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 our clients. 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.
We are consistently growing and evolving to meet the long-term needs of women and children who have arrived through the refugee resettlement process. Our mission is to integrate resettled refugees into their new homes and communities.
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. Prior to his current role, Roger was on international assignments around the globe, spanning almost 20 years. 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. Prior to joining EHS Partners, he worked for Enterprise Products, an oil and energy company, for more than 11 years. Abid holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of business administration from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business of 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. With over 13 years of experience in internal medicine, general practice and osteopathic manipulative medicine, Dr. Mujtaba is affiliated with many hospitals including CHCA Conroe L.P., Memorial Hermann Hospital System, Walker County Hospital Corporation and Memorial Hospital of Polk County.
A Certified Public Accountant by trade, Nazif has been an active volunteer with Amaanah since its early days. Nazif received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Economics from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has various certifications which include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP). He also 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.
Michelle is a nonprofit professional with diverse programmatic and management experience. Her father was resettled to the U.S. from Vietnam many years ago so she understands the challenges of resettlement firsthand. She holds a bachelor degree from Iowa State University, and a nonprofit leadership certification from Rice University. Michelle serves on the advisory boards of PurposedSpace and as an ambassador for the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce.
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 is one of Amaanah’s greatest success stories. She arrived to Houston in 2008 from Iraq as a refugee with her 3 young children. With Amaanah by her side, she worked her way through the challenges of rebuilding a new life and became a role model for all those around her. For the past 9 years, Ghadah has been using her passion and experiences to help newly resettled refugees adjust to their new lives. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Baghdad University.
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. David helped develop the soccer program and currently manages it as well.
A Prairie View A&M University alumnus, Braden holds both a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in Human Science. Along with a hefty load of campus volunteer and mentoring activities, Braden brings great experience to her role as the Transformed Case Manager—mostly recently as a rehab clinician at the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County. She is passionate about human rights and public service.
When Susan was traveling abroad in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Susan discovered a passion for hearing the stories of others. She brought that passion home with her when she began volunteering as an ESL teacher at a resettlement agency in her home state, Kentucky. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Susan joined Amaanah as the Awesome Academy Data Specialist. She holds a bachelor’s in psychological science and is interested in global education and mental health.
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 worked her way into the event management team after being a volunteer of Amaanah. Her favorite part of the job is being able to put smiles on the faces of the families she serves and helping them to feel safe in their communities. Salma holds a bachelor’s in biology and nutrition from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in nutritional science from the Texas Women’s University. Previously, she worked as a senior coding specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center.