Speakers and Entertainers

Aaron Siebert-Llera

Aaron Siebert-Llera fights for our rights with the ACLU. A Latino Muslim and legal advocate, Aaron knows we must show up – from travel ban to criminal justice reform. Civic Power comes from being empowered, and being great allies for others.

Abrar Al-Heeti

Abrar Al-Heeti

Abrar Al-Heeti is a reporter for CNET, where she writes about everything from health tech to culture to industry news. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — a town she called home for 24 years.

Adil Qaisar

Adil Qaisar

Adnan Durrani

Adnan Durrani

Mr. Durrani is the founder/Chief Halal Officer of American Halal Co. Inc., and its flagship brand Saffron Road, which is the only halal product to be sold nationally, in over 20,000 major US retail food stores. Whole Foods has noted Saffron Road as one of the most successful new brand launches in recent history, having made the Inc 500’s list of fastest growing co.’s three years in a row. Adnan’s entrepreneurial ventures include Stonyfield Farms yogurt (sold to DANONE), Vermont Pure Spring Water Co, and Delicious Brands (Icahn Associates). For 30 years, he has been a pioneer in socially conscious and economically just business models that yield exceptional triple bottom line results. Adnan has been recognized as one of the entrepreneurs who engineered “20 Ideas That Changed The Way The World Does Business”. The select list of these inductees include: Ben Cohen (Ben & Jerry’s), Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farms), Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize, Grameen Bank), and Steve Case (AOL). Saffron Road has been applauded by PR Week (Best Digital Campaign), CNN, NPR, Forbes for their successful social media& digital campaigns against Islamophobia. Mr. Durrani is the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Visitors of Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is also Co-Chair of Columbia’s SEAS Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. He was recognized by Obama’s White House , the Vatican, and the Ambassador to the Holy Sees for his “Interfaith In Business” model, where the Pope hosted him as a speaker at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He also served on the Board and as a former Trustee of Zaytuna College.

Adnan N Samia

Adnan N Samia

Adnan N Samia, are your typical American Muslim couple who started their Travel Adventure from 2010. Both consider themselves AVGeeks with a Passion for Traveling. Adnan comes from a background in Criminal Justice & International Relations while Samia has a background in Government & Special Education, together they created Adnan N Samia which started just for Family/Friends and now has a fan following from Muslims/Non-Muslims around the world. They are also Founders of Halal Tourism USA and Executive Directors North America for HalalTrip.com

Adnan N Samia have been invited throughout the world to talk on Halal Tourism and Impact Muslims are making in the Tourism sector. They have a passion to help Muslims travel around the world in a Halal Friendly manner thus becoming an Expert Speakers in Halal Tourism industry

Ahmad Jitan

Ahmad Jitan

Ahmad is an educator and an organizer in addition to a poet and a seeker. As a Palestinian in exile, he has called many places home, but holds the American South dear to his heart. Ahmad believes the secrets of life lay hidden between the layers of knafeh.

Instagram: @A_Jitan

Aisha Afshar

Aisha Afshar

Aisha Afshar is the CEO & co-founder of Halal Beauty Cosmetics. After immigrating to the US, she quickly fell in love with beauty and became a licensed cosmetologist. Now, she hopes to bring that love of beauty to women all over the world through healthier, halal cosmetics.

Instagram: @HalalBeautyCosmetics

Ali Othman

Ali Othman

Ali Othman has been an NSCA certified Personal Trainer for over 10 years specializing in long-term nutrition and functional training to improve activities of daily life. Ali is a member of the Technical Department of IFANCA where he oversees halal certification projects in the USA and South Korea.

Alia Bilal

Alia Bilal is a Director at Inner-City Muslim Action Network – IMAN. Alia and her team are a model for making impact in some of our most vulnerable and resilient communities, with Green Re-Entry, Arts, Health, and wrap around initiatives.

Amanda Saab

Amanda Saab

I have been cooking and baking since I was a little tot. My passion grew when I realized, I could create things my family and friends would enjoy. To me, there is no better way to tell someone you love them, then to create a delicious meal for them.

At age 5, I was standing on a step stool, waiting for my mom to pass the spatula so that I could mix the banana bread batter. At the age of 12, I was watching Emeril Live instead of MTV. For my 16th birthday, I asked for something unexpected (no, not a car). I got the best gift ever; my very first Kitchen Aid stand mixer! My passion for cooking took a bit of a hiatus while in graduate school. But now my kitchen is back in full swing!

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that food truly does bring people together.

Instagram: @AmandasPlate  @butterbearshop

Aron Kader

Aron Kader

Aron Kader has a unique outlook on the world that stems from being the product of a Palestinian/Mormon love child… sort of. He is the third of four sons born to Nancy, an American Mormon from Utah and Omar, the son of Palestinian immigrants, also from Utah.

Kader moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to pursue acting and stand-up comedy. He spent time in the legendary sketch theatre, The Groundlings, where he became a prominent member of the Sunday Company. In 2000 he became a regular at The World Famous Comedy Store in Hollywood after being discovered by the iconic storeowner, Mitzi Shore.

Aron Kader is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour that debuted on Comedy Central in 2007. The Axis of Evil toured nationally and internationally and for the first time, brought comedy to the Middle East, selling out twenty-seven shows throughout the region. He’s proud to be one of the only American comedians in history to go to Kuwait and not entertain the troops.

Recently, Aron participated in Montreal’s world famous Just for Laughs comedy festival. He has also been seen on Comedy Central’s, Premium Blend, the dramatic series, The Shield as well as various appearances on F/X, VH1, E! and CNN. He has achieved starring roles in T.V. pilots forComedy Central’s The Watch List, and NBC’s, Beverly Hills SUV. He was a standout at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and received stellar reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland for his breakout stand-up performances. Kader has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek & TIME Magazine and is a frequent guest on NPR.

Aron Kader can be seen performing regularly in Hollywood at his home club, The World FamousComedy Store or touring the major clubs and colleges around North America and abroad.

Arti Ishak

Arti Ishak

Arti Ishak is an actor, writer and teaching artist from Detroit. Theatre Credits: Writers, Goodman, Second City, Neofuturists, American Theatre Co. TV Credits: Chicago Med (NBC), Brujos (OTV). Upcoming: Killed a Man Joking (FirstFloor Theatre), Kiss (Haven Theatre). She is affiliated with The Chicago Inclusion Project & repped by Shirley.

Instagram: @artiishak

Ash-har Quraishi

Ash-har Quraishi

Ash-har Quraishi joined NBC 5 as a general assignment reporter in August 2016. Ash-har is an Emmy Award-winning television journalist, producer and filmmaker with more than 20 years of international, investigative and long-form reporting/production experience.

Before joining NBC 5, Ash-har was the Chief Midwest Correspondent for Al Jazeera America. Previously he reported for WTTW’s flagship nightly news magazine show Chicago Tonight and was a CNN international correspondent and bureau chief. His reporting and photography has been featured on CNN, The PBS NewsHour, A&E, The Oprah Winfrey Show and in The New York Times.

With Al Jazeera America from its launch in August 2013, Quraishi reported from throughout the Midwest and around the country. He covered immigration, healthcare, the debate over minimum wage as well as gun violence in Chicago. He covered the massive Colorado flooding in September 2013 and was on the ground just hours after massive tornadoes ripped through central Illinois in November. Quraishi was the network’s lead reporter as unrest, rioting and looting began in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Quraishi and his crew themselves were fired upon without warning by police using rubber bullets and tear gas while attempting to report live from the area.

In 2011 he co-produced the award-winning documentary “Fordson” about the Arab-American experience in post 9/11 America. The film released in theaters nationwide and screened at the U.S. State Department. The acclaimed documentary premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and won major festival awards around the country. After receiving the award for Best U.S. Documentary Feature at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival the Academy-Award-winning director called the film: “Powerful… intelligent…moving… One of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year.”

Before his posting in Chicago, Quraishi was the Chief Investigative Reporter for the CBS affiliate in Kansas City. His investigative reports there exposed corruption, fraud, illegal activity and prompted change in city and state government. A bold investigation into lax airline passenger screening procedures resulted in a federal probe by the Department of Homeland Security and was recognized with a 2009 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and a Heart of America Award from the Kansas City Press Club.

In 2008, he co-hosted election specials from Washington D.C. focused on bilateral relations between the United States and Pakistan for GEO Television – a joint production with America Abroad Media.

Previously, Quraishi spent more than six years working at CNN. He served as CNN’s Islamabad Bureau Chief/Correspondent, responsible for the network’s coverage of Pakistan immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Quraishi reported extensively on major events the region, including the Agra Summit, the ongoing

conflict between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan, the floods in Eastern India, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the religious extremist movement in Pakistan and the clashes along the Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir. He reported live from Karachi on the disappearance of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the bombing of the Protestant International Church in Islamabad. Additionally, he provided live coverage of the first general elections in Pakistan since the 1999 military coup and reported on the lead up to polling day in an award-winning five-part series.

Quraishi was the first television correspondent to report the capture of top Al Qaeda operative and 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammad in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He was live from the capital as the story unfolded and conducted an exclusive one on-one interview with Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf following the arrest. Before his posting in Pakistan, Quraishi was based in Atlanta where he worked in various capacities. He supervised production of the network’s premiere long-form news program “CNN&TIME” overseeing all aspects of production.

His work has been honored with numerous awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, Investigative Reporters & Editors, The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Press Club of Atlantic City and the Chicago Headline Club. He has been awarded a CINE Golden Eagle Award, a Peter Lisagor Award, four National Headliners and in 2010 was an IRE Award finalist. He is a five-time Emmy Award winner and has received five Edward R. Murrow Awards. In 2004 Triangle Media Group named him one of the top 50 South Asian Global Achievers in Mass Media. Quraishi served on the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Midwest Board of Governors.

Born and raised on the northwest side of Chicago, Quraishi attended the Chicago Public Schools and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is married to documentary producer and CNN veteran, Basma Babar-Quraishi and has a 12-year-old daughter anda 4-year-old son.

Azhar Usman

Azhar Usman

Azhar is an outspoken American Muslim standup comedian of Indian descent, widely regarded among the top comedians in Chicago, where he was born and raised. An attorney turned actor, he served as a writer for Hasan Minhaj’s historic speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner and currently has a recurring role in Amazon Studios’ critically-acclaimed original series ‘Patriot’ (2 Seasons). Azhar performed at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, Canada this year and is in active development on multiple creative projects. He has toured with several of today’s top comics, including Dave Chappelle, Hannibal Buress, and Hasan Minhaj. As a consultant and producer, Azhar’s credits include: The Boundary (HBO); Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (Netflix); Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (Netflix); Mo Amer: The Vagabond (Netflix); and Ramy (Hulu—2019). He is a paid regular at the Comedy Cellar in New York City and continues to tour globally.

Binta Diallo

Binta Diallo

Binta is a first generation Senegalese and Gambian, born and raised in Chicago, IL. She is a singer-song writer who is very grateful For her journey. Binta has a Masters degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and recently discovered her love for painting.

Instagram: @bintakdiallo

BrothaOmar

BrothaOmar

Author, Orator and Motivational speaker, Omar Muhammad (a.k.a. BrothaOmar) has served as the
resident Khateeb of Masjid al-Faatir for more than 25 years. Grandson of legendary social reformer,
Elijah Muhammad, BrothaOmar has dedicated his life to establishing Al-Islam in America as the solution
to society’s social and spiritual ills. Whether he is engaged in enlightening and empowering at-risk youth,
facilitating annual food giveaways to needy families, or distributing assistance to the poor; BrothaOmar
continues to build upon the legacy of his father, Jabir Herbert Muhammad and Heavyweight Boxing
Champion Muhammad Ali – the founders of Masjid al-Faatir, Chicago.
A current Student of Knowledge having studied the language of Arabic at Imam Muhammad University
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; BrothaOmar serves as a director on the Boards of the Muhammad Islamic
Corporation and the Voice of Islam Foundation. He is also a skilled graphic designer and assists in the
production of Islamic books and video presentations for philanthropic organizations.
An entrepreneur at heart, BrothaOmar’s most recent endeavors include the founding of the Haqq Institute,
a non-profit Corporation; as well as the Thabeeha Certification Agency, Bismillah Certified Foods.
BrothaOmar is the mind behind the “Rock Haqq” Muslim Youth Thought Leaders Initiative, and is the
creator of ultimate protection against body odor – The All Natural, Alcohol-Free and wuduSafe™ –
Royale Deodorant De Luxe.
BrothaOmar resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be found leading Jumu’ah prayer every Friday at Masjid
al-Faatir, Chicago.

Brother Ali

Brother Ali

Brother Ali is a highly respected Hip Hop artist, speaker and community organizer from Minneapolis, MN. His decade long resume includes six critically acclaimed albums, mentorships with Iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim and performances on late night talk shows with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon. He’s been the subject of Al-Jazeera and NPR pieces and was a keynote speaker at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He’s landed coveted press features such as Rolling Stone’s 40th anniversary “Artist to Watch” and Source Magazine’s “Hip Hop Quotables”.

Brother Ali has won the hearts and minds of Hip Hop fans worldwide with his intimate song-writing, captivating live performances and outspoken stance on issues of Justice and Human Dignity. In 2007, Ali was flagged by The US Department of Homeland Security for his controversial critique of America’s human rights violations in his song/video “Uncle Sam Goddamn”. In the summer of 2012, Ali was arrested in an act of civil disobedience as an organizer of Minnesota’s Occupy Homes movement to defend Twin Cities homeowners from unjust foreclosures.

In addition to Brother Ali’s artistic and social justice work, he studies Islamic theology, spirituality and Arabic with some of North America’s greatest masters and was a student of the late Imam W. Deen Mohammed. His familiarity with the indigenous Muslim American experience, accompanied by in-depth study of the Islamic tradition have allowed him to travel and speak alongside Dr Umar F. Abd-Allah (a highly esteemed scholar of Islam) in settings around the world. He’s spoken at the ISNA, MAS and Savior’s Day conferences and is a regular presenter at Ta’leef Collective’s Fremont, and Chicago campuses. He leads prayer services at mosques across the country and recently led symposia at Harvard and Stanford Universities about Hip Hop, Islam and Politics.

Brother Ali is currently working on his first literary offering, tackling the topics that are discussed in his speaking engagements and workshops.

Dana Salim

Dana Salim

Dana Salim is a Jordanian-American author best known for her children’s series “Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures” that teaches kids the power of imagination and storytelling. She’s also the founder of DS Publishing, based in Texas, which creates books and products that inspire children to develop their passion for reading and writing.

Instagram: @DS.Publishing

Danish Maqbool

Danish Maqbool

Featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, Danish Maqbool, prior to comedy was an on air personality and spokesperson for Major League Gaming. Hailing from New Jersey DMAQ began stand up in 2014 and has since been on 3 national college tours and featured in numerous festivals. Danish utilizes a laid back approach while discussing how moments in his life as a Pakistani American have shaped him.

Demetrios Haralambatos

Demetrios Haralambatos

Kontos Foods Corporate Executive Chef Demetrios Haralambatos is a classically trained chef, a food historian and food writer, and frequent lecturer on a variety of food topics. For the past 23 years, he’s been the top chef at Kontos Foods, Inc., a Paterson, N.J. – based manufacturer and distributor of traditional artisan breads and Mediterranean specialty foods.

Chef Demetrios represents Kontos Foods at trade shows and events. Last year alone in addition to running numerous trade show and nonprofit charity events, he judged two culinary competitions, including the Kontos Foods Culinary Challenge #KFCC17 with The Culinary School at Eva’s Village in Paterson, N.J. as the well as a similar challenge in November at the Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Mich. While he’s not giving cooking demonstrations or talking to prospective customers at trade shows, he works to ensure Kontos offers an extensive range of Halal – and Kosher-Certified flatbreads, as well as Fillo Dough and sweet Middle Eastern-style Fillo pastries. Chef Demetrios also lectures extensively to students and professionals. He has earned the title of Archimagiros; is a Founding Member of the Research Chefs Association; the Development Director for SkillsUSA-NJ; a member of the Culinary Advisory Board for the Culinary School at Eva’s Village; former Culinary and Hospitality Artist in Residence at Princeton University; former National Ethnics Co-Chairman of the American Culinary Federation; Past President of the Professional Chefs Guild of Central New Jersey-ACF; former Culinary Liaison to Greece and Cyprus for the World Association of Cooks Societies; inducted in Les Amis d’Escoffier Society; inducted in the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs as a Maitre Rotisseur; member of Leshi Argimagiron, Greece; and Chef Demetrios’ knowledge of cultural diversity spills over into his volunteer activities: He is Chairman, Interfaith Relationships Committee of the Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, a position he’s held for the past three years, and a committee he’s served on for the last seven. Every year it hosts A Scout is Reverent Religious Retreat, where Cub, Boy, and Girl Scouts, and American Heritage Girls of the Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, LDS, and Quaker denominations attend from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, as well as a Scout Troop from Canada; and Faith Walk at the Walters Art Museum and the Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore.

Dr. Dilara Sayeed

Dr. Dilara Sayeed is co-founder of IL Muslim Civic Coalition. She is a former 8th grade teacher who shows that activism takes many forms and professions. She was the first hijabi Muslim to run for IL State Legislature.

Fatmah Williams

Fatmah Williams

Fatmah Williams is a Palestinian-American born in Florida, raised in Missouri, and has been living in California since 2000. She’s a strong-willed businesswoman who is making an impact in the ‘Muslim arena’ as a liaison between the community and other various groups at large; with delicious food, beautifully adorned Islamic wear and conversations that are sure to strike up genuine interest regardless of age, gender, race, religion, etc…

Fatmah is the CEO and Head Chef at Knafeh Queens, the dessert brand responsible for turning impartial occasional indulgers into addicts that look for any small occasion just to find an excuse to order the delicious sweet and savory dessert comprised of a crunchy outer layer and a soft rich creamy filling made using a generations old mouthwatering recipe. Fulfilling the ultimate goal of her brand, she is helping to build bridges by introducing the non-knafeh community to a new dessert that peaks curiosity and interest in learning more about its origins just from the first bite, thus breaking barriers in new ways that Muslims yearn for. Knafeh Queens has received several prestigious awards which prompted catering requests from various celebrities who want “in” on the action, successfully expanding upon Knafeh Queens goal of bridging gaps.

Fatmah is also one of the Founders and CEOs of Hilwah Kids, an adorable clothing line catering to babies and young children, that displays popular sayings and compliments used in ‘Muslim culture’. Unique to their brand is their donation of a portion of the proceeds to orphanages worldwide.

Feeling compelled to give back to her community in any way possible, Fatmah takes on any opportunity to showcase the necessity and strength of the Muslim community whether it is through speaking engagements teaching school children how to run a business to organizing and taking part in feedings serving as a means for the homeless on Skid Row to know that the community does care . Her latest impactful projects have included ensuring refugees feel welcome.

Instagram: @knafehqueens

Hafsa Haseeb

Hafsa Haseeb

Hafsa Haseeb, a makeup artist and Cosmetologist started the journey with Masarrat Makeup in 2013 after leaving a career in corporate America. Focusing on what makes products good and halal, she worked with the initial team and the core personality Masarrat Misbah to bring her vision to life.

Instagram: @MasarratMakeup

Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf is a leading proponent of classical learning in Islam. He is president of Zaytuna College and has taught courses on Islamic jurisprudence, ethics, astronomy, logic, theology, prophetic biography, and hadith, as well as other subjects. He has published numerous articles and translations, including The Prayer of the Oppressed and Purification of the Heart. He also serves as vice president for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, an international initiative that seeks to address the root causes that can lead to radicalism and militancy.

Hannah Minks

Hannah Minks

Hannah Minks holds a B.A. in Theology from Dominican University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary. Hannah develops programs and communication tools for both students and alumni at Interfaith Youth Core.

Hiba Bhatty

Hiba Bhatty

Hiba Bhatty is an architect, comedian and improviser. Hiba obtained her M.ArchI from Yale School of Architecture and now works at Valerio Dewalt Train in Chicago. In her free time, Hiba performs stand up and is half of Unsibilized, a comedy YouTube duo made up of two Pakistani-American sisters.

Instagram: @hibsbatty

Hira Umer

Hira Umer

Cake Artist, Entrepreneur and Dreamer, Hira F. Umer, serves as founder, lead cake designer and CEO of Scrumptious by Hira. After stumbling upon cake decorating one fine day, Hira quickly learned that this was her creative outlet. She started out working from her parents’ home and soon thereafter decided to take her passion to a whole new level and opened her first retail storefront.

In 2011, Hira took basic cake decorating classes at Hobby Lobby offered by Wilton. After that she is mostly self taught. She spends a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with techniques both with cake decorating and customized desserts.

In 2016, Hira opened the doors to her first retail storefront where she sells her most popular desserts daily, experiments with new creations and decorates the dozens of custom cakes that go out through her door every weekend.

Though well versed in most areas of baking and decorating, Hira realized her true passion is in creating unique and artistic edible works of art. She has also been recognized and has had the opportunity to serve corporate giants such as Microsoft, Macy’s, Clinique, Celebrity Cruises and more of the like.

As lead cake designer and CEO of Scrumptious by Hira, Hira is solely responsible for the design and construction of each and every cake that leaves her doors, to ensure each client receives the utmost high quality piece of art that Scrumptious by Hira can offer. All cakes are hand-designed by Hira and unique for each occasion.

Hira’s edible art pieces are available through private ordering at her boutique bake shop, located at 825 E Roosevelt Road in Lombard, IL.

Ismael Loutfi

Ismael Loutfi

Ismael Loutfi is a sweet boy with a kind face. He’s been called “gifted,” “quick-witted,” and a “neurotic toe-rag” by numerous friends’ parents. He has been a finalist in the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, a new face at the Just For Laughs Festival, and a finalist in StandUp NBC 2017. He can be seen on the VICELAND series Flophouse and Comedy Central digital and currently writes for Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show Patriot Act.

Jameeleh Shelo

Jameeleh Shelo

Jameeleh is an Emmy award- winning writer, performer, producer and mother from Chicago. She has been described as “nice”, “funny”, and “tall”. She does not disagree with any of those adjectives and hopes those are the words her son will use to describe her when he is a teenager. She is also the former Executive Director of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival and an avid world traveler. She wrote Laith the Lion because she wanted her son to see his Palestinian heritage represented in a positive light. She believes that everyone has the right to share their story and hopes this book will inspire you to share yours.

Instagram: @LaiththeLion1

Jenan Mohajir

Jenan Mohajir

Senior Director of Leadership, Interfaith Youth Core

Kayem

Kayem

Son of a Libyan revolutionary, Kayem is a Chicago-based hip hop artist who was born into the struggle. His father was a political prisoner who helped form a pro-democracy movement after escaping prison. Kayem’s first trip to Libya, after spending a lifetime of advocacy in exile, was filmed in the docuseries “Sing Freedom”.

Yahoo! Music listed Kayem’s showcase at South by Southwest 2017 as “The 6 Best Things We Saw at SXSW” and he was listed as one of CNN’s “Most Interesting People”. He has also been featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Complex Mag, The New York Times, and more.

Kayem relaunched his career with a name-change in 2017 after having to step away due to government restrictions. He detailed his experience on “Intercepted”, where he was a guest along with Edward Snowden.

With a story fit for a Hollywood script and a loyal, hungry international fan base, there’s no question Kayem’s time is now.

Kelvin Harris

Kelvin Harris is a noted consumer goods industry expert, creating brand and consumer trust through understanding the impact to revenue and growth of supply chain transparency and resilience.
In the last three years, Kelvin has implemented a food value chain program for a Fortune 100 retailer, driven supply chain transparency for the world’s largest food company and led multi-year supply chain traceability and resilience projects for a Fortune 500 CPG, Fortune 100 retailer and three Fortune 500 food processors.

Kifah Muhammad

Kifah Muhammad

Ms. Kifah Muhammad is a Personal Trainer and Health Coach serving the greater Los Angeles area. Through her training methods, she provides her clients with the tools needed to make healthier life choices while avoiding the unsustainable fad diets which may work today but are gone tomorrow.

Instagram: @getfitwithKifah

Lesley Williams

Lesley Williams

Lesley Williams is a member of the coordinating committee and the National Legislative Organizing Committee for Jewish Voice for Peace in Chicago organizing around Islamophobia issues.  Lesley participated in two West Bank delegations with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence for solidarity work and resistance with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, and is on the CJNV strategies and values team. She has spoken on Islamophobia and antisemitism at the American Studies Association conference, the MAS-ICNA conference and the American Muslims for Palestine conference;  and is a featured speaker for Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism. She reviews books on race, Islamophobia and Palestine for Booklist magazine and Mondoweiss.

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is a Chicago-born, Grammy award-winning American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and community advocate. Rising to fame in 2006, following the success of his debut album, Food & Liquor, Lupe has released more than four acclaimed studio albums; his latest being Drogas Wave released fall 2018. His efforts to propagate conscious material helped solidify him as GQ’s Man of the Year in 2006, and garnered recognition as a Henry Crown Fellow. While musical genius and ingenuity are at the forefront of Lupe’s achievements, the artist extends his innovation to projects that aim to foster creative discourse and opportunities in underprivileged and impoverished communities.

Their continued efforts to elevate community engagement can be seen through the myriad of movements they have co-founded and supported. As the co-founder and co-owner of community initiatives such as, We Are M.U.R.A.L, The Neighborhood Start-Up Fund, Society of Spoken Art, and Studio SV, Lupe Fiasco proves that he is more than just a mouthpiece for change, but a committed facilitator of intellectual community discourse and outreach.

We Are M.U.R.A.L (Magnifying Urban Realities & Affecting Lives) provides nurturing meals and winter clothing to inner-city youth, while fostering artistic and academic excellence in their respective neighborhoods. The foundation soon became the catalyst for The Neighborhood Start-up Fund, which encourages disenfranchised youth in developing entrepreneurial skills to establish businesses in underserved communities. Furthering his efforts in community engagement and mentorship, Lupe co-founded the Society of Spoken Art, which unites aspiring lyricists with established artists, who act as mentors to inspire the mastery of linguistics and semiotics. His latest effort – Studio SV – marks Lupe’s global expansion through the venture company in Hong Kong that will develop, produce and finance innovative content. In addition to their various community efforts, the artist and humanitarian, also sits on the advisory board for Zero Mass Water; a renewable, solar-powered initiative that seeks to democratize water.

His conscious efforts to propagate social and artistic change has Lupe Fiasco’s desire to promote generational wealth and awareness continues to inspire his musical and community efforts; serving as a distinguished example in giving back and paying it forward!

Manal Aman

Manal Aman

Manal Aman is an artist and entrepreneur who brought Ramadan and Eid to Martha Stewart, Crate & Barrel, Party City and more. She is the creator of #purpleramadan and the fictional #ramadandrummer.

Instagram: @HelloHolyDays

Maneshwar Singh

Maneshwar Singh

Maneshwar is a healthcare professional with a passion for Sikhism, interfaith cooperation, and music. His current project is helping to organize and speaking at “Get to Know Your Sikh Neighbor” events around the Chicago suburbs.

Mark Overland

Mark Overland

Mark Overland joined Cargill in 1994 managing dietary requirements, harmonizing competing
standards and ensuring compliance. In 2006 Mr. Overland moved to Cargill Food Safety, Quality &
Regulatory Affairs where he is responsible for strategy, policy and implementation for Food Safety
Management Systems. His was also responsible for certification in food safety and dietary areas
covering approximately 1200 Cargill plants and contract manufacturers in 67 countries.
Mr. Overland serves in Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as vice chair of the Auditor Competency
Sub Committee. He is a also a member of the ISO/CASCO Joint Working Group 36, drafting
requirements for the certification body’s providing audit and certification of Food Safety Management
Systems, is a member of the Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC 22000) Board of
Stakeholders. He is also actively engaged in industry, government and NGO global efforts to drive
transparency in food safety, harmonization of standards and affect positive public health outcomes.

Matthew Wertheim

Matthew Wertheim

Matthew Wertheim is a junior at Northwestern University, studying Manufacturing & Design Engineering. While his studies deal predominately with product design and development, his heart is in the kitchen. Matthew serves on the executive boards for both the campus Hillel and Challah for Hunger, an organization that bakes challah every week to raise money for food-insecure communities. From a young age, Matthew learned the communal power of food from his mammam, who would spend hours in the kitchen cooking for his whole family. Mammam was a firm believer that food brings people together–in times of happiness or strife, people will always gather when there is hot food on the table. Matthew is an avid chef and loves recreating recipes from his travels abroad and family classics.

Matthew Wertheim

Matthew Wertheim is a junior at Northwestern University, studying Manufacturing & Design Engineering. While his studies deal predominately with product design and development, his heart is in the kitchen. Matthew serves on the executive boards for both the campus Hillel and Challah for Hunger, an organization that bakes challah every week to raise money for food-insecure communities. From a young age, Matthew learned the communal power of food from his mammam, who would spend hours in the kitchen cooking for his whole family. Mammam was a firm believer that food brings people together–in times of happiness or strife, people will always gather when there is hot food on the table. Matthew is an avid chef and loves recreating recipes from his travels abroad and family classics.

Medha Imam

Medha Imam

Medha Imam is a producer and host at INSIDER. She joined after working as a social video producer at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix and a video producer for eNews Channel Africa in Johannesburg. Medha graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with degrees in journalism and political science. She previously reported on the business and technology beat on Capitol Hill covering stories ranging from the Supreme Court case on Abercrombie and its policy against the headscarf to gender parity in federal IT. Her pieces have also been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, UPI.com, Buzzfeed, and Hinsdale Magazine.

Instagram: @medhapedia

Moeed Khan

Moeed Khan

Moeed Khan is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and Founder of The IQ Loft. Before inspiring multiple entrepreneurs, Moeed’s path took him through various companies with roles in Finance, Accounting, and Project Management. His journey brought him to where his heart lies, in the world of entrepreneurship and startups.

Instagram: @the_real_moeed

Neelam

Neelam

Neelam was originally known for raising the standard of beauty as a modest fashion influencer but she shocked the world when she begin to showcase her activism through her rap covers. Her viral rap videos quickly circulated around the web with repost and high accolades from legends like Erykah Badu, P. Diddy, Will Smith, Jill Scott, Wesley Snipes, Jay Electronica, and the list goes on. Major blog sites caught on to Neelam’s revolutionary charm and jumped on board including World Star Hip Hop, Media Blackout USA, The Shaderoom, and many more. She made her television debut rapping at the BET hip hop award cipher with Erykah Badu as her DJ and continues to make waves with spreads in Vogue Arabia, features in Forbes, and many more. Aside from using social media as a tool to showcase fashion, art and activism, Neelam has created a space dedicated to shifting the consciousness around Muslim women and highlighting a worldwide sisterhood!

Noor Wazwaz

Noor Wazwaz

Noor Wazwaz is a producer at NPR’s flagship show, Morning Edition. She also occasionally directs the program, which serves 13.5 million listeners each week. Noor graduated in 2015 with her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. There, she reported from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Guantanamo Bay. While at Medill, Noor was awarded the White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship. Since joining Morning Edition, Noor has helped produce coverage for breaking news stories like the 2016 Election, the Brexit referendum, the Orlando Pulse Club Shooting, and she has also brought voices from on the ground in places like Aleppo, Mosul and the West Bank. Noor has been invited nationally and internationally to speak about media and issues that American Muslims face. She’s a native Arabic speaker, and a proud Chicagoan.

Paul Elia

Paul Elia

Paul Elia is an actor/comedian of Chaldean decent. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Paul started his career as a stand in for Michael Imperioli on the show Detroit 187. After the show was over, he relocated to Los Angeles is 2010 and has had several guest appearances on television shows such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Mixology. As an actor, Paul has appeared in several films, including Dirty, starring Roger Guenveur Smith, Chaz Bono, and Tony Denison. Stage experience includes ovation nominated plays such as The Interlopers and Dates and Nuts both written by Gary Lennon, who is also his homie.

Paul began doing stand up in 2010 right before moving to Los Angeles. His first show was at MGM Casino in Detroit, Michigan, where he lied to the host about being a comedian for years in order to get stage time. After bombing in front of 2500 people and embarrassing his family, he decided to take it seriously and work on his act when he moved to Los Angeles. Since then, he has done stand up all over the country including tours and festivals in Detroit, Chicago, and the Middle East. He has opened up for such comedians as Dana Carvey, Jason Stuart, and Chris Kattan. A lot of his comedy revolves around his disapproving parents and growing up in Detroit. He is also a nice guy.

Reem El Shafaki

Reem El Shafaki

Reem is Senior Associate at DinarStandard, a growth strategy research and advisory firm. Reem leads DinarStandard’s Halal and sustainable travel sector practice. Her recent projects include developing the Halal travel marketing campaign for Indonesia, authoring the Muslim Travel section of the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2013-2019.

Reem Sayes

Reem Sayes
Reem Sayes is a former Chicago Public Schools teacher turned mom- entrepreneur. Inspired by having witnessed Islamic holidays go unnoticed in public schools and becoming a mother unable to find quality Ramadan & Eid decorations. Reem decided to sketch out her own ideal Eid light decoration, built a team and, develop the first Eid Mubarak LED sign. Seeing her idea come to life made her believe that this was something every Muslim home in North America should have thus, the birth of Days of Eid™. Days of Eid™ was created to help Muslim mothers educate and inspire their children to celebrate and be celebrated and InshaAllah become the driving force into making Eid a nationally celebrated holiday. Recently, Reem has expanded her line of products to include every day home decor products like trays, table covers, and more.

Sameer Sarmast

Sameer Sarmast

Sameer Sarmast is the Host and Executive Producer of “Sameer’s Eats”, the popular Halal restaurant review show on YouTube.  In 2013, Sameer and his team launched “The Halal Food Tour” in 5 U.S. cities across the country.  The tour was a series of Halal Food Festivals highlighting local Halal restaurants while Sameer and Yvonne Maffei of “My Halal Kitchen” entertained the attendees by hosting cooking demos and “Iron Chef” style cooking challenges.

Sameer has been recognized for his efforts in promoting Halal cuisine through several media outlets and publications such as NorthJersey News, Wall Street Journal, Eater, Fusion, Al-Jazeera and the U.S. State Department.  Sameer is very passionate about Halal Food as he frequently shares his zeal with chefs and personalities from the Food Network. Although Sameer has had cameos on a Food TV shows such as “Bizarre Foods” and “Restaurant Redemption”, he hopes to see a segment highlighting Halal cuiine on the Food Network one day!

Sameer graduated from Rutgers University’s Business School with a B.S. Degree in Finance and an M.S. Degree in Organizational Leadership from Northeastern University.  Sameer currently resides and works full time in New Jersey as a Financial Planner.  When he isn’t working, he loves to travel, eat, swim and spend time with family and friends.

Instagram: @SameerEats

Selma Demir

Selma Demir

Selma is an 19 year old activist and artist, She reps the south side of Chicago and has been using platforms to provide awareness and tells stories about gun violence , food desserts, and injustices throughout the city.

Instagram: @its.selmaaa

Sergeant Syed Quadri

Sergeant Syed Quadri is the highest ranking Muslim officer in the Chicago Police Department. He believes a relationship with our law enforcement starts before there is an emergency.

Shahzmeen Hussain

Shahzmeen Hussain

Shahzmeen Hussain is a Chicago journalist with experiences in PR, digital marketing and storytelling. Her most noteworthy work has been show production at WBEZ 91.5FM, Chicago’s NPR station. Shahzmeen now works at Explore Their Stories, Inc., a film making company. Her goal: to capture the extraordinary in our everyday lives.

Shanna Maragh

Shanna Maragh

Ms. Shanna Maragh attended the University of Connecticut, and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Saint Joseph. Shanna is a Nutritionist for Do & Co Catering Inc. NY where she strives to ensure regulatory compliance to allergen labeling laws and halal requirements.

Sharaf Mowjood

Sharaf Mowjood is a Producer for the CBS Evening News. He knows we must tell our stories – highlight and share our community with the world through media and news production- towards national influence and Muslim Civic Power.

Steve Bynum

Steve Bynum

Steve Bynum has been a senior producer for Worldview, WBEZ’s global affairs/news program since 2001. Worldview is the only daily radio talk show in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to global news and affairs. On Worldview, Steve is responsible for creating in-depth stories, features, series, film projects and outreach events that connect listeners to global communities in Chicago and around the world.

Taaha Mohamedali

Taaha Mohamedali

Taaha Mohamedali is a Tanzanian born New Yorker who lives in Chicago. Currently, he oversees college access and success efforts for The Academy Group. Taaha serves on the Board of the Muslim Writer’s Collective in Chicago and on the Associate’s Board of 826 Chicago—where they encourage children to write stories.

Tawfiq Farraj

Tawfiq Farraj

Tawfiq Farraj grew up in the southwest side of Chicago. He finds it important to help create safe spaces for Muslim writers to explore new ideas. He is happily married and has a beautiful daughter.

Instagram: @Trex

Tayyaba Syed

Tayyaba Syed

Tayyaba Syed is always searching for a good story. Her work includes 20+ book titles, bylines in publications like NPR, and 100+ literary presentations. Her debut children’s book THE BLESSED BANANAS has won three gold book awards, and she loves performing it as a popular puppet show.

Instagram: @tayyabawrites

Usra Ghazi

Usra Ghazi

Usra Ghazi is an interfaith leader, public servant, and aspiring diplomat with over a decade of experience in interreligious youth work in the non-profit sector, including time as an IFYC staff member, during which she managed a strong partnership with the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. She has served as a policy advisor and Franklin Fellow at the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs and as a policy fellow for the City of Boston in the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement where she influenced new policies and programs that effectively engage faith communities. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in Religion and Politics and currently serves as a strategic designer at The Collaboratory – the design and innovation hub of the U.S. Department of State’s Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau.

Will Coleman

Will Coleman

Will Coleman is a chef and a television personality, from Michigan! He aims to show the world that healthy eating is actually delicious and cooking can be anything but boring. Will is always sure to incorporate fast tricks and tips, fresh ingredients and bold flavors, getting viewers into their kitchens to cook amazing, yet healthier foods!

Growing up, Will always had a passion for entertaining friends and family. Either he was busy putting on his daily magic shows, plays or musicals, he always was sure to make people smile. After his various performances, he would always head to the kitchen, experimenting with flavors. At the age of twelve Will knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life… Simply to entertain people.
A few years later Will started to spend more time in the kitchen and less time putting on shows. Developing his personal flair, he decided that he wanted to cater to those who were afraid to get in the kitchen due to the complexities and time involved. Determined to change people’s negative thoughts towards cooking, he created his debut cooking show “Will’s Bigg Kitchen” in the summer of 2014. The show featured Will Coleman and his friends cooking in the kitchen and implementing the fun and easy side of cooking. The show has become a community name and everyone from teens to adults can learn something from Will’s positive outlook on cooking.

Instagram: @ChefWillColeman

Yasmin Ali

Yasmin Ali

Yasmin Ali is a multimedia artist and singer. She focuses on the interplay between strength and vulnerability, and also sheds light on the insightful cracks that can form in between. Within her work, you will see the examination of these themes through objects and materials with vestigial significance.

Instagram: @Social_Bots

Zain Haq

Zain Haq
Zain is an American Muslim who launched MuslimTravelers.com in 2012 after getting fed up with the negative portrayal of Muslims in the media. While juggling his full-time job, the young millennial has jetset to over 55 countries across the globe, documenting his experiences along the way. His goal is to shatter stereotypes about Muslims, build bridges of understanding, and create more empathy in the world through what he loves most – travel! As a successful social media influencer, Zain works with brands and tourism boards across the world, has spoken at various travel conferences, and has been featured in a variety of both Muslim and non-Muslim media outlets. He is dedicated to providing authentic content that will open hearts and bring about a more peaceful world through travel.
Instagram: @MuslimTravelers 

Zainab Johnson

Zainab Johnson

Zainab Johnson, a stand-up comedian and actress, is quickly being propelled as one of the most unique and engaging performers on stage and screen. Zainab’s comedy is based on her unique point-of-view, which was shaped growing up in Harlem as one of thirteen siblings in a Muslim family. After getting a degree in math and taking a job as a teacher, she quickly learned that she had a different calling. Zainab can most recently be seen in her breakout appearance on HBO’s All Def Comedy and has made appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Arsenio, BET’s Comic View, MTV’s Acting Out, AXSTV’s Gotham Comedy Live! and just recently starred in a new web series titled Avant-Guardians premiering November 19th. She is a regular at the Improv Comedy Club in LA and the Comedy Cellar in NY. Zainab has performed in the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival as one of the 2014 New Faces of Comedy and returned numerous times since.

Zakiya Master

Zakiya Master

Hello I’m Zakiya. A spice enthusiast, recipe developer, food stylist and lover of all things food. I’m best known for my East meets West fusions, where mixing my Pakistani heritage with my birth and upbringing in the States gives a fusion of what would normally not be paired. Always being passionate about art may have helped with this new found medium of food, post becoming a mother to 3 wonderful boys, and has truly given me an outlet to continue creating.
There’s people and stories and heritage hidden behind food. There’s greater meaning and understanding of people when you look at the history behind dishes and how they came about. Being that Fusion Foods was the driving force behind my cuisine, it seemed fitting to highlight my Eastern South Asian heritage to my birth and upbringing in the States with its Western flare. Samosa Pot Pie, Chicken 65 Pizza, Kashmiri Chai Cheesecake, Gulab Jamun Cheesecake and Ras Malai Cake are just a few names of my fusions and were truly inspired by the classics. Growing up different is what inspired and continues to inspire me. Learning the infusions of flavors, watching my mother cook, learning the roots of a dish is what keeps me going and wanting to continue learning and creating more. I’ve learned it’s ok to be different and I’m paving my own way through life and well, blending my own unique spice!

Zubair Mohajir

Zubair Mohajir

Chef Zubair Mohajir is the Founder of Wazwan Supper Club – a socially conscious high end dining experience in Chicago.
Chef Zubair studied Finance in college and began his career in the banking industry, where he worked for 6 years. Following the financial crisis in 2008, Chef Zubair left banking and found himself immersed in the up and coming world of Social Media Marketing. Given a lifelong magnetic relationship with food, it came of no surprise that he found himself working with clients in Chicago’s restaurant scene. Following a passion that fell outside the prescribed norms was never really an option growing up; however, his love of food pulled so strongly at his soul that he decided to dedicate himself full time to the culinary arts in 2014.
Trained in classical French Fine Dining, Chef Zubair brings together the flavor profiles of his Indian heritage and travels around South Asia with the finesse of French cooking technique. Chef Zubair started and worked his way up to Sous Chef at the Pump Room by Jean George in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. This experience introduced him to techniques that served as a foundation for his career going forward. Following his tenure at Pump Room, he had the opportunity to work at Thomas Keller’s 1 Michelin Star Restaurant Bouchon in Yountville, CA. The culture he was surrounded by at Bouchon helped mold the current work ethic and philosophy in
his own kitchen. Upon his return, Zubair was presented with the opportunity to take part in an apprenticeship at the #5 Restaurant in the world, Gaggan. There he further perfected and refined what it means to develop South Asian food in the fine dining arena.
Upon his recent return to Chicago, the urge to accomplish more with food became an obsession, and as a result Wazwan Supper Club was born. Wazwan Supper Club has continued presenting traditional and authentic dishes with the freshest produce and ingredients to this day.

Instagram: @zubairmohajir @WazwanSupperClub