Zainab Zeb Khan: Co-founder, Chair
Zainab is a therapist, painter, and human rights advocate. Born in the US to Asian immigrants, she became an activist after eye-opening experiences counseling survivors of domestic violence and organizing exhibitions for artists facing repression. A former Senior Clinician holding a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Zainab also co-curated the International Museum of Women’s exhibition “Muslimah: Muslim Women’s Arts and Voices” and served as a United Nations Association delegate to the 59th Commission on the Status of Women. The YWCA Chicago gave her its 2014 Racial & Social Justice Award. Zainab has written about gender-based violence for No Ceilings; was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine; and gave a notable TEDx talk, “How to Fight Injustice Without Saying a Word”. Zainab is honored as a “Global Hero” for Safe Magazine’s 2015 issue, and is recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s 2015 Most Powerful Women Next Gen. Zainab was honored by Aga Khan University’s Muslim Woman of Peace for 2015. She coordinates the “Muslim American Journeys” project with NPR’s StoryCorps. She was also a featured speaker at the Conference of World Affairs 2016. Zainab is the recipient of UNICEF’s Inaugural Humanitarian Award for 2016.
Emil Aldaddah: Co-founder
Emil is a wealth management expert with experience in the financial industry as a private equity analyst and portfolio manager. An Iraqi-American with a diverse Muslim-Christian family, he is part of the Young Visions Leadership program for the Israel Cancer Research Fund. Immersed with multiple years’ of experience in the financial industry as a private equity analyst and portfolio manager, Emil is a DePaul University graduate and uses his enthusiasm for good in both a physical and symbolic sense. He received the Presidential Service Award in 2016 for his volunteerism and commitment to diversity and inclusion for community programs. In 2016, Emil spoke at the UN CSW 60th Session, and will be moderating a panel at UN CSW 61 for MALA with UNICEF USA, Princeton University, and The Malala Fund. He regularly likes to participate in physical activities such as running marathons, playing football, and basketball; in addition to his extraordinary work in his career in the financial industry. Emil has been able to transform his client-based expertise onto the public sphere with the advent of synergy that focuses on connecting people to enhance their businesses, and grow each-other’s networks. Read or listen to his personal story, Linking Diversity and Inclusivity, here.
Ahmad Zabi Rahat: Secretary
Ahmad Zabi Rahat serves as the Center for Theory of Change’s Organization Development Coordinator. The Center is a non-profit organization established to promote quality standards and best practice for the development and implementation of Theory of Change, with a particular focus on its use and application in the areas of international development, sustainability, education, human rights and social change. Zabi is is also a Research Associate for Act Knowledge. He has a Master’s degree in Conflict Transformation and a Graduate Certification in Non-Profit Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship. His role and expertise encompasses research, strategic planning, evaluation and the implementation of the Theory of Change process (ToC) across a range of areas including programs focused on early childhood development, education, youth development and international development. Zabi also served as a panelist in 2016 Sustainable Development Transition forum hosted by United Nations Office for Sustainable Development in Republic of Korea. The panel discussed strategies, tools and methods for mainstreaming the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Fahmina left her home in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she completed a degree in accounting. She has worked positions at The Prizkers, Hyatt Regency Chicago, and S.H.E. events, and has also served as a host and newscaster for a Chicago-based multilingual radio station. Currently, Fahmina owns her own jewelry store in Chicago called 2nd City Diamonds, a dream that she was able to realize after working her way up the managerial ladder at another jeweler in the area. Fahmina maintains a high level of involvement with local Bangladeshi associations, and brings an astute and profoundly motivated perspective to the MALA team. Read or listen to Fahmina’s story, The Necessity of Taking Risks, here.
Naeem Uddin: Co-Founder, Treasurer
A recipient of President Obama’s Presidential Service Award in November 2016, Naeem is a scientist and innovator. He is currently a Senior Analytical Chemist at Praxair, one of the largest industrial gases companies in the world. Naeem’s passion for heritage, the arts, and culture led him to facilitate MALA’s “Muslim American Journey’s” project. He also organizes MALA’s community engagement and outreach events. Naeem grew up in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where he saw firsthand the devastating impact of a crumbling public education system and the indoctrination of young boys into extremism. At age 16, Naeem immigrated to America and pursued a career in science. He has conducted research on early drug development projects in the healthcare field, including stem cell therapies for arthritis. His work is focused on instrumental analysis in the field of chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceuticals. An entrepreneur, he founded an IT based company to help businesses achieve their goals in multiple arenas of business analysis and solutions.
Ahmed Flex Omar: Deputy Director
A native of Somaliland, Ahmed (entrepreneur/activist) is the recipient of the Presidential Service Award, bestowed by President Barack Obama in November 2016. Passionate about youth mentorship and combating radicalization, he grew up in the UAE before immigrating to Chicago as an adult. In his own family, he has witnessed both extremism and opportunity firsthand: one of his uncles is a cleric linked to Al Qaeda, while another uncle is a World Bank economist. He has worked at UBS Wealth Management Group, American Express, RSM Mcgladrey and Deloitte before founding “Global Eventz,” an event marketing company that has organized over 500 corporate, nightlife and charity events. In 2015, he co-founded the Muslim American Leadership Alliance and was a delegate at the 2015 United Nations NGO conference. He was also a speaker at the UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women, 60th Session. Ahmed has also implemented nationwide screenings of the critically acclaimed documentary, HE NAMED ME MALALA by Participant Media, and coordinates MALA’s StoryCorp project. He’s currently an active member of the Chicago Leadership Alliance. Listen to his StoryCorps narrative.
Jean Schindler: Chief of Staff
Jean Schindler has over a decade of experience driving organizational growth and strategic collaboration. Prior to joining MALA, she served on the Public Affairs team at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she established the Penn Kemble Forum on Democracy. She is also the founder of the Emergent Leaders Network, which provides microscholarships to community college students. Originally from southern California, Jean graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and received a masters degree in diplomatic history from the London School of Economics.
Andrew McDonald: Program Associate
Originally from the New Hampshire Seacoast, Andrew began working with MALA as an intern in Spring 2017. He joined the team in September 2018 as a Program Associate. Andrew recently finished his B.A. at Hampshire College, where he designed his course of study in Political Islam and Geopolitical identity in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In pursuit of his curiosity about religion, identity, and political agency, Andrew also works as an intern with the Arab Studies Institute (ASI), where he edits for the “Critical Currents in Islam” column on ASI’s primary media platform, Jadaliyya.com.