One Chicago, One Nation
One Chicago, One Nation brings together Chicagoans of diverse faiths and cultures, with an emphasis on the Muslim community, to get to know each other through addressing local needs. We encourage you to learn more about One Chicago, One Nation, including our work in year one, by visiting online at www.onechicago-onenation.org.
IMAN’s Community Ambassadors
Check out IMAN’s profile of 2011 Community Ambassadors. These talented community members are committed to interfaith as they engage in community building. They’re placed in community development, health & wellness, or arts & culture tracks where they focus individual and collective efforts over the next 16 weeks. You’ll find them building bridges across faith traditions as they support many of IMAN’s staple services. Join them as they engage the public at Community Forums, plan Community Café, and support initiatives like Muslim Run and Project Green Reentry. Stay connected to Community Ambassadors and the OCON mission by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
Community Ambassador Bios
Abed grew up in the Chicago suburbs, in a large family of seven. After graduating from Hinsdale South, he attended Northwestern University, where he studied journalism at the Medill School. Abed majored in Economics and upon graduating in 2006, took a position at Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy which partners with clients on a range of strategic and operational business issues such as growth in emerging markets and cost containment. In his spare time, Abed enjoys snowboarding and playing basketball. He also writes as a freelancer for various business news publications, including BusinessWeek, and most recently, Fortune. He’s interested in interfaith work because he feels, “it’s a powerful way to tackle the problems facing humanity. Those problems are multi-dimensional, complex and entrenched, so a broad perspective informed by multiple faith traditions gives us the best chance at addressing issues in a meaningful way.”
Aaisha Durr is a vocalist from the southwest side of Chicago and a longtime volunteer at IMAN. She attends Fox College for medical assisting. She continuously strives to change her community through her music and is now looking forward to bring a positive light through another means of social change with IMAN. She’s interested in doing interfaith work because she feels there should be more unity among people to make change in our society.
Aatifa Sadiq is currently a senior at DePaul University majoring in International Studies and Sociology. She will be attending University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration for social work in the fall of 2011 where her primary interest will be community organizing on a local and international context. She hopes to be an international human rights attorney in the future and work for the United Nations. Aatifa is an active member of the Muslim Educational Center (MEC) community and has been a part of many Islamic organizations that target the development of Muslim youth post 9/11. Her interest in interfaith work is grounded in the interpersonal relationships that form when working and learning about others. Her passions include reading, traveling, spending time with family, and learning about global affairs.
Melvin A. Lyons (Mel L.) is an Artist and Youth Activist in the Chicago area currently working as a Youth Guidance Instructor at South Loop Elementary School. He is also involved with Demilitarize U Plus One, a joint effort with The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and The Iraqi Vets Against The War (IVAW) to help solve the problems connected with violence and military recruitment in the public school system. He has also directed several theatre productions and most recently a music video (Abnormality by D-Nick The Microphone Misfit) about eating healthy. He has worked with IMAN during the 2010 Takin’ It to The Streets Campaign doing promotional work and stage managing. Mel L. has always felt the need for tolerance among all people regardless of their background. He has been working to build that tolerance close to home having a family member who grew up in a Christian household convert to Islam and seeing the hardship they face caused by a lack of knowledge and understanding of the religion and culture by those around them.
At nineteen years-old, Ainee Fatima is a poet on the Chicago ‘spoken word’ scene. This young American-Muslim was a 2009 finalist and winner of Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB), the largest Teen Poetry Slam competition in Chicago. That year she was awarded a Girlspeak award and attended Brave New Voices, the international teen poetry slam with her team, Tribe Called West representing Chicago among the 50 teams who competed. Most of her writing deals with the struggle of growing up in America as a young Muslim teenager and speaks eloquently with the issues her fellow brothers and sisters in faith and culture face today.
Along with her passion for poetry, she attends Oakton Community College and plans to transfer to DePaul University where she hopes to major in Islamic World Studies. Her work with interfaith cooperation has been a passion since she began attending Niles West High School and took part in many of the interfaith round table events that were held after school in hopes to educate herself in the Interfaith movement. She also joined her classmates in attending a Passover dinner held by Beth Emet synagogue in Evanston last year in hopes to learn more from her Jewish brothers and sisters. Ainee hopes to continue with writing as she finishes college and hopefully publish a book in the future and make changes in her community through the help of IMAN, IFYC and OCON.
Fahima attended Bellarmine University and graduated with a B.A. in Communication, with a minor in Business and Writing. She hopes to pursue a career in screenwriting and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Digital Cinema at DePaul University. She is an active seeker of Islamic knowledge and enjoys working with the Muslim community at large. Through her love of filmmaking and writing, She hope to showcase the need for interfaith work in Chicago.
Rapheal is a senior at Gage Park High school. He is the eldest of four siblings and lives on the South Side of Chicago with his grandmother. He’s an exceptional athlete and plays both football and basketball. Upon graduation, Rapheal plans to enroll in the National Guard and serve America will attending college.
Nada Shalaby is an interdisciplinary artist. Born in Cairo, she completed an MA in Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo and an MFA in Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University. Nada has an open studio in the diverse community of West Ridge/West Rogers Park on Chicago’s North Side. The storefront space enables various points of encounter and dialogue with people in the neighborhood, and the exploration of connections between different cultures and religions. Nada’s work has been exhibited in the U.S. and Egypt. She currently lives and works in Chicago.
Gemali was raised in the far-Southside neighborhood of Roseland. He graduated magna cum laude from Chicago State University in May 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. From 1999-2000 he was involved in community and political work in the Roseland area. Currently he tutors elementary school students through the Black Star Project at Mahalia Jackson Elementary on 88th and Vincennes. Gemali has also been a youth program leader and a census ambassador with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Inspired by the work he’s done with IMAN Gemali plans to continue his work in community organizing and is dedicated to the Chicagoland area. He is also a resident with the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), a broad-based organization of churches, mosques, schools, and other institutions in Southwest Chicago which enables families to exercise common values, determine their own future and connect with each other to improve life in their neighborhoods.
Nabeel Khan is currently in his last year at DePaul University where he study’s Business Management and Organizational leadership. He plans to use his education to further enhance his long term aspiration of building a non-profit organization that helps mobilize and fuse the concept of music and interfaith dialogue as a framework. He joined OCON to attain knowledge that can be implemented in the classroom and everyday practice. Much of Nabeel’s life he’s been involved in various business ventures, such as owning a music studio, clothing store, and doing consultant work for a family-owned sign company. Nabeel has 7 years of experience owning and maintaining business, which is his true passion. Interfaith efforts is very important to Nabeel for many reasons, the biggest is his constant interaction with non-Muslims in both the academic and business setting. Raised on the east coast, he was always surrounded by different ethnic groups and culture, but no one ever spoke of diversity of belief systems. Having attended a lecture of Eboo Patels during the summer of 2010, he was moved by what Eboo said: “Why can’t religions pick positive things about each other’s beliefs rather than negative aspects.” Nabeel sees a serious need for religious dialogue, especially since 9/11 and believes that misconceptions need to be address through peaceful dialogue.
Mustafa attends school at Benedictine University, and is presently doing graduate work at the University of Chicago. His aspiration in life is to pursue a career in medicine. He would like to study medicine and make a difference in the lives of many. Mustafa is interested in interfaith work because he enjoys interfaith work. Interfaith work teaches him the power of working together with those of different faiths. In doing so, Mustafa gets a chance to learn about others, and help them to better understand his faith. Mustafa finds interfaith work a way to bring great improvements to community.
Emaan is in her last semester at Roosevelt University completing a degree in English Literature. She’s also worked in the Accounting department at Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc. for the past four years. She’s been volunteering with IMAN since 2004 and was an active volunteer in both Streets 07 and Streets 10. Emaan was a Streets 07 team lead for the community service committee and in 2010 worked with the World Music Stage. She’s performed with SoundRight at Community Cafes and her passions include music, God, social change, and the environment.
Ameenah Muhammad is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is earning a double major in Sociology and African American studies and a minor in Latino Studies. She made the decision to study sociology based on her immense interest in the status of health within urban communities. Ameenah has been involved with many social justice projects around the southwest side of Chicago and considers herself a community advocate and activist. More recently, Ameenah has become involved with issues around food justice and food access within African American and Latino communities. She has led projects surrounding these issues and has dedicated most of her time to researching food access issues, and the ways other communities nationwide are tackling the issue. She is currently working on a project with People for the American Way, to make fresh, nutritious and organically grown food available to members of the Englewood community.
Adonis Wagner is an 18 year old freshman in college. He attends The Art Institutes in Chicago. He is very interested in animation, illustration and game design. He attended Simeon Career Academy for high school and majored in graphic design. Adonis has been interested and involved with IMAN since 2007, assisting and volunteering in events such as community café, Takin it to The Streets, and was part of the IMAN flyering team.
Holly Garza is an activist and mother that advocates homeschooling. She’s an Advisor for the MSA at Joliet Junior College. She’s been a Community College Ambassador and community outreach member. She actively organizes causes, attends speeches, conferences, and rally’s. Holly’s interested in a range of issues such as domestic violence, community development, immigration reform, and religious tolerance. As an IMAN community ambassador intern, she hopes to gain more knowledge of other religions as well as share her own, and grow in faith. She hopes to learn more about the relationship between planning activities, group performance, and individual needs and characteristics in different Religious communities to foster understanding, peace, and knowledge. Holly thinks it’s essential that people first understand themselves and their personal needs. Holly also regularly volunteers at various organizations, Masjid’s and schools. She’s a member of S.E.C.A., a professional Child Development membership. She’s the founder of Homeschooling Mommy’s website and speaks for Ameera Raheem’s homeschooling now blogtalk radio show.
Kinza Khan graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in international studies and minored in both political science and Islamic world studies. She graduated one semester early and looks forward to starting law school in August of 2011. During her 3.5 years at University of Illinois, she studied abroad for one semester in Cairo, Egypt. There she took classes in Arabic, human rights in contemporary Egypt, political Islam, and the sociology of religion. Her first job on campus was at the University of Illinois Foundation, where she communicated with alumni on the phones and raised money for the school. She also worked at The Career Center assisting students with building resumes and delivering presentations regarding interviewing, career fairs, picking a major, etc. Kinza has also volunteered as a teacher assistant at her local Mosque’s Sunday School. Kinza’s interests include human rights and civil rights work, and she aims to acquire a law degree to advance these causes. She believes that in America and especially in the diverse Chicago community, interfaith work is essential in order to achieve higher goals of causing peace and progress in the communities. Around the world, she’s seen many problems that exist due to the division among the population, and this has shown her the significance of interfaith cooperation.
Cecil Jefferson is a Chicago native who resides in the neighborhood of Gresham. Cecil completed his Associates of Applied Science at Robert Morris College in 2005. Cecil is passionate about community issues related to poverty and violence, youth, and education. Cecil’s commitment to community engagement includes work he contributed to After School Matters program. There he wrote poetry, made music, attended poetry jams, and got involved with a range of youth programs. Cecil’s interest in interfaith cooperation is spawned by curiosity of different religions and cultures.
Maryam Jameel attends Northwestern University where she studies Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies. She’s also employed at NWU in there Program for Asian and African Languages. Maryam contributes to community service by volunteering with Islamic Relief and supporting Masjid Al-Huda’s summer camp program. Maryam is particularly concerned about youth involvement in games and is interested in utilizing arts & culture as a means of social change. Interfaith cooperation is important to Maryam as she believes, “it’s crucial to have a proper understanding of the people around us and what drives them, and through this it becomes easier to appreciate the similarities between us and fuel cooperation.”
Olisaemeka Okakpu studies Music Production at Prairie State College. He’s the president of the arts club and is a longtime volunteer at Inner-City Muslim Action Network. In 2010, he worked as a stage manager assistant at IMAN’s “Taking it to the Streets” festival. He was also a contestant in the One Chicago One Nation film contest. Olisaemeka is passionate about addressing the social justice gap that exist between the city and suburbs and hopes to find ways to strengthen social justice through the arts.