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Oula Alrifai

    Professional affiliation

    Assistant Vice President of Field & Constituencies, National Immigration Forum

    Full Biography

    Oula A. Alrifai serves as the National Immigration Forum’s Assistant Vice President of Field and Constituencies. Prior to joining the Forum, she was a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy working on critical Middle East-related topics on the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

    Alrifai holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Her master’s thesis “The self-flagellation of a nation: Assad, Iran, and regime survival in Syria,” is focused on the development of the Iranian-Syrian relationship in the 1970s and 1980s through the lens of religio-political dynamics. 

    Alrifai was a political asylee from Damascus, Syria, in 2005 and received her American citizenship in 2016. In 2011, she received her B.A. with honors from the University of Maryland in government and politics and Middle Eastern studies, where she was awarded the full-tuition Academic Excellence Scholarship. 

    Following her graduation she co-founded the independent NGO Syrian-American Network for Aid and Development (SANAD) to help provide education and support for Syrian refugees. Professionally, she has worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, New York Times Magazine, and Navanti Group, among others. She also has written articles in a variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, CNN, the National Interest, CTC Sentinel, HuffPost, the Hill, among others. She is a native Arabic speaker and at an advanced level in Persian.

    Alrifai is the executive producer of the award-winning documentary Tomorrow’s Children, which explores Syrian refugees forced into child labor in Turkey, and author of Washington Institute's in-depth study, “ In the Service of Ideology: Iran's Religious and Socioeconomic Activities in Syria,” among other publications.