Nihad Awad - National Executive Director

Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

He has been frequently interviewed on national and international media such as CNN, BBC World Service, PBS, C-SPAN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Voice of America and Al-Jazeerah. CAIR news releases are disseminated to hundreds of thousands people worldwide on a daily basis.

After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Mr. Awad flew to Oklahoma to aid in the relief effort. He personally met with Governor Frank Keating and gave the governor a sizable donation for the victims’ fund on behalf of the American Muslim community.

In 1997, Mr. Awad served on Vice President Al Gore’s Civil Rights Advisory Panel to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security.

In his professional capacity, Mr. Awad has also personally met with former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright andColin L. Powell to discuss the needs of the American Muslim community.

Numerous law enforcement agencies and Fortune 500 companies—including Nike and DKNY—have benefited from CAIR educational seminars on Islamic traditions and culture. In addition to resolving employment discrimination issues involving American Muslims, Mr. Awad has also conducted over 100 public relations and media training seminars nationwide.

For the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Awad was a key figure in the American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee (AMPCC), an umbrella organization of the largest American Muslim organizations, which helped to create the first Muslim voting bloc for a presidential election.

Mr. Awad is a regular participant in the U.S. Department of State’s “International Visitors Program”, which welcomes foreign dignitaries, journalists and academics who are currently visiting the President of the United States.

A few days after September 11, 2001, Mr. Awad was one of the few American Muslim leaders invited by the White House to join President Bush in a press conference at the Islamic Center of Washington, the oldest mosque in Washington DC.

Mr. Awad has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress, most recently at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on matters involving Muslims in America.

He has also spoken at prestigious educational institutions, including Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins Universities. He was also a featured speaker at the 2002 Reuters Forum on global cooperation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. In addition, he actively works with local and national interfaith leaders and organizations in the interest of promoting positive relations among people of diverse faith communities.

Mr. Awad is also featured in Silent No More by former United States Representative Paul Findley (R-IL), a book chronicling the history of the American Muslim community.


Ibrahim Hooper - National Communications Director

Ibrahim Hooper is National Communications Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy orgnaization. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s of art in journalism and mass communication.

Hooper has been with CAIR since its founding in 1994. As CAIR’s spokesman he appears frequently on national and international television programs to offer an Islamic perspective on current events or debate controversial issues.


Lena Masri, Esq. - National Litigation and Civil Rights Director, General Counsel

Lena F. Masri, Esq. is National Litigation Director, General Counsel and Acting Civil Rights Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. She focuses her practice in the area of high-impact and strategic civil rights litigation.  She is the former Legal Director of CAIR-MI. 

She is licensed to practice law in Michigan, New York, and Washington, D.C.  She has been admitted to practice in the Michigan Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.  She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University - Indianapolis, School of Law, where she focused her studies in International & Comparative Law and International Human Rights Law.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan.

In 2014, she was awarded the RARE Everyday Hero Award by Winning Futures for her “extraordinary commitment, integrity, selflessness and courage to changing lives and inspiring others.”  She was honored by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2013 and 2014 for her pro bono work on behalf of poor and indigent clients.  She has also been recognized by several community organizations, including the Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian Expatriates, the American Muslim Diversity Association, among others, for her civil rights and humanitarian work and empowering the youth.   

Prior to joining CAIR-MI, she worked in different areas pertaining to national security, and international human rights, including ethnic cleansing, genocide, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, use of child soldiers, money laundering, and sex trafficking.  

In 2008, she principally authored and presented a shadow report on the United States to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  She also spoke before the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, concerning U.S. violations related to arbitrary arrests and detentions, use of secret evidence in closed proceedings, secret detentions, refoulement, and proxy torture.  She was awarded the Norman Lefstein Award of Excellence as a Gold Level Participant in the Pro Bono program at Indiana University – Indianapolis, School of Law and a Certificate of Recognition for United Nations Human Rights Reporting Initiative & Advocacy. 

She has worked with the Center for Justice & Accountability; Akeel & Valentine, PLC; the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic; and the Oakland County Circuit Court.  

She has lectured across the United States on issues related to human rights, civil rights, and Islam.  She was featured in several documentaries and on major media outlets including CNN, HBO, FOX, CBS, Al Jazeera, the Associated Press, National Public Radio, WWJ Radio, Huffington Post, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News and HuffPost Live.

In addition to her work with CAIR, she manages her own law firm, Masri Law Office, PLLC, where she specializes in immigration and political asylum. She also serves as a volunteer attorney for the Family Law Assistance Project, the Legal Aid Defender Association and Lakeshore Legal Aid, representing poor and indigent clients and victims of domestic violence.  

Bar Admissions

  • Washington, D.C. (2011)
  • New York (2011)
  • Michigan (2009)

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court (2015)
  • Michigan Supreme Court (2009)
  • District of Columbia, Court of Appeals (2011)
  • New York Court of Appeals (2011)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (2017)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (2010)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (2017)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (2018)
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (2010)
  • United States District Court, Western District of Michigan (2012)
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia (2014)
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2016)
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (2017)
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2017)
  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland (2017)

Omar Ali - National IT Director

Omar Ali is National IT Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.


Priscilla Ellison - Human Resources Director

Priscilla Ellison is Human Resources Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.


Megan Fair - Grant Administrator/Civil Rights Chapter Support Specialist

Megan Fair is Grant Administrator and Civil Rights Chapter Support Specialist at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Ms. Fair has extensive nonprofit sector experience, serving in various roles at nonprofits in North Carolina and Washington over the past decade. Such roles include, Operations Manager of a refugee resettlement agency and Civil Rights Assistant Director of CAIR’s Washington State chapter (CAIR-WA).

Ms. Fair is an active member of the Religious Society of Friends and currently serves on the board of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Guilford College in Nonprofit Management and Peace and Conflict studies.


Robert McCaw - Government Affairs Department Director

Robert McCaw is Government Affairs Department Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. 

Since 2011, he has overseen CAIR’s Muslim civic engagement and empowerment programs that bring American Muslim community concerns to Congress, the White House, and federal and state agencies.

Mr. McCaw also coordinates CAIR’s national and state election activities, including get out the vote campaigns and election surveys. Since 2015, he has served as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations Steering Committee Chairman for the National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

He is also responsible for encouraging Muslim participation in networks and coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Mr. McCaw holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Public Affairs from the University of Florida, Gainesville.


Dr. Abbas Barzegar - National Research and Advocacy Director

Dr. Abbas Barzegar, Ph.D. is National Research and Advocacy Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.  

Dr. Barzegar posseses years of applied research experience with recognized expertise in American Muslim history, transnational Muslim civil society and intra-faith relations. He is a former professor at Georgia State University and graduated from Emory University in 2010 in the field of Religious Studies.

His work has been supported by the European Union, The British Council, the US Institute of Peace (USIP), the Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).Dr. Barzegar’s commentary and analysis may be found in a variety of print and broadcast media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, Huffington Post, and Aljazeera.

He also maintains professional research affiliations with Georgetown University’s Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Studies and George Mason University’s Ali Vurak Center for Global Islamic Studies.


Zainab Chaudry - Director of Maryland Outreach

Zainab Chaudry is Director of Maryland Outreach at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. She is on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Action for Human Rights, and serves as it's liaison to Shoulder-to-Shoulder - an interfaith campaign founded to counter anti-Muslim bigotry in America.

Zainab is the first known American Muslim to be appointed to the Maryland State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights - an independent, bipartisan agency established by Congress in 1957 that is charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters. She is a Fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and graduated from the Maryland Public Policy Conflict Resolution Fellows Program at the University Of Maryland Carey School Of Law. ​

She serves on the Advisory Board of Tarbiyah Academy, a Muslim leadership school that is the first International Baccalaureate Islamic primary school in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia region. She is a former Task Force member of the Bilal Initiative, which was launched to expand conversations within American Muslim communities on building a multiracial, multigenerational, and women-friendly society. ​

Zainab is co-founder and Steering Committee Member of United for Muslim Mental Advocacy and Health (UMMAH) - an initiative launched in conjunction with Maryland area activists and mental health experts to address the mental health crisis and youth suicides plaguing the state's Muslim communities. 

Zainab has extensively been involved in interfaith initiatives, particularly Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue groups. She has been recognized by the Governor of Maryland for organizing the state's first Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium.

In 2018, Zainab was presented with a Community Service Award by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the United Maryland Muslim Council. She joined the Mayor of Baltimore, members of Congress, and other dignitaries to speak at the Baltimore Women’s March 2018 before thousands gathered at Baltimore City Hall. 

She was a 'Nominated Changemaker' at the White House Summit on the United State of Women, and has been recognized among the Baltimore Sun's 2016 '25 Women to Watch.' She was invited by the White House to attend President Barack Obama's first U.S. mosque visit at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. She has been appointed as 'Ambassador for Peace' by a UN Partner Organization, and has accepted recognition from the Baltimore City State's Attorney's office for supporting underprivileged communities. In 2017, she was featured by ABC News as a 'Female Leader.' 

She is a recipient of the Governor's Service Award for her work in interfaith communities across Maryland, and regularly comments on social justice and women's rights issues as well as the American Muslim perspective on national and global affairs. She has been recognized as a 'Community Quarterback' for the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens team. 

In 2018, Zainab was nominated for the El-Hibri Foundation Peace Awards. She has completed emergency preparedness training from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security/FEMA, and was recognized for her community work with an Honorable Mention in FEMA's 'Individual and Community Preparedness' awards. In partnership with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the Governor's Office on Community Initiatives, she coordinated Maryland's first statewide emergency preparedness summit for interfaith leaders featuring experts from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and other federal, state, and local agencies. 

In November 2017, Zainab presented two TEDx talks. At TEDxMtHebronWomen, she presented on the idea of crafting social currency for social change. Later, she presented at TEDxUniversityofBaltimore on the role of media and activism in dispelling stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. 

She has appeared or been quoted extensively in international and national media outlets including TIME, MSNBC, Huffington Post, PolicyMic, The Guardian, New York Times, Mediate, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Reuters, CCTV, AP, VICE, and others.  Prior to switching career tracks to nonprofit work and activism, Zainab earned her Doctorate in Pharmacy at a U.S. top-ten ranked pharmacy school, where she was the second youngest graduating member of her class. 

Zainab avidly follows U.S. and international politics. She passionately champions women's rights and correcting misconceptions about Muslims and Islam. She also enjoys comedy, reading, traveling, debate and football. ​She was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. 


Danette Zaghari-Mask - Nonprofit and Compliance Attorney

Danette Zaghari-Mask is Nonprofit and Compliance Attorney at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Ms. Zaghari-Mask is a long-time grassroots community organizer, compliance and ethics expert.

She is an honor's graduate from the University of Florida College of Law, where she published and earned a Certification in International and Comparative Law.

She began her career as a Staff Attorney for Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit where she also led and managed its robust law student internship program. At the same time, Danette served as a law clerk for a former U.S. Trade Representative on a countervailing duties case for NAFTA.

She has served as both an Executive Director for CAIR-FL in Orlando and on the Board of Directors for CAIR-Florida.

Ms. Zaghari-Mask also has a specialization in education; she has taught high school English and Composition, co-founded a Maryland regional cooperative for alternative educational paths and spearheaded a large, diverse multi-level Girl Scout troop at her mosque.

Currently, it is her privilege to advise and coach CAIR chapter leaders nationwide on risk-management, board governance, strategic and operational planning towards achieving high social impact at the grassroots. 

In her spare time she loves to read, cook and hike.


Asma Rehman - National Chapter Manager

Asma Rehman is National Chapter Manager at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Asma comes to CAIR National from CAIR-Kansas, where she served as Development Director, planned the chapter’s inaugural banquet and raised almost double the organization's fundraising goals in less than a year. Along with leading the chapter’s fundraising initiatives, Asma led coalition-building efforts within the community, resulting in improved collaboration with community members and leaders.  

Asma is a life-long activist. She participated in her first CAIR letter writing campaign at a Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) camp when she was 12 years old.  

Asma holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas (KU), where she served as President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on campus.  

At KU she was also involved with Amnesty International and the United Nation's Children's Fund.  

Asma later moved to Washington, DC to work at the MSA National headquarters. There she was promoted to chair of the Political Action Task Force (PATF). As PATF chair, she assisted in crisis management on local campuses and was available to respond to the civil rights, civil liberties, and political needs of over 600 student chapters across North America. 

At a time when American Muslim students across the nation were being singled out and were the targets of Islamophobic attacks, Asma co-created and led the nation’s first “Peace...not Prejudice” (PnP) campaign on more than 100 campuses nationwide. The campaign called for a more proactive approach to interfaith and interracial dialogue as a means of building connections between the American Muslim student community and the greater college community. She also created and led the first-ever national Muslim student Get Out the Vote Campaign (GOTV) on over 80 college campuses.  

As a marketing consulting, Asma has developed and implemented marketing strategies for national nonprofits, local businesses, and religious organizations.  

Asma has a younger brother who is a long time Special Olympics athlete. She is a passionate advocate of Special Olympics and other organizations that work with people with intellectual disabilities. 


Jinan Shbat - National Events and Outreach Manager

Jinan Shbat is National Events and Outreach Manager at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Ms. Shbat is a public speaker, poet, and community advocate who works on issues related to Islamophobia, bullying in schools, and gender dynamics in American Muslim communities. She has focused most of her activism around humanitarian work, specifically the Syrian and Palestinian causes.

In her role at CAIR, she connects with the community to assess their needs and provides resources such as anti-Islamophobia workshops, know your rights seminars, and bystander intervention training.

Her commentary and analysis can be seen in a variety of print and broadcast media outlets, as well as many local spoken word events where she performs regularly.