Dr. Tojan Rahhal was born and raised in North Carolina. She earned a Biomedical Engineering degree with a focus on tissue engineering and biotechnology from NC State University. Then went on to pursue a PhD in Pharmaco-engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Ch), working in the lab of Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone. Her research focused on nanotechnology and translational medicine. Outside of her research efforts, Dr. Rahhal demonstrated commitment to service and leadership in the academic community, constantly promoting awareness of issues regarding equality in science. Dr. Rahhal also completed her Master of Law in Dispute Resolution recently where she will be qualified to serve as an arbitrator, mediator, and work on conflict resolution with clients as well.
In addition to her work at Alliance, Dr. Rahhal was appointed President & CEO of Engineering World Health in August 2020.
Tojan brings an innovative perspective to Engineering World Health with her unique background and experiences, as well as her passion for creating a more inclusive world. In August 2021, she was named one of “10 to Watch,” nonprofit CEOs by United Way of the Greater Triangle for her proven impact and unique potential to shape the future of the community.
As the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering, Tojan actively worked to create a culture of inclusive excellence, with efforts focused on recruitment and retention of faculty and students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. She was awarded the 2020 MU Study Abroad Teaching Excellence award for her unique curriculum combining diversity and inclusion in engineering. She was also recognized as a Women of Color History Maker in Diversity for her leadership in efforts to "catalyze change to help [engineering] students from underrepresented populations overcome historic barriers". Furthermore, Dr. Rahhal was chosen for the Shirley Chisholm Outspoken Advocate Award, the Outstanding Staff award by the College and again by the Engineering Student Council this past year.
Tojan also served as an adjunct assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Missouri, where she developed several award-winning programs and curriculums to address diversity and inclusion in STEM.
Earlier in her career, Tojan developed the NCSU IMSD Ambassadors program which provided fifth graders the opportunity to meet a scientist over lunch. She also served as co-chair and then chair of UNC’s Women in Science group and was also a part of developing Science in the Stacks, an outreach program for children that enables hands-on science related activities at the local library.
Tojan was inducted into Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; the Order of the Golden Fleece, UNC’s highest and oldest honor society; and the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding service provided to the University and community, as well as chosen as the most outstanding graduate student in Pharmaceutical Sciences due to her commitment to higher education and service.
Amongst several programs, Tojan developed a Cross-Cultural Leadership Development Curriculum to advance leadership skills as they relate to the diversity and understanding of cultural differences in our global workforce as a student at UNC- Chapel Hill. This workshop has been performed by Tojan in front of numerous audiences at UNC, including the Eshelman School of Pharmacy students and faculty, and has now become part of the graduate program orientation and TA training sessions at UNC and over 10 other programs across the USA.
We are pleased to welcome Layla Kharbat to the Alliance team for Summer 2020.
Layla is a rising junior at NC State University (GO PACK!) studying Psychology and Spanish. She has a passion for understanding the many complexities that make up our mind and how it functions. Another passion for Layla is learning languages; she is fluent in English, Arabic, Spanish and is starting Japanese classes this fall (WOW!). Fighting against discrimination and advocating for social justice has always been second nature to her, so we are thrilled to have Layla join our team. Her hobbies include drawing, creating new makeup and fashion looks, and listening to some good music.
Layla will work with us on continuing social justice advocacy, content creation, marketing and web design, as well as joining some of our workshop presentations!