Executive Director

Khalil Demir

Born in a remote village in Southeastern Turkey, Khalil Demir understood what poverty meant at a very young age. Raised by unschooled parents, young Khalil thirsted for knowledge and pieced together the scraps of literacy his parents could offer him, teaching himself to read at a young age.

Mr. Demir 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.

In 2001, Mr. Demir founded Zakat Foundation of America 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, including the Syrian conflict, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti among others.

Mr. Demir has represented Zakat Foundation on television and radio, including National Public Radio, and also serves as a member of the Zakat Foundation Board of Directors. He has visited more than 25 countries and speaks six languages fluently. He lives in Illinois with his wife and four daughters.

President

Dr. Hasan Arslan

As a student, Dr. Hasan Arslan was an advocate for social issues in Turkey, and his concern and interest in humanitarian efforts remained with him when he moved to the United States of America. Dr. Arslan completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Chicago and, during his studies, he dedicated his free time to helping Zakat Foundation of America with his skills and experience. Dr. Arslan works as a Computer Programmer in California where he lives with his wife and two children. Hasan Arslan joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2005 and was elected President in 2007.

Treasurer

Aidah Abdallah

Ms. Aidah Abdallah joined the board of Zakat Foundation of America in 2011 after volunteering with the organization at the administrative level. Ms. Abdallah pursued her elementary teaching degree at Moraine Valley Community College and is a legal secretary for a firm in the downtown loop. She has also volunteered as a youth counselor at the Orland Park Prayer Center, and continues to be an active volunteer in the community. Aidah lives in Illinois and has three nephews and four nieces.

Board Member

Dr. Mehmet Tarhan

Dr. Mehmet Tarhan worked in an administrative capacity with Zakat Foundation of America’s Istanbul office for over four consecutive years. Dr. Tarhan obtained his doctorate in Religious Studies from Temple University in 1996 where he based his research on religious education in Turkey. Dr. Tarhan and his family currently reside in Northern California where he runs his own business. Mehmet Tarhan joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2016.

Board Member II

Sawsan Habali

Sister Sawsan resides in Toronto, Canada, with her family. She is an accountant specializing in real estate with over 15 years of professional experience. She became involved with Zakat Foundation of America in 2003, going from being a donor to becoming a dedicated volunteer and, later on, a board member. Sawsan has represented Zakat Foundation in various conventions, such as the ISNA Convention in Chicago and the RIS Convention in Toronto. In March 2011, she completed a two-week mission to the Libyan border with the Zakat Foundation team, participating in an emergency relief effort to assist the civilians suffering in the wake of the conflict in Libya. Sawsan Habali rejoined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2016.

Fatima is an inspiring self-made entrepreneur and successful businesswoman. She is a community organizer, leader, healer and a humanitarian by nature. She has voluntarily committed many hours to managing Zakat Foundation’s social services program, for which she has helped to establish protocols for assessment of need and the preservation of beneficiaries’ dignity. She is known to independently organize people and efforts to provide help whenever need arises among refugee and poor communities. Fatima is a mother of four and a grandmother of four. Fatima Khalil joined Zakat Foundation’s Board in 2018.
All of the current Board Members, with the exception of Executive Director Halil Demir, are independent voting members.

Executive Team

Kemal Birru

Director, Programs
Mr. Kemal Birru joined Zakat Foundation of America in late 2014 as a Program Coordinator for Africa and Asia. He brought his more than 20 years of experience in international humanitarian relief and development, in addressing the immediate and long-term needs of needy communities around the world. Prior to joining Zakat Foundation of America, he...

Amal Ali

Director, Brand Communications
Amal Ali completed her graduate studies at the University of Chicago where she conducted original and empirical research on the acculturative experiences of Muslim American youth. Amal now manages the Brand Communications vertical in the Marketing & Communications department at Zakat Foundation of America. Prior to joining Zakat Foundation, she was the Director of Youth...

Amal Hamid

Director, Operations
Amal Hamid joined Zakat Foundation of America in 2015, not long after about 20 years at the American Embassy in Sudan (she is originally from Khartoum) and the American Consulate in Jeddah. She worked in the procurement section, human resources and as a contracting supervisor. Her time in the state departments led her to meet...

Majeda Nabhan

Director, Human Resources
Majeda Nabhan has more than fifteen years of experience working in the field of humanitarian and development aid. She earned her master’s degree in public administration from Georgia Southern University. Majeda has spent a great portion of her career working for NGOs both internationally and within the United States. She has held leadership positions at organizations...

Amina Demir

Director, Donor Relations
Amina Demir has been an employee at Zakat Foundation of America for over 12 years. She began her career as an intern at the age of 17 and has moved from the Programs Department to the Accounting Department and ultimately becoming the Director of Donor Relations. Having spent her childhood in Switzerland with an African-American mother...

Kamran Aslam Chaudri

General Counsel
Kamran, a second-generation transactional attorney from a family including seasoned legal advocates and civil servants abroad, serves as our General Counsel to protect the interests of Zakat Foundation and its various stakeholders and strengthen our best practices. After spending five years in the Projects and Infrastructure group at Mayer Brown and three years in the...