Suha Ballout, RN, PhD, President

Executive Board

Dr. Suha Ballout is an assistant professor at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Ballout earned her BSN and MSN from the American University of Beirut (AUB), Beirut, Lebanon in 2000 and 2007 respectively. In 2006, she attended Johns Hopkins University to complete her clinical residency as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Most of her clinical experience has been at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanon where she assumed a variety of roles including RN, Clinical Educator, ant others in different areas such as medical, surgical, oncology, OB/GYN, oncology, BMT, and psych in-patient units. She was also involved in the successful Magnet journey by assuming the role of Magnet Awareness Coordinator, Magnet Writer, and others. Also, during her roles she was involved with a variety of projects, Joint Commission International accreditation, and quality improvement activities. In 2013, Suha graduated with her PhD in Nursing from Florida International University (FIU), Miami, Florida. During her doctoral studies, Suha focused on gender issues, masculine norms, ethnic diversity, men’s health, and chronic conditions.

Building on her international experience, Dr. Ballout’s program of research is to contribute to ensuring health equity and enhancing the quality of life in diverse persons with chronic illnesses and their families. Dr. Ballout is very interested and actively engaged in working on advancing and enhancing the health and access to healthcare of LGBT individuals with a focus on preventing and managing chronic conditions in diverse individuals. Currently, she is working on projects with the LGBT community in Boston, Massachusetts focusing on projects with transgender individuals. Joining the LebMash board is a great opportunity for Dr. Ballout to be engaged in projects to enhance general and sexual health of LGBT individuals with a minor focus on including nursing students and nurses in the conversation.

Dr. Ballout also has extensive teaching experience in online, simulation, and ground courses in the undergraduate and graduate nursing program. As an educator, she uses technology and active learning strategies to enhance student learning and engagement. She is also a reviewer and editorial board member of Nursing and Health Sciences and Journal of Nurses in AIDS Care. Dr. Ballout is a board member of various chapters of Sigma Theta Tau International, the honor society of nursing, and is a member of Nurses in AIDS Care, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and other professional organizations. Dr. Ballout is also a board member of the Multicultural AIDS Coalition in Boston, Massachusetts.

Omar Fattal, MD, MPH

Executive Board

Omar Fattal is a founder, past president and current board member of the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) as well as a founder and current board member of Friends of LebMASH. He is also a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA). He is currently a member of the editorial board of the LGBT Health journal. He is a former fundraising officer and a member of Helem, a Lebanese LGBT rights organization.

Omar Fattal is currently the deputy medical director at the office of Behavioral Health at NYC Health and Hospitals and a psychiatrist with the Pride Clinic at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. He is a 1999 graduate of the American University of Beirut (AUB) Medical School. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from AUB. He completed his residency in Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic in 2005.

Sarah Abboud, RN, PhD

Executive Board

Dr. Sarah Abboud is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Department of Women, Children, and Family Health Science. Dr. Abboud completed her BS and MS (adult care) in Nursing at the American University of Beirut School of Nursing, Lebanon, and her PhD and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she was a member of the Centers for Global Women’s Health and Health Equity Research.

Dr. Abboud’s doctoral dissertation looked at the meanings of virginity and virginity loss among Arab and Arab American women using qualitative methods. During her post-doctoral fellowship, she investigated the meanings of healthy sexualities and the relationships between ethnic identity, communication with parents about sexuality, and sexual attitudes and behaviors among Arab and Arab American youth through a mixed methods study. She was also involved in a community-based participatory research study funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to design and develop a gender and culturally relevant, theoretically driven, HIV/STI prevention intervention in Black adolescents with mental illnesses.

Dr. Abboud’s research interests focus on understanding and identifying individual, societal, cultural, and structural factors associated with risk and protective sexual health factors among Arabs and Arab Americans. One area of particular interest is understanding the impact of the intersectionality of racial/ethnic identities, gender and sexual identities, religion, family, socio-cultural factors, and stigma and discrimination on sexual behaviors and health of Arabs and Arab Americans. She has published several articles and has been teaching the Human Sexuality and Health course for undergraduate students for several years.

Claude Chidiac, RN, MSc, FHEA

Executive Board

Claude Chidiac is the Lead Nurse for Palliative Care at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK, and a Visiting Senior Lecturer at City, University of London. Claude completed his BSc in Nursing at the American University of Beirut and MSc in Palliative Care Clinical Practice at University College Dublin, Ireland. He obtained a postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education from King’s College London and subsequently became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK.  Claude is currently a PhD Candidate in Palliative Care at the International Observatory on End of life Care, Lancaster University, UK.

Claude has assumed a variety of academic, clinical, and leadership roles in acute, hospice, and community settings in the UK and globally. His current work focuses on improving palliative care access and provision for marginalised populations. His PhD research explores how the intersecting social positions of living with dementia and belonging to a gender or sexual minority group may impact on the needs and preferences about the end of life. Claude has been involved in a number of consultations to support organisations in providing equitable palliative care to diverse communities.

Antoine Beayno, MD

Executive Board

Antoine Beayno, MD is currently a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry fellow at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He completed his Psychiatry residency at the American University of Beirut. He has joined LebMASH as a partner in 2018 and became a Board member in April 2019. His interests in the field of Psychiatry are LGBT Mental Health, Transgender Medicine and people living with HIV. He has given multiple trainings and workshops to mental health providers in Lebanon and the region about LGBT-affirmative care.

Zavi Lakissian, MD, MPH, PgD

Executive Board

Dr. Lakissian is the simulation program and research coordinator at AUBMC. Dr. Lakissian earned her medical degree from Yerevan State Medical University, Yerevan, Armenia in 2013. In parallel, during her last two years of medical school, she completed her graduate studies in public health at the American University of Armenia (AUA), and then in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Lakissian completed a post- doctoral research fellowship in the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the AUBMC.

Michel Sfeir, MSc

Executive Board

Mr. Michel Sfeir earned his MSc from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and is currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology in Belgium. His thesis focuses on the transmission of resilience within families.

Having completed training with the French and Francophone Society of Psycho-Oncology, Michel Sfeir is a psycho-oncologist and a clinical psychologist. He is currently the mental health coordinator of a Lebanese NGO called AlNajatVillage and the workshop coordinator of another Lebanese initiative called BeBraveBeirut.

After the Beirut blast in 2020, Michel underwent Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) training to work with people suffering from trauma and PTSD. His research areas vary from maladaptive daydreaming, addictive disorders, sexual disorders, and mental health well-being.

Batoul Jaafar, MD

Executive Board

Dr. Batoul Jaafar is an adult endocrinologist who completed her residency and fellowship training at the American University of Beirut. She also had training from Harvard medical school in the transgender health field. She is an expert in a wide spectrum of hormonal disorders with a special focus on transgender health and hormonal therapy. She also cares for patients with general endocrine disorders. Dr. Batoul is an investigator in several research studies and she serves as a manuscript reviewer for scientific journals. She strongly believes in patient-centered medicine, aiming to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being.

Nizar Alouf

Honorary Board Member

Mr. Alouf was born in Lebanon and completed his law degree from BAU in Beirut. He then immigrated to the United States and ventured into a wide variety of professional endeavors ranging from managing self-owned international family business to contract work with U.S. based institutions such as Joseph Aboud, for profit agencies like epiconsults, Inc; as well as not for profit organizations like Tropical Diseases Task Force, Inc; and 180 degrees_Lebanon to name just a few.

Mr. Ouf is also involved in managing contract work handling data management projects for major financial institutions in NYC. His passion for community work towards bridging the gaps in today’s healthcare systems in the U.S. and abroad is represented in his involvement with major fund raising activities with various agencies.

Jonathan Nicholson

Honorary Board Member

Mr. Nicholson has a passion for exploration, travel and experiencing new cultures. As an out gay man he has used financial, place and privilege to advocate for gay rights throughout the world. He is also understanding that while he can support & push for change it must be driven locally by those who know the local culture and the best ways to reach sexual minorities.  It is with this idea in mind that he supports LebMASH as it is internationally funded but the core of its management and mission is local to Lebanon and the Middle East. Outside of travel Jon is an avid distance runner, foodie and loves the outdoors and wide open spaces.

Linda Baker, RN

Honorary Board Member

Ms. Baker worked as an R.N., mainly in the psychiatry department from 1969 until 1985 when she completed training as a hypnotherapist. Soon afterwards she began seeing clients and continue doing so up until this day. For many years, she and her husband took foster teens into their home and several of them were gay, lesbian and transgendered.

She has volunteered for many groups in the LGBTQ Community for over three decades now. These have included, but are not limited to: Safe Schools, PFLAG, Lambert House (a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth), group leader for Seattle Area Support Groups, leader for Our Circle (for those with HIV/AIDS) and she is currently the vice president for Seattle Frontrunners.

Ms. Baker has two biological children, is a grandmother and loves gardening, outdoor activities, reading, traveling and connecting with people of all types of diversity. She is also a very spiritual person.

Her interest in LebMASH’s work stems from her awareness of “some of the discriminatory issues that LGBTQ people face in the Middle East.” She feels “that education, healthcare and support is essential for LGBTQ people to survive and grow their self-worth, be proud of who they are and have the ability to share infromation with their families and friends. Being LGBTQ is normal and natural, and it is only through education, resources and conversation that ignorant beliefs and stigmas can be erased.”

Sandrine Atallah, MD, MHM, FECSM


Dr. Sandrine Atallah is a clinical sexologist and a medical hypnotherapist.

She graduated as a Medical Doctor from the Saint Joseph medical Faculty. She then obtained her degree in clinical sexology from René Descartes University, Paris V,Faculty of Medicine, and her degree in Medical Hypnosis from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris VI, Faculty of Medicine. She has also qualified as a Fellow of the European Committee of Sexual Medicine.

Along with her private medical practice in sexology and hypnosis at La Clinique du Levant in Beirut and at Clemenceau Medical Center, she teaches Clinical Sexology at several universities (Saint Joseph medical Faculty in Beirut and LAU)

Board member (ordinary director) of the MESSM (Middle East Society of Sexual Medicine: and chairman of its Public Awareness Committee, she is actively working on promoting sexual health in the Middle East.

Being particularly interested in contemporary issues dealing with sexuality, she is also a board member of the SFMS (Société Francophone de Médecine Sexuelle).

Nesrine Rizk, MD


Dr. Nesrine Rizk is an Instructor of Clinical Medicine, subspecialty Infectious Diseases, in the Department of Internal Medicine of the American University of Beirut.

She graduated from the AUB with a degree in Medicine in 2001 and completed specialty training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio with an additional fellowship training in HIV/AIDS Medicine. Dr. Rizk was the Program Director of the HIV program at the Yale-affiliated Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven, CT and a member of the Yale AIDS Program and an active medical staff at Yale New Haven Medical Center.

Dr. Rizk joined the medical group practice of the ID Division of the AUB in July 2012 and has been active in clinical and educational activities as well as research projects. Dr Rizk is a passionate advocate of People Living with HIV and AIDS. She is experienced in the treatment and management of the HIV infection. Her experience also covers the management of metabolic and oncologic complications in this field. She has continued to provide the same medical care to the patients in Lebanon.

Dr Rizk holds the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Infectious Diseases certification.

She is also a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) and a certified HIV Expert.

Hala Kerbage, MD


Hala Kerbage is a psychiatrist currently practicing in Beirut. She works in Hotel-Dieu de France Hospital and Saint-Joseph University, as well as in NGOs dealing with Syrian displaced.

Her research interests evolve around the relationship between mental health and society, social constructs of mental illness and legal aspects of psychiatry.

Vanessa Van Vliet


Vanessa van Vliet is a clinical psychologist and integrative psychotherapist with a 4-year extensive training in Criminology from the School of Criminology of the University of Montreal. She also specializes in psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Her professional experience covers children, adolescents and adults from various cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, in addition to her broad experience in the fields ofaddiction and prisons. She has also worked with marginalized populations such as delinquents, LGBT and refugees.

Aside from her ongoing clinical practice, she is currently working with torture survivors at the Centre Nassim for the rehabilitation of torture victims, as well as abused women and children, and intimate violence perpetrators at KAFA (Enough) Violence and Exploitation.

Vanessa vanVliet is an activist for human rights. She is particularly passionate about gender equality, LGBT rights in Lebanon and the improvement of the Lebanese judicial and prison systems in terms of psychological assessments and rehabilitation of criminals and delinquents.Throughout the years, she has volunteered in various NGOs such as Jeunesse Anti-DrogueDar el Amal and Centre Libanais des Droits Humains.

Vanessa van Vliet was a LebMASH Executive Board until January 2017 and was appointed as LebMASH Partner Coordinator starting February 2017.

Gaelle Abou Ghannam, MD


Dr. Gaël Abou Ghannam is an OBGYN and infertility specialist with expertise in fertility preservation. She works at Bellevue Medical Center, in a private clinic in Ghazir and is also part of a polyclinic THE HEALTHQUARTERS in Beirut.

She received both her medical and residency (obstetrics and gynecology) training at the American university of Beirut where she graduated in 2012. After graduating, she left for Belgium where she trained as a fellow in Reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the department of Gynecology and Andrology of “Les cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc” in Brussels.

These last 2 years of training were mainly focused on reproductive health with extensive training in female as well as in male infertility and andrology. She also had the chance to be working with pioneers in the field of ovarian and testicular tissue cryopreservation.

Her main field of interest is fertility preservation in adult and pediatric patients. Being familiar with the different techniques of preservation, she knows how to counsel patients about the risk to their fertility in case of gonadotoxic treatments and orient them to the different options available in a respectful and sensitive manner.

Her clinical practice goes from pregnancy follow up, infertility evaluation and treatment, screening through pap smear and HV testing, and treating any gynecological complaints (infection, irregular periods, hormonal imbalance…)

Her enthusiasm for research and academics continued while in Belgium where she was involved in basic science and clinical research on fertility preservation. She published several papers on the subject and recently presented an abstract of her project at the European Society of Gynecologists conference held in Brussels in October 2013.

Michel Nawfal, MD, MA


Dr. Michel Nawfal is a Mental Health Professional. He’s a Medical Doctor and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He received his undergraduate education in premedical studies (BS: Bachelors of Science) at the American University of Beirut in 1998 after which he earned his medical degree (MD degree) in 2003 from St. George’s University School of Medicine with clinical rotations at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, a Cornell University affiliate.

Dr. Nawfal had an interest in psychological disorders and their complexity. Deciding to practice in the Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, he has pursued graduate education again at the American university of Beirut to earn a masters in psychology with an internship in psychotherapy at the American University of Beirut Medical Center in 2005. Dr. Nawfal was trained and supervised in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at the Beck Institute through the extra-mural program. With a post-graduate course in psychopharmacotherapy from Harvard Medical School and being a medical doctor registered at the Lebanese Order of Physicians (LOP registration number N/507), he is legally eligible to prescribe medications in Lebanon. Dr. Nawfal currently practices in major locations in Lebanon (Beirut, Jounieh, Antelias and Batroun). He is currently the Vice President of the Middle East Psychological Association and a Board Member of the Lebanese Order of Psychologists.