Ameena is a founding member and Content Manager of Islamic Networks Group (ING). She co-designs ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. She currently team teaches classes on Islam and Women in the Middle East at City College of San Francisco. Ameena received her Masters in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in History from the University of Illinois.
I was so inspired by CNN’s recent 25 Influential American Muslims project that I thought I would highlight my own list of influential Muslim leaders. With the exception of Ameena Jandali, who is our content manager and founding member at our home office, they’re all directors of affiliated speakers bureaus that mirror in their regions the work done locally by Islamic Networks Group (ING) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I work daily with these remarkable individuals, each of whom is making a huge impact in his or her local area by fostering understanding and inclusion, promoting religious freedom and pluralism, and countering Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry through education and interfaith engagement. These are just a few of the unsung heroes who are the faces and voices of Islam and Muslims in their cities and towns. Click on their names or images below to learn more about them.
To all these amazing community organizers and activists who have dedicated themselves to promoting understanding and diversity in their communities, we are grateful for your sacrifice, hard work, and contributions!
Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Ameena Jandali, Founding Member, Islamic Networks Group
Tehseen Lazzouni, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of San Diego
Tehseen Lazzouni is the Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of San Diego (ISB), which she founded in September 2000. She has spoken in many different venues, including schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and interfaith services. She has also given interviews to many radio, television, and print media outlets. She holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and a Bachelors degree in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego, where she works as a Financial Analyst.
Asif Haq, Director SALAM Speakers Bureau
Asif Haq is the Director of the SALAM Speakers Bureau, which he established in 2015. Asif does outreach, organizes interfaith events, presents at schools and colleges, and leads tours at SALAM mosque. He served on the planning committee for California VISION 2020 and for three years on the Board of Trustees of SALAM. A Transportation Engineer by profession, he worked in the California Department of Transportation for 32 years. He is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Placer County.
Azra Hussain, President Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona
Azra Hussain is the co-founder and President of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona (ISBA). Azra has organized many programs such as Faith Tours, Movie & Discussion Night, Multifaith Food Drive, and Springtime Tea Party. Azra serves on the Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board, the Banner Health Professional Advisory Committee for Clinical Pastoral Education, and steering committees for the Interfaith Network of Scottsdale and the Tri-Faith Salaam Chai Paradise. She has been recognized with the “Veora E. Johnson Spirit of Unity Award” from the East Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and the “FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award” from the Phoenix division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Meraj Abdul-Qadir, Co-Director Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau
Meraj Abdul-Qadir is the Co-Director of the Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau (CMSB). Meraj also serves on the Steering Committee of Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (MILA) and as Executive Director of the Ansar Pantry, which provides food and other community services. Meraj served for over five years with a team providing pro bono legal services for indigent people in Denver. She also served with legal professionals to provide services for victims of violence.
Nabeeh Hasan, Co-Director Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau
Nabeeh Hasan is the Co-Director of the Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau (CMSB). Nabeeh is active in speaking at and facilitating interfaith efforts, youth development, and training speakers, and has given hundreds of presentations to primary schools, universities, churches, hospitals, and professional societies. By profession, Nabeeh is a biomedical researcher at National Jewish Health, specializing in the genomics of infectious lung diseases.
Zulfat Suara, Chairperson American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee
Zulfat Suara is the Chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee (AMAC). Zulfat is a Certified Public Accountant and Assistant Controller at Meharry Medical College. She is a past state president of the Business and Professional Women of Tennessee, treasurer of the National Women Political Caucus, board member the PENCIL Foundation and has served on the Metro Action Commission. Among her awards are the Jackson Sun’s 20 Most Influential Women in West Tennessee and the Tennessee Women Hall of Fame in 2015.
Zaynab Ansari, Co-Director American Muslim Advisory Council Speakers Bureau
Zaynab Ansari is the Co-Director of the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee (AMAC). She studied language and religion in the Middle East, graduating from Abu Nour Institute in Damascus, Syria. She contributes to various educational portals, including SeekersHub, Lamppost Productions, and Rabata and serves as an instructor and board member at Tayseer Seminary in Knoxville. Zaynab is one of the organizers of the Knoxville Women’s Peace Initiative, which provides opportunities for women of different faith traditions to explore topics related to peace and social justice.
Deborah Abu-Alrub, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau, Alabama
Dr. Deborah S. Abu-Alrub is the Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Alabama (ISBA) and was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. Deborah works with civic organizations, city leadership, churches, universities, and schools to help bring her community together through dialogue and understanding. She is a board member of the Interfaith Mission Service (IMS) in Huntsville where she has participated for fifteen years in interfaith dialogues and activities. She is a Certified Nurse Practitioner and has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice with a focus on depression in cancer patients.
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Email: [email protected]
Sara Safder, Director Muslim Women’s Organization of Orlando, Florida
Sara Safder is Director of the Muslim Women’s Organization of Orlando. She attended college at Vanderbilt University and medical school in West Virginia. Since completing a Neuroradiology fellowship in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Sara has been working as a physician/neuroradiologist in the Central Florida area for over six years. Sara grew up in a very rural area of southern West Virginia and feels very strongly about building interracial relationships to help educate people and reduce stereotypes and racism.
Syed Ali, Co-Director Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth
Syed Ali is the current director and founding member of the Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth (ISB-DFW). Syed is a Network Engineer by profession and provides network design and subject matter expertise on wide ranging wireless technologies. Syed is also an advocate for peace, pluralism, and social justice. He is passionate about community organization and has co-founded and served on the boards of several non-profit organizations to make a difference through positive actions and contributions to society at large.
Hazem Yassin, Co-Director Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth
Hazem Yassin is Co-Director of the Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth (ISB-DFW), which he has been involved with since its inception. He is a Senior Software Engineer by profession and works for Southwest Airlines. Hazem has an MBA and a Master’s in Software Engineering from UTA. He is a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys and has many hobbies including racket-ball, gardening, scuba diving, and mountain biking.
Kiran Faridi, Founder and Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of West Virginia
Kiran Faridi is the founder and Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of West Virginia. She is an Electrical Engineer by profession. She has been involved in numerous civic and community causes, including serving on the board of the Kanawha Valley Interfaith Council (KVIC), whose purpose is to provide closer understanding of different religions through interfaith gatherings and educational programs.
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Email: [email protected]
Maisha Godare, Co-Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of Nebraska
Maisha is the Co-Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Nebraska. A native of St. Louis, MO and graduate of Southern Illinois University, Maisha she is a semi-retired local business owner. She co-authored two books for Muslim children which were used by the Peace Corps and are also used as text books in Muslim schools in the U.S. and beyond. She is the president of the Heartland Muslim Women’s Network. As an alternative to legal action, the group advocates on behalf of local Muslim women who feel they have been discriminated against. It is her hope that through education, communication and cooperation people of different races, cultures, religions and beliefs will learn to dance to their own music without stepping on each other’s toes.
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Email: [email protected]
Sharif Liwaru, Co-Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of Nebraska
In addition to being the Co-Director of the Speakers Bureau of Nebraska, Sharif Liwaru also serves as President of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, where he has been an active participant for the last 25 years. He is the Director of Equity and Diversity for the Omaha Public Schools where he provides equity, diversity, cultural, and Equal Employment Opportunity training for District staff. He has also served as Director of Teen and Family Programs for YMCAs of Omaha and an Assistant Family Teacher at Boystown.
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Email: [email protected]
Shakila T. Ahmad, President Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
Shakila Ahmad is president of the board of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC). Shakila has been a member of ICGC’s board of trustees since 1995. Through the Center’s Tours and Talks program she educates law enforcement, businesses, nonprofits, educators, and community leaders about Islam and Muslims. She has served as board chair of BRIDGES for a Just Community and serves on the executive board of directors of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Ohio Humanities Council, YWCA Cincinnati, and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Shabana Shakir-Ahmad, Director, Tours and Talks Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
Shabana has volunteered as the Tours and Talks Director at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC). Shabana founded Cincinnati Muslim Women in 2008 with the goal of addressing public lack of understanding about Muslims. She holds an MBA degree from Xavier University.
Nuha Alfahham, Co-Director Islamic Networks Group Midwest
Nuha Alfahham is the Co-Director of Islamic Networks Group Midwest. She is an engineer by profession and teaches environmental classes at multiple colleges and institutions. Nuha volunteers in humanitarian work, public schools, interfaith, environmental work, and engineering organizations. She serves on the Global Education Team of the International Academy of Bloomfield Hills. Nuha was recognized as a “Diversity Champion” by the Race Relations & Diversity Taskforce and a “Global Champion” at Bloomfield Hills Public Schools.
Dr. Fadia Abaza, Co-Director Islamic Networks Group Midwest
Dr Fadia Abaza is the President and Co-Founder of ING MidWest. Dr. Abaza is a retired pediatrician who obtained her medical degree from Damascus Medical University. She received diplomas in Childhood Diseases from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland and from the University of Dublin. She is also certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She continues to be very active with community service work, including being the President of the Toledo Chapter of the Islamic Medical Association of North America and a member of the Board of Education at Toledo Islamic Academy.
Dr. Soraya Orady, Director Islamic Education and Resources Network
Dr. Soraya Orady is the Director of the Islamic Education & Resources Network (iLearn). Soraya has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has held several faculty, research, and consulting positions and since 1988, has managed her own international business. Dr. Orady has given numerous presentations about Islam and Muslims to teachers, social workers, hospital staff, university and public school students, church members, senior citizens, and members of community centers.
Maysa Albarcha, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau, St. Louis
Maysa Albarcha is the director of the Missouri Islamic Speakers Bureau, St. Louis. Maysa has delivered over 1,000 presentations about Islam and Muslims to schools, universities, churches, temples, organizations, corporations and many more over the last 15 year through the bureau. As a profession and hobby she does interior design. She is also a board member and maintenance chair of her local mosque in St. Louis.
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Email: [email protected]
Afshan Haque, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of New York
Dr. Afshan Haque is the founder and Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of New York. She joined the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum in 2006 as a speaker on interfaith panels. She is a dentist with her own practice in West Harlem. Dr. Haque has volunteered in developing countries around the world providing dental care to underserved populations and working with global NGOs such as Medico, CDRS, and SOS Children’s villages.
Zehra Wamiq, Director Delaware Valley Speakers Bureau
Zehra Wamiq is a founding member and Director of the Delaware Valley Speakers Bureau. She serves on the school board of Wilmington Montessori School in Delaware and on the board of Muslims Serve, a hunger relief organization based in Philadelphia. Zehra has a bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. She later studied Interior Design at the Delaware College of Arts and Design.
Seham Abdala, Director New Jersey ING
Seham Abdala is the Director of the New Jersey Islamic Networks Group. Seham is an engineer by profession and worked at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, where she helped innovate the first fully-automated blood bank instrument in the world. She received several Johnson & Johnson R&D awards for her excellent performance and teamwork. She retired early to focus on the bureau where she serves as a volunteer officer and speaker.
Samia Hussein, President Muslim Coalition of Connecticut
Samia Hussein is the President of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut. Samia earned her Masters in Public Health from the University of Connecticut and her Bachelors in Biology from Central CT State University. She currently works at Hartford Hospital as a health educator and teaches part-time at Madina Academy. Samia is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician and CPR Instructor. Her passion is to eliminate health disparities in the community and provide cultural competency in the workforce.
Location: Bloomfield, Connecticut
Mike Karpman, Vice President Muslim Coalition of Connecticut
Mike Karpman is the Vice President of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut. Mike is an energy engineer and law student at the University Of Connecticut School of Law. Born in Russia, he moved to the United States with his family at the age of three and has lived in Connecticut for nearly 20 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family, enjoying the great outdoors, and reading good books.
Farah Jamil, Director ING Speakers Bureau of Edmonton, Canada
Farah Jamil established the first Canadian Speakers Bureau to educate for cultural literacy and mutual respect. She has volunteered for several interfaith organizations, including A Common Word Alberta – Christian Muslim Interfaith Dialogue, the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN), and the Edmonton Interfaith Center. Farah is a Health Executive by profession and has worked in several related sectors as well as volunteered for American Muslim Health Professionals.
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Email: [email protected]