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Jana El Horr

Jana El-Horr of Soliya

The conflict between Islam and ‘the West’ is about as old as Islam itself. In recent times, though, this conflict has once again escalated, pitting Muslims not against non-Muslims, and even against each other. Soliya, a non-profit organization founded in 2003, was created to help bridge the understanding divide that remains the primary cause of a contentious and often violent struggle. With the help of volunteers like Jana El Horr, 25, Soliya is out to create dialogue between students in the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, using “cutting edge online web-conferencing technologies and sophisticated conflict resolution methodologies…to provide students with an intensive, intimate dialogue and joint learning experience”. Their programs continue to draw acclaim and more participants and university partners with each year, a good sign that Soliya helping to shift conflict to understanding. Find out more about this revolutionary organization in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.








Jana El Horr




Beirut, Lebanon

Current residence

Washington, DC


Eastern Mennonite University, MA in Conflict Resolution, 2006
American University of Beirut, BA in Economics, 2002

Work Experience

Soliya, Facilitator CoachCompany, 2006
American Islamic Congress, DC Program Director, 2006
Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, Project Officer, 2002-2004

About the Non-Profit

Soliya is a new not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to shed light on the relationship between the West & Muslim World in a way that promotes understanding, respect and constructive joint action.

Most notable milestones

In 2004 Soliya conducted its first full-length Connect-Dialogue Program in the fall of 2004, with 80 students from 10 universities from the US and the Arab world. The program was a great success and all participating universities signed up to participate again. In the 2005-2006 year 20% of articles that were jointly written by student participants in the Connect Program were published by international newspapers including the Daily Star in Lebanon, Al-Ahram in Egypt and the Washington Times in the US.

In the fall of 2006 we added our 24th University partner. Our partners include American University of Beirut in Lebanon, Georgetown University in Washington DC, Birzeit University in Palestine, Tufts University in Boston, Dar al Hekma Women’s College in Saudi Arabia and the University of North Florida. To date we have had approximately 600 students participate in the Connect Program.

What’s the niche?

Soliya currently works with university students in 10 countries in the Middle East, and 12 states in the US. We are currently expanding to work with universities in Europe and the broader Muslim World. ? Soliya’s use of cutting edge online web-conferencing technologies and sophisticated conflict resolution methodologies allows us to provide students with an intensive, intimate dialogue and joint learning experience at a fraction of the costs of in-person dialogue programs. Over the next five years Soliya will expand to work with thousands of students each semester, enabling a critical mass of students to participate in this intensive learning experience. Furthermore, Soliya provides students with the skills, tools and connections they need to transfer what they learn through the program to a broader audience, ensuring that the learning experience is not limited to Soliya participants.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Soliya plans to work with 1000 students in the 2007-2008 year, and 5000 students in the 2011-2012 year. Our biggest challenge is ensuring we maintain the quality of our program and the ethos of our organization as we expand.

What’s in store for the future?

We are in the process of creating and developing the Soliya network: an online cross-cultural social network that will enables young adults from the US and the Middle East to learn more about the relationship between the US and the Arab and Muslim World by exploring rich multimedia features, express their perspectives on those issues by creating rich media features of their own, and continue engaging in intensive dialogue and collaborative action.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

Universities, professors, students, youth, and anyone who is interested in fostering youth dilogues between the US and the Muslim world.

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Best way to keep a competitive edge

Always believe and love oneself.

Guiding principle in life

The 4 Agreements principle:
– Be impeccable with your words
– Don’t take anything personally
– Don’t make assumptions
– Always do your best

Yardstick of success

When I see young people more thirsty for knowledge and education.

Goal yet to be achieved

Intercultural youth dialogues are a basic requirement in all universities and schools around the globe.

Best practical advice

To always look at the half full of the glass and not the half empty.

Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture

Someone once told me: “My grandchildren will thank you tomorrow for the work you’re doing today”.


My mentors are the everyday people that I interact with, who inspire me with their actions, and give me hope in a better future.

What motivated you to get started?

The curiosity to know and talk to other people from different countries, ethnicities, race, background, religion and language.

Like best about what you do?

Initiating a conversation with young people.

Like least about what you do?

Spending hours to convince people about the importance of this work.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to become an interpreter so I can learn as many languages as I can to speak to all the people that I would meet.

What was your first job?

French tutor

Biggest pastime outside of work

Learning new languages

Person most interested in meeting

Mohammed Yunus, winner of the peace Nobel prize for 2006. I want to meet him to learn from him how to turn full capitalistic structures into a social framework beneficial for all people.

Leader in business most interested in meeting

Warren Buffet because I want to introduce Soliya to him.

Three interesting facts about yourself

1. I speak 6 languages
2. Half Iraqi, quarter Lebanese, and quarter Iranian
3. At the age of 20, I was a founding member of the first conflict resolution center in Lebanon

Three characteristics that describe you

1. Critical
2. Analytical
3. Independent

Three greatest passions

1. Facilitating training workshops for youth
2. Learning new languages
3. Traveling to new countries

Favorite book

The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.

Favorite cause

Creating awareness among people about the importance of reaching out to others.

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Interview by Ani Zakarian
Introduction by Kaiser Shahid

Also this week

Aimee SuzaraMary’s CenterSaadia Ahmed

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