Board of Directors

Hazel Gomez
Board Chairwoman

Hazel Gomez is a faith-based community organizer and student of the Islamic sciences. She is a Puerto Rican and Mexican Muslim convert of nearly 20 years hailing from Chicago’s westside and currently living in Detroit. Hazel’s passion for studying Islam was heightened while at Al-Azhar University with a delegation of Latino and Latin American Muslim students where they studied a myriad of the foundational Islamic sciences. She began volunteering at Rabata shortly thereafter and has been a Ribaat Academic Institute student since its inception. She teaches in the Rabata Dragonflies and RabaTEENS programs. She also has an ijazah in the Forty Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi.

Hazel is an avid reader of all things about Muslims in America and is interested in the research and creation of an authentic Latino Muslim experience. She also dedicates her time as a convert mentor, non-profit board member, and social justice trainer. Hazel graduated from Loyola University Chicago with double Bachelor’s degrees in Forensic Science and Biology. In 2021, she was named by the Center of American Progress as one of 21 faith leaders to watch:

Kiashe Pugh
Board Vice Chairwoman

A native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, Anse Kiashe Pugh converted from Christianity to Islam in 1990. Since then, she has lived abroad in a number of countries, studying the sciences of Islam and ultimately earning the high honor of accreditation in formal Quranic recitation from world renowned Quranic scholar, Shaykh Abu Hasan al Kurdi, in 2003.

Returning to the U.S. in 2013, after 19 year abroad, her passion for service has compelled her work for a multinational humanitarian organization. From her training Islamic Studies, she teaches and mentors youth and adults through an international women’s educational non-profit – Rabata, Inc. At Rabata, Anse Kiashe also teaches for the RabaTEENS and Dragonflies youth programs.

She most enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and hosting guests. She is a lifelong learner and teacher who encourages others to continually learn and reflect, especially on the Quran.

Soofia Ahmed

Dedicated to the pillars of service and education, Soofia Ahmed has led teaching initiatives for street children in India, taught in UK Islamic schools, and has taught in both public and private schools in the USA. She has also spoken at Amnesty International, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Islamic Society of North America conferences. She was one in sixteen American students to receive an internship regarding the promotion of religiously pluralistic mentalities through Interfaith Youth Core and was invited to the White House by Hillary Clinton as part of the Generation Change youth initiative. She was both volunteer and program coordinator for Indian Muslim Relief and Charities’ Summer Volunteer Program. She also facilitated “Humari Dunya,” an interfaith service initiative to India through Worldfaith. She was invited to Oprah Winfrey and Good Morning America shows to speak regarding issues of faith. Through her college, she received the prestigious Founder’s Day Medal of Honor and the Niebuhr Center’s Gandhi Internship for International Justice. In Scotland, she worked as the Black and minority ethnic lead support worker at Inverness Women’s Aid. She was Inverness Masjid’s coordinator of women’s, children’s and new Muslim affairs and outreach.

She graduated from Elmhurst College with honors, majoring in secondary education, English literature, and intercultural studies with a social justice focus and a middle school history teaching certification. She is pursuing an M.S. in project management. Soofia is currently a curriculum developer at Rabata and is the project lead for Rabata’s Leadership and Legacy educational campaign. She teaches the next generation of positive cultural change makers through Rabata’s Dragonflies and Rabateens youth programs.

Farah Hatia

Farah earned her bachelors degree from University of Illinois and her Masters in Business Administration from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. She spent 7 years as an Investment Consultant for some of the largest corporations and endowments in the U.S. After her son was born she decided to pursue her passion in education. She helped start a school in the city of Chicago, where she served on the board and worked as the financial director up until 2018. She is currently homeschooling her children and also sits on the board as finance director for Homeschool Group of Greater Chicago.

Maryum Rasool
Board Member

Maryum Rasool, MSA, is the Executive Director of the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV), a community organization on the north side of Flint, Michigan, that offers both academic and athletic programs to underserved, at-risk youth. SBEV firmly believes that investing in young people is the key to creating compelling and lasting change in our community. SBEV serves over 1000 students and over 10,000 families annually. During her tenure as Executive Director, the SBEV received an award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to support culturally sensitive nutrition education and mitigation of lead poison, partnered with Jaden Smith’s organization to help provide clean water to the residents of Flint as well as securing a community impact award from the NFL Detroit Lions. Additionally, under Ms. Rasool’s leadership SBEV has partnered with Grammy award-winning producers to provide music education to young people. SBEV’s music education work is an award recipient from the Lewis Prize Foundation.

Originally from Boston, Ms. Rasool traveled the world with her family until they eventually settled in Flint, Michigan when she was young. Ms. Rasool has over 20 years of non-profit management experience. Ms. Rasool is committed to serving Flint’s unique neighborhoods and its diverse people. Ms. Rasool serves on the boards of directors for the Wellness Services of Flint, MI., and Rabata, an international women’s group. On issues ranging from educational and nutritional deficiencies to economic and water crises, Ms. Rasool works tirelessly to transform Flint into a just and equitable city by removing the structural barriers that prevent children from reaching their full potential. She holds an M.S. In administration from Central Michigan University and a BA in organizational communications from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Mona Islam
Board Member

Dr. Mona Islam has been deeply engaged with the American Muslim community on various levels for the past thirty years. Her greatest passions and areas of contribution lie in developing Muslim women and youth. She is an avid advocate of female scholarship. A committed lifelong learner, Islamic Studies teacher, and tarbiyya facilitator, she has studied under Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavaci and with Shaikha Dr. Hanaa Gamal closely, among many others.
She currently serves as vice president of the Multicultural Center in Houston, a leading humanitarian center, where she leads the Education Department. She has founded a girl scout troop which grew to over 160 members, and a co-founder of a boy scout troop which now has over 320 members in Southeast Houston. She regularly contributes to and publishes Islamic Studies books for high school and middle school level youth. During COVID she offered over 200 online sessions for youth which included teaching the Quran cover to cover twice, seerah, hadith sciences, and purification of the heart.
Dr. Islam holds a Masters in Educational Administration and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She lives with her family and five children in Houston, Texas.

Sabriyya Shaw
Board Member

Sabriyya Shaw is the founder of The Nafisa Project, an organization dedicated to the spiritual and personal development of young Muslim Women based in Memphis, Tennessee. She works as an Islamic Studies teacher at Pleasant View School, and a coordinator of ALIM’S FRAMES program. She is pursuing a Masters of Divinity in Islamic Chaplaincy from Bayan Islamic Graduate School. She holds a bachelors in Psychology from the University of Memphis, and graduated from Tayseer Seminary in 2021. From a young age, her interest in learning Deen pushed her to study with local teachers and attend Deen intensives across the country. Her love for community service led her to cofound the Midtown Mosque mobile food pantry at 16, serve on youth and community service projects, and volunteer with Muslim nonprofits locally and nationally.

Dr. Sonia Cader
Board Member



Sonia Cader is a practicing Surgical Oncologist in Vancouver, Canada. She has an undergraduate degree in kinesiology, and received her medical training in Vancouver, Edmonton and Chapel Hill.

She studied intermittently in Syria from 2001-2005 and obtained an ijaza in the Hafs recitation from the late Shaykh Abu Hassan Al-Kurdi in 2005. She currently teaches Tajwid for the Ribaat Qur’an program in addition to heading the marketing division of Rabata, and serving on the board.

She enjoys traveling, fiction, movies and taking Ribaat classes.

Tayyaba Syed
Board Member

Tayyaba Syed is a multiple award-winning author, journalist, keynote speaker, and performer, and thus far, has conducted 150+ literary and faith-based presentations for a variety of schools, communities, and organizations both online and in-person.

She has written 20+ book titles for kids including Encyclopedia Britannica and has had bylines in numerous publications such as NPR, Chicago Parent, and Chicago Crescent. Her most recently published works include The Blessed Bananas, a children’s picture book, which has won 3 gold literary awards, and her newest board book Hafsa’s Kisses, winner of the Daybreak Book Award.

Tayyaba has traveled extensively sharing her love for reading and writing. She is known to be a fun storyteller, weaving great lessons and hearts into everything she does.

She has been a student and volunteer with Rabata since its inception in 2012. Tayyaba is the first graduating class to receive a teacher certification through the Ribaat Academic Institute in 2020 and offers many diverse classes online. For the last decade, Tayyaba has been leading a local women’s halaqah to bring traditional knowledge and a sense of belonging to over 100 moms just like her. In 2021, Tayyaba was elected with the most votes as a member of her local public school district’s Board of Education. She works as a curriculum writer for Monarch Academy and lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she enjoys being outdoors, exploring nature, and volunteering in her free time.

Samra Ali
Board Member

Samra Ali is a lifelong student, educator, and non-profit management professional. With an extensive arts, nonprofit, and volunteer background, she began her formal career in a MomPreneur venture that grew to be a multi-brand year-round design house, which saw an exponential growth of 500% in the three years of operation.

Samra has spent over 10 years in private education, helping to grow one of the most prominent Islamic private schools in North Texas, and establish a few upcoming ones. With her experience in donor management, marketing, and multi-level operations, she is happy with her present home at Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation as Housing and Procurement Manager. At TMWF Samra is honored to serve, support, and empower victims of domestic violence. Samra remains focused on community driven and centered projects, incorporating her faith, arts, and education backgrounds. Samra serves on the Board of non-profits and consults for strategic planning.

A lifelong student at heart, Samra is currently enrolled in SMU Cox Social Entrepreneurship Certificate program.

Rukia Sheikh-Mohamed
Board Member

Rukia Sheikh-Mohamed is a resident of Minnesota, where she has been fortunate to spend the majority of her life. As a mother, developer, and student of knowledge, she finds fulfillment in the simple joys of life.

In her current role as an Operations Developer at New Vision Foundation, Rukia feels privileged to contribute to the education of minority youth in coding and software engineering. She recognizes the importance of creating opportunities for underrepresented communities and is continually inspired by the transformative power of education.

In her personal journey of growth, Rukia is engaged in the study of Islamic Sciences at Ribaat, Hikma Academy, and Prophetic Guidance.

Outside of her professional and academic commitments, Rukia cherishes the moments spent with her son and delights in the beauty of travel. Her goal is to continuously learn and grow, both as an individual and as a member of the global ummah.

Advocating for personal development, Rukia sees herself not only as a student but also as a guide encouraging others to strive for their best selves. With blend of technical expertise and operational insight, she believes in the value of working collaboratively and supporting one another.

In her downtime, Rukia enjoys engaging in fun DIY projects, finding joy in the creative process and the satisfaction of bringing ideas to life. Her hope is to inspire others through her journey, recognizing that every person has a unique story to tell and lessons to share.

Rukia Sheikh-Mohamed feels honored and humbled to contribute to fostering positive cultural change through her varied experiences and sincere dedication on Rabata’s board of directors.

Nakita Valerio
Board Member

Nakita Valerio is a writer, researcher, and community organizer based on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton, Canada. She is a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, studying Qur’anic literacy and Moroccan women’s rural religious leadership. Her previous graduate studies were in Islamic-Jewish Moroccan history. She serves as an academic mentor for graduate students in the social sciences and served as the Research Director for the Institute for Religious and Socio-Political Studies (I-RSS) for nearly 3 years. Nakita remains the Editor-in-Chief for the RSS Journal with UAlberta Libraries, is the founder of The Nusaibah Collective for Muslim women, and is a student of Islamic sciences in Arabic and Qur’an with her shuyukh and at Ribaat Academic Institute. Nakita advises the Chester Ronning Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life, serves as the Faculty of Arts Representative for UAlberta Alumni Council and is an alumni representative on the University Teaching Awards Committee. She is the co-founder of a primary school in rural Morocco.

Filsun Moussa
Board Member

Born in Austin, Texas, Filsun Moussa is a first-generation Somali American who calls Memphis, TN, home, where she resides with her husband and two children.

Filsun Moussa is a Sr. Manager at Medtronic’s Cranial and Spinal Technologies Operating Unit, where she leads Regulatory Operations and Data Strategy. She has a BSc in Biology from the University of Memphis and an MBA in Data Analytics from Louisiana State University – Shreveport. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute. 

Besides her regulatory expertise, Filsun Moussa is passionate about community engagement and empowering Muslim professionals to show up authentically in the workplace. She has over 13 years of corporate experience and a wealth of knowledge and expertise. As a certified life coach by the Adwam School of Life Coach, Training, and Certification and a #IamRemarkable trained facilitator, she conducts workshops to help people develop confidence and communication skills. Filsun is dedicated to empowering people, especially underrepresented groups, to navigate their careers, celebrate their achievements, and challenge the social norms around self-promotion.

Deeqa Hussein
Board Member

Deeqa Hussein, a Minnesota native, has transitioned from a career as a Human Resource Business Partner to her current role as Clinic Manager at Let’s Talk Healing, aligning her professional expertise with her values and passion for serving the BIPOC community. Since joining Let’s Talk Healing, her main tasks have been creating structure, policy development, and leveraging her HR skills. In this capacity, she oversees daily operations, leads a team providing compassionate care to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS), providing services and support to individuals with mental health disorders.

Amy Chiang
Board Member

Amy Chiang is a native to Chicago and converted to Islam when she was 18. She graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2008 at the top of her class while working full-time. She went on to work in the finance group at Mayer Brown, a large international law firm. After starting a family, she left big firm life and worked as Of Counsel for a boutique corporate law firm. After learning that two of her children are dyslexic, she became a Certified Dyslexia Practitioner. She loves working with struggling readers and has shifted her practice area to Special Education Law. She currently homeschools her three children and sits on The Mecca Center Endowment Board and the board of the Dyslexia Action Group of Naperville.  

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