WISE Founder & Executive Director

Daisy Khan is an award-winning speaker, author, activist, commentator, and the founder of Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), the largest global network of Muslim women committed to peacebuilding, gender equality, and human dignity.

Formerly, Khan served as Executive Director of American Society for Muslim Advancement for eighteen years, where she was hailed as a bridge builder for promoting cultural and religious harmony through groundbreaking intra faith programs like Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow and inter-faith arts programs like Same Difference, Cordoba Bread Fest. In her grassroots efforts to combat anti-Muslim bias she created “Today, I am a Muslim Too Rally with 100 Interfaith organizations. When Khan saw an unprecedented rise in violent extremism causing intense scrutiny and distrust of Muslims she published WISE Up, Knowledge ends Extremism in collaboration with 72 authors to develop narratives of peace by creating a counter-momentum to the rise in hateful rhetoric.

Khan believes that women’s leadership is essential to solving societal issues. “we need to remove structural barriers to Muslim women’s leadership, to enable them to use their resolve, passion and humility to bring societies into greatness.” She founded the first global Muslim women’s Shura (advisory) Council to amplify Muslim women’s scholarship. The Council uses an egalitarian interpretation of scripture to publish position papers against issues such as child marriage, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and many others.

Khan lectures in the US and internationally on numerous topics; Muslim women, Islam in America, Islamophobia, and extremism. Her audiences are varied: prestigious think tanks like CFR, universities, congregations and women’s and youth groups. Recognized as a global think tank thought leader, Khan has been featured in powerful periodicals such as Time Magazine Guardian, Newsweek, and The New York Times and appears regularly on TV outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC. As advisor, she has appeared in documentaries like PBS’s Three Faiths, One God, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, and National Geographic’s Inside Mecca.

Her memoir, Born with Wings (2018) depicts her spiritual journey as a modern Muslim woman and her circuitous path to leadership. She is a recipient of two dozen awards and honors including the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, Edinburgh Peace Award, Interfaith Center’s Award for Promoting Peace. More Magazine described her as “a Link between Moderate Islam and the West,” Women’s E-News named her “21 women of the 21st century” and Glamour Magazine listed her among “7 Women You Must Follow on Twitter.” Listed among Time magazine 100 Most Influential People she was ranked among the “Top Ten Women Faith leaders” by The Huffington Post.

Born in Kashmir, she spent twenty-five years as an interior architect for various Fortune 500 companies. In 2005, she dedicated herself to full-time community service and building movements for positive change, both in the United States and around the globe.

Image of Daisy Khan looking into the Camera

To learn more about Daisy’s memoir, Born With Wings, visit https://www.daisykhan.com/books

Follow Daisy on Twitter (@DaisyKhan), Facebook (@DaisyKhanWISE), and Instagram (@daisykhan.nyc).

Our Board

Latifa Yusufi Woodhouse

Over the past 19 years, Latifa has volunteered her time and talents at The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. She was President of Women’s Board and created a Friday discussion circle titled “Thank Goddess It is Friday”, where women have met on Fridays for 15 years to discuss issues, concerns and the role of women in society . She was one of founding member of Women for Afghan Women. She has long worked with the Afghan and American communities in New York City and Long Island to support non – profit initiatives that focused on developing educational and health facilities for women and children in Afghanistan. To create greater public awareness of the fate of the Afghan and Muslim women, Latifa has been interviewed about Afghan women’s rights in local newspapers, Public Access TV channels, Hofstra University radio, CW Post Long Island University Radio and in many churches and Temples.

 

Leyla Turkkan

Leyla Naile Turkkan is a public relations and communications strategist who was instrumental in bringing hip-hop music into the mainstream, and promoted the first major anti-Islamophobia campaign in the United States. Leyla has worked in the music and entertainment industry since 1983, when she organized a benefit concert for Zimbabwe with reggae world superstars Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru. She founded two PR and marketing firms (The Catalyst Group and Set to Run), and has held executive positions at Columbia Records, The Atlantic Group, EMI Records, Rush Communications, and BET Networks. Throughout her career, Leyla has championed emerging artists and music genres, including hip-hop, alt-rock, and indie. Among the artists Leyla has launched, developed or rebranded are The Cure, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, the Fugees, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Jeff Buckley, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, The Breeders, David Bowie, B-52s, Duran Duran, Kid Rock, TLC, Alicia Keys, Aliyah, Cibo Mato, Suicidal Tendencies, Slayer, Lucious Jackson, Grand Royal Records, Def Jam Recordings, Russell Simmons, Missy Elliott, Ludacris, Lemonheads, Fountains of Wayne, Jawbox, Inbreds, Sloan, Fluffy, Drain STH, September 67, World Party, and Belle & Sebastian.

 

Yasemin Saib

Yasemin Saib has 21 years of professional experience in philanthropy, non-profit management, social enterprise development and broadcast media and has spent the last 9 years in senior Director roles raising major funds for the organizations she represents, developing creative fund generation opportunities, cultivating strategic CSR partnerships with the private and public sector and managing a wide array of donor relationships in the Arab world generally and in the GCC region specifically.
In her capacity as a fundraising and CSR expert, Yasemin Saib, is currently consulting and advising individuals and organizations globally on effective fundraising, donor cultivation and management, impactful CSR activations and sustainable funding of programs. Previously she was the Director of Fundraising at Dubai Cares in the United Arab Emirates for 6 years which is the private Foundation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Cares has programs in 35 countries providing over 10 million children worldwide with access to quality primary education.

 

Fazeela Siddiqui

Fazeela Siddiqui is currently a Staff Attorney in the civil division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City. She is a member of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY) and a regional fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI). Fazeela has worked at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, was a Voting Rights Fellow at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and served as a law clerk at the Vera Institute of Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights and in the office of the Honorable Judge William Young of the United States District Court in Boston.

Samina Ali on stage at her TedX talk "What What Does the Qur’an Really Say about a Muslim Woman’s Hijab?"

Samina Ali

Samina Ali is an award-winning author, curator, and popular speaker. Her debut novel, Madras on Rainy Days (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), was the winner of France’s prestigious Prix Premier Roman Etranger Award and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in Fiction. Poets & Writers Magazine named it a Top Debut of the Year. In the critically acclaimed global exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, Samina presents a groundbreaking collection of thought pieces and artwork from contemporary Muslim women who are defining their own identities and, in the process, shattering pervasive stereotypes.

Maria Abdullah

Maria Abdullah

Maria Abdullah has worked in the corporate sector for over a decade. She spent most of her career working at Bloomberg LP in numerous different roles including leadership, operations, account management and analytics. She is currently working as a Solution Manager and Data Systems Lead at Mindhop, Inc. a transportation data solutions consulting firm. She also has extensive experience working with domestic and international non-profits and is currently the CEO of Cerebro Partners, Inc. a specialized non-profit organization providing strategic consulting services to help solve some of the most complex issues in today’s society while bridging the gap between the public and private sectors. She has also worked in the public sector with the Yonkers City Council as an Aide and Special Advisor to the City Council President.

Maria obtained her Bachelors of Science in Business and Technology Management from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and is also a graduate of the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. She is also a Mom of 3, an avid writer, a Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate, speaks three languages and has a profound passion for philanthropy and public service. She is a proud member of Rotary International and an advisor and former mentor for American Corporate Partners helping veterans transition into the private sector and civilian life.

Leadership Mino July 2017 Azra M. event 2

Mino Farooq Akhtar

Mino Akhtar is a blogger, writer, speaker and activist in Northern New Jersey. She publishes a weekly blog at www.sufidialogue.com with the aim of spreading unitive consciousness, peace and harmony across all divides, highlighting the role of women in societies, building intercultural appreciation and understanding, and educating about Islam and Sufism through her own lived experiences and reflections. She has been active with WISE since its founding in 2005, and is currently directing the WISE Book Club amongst other roles for WISE. Before retiring from corporate America after 40 years as IT specialist and organizational transformation expert, Mino was devoting time to several women and girls empowerment groups, such as Global Fund for Women, Women’s Development Fund and the NJ Women’s Fund. Currently she co-leads a chapter of the Dining for Women global network which is a network of women’s giving circles for women and girls empowerment in the developing world. She is also active in the interfaith and dialogue world, and co-leads the Interfaith Women’s Initiative of Bergen County New Jersey, which hosts living room dialogues and sponsors educational events. She is a certified coach, facilitator and conflict resolution specialist and a member of the US Academy of Professional Dialogue.