Soheil Najm was born in Baghdad in 1956. He is author of Deflowering the Phrase and I Am Your Carpenter, Oh Light and editor of the anthology Flowers in Flame (2008). In addition, he has translated selections of work by Nikos Kazantzakis, Alasdair Gray, Ted Hughes, and José Saramago. Najm is currently the editor of the Althaqafa Alajnabia ["Foreign Culture"] journal in Baghdad and editor of Gilgamesh, Iraq’s cultural magazine in English.
Motoya Nakamura was born in Nagoya, Japan, and came to the United States two decades ago after falling in love with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. He saved money by teaching windsurfing (“because I do not have to wear a tie”) and enrolled in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where he studied documentary photography. He has been working as a newspaper photographer ever since: “Working for newspapers gave me tickets to unknown worlds every day.” In 2000, Motoya joined the staff at The Oregonian, and lives in Portland with his wife and two sons.
Allen Nause, Artists Repertory Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, is a recipient of the 2003 Governor's Arts Award. He first came to Oregon in 1975 to act with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and joined Artists Rep as the company's first Artistic Director in 1989. Deeply committed to citizen diplomacy and the role of culture as a bridge, Allen Nause has previously directed Our Town in Bangalore, India, led two international tours to Africa and the Near and Middle East, co-directed a bilingual, bicultural production of A Midsummer Night’s in Vietnam , and co-directed Arthur Miller’s All My Sons with the Palestinian National Theater in Jerusalem
Ryan Neil’s development in bonsai began long before he made the commitment to a life with little trees. Born and raised in Colorado, Ryan spent his youth amidst the fantastic array of tortured and stunted trees that give the Rocky Mountains their splendid character. It wasn’t until Ryan was in high school that he found bonsai, but his passion for the art grew and led him to California. There he obtained an education in horticulture and met Mr. Ben Oki, who was the catalyst for organizing Ryan’s apprenticeship with world renowned master Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Six years after stepping into the shoes of a bonsai apprentice, Ryan is now a bonsai professional pursuing excellence in the art throughout the United States and abroad.
John Arthur Nunes serves as president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (LWR), a $42 million global organization. With a passion for service and deep commitment to LWR’s core values, John leads staff in 17 countries in working to end poverty, injustice and human suffering worldwide.
Prior to joining LWR, John served on the faculty of Concordia University Chicago as a professor of theology. He has also served as a management consultant, and as an urban parish pastor and community organizer in Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan. A gifted public speaker, John is also a frequent keynote presenter.
“I believe deeply that God created everyone to live in justice, dignity and peace,” John says. “When people’s most basic needs, like food, water and shelter, remain unmet, they are unable to live out their true calling. By working alongside families and communities struggling to lift themselves out of poverty, LWR helps people around the world live into their full promise.”
John holds a Bachelor of Arts from Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Mich.; a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; and from theLutheran School of Theology at Chicago he holds both a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in postcolonial identity. John has also received honorary doctorates from Concordia University, Ann Arbor and Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
He currently sits on the board of directors of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations.
John is the author of Voices from the City: Issues and Images of Urban Preaching and, with his wife Monique, the children’s book Little Things Make Big Differences: A Story about Malaria.