Meet the Team

Michael Ibrahim

Michael Ibrahim

Founder/Music Director

The National Arab Orchestra’s founder and music director, Michael Ibrahim, is a dynamic conductor and a recognized innovator in the Arab music circuit. A Metro-Detroit native, he was born into a Syrian immigrant family of humble origins. He began his musical studies on the ‘Ud, and later studying the Bassoon and Nay as his musical training progressed. Ibrahim studied under renowned musicians Simon Shaheen, Johnny Sarweh, Nadeem Dlaikan, Douglas Bianchi, Anthony Iannacconne, Dr. David Pierce, Robert Williams, and Victoria King. He earned a bachelor degree in music from Eastern Michigan University, and a Master of Music degree in conducting from Wayne State University. Ibrahim’s background and unique approach to composition and improvisation—fusing Western and Arab music idioms— has led to performances in concert halls and venues the world over, features on a number of recordings and film scores, and opportunities to share the stage with some of the most influential figures in Western and Arab music. His role as an educator, providing instrumental and ensemble instruction, lectures and demonstrations on Arab music, privately and in the classroom, at university and grade school levels, ultimately brought him to founding the NAO, where he currently serves as Music Director. Ibrahim hopes that through his performances and educational efforts, he can instill a wider appreciation for Arab music and its heritage.
Sherri Richards

Sherri Richards

Executive Director

Sherri is a business consultant, university professor, speaker, and author with a rare combination of finance, marketing, distribution operations, and franchising experience both nationally and internationally. Her true gift is her love of creating and telling the whole story. The fun is taking an idea, developing the business plan with its pieces and parts, thenbringing it to life in a holistic, profitable and sustainable way. Sherri works with both for profit and non profit companies as she loves to bring the business skills of the for profit business to the non profit world, where many non profits are brilliant at the work they do, but need support with building the foundation and running the business of the organization. Her calling is to help people be their best selves through the work they do, and in the case of the students, the work they aspire to do. Sherri worked for Daimler Trucks of North America for many years, in both management and start up capacities. This world class experience plus her MBA, and teaching students to be entrepreneurs has given her a well rounded skill set, where she has worked with thousands of small companies to help them move to the next level. Sherri treasures being a wife, mother, bonus mother, and grandmother. She lives in Brighton Mi with her husband, dog and cat.
Siham Awada Jaafar

Siham Awada Jaafar

Public Relations Director

Siham Awada Jaafar specializes in corporateLaw Enforcement, educational, and government Diversity training Her clients have included Wayne County Airport Authority, Immigration Services, Various Law Enforcement agencies, Educational Institutions, corporate and government agencies including private entities seeking cultural competency, equity and inclusion direction and training.  

Siham is the Founder and Producer of the nationally acclaimed “Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference recognized in 2013 and 2017 by CorpMagazine for the “Excellence in Diversity Award”.  Siham was honored by Wayne County with the “Women of Distinction Award” in 2014 and recognized by NAWBO’s “Top 10 Michigan Women Business owners” in 2015.  The Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference is in its 15th year of production in Metro Detroit, which took place on April 19th, 2018, and will celebrate its 5th year in Chicago Illinois, in October.

Siham is a certified mediator and is currently the Vice President of the Wayne Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC)She is also the chairwoman of the WDRC advisory Board. Siham is a Dearborn Heights Planning Commissioner, NAWBO board member and hosts and produces “Off the Cuff with Siham Awada Jaafar” a WDHTV production discussing pertinent issues affecting us locally, nationally as well as internationally with a focus on diversity and inclusion.  She is the former Chairwoman of the ACCESS Coalition against Domestic Violence and producer of the “Voices over Violence” program. She is also a founding member of BRIDGES (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity.

Siham was born and raised in Michigan and has called it home her entire life. She and her husband, Hassane, have two amazing children, Gina and Alex, a wonderful Son in Law, Nick and an adorable, intuitive and brilliant grandsonJordan.

Reginald Tiessen

Reginald Tiessen

Archivist / Community Liaison / Assistant Program Director

Reginald Tiessen is an independent producer, musician and film maker who has worked in Canada, USA, Australia, Europe and North Africa on a host of exciting, creative initiatives. Passionate and focused on digital-storytelling he services a wide range of sectors and agencies including government, education, corporate, non-profit and arts organizations. With over 25 years as an arts practitioner, he now works at the intersection of digital media, multi-arts and performance.
David Schall

David Schall

Sound Engineer/Production Manager

Dave Schall is a live sound engineer, recording engineer, and videographer based out of Ann Arbor Michigan. He specializes in classical and acoustic music styles and has established himself as a go-to collaborator for top-level musicians throughout the United States and internationally through his business, DaveSchallAcoustic. Dave began as the recording engineer for the NAO at its inception and later took over duties as the live sound engineer. With a genuine love of uncommon styles of music and the technological challenges that come with such complex ensembles, he takes great pride in working with the groups like the NAO and Takht Ensemble.

He has also worked as the dedicated touring live sound engineer and systems tech for the Jeremy Kittel Band, Fareed Haque and MathGames!, My Dear Disco/Ella Riot, and Cloud Nine Music. On the home front, he has mixed many prominent national acts in the metro Detroit area and beyond at front of house, monitors, and systems tech for several venues and sound contractors in the southeast Michigan area. He is one of the primary engineers and techs for THS Audio in Ann Arbor, MI, and the recording engineer and videographer for the University of Michigan Symphony Band. He also serves as the technical consultant and coordinator for the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic.

Dave holds degrees in performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan School of Music. As a bassoonist and contrabassoonist, Dave has held positions with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Jackson Symphony, as well as performing with the Toledo Symphony, New World Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, Windsor Symphony, Michigan Sinfonietta, and in 1997 he had the privilege of performing in Carnegie Hall in New York City with the University of Michigan Symphony Band. Coincidentally, his last name means “sound” in German.

Trevor Spagnoletti

Trevor Spagnoletti

Digital Marketing Director

Trevor is our marketing strategist and internet maven. He has a creative vision like no one else. From the grand perspective and down to that 1×1 pixel, he excels. In his spare time, he loves to collect original vintage marketing materials and golfs like nobody’s business. With a background in technology, digital marketing and social science, Spagnoletti found himself in a unique position to offer inspiring, usable, accessible and emotionally engaging websites. Along with generating traffic and leads to physical and online businesses.
Haifa Jamalieh

Haifa Jamalieh

Artistic Manager

Haifa Jamalieh is a mixed-media interdisciplinary artist who focuses on cultural expression interested in exploring the narratives of Arab American communities through the use of traditional and symbolic imagery. Haifa’s work fuses her passions for connection, process and play orbiting around the objects and people in her life via illustrations, daily documentation, photography, and paint. Her paintings have been sold at auctions, commissioned privately and publicly.

After graduating from Oakland University, Haifa found her way into a professional design career starting with the localization and graphic transcreation industry, a niche field that seeks to help businesses apply visual communication to international markets. She went on to get her MFA in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University and launched Word Design Co. in 2014. Currently, Haifa is a Software Engineering (MSc) student at Boston University with plans to explore new forms of art that incorporate technology.

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