Our People - Polyphony
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Our People

Our People

Creating meaningful social change in one of the most volatile regions in the world calls for visionary leadership, innovative methods and a deep commitment to young people—qualities that define the people behind Polyphony.




Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar

Executive Director, Polyphony Education

A visionary champion for youth and community development and a gifted violinist, Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar has led and inspired people from all walks of life across Israel, Europe and the U.S. He performed with and was a spokesperson for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra for a decade.


In 2006, Nabeel gave up his music career and returned to his hometown, the Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth, to answer the need he saw in the community for quality music programming. He founded and led the Barenboim-Said Conservatory there. As his efforts expanded, in 2012 along with Craig and Deborah Cogut, he co-founded PF in the USA and Polyphony Education in Israel and the Conservatory was renamed the Polyphony Conservatory.


Having begun his violin studies at age eight, he graduated from Tel Aviv University in both physics and music, and completed his master’s degree at the Hochschule für Musik, in Rostock, Germany.


For his groundbreaking work, Nabeel has been honored with the Charles Ansbacher Music for All Award (2015), Yoko Ono Lennon Award Courage for the Arts (2012), and an Honorary Doctorate from Washington College (2012).

Craig Cogut

Craig Cogut is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity impact investment firm focused on sustainability, health and well-being. Since 1996, Mr. Cogut has assembled a world-class team of investment, operational, and policy professionals who share his vision for realizing investment profits through solutions for global and societal environmental and health challenges. He has led Pegasus to focus on businesses that deliver real world impact and growth by addressing fundamental systemic needs. Mr. Cogut has led some of Pegasus’ most successful global investments including, among many others, Pure Biofuels, Six Senses Hotels, Coffeyville Resources, Cannondale, Pantheryx and Climatec.


Under Mr. Cogut’s leadership, Pegasus has focused on the need for resource transformation in light of resource scarcity and climate impact as well as the growth in global demand for better health and wellness.  This focus on planet and human health has led to Pegasus’ becoming the first U.S. private equity fund manager to be accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). With GCF’s support, Pegasus manages numerous investment vehicles such as the Subnational Climate Fund, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, and the Barbados Blue Green Bank, all focused on the Global South addressing green infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and ocean production, ecotourism, energy transition and efficiency and the circular economy. In addition, Mr. Cogut has led Pegasus to comprehensive partnerships with UNDP, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), among others.


Mr. Cogut is a Graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University.

Deborah Cogut

Deborah Cogut is a lawyer and civic leader involved in organizations focused on education and child advocacy. She currently serves as a member of the Children’s Defense Fund Board of Directors. Chair of the Children’s Defense Fund New York Advisory Council and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Hormone Foundation. She has also served as a volunteer for Project C.U.R.E. on medical aid missions to third world countries.


Previously, Deborah was an attorney with Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, Vice President at RKO Pictures and Associate Counsel at HBO in New York and Los Angeles. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar from Columbia Law School.

Board of Directors
Polyphony Education

Dr. Adi Francis, Chairman

Dr. Adi Francis serves as the Head of the Cardiology Services and Intensive Cardiac Care Unit at the Holy Family Hospital in Nazareth. He is also a member of the Israel Medical Association and Israel Heart Society. Dr. Francis received his M.D. from Hebrew University.

Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, Executive Director


Nini Achinoam 

Nini Achinoam (also known as NOA) is Israel’s leading international singer and songwriter. She is also Israel’s first Good Will Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Bassila Bawardi

Dr. Bassila Bawardi is a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Oranim College, specializing in modern Arabic literature and literary genres in the nineteenth century. He is the author of The Lebanese-Phoenician Nationalist Movement: Literature, Language and Identity, 2016.


Hanna Gaifman

Dr. Hanna Gaifman is Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts in New York. She has a Master’s degree in Slavic Languages and Literature from Stanford University and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Hebrew University.


Hank Havassy

Dr. Hank Havassy is the co-founder and joint executive director of Eshhar. He earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Bar-Ilan University and Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of South California.


Singana Qassem

Dr. Singana Oassem is a well-respected family and geriatric doctor at the Maccabi Health Services in Nazareth, the second largest health maintenance organization in Israel. She studied medicine at Tel Aviv University and received her M.D. from the Medical University in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.



Lynn Holstein

has served in institutions such as the Jewish Museum, the Harvard Design School, and the Israel Museum. She earned an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. In 2000, Lynn made aliyah and directed Stef Wertheimer’s New Marshall Plan for the Middle East.


Aviad Meitar

A co-founder and active Chairman of Music for Dialogue (MFD), which uses music as a tool for fostering communication and mitigating conflicts. Senior executive with Quadrant Management, New York for over 25 years. Received his Bachelor of Law degree from Tel Aviv University and his MBA degree from Boston University Graduate School of Management; 2016 fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.

Our Staff


Lilach Saad

Administrative Director and Project Manager Polyphony Education Foundation

Lilach Saad joined the Polyphony Education Foundation in 2014.  She is a graduate of the Max Stern Academic College of Jezreel Valley. She holds a BA in the Humanities and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Organizational Development. She lives in Ahuzat Barak in the Jezreel Valley.

Alexander Doulov

Director of the Polyphony Conservatory

Cellist Sasha (Alexander) Doulov was born in 1987 in Minsk, Belarus. He began his musical studies at the Republican College of Music under the tutelage of Prof. Vladimir Perlin and later under his grandfather Prof. Nikolay Scherbakov. He is an alumnus of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he completed his Bachelor’s as well as Master’s degrees under Prof. Kirill Rodin.

Alexander has extensive experience as a solo, chamber and orchestral player. He has been a Principal Cello of the Tiroler Festspiele Orchester (2005, 2007), a member of “Rusquartet” (2009 – 2012), a member of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre Orchestra (2008-2013), Assistant Principal of the Israel Chamber Orchestra (2013-2014) and Assistant Principal of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (2014-2016). He is also a permanent Principal cellist of the Galilee Chamber Orchestra and a guest player of Jerusalem Camerata.

As a soloist took part in concerts with the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, Belarusian State Symphonic Orchestra, Belarusian Radio Company Orchestra, Saint-Petersburg Capella Orchestra, Udmurtia Symphonic Orchestra.

As a partner in a chamber ensemble: Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (Moscow Ensemble), Philippe Graffin (violin), Tatiana Grindenko and Opus Post Ensemble, Philippe Muller (cello), Jerome Pernoo (cello), Jerome Ducros (piano), Charles Neidich (clarinet), Vladimir Mendelssohn (viola), Saleem Abboud Ashkar (piano) Olly Mustonen (piano, composer), Sylvain Blassel (harp), Tatiana Samuil (violin), Mona Julsrud (soprano), Sergey Kuznetsov (piano), Fadi Deeb (piano), Alexander Bonduriansky (piano), Yuri Bashmet and “Moscow Soloists”, Stark Trio.

A particular passion of Alexander is musical pedagogy. He taught at the Petah Tikva Municipal Conservatory and joined the Polyphony Conservatory in 2016. Since 2019 he is the Director of the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth.

Michael Altshuler

Head of Wind Instruments Department Polyphony Conservatory

Horn player Michael Altshuler was born in St. Petersburg, USSR. He is a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance high school. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Orchestral Performance from the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and an Artist’s Diploma from the Buchman-Mehta School of Music at the Tel-Aviv University. He has been a member of the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon le Zion since 2015. Michael joined the Polyphony Conservatory in 2016 and has been head of it’s wind instruments department since 2019.

Olfat Haddad

Student Secretariat Polyphony Conservatory

Ollfat Haddad is a resident of Nazareth and joined the Polyphony Conservatory in 2015. She studied Internal Design and Software Engineering. She has a rich experience in logistics, Project Management and has been active as an administrative professional in many different foundations.

Dan Sagiv

Head of Curriculum Development Polyphony Education Foundation

Dr. Dan Sagiv is a leading expert in music education. He holds a BA with honors in Musicology and General History and an MA with honors in Musicology from Tel-Aviv University. Dr. Sagiv earned his Ph.D in music education from the Hebrew University’s School of Education. He is also a sought after lecturer in some of Israel’s leading higher education institutions. In 2020 he was appointed principal of the prestigious Thelma Yalin high school. Dr. Sagiv joined the Polyphony Foundation in 2015 as it’s Head of Curriculum Development.

Nawras Sliman

Alhan Music Appreciation Program Manager

Nawras Sliman was born and raised in Accre. She is a graduate of the Accre Conservatory’s Violin class. Nawras holds a BA in Community Music and Theatre from the University of Haifa and an MBA in Business Administration from the Ono Academic College – Haifa Campus. She is also active as a personal coach in association with the Landmark company.  Nawras is a trained Arab Language teacher. She holds an M.ED from the Arab Academic College for Education. Nawras joined Polyphony Education in 2019 as it’s Alhan Music Appreciation Program Manager.

Doron Alperin

Galilee Chamber Orchestra Coordinator

Violist Doron Alperin was born and raised in Petah Tikva, Israel. He is a graduate of the  prestigious Thelma Yalin High School. After completing a BA in Musical Performance at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at the Tel-Aviv University he went on to study in Europe. He is an alumnus of the Mozarteum University Salzburg, Austria and of the Rostock University of Music and Theater, Germany. Doron has been a member of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra since 1999, of Valery Gergiev’s World Orchestra for Peace since 2009 and of the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon le Zion since 2018. He is a founding member of the Galilee Chamber Orchestra and has been it’s Manager since October 2019.

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