History of the Foundation

The Nubian Foundation for Preserving a Cultural Heritage was founded by Mona Sherif-Nelson and Michael Nelson in 1998 in Los Angeles, California with the mission to:

  1. Educate the public about Nubia.
  2. Encourage experts to research, explore, document, and study Nubian culture and languages before they vanish.
  3. Establish a public information center collecting Nubian arts, music, articles, books, and research.

In 2018, the co-founders’ daughter Nabra Nelson relaunched the long-dormant Nubian Foundation, with a revitalized mission focusing on the arts, but the same fundamental vision.

About the Co-Founders

Mona Sherif-Nelson

Mona Mohi Eddin Hassan Sherif Ali Ahmed Dawood Khalil Debbabea Kakea, also known as Mona Sherif-Nelson, is the founder of the Nubian Foundation and the daughter and the heir of Nubia’s cultural leader Mohi Eddin Sherif. She spent a lifetime studying and documenting Fadijja Nubian culture. Mrs. Nelson worked as an Arabic Language Instructor in the International Language Institute (ILI) of Cairo, Egypt and in the Royal Army Institute in the UK. Mrs. Nelson is a member of the Garden Society in Los Angeles, the Nubian Club and the Nubian Preservation Society in Egypt, and the Nubian Document Center in London. Mona is a native-born Nubian-Egyptian and is steeped in Nubian culture. She believes it is her responsibility to keep this vibrant, inspiring culture alive and to share it with people in America and everywhere.

Michael Nelson

Michael B. Nelson, the co-founder of the Nubian Foundation, is an internationally-renown and award-winning photojournalist. He served as a photojournalist with United Press International, Agence France Presse  and the European Pressphoto Agency since 1982, during which time he traveled widely in Africa and the Middle East. He is currently based in Los Angeles.  Mr. Nelson lived in Egypt for a total of 14 years, during which he began a journey photo-documenting Nubian life in the post-High Dam settlements in an effort to preserve and promote the Nubian culture, language, and heritage. 

About the Co-Directors

Photo by Lee Matz

Nabra Nelson and Mona-Sherif Nelson lead the Foundation today. And artist and mother-daughter duo, they are available for individual and joint performances and speaking opportunities.