ith a desire to give back running in their blood, a small group of the University of Houston students came together in 2006 to work on a community service project. What they discovered was the spark that ignited their growing passion to serving resettled refugees. Uncovering the large scale of unmet needs of thousands of resettled refugees in their own city, they began to collect food, clothing, furniture and even funds for distribution. They quickly realized that fulfilling only short-term and immediate needs was not enough to fully support the many newcomers to the city.
Fueled by a drive to revolutionize the industry, in 2008 Amaanah Refugee Services was officially established. As the heart and soul of this organization, Amaanah’s team has grown exponentially to meet the ever-growing needs of resettled refugees. Through our focused programs and events, in 2016 we touched the lives of more than 10,000 resettled refugees in Texas.
From our humble beginnings in Houston, we have now planted our roots in Austin, the state capital. We are tirelessly working to set the foundation for our future growth in Texas and beyond. We thank you for your support and hope you will continue with us on this journey.
Integrity and transparency are incredibly important to our organization. As one of the largest privately funded refugee services organizations in Texas, we know that our life-changing programs could not happen without generous contributions.
The Amaanah Refugee Services team hails from far-flung places around the globe. We are a group of passionate professionals on a mission to integrate resettled refugees into their new homes and communities. Our team includes full-time members, part-time members, and dedicated volunteers.
Board of Directors
Roger Yelton is a 30-year veteran of the Oil & Gas industry. He has spent most of his career at Weatherford International where he is now serving as the US Director of Quality, Health, Safety & Environment. Roger holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management from Southwest Texas State University.
Abid Yousuf works as the managing director for EHS Partners, a management consulting company. Abid holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Mujtaba Ali-Khan is an internal medicine specialist and serves as the Chief Medical Officer at the Kingwood Medical Center. He graduated with honors in 2003 from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Mujtaba has over 13 years of experience in internal medicine, general practice, and osteopathic manipulative medicine.
A Certified Public Accountant by trade, Nazif has been an active volunteer with Amaanah since its early days. Nazif received his Bachelor’s of Accounting and Economics from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has over 14 years of experience in public accounting, business development, and consulting services. Currently, Nazif serves as a partner at RSM.
Omar Zakaria is a Research Analyst for a financial services company covering the energy industry. Prior to this role, Omar held a variety of roles in energy and finance. A native Houstonian, Omar holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Houston and an MBA from Rice University.
As part of Amaanah’s founding group, Ghulam has been the visionary at the helm of Amaanah and a voice for refugees for almost 10 years. Ghulam is a regular speaker and presenter on refugee-related topics. He has also served on the advisory board for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs in Houston. Ghulam holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and entrepreneurship from the University of Houston and a nonprofit leadership certification from Rice University.
Nicole brings outstanding experience, discipline, and determination to Amaanah. Her professional career spans 20 years in education with 16 years of them in the public school system. Additionally, she has experience as an ESL teacher, adjunct professor, curriculum writer, and campus after-school coordinator. Nicole holds a PhD in Educational Leadership, a Master’s in Education, and a Bachelors in Criminal Justice.
First hired on as an operations assistant, Michelle has taken on various responsibilities during her tenure with the Amaanah team. Because her father came to the U.S. as a refugee years ago, uplifting this community has always been a personal priority. Now leading operations in Austin, Michelle strives to bring Amaanah’s culture to the capital city. Michelle holds a bachelor degree from Iowa State University and a nonprofit leadership certification from Rice University.
Muhammad came to Amaanah from the for-profit world, where he held various finance and accounting positions for large corporations. Known for his pleasant disposition and attention to detail, Muhammad approaches each day with optimism, knowing that he is making a difference by utilizing his quality control skills.
As a Syrian native raised in the United States, Muhammad is a true citizen of the world. Prior to joining Amaanah, he assumed a variety of roles in the Oil and Gas industry. He specializes in proposal writing and coordination. Muhammad has a Bachelor’s in Business from Texas A&M. He joined Amaanah as the Director of Development in 2017 to help Amaanah grow across Texas.
Ghadah arrived to the United States in 2008 through the refugee resettlement process and first came to Amaanah as a client. By 2011, Ghadah was an integral part of the team. Ghadah’s personal experience drives her to give back, and it’s obvious that she has a unique ability to connect with our clients amidst their emotional journeys. Because she’s so passionate about her job, Ghadah’s work and personal life are often intertwined, which is the way she prefers it. Ghadah holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Baghdad University.
A long-time Texan, Abeer supported Amaanah’s Houston operation from a distance before coming on board in 2017 as our services grew in Austin. Abeer has a reputation for executing which made her a perfect fit for the team. She brings valuable experience in event planning, cross-organizational collaboration, and community outreach.
While still an undergrad at the University of Houston, Mariam started as a receptionist with the Amaanah team, where her Arabic skills often came in handy. Now, she oversees a variety of operational tasks. Because Mariam is often the first impression that callers and visitors recognize when connecting with our organization, she makes it her priority to represent Amaanah’s values and culture in every encounter.
A French native, David moved to Houston in 2008 to complete his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science to go along with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in similar fields. After completing his Ph.D. from the University of Houston, David joined Schlumberger as a research geoscientist where is he still employed. David has been a regular volunteer with Amaanah for more than 5 years in many different capacities. David’s passion and heart are found in soccer. He currently manages soccer activities for the Awesome Academy.
As a passionate advocate for human rights, Braden is drawn opportunities to stand up and speak out for those who don’t yet have the tools to do it on their own. This, along with her experience living in Thailand, led Braden to seek out a role in refugee services. Clients and coworkers love Braden for her enthusiasm, and her social service skills add value to the program. A Prairie View A&M University alumnus, Braden received a Bachelor’s of Psychology and a Master’s in Human Sciences.
Susan moved to Texas in 2016 to serve as an Americorps VISTA with Amaanah. Because she didn’t know anyone when she first arrived in Houston, the Amaanah team quickly became her second family. Susan previously worked with refugees as an ESL teacher and did an undergraduate research study on cross-cultural perceptions of mental health, which she’s applied in her work at Amaanah. She works very closely with instructors across school sites to to collect and manage Awesome Academy program data.
A recent the University of Houston graduate with her Master of Social Work, Nicole adds a strong academic perspective to the Transformed team. Compassionate and kind, Nicole is responsible for community outreach and support for the single mothers in our program.
Hamida started with the team as a volunteer, dedicating 10 or more hours each week to Amaanah while working another job. Her commitment to our mission was obvious, and she transitioned to a full-time team member in 2016. Hamida has contributed her signature creativity to various projects at Amaanah. As Program Specialist, her primary roles include supporting technology-based programs, coordinating events in Houston, and amplifying Amaanah’s visual impact.
If Salma was tasked with the sole responsibility to amplify the energy level and bring on the excitement, she would be up for the task. Her vibrant energy and excitement have proven contagious. She serves as the Events Manager and is the support behind Amaanah’s signature events such as Rock the Block and Rays of Change. Salma’s background is in science and health education. She is a Certified Genetics Counselor and currently works at the Baylor College of Medicine. She also holds Master’s in Genetic Counseling from the UH.
Yehia has been part of Amaanah’s event management team since the very early days of the organization. His attention to detail and process efficiency make him a great fit for the team. He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M. Yehia also holds an MBA from Rice University. He is currently employed by Bray International, Inc. in Houston as part of a Management Development Program, currently serving as a Sales Engineer.
Known for her cheerful spirit, Salma has been active with Amaanah since its founding. Salma was named Assistant Manager after volunteering for years at signature events such as Rock the Block. With a Ph.D. in nutritional science from the Texas Women’s University, Salma works as a senior coding specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center by day. Salma also holds a Bachelor’s in Biology and Nutrition from the University of Houston.