Born and raised in Silicon Valley through the 1970's, Diane spent her formative years witnessing the dramatic transformation of the San Francisco Bay Area first-hand. The daughter of a telecommunications engineer, Diane naturally launched her career in high-tech fresh out of college. After moving seamlessly through each wave of technology innovation (from circuit boards to the introduction of the PC and ultimately to the world-wide-web) Diane joined Cisco in 1998. Eight years later, she found herself working alongside engineering colleagues - many of whom were Muslim - and became increasingly curious about Islam. After briefly visiting India and Pakistan in 2007, she converted to Islam with the help of a small group of friends who pointed her to Zaytuna Institute and to a small Zawiya in Fremont, CA. That Zawiya is now known as Ta'leef Collective. In 2011, Diane left Cisco and the IT industry to start a new career where she could bring her business development, consulting, and operational know-how to Muslim non-profit organizations. Diane worked at Zaytuna College as Director of Business Development and Fundraising before taking on the role of Executive Director of Ta'leef Collective.
Born and raised in California, Usama Canon embraced Islam in 1996 and has been a student of the tradition ever since, studying various Islamic Sciences both stateside and abroad under some of today's foremost scholars. During the last decade, Usama served as the Outreach Director and an Arabic Instructor at Zaytuna Institute, as well as a Muslim Chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Usama is the Founding Director of Ta'leef Collective, a community based non-profit focused on assisting converts to Islam and creating healthy social and sacred spaces. He is also a spiritual advisor to the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), visiting Chicago monthly in this capacity. In addition to speaking in various communities throughout the United States, Usama leads workshops and retreats worldwide. Usama is currently on sabbatical, after the announcement of his diagnosis of ALS. If you are interested in supporting Usama through the Legacy Fund, find out more here.
Sameena Basha holds a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, followed by a law degree from the University of Chicago. In the last decade, she has largely focused her time as a community organizer by serving on the boards and committees of Islamic non-profits in Illinois, Arizona and Michigan. Some of her various projects and interests include coordinating interactive Qur'an programs for youth, developing refugee assistance & support for the homeless, organizing Muslim girl scout programs, streamlining masjid facility clean-ups, and hosting spiritual retreats, events and classes. She enjoys hiking, bicycling and gardening in her spare time.
Imam Zaid is among the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work. Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded a local Islamic center, Masjid al-Huda. He is a renowned speaker at North American & international Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He recently has been honored to lead the funeral services of the one and only Muhammad Ali, and also a victim of police shootings, Stephon Clarke.
Parvez Ahmed is an attorney specializing in business litigation and electronic discovery. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco where he teaches a course on Islamic Jurisprudence and serves as Chair of the Development Committee of the Board of Directors at Ta'leef Collective. He has taught undergraduate courses related to Islam and Islamic Civilizations at the University of Arkansas and Wayne State University and has lectured on topics related to Islam at various college campuses, forums, and religious institutions. Parvez studied Arabic, Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence under the tutelage of teachers in Michigan, Chicago, and Cairo. He has been involved with the Muslim community for over 25 years serving as advisor and on the boards of several Muslim organizations and institutions. For almost 5 years, Parvez has co-hosted Diffused Congruence: The American Muslim Experience, a monthly podcast seeking to celebrate the many facets of the American Muslim experience. A native Texan, he presently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two daughters.
R. David Coolidge worked as a Muslim chaplain from 2008-2013, first at Dartmouth College and then at Brown University. Prior to that he obtained degrees from Princeton University as well as Brown, focusing on the study of religion and Islamic studies. In addition to his academic experience, he has studied Arabic and the Islamic sciences with Muslim scholars since he converted in 1998. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife Sumaiya and son Zayn.
Mansoor Kazi is a Principal at Bain & Company, where he focuses on Customer Experience and Digital Innovation, Customer Strategy, and Retail Private Equity. He has been a leader in the firm's efforts at incorporating Design Thinking into product and experience re-designs and has served clients throughout the U.S. and Middle East. He holds a J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management. Mansoor was born in Texas, but lived most of his life in Augusta, Georgia. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife and two daughters and is an avid Tarheels fan; he’s also passionate about everything related to food.
Diego Arancibia’s work in the field of organizational management and leadership spans for nearly two decades. His experience ranges from educational and community settings. Both at the programmatic and administrative levels, his innovative methods have produced some of the most successful and recognized youth programs in the nation. He has traveled across the state and nation training youth program advocates in consensus building and strategic planning. Diego has also served as a founding board member for Voz Alta, the Logan Islamic Community Center and Academia Moderna. Currently, Diego is an After School Specialist with ASAPconnect, whose aim is to provide professional development opportunities for After School trainers, consultants, mentors and coaches. Diego lives in the Bay Area with his wife, son and daughter.