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Convention SpeakersRowaida Abdelaziz is a journalist at Huffpost, where she focuses on reporting on civil rights and social justices issues within the Muslim community. Rowaida spearheads the coverage of Islamophobia and the rising anti-Muslim sentiment across the U.S at Huffpost. Her goal is to provide guidance for diverse coverage of the Muslim community in mainstream media as a hijab-wearing woman in the newsroom. In 2016, Rowaida was a lead reporter for the Islamophobia Tracker, a project that documented the anti-Muslim rhetoric that spiked across the U.S. She also launched HuffPost’s Tomorrow Inshallah, a community Facebook page that targets and amplifies Muslim voices and perspectives. Fluent in Arabic, Rowaida also has written numerous stories on the Middle East and covered the refugee crises in Syria, Yemen and other parts of the Arab world. Before joining HuffPost, Abdelaziz was at the Committee to Protect Journalists and Al Jazeera Arabic at the United Nations.
Sameera Ahmed, is the Director of The Family and Youth Institute.She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a Master’s in Biology from Bowling Green State University, and Bachelor’s from the University of Michigan. She also serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University, an Associate Editor for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health, and has a private clinical practice in Canton, MI. Her areas of interest include: risk behaviors and protective factors of Muslim adolescents and young adults; promoting culturally and religiously meaningful psychotherapy; and skills based parenting and marital interventions to strengthen families. Dr. Ahmed has published numerous journal articles, book chapters, and is the Co-editor of the book, “Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions.” She speaks nationally and has been invited as a subject matter expert, to events organized by the White House, Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), and Department of Education (DOE). Dr. Ahmed has also been a community organizer at both the grassroots and national levels for more than 25 years, primarily focusing her energies around American Muslim youth development, marriage preparation, and parenting. She currently serves on the Muslim American Society (MAS) National Board of Trustees.
Zaynab Ansari spent a decade studying Farsi, Arabic, and traditional Islam, sitting with male and female scholars in seminaries in the Middle East, including traditional scholars in Damascus in the 1990s. Upon her return to the United States, she earned degrees in history and Middle Eastern Studies from Georgia State University. Since 2014, Zaynab Ansari has served as a scholar-in-residence for Tayseer Foundation, offering enrichment courses and halaqahs to women and youth in the Muslim Community of Knoxville, and working on interfaith dialogue. She is currently an instructor at Tayseer Seminary, which features a one-year intensive in Islamic Studies, drawing students from Tennessee and all regions of the United States. Ustadha Zaynab has previously written and taught for SunniPath. She has been a freelance writer for Azizah Magazine, a certified speaker with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, and a contributor to online Islamic educational portals such as SeekersHub. She has also served as the coordinator of oral histories for the After Malcolm Project, a digital archive of African-American Muslim history. She is part of the teaching faculty of the Ribaat Program, an online Islamic Studies curriculum led by Anse Tamara Gray, a leading woman scholar of traditional Islam. She is also a board member of Tayseer Seminary.
Abdalla Idris Ali served as imam and director, and founded the first full-time Islamic school in Toronto, Canada. He served as the principal of ISNA Islamic Community School for 17 years. He also served on ISNA’s Executive Council, Majlis Ash-Shura, Youth and Education Committee and as president of ISNA for two terms. He is the chair of the Islamic Media Foundation, a member of NAIT Board, a founding member of CISNA, and chair of ISNA Education Forum. Sheikh Abdalla was appointed director for CIENA in Kansas City, Missouri. He served on the board of trustees of IBERR, which serves minority communities. He is currently working as the executive director of ISNA Canada.
Imam Shamsi Ali is a prominent moderate Muslim Scholar known for promoting interfaith dialogues among Abrahamic Religions in United States and the Chairman of the Al-Hikmah Mosque and the Director of Jamaica Muslim Center in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. Within the Indonesian Muslim community in North America, he serves as an Advisory Board to major national Muslim organizations such as IMSA (Indonesian Muslim Society in America) and ICMI (Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Society in America). He is also the president of Nusantara Foundation, a community based operating and non-profit organization in New York that is established, publicly supported, operated by, and for the benefit of Indonesian culture
Azhar Azeez, ISNA President, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the prestigious Osmania University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). He currently serves as the Senior National Director of Islamic Relief USA. He is a member of ISNA Executive Council since 2002, served as the Vice President of ISNA twice from 2010-2014. He was elected as the President of ISNA in 2014 and was re elected to his second term in 2016.
Hatem Bazian is Provost, co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the 1st Accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a teaching professor in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian between 2002-2007, also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses on Islamic Law and Society, Islam in America: Communities and Institutions, De-Constructing Islamophobia and Othering of Islam, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to Berkeley, Prof. Bazian served as a visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California 2001-2007 and adviser to the Religion, Politics and Globalization Center at UC Berkeley. In Spring 2009, Prof. Bazian founded at Berkeley the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender, a research unit dedicated to the systematic study of Othering Islam and Muslims. Prof. Bazian in Spring 2012 launched the Islamophobia Studies Journal, which is published bi-annually through a collaborative effort between the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project of the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California at Berkeley, the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative for the School of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University; the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Re-Orient Journal, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, Leeds University, UK and Zaytuna College. Dr. Bazian has authored 4 books, countless chapters in edited volumes and hundreds of articles. In addition to academic work, Dr, Bazian is a weekly columnist for the Turkish Daily Sabah Newspaper and Turkey Agenda online magazine. Dr. Bazian is founder and national Chair of American Muslims for Palestine, board member of the Islamic Scholarship Fund, Muslim Legal Fund of America, President of Dollar for Deen Charity, and Chair of Northern California Islamic Council.
Zahra Billoo, Ph.D. is the executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area. In her work at CAIR, she frequently provides trainings at mosques and universities as part of CAIR’s efforts to empower the community, while building bridges with allies on civil rights issues. Zahra’s efforts have been highlighted in local and national media outlets including KTVU, MSNBC, the Christian Science Monitor, the San Jose Mercury News and NPR. She is a 2014 recipient of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter’s Unsung Hero Award and a 2013 recipient of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s Trailblazer Award. Zahra graduated Cum Laude from CSU Long Beach with degrees in Human Resources Management and Political Science. She earned her JD from UC Hastings College of Law, and is licensed to practice law in California.
Yaser Birjas is currently the Head of the Islamic Law and Theory Department at the Al-Maghrib Institute and the Imam at Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, Texas. Shaykh Yaser started his career in Electronic Engineering in the UAE, than in Madinah where he graduated as class Valedictorian with the highest honors from The Islamic University of Madinah’s College of Shariah (Fiqh and Usool) in 1996. In 1997, he went to work as a relief program aide to rebuild a war-torn Bosnia. In 2000, he immigrated to the U.S. where he served as an Imam at Islamic Center in El Paso, Texas and a director of English programs in Da’wah and outreach for the Orland Park Prayer Center in Illinois. He went on to earn his masters in Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix in 2013. His specialty in the subject of marriage and relations made him a highly sought marriage counselor for the Muslim community.
John Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and of The Bridge Initiative: Protecting Pluralism – Ending Islamophobia at Georgetown University. Past President of the American Academy of Religion and Middle East Studies Association of North America, Esposito has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and the E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation, a Senior Scientist for The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments, corporations, universities, and media worldwide.
Dalia Fahmy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University where she teaches courses on U.S. foreign policy, military and defense policy, international relations, causes of war, politics of the Middle East, and Islam and democracy. Dr. Fahmy is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington DC and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights & UNESCO Chair at Rutgers University.
Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through individual empowerment, spiritual upbringing of women by women, and the revival of the female voice in scholarship. She lived in Syria for twenty years, studying sacred knowledge and traveling along the road of tarbiya (spiritual upbringing). Anse Tamara studied a full curriculum of Islamic sacred texts and subjects including: Shāfiʿī jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (ʿaqīda), Quranic sciences (tafsīr and tajwīd), Arabic grammar (naḥū), geography of the Muslim world, Islamic civilization and culture, Islamic history and classical methods of spiritual growth (tazkiya).
Mehdi Hasan is the award-winning presenter of ‘UpFront’ and ‘Head to Head’ on Al Jazeera English, born and brought up in the UK but now based in Washington D.C. He is the former political director of The Huffington Post UK, a regular contributor to the New York Times and the Guardian and the author of two books. Mehdi has been included in the annual list of the 500 ‘most influential’ Muslims in the world and his Oxford Union speech on Islam and peace went viral in 2013, amassing several million views online. He has interviewed, among others, Edward Snowden, Ehud Olmert, Imran Khan and General Michael Flynn.
Altaf Husain is a native of Cleveland, Ohio; and a double alumnus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, having earned his BSc in biomedical engineering and his MS in social work. He received his PhD in social work from Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Husain’s research interests include the mental health and integration of immigrant and refugee families, and especially Muslim adolescents, in the United States. He serves as the vice president of ISNA, member of the board of directors of MSA National, and an advisory board member of the Peaceful Families Project- dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence. His past service to the community includes serving as a two-term national president of the MSA and an executive committee member of the Muslim Alliance in North America. Dr. Husain and his family reside in Northern Virginia.
Ameena Jandali is a founding member and Content Manager for Islamic Networks Group (ING) where she co-designs and develops ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Through ING, Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. Ameena has also appeared on many news outlets speaking on issues relating to American Muslims. She currently teaches classes on Islam and Women in the Middle East at City College of San Francisco. Ameena received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in History from the University of Illinois.
Abdul Nasir Jangda, born in Dallas, began his studies in Karachi at age 10 to memorize the Qur’an, and again after high school for the 7 year Alim course at Jamia Binoria, while concurrently completing a bachelor’s degree; and he has a master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic studies. He is a founding member and chairman of Mansfield Islamic Center, an instructor at Bayyinah Institute, and the founder and director of Qalam Institute. Through his weekly seerah podcasts, annual intensive programs on an array of subjects, and the full-time seminary, Shaykh Abdul Nasir teaches and personally mentors students, professionals, and families in an environment catered for them. His newest project is QalamNow. Qalam’s effort is to provide practical Islamic knowledge from the scholars you trust at your fingertips.
Hussain Kamani was born to a Hindu revert-to-Islam and Muslim father in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. With the blessings and du’a (supplications) of his parents, Mufti Hussain Kamani underwent a journey of a lifetime in pursuit of sacred Islamic knowledge. He began his pursuit of the Islamic sciences at the young age of six to memorize the entire Quran at the acclaimed Darul Uloom Madania in Buffalo, New York. By the blessings of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, he was able to complete this momentous task in 1999. Having the growing thirst for knowledge, Mufti Kamani then traveled to the United Kingdom to attain more advanced formal Islamic authorizations in the field of Islamic theology. He studied at Darul Uloom Bury, the renowned seminary of the great revivalist and scholar of Hadith, Shaykh-ul-Hadith Zakariyya Kandhlawi (Rahmatullahi Alayh). Mufti Kamani completed the traditional six-year curriculum covering the Arabic language, Arabic morphology, Islamic jurisprudence, Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an, Hadith (Prophetic Sciences), philosophy, and Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) under the guidance of some of the pioneer scholars in England, including Shaykh Yusuf Motala, Shaykh Hashim, Shaykh Bilal and Shaykh Abdur Raheem bin Dawood amongst others. Upon graduation he was then was specially selected to enter a post-graduate level course in Islamic Law and Legal Verdicts (Fatwa). He completed this course in two years. Alongside his religious studies, Mufti Kamani was blessed with having the opportunity to study the secular and academic sciences. He completed his graduate degree in Business Management from the University of Coventry in England.
Jamillah Karim is author of Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam (with Dawn-Marie Gibson) and American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender Within the Ummah, which was awarded the 2008 Book Award in Social Sciences by the Association for Asian American Studies. She is currently working on a new book, Radical Love, where she explores the depths and beauty of divine and human love. Jamillah blogs for Sapelo Square, Hagar Lives, Race+Gender+Faith, NYU Press Blog, and Huffington Post Religion. She speaks regularly at college campuses and Muslim conferences across the nation. In 2014, her scholarly activism was recognized by JET magazine, which featured her as a young faith leader in the African American community. Jamillah is a former associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Spelman College. She holds a BSE in electrical engineering and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Duke University.
Hooman Keshavarzi is a Licensed Psychotherapist in Illinois, completed his Psy.D (to be conferred), holds a Masters of Clinical Psychology and a Bachelors of Science – specialist psychology track/minor in Islamic Studies. He is currently visiting faculty at Ibn Haldun University (Turkey), an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Argosy University Chicago, American Islamic College, Hartford Seminary, instructor of psychology at Islamic Online University and founding director of Khalil Center – the first Islamically oriented professional community mental wellness center and largest provider of Muslim mental healthcare in the US. He is also a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding at the Global Health Center, conducting research on topics related to Muslims and Mental Health. Keshavarzi is an international public speaker and trainer currently serving as a Clinical supervisor of graduate students of clinical psychology at the Village of Hoffman Estates (DHS). He also delivers seminars on specialized topics around multiculturalism and psychology. Keshavarzi has also authored several published academic papers in recognized peer-reviewed journals on integrating Islamic spirituality into modern psychological practice.In addition to his academic training, Keshavarzi has studied Islamic theology both formally and informally. He is a student of Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya from Toronto, Canada, where he attended his hadith and spiritual discourses for a number of years. After moving to Chicago, he studied informally with Shaykh Azeemuddin Ahmed later formally enrolling in Darussalam Academy for 4 years. During this time he also did some specialized coursework with Shaykh Amin Kholwadia in Islamic counseling. He then transferred to Darul Qasim where he is continuing his higher Islamic education.
Faraz A. Khan is a full-time faculty member at Zaytuna College. His specialty areas include Ashʿari and Maturidi philosophical theology (kalām), Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), prophetic tradition (ḥadīth), and logic (manṭiq). From 2004-2011, he resided in Amman, Jordan, where he studied traditional Islamic sciences with distinguished scholars, and received diplomas and teaching licenses upon completion. He has translated classical Arabic texts on theology, law, and ethics. He served as an instructor at the Qasid Institute, and also teaches for SeekersHub Global and the Deen Intensive Foundation.
Khizr Khan – Constitutional Rights Advocate and a Gold Star parent migrated to the United States in 1980 and attended Harvard Law School for LL.M degree. He is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States and in Washington, DC and New York Federal and State courts. He specializes in Commercial Civil Litigation, Health Privacy Law, Veterans Rights and Women and Children Rights. In addition to the American Family, a memoir of journey of hope and sacrifice, Khizr Khan is also the author of “This is Our Constitution – for middle school students”. With Ghazala Khan, both are proud parents of three including late US Army CPT Humayun Khan and four grandchildren – the family resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shaun King attended Morehouse College, a private, historically black men’s college in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majored in history. After graduation in 2002, King was a research assistant for Morehouse history professor Alton Hornsby Jr. After graduation, King was a high school civics teacher for about a year and then became a motivational speaker for Atlanta’s juvenile justice system. He was then a pastor at Total Grace Christian Center in DeKalb County, Georgia. In March 2010, while still a pastor, he founded aHomeinHaiti.org as a subsidiary of Courageous Church and used eBay and Twitter to raise $1.5 million to send tents to Haiti after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2015, he wrote the self-help book The Power of 100. On October 2, 2015, the New York Daily News announced that it was hiring King to the new position of senior justice writer, where he focused on reporting and commentary on social justice, police brutality and race relations.
Heather Laird is the Founder, President and Director of the Center for Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology at the University of Southern California. She is also Managing Director of HRL Consulting, She joins the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California in September as a faculty member. She holds a Doctorate of Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy, a Master’s in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy and Master’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. She has further specializations and training in Trauma- informed therapies, Energy Psychology and Sex Therapy. LLC., and hosts Muslims and Mental Health on YouTube. She hosts MH90 – Mental Health in 90 seconds podcast and the Life of an American Muslimah podcast. She is an adjunct professor for TCS in Public Health and Marriage and Family Therapy. She was a 2015-2016 AAMFT Doctoral Fellow of the Minority Fellowship Program and a 2016-2017 Albert Schweitzer Fellow. She has been awarded the Global Psychology Award (2015 & 2016) and the Community Partnerships Award (2016) and Community Service Learning Award for teaching (2018) She serves on both the UsCC EE/ME subcommittee and FBAC for the Department of Mental Health Los Angeles. While at TCS she had served on The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Diversity Advisory Board (2016-2017), the State of the Discipline Committee for MFT (2017) and the Distinguished Teaching Award Committee (2014), and on the AAMFT-CA Outreach Committee (2014). She was a steering committee member to the first World Congress on Muslim Philanthropy in Istanbul, and is a member of AAMFT, CAMFT, AMHP, IFTA and ACEP. She has presented on Muslim Mental Health topics in the United States and abroad in Europe and Asia.
Ingrid Mattson is a scholar of Islamic studies, an expert in interfaith relations, and a Muslim religious leader. Since 2012, she has held the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic studies at Huron University College in London, Canada. Previously she was professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary where she developed and directed the first accredited graduate program for Muslim chaplains in America. From 2001-2010, Dr. Mattson was elected and served as vice-president, then president, of ISNA. Her writings focus on Quranic studies, theological ethics and interfaith engagement. Dr. Mattson is a senior fellow of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan and has served on many boards, including the Interfaith Taskforce of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Council of Global Leaders of the C-100 of the World Economic Forum and the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project.
Dalia Mogahed is a researcher, pollster, author, advisor and consultant who studies Muslim communities. As director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Dalia Mogahed keeps her finger on the pulse of the Muslim world. She served on Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009, advising the president on how faith-based organizations can help government solve persistent social problems. Mogahed is former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a non-partisan research center that provided data and analysis to reflect the views of Muslims all over the world. She and John Esposito co-authored the book Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on 6 years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing Muslims in more than 35 predominantly Muslim countries. Accounting for more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind. Mogahed later appeared as a commentator in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (2010), which was based on her and Esposito’s book and produced by Unity Productions Foundation.
Ieasha Prime is the Director of Women’s Programming at Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia and the founder of the DC Muslim Women’s Conference. She converted to Islam more than 20 years ago after being a Youth Ambassador to Morocco and Senegal. There she developed a thirst for knowledge that would cause her to sit at the feet and learn from some of the top Islamic Scholars of our time. After having participated in several circles of knowledge in the US, Ieasha decided to pursue religious studies abroad. She studied Arabic, and Quran at the Fajr Institute in Cairo, Egypt. Later, she moved to Hadramaut, Yemen and enrolled in Dar al Zahra, an Islamic University for Women. There she studied Aqeedah, Quran, Hadith, Arabic, Jurisprudence (Fiqh), Islamic law, Purification of the Heart and other religious related learning. She has received several scholarly licenses (ijaza). The work that she is most committed to and enjoys have been the development of Islamic programming, Islamic Studies curriculum and Rites of Passage programs for youth and adults. Majority of her life has been spent as an educator and activist. She is most passionate about combining Islamic studies, cultural art, activism and service for the purpose of training leaders to rise above whatever challenges stand in their way and that of the community they serve. In addition to her full-time work, she is the co-founder and Executive Director of Barakah INC, an organization committed to training Muslim women in traditional Islamic sciences with a focus on modern application. Sister Ieasha is recently known for her participation in the National Women’s March, and the courses she teaches on traditional knowledge, the challenges of race and gender in the Muslim community and Spirituality. Ieasha Prime is a proud wife and mother of three children.
Yasir Qadhi is a lecturer and Islamic orator who has authored several books about Islam. He is a popular speaker in many Muslim circles in the United States, Canada, England and Australia. He was born in Houston, Texas, went to high school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and graduated with a BSc in chemical engineering from the University of Houston. He pursued an education in Islamic studies, and left for the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia. There, he completed a second bachelor’s degree, specializing in hadith studies, and then went on to complete an MA in Islamic theology. After the horrific events of 9/11, he decided to return to America, and completed a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Currently, he is an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, the dean of academic affairs of Al-Maghrib Institute, and the resident scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.
Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad is the Fellow for Spirituality, Wellness and Social Justice at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). She served three years as the Muslim Chaplain at UPenn and continues to facilitate discussions on religious identity development and challenges faced by American Muslim youth. She is also a resource to the wider Penn community and administration on Islam and Muslims. Kameelah is the Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental illness, addiction and trauma in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. Muslim Wellness Foundation envisions a future in which faith communities are at the forefront of mental health advocacy and committed to developing an inclusive culture of compassion, understanding and support.
Linda Sarsour is a working woman, community activist, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” Sarsour is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, which advocated for just legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues in the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history. Linda is most notably recognized for her focus on intersectional movement building.
Muzammil Siddiqi received his BA in Islamic and Arabic studies from the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia and later went on to complete a degree in comparative religion at Harvard University. Since 1981, he has served as the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, California. He is the chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America. Internationally, he is a member of the executive board of the International Assembly of the Council of Ulama’ in Makkah; a member of the Supreme Islamic Council of Egypt and the Supreme Council of Mosques in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. In October 2011, he was invited by Pope Benedict XVI to join him and many other religious leaders of the world in a pilgrimage of peace. Dr. Siddiqi served as the president of ISNA from 1996 – 2000.
Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SMU (Southern Methodist University). He is also the Resident Scholar at Valley Ranch Islamic Center and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square. He holds a Bachelors in Accounting, a Bachelors in Islamic Law, a Masters in Islamic Finance, a Masters in Political History, and is currently pursuing a Phd. in Islamic Thought and Civilization from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Lisa Vogl is an international fashion photographer and co-founder and co-designer of Verona Collection, the first Islamic fashion brand to be launched, featured and sold in Macy’s – one of America’s largest retail stores. Selling contemporary hijabs and modest clothing since 2015, Verona Collection has an international customer base with a warehouse in Europe, America and a brick and mortar store in Florida. Verona and Lisa have been featured in a major international publications and television outlets like The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Fortune, International Business Times, Today show, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post and many more. Born and raised in East Lansing Michigan, Vogl is a single mother of two, has a BA in Marketing and Cultural Studies from Chatham University and currently resides in Orlando, FL.
Suhaib Webb is a Graduate of University of Central Oklahoma with a background in Education & Azhar University from the College of Shariah (Islamic Law). Imam Suhaib has served various communities in North America and is currently the founder of S.W.I.S.S. He frequently shares advice, lessons & “SnapWas” on his SnapChat. He currently resides in New York serving as Scholar in Residence at the Islamic Center at NYU.
Dawood Yasin: At Dartmouth College Dawood provided spiritual and religious support, offered educational seminars, and lead congregational prayers for Muslim students, and residents of the greater Hanover area. Dawood also worked to foster understanding and dialogue among diverse campus groups by building and maintaining interfaith relations. During his residence in South Africa, Dawood converted to Islam and then spent five years in Damascus studying Arabic, Islam, and spirituality. Upon completion of his studies, he relocated to New Haven CT where he served as Imam of Masjid Al-Islam. While in New Haven he also worked as a teaching assistant and engaged in research at Yale University. Dawood also served as Director of Outreach at the Zayed Center for Islamic Culture in the United Arab Emirates, engaging in public speaking within U.A.E. and abroad, emphasizing ethics and tolerance between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Dawood spent five summers teaching Arabic language at the Zaytuna Summer Arabic Intensive. Dawood has a B.A. in Community Studies and an MA in Globalization Studies.
Amer Zahr is an Arab-American comedian, speaker, writer, academic, and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He draws on his experiences growing up as a child of Palestinian immigrant parents, performing and lecturing on topics like politics, society, Islam, growing up Arab, and more. He headlined a packed house at New York City’s world-famous Carnegie Hall, alongside Palestinian-American comedians Said Durrah, Mona Aburmishan, and Mike Easmeil. He also headlined at the world-famous John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. He produced this show as well, making it the first time that an all-Palestinian cast took the stage at the internationally-renowned venue. Amer also served as a surrogate for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He has produced and headlined in 3 of his own comedy tours, “1001 Laughs Comedy Tour,” “We’re Not White!” and “In 1948.” He founded and produced the first-ever “1001 Laughs Ramallah Comedy Festival.”