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Alphabetical

 

HASNAT ASHIQ Hasnat Ashiq is an engineer with sales and business development expertise. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering and Cognitive Science from University of Rochester, New York. Hasnat has worked with many non-profits worldwide over the last 20 years in a variety of capacities and roles, focusing on poverty alleviation, educational initiatives, affordable healthcare, and orphan care. Most recently he served on the Board of West Valley Muslim Association (WVMA) as a Trustee and Outreach Manager, where he worked closely with AAi to organize compassion events for the homeless. As Outreach Manager for WVMA, Hasnat also worked with Saratoga and Cupertino city officials, clergy, members of various faiths, and Second Harvest Food Bank. Hasnat is a family man. He enjoys attending the high school wrestling events of his sons, and he pretends to be a golfer in his spare time.
 
 
 
IRIS BENDAHAN
Iris Bendahan has been a Jewish educator in the South Bay Area since 2001. She taught supplementary Jewish education at various synagogues, served as Religious School Principal at Congregation Beth David (Saratoga) for eleven years, and continues to train Jewish students for their Bnei Mitzvah. Iris curates The California Holocaust Awareness and Action Interactive Museum (CHAIM), a mobile educational exhibit which is brought to schools, workplaces, and community centers. Prior to working in Jewish education, Iris worked in biotechnology for twenty years after earning a Bachelor degree in Biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a Master’s in Life Sciences from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Iris has engaged in numerous social action and social justice projects with Congregation Beth David. She discovered AAi in 2014 and resonated deeply with its mission to building interfaith bridges through social action. Since then she led two to three AAi Compassion events annually for Congregation Beth David, coordinated an AAi Trialogue event with Congregation Beth David, West Valley Muslim Association and Saratoga Federated Church, and assisted in organizing Temple Emanu-El San Jose’s first AAi compassion event in November 2018.
 
 

 


ROD CARDOZA, Founder and Executive Director 
Rod Cardoza is a cultural, theological and linguistic anthropologist. He has published ethnographic research on Muslim ritual, and lectures internationally on Muslim-Christian dialogue. He studied Urdu language at Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, India. He researched social stratification among Muslim communities in Ahmedabad, India; shamanism among Maguindanaon Muslims in rural Mindanao, Philippines; and Shi'ite mourning rituals in Gujarat, India. He worked closely with leading scholars from Delhi University and Hazrat Pir Mohammed Shah Research Centre in India to publish religious peacebuilding Urdu texts. He also researched the role of Muslim cinematography in teaching Islamic knowledge in Egypt, where Rod lived with his family for several years while studying Arabic. Rod has lectured widely at universities and seminaries such as Lewis & Clark College, American University DC, Fresno Pacific University, and Fuller Theological Seminary. Rod authored "New Paths in Muslim-Christian Dialog: Understanding Islam from the Light of Earliest Jewish Christianity," (originally presented in Washington, DC at the Annual Conference on Muslim Peace, Justice and Interfaith Dialogue sponsored by Salam Institute for Peace and Justice, and Islamic Society of North America), published in The Muslim World, a journal devoted to the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. Rod lives in San Jose, California and attends a Mennonite church with his wife and three children.

 


KEVIN FRIESEN, Board Chair
Kevin Friesen is a pastor, musician, social entrepreneur and communications consultant. After nearly 20 years leading large music and production programs for churches in Northern California (First Baptist Church of Modesto, and Saratoga Federated Church), Kevin stepped outside the walls of the abbey to facilitate positive change in the world. In 2007 he founded NextStep Bridges, a nonprofit business that facilitated collaborations and partnerships with various players in the social sector. One such project was the launch and incubation of Abrahamic Alliance International in 2008. In 2011, Kevin joined the faculty at Duarte Academy (www.duarte.com) and has since led over 300 workshops with over 100 brands and thousands of individuals across the world. Kevin has a BA in Music and a Masters in Conducting from Golden Gate Seminary. He also completed the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurialism from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

 
 
 
TAJ NOORI, Treasurer
Taj Noori is a retired engineer in the Silicon Valley semiconductor industry, where she worked for 26 years with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), specializing in nanotechnology. Taj is a founding Board Member of West Valley Muslim Association (WVMA) in Saratoga, Calif., where she was responsible for numerous social, youth, and outreach programs, including Open House and AAi Compassion events with neighboring Jewish and Christian communities. Prior to her service with WVMA, Taj was very active in program leadership of South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) in San Jose (1974–1986), and with Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara (1986–2007). Taj has always enjoyed serving those in need, so even while working at AMD, she led several corprorate volunteer activities for homeless meal service, food pantries, convalescent homes, school backpack projects, and community gardens. After retirement, Taj served with Peace Corps in Niger and Zambia, Africa (2010–2014), working in the agricultural sector for food security by educating villagers to increase food production and protect diminishing natural resources. In Zambia, Taj also worked in a rural health clinic with children suffering from HIV and malaria. She educated youth in prevention of disease and empowered Zambian women to create short and long term community health projects for their villages. In partnership with Give Light Foundation, Taj also served Tsunami-affected orphans in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, teaching English, math, arts, and hygiene. Taj is a co-founder of Muslim Family Camp, a nonprofit retreat in Yosemite National Park for Muslims to disconnect from the mayhem of urban life and focus on our relationship with God. Taj is also the founder of Secured Help, a charitable non-profit helping families with essential needs, both locally and internationally.
 

 


 
HENNA PAREKH, Board Secretary
Henna Parekh has always been passionate about serving her community, particularly in the area of youth empowerment. She served as Vice President of the PTA Board at her local school, and volunteered for a decade in numerous school programs, including leading an anti-bullying program which used a reading curriculum and the arts as tools for teachers, students, and parents. Henna pioneered the weekly youth program at Evergreen Islamic Center (EIC) in San Jose, where she also served as the first woman on EIC’s Board of Directors. Henna has served as a teacher at the Stanford Islamic School, participated in youth-driven food distribution events at Rahima Foundation, and led the EIC youth in packaging food for underprivileged children in East Palo Alto. Henna Parekh was born and raised in the UK where she studied French and Russian at the University of Durham. While raising three children, she worked as a public speaking teacher in the Evergreen School District. As hate crimes soared in the U.S., Henna’s vision for fostering mutual understanding and healing among inter-religious youth led her to partner Evergreen Islamic Center with Camp Gilboa, a Jewish Summer School. This initiative brought together youth and parents of both communities through social activities and service events at Rahima Foundation, a charitable Muslim nonprofit that distributes food to neighbors in need. Henna has performed in Mary/Maryam with a interfaith drama team of budding actors at Peace United Church, Santa Cruz, under the directorship of Dr. Victoria Rue, Professor of Comparative and Religious Studies at San Jose State University, which proved to be a most life-affirming experience, akin to the same energy she feels when leading AAi compassion events. Serving with AAi is a natural continuation of her journey of hope and service to others.

 

 

Emeritus Board Members

 


SOHAIL AKHTER, Board Member Emeritus
Sohail Akhter is the founder of The Cordoba Foundation, a non-profit organization working to promote education about Islam and elderly care for Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attends South Valley Islamic Center in San Martin, California where he served as president for two terms, leading numerous community service and interfaith events with both Jewish and Christian communities. Sohail has long been an activist for peacebuilding, community outreach and civil rights initiatives, participating regularly in interfaith dialogue and community outreach programs with organizations such as Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Networks Group (ING) and United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance. Sohail has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and a 20-year professional career in Sales, Marketing and Corporate Development. Sohail is a co-founder of Abrahamic Alliance International, helping take it from concept in 2007 to launch operations in 2008. Sohail served on the AAi Board of Directors from 2008–2014, and remains a distinguished and honorary Board Member Emeritus today.

 

 

 

 

 

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