2016 Banquet Speakers
Our 12th Annual Banquet “Up for the Challenge” is set to take place on Saturday, February 20th, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., at Drury Lane. Please mark your calendars and show your support by attending. More information about the event can be found here >>
Keynote: Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda Sarsour is a community activist shattering stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. Currently she is the Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator 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. Linda’s strengths are in the areas of community development, youth empowerment, community organizing, civic engagement and immigrants’ rights advocacy.
Emcee: Hassan Shibly currently serves as the Executive Director of CAIR-Florida and has appeared numerous times in both local and national media outlets including CNN, NPR, Voice of America, the New York Times, the Toronto Star and the Buffalo News for his work protecting civil liberties and promoting understanding of the Muslim faith. He runs a successful academic publishing company focusing on the traditional Islamic sciences, and is the founder of the Center for American Muslim Understanding. Hassan’s work has earned him the attention of various Islamophobic publications, which criticize Hassan for "deceiving the American People" by "promoting a peaceful and tolerant image of Islam."
Violinist: Mariela Shaker, born in 1990 in Aleppo, Syria, started playing the violin at the age of ten when she joined the Arabic Institute of Music in Aleppo. As civil war escalated in 2013, Mariela received a scholarship to attend Monmouth College in Illinois to study Music Performance. She applied for asylum in the United States as she was unable to return to her war-torn home in Syria. Her parents and a brother remain in Aleppo. Mariela has been awarded a full-tuition academic scholarship to study for her Master’s in Music Performance at DePaul University. She has performed at a U.N. concert at the Kennedy Center, been honored at the White House as a "champion of change" on refugee issues, and in December played for members of the U.S. legislature. Now she uses her music to build bridges and raise awareness for the plights of the Syrian people.
Dr. Mazen Kudaimi
Fundraiser: 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.