Aisha holds a PhD in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Masters of Education from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from the University of Maryland- European Division. Aisha is passionate about issues of equity, justice and education. These passions have led her to become an Illinois State Board of Education Certified K-9th grade teacher, an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities, an elected school board member for Community Consolidated School District #168 and newly appointed board member for Routledge journal, Religion and Education. Additionally, Aisha currently manages a $16M federally funded Chicago teacher preparation grant spanning across four universities in the Chicagoland area. Some of her most recent roles include Coordinating Committee Member with Teachers for Social Justice, Assistant Director of Bridging the Gap, Co-chair of Public School Initiative for Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and Advisory Board Member serving Chicago Metropolitan Educational Center for Community Advancement. Additionally, Aisha enjoys reading, running, puzzles and family game nights. Aisha has been married for almost 13 years and has 3 amazing daughters.
Dzafer Kulenovic is the Senior Vice President/Chief Risk Officer for Great Lakes Bank headquartered in Blue Island, IL. Mr. Kulenovic graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 1987 with a degree in Business Finance. He received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from DePaul University of Chicago in 1990. Mr. Kulenovic enjoys his work as a board member of the Suzuki Orff School of Music in Downtown Chicago since November, 2010, and Concept Schools since July, 2012. He previously also served as a board member and secretary for the Chicago Math and Science Academy in Chicago’s Roger’s Park and is actively involved in the Bosnian and Muslim community in Chicago having served as the Vice President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks (2002-2009) the largest Bosniak organization in the USA, President of the Islamic Cultural Center in Northbrook, Illinois (2004-2009) (the oldest Bosnian founded mosque in North America), and as a member of the Governing Board of the Democratic Action Party (SDA) in Sarajevo (2001-2009). He and his wife Selma reside in Niles, Illinois with their 18 year old daughter Jasmina.
Ahlam Jbara was born in Palestine and immigrated with her family to Chicago in 1974. Ahlam returned to ICIRR as the Deputy Director after serving as the Interim Executive Director at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) a 20 year old community organization that brings together the Illinois Muslim community. Before joining CIOGC, Ahlam was the Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP) Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. From 2003 – 2006 Ahlam was the Family Empowerment Program Director at the Arab American Action Network. Ahlam has worked for over 18 years on creating and administering programs that help women and children become self sufficient and independent; programs that will make change in the lives of women and children and that will empower them to use their voice and find their inner power. Additionally, she has led the voter registration and get out the vote campaigns on the southwest side in the Muslim community, has trained youth and adults on civic engagement and organizing. Ahlam sits on several other boards and committees to serve the community and especially women and children.
Paul Rutgers has been the Executive Director of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago since 1998, having previously served as President of the Council. Prior to assuming this position, Rutgers served from 1986 to 1998 as the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Chicago, the regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.). He is now Chicago Presbytery’s Executive Presbyter Emeritus. Rutgers is an ordained Presbyterian minister, serving pastorates in New Jersey and New York prior to coming to Chicago. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Princeton Theological Seminary and has done graduate studies at Temple University Medical School and McCormick Theological Seminary. As Executive Director of the Council of Religious Leaders, he has played a leading role in organizing the faith community’s disaster and crisis response programs, and directed the interfaith community’s spiritual care response effort following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He recently was honored as a recipient of the City of Chicago’s Distinguished Interfaith Cooperation Award. In 2008, Rutgers joined with Rev. Stanley Davis to serve as Co-Directors of the Council. Rev. Rutgers is married to Dr. Susan Peverly, the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Hesham Hassaballa is a Chicago-based physician and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis and has been published in newspapers across the country and around the world. He has been a Beliefnet columnist from 2001-2009, and has written for the Religion News Service. His articles have been distributed worldwide by Agence Global, and he is also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. In addition, Dr. Hassaballa has appeared as a guest on WTTW (Channel 11) in Chicago, CNN, Fox News, and National Public Radio.
Christina Abraham is the Senior Fellow at the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) in Siracusa, Italy. She also does consulting in the area of development and programmatic activities for non-profit organizations. In 2011, Christina served as the Chief of Staff for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), an independent fact-finding commission that investigated human rights abuses in Bahrain after demonstrations calling for government reforms began in February 2011. Subsequent to that, and as part of her work as Senior Fellow at ISISC, she co-edited the publication, Siracusa Guidelines for International, Regional and National Fact-finding Bodies. She also served as Secretary of the Drafting Committee for the Siracusa Guidelines, a set of guidelines for the establishment, operation and investigation methods for human rights fact-finding bodies. From 2005 until 2011, she served as Civil Rights Director at CAIR-Chicago. Christina holds a JD from DePaul University and an MA from the University of Chicago.
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Midwest Foundation, serving as president from 2004-2006. She is also one of the founders of SAMS National Foundation, serving as national chairwoman from 2005-2007. Suzanne represented the Syrian American community at the U.S. Department of State’s Global Diaspora Forum in 2011 and 2013. In addition to her international work, Suzanne has been active with her children’s school, the Universal School, serving as PTA president from 2009-2011 and as a board member from 2011-2013. She was the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)’s Intern/Volunteer Director from 2011-2013, and served as chairwoman in organizing the much lauded 2012 CIOGC 20th Anniversary Dinner. She has a bachelors degree in history and education from the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) from Lewis University, and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management and a Certification in Project Management and a Certificate in Fundraising at Northwestern University. Suzanne currently resides with her husband and three children in the West suburbs and in her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.
Ahmed Rehab is the Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. Rehab is a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Public Radio. He has been interviewed hundreds of times by newspapers, radio, and TV venues, both national and international. Rehab lectures at various University campuses in Chicago and around the nation. Prior to joining CAIR in August of 2004, Rehab was a freelance speaker, writer, and activist in the fields of interfaith collaboration, education, and community outreach. Between 1999 and 2002, Rehab served as a consultant for Arthur Andersen LLP – a global consulting firm. Rehab serves as a board member of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). He also serves on IL. Governor Pat Quinn’s Muslim Advisory Council. He is a board member and secretary of the Egyptian American Society, a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ (CCGA) Muslim task force, an Eisenhower fellow of the American Assembly, and alumnus of the FBI Citizen’s Academy.
Muhammad Mazen Kudaimi, MD, FACG, is a Board Certified physician in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology and currently practices gastroenterology in Northwest Indiana. He was born and raised in Syria and graduated form Damascus University Medical School in 1979. He moved to Chicago in 1980 and was trained at Cook County Hospital. Dr. Kudaimi served on the board of Universal School, the Mosque Foundation Board and the board of the Mosque Foundation Youth Center. In addition to being a board member of CAIR-Chicago, he is currently President of the Illiana Islamic Association in Highland, IN. He is married to Dr. Randa Loutfi and has six children.