A warm welcome to our 2021 Courage Accelerator cohort!
Sumaya Abubaker is a designer of eco-friendly landscapes. Her work is informed both by an early love of nature and its wisdom, and a career working at the juncture of spirituality and social change. For over a decade, Sumaya worked with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture managing its capacity building programs for faith leaders engaged in social change, including the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement. She also served on the L.A. Department of Mental Health Faith-Based Advocacy Council, and co-founded the Rahma (Compassion) Network to educate and empower Muslims to prevent and address sexual violence. Sumaya holds a BA from UCLA, where she studied International Development with a specialization in the Middle East/North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. An alum from the second NewGround fellowship, Sumaya joined the Courage Accelerator to participate in the national movement to heal deep divides and inequities. She feels most joyous while parenting her magical daughter with her spouse, being with family and friends, her interfaith women’s circles, and nerding out on self-development and spirituality.
Debbie Adler leads the Creative Industries and Digital Media Sector in North America for the commercial arm of the British Government, the Department for International Trade. Prior to DIT, Debbie was a digital strategy consultant for non-profits, startups, and corporations. She worked for the agency Blue State Digital, as well as media companies WNET, HBO, and KCRW. She has an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. Her favorite show is Great British Bake-Off, she loves working on jigsaw puzzles, and she’s a horrible cook. Debbie is committing to the Courage Accelerator Program to build new friendships and deepen her skills on how to effectively engage institutional leaders around bias.
Soraya Ahyaudin directs the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Prior to joining CRCC, Soraya worked in the fields of public diplomacy, educational exchanges and capacity building. She was the program assistant at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, where she managed the center’s event programming, professional training opportunities and office management. Her work experience also includes assistant registrar at the international office of Universiti Sains Malaysia, and assistant director with the Public Service Department of Malaysia. Her diverse work experience has cultivated her interests in the intersections of faith diplomacy with globalization and diaspora narratives and sentiments. Soraya graduated from the Masters of Public Diplomacy program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2015. She also has a Masters degree in Science and Environmental Journalism from Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication (Journalism) from MARA University of Technology, Malaysia.
Susan Brooks is a small business consultant and passionate human rights advocate. Susan is the former owner of Women’s Health Boutique, a compassionate boutique for women facing the cosmetic challenges of cancer. Prior to WHB, Susan was the Manager of Health, Fitness and Employee Services at Xerox. She is the Lead Legislative Advocate for Mothers of Black Boys United for Social Change, where she works on changing society’s perception and treatment of her sons and all Black men and boys. Susan believes in empowering others to understand that they can make a difference. Since completing the NewGround professional fellowship, Susan has sought out further training in facilitating hard conversations around race and politics. Susan is married to Bill and has a mixed race, interfaith family that includes five children, six grandchildren, and three dogs.
Dr. Sara Deen serves as President-elect on the South Coast Interfaith Council Board of Trustees and serves on the board of trustees for Bayan Claremont. Formerly a family dentist and an associate clinical professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, Dr. Deen retired from clinical practice in 2017 to dedicate herself to her family, community service, political activism, and social justice. She is engaged in many projects, such as assisting asylum seekers, advocating with CLUE-Long Beach, and community organizing for Muslim and interfaith communities. She also advocates for minority and immigrant rights with grassroots political activist groups. With the South Coast Interfaith Council, Dr. Deen organizes monthly events to cultivate communities of compassion with programs for interfaith education, celebration and service. Dr. Deen is a founding member of the SCIC Women’s Interfaith Group and organizes multiple South Bay programs to develop understanding between Muslim and Jewish youth and combat anti-semitism and Islamophobia.
Michael Gropper, born naked, hungry, and helpless, overcame these obstacles to become an equity-minded nonprofit professional in Los Angeles. He is currently working with his alma mater, Hebrew Union College (HUC), ensuring a positive institutional culture for the next generation of communal leaders. Previously, Michael served as Moishe House’s Western Regional Director. He spent years directing our community’s Birthright Israel program for the Jewish Federation of Greater LA, where he concluded that he is always hungry for hummus, adventure, and engaging discussions on matters of the heart. In 2009, Michael spent a year as a Service Corps Fellow in Mumbai. He now volunteers as a mentor/big brother for six years at the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, as a volunteer chaplain for UCLA hospitals, with IsraAid, providing relief for communities and schools from disaster, and as a line cook at St. Francis Center. He relishes his time spent hiking the Santa Monica mountains, playing music on the beach, and exploring new foods and music with family and friends. Michael is excited to join the Courage Accelerator to enhance his communication skills and navigate through difficult conversations with a cohort aimed toward forming a better, more verdant world.
David Gumpert is a Los Angeles native with a 16-year stint in Oakland/Berkeley. His undergraduate degree is in World/Comparative Religion with an emphasis on Native American Studies. He has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and considers this a vehicle for social justice work in Community Mental Health. In particular, his interest is in paraprofessional/peer-based mental health services for marginalized and under-served communities. David identifies as a Jew of Color (JOC), as his mother is Mexican-American of indigenous descent; he and his wife are involved in the JOC community, locally and nationally. His paternal family is German-Jewish and David’s father was born in Mumbai, India where his family lived for 30 years after escaping the Holocaust. David has committed to the Courage Accelerator Program to learn new skills and deepen existing experiences for internal reflection and to bring these to his family, his community, and his professional work; most of all, he is looking forward to connecting with others that are also committed to building bridges, challenging themselves, and celebrating each other.
Malik Gwaduri is a Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim raised in Torrance, CA. He did his undergrad at Cal State University Fullerton majoring in Technology Innovation and his MBA from Pepperdine University with a concentration in Finance. He was part of the 2019-20 New Ground Fellowship cohort. He also serves in various capacities within his Ismaili Community as a Secondary Religious Education Teacher, Secondary Religious Education Head of Instruction and as an ambassador in his local city on behalf of his Ismaili Community regularly meeting the Mayor, Chief of Police & Fire Chief. He has also delivered multiple prayer invocation speeches at City Council meetings in Torrance. Malik recently joined as a board member on the South Coast Interfaith Council. Professionally he is a Software Engineering Manager at AT&T. He is looking forward to positively impacting and being impacted by the Courage Accelerator program.
Sean Hecht is the father of two young adult boys and the husband of restorative justice practitioner Rebecca Weiker. He teaches environmental law at UCLA School of Law, and leads a wide range of projects in his work at UCLA. He collaborates in this work with environmental and environmental justice advocacy organizations, policymakers, and the business community. He also leads students and new lawyers in public interest environmental law practice through the UCLA Environmental Law Clinic. Sean is currently the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the California Lawyers Association. Sean also plays mountain dulcimer, cello, and other instruments and is on the music team at IKAR, his Jewish community in Los Angeles. Sean completed the NewGround Change-maker Fellowship in 2018, and found it made a profound impact on his life and work. His commitment to the Courage Accelerator Program grows out of that experience, as he works to become more skillful at antiracist practice.
Samara Hutman draws on her deep roots and interest in storytelling, fllmmaking and caring for people. In 2010, after two decades as a film set decorator and interior designer, Sam became the president of Remember Us, a thoughtful non-profit dedicated to individually remembering the over 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust and work to lift up the beauty, dignity and legacies of their tragically brief lives. In 2011, Sam became the director of Remember Us and co-founded, along with her daughter Rebecca, the award winning program, The Righteous Conversations Project. RCP connects today’s young people with the last generation of living witnesses to the Holocaust in intergenerational media-making collaborations that strive to co-create a world where children are nurtured, protected and cared for in all their dignity and all their potential. Sam was educated at NYU Film School and received a degree in Art History from Barnard College. She loves learning, collaboration, deep human connection, and justice work and that is why she is delighted and humbled to be part of the NewGround Courage Accelerator 2021.
Ghada Khan is an award-winning public health practitioner whose career has focused on the field of Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and Women’s Reporudcutive Health both globally and domestically. Dr. Khan is also dedicated to protecting the rights of women and girls. She currently serves as the Network Coordinator for the US End FGM/C Network, where she builds connections and partnerships to foster a global collective voice to end Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C). Dr. Khan recognizes the value of investing in people and tackling difficult conversations in order to reach collective understanding. This outlook organically led her to NewGround, where she is excited to continue to grow, hand in hand with her Jewish and Muslim colleagues, into a well-informed changemaker who boldly chooses ‘curiosity over assumptions’.
Maya Kobayashi Barron identifies as Ashkenazi Jewish and Japanese American (i.e. Jewpanese). She is yonsei (4th generation), meaning her great grandparents immigrated to the US. Maya is the daughter of 2 historians, and the grandchild of a farmer, nurse, teacher & doctor. Maya grew up in Altadena, and now lives in Mid-Wilshire with her boyfriend Matt and 2 bunnies named Wakko & Dot. She works for a labor union that represents workers at grocery stores, pharmacies & packinghouses. Maya & Matt are members of the Jewish community IKAR. During non-pandemic times, Maya loves traveling and has been fortunate to spend substantial amounts of time in Japan, India & Guatemala. She speaks Spanish semi-fluently, and at one point could speak decent Japanese & Hindi/Urdu. After a transformative experience in the 2010 NewGround cohort, Maya has tried to stay connected with the organization & its community. Through this alumni program, Maya hopes to develop the tools and confidence to confront bias and racism in her personal life and Jewish community, especially with respect to Jews of Color.
Alison Kozberg is Managing Director of Art House Convergence, an association dedicated to supporting community-based film exhibition. Kozberg has worked in film exhibition for over a decade, developing programs and symposia for the Getty Research Institute, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), and Walker Art Center. She is committed to supporting shared spaces for media viewing and conversation and recognizes partnership and collaboration as essential to the future of cinema.
Adnan Majid, from the 2017-18 NewGround cohort, finds passion in his work as a psychiatrist and in connecting with community. He grew up in New Orleans and moved out to California – first Stanford for college and then UC San Diego to study medicine and cognitive neuroscience. However, LA, where he completed psychiatric training at UCLA, has definitely become home. On his off time, you may find him on a run to the beach, biking around town, or chilling with his cat Zoe. He also is passionate about progressive Muslim activism, grounded in compassion (rahmah), justice (adl/qist), and the pursuit of beauty (ihsan), and hosts a regular Qur’an reading group bringing together voices across the globe. In his work as a healer, he knows too well the impact of social disparities on mental wellbeing and sees the Courage Accelerator Program as an opportunity for growth and a springboard for action.
Marium F. Mohiudeen is the Communications Director of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. Shas worked in communications and publishing for the past 20 years. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, she joined the staff of the Austin American-Statesman as an editor in the Features department. Besides newspapers, Marium has been the editor in chief and managing editor of several magazine publications and an international manager for the American Heart Association. Her additional nonprofit work includes leading the Communications team at the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and volunteering at Meal on Wheels and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In 2014, Marium turned her passion for communications into a consulting business working with small nonprofits and female entrepreneurs. She went back to school to get her MBA in Nonprofit Management at American Jewish University, which then brought her to the Red Cross. Marium is active in the Los Angeles interfaith scene sitting on five boards and donating her time to bringing people together. Marium has spoken to many audiences about interfaith relations and civic engagement and has appeared on many media outlets including CNN, NPR, and The Hollywood Reporter.
Rabia Naz is working with a faith-based organization, PICO California, as their Executive Assistant. She completed her Masters in Public Administration in the past year in efforts to do more ethical and meaningful work, which helped lead the way to her role in PICO. All the while, she has grown up in a Shia household listening to the story of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. He and his 72 close companions and family members were brutally martyred, because he stood up against the tyrant of his time and stood for justice. Imam Hussain’s whole mission was to not submit to injustice and oppression. Rabia has listened to the courage of Imam Hussain, which has politicized her to be involved to make change for what’s right. And with everything currently going on, black brothers and sisters are being harassed and killed, Rabia wants to speak up about racism as her responsibility to fight for justice. Rabia eagerly took the opportunity to be in the Courage Accelerator program to gain a deeper understanding of our implicit biases and listen to different experiences to build understanding with others in her community.
Suroor Raziuddin Karim is a leader within the Southern California Interfaith and Muslim advocacy community. Over the past 15 years, Suroor has applied her passion for connecting people and creating dialogue toward various interfaith initiatives and organizations, and has been a champion for Muslim youth voices. Suroor has been featured in WSJ, Jewish Journal, CBS news, Al-Jazeera and others. She currently serves on the board of MYC as Marketing Director and completed the AMCLI program in Nashville, TN. Suroor is excited to join the NewGround family and continue broadening her horizons alongside her Jewish and Muslim neighbors in LA.Suroor Raziuddin is a leader within the Southern California Interfaith and Muslim advocacy community. Over the past 15 years, Suroor has applied her passion for connecting people and creating dialogue toward various interfaith initiatives and organizations, and has been a champion for Muslim youth voices. Suroor has been featured in WSJ, Jewish Journal, CBS news, Al-Jazeera and others. She currently serves on the board of MYC as Marketing Director and completed the AMCLI program in Nashville, TN. Suroor is excited to join the NewGround family and continue broadening her horizons alongside her Jewish and Muslim neighbors in LA.
Imran Syed has been a criminal defense attorney for almost ten years. He enjoys representing clients and trying to be a change for good in the criminal justice reform movement. He also served as a board member for two terms with the Muslim Bar Association of Southern California. Currently, Imran is the region 4 representative of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, and believes that being a proactive member of your neighborhood is important. His wife works in a leadership position as a physician in the Global Health program at UCLA. Traveling to global areas that are underserved is a passion of hers and Imran enjoys supporting her in her travels. He is very excited to be in the Accelerator program. A South Asian man, he has faced Islamophobia first hand, and knows that his community has perpetrated discrimination against other Muslims as well. He wants to be an ally to all people that face discrimination, regardless of race, religion, or gender.
Dr. Mindy Wynn Tauberg is an anthropologist who specializes in minority faith identity and interfaith activism in the United States. She owes a great debt to NewGround, which was the field site for her dissertation research. Mindy identifies as a Reconstructionist Jew, though she attended a conservative private Jewish day school in Pittsburgh, PA, where she grew up, through eighth grade. After graduating from Oberlin College, she spent a few years living and teaching in New York City, and then moved to California in 2012 to begin her studies in anthropology at UC Irvine. Currently Mindy is working as a tutor, and she is always looking for opportunities to answer her calling as a social justice educator. Her dream job is to teach anthropology at a community college. Mindy is excited to join the Courage Accelerator Program, which she anticipates will be a great way for her to improve her skills as a facilitator and leader of difficult conversations about race and fighting white supremacy. Mindy enjoys spending time outdoors hiking or skiing, or curling up on the couch with a great video game or book. When it’s safer to do so she also loves to sing and perform. In the meantime, she has been cross-stitching up a storm. Mindy lives in Redwood City with her husband, Scott, and Siberian cat, Stormageddon.
Aaron White is the founder of Aaron Lloyd White Consulting and Director of Development for Stray Cat Alliance – an animal welfare and advocacy organization. Aaron is a writer, researcher, and fundraising professional with over 10 years of experience and notable work with a wide range of organizations including The Independent Institute, Moving Picture Institute, and GaymerX, among others. Aaron is committing to the Courage Accelerator Program to deepen his understanding of, and commitment to, promoting healthy dialogue between different communities and deconstructing his own bias(es).
Rabbi Zachary Zysman was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. After receiving his BA in early childhood education from San Francisco State University, an MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College, he went on to receive his Masters in Hebrew Letters and in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College where he was also ordained as rabbi. Upon ordination, Rabbi Zysman began work at LMU as Campus Rabbi/Director of Jewish Student Life and was honored to be serving the Jewish community in the city he was raised. He is dedicated to helping students explore Jewish identity in a positive, meaningful, and deep way, while also helping to create positive memories, increase self-confidence, knowledge, and connectedness. He is married to Nadine and has three children: Bernie, Taryn and Jac. It is Rabbi Zach’s honor to be bringing his passion and excitement to Loyola Marymount University. Go Lions!