Amir Abdullah is an actor, playwright, and audiobook performer in Los Angeles. He has performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, California Shakespeare Theatre, among other theatres. On screen, Amir most recently appeared on Chicago Med and Empire. His audiobook work has garnered critical acclaim, culminating in his work on Tristan Strong Destroys the World being listed as a 2021 ALSC Notable Audiobook. Amir won Best Actor at the Movieville International Film Festival for his work in the film The Untimely Concurrence. Amir’s playwriting debut, Pray to Ball, had its world premiere at Skylight Theatre Company. Amir holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University and a BFA from University of Miami.
Marissa Gee grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with an Ashkenazi Jewish New Yorker mother and a half Black, half Chinese Catholic father from Trinidad. Her family were active members of the Reform congregation of Temple Emanuel of Canarsie. Marissa became more Conservative in college (religiously, not politically!) and joined the boards of Hillel and the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN). She is now on the board of IKAR, her current spiritual home, where she became involved with NewGround. Marissa is a lawyer, runner, coach, outdoor adventure enthusiast and, most importantly, a mom. She has travelled the world and backpacked through the Pacific Rim, Australia and Europe. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.
Alan W. Goff is an educator and group facilitator specializing in dialogue, training and development, and action planning for equity and justice. Alan first began his work leading interfaith dialogue in the years following September 11, 2001. Today, he works with a wide-range of groups and organizations to build connected, inclusive, and just communities. Alan is trained in many group facilitation and dialogue approaches, holds an M.Ed. in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is completing a doctorate at UCLA on healing-centered approaches to social justice education. Alan was born and raised in Los Angeles, and is of Belizean Kriol and African American heritage. He is the son of Alice Goff, a long-time civil servant and labor leader whose work inspires Alan’s drive for justice. A proud NewGround alum, Alan is honored to support justice and spirit-centered faith communities through the Courage Accelerator.
A Compton native, Umar A. Hakim serves as Executive Director of ILM (Intellect Love Mercy) Foundation. After 13 years in telecommunications, Umar shifted careers to become an urban entrepreneur, which exposed him to social and community service. He holds degrees from the University of Phoenix and Claremont Lincoln. Umar facilitates ILM’s social-preneurial vision for social change, where change means providing an intuitive educational experience that empowers local Angelinos. He is an alum and facilitator trainer for the American Muslim Civic Leadership (AMCLI) Institute at USC Center of Religion Civic Culture. Through this, he worked with civic-social organizations including NewGround, created a partnership with LA Voice/PICO network, and is an active participant with the City of LA Emergency Operations Center for Disaster Response & Relief. In 2012, Umar founded INKERIJ, where he designs encouraging steps for leaders in need of clarity.
Nate Looney is an American Jewish University alum, agricultural entrepreneur, diversity strategist, and US Army Veteran. Nate joined the US Army National Guard in 2003, was part of rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in 2008. In 2015, he graduated with his B.A. in Business from American Jewish University. He has been a guest speaker for the U.S. Coast Guard, USDA, Kaiser Permanente and FoodTank Summit. Nate has been featured in the Jewish Journal, Experience Life Magazine and USA Today. He is a Jeremiah fellow and a Bend the Arc Selah JOC Cohort alum and is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. He is the Manager of Racial Justice Initiatives at Avodah and speaks publicly about intersectionality and diversity across multiple sectors.
Khulood Madany is an LA native; however, having spent her formative years in Jordan, The Gambia, and Belize, she identifies as a citizen of the world! Khulood is a USC alum and pursued her accounting career at KPMG, where she served as the Co-Chair of the African American Network. She currently serves on the Finance Inclusion & Action Committee at NBC Universal. Khulood also joined USC’s Norman Topping Governing Board for a two-year term followed by UMMA Community Clinic’s board. She is a coach and mentor to diverse professionals and is keenly conscious of the importance of representation in all spaces. She channels her unique cultural lens into her YouTube project (ImmortallyKhulood). Khulood is an activist to her soul, and her driving passion is the global empowerment of Muslims.
Dr. Zack Ritter received his PhD from UCLA in Higher Education, researching racial stereotypes of Asian International Students. He has worked at American Jewish University as Career Center Director, University of Redlands as Assistant Director of Diversity, Harvey Mudd College as Dean of Diversity, and now at Cal State Dominguez Hills as Associate Dean of Students. He has co-authored two books, both about whiteness and challenging the status quo in higher ed. He has also written on Jewish and Black solidarity movements and is a diversity consultant, helping schools, businesses, and orgs imagine how to create anti-racist cultures and systems.