ACS Board of Trustees Biographies
Leslie Bellas, Chairperson
Leslie Bellas, with her husband and two children, has lived in Abu Dhabi for eight years. She has a son who graduated from ACS in 2017 and a daughter in grade 12.
Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College, Columbia University. She subsequently received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Leslie has more than 20 years of legal experience. During her career in Washington, DC, she worked closely with private industry, the U.S. federal government, and non-profit organizations. Upon arriving at ACS, Leslie jumped right into the community by serving as parent volunteer in her daughter’s classroom, helping with PTA activities, and serving as a MS liaison. Leslie twice co-chaired the New Family Dinner and she continues to speak at the HS Career Day and volunteer at ACS events. Leslie currently works as a consultant to RTI International, providing policy and regulatory advice to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
Leslie is serving her fourth year as an Elected Trustee and is the Board Chair. She chairs the Governance Committee and the Government Relations Task Force, and serves as a member of the policy committee. Leslie was first appointed to the ACS Board as a selected Trustee in 2011 and served as its Secretary. Leslie’s legal experience and prior Board service will help the School continue to implement its strategic vision and navigate legal and regulatory requirements.
Matt Ayoub, Vice Chair
Matt Ayoub grew up in Abu Dhabi, arriving in 1979 and graduating from ACS in 1994 as part of our second graduating class. He returned to Abu Dhabi in 2010 and currently has three children at ACS in 1st, 7th and 8th grade, providing the Board with a unique perspective as an ACS Alumnus, parent, and long-time community member.
Matt is employed by Mubadala, a government owned investment and development company that supports the growth of a dynamic and diversified UAE economy. Matt currently serves as a member of the organization’s Human Capital leadership team with a specific focus on the intersection of people and business, as well as company culture and longer-term organization development. Prior to joining Mubadala Matt worked in a range of roles in the life sciences and semiconductor industries, spending time in Europe, Asia, and North America, including San Diego which the family considers home when not in Abu Dhabi.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University and an MBA from the University of San Diego, where he served as the President of the Graduate Business Students Association. When not working, Matt enjoys taking his family to remote parts of the world to explore unique cultures and ecosystems.
Christine Belanger, Secretary
Christine Belanger, with her husband and son, has lived in Abu Dhabi for twelve years. Her son Jeffrey is currently at ACS in KG2.
Christine holds a BA in Psychology from Concordia University, a BSc in Psychoeducation (Educational Psychologist) from Montreal University and a Certificate in Human Resources Management from HEC Business School.
Christine has 18 years of Human Resources experience within the Governmental, Banking, Engineering and Private Sectors.
Christine is currently working for Mubadala Investment Company as their Senior Vice President, Performance Development within the Human Capital and Emiratization Department, providing the Organization with a structured framework for the Goals Setting, Appraisal and Development cycle as well as identifying strategic KPIs and delivering projects aligned with the Organizational’ Scorecard and Strategy. Outside of work, Christine shares her knowledge and expertise through different HR conferences and events speaking engagements, provides career coaching and mentors university graduates as they are ready to start their professional journey.
This is Christine first year as an Elected Trustee and is the Board Secretary.
Philippe El Bacha, Treasurer
Philippe and his wife live in Abu Dhabi since 2006. He is father of two daughters in ACS; his eldest is Nour in middle school and Nosha in elementary. He went to school in Abu Dhabi for a good portion of his life and then moved to Canada to continue his studies and long term career. As a lot of other people that grew up in the UAE, he found himself back to start a new career. He graduated from Concordia University with a BA of Commerce Major in Accountancy and holds a CPA designation . He is a Group Chief Financial Officer for First Emirates Group For Technology and Trading; a holding company for a group of companies in different industries. Philippe recently joined the board as a selected trustee serving as the Treasurer.
Salem Al Noaimi, Member
Salem Al Noaimi is Chairman of SEHA -- the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company -- an independent public joint stock company that owns and operates all public hospitals and clinics across the emirate. He is also a board member of newly formed Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADDHC), New York-listed AerCapHoldings NV, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company, and Nasdaq-listed oil and gas services firm National Energy Services Reunited Corp. (NESR).
Al Noaimi has extensive leadership experience in global investment and finance and has held various executive positions at high profile entities such as Waha Capital, Dubai Islamic Bank, the UAE Central Bank, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
He is a UAE National from Abu Dhabi and now serving his fifth year on the Board. He and his wife have three children in grades 8, 6 and 3. He holds a degree in Finance and International Business from Northeastern University in Boston, USA.
Omar Asfour, Member
Omar Asfour is an SVP of Project Management at ALDAR Properties. Prior to joining Aldar in 2008, Omar worked at Turner Construction in Boston. Through his career he has worked on construction projects in Healthcare, Education, Residential Communities and Radio TV stations. Omar is a graduate of Tufts University’s School of Engineering. He attended ACS Tunisia and ACS Athens but graduated from ACS Abu Dhabi.
He has 3 children at ACS, Naia, Maysa, and Jude.
Damon Hewlin, Member
Damon Hewlin has lived in Abu Dhabi since 2006. Damon earned his BA of Architecture and BA of Science in Environmental Design degrees from Ball State University College
of Architecture in Indiana, USA.
Damon is a Principal and Owner of Meticulous Design + Architecture with offices based in Indiana, USA and here in Abu Dhabi, UAE. With over 20 years of architecture experience, he has had the privilege to work on several high-profile projects such as the Founders Memorial and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. Damon and his architecture practice are passionate about doing work that is meaningful, purposeful, and impactful.
Damon has served on the ACS board since 2017 and has volunteered and participated in numerous ACS activities to support the community spirit of the school. His desire is to positively impact the lives of people wherever and whenever he can. Damon joined the ACS community when his daughters, DeAnna and Gabi, first attended ACS.
Eric Hilgendorf, Member
Eric Hilgendorf, with his wife and 3 children has lived in AD since 2010. His oldest son graduated from ACS in 2014 and is attending university in US, he has a daughter who graduated in 2016 and a son in 9th grade.
Eric is Associate Dean of Community and Education Engagement at NYUAD. He liaise with external community at large via original programming designed to enhance NYUAD exposure to and interaction with K-12, corporations and influencers.
Eric earned his BA from University of Tennessee, his MiP & PhD from Vanderbilt.
Eric is a member of Governance and Institutional Advancement.
Eric is serving his third term as an elected Trustee on the Board after serving as Vice-Chairperson for one year in a previous term. Eric is a member of Governance and Institutional Advancement.
Jodi Lefort, Member
Jodi and her family joined ACS in August 2016 but have lived and worked in the region since 2000. She has a daughter enrolled in ACS, Pilar in fifth grade, and three older children that have graduated from high school.
Jodi has twenty-five years’ experience as an educator. Before arriving in Abu Dhabi, she was Assistant Director of the Takatuf Scholars Programme, a scholarship program initiated by Oman Oil Company. Prior to this, most of Jodi’s career as an educator has been at the tertiary level working with academic writing and student support programs. In 2007, Jodi joined other like-minded colleagues in the region to form the Middle East North Africa Writing Centers Alliance (MENAWCA). Jodi served as the organization’s inaugural president and MENAWCA continues to work toward its goal of raising the profile of writing and academic writing support throughout the region. Jodi served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 90s, working as a teacher trainer at Luhansk Pedagogical Institute in Ukraine. Jodi has an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction.
At ACS, Jodi has served as PTA Vice President and Secretary and has co-chaired and volunteered in various community events.
Adib Mattar, Member
Adib Mattar is the Head of Private Equity for Mubadala Capital. Prior to joining Mubadala in 2008, Adib was an investment banker at Credit Suisse in New York. Adib graduated cum laude from the College of William & Mary in Virginia with a BA in International Relations and he received an MBA and Masters of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in Washington DC. He is an ACS Abu Dhabi Alumni Class of 1995. Adib is also an Aspen Institute Fellow.
He has 3 children at ACS, Raya, Ramizi, and Aya
Muhannad Qubbaj, Member
Muhannad is a Senior Managing Director, Private Equity, of Gulf Capital, one of the leading alternative Asset manager in the Middle East. Mr. Qubbaj leads deal sourcing & origination for the Funds, deal screening and global fundraising activities, as well as the oversight and management of all investor relations. Before joining Gulf Capital, Mr. Qubbaj was a Senior Principal at Investcorp International, where he was responsible for marketing and fundraising in the GCC and the UK, specializing in private equity, as well as a UK-based Senior Investment Advisor at Morgan Stanley and Investment Advisor at the Abdul Latif Jameel Group, one of the largest family investment offices in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Qubbaj holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with concentrations in creative writing and economics and has been an educational counselor for the university for over two decades. He is also an Endeavour mentor and sits on several related advisory boards. Mr. Qubbaj is a board member for the Middle Eastern chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum.
His daughter recently graduated from ACS in 2018 and has a son in 11th grade and daughter in KG2.
Scott C. Bolz, US Embassy Representative
Scott Bolz arrived at Embassy Abu Dhabi in September 2016, having previously served as press attaché and spokesperson for the U.S. Mission in Iraq. Prior to that, he served in Kuwait as deputy economic officer from 2012-2014, and as cultural attaché from 2011-2012. A public diplomacy officer by cone, he also worked in Indonesia as an assistant cultural attaché. His other overseas postings include two tours in Iraq as a political officer, and a consular tour in Kuwait. Scott also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen from 1992-1994.
Scott received an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a second M.A. in international education from George Washington University, with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.
Scott and his wife, Catherine Sweet, have a twelve-year old daughter, Olivia, who is a seventh grader at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi.