Our Fellows

API Fellows bring uncommon stories about the peoples and cultures of the region to global audiences.

Leon McCarron

Leon McCarron is a writer, filmmaker and adventurer from Northern Ireland. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a recipient of the 2017 Neville Shulman Challenge Award, and an Abraham Path Fellow. He is the first person to walk the full 1000 miles of trail developed by 2016 and published The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles on Foot through the Heart of the Middle East to describe his adventures. As an Abraham Path Fellow, Leon visited the environs of Karbala and Erbil, Iraq, to spend time with residents including Muslims, Kurds and Zoroastrians. In 2019, he partnered with local trekking pioneers to scout 200 kilometers of new trail in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

“Working in this region brings great promise and hope to a place and people that have suffered greatly, and are keen to open to a brighter path for the future,” says Leon. “Our footsteps there follow centuries of other walkers that have sculpted these landscapes.”

API Fellows bring uncommon stories about the peoples and cultures of the region to global audiences.

Stephanie Saldaña

Stephanie Saldaña wrote a feasibility paper on the concept of the Abraham Path while completing her MA at the Harvard Divinity School even before the seminal walk from Urfa to Hebron in 2006. The Texas native now lives outside Jerusalem with her husband and three children. A consummate researcher and storyteller, and educator, Stephanie focuses on preserving intangible cultural heritage that is imperiled by war, oppression, natural disasters, and climate change. She listens to refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, becoming a vehicle for the transmission of folk music, poetry, recipes, embroidery, and memory.

As an Abraham Path Fellow, Stephanie undertook years of cultural heritage research with Iraqi Christians and Yazidis in Erbil and Mosul, Iraq. That research is being compiled into her third book, Anwar’s Clementine: What Refugees Can Teach Us About Hope, Compassion, and Our Common Humanity. Her stories are also published at Mosaic Stories.

Stephanie was a Fulbright Scholar in Damascus and is a Journalist Fellow with the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at UCLA. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times.

Emily Garthwaite

Emily Garthwaite is an award-winning photojournalist, a Forbes 30 Under 30, and Leica Ambassador focusing on humanitarian and environmental issues. She has walked over 500 kilometers through Iraq, documenting positive stories of resilience and women’s empowerment. She co-directed The 40th Day, a documentary covering Arba’een, the world’s largest annual pilgrimage that takes place in central Iraq. Emily has walked and photographed the Arba’een twice. She has also documented the refugee crisis and land mine clearance efforts in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Emily has a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster and is founder of WomenTranslate. She is a Member of the Frontline Freelance Register and Fellow of Abraham Path Initiative. Kintzing Agency represents her. Emily lives in Iraq and the UK.