GHAZALA SALAM

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT 

Ghazala Salam is the Founder and President of the Muslim Caucus, dedicated to empowering the multiracial progressive American Muslim constituency across the country. Muslim Caucus collectively represents two legally distinct national entities: Muslim Caucus of America, a 501(c) 4 non-profit and the Muslim Caucus Education Collective, a 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. The Muslim Caucus brings together diverse American Muslim activists, organizers, candidates, strategists, and movement leaders elevating the political voices to build an equitable Democracy for all Americans. In July 2019 she convened the historical Inaugural Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy conference and Presidential Forum, focusing on diverse American Muslims in politics, creating a safe space to connect, celebrate, and collaborate.

She was born in India and migrated to the US with her family when she was in fifth grade, a move which allowed her to become an American citizen. Ghazala celebrates diversity with the knowledge that it is the differences among us that help us come together to create and affect change. As an advocate for democracy, Ghazala dove headfirst and heart strong into educating, engaging and mobilizing American-Muslims in politics. She speaks out on human rights, freedom, and the opportunity for women and girls to increase their influence around the world. She has broken through cultural, racial, and gender barriers – leading by example and promoting equality and justice for all walks of life. In 2016, Ghazala became the first American-Muslim woman to be inducted into Broward County's Women’s Hall of Fame.

Her zeal for serving under-represented groups has been demonstrated by years of working with diverse populations. This life passion prompted her to work with the League of Women Voters, and to serve as Chair of the Broward Commission on the Status of Women and lead efforts to ensure pay equity in Broward by proposing an ordinance entitled the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  In 2015, Ghazala was recognized as a meritorious woman for her dedication to improving the lives of Florida women and serving as a positive role model for women and girls with the FCSW Florida Achievement Award. She has written for The Hill, Huffington Post, the LA Progressive, and the Miami Herald.  

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS 

BASHEER JONES 

Basheer Jones is an impassioned leader, motivational speaker, and spoken word artist with a positive message of empowerment and change. Born in Brooklyn, NY on October 25, 1984, and later transplanted to Cleveland, OH as a child. He graduated Cum Laude from the distinguished Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA in 2006 with a degree in African-American Studies. He later pursued graduate studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Basheer’s dedication and commitment have enabled him to publish his first book, entitled, “I’ll Speak for Change”. He is the President and Founder of The Basheer Jones Foundation, as well a proud member of the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He has received various awards and recognition for his accomplishments including the Emerging Leader Award from Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and the Urban League’s Distinguished Men Award. He is the creator of the Be the Change Leadership Series, in which Basheer facilitates leadership and character development workshops within various school systems throughout the state of Ohio. He recently delivered a powerful, heartfelt Tedx speech at Cleveland State University entitled, Changing the World One Young Person at a Time.

Basheer’s indebtedness and passion to serve his community propelled him to run for City Council in Ward 7 in Cleveland’s 2013 election. His love for his community pushed him to run again and his persistence paid off. On January 1, 2018, Basheer Jones was sworn in as the First Muslim City Councilman in Cleveland’s 200 hundred year history.

TAMIM CHOWDHURY 

Tamim Chowdhury is a born-and-raised Chicago product and a career Federal professional with sixteen (16) years of federal experience with skills ranging from project management, contracting, policy development, economic development, and national administration.

As the former National Executive Director of Emerge USA (now Emgage) he demonstrated leadership through organizational development, cultivating collaborative networks (regionally and nationally), grassroots organizing and providing education/training within minority communities. Tamim’s passions lie with his M.A. in Education with a focus on transformational leadership and emotional/social intelligence. He is a founding member and currently on the Board of the Muslim Caucus Education Collective, dedicated to the continuing development of the American Muslim community (www.muslimcaucuscollective.org), pluralism, individual freedom, and inclusion, and likes to push the envelope as much as he can (responsibly… most of the time). You can read his thoughts and observations in our quickly changing world on his blog www.dasocratic1.com.

 

 ZARINA BABER  

Zarina Baber is a community organizer and an IT executive. Zarina was the founder of one of the first Muslim volunteer-based free clinics in the nation. she was recognized in the United States Senate by Senator Mark Dayton for this work in 2001.  In addition, she was the recipient of the annual Asian Pacific Leadership Award In 2001.

She served on the board of Advocates for Human Rights, an international human rights organization (similar to Amnesty International) and is a founding member of the Muslim Caucus. Zarina also made history as the first Muslim woman to run for statewide office as MN’s Lt Governor candidate in 2018. Zarina got her start in politics as a volunteer in Minnesota’s late Senator Paul Wellstone campaign. Zarina was also awarded 50 Over 50 most influential leaders in Minnesota for Barrier Breaker category by AARP in 2017. Zarina is currently serving as the vice-chair of Anoka County DFL Party.

 

IJAZ CHAUDHRY 

Ijaz Chaudhry is a second-generation Muslim American who worked on Capitol Hill in the 1990s. A law professional, Ijaz Chaudhry has worked with public interest organizations like ACLU and CAIR. He has spent the last two decades engaged in the political sphere.

Currently, he serves as an elected Democratic State Committee member in PA, Mr. Chaudhry continues work on behalf of the Muslim-American community locally and nationally. Mr. Chaudhry was instrumental in the formation of organizations like CAIR-Philadelphia, ARISE USA PAC, RECAP, and local entities in the Philadelphia area like Islamic Cultural Center of Willow Grove (ICCWG) and Muslim Youth Center of Philadelphia (MYCP) that serve minority immigrant communities. Ijaz is a founding member of the Muslim Caucus. 

MASOOD AKHTAR 

Masood Akhtar is an Indian-born proud American Muslim entrepreneur and an activist. Akhtar has been living in Madison for over 30 years and actively involved with numerous community projects. To address the environment of Islamophobia, Akhtar spent a significant amount of time addressing this issue in cooperation with leaders from the Madison Muslim Community, law enforcement officers, elected officials, local media and the general public.

To address the current environment of hate, bigotry, and racism, Akhtar started a state-wide non-partisan Movement “We Are Many: United Against Hate”- where people who are urban and rural, spiritual and secular can unite together to build an inclusive community. On February 8, 2019, Akhtar received “Certificate of Achievement” from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers for his work on united against hate. Akhtar also served on Dane County’s “Immigration and Refugee Task Force” aimed to build trust between local law enforcement officials and the immigration and refugee communities and thus reduce fear. In 2017, Akhtar was awarded “Certificate of Appreciation” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in recognition for his important contribution to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America. A

Akhtar's name has been added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama, to provide inspiration to all those who choose to take a stand against hatred. On May 3, 2019, Akhtar received the prestigious national FBI’s 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) at the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC from FBI Director Christopher Wray. On June 14, 2019, Akhtar was appointed to the Board of the Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.