Ashleigh Zimmerman brings almost ten years of non-profit experience with her to her role as Executive Director of the Muslim Consultative Network. Ashleigh is committed to developing solidarity within and understanding of the diversity of experiences found along lines of religion, nationality and identity, both in the United States and abroad. Most notably, she took it upon herself in 2004 – while still an undergraduate at the American University – to break the unofficial embargo against travel to Iran by initiating and leading a group of five Americans to study for a summer at the University of Tehran. Following her studies in Iran, Ashleigh completed course work in Islamic economics, international law and the political history of the Middle East at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.
Upon receiving her degree in International Relations and Conflict Resolution, with a minor in Arab Studies, Ashleigh joined the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice where she served as Conference Manager for the Annual Conference on Muslim Peacebuilding, Justice and Interfaith Dialogue.
For the past five years, Ashleigh served as Director of Graduate Programming for Seeds of Peace, an organization dedicated to empowering new generations of leaders in some of the world’s most intractable conflicts. In this position, Ashleigh developed and launched Seeds of Peace’s strategy to leverage its alumni’s professional and personal capacities, to shift the status quo in the fields most pivotal to conflict and peace: policy and law, media and technology, education, and business and entrepreneurship. In doing so, she drastically expanded the opportunities for Seeds of Peace alumni, professionals from 22 different nations, to launch collaborations and initiatives that accelerated their paths to leadership and explored how their professional positions and industries can address the root causes of conflict.
Ashleigh is often invited to speak about the importance of citizen diplomacy and was a featured panel member during the Youth Speak, We Listen conference in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt, where she spoke on the power of youth to promote peace. Ashleigh serves on the board of International Peace Park Expeditions and was a 2009 Startingbloc Fellow, where she focused on innovative means of making for-profits more sustainable and accountable and non-profits more business savvy.
Ashleigh is driven to lead the growth of the Muslim Consultative Network and the communities it serves by creating inclusive processes that engage New York City’s Muslims and empowers their participation in society more broadly. As someone who has a deep connection to the Arab and Muslim World through her life’s work and as the wife of a naturalized American Muslim, she carries the Muslim Consultative Network’s mission in her heart and is tied to its success. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Mohammed, and enjoys traveling, especially to visit Mohammed’s family in Gaza Strip. She also enjoys mentoring students who have recently immigrated to the United States with the nonprofit organization, Tagai.