinical/counseling issues. Dr. Ikizler's research focuses on the link between various forms of oppressive experiences (e.g., ethnic discrimination) and mental health outcomes among marginalized groups, with a special interest in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans and sexual minorities (e.g., LGBQ). Dr. Ikizler was a member of the steering committee that created and established AMENA-Psy as an independent non-profit organization. Since then, she served as President-Elect (2018-2019), been on numerous committees, and is currently serving her second year as President. AMENA-Psy is central to her professional identity as a counseling psychologist and she finds meaning in bringing together a community of MENA Psychologists and Psychology students. Based in Washington, DC, Dr. Ikizler enjoys taking walks around town with her human family and their four-legged friend, Walter. 




Germine Awad, PhD

Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

 Dr Germine "Gigi" Awad is an Associate 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) down time, Dr. Awad enjoys swimming, reading, and spending quality time with her husband and two beautiful children. 




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 recently relocated to NYC and is completing her fifth-year external practicum at NYU’s Center for Counseling and Community Wellbeing. 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, PhD, 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 work 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, PhD

 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 

Engin Ege Ontiveros, PhD

Staff Psychologist & International Student Specialist & Current Interim Co-Director; Georgetown University Counseling & Psychiatric Service
Therapist; Arlington Behavior Therapy Institute

Dr. Engin Ontiveros is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Washington D.C. and Virginia. As a MENA-identified psychologist, Dr. Ontiveros believes it is her professional responsibility to use her role and expertise to lower barriers to mental health treatment for our community, many of whom are discouraged to access therapy in the United States. In addition to serving on the board, Dr. Ontiveros is a member of the Liberated MENA Psychology working group, and past member of the AMENA-Psy practice and advocacy ad-hoc committee and conference committee. In her current role, Dr. Ontiveros and her colleagues created an online directory of culturally responsive clinicians for MENA Americans with plans to be debuted in 2021. She has found professional purpose and personal fulfillment in her AMENA-Psy leadership roles and engagement with other members. When away from work, Dr. Ontiveros enjoys traveling (favorite place: Cunda, Turkey), family time, and growing food. 



Member-at-Large - Student 

Bahaur Amini, MS

Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate; University of Kansas

Throughout her professional and academic career, Bahaur has committed her efforts in contributing to psychological research of and practice with Middle Eastern populations. Her professional interests and goals stem from her own cultural identity and journey as an Iranian-American graduate student. Awareness for the multiplicity of her social contexts contributed to her clinical and  research goals for the advancement of multicultural counseling and social justice initiative. Her research interests broadly capture the impact of childhood/adolescent trauma, cultural and social identity development, sense of belonging, wellbeing and resiliency. Bahaur strongly values the opportunity to serve on the executive board with leaders and role models in the field. As part of her role, Bahaur also works alongside a team of dedicated students also known as the AMENA-Psy Student Committee. On her free time, Bahaur enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, cooking and eating, planting herbs and veggies, and laying out in the sun. 







Ayse Ikizler, President (2-year term, Jan 2020 - Dec 2021) Email:

Germine Awad, President-Elect (2-year term, Jan 2020 - Dec 2021; followed by a 2-year term as President, Jan 2022 - Dec 2023)  Email:

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

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

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

Engin Ege Ontiveros, Member-at-Large - Practice/Applied (2-year term, Jan 2020 - Dec 2021)  Email:

Bahaur Amini, Member-at-Large - Student (2-year term, Jan 2020 - Dec 2021) Email: