Born in a remote village in Southeastern Turkey, Halil understood poverty at a young age. Raised by unschooled parents, he thirsted for knowledge and pieced together the scraps of literacy his parents could offer him, teaching himself to read at a young age. Halil began his activist career as a student before leaving Turkey to pursue his education in Switzerland. There, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology before continuing on to the United States, where he obtained advanced degrees in history and nonprofit management.
He founded Zakat Foundation of America in 2001 with a group of Muslims driven to improve the lives of the poor worldwide. Since then, he has overseen the establishment of schools, orphanages, vocational training programs, and health clinics around the world; the construction of water wells, mosques and community centers in Africa, USA, and the Navajo reservation; the delivery of millions of dollars in emergency humanitarian aid to survivors of wars, natural disasters and other catastrophes.
Amina Demir has been a Zakat Foundation of America employee for over 12 years, starting as an intern and moving from Programs to the Accounting Department. Having spent her childhood in Switzerland with an African-American mother and Kurdish father, She views the world through multiple spectrums. Her multicultural background inspires most of her work. Amina graduated Cum Laude in History with a focus on African American History since 1845. She is part of the American Historical Association and currently is attending DePaul University College of Law.
Nasreen’s aspiration is to inspire. Encouragement through both her personal journey and professional experiences had led her to embrace community service. She first took interest in nonprofit organizations as an Auditor at Crowe LLP; gradually involving herself in community relations as a mentor and volunteer. Advancing in the NGO world, her leadership growth consists of team building, school support, social justice awareness, faith-based development and various aspects of community service coordination. Nasreen continued to evolve by bringing her 15 years' experience to Zakat Foundation’s Accounting Department, compassionately serving humanity. Her continuous purpose is to impact through empathetic leadership in every way possible.
After 20 years of service at AT&T’s Research Labs, Raza paved the way for Islamic activism in America. No stranger to volunteering and engagement, he served as the President of the Chicago Chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America in the late 1980s. He developed Islamic websites and family programs and is a founder of “Why Islam,” a da’wah organization that shares Islam’s accurate information across North America. Raza served ten years as CEO of Helping Hand for Relief and Development.
Carl Dodge is an award-nominated podcast host who has worked on digital campaigns for Oscar-nominated movies like Omar and independent films like The Muslims are Coming! He has ten years of experience working in the non-profit industry. Carl is also a Veteran of the United States Navy and has earned his Master’s of Arts in Communication, Culture, & Technology from Georgetown University.
Majeda has worked for more than 15 years in humanitarian and development aid domestically and abroad. She has held leadership positions at CARE International, Secours Islamique France, and the Belgian Technical Cooperation. She led the team as Program Director for the BTC Palestine Office. Majeda joined the Zakat Foundation of America in 2015 and currently heads the HR department nationally and all international offices in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
As a student, Dr. Hasan Arslan was an advocate for social issues in Turkey. His concern and interest in humanitarian efforts remained with him when he moved to the United States of America. Dr. Arslan completed his Ph. D. in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Chicago. During his studies, he dedicated his free time to helping the Zakat Foundation of America with his skills and experience. Dr. Arslan joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2005 and was elected President in 2007.
Dr. Mehmet Tarhan worked in an administrative capacity with the Zakat Foundation of America’s Istanbul office for more than four consecutive years. Dr. Tarhan obtained his doctorate in Religious Studies from Temple University in 1996. He based his research on religious education in Turkey. Dr. Tarhan joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2016.
Sawsan Habali is an accountant specializing in real estate with over 15 years of professional experience. She became involved with the organization in 2003, going from donor to dedicated volunteer and, later on, a board member. She completed a two-week mission in March 2011 to the Libyan border with the team, participating in an emergency relief effort to assist the civilians suffering in the wake of the conflict. Sawsan Habali rejoined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2016.
Fatma Tuncer was born in Kutahya, Turkey. In 1994, Fatma entered the University of Istanbul to pursue Physics for a bachelors degree. In August 2000, Fatma and her family moved to the United States to complete her bachelors degree in General Science at Wilmington University. In 2018 Fatma completed her master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) at the University of Delaware.
She has since worked at Christina School District as an English teacher, she is a proud mother four and an active participant in her community. She has been a long time donor and supporter of Zakat Foundation of America.
Fuat was born in Turkey, 1970. He graduated with a Computer Science major from Bilkent University. After working for public and private companies, he moved to the United States in 2000. And since then, he is working as a Programmer and Technical Manager in various companies.
He is one of the first volunteers of the Zakat Foundation, and he is a board member since 2022.
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In 2022, 91¢ from each dollar donated went directly toward programs serving those in need. 4¢ went to administrative costs & 5¢ went to fundraising costs.