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Mehmet Soyer, Executive Board Member

Mehmet Soyer is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Utah State University. To serve his community, he is a director of Emerald Hills Institute and also He is board member of Interfaith Advisory Council at Utah State University. He is an environmental sociologist with an interest in social inequality. His research agenda consists of examining the critical link between community response and the impacts of energy development through collective behavior, activism, and environmental inequality. He is also interested in pedagogical research to work on how to enhance safe and brave spaces for exploring perceptions of marginalized groups. 

His work has been published in journals including Teaching Sociology, The Extractive Industries and Society, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, The Qualitative Report, Communication Teacher among others. Also, He has co-authored a book titled “Sociological Studies of Environmental Conflict” by Rowman & Littlefield Publisher.

He enjoys cooking. Brunch is his specialty! Also, He loves making sourdough bread for his friends and his family. He enjoys bike rides with his kids (Azra and Melih). He and her partner (Gonca) spend a good amount of time taking care of our garden. He can be reached  

Lu Blanchard, Volunteer & Program Coordinator

Lu Blanchard was born and raised in Utah, and they have worked in local non-profit organizations for 5+ years. Currently, a graduate student at Westminster College, they are studying Community Leadership in Arts and Culture. Lu is committed to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility practices, especially as that relates to breaking down cultural barriers for the LGBTQ+ community. Lu is devoted to processes of learning and unlearning, rooted in intersectionality and decolonization, in their approach to social justice work. They can be reached at


Jode Littlepage, Development & Fundraising Coordinator 

Jode Littlepage joins the Emerald Institute in community development and fundraising. She is passionate about creating positive change. Growing up in the San Francisco bay area, Jode has had the privilege of living and learning in a multi-cultural and interfaith environment. With academic studies including clinical psychology and social work, Jode brings to the Emerald institute her service work, years of volunteerism, education and non profit management experiences. She is honored to be a new team member of the Emerald Institute. She can be reached at


Sergazy Nurbavliyev, Board Member-Finance Coordinator

Sergazy received his PhD in Mathematics from University of Utah. He is a data analyst at Overstock Company. He is also a board member at Gandhi Peace Center. He can be reached at


Hulya Kablan, Education Coordinator

Hulya was born and raised in Turkey.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology Education and a master’s degree in Secondary School Science and Math Education. Currently, she is working on her Ed.D in Instruction and Curriculum. She enjoyed being a science teacher at middle school, high school, and college levels for 16 years. She is currently working as an Instructional Coach at Canyons School District. She received Congressional recognition as a teacher. She is a registered artist with Utah Arts and Museums and presented the Turkish Art of water marbling in many workshops. She dedicated her life to education because she believes that education solves all the problems in the world. She is married and a mom of three boys, two parakeets, and a cat. She can be reached at


Nurgul Malik, Interfaith Dialogue Coordinator 

Nurgul received her bachelor degree in marketing management. She dedicates herself to living in harmony. She can be reached at


Davron Mukhabbatov, Intrafaith Dialogue Coordinator

Davron is a Business Data Analyst at The US. Department of Health and Human Services. He received his M.A. degree in International Relations from The City University of New York in 2011 and B.S. in Economics from Technological University of Tajikistan in 2006. He loves hiking, biking and meeting people from different cultures. He can be reached at 


Andrew Kosorok, Advisory Board Member-Grant Writing Coordinator 

Andrew Kosorok is a professional stained glass designer, consultant, and restoration specialist, and teaches sculpture, stained glass, and drawing.  He is an ordained interfaith minister, has received degrees in sculpture from Brigham Young University, and has studied philosophy, comparative religions, hermeticism, alchemy, and the Western mystery traditions.  His stained glass work is in numerous homes and churches, and his sculptural work has been in several state, national, and international art competitions.  The study of art and art production is the means by which he explores his educational pursuits in the belief that through examining the act of creation, one’s relationship with the Divine can be strengthened.  His style is a product of the fusion of his various interests, to build objects as records of the ongoing journey of learning, and to share the continuing process. He can be reached


Zeynep Kariparduc, Advisory Board Coordinator 

Zeynep is a mother of 4, wife, lifelong educator, interfaith & community leader, professional artist (Turkish arts & crafts, traditional dance) and Muslim faith representative. She has BA in Language and Literature and MS degree in Business Management and Leadership. She has lived in many countries throughout her life while she taught and learned different cultures. She came to US in 2011 along with her family where she appreciated diverse & inclusive culture and immediately became active member of the community. She has served as Outreach/event Director of Emerald Hills Institute almost 10 years. She has Led and taught weekend school to diverse population. Conducted and led adult classes, art workshops, cooking classes, lectures, panels, exhibits, discussions, luncheons and more. She became active member of interfaith community eventually led her to be Chairperson of Interfaith Round Table. She is a founder of awarded interfaith volunteer group “Talk in Action.” She currently works at the United Way of Salt Lake as Volunteer Projects Coordinator. She received Utah Business Magazine Living Color Gala Diversity & Inclusion award in community engagement category due to her outstanding works bringing diverse population together to create love, harmony and understanding.

Currently she serves as: Chairperson-Salt Lake Interfaith Round Table, Director of Advisory Council Emerald Hills Institute, South Salt Lake City Steering Committee Member, UVU Interfaith Community Advisory Board Member, South Salt Lake Interfaith Council Member, Salt Lake City Art Council Living Traditions Committee Member. She can be reached at



Dr. Amir M. Arain

He is a professor and an epileptologist that focuses on treatment of refractory epilepsy. He graduated from Dow Medical College, Karachi and did his Neurology residency and Epilepsy fellowship at Vanderbilt University. There he served on the faculty of Department of Neurology as an epileptologist from 2000-2018. He joined University of Utah in July 2018 and currently serves as chief of Epilepsy division.

Dr. Arain has been involved in different research projects in epilepsy. He has done several antiepileptic drug trials including levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, lacosemide, retigabine, brivaracetam, carisbamate, eslicarbazepine and cenobamate. He has published several peer reviewed research articles and has presented data in different scientific meetings. He has trained more than 100 fellows in epilepsy over the years. His interest is in seizure semiology, SUDEP, disparity of care in epilepsy and Geriatric epilepsy.


Ermina Mustafic

She is a first generation college student studying Political Science at the University of Utah. Ermina and her family came to the U.S. as Bosnian Muslim refugees in 1998 and settled in Utah. Her passion for educating people on the misrepresentation of Islam stems from her families experiences in their home country. Ermina hopes to help build a bridge of unity by engaging in important conversations with others. In 2019 she served as a congressional intern for Congressman Andre Carson in Washington, DC and was awarded an intern scholarship by the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019. Ermina joined as an Ambassador in March of 2019 and was the first Emerald team member to get promoted to the Executive team. As of April 2020 Ermina serves Emerald Project as our Director of Sponsorships & Outreach.


Asma Hassan

She is glad to be back at the Bennion Center and grow its Utah Reads program. Previously, she worked at the Eccles School of Business, at Utah Campus Compact, a local chapter of AmeriCorps where she enrolled and exited members completing their AmeriCorps hours in educational, health, and environmental fields, serving vulnerable populations, and as a tutor for Utah Reads. Asma has a M.Ed. in Special Education and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah. In her free time, she enjoys tutoring students using engaging teaching methods, hanging out with her sisters, and eating Thai food.


Dr. Dania Al-Hamad

Her clinical interests include growth and puberty disorders, thyroid disorders, adrenal disorders, calcium and bone metabolism disorders, and type 1 diabetes. Her research experience has included childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome and assessing clinical practice guidelines in screening for Type 1 diabetes co-morbidities.


Domoina Kendell

She has been involved in community building and social change for over a decade. She works as a Deputy Director for Promise South Salt Lake. Domoina lives her passion every day by coordinating life-changing services for underrepresented youth. Her work with Promise includes developing programs for social and intellectual skills development and motivation and support toward success in higher education. Domoina holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree from the University of Utah, where she studied Recreation Management. Originally from the Island of Madagascar, Domoina’s pursuit of higher education brought her to the United States. She has fallen in love with Utah, where she enjoys the mountains, hiking nearby canyons, and exploring her interests in the diversity of food, people and culture in the community.



Jean Tokuda Irwin

Jean Tokuda Irwin, holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas (UTMB). Since 1991, she has served as the Arts Education Program Manager for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. She serves on NASAA/AE’s Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion Group & NEA/POL Accessibility Working Group, Spy Hop Advisory Board,. Past professional service includes - panelist for 11 National Endowment for the Arts panels, panels for Ohio, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Arkansas, Kentucky and South Dakota state arts agencies, and reviewer 8 years on the President’s Committee for Arts and Humanities Education; reviewer for Institute of Museum & Library Services Museum Assessment Program; NASAA/AE Advisory Group & Leadership Taskforce, Coalition for Minorities Advisory Committee to the Utah State Board of Education; the Utah Indian Education Taskforce; National PTA Board of Directors (added dance & film to national Reflections Program); Cathedral of the Madeleine Festival Committee; adjunct faculty for Odessa College, Galveston College. Western Texas College and Director of Museums (History & Art); director of Lyon County Historical Society & Museum and Assoc. Dir. of Center for Transportation & Commerce Museum/Art & History. She was the recipient of the Ruby Chacon Award for Arts and Social Justice in 2018, in 2019, the Sorensen Legacy Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts Education and most recently, Utahns for Culture Special Honoree. Her mixed media work appeared in the 2002 Cultural Olympiad featuring 20 works by Utah women and the Year of the Rabbit exhibition and most recently a work in the Clay, Paper, Scissors Gallery in Laramie, WY. She is a lover of books, art museums, the outdoors she crafts visual journals in containers, assemblages and collages. She likes words such as panegyric, jentacular and winklepicker. She is an independent world cinema addict, loves traveling, exploring foreign foods and squiggly ingredients. She abhors bottled water and plastics because of how they impact our planet. Don’t offer her any.


Elizabeth "Libby" Hunter

The Rev. Elizabeth "Libby" Hunter is a compassionate voice and advocate for Utah's most vulnerable. She serves at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark with a focus on outreach and pastoral care.


Linda Hilton

She is retired from a career in community outreach and advocacy for low-income and homeless Utahns. For years she has been interested in Utah history (especially the stories of famous Utah women), and has researched gravesites and monuments in the Salt Lake Cemetery, located in Salt Lake City's Avenues district. Her research resulted in the publication of an annotated map of the cemetery. She continues to share stories of the famous and infamous buried there.


Maddie Scott

She received her M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Utah in 2000. She has taught the English language at universities in Turkey and in the United States, and is currently an adjunct instructor in Utah Valley University's English Language learning department. Maddie is a frequent fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, reading, movie watching, and spending time in nature.