Our Team

Connecting Communities, Creating New Spaces for Engagement

Staff Members

Aniqa Nawabi

Executive Director

Aniqa Nawabi's Biography

Aniqa Nawabi joined MCN as its new Executive Director on October 2018. She brings nearly a decade of experience in non-profit management and policy to this role.

Prior to joining MCN, Aniqa served as the Director of Development at Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that works on the housing and immigrant rights of the South Asian community in New York City. As the lead fundraiser, she raised a budget of $1 million+ each year and helped expand and grow Chhaya's reach among the individual donor and institutional funder landscape in New York City. She first started her career as an Assistant Research Scholar at New York University where she studied post-conflict states and worked on international development projects in Afghanistan.

As an immigrant from Bangladesh and growing up as a Muslim American teenager in Queens, New York, she saw firsthand the struggles Muslim communities face in the post-9/11 era. Aniqa grew up in Germany and South Africa before coming to the United States and holds a Masters in Public Administration degree from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service and a B.A. from the City University of New York-Queens College. She is a mother of two, an avid traveler, and speaks Bengali, Hindi, and Farsi.

Nafisa S Al Hafiz

Finance, Operations & HR Coordinator

Nafisa Al Hafiz's Biography

Nafisa began her journey with MCN as the operations, finance, and human resources coordinator in July 2022. Nafisa discovered her enthusiasm for serving the community while working as a program navigator at Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a non-profit that advocates for the housing and immigrant rights of the South Asian community in New York City, prior to joining MCN.

Nafisa spent 25 years living in Dubai, where she was raised. She has progressed through a variety of positions and businesses, including Citigroup, American Home Assurance Company, Intuit, and Berdon LLP, to mention a few, in the hopes of one day stepping into bigger shoes.

Rana Abo-Omar

Civic Education Manager

Rana Aboomar's Biography

Rana Aboomar joined MCN in June 2019. She earned her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and a Masters of Education Temple University. She has a background in post-secondary education policy, non-profit management, and education research. At MCN, she manages our Youth Civic Fellowship, Women’s Civic Empowerment Program, and our voter education work.

ajifanta

AjiFanta Marenah

Advocacy Program Coordinator

AjiFanta Marenah's Biography

AjiFanta Marenah was born in The Gambia and migrated to the U.S when she was twelve years old. She completed her Bachelor’s in Government and Politics and Master’s in International Relations at St. John’s University. Prior to joining MCN she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Government Department at St. John’s, as well as a Research Assistant with The Rose Lokissim Foundation, where she assisted a coalition of organizations with consultations for victims of human rights violations. While attending St.John’s,  AjiFanta served as President of the UNICEF chapter and held internships at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, Human Rights Watch and the Bronx Civil and Criminal Courts. As a multi-lingual Black woman, an immigrant, and a Muslim in the United States, AjiFanta is constantly aware of the injustices that come with being a “minority”, and strives to use her platforms to dismantle the oppressive systems and biases that give way for these injustices.

Fatoumata Zahra

Fatoumata Zahra

Civic Leadership Youth Coordinator

Fatoumata Zahra's Biography

Fatoumata joined MCN as the Civic Leadership Youth Coordinator. She immigrated from Senegal to New in 2009. She strives to act on being part of the growth and development of children, especially young girls. 

Fatoumata migrated from Senegal to New York City. She completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science and Public Policy at The City College of New York. She founded the nonprofit Noko-Boku Foundation in 2018 which aims to provide educational resources to elementary schools for children living in villages and rural areas yearly. Fatoumata advocates for Mental Health Awareness, Children's Rights, and Climate Change. She was an instructor at John Jay Upward Bound in subjects such as Humanitarian Development and the United Nations Agenda. 

Fatoumata is enthusiastic to join the Muslim Community Network and looking forward to making leadership impacts with youth.

Musfika Moshahid

Muslim Women’s Civic Empowerment Program Coordinator

Musfika Moshahid's Biography

Musfika Moshahid joins MCN as the Muslim Women’s Civic Empowerment Program Coordinator in September 2021. Musfika recently earned her B.A degree from the City College of New York where she majored in Political Science and minored in Community Change Studies. Born in Bangladesh, and raised in the Bronx, she has experience in community organizing around housing and immigrant rights issues. Musfika is excited to be serving and working with Muslim women, especially those who come from marginalized communities, so that they can be the leaders in their own lives.

Maryam Khaldi

Brooklyn Program Coordinator

Maryam Khaldi's Biography

Maryam Khaldi joined MCN in the Summer of 2021 as the Brooklyn Program Coordinator. Maryam is a college student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She’s double majoring in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Maryam advocates for social justice and her passions include volunteering with non-profits to provide a helping hand to her community. Maryam is excited to be working with MCN and her main focus has been on expanding MCN into Brooklyn by introducing existing programs such as youth programming, MCN Serves, voter education, and more to help reach the Brooklyn community. Maryam also manages MCN’s volunteers base, and leads the voter education program at MCN. Maryam likes to spend her free time assisting non-profits with their food drives, and she likes to paint and draw.

Board of Directors

Dr. Debbie Almontaser

President - Board of Directors

Dr. Debbie Almontaser's Biography

Dr. Debbie Almontaser is the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Dr. Debbie Almontaser is the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. A 25-year veteran of the NYC Public School System, where she has taught, trained teachers, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity adviser.

Dr. Almontaser is the Board President of the Muslim Community NetworkDr. Almontaser frequently lectures on Arab culture, Islam, cultural diversity, interfaith coalition building and youth leadership. Dr. Almontaser sits on the Public Advocate Tish James’ Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Task Force to Combat Hate. Dr. Almontaser also serves on the board of The Therapy and Learning Center Preschool and Emerge USA National Board.

Dr. Almontaser is a published writer on Education and American Muslim issues.  She has been profiled in the NY Times on the founding of the Khalil Gibran International Academy as well as Time Magazine, Newsweek, and profiled in the Daily News for spearheading the inauguration of NYC’s Arab Heritage Week in 2005.

Recently, Dr. Almontaser was a featured speaker at the 2016 National Democratic Convention. Dr. Almontaser is a recipient of numerous awards ADC National’s, Rose Nader Award Commitment to Values of Equality and Justice, Pax Christi’s Local Peacemaker Award, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice’s Risk-Takers Award, the Annual Faith Leaders Award and proclamations for building bridges of understanding from the Mayor of the City of New York, Brooklyn Borough President and a proclamation from the New York City Council for her excellence in education and a proclamation from the NYC Comptroller’s office for her civic engagement organizing work. Dr. Almontaser was a Columbia University Revson Scholar in 2005. She was also named a Thought Leader at the ASMA Society Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Program in 2006.

M. Bari Khan

Board of Directors

M. Bari Khan's Biography

M. Bari Khan has been active in Islamic affairs and the Muslim communities in New York for many years.

Bari is one of the original founders of the Islamic Center at NYU, one of the leading university based Islamic organizations in the United States, and is active in several South Asian and Islamic community groups today.  Upon his graduation from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Bari joined City Hall under Mayor David Dinkins, one of the first Mayors to endorse diversity initiatives in the City and recognize Muslim holidays.

Today, he works as a Director of Finance at the NYC Health Department and most recently worked on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election campaign.  Besides his professional work in public service, Bari is a parent advocate in the Upper Westside and has chaired the PTA Diversity Committee for the past 5 years at PS199 (the only school in Manhattan to win the coveted National Blue Ribbon School Award). He lives in Manhattan with his wife Rifat and two daughters, Maha and Suha.  After 35 years as one of the founders of the ICNYU, Bari remains as committed as ever to enhancing the understanding of Islam and empowering Muslims in the City of New York.

Malik Sabree

Board of Directors

Malik Sabree's Biography

Malik Sabree is the Chairman/Founder of PIRS LLC and PIRS Holdings LLC.

Malik Sabree is the Chairman/Founder of PIRS LLC and PIRS Holdings LLC, the sole provider of credit ratings for the private lending industry that specializes in risk management and is the Founder of The Mores Group, LLC, a debt buying/private lending company established in 2009 He is also the Founder of The Viewtainment Corporation in 2006, which created and developed casual games for cellphone users long before the advent of the smartphone.

A post graduate of University of Iowa College of Law and Henry B. Trippie College of Business, he received a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration in 1999 and a Bachelor of General Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992. He is currently focusing on multifamily acquisition and asset management.

Laila Marie Al-Askari

Laila Marie Al-Askari

Board of Directors

Laila Marie Al-Askari's Biography

Laila Marie Al-Askari is the Director of Administration and Finance for The Brick Presbyterian Church where she is developing the organization’s systems to service inreach and outreach needs as well as interfaith work.

Ms. Al-Askari has a keen interest in serving the Muslim community, an activity that she has been involved in since her school days. In 2014 the Islamic Center of New York University (ICNYU) awarded Laila the Visionaries Award for her work in cofounding the Islamic Center during her undergraduate years at NYU. The ICNYU began with 7 members and today over 1,000 students and alumni are active in the ICNYU community. She feels that it is her duty to speak out for Islam, and clear misconceptions about Islam. As a young professional Laila formed the Young Muslim Professionals Club. It is Ms. Al-Askari’s goal to see Muslims become visible, and for people to see Muslims as valuable members of their society.

Laila’s interfaith work has led her in many directions. In 2017 Laila joined the board of the Muslim Community Network to continue her work on building bridges within our communities. She has served as Treasurer for the American Society for the Advancement of Muslims, and served as the Muslim representative to the Executive Committee for Auburn Seminary’s Face to Face Faith to Faith Program for conflict resolution, and currently serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of the Cordoba House and the Islamic Sunday School Program. During the past several years Laila has participated in interfaith panels on Islam at Marble Collegiate Church and other venues. Most recently Laila participated in the Muslim Leadership Training program jointly sponsored by the Cordoba House and the Hartford Seminary.

Ms. Al-Askari is a native New Yorker, a graduate of New York University with a BA and MA in Near Eastern Literature and Languages, and an MBA in Healthcare Administration from Baruch College/Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and is a Certified Health Care Executive (CHE). She was the Administrator for Cardiology at Beth Israel Medical Center, and later at Montefiore Medical Center, worked in the Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology Departments as the Director of Business and Clinical Affairs providing needed services for underserved areas. For this work she was one of the first administrators to become a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine.

Hobbies: Travel, Diving: Master Diver and an avid underwater photographer.

Mujesira Dudic

Mujesira Dudic

Board of Directors

Mujesira Dudic
Mujesira Dudic, MBA is a Director of Marketing at Capgemini, a global consulting company focused on technology and innovation for world's largest companies. 
 
She has prior experience as a Board Member of Becky's Fund, a DC based non-profit focused on working with local high-schools to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and bystander intervention. Her responsibilities included fundraising, event planning, and community relationships during her 5-year tenure at the organization.
 
Mujesira is originally from Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and is a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide inflicted upon the Muslims of Bosnia  in 1992-1995. She moved to United States with her parents and 3 sisters in 2001 to Richmond, VA. She finished her undergrad in 2011 at George Mason University in Virginia and completed her MBA at New York University in 2022 with a focus on Leadership and Change Management and Strategy.
 
Mujesira is an avid runner and you can find her most days running at Hudson River Park. In her free time, she loves to lounge around with her husband watching Netflix and looking for touches of nature within the buzz of New York City.

Advisory Board

Prof. Azza Karam

Advisory Board

Prof. Azza Karam​'s Biography

Azza Karam is a Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands - of which she is a citizen.

She has served as a Senior Advisor on Culture, at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since 2007; and as Coordinator/Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; where she coordinated engagement with members of a Global Interfaith Network for Population and Development with over 600 faith-based organizations from all regions of the world, representing all religions and interreligious affiliations. She is the Lead Facilitator for the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy, building on a legacy of serving as a trainer cum facilitator of inter-cultural leadership and management in the Arab region as well as Europe and Central Asia.

She served as the President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations in 2003, and has supported the founding of numerous interreligious networks - and continues to advise - the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI – 2013), the Moral Imperative (2015) and the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD – 2016). She is also a member of the Trans-Atlantic Partnership for Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD).

Professor Karam has served in different positions in the United Nations since 2004, as well as other intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations since the early 1990s, such as International IDEA, and Religions for Peace (RfP). Simultaneously, she lectured in various academic institutions in Europe, in North America (including the United States Military Academy/West Point), Africa and the Middle East.

Her Ph.D. in 1996, focused on Political Islam, and became her first book in Arabic (her mother tongue) and in English. She has since published widely, and in several languages, on international political dynamics, including democratization, human rights, peace and security, gender, religious engagement, and sustainable development. She was born in Egypt, and now lives in the United States.

MCN Co-Founders and Board Members Emeritus

Imam al-Haji

Aisha al-Adawiya

Adem Carroll

(Executive Director 2008-2010)

Additional Board Members Emeritus

Robina Niaz

Moushumi M. Khan

Sarah Sayeed

Nurah Amatullah

Abdulsalam Musa