Meet the Staff



Daniel Wehrenfennig

Executive Director

        Daniel Wehrenfennig, Ph.D. is the executive director of the Olive Tree Initiative. He also directs the Certificate Program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the University of California, Irvine. He has produced a documentary film for civic education in Malawi/Africa. His recent work has been published by Peace Review, Communication Theory, the University of California Press, Lexington Books and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. 






Susan Seely

Associate Director

           Susan has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East. In her capacity as OTI’s Associate Director, Susan represents OTI at community events and speaking engagements and oversees the office staff to sustain OTI’s day-to-day operational requirements. She mentors and trains staff and OTI Students, oversees regional directors, coordinates with other OTI campuses, organizes national and local OTI Board meetings and programming, and oversees production of all promotional materials and social media channels. Susan also serves as a leader on both the Student and Community OTI trips to the Middle East as well as Turkey and the South Caucasus region.  Prior to moving back to California, she worked as the Director for the Middle East and Africa at the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment.  Susan has broad community involvement and serves on several local boards.




Alex Staff Photo


Alex Raleigh

Education Coordinator

      Alex is a third-year doctoral student in Political Science.  Her current research focuses on complexity theory, transitional justice and post-conflict transitions.  Alex's additional research interests include psychological profiling of political leaders and content analysis.  Originally from CT, Alex is a proud alumni of the University of Connecticut and a passionate fan of UConn basketball.






Kevin Pham

Alumni Program Coordinator

       Kevin is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside where he studies political theory with special interests in conflict resolution and cosmopolitanism. He received his B.A. in political science in 2010 from UC Irvine where he participated in a trip to the Middle East with the Olive Tree Initiative in 2009. After graduating from UC Irvine, he taught English in Vietnam for one year. In 2011, through a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, he lived in the Netherlands and completed a M.Sc in Conflict Resolution and Governance at the University of Amsterdam. He has given presentations about the Olive Tree Initiative to many Rotary Clubs and universities throughout the Netherlands, Egypt and the U.S. He aims to be a professor and to expand the model of education used by the Olive Tree Initiative.



Alicia Rios 

Executive Administrator 

        Alicia is newest addition to the OTI team, having joined in 2016. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2015 with Bachelor of Arts double majors in Political Science and Sociology. After graduation she spent several months traveling and living overseas in Europe as an au pair. 







Elizabeth Koppe 

Project Manager 

        Elizabeth graduated from UC Irvine in 2015 with a BA in Philosophy and a minor in Psychology Social Behavior. She has been a member of OTI since 2013 and participated on the Middle East trip. She is humbled to have received the 2013-2014 Dalai Lama Scholarship and Fellowship with her project partner, Blanca Castro. As OTI Project Manager, she adds to fundraising support, organizing two annual fundraisers, in addition to developing the programming and managing the logistics for OTI pre-trip preparation “Bootcamp” and the annual OTI Leadership Conference.





Timna Medovoy

Middle East Program Coordinator

       Timna received her BA in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine in 2014. She joined OTI as a student in 2010 and now oversees the Middle East program. Among her travels to the Middle East, Timna spent 9 months in Egypt where she studied and conducted research on leftist youth. She is now based in Jerusalem where, in addition to her work with OTI, she is volunteering in the non-profit sector.





Syuzanna Petrosyan

Turkey-Armenia Program Director

Syuzanna received her MA in Public Diplomacy from USC has worked at the Shoah foundation and now works at the Armenian Institute at USC. While an undergraduate student at UC Irvine she participated in the Middle East trip (2011) and then inspired and co-founded the OTI South Caucasus branch (2012) to replicate the education and trip model for this issues. She has organizes the annual OTI South Caucasus trip and coordinates the efforts of the OTI South Caucasus chapters at UCI, UCLA and USC.



Dr. Senem Cevik

UCLA Campus Coordinator 

Senem B. Çevik, Ph.D, is a lecturer at University of California Irvine (UCI) Program in International Studies teaching courses in public diplomacy and international communication. She is a fellow of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) and also serves on the committee of the Turkey-Israel Civil Society Forum (TICSF). She was a Tobis Fellow at UCI’s Center on Ethics and Morality in 2015-2016 and a fellow at the Bennington College CAPA Institute in 2016. She has worked with Public Diplomacy program at USC as a Contributing Scholar in 2015-2016. She is the co-editor with Philip Seib of Turkey’s Public Diplomacy (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015). She has been involved for a number of years with OTI’s South Caucasus branch and helped with the trip coordination to the region. Currently, she serves as the OTI campus coordinator at UCLA where she works with our many campus partners on student recruitment, programming and community outreach.


Zachary Dorfman

UC Berkeley Campus Coordinator

Zachary worked as an editor at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International affairs and has experience in conflict resolution and experiential education as well as freelance journalist. After joining OTI as our campus coordinator in UC Berkeley he has helped to develop the OTI curriculum and teaches the weekly education sessions and helps with fundraising and community outreach. He is also overseeing the OTI publication efforts leading up to its 10 year anniversary.


Nathan Wexler

UC Berkeley Program Assistant

Nathan is a “super senior” has been involved in various works on campus and the community, including his work as Library Assistant (Hebrew, Judaica, and Israeli Collection) at UC Berkeley Doe Library. Nathan is the past president of the UC Berkeley student chapter and has joined us as student staff to facilitate programming and connects the club to campus resources.



Georgina Danial

Administrative Assistant

          Georgina is a third year student at the University of California, Irvine majoring in International Studies and Political Science. She has been involved in OTI for two years, and most recently attended the Middle East Trip 9. Currently Georgina holds the position of UCI OTI Middle East Chapter External President.