About the Team
Farheen Khan, Board Chair
As the Principal consultant of FSK Associates, Farheen has held several leadership positions working for and providing oversight in the areas of community engagement, fundraising, marketing and communications to organizations of varying scales. To date, Farheen has raised over $17M for local and global causes. She has a background in Business Marketing and is a graduate of the CITY Leaders Program, Maytree Foundation's Leaders for Change, Civic Actions, DiverseCity Fellows and the Centre for Social Innovation's Agents of Change programs. In 2012, after struggling with obesity since childhood, Farheen embarked on a journey of health and wellness and managed to lose 200 pounds dropping from a size 28 - 12. In 2015, Farheen ran in the Federal election as an MP candidate and became the only Hijab wearing woman to run during this 11 weeks federal anti-muslim, hateful divisive election campaign.
Farheen is an author and advocate and continues to speak in the media on matters of gender-based violence, islamophobia, equity and human rights. Farheen leads a number of collectives and collaboratives in the community which focus on creating safe spaces and dignity of all. Today, Farheen is also the host of the "Azeeza Show", on Eawaz.com, which focuses on discussing social issues from a gendered lens.
Assia holds a Bachelor degree in Education from the University of Ottawa and Bachelor degree in business from the School of Commerce Algiers and a Masters Degree in Economics with the University of Algiers. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Psychology at the Laurentian University and working towards her PhD in Economics at the University of Algiers. Assia has more than 18 years of experience as a teacher, teaching at various levels of learning from elementary schools to Universities. Assia's teaching has also included adult education where she had the opportunity to teach government officials and corporate CEOs. Assia currently works for the French School Board in Toronto as Resource Teacher supporting children with disabilities. Over the years, Assia has been active and has held positions in a number of community organizations including the Vice Chair of the Federation of Muslim Women (FMW), Board member at LECODEV, a member of the l'association algérienne du Grand Toronto (AAGT) and currently the Director of Projects at Azeeza for Women. When she is not working Assia is enjoying outside activities such as walking and hiking. She also loves to spend time with family and friends.
Mariam is an Industrial Engineering student, entrepreneur, social justice advocate who is excited to be a part of the Azeeza team as the Creative Director. Growing up in a multicultural neighbourhood, she didn’t get the sense of belonging in Muslim crowds and hopes that her struggles within those spaces can help Azeeza be a safe space for Muslim women across the GTA and even Canada.
Zehra Abbas is the Founder and Executive Director of YTGA (Youth Troopers for Global Awareness), a youth-led non-profit organization mobilizing and empowering young people for domestic and international social justice through campaigns, workshops and the arts. Zehra and the YTGA team launched a social enterprise in Mississauga called Studio.89, comprised of a fair-trade cafe, artademic resource centre, and community space.
The cafe encourages ethical and healthy consumerism while hosting numerous community events and initiatives. The artademic centre offers arts, academic and lifestyle workshops as well as free resources and entrepreneurial opportunities. Zehra and her team have combined their multi-faceted talents to create the unique and dynamic Studio.89 model which facilitates both local and global action. As an experienced member of the non-profit sector, Zehra has campaigned to Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Canada, volunteered for War Against Rape in Pakistan, and worked with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.
Legacy/ Founding Members:
Saima S. Hussain is the editor of The Muslimah Who Fell to Earth: Personal Stories by Canadian Muslim Women (Mawenzi House, 2016). The book is a compilation of twenty-one personal stories told by Muslim women from all backgrounds and persuasions, devout and not-so-devout, professionals and housewives, westernized and traditional, wearing jeans, hijab, or niqab, straight and gay, and originally from Africa, North America, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Asia—revealing in their own ways what it means to them to be a Muslim woman (a “Muslimah”).
Saima is also the author of the award-winning children's book The Arab World Thought of It: Inventions, Innovations and Amazing Facts (Annick Press, 2013). She earned an Honours B.A. in English and History and an M.A. in South Asian Studies, both at the University of Toronto. Saima works for the Mississauga Library System.
Nikhat Rasheed is an independent consultant and former Executive Director, with expertise in leading multi-institutional projects and program evaluations in the education and non-profit sectors. Projects are funded by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and regional/ local foundations. Her areas of expertise include immigrant integration, pathways to employment, labour market planning, diversity and inclusion, crime prevention and delivering training initiatives to achieve social change. She holds degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Leeds, and a Postgraduate Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Nikhat currently serves as the President of the Canadian Evaluation Society – Ontario. Over the past 7 years, she has served in various leadership capacities including Membership Committee Chair, Vice-President, Past President and Treasurer. She was one of the Diversity Champions that launched Canada’s first-ever regional Diversity & Inclusion Charter in Peel Region and has served as a director with the Regional Diversity Roundtable of Peel. Nikhat is a founding member of the Azeeza project.
Volunteer Staff Team:
Sakina Gul Hussain, Creative Director
Sakina Hussain has a background in government public relations and public policy/research, with experience in both the UK and Canada. Sakina is passionate about volunteering and advocating for women and has a strong interest in human rights, diverse communities, and women's issues.
Khadija Masood, Digital Media Producer
A wildly creative and spontaneous individual that seeks to deliver a proactive course of action for an innovative digital media platform development for opportunities like Azeeza for Women. Being a Creative Digital Media Producer, bringing forth the best engaging content for our audiences that support women is my forte.
Currently working as a Communications Analyst for Metrolinx and volunteering for a lot of exciting opportunities; as a Communications and Logistics Lead for MAX GALA, Youth Program Coordinator for Toronto Muslims and as a Youth Ambassador Volunteer for MBC Volunteer. Graduated from York University majoring in Communications in 2015. Soon after, graduated from a makeup school, freelanced clients and created my own brand for niche services in makeup artistry. Eminent photography skills and being a keen talented guitarist keeps me busy in my free time.
Khawla Taha, Community Relations Director
Mother of 5 children came to Canada 2011, after 25 years working experience in Jordan and UAE in the fields of education and hospitals, decided to dedicate her life to help others, provide assistance to those in need, and participate and volunteer in various social and women activities. Winner of AFW “Appreciation” Award 2016 Faith Communities, Khawla is a compassionate advocate for humanity. She organizes events to bring people from diverse communities, ethnicities, and backgrounds together. Her vision is to make Canada an inclusive country for all.
She volunteers at many charitable and non-charitable events to support the cause and be the voice for the people in need of help. She also helps new immigrants to connect them to the community. KHAWLA is a World Peace for the Democratic Party of Justice and Prosperity and a Senator of Ontario Province – Canada/ Special Adviser of Peace for the Humans for Peace Institution (UN- NGO) and a Global Ambassador for the GSFEN. In 2018 Khawla became one of the 50 influential women of different diversities reflecting “ Real Life Living”.
Samreen Sultana, Wellness Manager
Special Needs Educator, Yoga Instructor and Personal Trainer (in training)
Samreen Sultana attended Ryerson University and received her Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management. She worked for a few years in the corporate world and realized it wasn’t for her. What she really found fulfilment in was helping people so she went back to school to pursue her Post-Graduate in Special Education. She graduated with honours in Communicative Disorders and started working for Halton Catholic District School Board.
Samreen’s interest in adventure, exploration, food and travel has always been intact. She took 1-month off to travel to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Italy and Spain. She has also experienced the great culture, people, food and amazing destinations in Costa Rica, Peru and just recently Africa! Samreen has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa by reaching Africa’s highest point and world’s highest free-standing mountain at 5,895M/19,341Ft. After Africa, Samreen decided she wanted to pursue her ambition of becoming a Yoga Instructor and Personal Trainer as she loves health, fitness and wellness. She is on a journey to learning and hopes to help herself and others mentally, emotionally and physically.
Sara Khan, Community Relationship Manager
Ever since she was knee-high to a grasshopper Sara has always been seeking adventures and thrives in connecting people to enrich their lives. She is a compassionate and driven individual who strives to build community awareness in tackling key social issues related to environmental well-being and the health, education, and empowerment of women. Her impassioned[ motto is “When you educate a woman; you educate a generation”. To accomplish this, she intends to work towards the creation of resilient sisterhood through community activities promoting female empowerment.
As a Community Relationship Manager, Sara will be creating a space for members of the Azeeza group to give back to the community while building their communications skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem. Through her day job as a Product Manager for Cancer Care Ontario, she has established an ability to easily connect, interact, and build nurturing relationships with a diversity of people, while organizing and leading projects to successful endpoints. Sara is involved in various large-scale community projects throughout the year, including the Cakes4Humanity Campaign by Islamic Relief Canada, which ran during Ramadan from 2013 to 2016. Her involvement in the community also includes collecting donations for women's shelters working in volunteer recruitment with the Muslim Welfare Centre for meals in Regent Park, providing guidance as a MAX Mentorship Coordinator including providing leadership as a Board Member for the BMC (Brampton Multicultural Centre). Sara graduated from the University of Toronto with Degree in HBsc. Computer Science Specialization, She was immediately swept off to the United States to work as a consultant for a period, before realizing her heart truly lies within Canada and decided to move back home. Hiking in the great outdoors, cuddling up to a book, scratching off places on her travel map, and blogging about her travels at https://khanpeditions.com are just a few things that take up her free time when she can find it!
Michelle Bilek, Community Support Lead - Peel Region
Social activist Michelle Bilek, a long-standing supporter of democracy, human rights, equality and the environment and advocate against violence and poverty is driven to challenge the status quo and make a difference in the lives of ordinary Canadians. Michelle works tirelessly for those less fortunate and those that feel they do not have a voice in the community. Michelle worked as a high school teacher with the Toronto District School Board, in long-term care in Peel Region as a Community Resource Manager and at Princess Margaret Hospital in Psychosocial Education. Michelle is a board member of The Peel Regional Diversity Roundtable, was Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services (SAVIS), a Board member with the United Nations Association in Canada (Toronto Chapter), a member of the Council of Canadians, Interpares, and Fair Vote Canada. She is also a guest editor with Canadian Women’s Studies Magazine and a member and participant in the Peel Poverty Action Group, Habitat for Humanity, Make Poverty History and Equal Voice, an organization that promotes the election of women at all levels of government. Today Michelle works as the Housing First Coordinator for the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
Born in India, Rana describes herself as ‘twice-migrated’, having spent almost two decades in the Middle East before moving to Canada in 2008. Currently working in the social justice field with Working for Change, Rana is also an ESL teacher and is a published author. For her, writing has been both a shield and a mirror for her many life experiences. Gandhi’s dictum of ‘Be the Change’ defines Rana’s efforts towards the causes that are important to her.
Adeela Qadir is an IT Project Manager and a Master Reiki practitioner. Adeela is passionate about working with survivors of abuse and people dealing with mental health issues. She enjoys writing articles to empower women.
Khaula Mazhar is a writer and artist, her work reflects on women’s issues as well as other causes. She has had articles published in Dawn Newspaper of Pakistan during her years there, her recent writing focusing on women’s issues as well as being Muslim, has been featured on Blog Her, a prominent online community and media company. She also writes for Muslim Moms.ca. Her artwork includes an exhibition on feminism and an upcoming one is themed on women and immigration. She organizes paint events for the community as a means of de-stressing and expressing oneself. A portion of sales from her artwork and events is donated to charitable causes.
Worked as a Teacher in a Secondary school in Jeddah and also in the Administration department in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Passionate about helping others in whatever way possible.
Uzma Ahmed is a project management assistant with a background in Biology. Uzma really enjoys learning and is passionate about making her own small difference in the world. As a person with many privileges, Uzma feels that it's her responsibility to work towards a balanced society, which includes fighting for equality for women and men. Uzma firmly believes that the world won't change until we change, and so she tries to learn as much as she can and question her beliefs so that she can become as informed as possible.
Georgia Stavrou is a Purchasing Clerk for Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland, USA. Outside her day job, Georgia helps refugees settle in their new environment by offering a wide range of opportunities and ideas to help them become entrepreneurs; she also writes poetry, bakes, is learning to crochet and is working to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Credits & Acknowledgements
Web Design, Development & Management