Joubin Khazaie

Joubin Khazaie is a recent graduate of University of California Irvine, receiving a degree in Sociology. Passionate about providing essential services to underrepresented communities, Joubin works with multiple non profit organizations that assist low income/homeless communities throughout Orange County. In committing to being a NewGround Fellow, he hopes to strengthen his ability to use knowledge in a transformative way, to use knowledge as a foundation for progressive action.

Benazir Ismail

Benazir comes from a home that holds strong family values of unconditional love, patience and unity. Another point highly emphasized during her upbringing was education, correspondingly she is a strong proponent of learning being a lifelong process. To this end, she acquired her bachelors degree in finance at the USC Marshall School of Business and later returned to USC for her masters at the Annenberg School for Communication. She hopes to further her educational reach in the near future. While lifelong learning ranks high for Benazir, so does spirituality and understanding the true essence of the soul. Throughout her life, both by family and by faith, immense significance was placed on the wise use of the intellect that is reflected in generosity towards the less fortunate along with practicing tolerance and fortitude in the face of adversity. In line with these core values, Benazir finds fulfillment in traveling to continually learn more about the world and volunteering in different capacities ~ all the while carrying an open heart and serene smile.

Zeiba Qidwai

Zeibaa Qidwai is proudly a native Angeleno, born and raised in Los Angeles. She comes from a mixed South Asian background. She grew up in a household with many different kinds of pets with year round gardening almost like living on a small farm. She loves animals and enjoys listening to world music, audiobooks, traveling, world cuisine, painting, cooking, arts and crafts, and reading. As a graduate of Biology with an option in Physiology and a minor in Chemistry, she has many years of experience in the biotech and medical field. She now actively assists in creating and conducting investigator sponsored clinical cancer research trials at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. In the Change Makers Fellowship, she wishes to gain invaluable communication and conflict resolution skills, as well as create friendships leading to building bridges in the Muslim Jewish community.

Sani Abdul-Jabbar

Multiples times a week Sani Abdul-Jabbar is asked if he is related to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Well, he is not! Sani is an entrepreneur, and an expert in product management and digital product strategies and solutions. He is always on a hunt for ideas worth supporting. He’s the founder of a technology consulting firm that helps shorten the time that tech. startups take to go from idea to revenue. Sani moved to Southern California in 2003 after graduating from the business school in Illinois. He found LA to be too large to easily establish valuable networks of friends and mentors. It wasn’t until years later that he found, in his words, “my clan”. The lesson learnt for him was to actively seek people who inspire you and help you evolve professionally and personally. In part, it was his search for those friends and mentors that brought him to the New Ground fellowship. Sani receives inspiration from his family; and takes pride in helping others create economic opportunities for themselves. He enjoys reading, traveling, and performing arts. When not at work, he might be found with his two sons exploring a local museum or shooting aliens at the arcade.

Adnan Majid

Adnan Majid is a psychiatry resident at UCLA, fascinated by the complexities of the human mind and dedicated to the small ways we can improve one another’s lives. Of Bengali origin, he was born in Yorkshire and grew up in New Orleans, a city whose strength and resilience after Katrina continue to inspire him. He has since lived much of his adult life in California, studying linguistics, computer science, and the philosophy of mind at Stanford followed by eight years at UC San Diego studying medicine and cognitive neuroscience. The three years he has lived in Los Angeles have brought challenges and unexpected growth. He loves this city’s diversity and vibrancy and is excited about NewGround as a garden for dialogue, connection, and action.

Samara Hutman

When I was a student at NYU Film School in 1981, I got a summer internship teaching a student film workshop at the Ozanam Cultural Center in the hill district of Pittsburgh. “The Hill” was a rough area, downtrodden, poverty-ravaged and almost entirely segregated. Each day as I walked up the hill from the bus stop, I walked alongside shoeless children in ill-fitting clothes and wondered, is this the city I call my hometown ? How could I not have seen these sights before as a high school student in a comfortable Jewish enclave called Squirrel Hill. On day one I trudged up the hill with two dozen state of the art 16mm cameras provided by the federal government only to arrive to the sweltering classroom with broken windows and no air-conditioning and a group of 14 children ranging in age from 7-17. How was this going to work ? My first ice-breaker ended when the prompt : “Share your favorite movie and tell us why you love it” only conjured titles of television sitcoms, some not even appropriate for the younger children. Oh, I see, none of them had ever been to a movie theatre. In the course of that summer, I worked hard to know these students and understand their stories and hopes and dreams. It was hard to teach and lead such a wide age range and I ended up focusing on sharing and caring activities, making our group into a motley summer family for fun and games. At the end of the summer we ventured to a movie theatre where they saw their first movie, and later a trip to a swimming pool. Several of the children did not have bathing suits and that became my work, too. What I learned that summer is that everything grows from relationship and if you don’t have that you don’t have anything. And who we are grows from the stories we live, and how we understand and tell them. And love and trust grow from who we share those stories with and how they care and empathize and connect. What we think we understand about a person is always deeply changed by knowing them. And how we live in the world has only ever been changed for the better by the compassion that grows from love. For over 30 years, I have worked in film, design, museum & arts education and advocacy , diving deeply into the exploration of memory, cruelty, compassion and courage . I have proudly worked with visionary leaders and storytellers and change agents. I am profoundly grateful to be a part of the NewGround Family and the extraordinary 2107-2018 cohort. It is a synthesis of so much that I aspire to and hold dear.

Ramy El-Etreby

Ramy El-Etreby is a writer, performer, and arts-based educator-facilitator from Los Angeles, California. A contributing author to Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex and Intimacy, Ramy has also written for The Huffington Post, KCET, and the award-winning blog, Love Inshallah. Ramy holds an MA in Applied Theatre from the CUNY School of Professional Studies and believes theater is a powerful tool for social change, critical thinking, dialogue. Ramy has worked with Center Theatre Group, Geffen Playhouse, youTHink, Free Arts, Urban Possibilities and for the City of LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Sean Hecht

Sean Hecht is the father of two teenage boys, the husband of restorative justice practitioner Rebecca Weiker, and a faculty member in the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. Sean is a frequent speaker and media commenter on a wide range of environmental, environmental justice, natural resources, and energy law and policy issues. He collaborates on projects with practicing environmental lawyers, environmental and environmental justice advocacy organizations, policymakers, and the business community.  He co-authored a widely-cited article on the President’s authority to abolish or diminish National Monuments [Mark Squillace, Eric Biber, Nicholas S. Bryner, & Sean B. Hecht, Presidents Lack the Authority to Abolish or Diminish National Monuments, 103 Va. L. Rev. Online 55 (2017). Along with co-counsel in Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish and Wildlife (Newhall Ranch), he received the 2016 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award for environmental law. He blogs at  Sean also plays mountain dulcimer, cello, and other instruments and is on the music team at IKAR, his Jewish community in Los Angeles.

Hedab Tarifi

Hedab Tarifi was born in Gaza, Palestine. She lived in Kuwait until after the first Gulf War, when she moved to the US. Hedab holds a bachelor degree in Computer Software Engineering from University of Florida and an E-Business MBA from University of Phoenix.Hedab worked as an IM Program Manager at General Electric Energy for 20 years. She is now an IT Consultant and on her way to become a certified Financial Planner. Hedab has been active in the Muslim community in Southern California since 1994, working on building bridges and bringing people together. She served on the board of several non-profit organizations, including the New Horizon School Los Angeles. She was elected to be the first Chairwoman of both the Muslim Public Affairs Council in 2007 and the Islamic Center of Southern California in 2016. In 2002, she led the effort to make a quilt in remembrance of 9/11 victims. The quilt now resides in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Hedab worked with KPCC, the Pasadena National Public Radio station on “Portrait of Hedab,” an audio diary reflecting on her experience and the Muslim community in Southern California after 9/11. The diary aired nationwide and won the Golden Mike Award for best documentary. Hedab works with humanitarian organizations focusing on elevating the suffering of Children in Palestine and the Middle East. She is currently serving her second year as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Center of Southern California.

Matan Gold

Matan Gold believes in the necessity and decency of difficult conversations. He encourages everyone to listen to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and read Alice Munro. He is the grandson of Rabbi Akiva Annes and a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in Creative Writing.