Board of Directors
DR. SUZANNE BARAKAT
Dr. Suzanne Barakat was born and raised in North Carolina, and attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad and medical school. She completed her residency training in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at UCSF San Francisco General Hospital. She currently is a hospitalist with Sutter Health and outpatient family medicine physician in Oakland, CA. She is passionate about women’s health, mental health, global health, and social justice.
She is the sister of Deah Barakat, one of the three American Muslim college students murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on February 2015. When her brother, his wife, and her sister were killed, Dr. Barakat emerged as a spokesperson for her family, taking to local and national media to amplify the legacy of #OurThreeWinners and to speak out against the increasing Islamophobia and violence targeting Muslims.
Oussama Mezoui is the Founder and CEO of Penny Appeal USA, a 501 (c) (3) organization working to eradicate poverty here in the US as well as overseas. Prior to establishing Penny Appeal USA, Oussama served on the executive teams of a number of multi-million dollar humanitarian NGOs.
An Oxford-trained lawyer, Oussama has diverse experience in program implementation, humanitarian advocacy, operational management and fundraising for non-profits both here in the US and in the UK.
Arif Khan joined the Our Three Winners Foundation in November of 2016 and currently serves as Board Treasurer. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Arif spent his career in management consulting in the healthcare space and eventually helped start a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. in 2009. He currently serves as a Vice President of the Total Care and Cost Improvement (TCCI) Program at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Maryland. His expertise has been leading large scale pharmacy procurements and implementations for health plans and overseeing all aspects of the care continuum, including behavioral health, home based and post-acute care, and other clinical programs. In addition, Arif serves as Board Secretary for Baltimore Medical System, a Federally Qualified Health Center based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Justine Hollingshead has over thirty years of success working as an administrator in Higher
Education on various college campuses across the country, in addition to the business sector as well. She offers particular expertise in diversity education, training, leadership, emergency preparedness, event planning, and crisis response, with an in-depth working knowledge and passion regarding the issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. Justine earned her Bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Communication, her Master’s degree in Higher Education Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park and has completed a ten-week comprehensive business training program with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in North Carolina.
As Senior Legislative and Advocacy Counsel at the ACLU, Manar works on the intersection of issues impacting Muslims, Arabs, Iranians, Middle Easterners, and South Asians, including immigration, national security and counterterrorism, and hate violence. Manar was previously the Deputy Policy Director for Immigration at the Obama White House Domestic Policy Council in the Obama Administration where she assisted with the development of the President’s immigration strategy and worked to protect the rights of people against discrimination, harassment, and hate attacks. Manar also served as Policy Director at South Asian Americans Leading Together and led their work on immigration, profiling, and hate violence. She also provided legal representation to domestic violence survivors at Legal Services of New York City, and worked with survivors charged with crimes at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. Manar received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and her B.A. from Wellesley College.
Ismael Benhamida is a Vice President at Marcus & Millichap where he specializes in Bay Area apartment and commercial real estate investments. He helps real estate investors create plans to optimize their real estate portfolios and executes on those plans to achieve their goals. Prior to joining Marcus & Millichap, Ismael was on eBay's business management team where he designed and managed trust policies and risk management systems on a global basis. He has an MBA from The Wharton School and chemical engineering and materials science degrees from U.C. Berkeley. Ismael is passionate about economic, political, and social justice issues and enjoys travelling, spending time with his family, bicycling, and skateboarding.
Director of Operations
Somayeh serves as the Director of Operations at Our Three Winners Foundation. She started her position in August 2018. Prior to that, from 2009-2018, She was the Director of Operations at the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF). She helped launch ISF and plays now a similar role at OTW. Somayeh has a B.A. in Architectural Design from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently a part-time MPA student at San Francisco State University focusing on Non-Profit Management. Prior to accepting her position at ISF, she was the Principal of Farsi Andeesheh School at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California. She serves on the board of Northern California Islamic Council (NCIC) and on the Advisory Council of ISF. She speaks three languages and enjoys yoga, painting, reading, cooking, hiking, and biking with her two daughters and husband.
DR. MAHA HILAL
Dr. Maha Hilal is the inaugural Michael Ratner fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is also an organizer with Witness Against Torture and a steering committee member of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition. Concurrent with these roles, Dr. Hilal is also a Co-Principle Investigator with the Torture Treatment Initiative out of Tulane University’s Traumatology Institute. She was previously the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, an organization dedicated to addressing civil and human rights abuses related to preemptive prosecutions and thoughts crimes in the War on Terror.
Dr. Hilal earned her doctorate in May 2014 from the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C. The title of her dissertation is “Too damn Muslim to be trusted”: The War on Terror and the Muslim American response. She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked at a number of human rights/social justice organizations including the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the Government Accountability Project. Maha was also a Christine Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences as well as a recipient of the Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic study in Morocco in 2011.
Abir Rashid graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2018 with a double major in Business Management Economics and Politics. As an undergrad, she was the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern for College Nine, and implemented programs around international and global perspectives, such as a fundraiser and event for the International Rescue Committee for refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq which raised $4,000. She was the treasurer of the Muslim Student Association for 2 years, during which time she served on multiple Chancellor’s committees to make UCSC accommodating to the needs of Muslim students. She won the Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Inclusion in 2017 for her efforts to make UCSC more inclusive to minorities and people of color. Abir was selected to give the commencement speech for her graduating class and was inspired by her experience surfing in Santa Cruz!
Huzaifa is currently an M.A. Candidate in Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and a former student researcher with the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley. His current research focuses on Islamophobia in state politics, surveillance, and Islamic law. Prior to joining the Othering & Belonging Institute, he served as a Next Leader Intern with the Institute for Policy Studies where he researched US federal and Pentagon Spending. In addition, he was a former research assistant with the Center for Labor Studies at UC Santa Cruz studying the local housing crisis. He assisted in surveying families about their experiences with the housing crisis and also conducted data analysis for the No Place like Home Project. Huzaifa also served as a government relations intern at the Council on American-Islamic Relations where he helped monitor anti-Muslim legislation in our government. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Interns (Summer 2019)
Summer is a senior at the University of Evansville, which is located in a small town in Southern Indiana. She is studying Public Health with a nutrition emphasis and hopes to apply to Physician Assistant school in the spring. Besides her medical interest, she hopes to start a business and nonprofit in the future. She chose to intern at OTW because of her personal connection with the organization. She remembers that she was headed to one of her classes junior year of high school when she heard the news of OTW. From then on, she knew our world had changed. She's so happy to be part of the impactful work of this organization and to honor Our Three Winners.
Hamza is from the Greater Metro Atlanta area, and just recently completed his second year at Duke University. He's currently active in Duke's Muslim Student Association and Students of Justice in Palestine. The latter has helped him become more interested in advocacy and human rights, which have led him to a double major in Public Policy and Global Health. This newfound interest has also led him to find the OTW Foundation. A friend introduced the internship opportunity to him knowing that it fit his passions for advertising and advocacy. He's currently managing the Facebook page as well as drafting daily posts for the OTW Foundation. He's having a great experience so far!
Saba is a high school student, approaching her junior year. She is passionate and inspired by the work Our Three Winners Foundation is doing. Saba enjoys school, friends, family, nature, and relaxing! She is looking forward to college and is currently interested in studying architecture and environmental studies.
Asma is a recent graduate from George Mason University with a B.A. in English. In the fall, she will begin her Dual Degree Master's Program at GMU in Social Work and Conflict Analysis & Resolution. When the tragedy of Our Three Winners occurred, Asma was a senior in high school and recalls that event as a turning point in her life. She became more passionate about human rights and social justice and wants to see more Muslims play a role in politics and advocacy. Interning with the OTW Foundation has been an opportunity for her to give back to the cause that has allowed her to find her passion, and she hopes to continue working in spaces that encourage Muslims and other marginalized communities to advocate for themselves and others.