Meet team

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Deborah Cunningham-Skurnik Bio -

I believe a universal and harmonic balance is born when we integrate diversity and inclusiveness into our daily lives. Samina Bakhtiari is the owner of a successful caregiving business that has been providing seniors with exceptional care for over ten years. She is also the proud mother of four kids and three feisty cats. She enjoys devoting most of her free time volunteering for the less fortuna...

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Bushra Mateen -

Bushra Mateen is an educator who works with high schoolers with learning disabilities. Bushra was born in Karachi but spent the first nine years of her life in Bonn, West Germany, where her father worked with the Pakistani Embassy. After returning to Karachi, Bushra earned a Bachelors Degree in Geography and a Masters Degree in International Relations from Karachi University. Bushra worked as an e...

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Bilquis Haider -

Bilquis Haider knows how life can throw curveballs. She is our founding member who has raised amazing girls as a young Pakistani, single mother. She knew that America was a land of dreams and so she made her dreams come true by taking a risk and starting a business without any prior experience Using her business acumen and her faith in herself, she started a successful business in Venice Beach, Ca...

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Dinah Frieden -

Presently retired from a Professional career in Retail Management and Design Dinah has served on community boards for the Irvine Unified School District/Budget Commission and the Red Cross. Currently a passionate advocate for building cultural bridges and embracing diversity. Dinah joined AMWEC because their mission of “Empower:Educate:Enlighten” mesh with her hope and vision of social justic...

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Dr. Farhat Zubair -

Dr. Zubair is an anesthesiologist, philanthropist and dedicated women’s rights leader. As the proud daughter of a Jewish mother, and a Pakistani father, she knows firsthand how beautiful interfaith can be and strives to make a better place. She has received numerous awards of recognition for her work in empowering the Pakistani community and women. She travels frequently to serve at the clinics ...

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Dr. Robila Ashfaq -

Dr. Ashfaq is an experienced physician who has been working in family medicine for almost 20 years. Her hard work is not only applied to her job; she invariably advocates for women’s education and government and acts as an Interfaith leader. She speaks on interfaith and women’s health issues. She dedicates time and resources to educate children in Pakistan as she realizes that ‘education’ ...

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Parveen Ahmed -

Parveen is a dedicated nutritionist and philanthropist who has a passion for advocating for women as well as conducting literary events. Attending university while tending to her three children, she managed to complete her education and received her degree in Public Health to become a Registered Dietitian board certification from Loma Linda University. She works with the local police chief to help...

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Zeba -

Born in raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh Zeba Zebunnesa Tau Sigma earned her BA with honors from Claire Trevor School of Art, University of California, Irvine. Despite living in the US for a large portion of her life, Zeba has kept close ties with her roots and helps to improve educational, environmental and social improvement in her parent’s village in Gazipur, Bangladesh. She is a California farmer...

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Dr. Reshma Syed -

Dr. Syed is a local physician who speaks for women’s rights and gender equality. As a community leader, she works hard as a physician and dedicates her free time to serving women in the community. She believes that Muslims must speak up and unite with mainstream America to help those in need....

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Naeema Karimi -

As a successful Pakistani businesswoman with a voice for women’s empowerment, she hopes to advocate for the female cause through AMWEC and their endeavors. With an enthusiasm for activism and unity, she hopes to further unite her community through understanding....

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Aisha -

Aisha was a young girl who came to America from Lahore, Pakistan, with her husband to make America her home. She was great at math and wanted to be an electrical engineer. Armed with determination to achieve her goal, she joined a university and became a civil engineer. Aisha’s husband, an engineer himself, believed that women should be given equal opportunity to succeed. She’s a motivational ...

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Faryal -

As a seasoned Sales Executive with 20 years of expertise in sales leadership, while managing key accounts such a Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Omni Hotels, and Hyatt Worldwide. Faryal has been recognized for energizing team members to meet and exceed established goals, as well as for creating innovative strategies to drive efficiency and revenue increases, She has a verifiable history of contributing ...

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Nikki Kardar -

Honorary Advisory Board Members, Founder: Anila Ali Founding Members:Nikki Kardar A founding member of AMWEC, is now the President of Council of Pakistan American Affairs, COPAA. She is a successful businesswoman who has mentored and empowered many women. She volunteered day and night at the San Gabriel Valley Mosque and worked closely with law enforcement to counter extremism as an AMWEC found...

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Dr. Yasmin Qasim -

Dr. Qasim is a dynamic physician who is also a founding member of AMWEC. She has helped thousands of women find safety and security through her Human Development Foundation. She volunteers her time in the community and helps empower other women in politics and public service. She is heading the Human Development Foundation for Pakistan in California....

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Shaheen Awan -

Shaheen Awan Is an interfaith leader, community activist, and philanthropist, and works as an accomplished real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty. As a founding board member, she has been passionate about the AMWEC cause since the very beginning and works hard to empower women everyone by using her voice to speak up for women and girls everywhere. ...

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Rohida Khan- Department of Homeland Security -

Rohida Khan works for DHS - She has saved the lives of so many young girls and women and has advocated for law enforcement careers for women. Her own life was a struggle. Her grueling escape from Peshawar, Pakistan and from an abusive relationship made her come to America to empower herself and other women. She joined the Department of Homeland Security to help trafficking victims. She is our spe...

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Honorary Advisory Members-Deborah Cunnighman Skurnik -

Deborah, an educator by profession, started her second career in politics as a campaign manager with her Jerusalem sister Anila Ali. Deborah, a Catholic married to a Jew, and Anila became not only friends but Abrahamic sisters in faith. Soon they found their third sister, Dinah Frieden and now the three speak frequently about finding common ground and building bridges. Deborah is the Regional Di...

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Naila Barlas -

Naila Barlas lives in Diamond Bar, California with her husband of 20 years and 3 teenage kids. She came to the US in 1996 to continue her education at St. John’s University, NY. Currently, she holds a Real Estate Broker License as well as Mortgage Loan Broker License Endorsement from the Department of Real Estate, California. She and her family are actively involved in their local community. She...

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Anastasia Selberis -

An advocate for global human rights and public health, Anastasia Selberis recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor's Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. She chose to self-design her concentration, focusing on Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Political Stability, and Peacebuilding in the Near East and Eastern Europe. As a leader in the Greek-American and Greek-...

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Susan Seely-Director at UCI -

In her capacity as OTI’s Director at UCI, Susan oversees the OTI HQ office staff to sustain OTI’s day-to-day operational requirements. She mentors and trains staff and OTI Students, oversees regional directors, coordinates with other OTI campuses, organizes national and local OTI Board meetings and programming, and represents OTI at community and speaking engagements throughout Orange County. ...

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Dr. Sabeen Munib -

Dr. Munib is a strong, Pakistani woman who has devoted her life to the welfare of other humans: whether by working as a physician in her community or by helping refugees in need. She is also a powerful feminist that tirelessly works every day to advocate for the rights of women and children. She gives back to her community by serving women in vulnerable places such as a refugee camps and prisons...

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Zara Syed -

Zara Syed is a devoted mother and an avid activist who diligently acts as a voice for women’s rights. She is passionate about issues and tries to improve the lives of Muslim women everywhere. ...

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Sitara Attaie -

Sitara Attaie, an Afghan American, spends the majority of her time in the entertainment industry by working in movies such as Faraar and Remember When. She is also a leader in her community by promoting equality for all women. She is beautiful, smart, and multilingual and extremely dedicated to the arts. She mentors and guides youth seeking careers in arts and the showbiz...

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Itrat Shareef -

Itrat is a self-made businesswoman dealing in real estate and real estate management. Her goal is to dispel the misconceptions about Islam and women and serve America. She is active and engaged in building bridges with faith leaders....

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Ghazala Khan -

Ghlazala Khan graduated from UCLA and is now the Vice President of Bank of America. As AMWEC board, she served the needy during Thankgiving Food Drives and conducted our toy drives with Congresswoman Judy Chu....

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Erum Khan -

Erum Khan - an accomplished research scientist, served on our board. Despite her busy schedule, Erum dedicated her time to serving the interfaith community and empowering other women. Erum is dedicated to helping women and empowering young people with education. She supports the need for all girls to be financially independent and highly educated to close gender gaps....

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Alexa Stone -

Alexa Stone is an award-winning costume designer for film, television, dance, and theater. A Washington, D.C. native, Alexa grew up all over the world wherever her family was stationed on their foreign service posts. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, CA and did her graduate studies at the Motley School of Design in London. She worked in theaters, costumes shops, dye houses, at operas hous...

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Julia Bendis -

Matchmaker – Relationship Coach – Speaker - Advocate Julia Bendis was born in the Former Soviet Union and moved to the US at the age of thirteen with her parents and younger brother. Both her mother and grandmother have always dabbled in matchmaking, and continue to count numerous weddings and babies as a result. Julia's first match was when she was in high school, and she hasn’t stopped s...

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  1. Sabrina Mateen

    Sabrina studied business at USC and is now moving on to pursue an MBA at Columbia University. As someone passionate about women’s rights and the multifaith cause, she volunteered with AMWEC to organize a multi faith dinner where people of many faiths came together in one room.

  2. Marwa Achakzai
  3. Sarah Saboorian
  4. Idene Abhari
  5. Annette Lee

    Annette Lee is a Chinese-American student at the University of California at Irvine who helped Anila by working on her campaign with her. Now, she is a part of the AMWEC family and works everyday to pursue the cause of inclusion of all races and religions.

  6. Andre Luu

    Master of International Affairs candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, specializing in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy. University of California, Berkeley graduate with superior legal, outreach, and verbal and written communications experience in local, federal, and international contexts. Possesses in-depth experience with problem-solving, strategizing, research, and communications after having worked for various United Nations field offices, particularly those that serve refugees and migrants.

  7. Areena Harris
  8. Ausna Harris
  9. Daniyal Ali

    Daniyal Ali is a brilliant and driven Boeing engineer, who devoted her free time to helping empower women through working with AMWEC and Anila.

  10. Laila Shauk
  11. Naveen Qazi

    Naveen Qazi is a young woman from Pakistan who, despite being completely new to the United States, was completely ready to spend her time supporting other women here. Since then, she’s worked with AMWEC to empower women in all situations.

  12. Farhad Choksy

    Farhad has experienced Sales Development Representative with a demonstrated history of working in the information services industry. Skilled in Political Communication, Political Science, Campaign Management, Editing, and Public Speaking. Strong sales professional with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) focused in Political Science and Government from The Ohio State University.

  13. Joanna Small

    Joanna Small is an intelligent, young woman who came to work for Anila during her campaign. As someone who now enjoys a close friendship with Anila, she continues to work with AMWEC towards the cause for inclusion of all faiths and empowerment of all women.

  14. Greg Conway

    Greg Conway worked as a volunteer for AMWEC and continued to dedicate his time towards our multifaith cause. As someone passionate about understanding different cultures and diversity volunteer

  15. Katherine Wang

    Katherine Wang is a full-time graphic designer who used her skills to volunteer for Anila. Her artistic capabilities proved her to be an important and creative volunteer in Anila’s team

  16. Bahar Taj- Berkeley grad
  17. Amber Grabowkski-

    Amber Grabowkski is a strong woman who worked to support the message of diversity and inclusion with AMWEC alongside Anila’s campaign. She aims to spread awareness of AMWEC’s message of pluralism and multifaith.

  18. Eman Aziz

    Eman Aziz is currently a student at Irvine Valley College. As some passionate about women’s rights and education, she mentors underprivileged girls to give them the resources they need for a successful future.

  19. Sahar Ahmed – high school student

    Sahar Ahmed is a high school student who devoted her free time to working with AMWEC. As a student who cares about social justice and the importance of diversity, she hopes to continue to dedicate her time to these causes even after high school.

  20. Lili

    Lili was a local high school student who, before venturing out to college, wanted to experience diversity by working for the Multifaith cause with Muslims.

  21. Bryce Thornburg

    Bryce Thornburg is currently working in Northern California in computer software and coding. During Anila’s campaign, he worked with the numbers and hard statistics, proving to be an irreplaceable asset to our team.

  22. Roya Raghali

    Roya Raghali was a student who worked with Anila during her campaign. Currently, he is working in Northern California but he will always be a part of the AMWEC family.

  23. Anastasia Selberis

    An advocate for global human rights and public health, Anastasia Selberis recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. She chose to self-design her concentration, focusing on Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Political Stability, and Peacebuilding in the Near East and Eastern Europe. As a leader in the Greek-American and Greek-Orthodox Christian community, Anastasia engages in Interfaith Relations to unify American communities. While at UC Berkeley, she studied the Arabic language daily. Due to an acute interest in countering violent extremism, she has achieved training and experience in counter-terrorism, hostage negotiation, and combatting human trafficking. She is honored to serve as the Research Intern for the American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council.

AMWEC PARTNERS and Supporters:

https://orangecounty.adl.org/

https://jewishcollaborativeoc.org/rabbimarcia/

http://endfamilyviolence.uci.edu

https://www.sarah4hope.org/

https://www.olivetreeinitiative.org/https://www.saharacares.org/

https://www.shareourselves.org/

https://www.accesscal.org/

http://copaausa.org/

https://fbilacaaa.org/fbi-los-angeles-citizens-academy-2/

http://www.tby.org/

https://www.jewishorangecounty.org/

https://womenfightantisemitism.org/team

https://combatantisemitism.org/

http://www.lapdonline.org/

https://lasd.org/

https://www.ilfnational.org/

http://www.calpak-edu.org/

https://www.calsouthern.edu/content/news

https://www.cia.gov/index.html

AMWEC:

This is how we started:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/08/local/la-me-muslim-women-20110508

-Promoting civiv engament and leadership in girls

http://abc7.com/careers/internship-encourages-muslim-girls-to-pursue-law-enforcement-careers/1406852/

-Building coalition on Hate and Islamophobia with mainstream America

http://abc7.com/news/oc-town-hall-addresses-acts-of-hate-against-muslims-jews/1727565/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBg1sRDjymA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDNIMyA_kWU

-Research on Countering Violent Extremism

https://www.csun.edu/sites/default/files/shaikh_khanum_research-proposal.pdf
https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-w0829-pub.pdf

-Promoting Women’s Rights and Civil Liberties for Muslim Women

http://www.lapdonline.org/home/news_view/58544
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qFSmmdsepg&t=26s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhqB3u24D8Q

-Advancing civil liberties and justice by changing laws

https://www.advancingjustice-alc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Returning-Home.pdf
www.americansonhold.org