NSL Staff

Paul Costello


President, Founder and CEO, Paul Costello is an educator, writer and recognized world expert and leader in the area of narrative practice. In addition to his role as founding director of The Centre for Narrative Studies, he has also designed a number of training and leadership programs that use the power of stories for transformative change, most notably as the architect behind the innovative narrative design of the 2000-2007, Washington Ireland Program.

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Katie Trimm

Program Manager

Katie Trimm is a senior at Yale University finishing a B.A. in Modern Middle East Studies. Prior to working with NSL, she was engaged in the international non-profit community as the Development Assistant for Ongoza in Nairobi, Kenya and the Student Outreach Coordinator for Yale Study Abroad. In 2017, she conducted an independent research project in Mafraq, Jordan on the rights of Syrian refugee girls under personal status law. In 2015, she served on the NSL Management Team as Events Coordinator. Katie believes that empowering youth in the Middle East is the first step towards peace in the region, and is inspired by the determination of NSL participants past and present to change their reality.

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Rawan Odeh

Program Coordinator

Rawan Odeh is 21 years old and a recent accounting graduate of Al-Najah University. During her studies, she taught English grammar and conversation to university students at ILASAS teaching center. She now works as an accountant for a pharmaceutical company and also works with Al-Najah lecturers in translating research in the fields of accounting and economics.  She started the organization “Encompass Palestine” that facilitates workshops in Toulkarem, Nablus, and Ramallah to empower the youth.  These workshops aim to discuss identity, empowerment, and global issues.  Rawan believes in the power of research and education and is currently conducting research to analyze the effects of implementing fair value accounting standards in the banking sector of Palestine.

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Anna Garbar

Program Coordinator

Anna is a 25-year-old Israeli student in her final year of her B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy at University of Haifa. She is passionate about politics, and specifically international relations. Her main experience has been in the field of youth education, being continuously active in the HaShomer Hatzair youth movement since her high school days. She also had experience of working with Amnesty International. Additionally, during her studies, she joined the Model UN society, and now serves as a member on the board. From her experience and engagement in youth work, she realizes the importance of education. For her Project for Change, she is exploring the way women experience and tell about war and conflict and comparing how the accounts of war are gendered. She believes that a feminine perspective can offer strategies to counter violence.

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Gavin Gondawala

Events and Communication Coordinator

Gavin Gondalwala is a rising junior at The George Washington University, majoring in International Affairs, with concentrations in International Development and Contemporary Cultures & Societies. In his spare time, Gavin mentors middle school students in DC’s Ward 7 through Higher Achievement. His studies have grown his interest in Middle Eastern affairs, and he aspires to work in conflict resolution. Before NSL, Gavin was an active member of the Activism Corps at GW, where he coordinated on- and off- campus events related to progressive causes. When he’s not at NSL, Gavin can be found working as a barista at Starbucks, or reading in the library.

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Cong Fu

Events and Development Coordinator

Cong Fu has an M.A. in religion and a C.A.S. (Certificate of Advanced Study) in conflict resolution from Syracuse University. She has interned with various NGOs in DC, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and Institute for Global Engagement. Cong is originally from Hangzhou, China. Before coming to the U.S., she studied English and Jewish studies at Nanjing University and briefly attended Whatshisface University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

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Ryan Kleissler

Administrative and Technical Coordinator

Ryan Kleissler is a junior at The George Washington University, studying International Affairs with concentrations in Security Politics and Africa, as well as a minor in Geographic Information Systems. Ryan first became interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict while studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics at GW. He has had previous experience researching genocide and ethnic reconciliation in Rwanda and has studied Swahili in the region. He hopes to continue to work in the Middle East in future and expand upon his past work with website development and cybersecurity. In his free time, Ryan runs the GW outdoor organization TRAiLS.

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Chris Melton

Events and Communication Coordinator

Chris Melton is a recent graduate from American University’s School of International Service where he got his Master’s degree in Global Governance, Politics, and Security. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Chris has previously interned with the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce and Osgood Center for International Studies where he led a Model United Nations Security Council event at George Washington University. Asked why he wanted to work on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Chris said “I think that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is a threat to global security and want to help build dialogue between the parties that can lead to a solution.”

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