Robert O. Smith
Academic Director, Jerusalem Global Gateway
Robert O. Smith was appointed academic director of the Jerusalem Global Gateway in October of 2014. He holds concurrent faculty appointments in the Keough School of Global Affairs and in the Department of Theology.
Before coming to Notre Dame, Smith served for eight years in the Global Mission Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), overseeing church engagement in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Prior to being called to this national role, Smith had served as Lutheran Campus Pastor for the University of Chicago.
Smith is author of More Desired than Our Owne Salvation: The Roots of Christian Zionism (Oxford, 2013) and editor, with Swedish scholar Göran Gunner, of Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison (Fortress, 2014). For six years, Smith and Gunner co-led the Seminar on Christian Zionism within the American Academy of Religion.
A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Smith holds an M.A. in Islamic studies and master's of divinity from Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.). He completed a Ph.D. in religion, politics and society through Baylor University’s Institute of Church-State Studies.
Program Director, Jerusalem Global Gateway
Karis Ailabouni joined the Jerusalem Global Gateway as Program Director in January 2016. Ailabouni's primary role is to coordinate the undergraduate study abroad program and ensure student safety and well-being during their time in Israel/Palestine. Additionally, she supports student recruitment and organizes special events and visits related to the JGG. Ailabouni believes that study abroad is an essential aspect of undergraduate education, and is committed to implementing a transformative program that engages students deeply with the complexity of life in Jerusalem.
Ailabouni is a Palestinian American who was born and raised in Chicago. She earned a bachelor of arts in music, psychology, and French from Valparaiso University. Her passion for international travel and cross-cultural issues led her to live and work in different corners of the world, including France, Madagascar, and Israel/Palestine.