2013 Banquet Speakers


Imam Zaid Shakir is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work. Along with Hamza Yusuf and Hatem Bazian, Imam Shakir co-founded the Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, where he now teaches courses on Arabic, Islamic Law, History and Islamic Spirituality.


Josh Hoyt is the Chief Strategy Executive at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Under his leadership, the Coalition has fought vigorously for citizenship for the undocumented and to protect civil liberties in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Coalition has helped to make Illinois one of the most immigrant friendly states in the US, and is considered one of the most effective immigrant organizations in the US. Hoyt has worked a total of 33 years as an organizer for social justice in Chicago, Baltimore, and in the countries of Spain, Peru and Panama. Through his work with the Coalition, Hoyt has proven to be a courageous and effective leader in pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.


Linda Sarsour is a working woman, community activist, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Sarsour shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. Currently she is the National Advocacy Director for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a network of 22 Arab American organizations in 11 states including the District of Columbia, nationwide where she conducts trainings nationally on the importance of civic engagement in the Arab and Muslim American community. Locally, she serves as the Director of the Arab American Association of New York, a social service agency serving the Arab community in NYC. In 2012, Sarsour was selected by the White House to be commended for her work by officially naming her a ?Champion of Change.? Sarsour has been a prominent voice against hate and bigotry in New York and nationally.


Ameya Pawar is the Alderman of Chicago's 47th Ward. Prior to his election, Pawar was on staff at Northwestern University in the Office of Emergency Management. At Northwestern, Pawar was responsible for the development of a university-wide business continuity program. Pawar holds a M.S. in Threat and Response Management from the University of Chicago and a M.P.A. in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is currently enrolled in a third master's degree program at the University of Chicago in the school of Social Service Administration. In 2009, Pawar was a US State Department Scholar. Pawar is also active in his community as he sits on the boards of the 47th Ward?s Common Pantry and the state-wide advocacy organization, the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention. After taking office Governor Patrick Quinn appointed Pawar to serve on the Illinois Innovation Council (IIC) ? Pawar will be working with IIC members and the Governor to help jump-start innovation and job creation in Illinois. Pawar has been a force against hate and bigotry; in 2012, he introduced an anti hate resolution in the Chicago City Council which condemned hate attacks against minorities including the Sikh American and Muslim American communities.


Sheikh Kifah Mustapha is widely known within the Chicago Muslim community as an Imam at the Mosque Foundation. Although he can usually be found at the Mosque Foundation, Sheikh Kifah Mustapha extends his wisdom to the interfaith community in the greater Chicagoland area. Inspirational and motivating, his khutbahs energize and mobilize communities to commit themselves to justice and equality - two founding principles in Islam. As a Muslim Chicagoland mobilizer, Sheikh Kifah Mustapha has garnered the support of the Muslim and interfaith community around various causes while enlightening them through Islamic teachings and thought. Sheikh Kifah has mobilized each and every one of our past eight fundraisers.


While serving as the General Counsel and Chief Operations Officer at Zakat Foundation, Safaa Zarzour also acts as the principal lawyer at Zarzour, Khalil & Tabbara, LLC where he focuses his law practice in areas of local government, education and nonprofit law. He formerly served as the Secretary General of ISNA during which time he worked with local Muslim communities around the country to strengthen vital community institutions including families, mosques, schools and organizations involved in civic and social service. Along with his role in the education realm as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law school as well as board member of several universities, Zarzour actively works alongside distinguished faith leaders in the Chicago area. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School teaching courses in Education and Islamic Law. Safaa Zarzour was the founding Chairman of CAIR-Chicago.