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.
Chief Operating Officer, COO
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.
Director, Brand Communications
Amal Ali completed her graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where she conducted original empirical research on Muslim American youth's acculturative experiences. Before joining the Zakat Foundation of America, she was Director of Youth Development at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. She designed and directed programs to facilitate a culture for nurturing local youth development. Amal has more than 25 years of passion-driven project management and leadership experience.
Kamran Aslam Chaudri
Kamran is a second-generation transactional attorney from a family with seasoned legal advocates and civil servants. He spent five years in Projects and Infrastructure and three years in Global Transportation Finance, advising sponsors, financiers, governments, and multilateral development agencies to help them complete business transactions in over 40 different countries. He went in-house to assist Khalil Center — a Zakat Foundation Project — in expanding its work nationwide and internationally.
Director, Development & Fundraising
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.
Amal Hamid joined the Zakat Foundation of America in 2015, not long after about 20 years at the American Embassy in Sudan and the American Consulate in Jeddah. She worked in the procurement section, human resources, and as a contracting supervisor. As a loyal employee, she was granted the Special Immigrant Visa, which allowed her to move back to the country where she graduated high school. She started in Zakat Foundation’s Programs Department and then moved to the Operations Department.
Head of Marketing & Communications
Amna Mirza is a savvy, strategic brand marketing expert with over 15 years of experience building strong brands and delivering effective award-winning campaigns. She has worked with world-renowned brands such as PBS, Independent Lens, Blue Shield of California, and Zaytuna College. Amna has a track record of increasing market share, outperforming the competition and maximizing profits through multi-channel campaigns. She translates research into strategy and turns strategy into compelling creative.
Director, Human Resources
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.
BOARD of DIRECTORS
Dr. Hasan Arslan
Chair of Board
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
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.
Aidah Abdallah joined the Zakat Foundation of America board in 2011 after volunteering with the organization at the administrative level. She pursued her elementary teaching degree and is a legal secretary for a firm in downtown Chicago. She has also volunteered as a youth counselor at the Orland Park Prayer Center. She continues to be an active volunteer in the community.
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.
Fatima is an entrepreneur, successful businesswoman, community organizer, leader, healer, and a humanitarian by nature. She has voluntarily committed to managing the Zakat Foundation’s social services program. She has helped establish protocols for need assessment and the preservation of beneficiaries’ dignity. She is known to independently organize people and efforts to help whenever the need arises among refugee and poor communities. Fatima Khalil joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2018.