Our Staff

 

Staff | Board | Interns ]

 
 
  Ahmed Rehab   Executive Director

Ahmed Rehab

Executive Director

Ahmed Rehab

Executive Director

Ahmed Rehab is CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director. 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. Rehab is the founder of MyJihad Inc., a global PR and outreach campaign that seeks to take back Islam from Muslim and Anti-Muslims extremists alike. He is also the founder of theChicagoMonitor.com, The Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium, and the Co-founder of Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University. 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 served on the board of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). He also served on IL. Governor Pat Quinn’s Muslim Advisory Council, and as vice-chairman of RegugeeONE, Illinois’ premiere refugee resettlement organization. He is a former 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. More


  Sufyan Sohel   Deputy Director & Counsel

Sufyan Sohel

Deputy Director & Counsel

Sufyan Sohel

Deputy Director & Counsel

Sufyan Sohel is CAIR-Chicago’s Deputy Director & Counsel. Sufyan is a trained mediator and speaks frequently on social justice, civil rights and diversity issues. Before CAIR-Chicago, he worked with DePaul University‘s International Human Rights Law Institute where he researched and collaborated extensively on women’s rights issues and rule of law projects in the Middle East and Asia. Sufyan also worked with the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo, Egypt where his focus was to educate and empower women while working with policymakers on gender reform and inclusion. Sufyan earned his undergraduate degree from Tulane University and holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and a Master of Science in Finance (M.S.) from DePaul University. Sufyan is the board president of MENTEE, an organization working to empower refugee, immigrant, and low income students through mentorship.  Sufyan is also a proud member of the Chicago City Clerk’s Civic Engagement Advisory Council, the BMW Responsible Leader Network, the DePaul Law Alumni Engagement Board, the Associate Board for LIFT USA, and is a volunteer magician with Open Heart Magic. Sufyan is a recipient of the Chicago Bar Association’s Vanguard Award, the DePaul College of Law Young Alumnus Award, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Community Leadership Award, and is a 2018 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. He can be reached at ssohel@cair.com.


  Phil Robertson   Litigation Director

Phil Robertson

Litigation Director

Phil Robertson

Litigation Director

Phil Robertson is CAIR-Chicago's Litigation Director. Phil received his Bachelor's degree in journalism from Marquette University and his law degree from Northern Illinois University. After passing the bar, Phil opened his own law practice in DeKalb, Illinois, focusing on personal injury, criminal and family law cases. In 1993, he took an appointment as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois in the General Law Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General's Office in Chicago. There, he focused on civil rights cases on behalf of several departments and agencies in the state. Since then, Phil has worked in a variety of areas - in both the private and public sector - including real estate, land use and zoning, municipal, government and administrative law, labor and employment security, charitable trust law, whistleblower cases, health care and pharmaceutical law, elder law, estate planning, tax law and debt collection. In 2002, he became the Director of the Rockford Regional Office for the Illinois Attorney General's Office. Prior to joining CAIR-Chicago, Phil opened his own law firm in Crystal Lake, Illinois, where he served businesses in and around McHenry, Lake, Kane, Boone and DeKalb counties. He can be reached at probertson@cair.com.


  Saadia Pervaiz   Communications Coordinator

Saadia Pervaiz

Communications Coordinator

Saadia Pervaiz 

Communications Coordinator

Saadia Pervaiz is one of CAIR-Chicago's Communications Coordinators. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in History from the University of Chicago in 2017. Since 2014, Saadia has been working with various organizations in documenting oral histories of first generation Partition survivors in the United States. In addition to her historical work, Saadia has been tapped by numerous institutions for graphic design and illustrative commissions, including premier sports start-up ClutchPoints. She has helped curate exhibits focusing on the South Asian diaspora in collaboration with the Field Museum and Indian American Heritage Museum. Her artwork has been published in-print and online on multiple media platforms. Saadia can be reached by email at spervaiz@cair.com


  Asha Binbek   Communications Coordinator

Asha Binbek

Communications Coordinator

Asha Binbek

Communications Coordinator

Asha Binbek is one of CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinators. As a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Asha earned two Bachelor’s degrees in English and Communication. Concurrently, she served as the Undergraduate Student Government Interpersonal Relations director and as the first Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement Fellow, overseeing the UIC’s efforts around the 2016 election, Asha helped the campus earn one of the inaugural Voter Friendly Campus Designations along with being recognized as the Most Engaged Campus by the All in Democracy Challenge. Additionally, through her advocacy efforts on campus, she was able to see the creation of the first Arab American Cultural Center at a university, serving on its advisory board until graduation. She was also one of several student leaders that organized the Stop Trump Rally in March of 2016 which had over 15,000 people in attendance. Asha will begin her Master's in Public Policy at the University of Chicago in October. Afterwards, she plans on attending law school and becoming a civil rights attorney with the hope of protecting the rights of minorities who cannot always protect themselves against injustices. Asha can be reached at abinbek@cair.com.


  Gerald Hankerson   Outreach Coordinator

Gerald Hankerson

Outreach Coordinator

Gerald Hankerson

Outreach Coordinator

Gerald Hankerson is CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator, leading community outreach, youth development, and civic engagement efforts. He directs the internship program, presents workshops, coordinates events and international engagement, and advocates policy and voting issues. He serves as a member of the African American Leadership Advisory Council at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which aims to maintain and increase recruitment and retention efforts for students of African and African American descent.  He also served three terms on the Board of Directors for Arise Chicago, an interfaith labor rights group. Gerald attended Lindblom Technical High School, graduating an Illinois State Scholar with high honors.  A President’s Scholar and Pipeline to Justice Fellow in the Social Justice Initiative at UIC, he graduated with a B.A. in Communications. Gerald served two terms in the Muslim Students’ Association as its Program Coordinator, was an UIC Ambassador through the African American Action Network, a member of the Black Student Union, and was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. An alumnus of the Chicago Debate League, Gerald contributed to the urban debate movement for 15 years, including serving as Head Coach and Coordinator of policy debate programs in Chicago Public Schools for six seasons. Given his years of service and activism, the Chicago Debate Commission and the Chicago Debate League honored Gerald as its 2015 Alum of the Year.  North Park University (Chicago) recognized Gerald as a “Man of Excellence” in 2012.  His personal journey as a new Muslim during high school and college is featured in the book I Believe In...Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Young People Speak About Their Faith (compiled by Pearl Fuyo Gaskins, © 2004), as well as the international public education campaign, MyJihad. Gerald has been committed to sharing his experiences and perspectives on multiculturalism, youth development, volunteerism, writing, research, policy debate and social critiques to bridging gaps between diverse communities. Gerald  can be reached at ghankerson@cair.com.


  Siham Naser   Operations Coordinator

Siham Naser

Operations Coordinator

Siham Naser

Operations Coordinator

Siham Naser is CAIR Chicago’s Operations Coordinator. She recently graduated in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Siham was an Honors College student and graduated with a degree in Finance. A CAIR-Chicago intern alum, Siham returned to our office to fill the position in the Operations Department. Throughout her undergraduate career, she served as the Senior Vice President of the Business, Finance, and Entrepreneur Association. She is also a Tau Sigma Honor Society inductee, where current social justice topics were addressed around campus. She admires being involved and making a difference in any way she can. As a member of the Management Leadership Association, Siham placed heavy importance on leadership and change. She joined CAIR-Chicago because of its strong mission and purpose of existence. Not only is the work at CAIR-Chicago impactful and meaningful, it also aligns with her personal and professional goals. She is honored to be part of an organization that defends the rights of humanity. In her free time, Siham enjoys shopping, writing, and getting involved in her community. She can be reached at snaser@cair.com


  Muhammad Tauseef Akbar   Research Director

Muhammad Tauseef Akbar

Research Director

Muhammad Tauseef Akbar

Research Director

Tauseef Akbar is CAIR-Chicago’s Research Director. Tauseef Akbar studied Arabic and foundational Islamic disciplines in Cairo, Egypt at the Al-Fajr Institute, affiliated with Al-Azhar University. He received a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Chemistry at North Park University. He is slated to receive his MA in Islamic Studies from American Islamic College in Spring 2017. His research work has primarily focused on Islamophobia and demographic trends within the Muslim American community. As a researcher he has worked with leading Muslim American organizations and was also a past consultant to Georgetown Univesity’s Bridge Initiative for the study of Islamophobia. He has written and been published on the topic of Islamophobia, the War on Terror and the genocide against the Rohingya Muslims in various news media outlets. He can be reached at makbar@cair.com.


Auxiliary Staff Members

 
  Sanjana Lakshmi   Paralegal

Sanjana Lakshmi

Paralegal

Sanjana Lakshmi

Paralegal

Sanjana Lakshmi is a Paralegal at CAIR-Chicago. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Legal Studies at Northwestern University, where she wrote her undergraduate thesis on the prosecution of national security whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. Sanjana was involved in race and gender justice-focused activism throughout college, and served as the Co-President of International Gender Equality Movement at Northwestern. She has also interned at the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and at the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute. She was drawn to work at CAIR-Chicago due to her interest in legal advocacy and non-profit work to advance the rights of marginalized communities. Sanjana plans on attending law school in the coming years and working in immigration or civil rights law. She can be reached at slakshmi@cair.com.


Fellows

 
Brian Huff

Brian Huff

AABA Fellow

Brian Huff is recent graduate of Loyola School of Law. Brian worked in CAIR-Chicago’s civil rights division as a Law Clerk for the Spring 2018 session, and is returning under a fellowship from the South-Asian Bar Association while he studies for the Illinois bar. He is an Indiana native who completed his undergraduate studies at Indiana University – Bloomington. Prior to joining CAIR, Brian studied criminal appellate advocacy while clerking at the Legal Resources division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, and the Office of the State Appellate Defender. Brian originally intended on practicing criminal law, but recent trends in U.S. politics have shifted his interests to immigration and civil rights. He saw joining CAIR as the perfect opportunity to practice in these areas of the law, and familiarize himself with the issues facing the Muslim community. Brian has taken great pride in his time at CAIR, and has enjoyed helping respond to the legal needs of the Chicago Muslim community. In his free time, Brian enjoys sketching, caring for his cat Molly, internet debates, and forcing people listen to him talk about comic books and how he would have written the last few Superman movies. Even when they don’t want to.


  Zachery Taylor   Aizik Wolf Fellow

Zachery Taylor

Aizik Wolf Fellow

Zachery Taylor

Aizik Wolf Fellow

Zachery recently graduated from the University of Chicago, having majored in Geographical Studies and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies, with a minor in Human Rights. During his time at UChicago, he was active in Palestine solidarity advocacy and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the construction of the public in Israel through urban planning, land laws, and citizenship. With support from the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, Zach was awarded the Dr. Aizik Wolf Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship in Human Rights. He chose to work with CAIR-Chicago because he is motivated by the role of the legal profession in advancing the human rights of disenfranchised members of our society. Following his fellowship, Zach hopes to matriculate to law school and pursue a career in immigration law and anti-poverty work.


  Mohammad Waqas Farooqi   Outreach Fellow

Mohammad Waqas Farooqi

Outreach Fellow

Mohammad Waqas Farooqi

Outreach Fellow

As a Muslim student living in the Netherlands Waqas noticed an increase in Islamophobia, intolerance and discrimination. Not only in the Netherlands but in the West in general, especially in the United States. It is why he chose to study Public Management, so he can help his community. In the Netherlands he saw a few bright individuals that came forward, however he noticed that there were very few organizations that came forward with a reply to this bigotry. The organizations that did are often lacking on many levels. Thus, when the Public Management program that he currently is studying under offered the opportunity to do an internship, he chose to do it at CAIR-Chicago. CAIR-Chicago has shown how to effectively defend civil rights, fight bigotry and promote tolerance. His goal is to learn how CAIR-Chicago works and to connect with other organizations in the American Muslim community in order to have a proper understanding of the organizational structures, professionalism and networks that are present. After finishing his internship he will return to the Netherlands with the hope to benefit the Dutch Muslim community, improve and help the existing organization and maybe start his own NGO.


  Eléna Pinot   International Law Fellow

Eléna Pinot

International Law Fellow

Eléna Pinot

International Law Fellow

Eléna Pinot is one of CAIR-Chicago’s international fellows, coming from France. She graduated in 2016 from Strasbourg Law School majoring in human rights, with a minor in minority’s rights. She worked with several local and international institutions as a volunteer and an intern, working on legal counsel and advocating for human rights. Eléna has always been very passionate about protecting the rights of those who are most susceptible to suffer human rights violation such as refugees, minorities and women. She sadly witnessed the rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe and around the world, and as a result decided to take actions. She has been working for the past year and a half on organizing CVE conferences centered on non-punitive policies and is delighted to be working with CAIR-Chicago on defending and advocating for American Muslims.


  Maaria Mozaffar   Legislative Attorney

Maaria Mozaffar

Legislative Attorney

Maaria Mozaffar

Legislative Attorney

Maaria Mozaffar is CAIR-Chicago's Legislative Attorney. Mozaffar is a civil rights attorney, policy drafter and legislative consultant. She has spearheaded civil rights coalition building, advocacy programs and consulted political citywide campaigns. She has drafted statewide legislation on criminal justice reform, food justice and academic diversity. Mozaffar is the principal attorney of The Law Office of Maaria Mozaffar where she focuses on policy development, advocacy and mediation. Mozaffar received her JD from University of Illinois at Urbana and is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois. Mozaffar is the Senior Policy Advisor at IMAN and a member of the Human Rights Watch Committee of Chicago.


  Iman Boundaoui   TAP Coordinator

Iman Boundaoui

TAP Coordinator

Iman Boundaoui

TAP Coordinator

Iman Boundaoui is CAIR-Chicago's TAP Coordinator. Boundaoui is an associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where she litigates commercial class actions and represents clients in other civil litigation. As a litigator, she also works on pro bono asylum and immigration cases with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). While in law school, Boundaoui was a judicial extern to the Honorable Ann Claire Williams for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Illinois. She also served as president of the Muslim Law Students Association and president of the Moot Court Honor Society. Boundaoui received her Juris Doctor magna cum laude from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.