Legacy’s staff is a group of highly dedicated individuals,  many of whom were integral to the founding of the organization and its continued growth. Our combined experience in cross-cultural training, conflict resolution, community development and exchange programs gives us the ability to meet the needs of those experiencing great changes. Our staff team brings together people from a wide range of backgrounds. Among our staff are individuals fluent in Amharic, Arabic, English, Farsi, French, and Spanish; conversant in Russian; and with basic skills in Bahasa Indonesia and Croatian.  We have a wide network of colleagues who join us for specific projects and contribute their expertise.

PRINCIPAL  STAFF

J.E. Rash
President and Founder

J.E. Rash is a lecturer, writer and consultant in dialogue, NGO development, conflict resolution and education. His career includes studies in law, religion, and alternative medicine, work in professional theater and media, and the design of educational training programs for inner and outer leadership. Entrepreneur, innovator, and visionary, Mr. Rash has founded and leads four organizations, each with a 40-year record of success.

His flagship organization, Legacy International, (http://www.legacyintl.org), is a U.S.-based international non-governmental organization, dedicated to equipping emerging leaders with the skills to transform their values and vision into sustainable success.

Utilizing cutting edge methods for professional development Legacy international focuses on a values-based approach to capacity building, catalytic leadership, network thinking, socially responsible entrepreneurship, diversity training, conflict prevention, and youth and women’s empowerment. Under Mr. Rash’s direction, Legacy international has become a global leader in Helping People to Help Themselves and Others in navigating the challenges of a global society.

Throughout his work, Mr. Rash seeks to build bridges of understanding and to develop practical interfaces among people of diverse backgrounds by emphasizing universal values, social responsibility, mutual respect and tolerance.

In 1987, he received the Friends of the United Nations Environment Program 500 Award for outstanding contributions to the environment. He has presented at the United Nations, the World Bank, the Asian Conference on Religion for Peace; Islamic Unity Conference; University of Colorado’s Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership; and International Symposia on Science and Consciousness in Olympia, Greece and Cancun, Mexico. He has addressed numerous college and academic audiences and served on Ph.D. committees at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI).

Known also as Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid, he is an authorized teacher in five traditional schools of Sufism, offering a unique approach for the contemporary seeker, which he calls: Applied Sufism. Author of more than 40 publications, Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid’s articles and speeches have been translated into Arabic, Turkish, Russian, and Kazakh.

He sees himself as a change agent striving to create a positive Legacy for future generations who will be faced with planetary challenges and opportunities of heretofore unseen magnitude. He often quotes: “you cannot change a community until you change yourself.’ And seeks to encourage people to balance their outer life and goals with a rich and contemplative inner life and practice.

Leila Baz 
Senior Program Officer & Human Resources Coordination

As Program Director for various Legacy adult professional exchange programs, Ms. Baz has designed and delivered numerous projects for citizens from Azerbaijan, Morocco, Egypt, Belarus, the Republic of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. Focuses have included NGO development, education reform, youth advocacy, conflict resolution, public health, and civic education & citizen engagement. As Staff Director for Legacy’s annual Global Youth Village, she oversees seasonal staff hiring, and coordinates the day to day operations and risk management for this residential program. She also spearheads all outreach and screening for both temporary and permanent staff for Legacy.

Mike DuVall
Professional Fellows Program Manager

Mike works for Legacy’s Professional Fellows Program on economic development for the MENA Region. For more than a decade Mike has been working with groups to create space for learning, growth, and dialogue. He has directed programs at two summer camps, taught high school in the U.S., and facilitated peace education in Ireland. Mike directed leadership development for a program working with Irish and Northern Irish college students. Mike has a BA in Religious Studies from the College of Wooster and a Masters in Philosophy in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation from Trinity College Dublin.

Marlene Ginsberg
Vice President: Professional Programs

Ms. Ginsberg has 35 years non-profit experience, including 20 years directing professional development programs for citizens of Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Republic of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. Topics included NGO development, religion and society, business development, women’s issues, and civic education and engagement. With activities both in the US and in the counterpart country, she has wide travel experience and is fluent in Spanish, conversant in Russian and French. In addition, she has produced two documentaries that have aired on the Discovery Channel.

Maryna Hayes
Professional Fellows Program Manager

Maryna works for Legacy’s Professional Fellows Program on economic development for the MENA Region. Maryna is a proven strategic expert in the arenas of international education, international development, program/project management and event coordination. She believes in the power of education and social entrepreneurial communities to create solid social and economic value. She has an unique ability to see things from a creative standpoint and business perspective. Her strong multilingual and communication skills together with international experience enables her to bridge cross cultural issues and find a way to cooperate in easy and friendly ways in multicultural environments.

Mary Helmig
Vice President: Development

Ms. Helmig has 30 years non-profit experience, including directing U.S. Department of State Exchange programs,  professional development initiatives and youth leadership programs.  Her work in Indonesia, Iraq, across the MENA region and with many US Embassies worldwide has addressed topics of  NGO development, social cohesion, religion and society, business development, women’s economic prosperity, STEM training, and civic education and engagement. With activities both in the US and in the counterpart countries, she has experience leading US speaker and training groups abroad. Ms. Helmig is involved in the design, funding, and program and financial administration of Legacy’s projects.   

Sheila Kasasa
TechGirls Program Manager

Sheila is an education-business development leader expanding opportunity pathways for the world’s emerging communities. She created a social impact company, FutureFIRST to launch a pilot program for the DC Youth Corps, a Washington, DC government-funded youth tech, entrepreneurship, and apprenticeship program for students of color. Her purpose is to help underrepresented communities and young people become trailblazers within their field. In this constantly changing entrepreneurial world, she strives to stay up to date on engaging with customers, professionals, and stakeholders and show them how to grow outside the box. Sheila holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from American University, Washington DC in Comparative Politics and International Studies.

Atefeh Leavitt
Senior Project  Director

Atefeh’s work at Legacy has included program coordination and training in civic involvement and project planning for youth and adults from Indonesia, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. She is also part of the development and public relations team and is responsible for the website and other media outreach. A native of Virginia, Atefeh has traveled and worked in Bahrain, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Morocco. She has an MPA in public administration and non-profit management from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. and a BA in Political Science from Randolph Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA.

Hayley Pottle
TechGirls Program Coordinator

Hayley is dedicated to providing leadership development experiences in cross-cultural mentoring. Her experience involves program development for higher education, non-profit and governmental organizations. She has a deep love for the Arabic language and recently returned from Jordan where she acted as the Project Development Manager for Hopes for Women in Education. She has previously served as an Education Consultant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Program Coordinator for the Office of Scholars and Fellowships at the University of Richmond, Administrative Coordinator for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Emerging Leaders Program, and has been a part of TechGirls since 2017. Hayley holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from VCU in Mass Communications & Business Studies.

Mitra Nafissian Rash
Senior Program Officer

Mitra holds an MA and AbD in International Relations from New York University. She has worked at the United Nations in New York at the Center on Transnational Corporations and at the Department of Public Information. At Legacy, Mitra acts as project director for professional development programs in public health and education. She also directs Legacy’s NSLI-Y Arabic Language Institute in Morocco, an initiative of the U.S. State Department. A native of Iran, Mitra has lived in the United States for over 30 years and has taught Middle Eastern Studies at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Jason Scott
Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship 
As lead developer of innovation and entrepreneurship programs, Mr. Scott engages Legacy’s global alumni network to share best practices, support local initiatives and scale-up projects.  He administers and directs professional development programs focused on NGO development, business development, women’s issues, and civic education and engagement.  Mr. Scott is also Legacy’s lead trainer on social media for community impact and developer of Legacy’s on-line learning management system. He has traveled with US delegations to Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. He holds a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Delaware.
Shanti Thompson
Vice President: Director of Training & CFO

Ms. Thompson is involved in the design, funding, and program and financial administration of Legacy’s projects. She has over 35 years’ experience directing initiatives, developing training programs and curricula in leadership, pluralism, conflict prevention and resolution, cross-cultural communication, and civic education. Ms. Thompson has authored three published curricula and has directed projects in the U.S., Spain, Russia, and Ukraine. She has visited 23 different nations, and worked closely with adults and teens from Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia and Ukraine.