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Sadaf Jaffer is scholar focusing on Islamic, South Asian, and Asian American studies. She is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Her current book project focuses on secular thought among Indian Muslim intellectuals and she recently published an article entitled “Finding Hope in Islamic History” with the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In addition to her scholarly ventures, Jaffer works in advocacy and activism with a focus on women’s empowerment and political engagement. She is on the board of The New Agenda, an organization working to address women’s economic advancement, gender representation, and sexual assault. She also serves in on the advisory boards of Inspiring South Asian American Women (ISAAW), a group dedicated to encouraging civic engagement among South Asian American Women, and Art and Resistance through Education (ARTE), a non-profit that promotes human rights education and youth development through the arts. Jaffer is a graduate of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and earned her PhD from Harvard University.
Laurel Allen Hilbert is the Founder and CEO of A Dignified Home Children and Youth Services. A native of Syria, he came to this country in 2013, where he experienced firsthand the challenges and difficulties of being homeless. He is proud to have risen above his own visual impairment to achieve the creation of A Dignified Home Children and Youth Services. Before founding A Dignified Home, his professional background included experience as an international outreach and admissions assistant with Rennert International in New York City. Prior to that he also held a position with Vision Services for the Blind as a service representative in New York. Laurel is very proud of the valuable experience he gained serving as vice president of membership for Toastmasters International, and of his volunteer work with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Most recently he has joined the initiative A Way Home America (AWHM), a movement to prevent and end homelessness among youth and young adults.
Mohamed Abubakr is the President of The African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL), and a Sudanese human rights activist and peacemaker with over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector. He has founded or served as a director for multiple NGOs focused on humanitarian, human rights, youth empowerment and peace programs across MEA including in Darfur, South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and beyond. Mr. Abubakr has volunteered in, worked for, and founded numerous national and international civil society organizations, and since arriving in the United States has become a sought after voice at the State Department and in Congress concerning policy and human rights issues in the region.
Donya Nasser is a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Truman Center for National Policy. She is also the youngest Board Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Board, as well as a Youth Director on the Western Hemisphere Region Board and Governing Council of the International Planned Parenthood Fund. She was named a CDS 2016 “30 Under 30 Leaders of Tomorrow” and Persian Tech Entrepreneurs “100 Most Influential Persian Entrepreneurs and Innovators of 2015.” She is passionate about advocating for gender equality and reproductive justice on both a domestic and international level; empowering women, youth, and minorities to become civically engaged and run for office, and contributing to Middle East policy while combating stigmas and stereotypes. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University, and pursued her MA in Iranian Studies at SOAS, University of London, as a recipient of both the John Loiello and Kamran Djam Scholarships in 2017.
Ahmed Flex Omar
A native of Somaliland, Ahmed is the cofounder and Deputy Director of the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA). He received 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 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. He is also an active member of the Chicago Leadership Alliance.