Catherine RoeChief Executive
Catherine Roe has 25 years’ experience of creating, developing, leading and advising foundations and other not-for-profits.
For 12 years, Catherine was Director of the Saïd Foundation, working to effect lasting change in the lives of disadvantaged children and high potential young people in the Middle East.
As Director of the Saïd Business School Foundation, Catherine helped to create and develop Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. In 2012, Oxford University made her a Distinguished Friend of Oxford in recognition of this contribution.
Since 2006, as Director of CMR Consult Limited, Catherine has worked with a range of foundations, universities and other not-for-profits. She has devised and piloted new programmes, provided interim management at the CEO level, established new trusts and foundations, evaluated existing programmes and developed fundraising strategies and communications materials. Her work has spanned education, child development, arts and culture, social cohesion, disability, scholarship programmes and refugees.
Catherine began her career as a British diplomat, specialising in multilateral negotiation. She is a Trustee of the Horizon Foundation and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. She has a Masters in History from Oxford University, an MBA from London Business School and a Masters in Middle East Studies from SOAS.
Hana Alhirsi-EvansHead of Operations
Hana has 19 years’ experience of working in the arts sector with a strong focus on film, TV and the Middle East. In the UK, she has organised many cultural events showcasing Middle Eastern music, performing arts and visual art and was Associate Producer at Mezza Terra Media producing Middle Eastern films for international markets. In the United Arab Emirates, she worked with the Dubai International Film Festival and was part of the founding team of the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi. She was Head of International Publicity for production Company Pyramedia, producing and promoting popular TV show formats The Millions’ Poet and Prince of Poets designed to revive youth interest in traditional Bedouin and classical Arabic poetry through modern formats. She was also Industry Office Manager at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival where she worked on the SANAD Film Fund and established the Co-Production Meetings conference to connect filmmakers with funders.
Hana joined Amal in 2018 as the Amal Grants Manager while it was a programme of the SaÏd Foundation and is currently Head of Operations under the new independent charitable Amal.
Hana has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Politics of the Middle East and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Durham University.
Sammera AliDirector of Fundraising
Sammera Ali has over 18 years’ experience of developing and leading strategic ventures for businesses and not-for-profits. She has worked for major INGOs, devising and implementing development, engagement and growth strategies.
Working to effect lasting change in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities across the globe, she has developed and executed fundraising and communications strategies, specialising in high-level giving, as well as major targeted campaigns and events and launch initiatives.
As an Aziz Foundation Scholar, she has a Master of Business Administration in Culture and Enterprise from Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London. Sammera is passionate about using her skills and experience to help Amal transform the narrative around Muslims in the UK to one that is confident, diverse and just.
Sammera became Director of Fundraising at Amal in February 2022. Together with the Chief Executive, the Board of Directors, members of the team, and the community, she ensures Amal raises funds, diversifies income streams and achieves its goals.
Sammera has excelled in managing relationships to create mutually beneficial and impactful collaborations throughout her career.
Sofia AyubCommunity Engagement Coordinator (Birmingham)
Sofia has 10 years’ experience in various roles within the third sector. Most recently, she has worked as an Impact Officer for a national charity where she facilitated leadership and development sessions as well as managing a team of mentors with the goal of bridging the gap in educational inequality.
After completing her postgraduate degree in International Law, Ethics and Politics, Sofia assisted the Right to Education programme with the UNAIS in the West Bank.
Sofia has a keen interest in self-development and comparative religion.
Pakeezah ZahoorCommunity Engagement Coordinator (Bradford)
Pakeezah has seven years’ experience in the arts and culture sector and has held roles in several cultural festivals and organisations across the North of England including Manchester International Festival, Bradford Literature Festival and the Science Museum Group. Her background is in programming and community engagement and she is passionate about effectively bridging the gap between the two. She studied English Literature and has a Master’s degree in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures from the University of Manchester. She wrote her thesis on the translation and reception of Mevlana Rumi’s poetry in the West, looking at both secular and religious interpretations of the text. Her perspective and priorities are often influenced by questions of race, identity and how the past informs the society we live in today and, more importantly, how we can use this context to make progress for the future.
She was born and raised in Bradford and is committed to the city and the people who call it home. She has most recently been part of the team developing Bradford District’s bid to win the UK City of Culture title for 2025. In her spare time, you might find her running or hiking across the beautiful Yorkshire landscape or sewing stylish loungewear using her mum’s old sewing machine.
Luqman AliCEO & Artistic Director, Khayaal Theatre
Luqman trained in the sciences of Islam and the languages (Arabic, Persian and Urdu) and cultures of the Middle East and the Subcontinent.
In 1997, Luqman co-founded Khayaal, the first professional theatre company dedicated to the exploration of classic Muslim literature through contemporary stagecraft as a means of fostering greater intercultural and interfaith engagement and understanding. He adapted and produced Khayaal’s award-winning debut production, Conference of the Birds, in London in 1998. He went on to pioneer the adaptation of the works of an array of Muslim mystics and sages as well as folktales from African, Arabic, Chinese, Persian and Urdu cultures, staging these works at The Globe’s Shakespeare and Islam Season (2004) and at The British Museum’s critically acclaimed Hajj Exhibition (2012) as well as in theatres, corporations, schools and communities throughout the UK and beyond.
Luqman is currently working to nurture an inclusive humanitarian discourse of story and dream in Muslim communities and between those communities and wider society through Khayaal’s national theatre-without-walls programme while also developing the company’s next medium scale production exploring the intersection of Britain and Islam in the story of coffee.
He has been a Trustee since 2020.
Sufia Parkar is Inclusion Equity & Diversity Director EMEA Wunderman Thompson, a global creative marketing solution organisation and charged with embedding a culture of conscious inclusion across the UK and Europe. With several years’ experience in learning and development, employee culture and engagement, Sufia is committed to building an ethos of purpose, belonging and connection across all employees that empowers people to unleash their potential driving business growth.
Prior to taking up her role at Wunderman Thompson, Sufia was Global Associate Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, of McCann Worldgroup following over 10 years in Business Development with a successful career as Business Development Director at McCann Birmingham. She was responsible for the agency’s growth and contributed to its double-digit growth year-on-year by introducing new clients. During her tenure, Sufia identified a multicultural and multi-ethnic gap in the industry and launched McCann Reach, the division focused on helping brands target ethnically diverse consumers through improved culture-based marketing messaging.
Sufia holds an unwavering belief that everyone should have access to positive opportunities in business and society. She is ardent about leaving a legacy of good for her three children and in 2018 achieved her post-graduation in Human Resources by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Sufia was winner of the prestigious IPA iList inaugural award.
Outside of work, Sufia is busy supporting women to build their confidence and volunteers as an Interview Coach at various social enterprises and leads on numerous women empowerment groups.
She has been a Trustee since 2021.
Catherine ThoméCEO Saïd Foundation
Catherine has been running the Saïd Foundation since 2018. The Foundation’s focus is on education and its largest current programme provides scholarship opportunities to bright graduates from the Levant region to study for a one-year master’s degree in the UK. It also has humanitarian programmes in Jordan and in Lebanon. Catherine enthusiastically oversaw the Amal Programme until Amal became an independent charity in 2020.
Prior to this, Catherine held various roles in the humanitarian sector including with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Greece at the beginning of the migration crisis in 2016. She volunteers for several organisations which provide assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, including the British Red Cross, as well as for the UK charity which aims to end homelessness, Crisis. Prior to joining the charity sector, Catherine built up 20 years of experience in event management in the UK, France and the Far East, heading up the logistics of international sporting events and top end corporate hospitality events.
Catherine has a degree in Oriental Studies (Chinese) from the University of Cambridge.
She has been a Trustee since 2021.
Josh WeinbergHead of Financial Systems & Change, Citizens Advice
Josh Weinberg is Head of Financial Systems & Change at Citizens Advice, a national charity providing free, independent and confidential advice. He specialises in change management and technology use, and also has responsibility for fraud and business continuity planning within the organisation.
He is a chartered accountant, beginning his career and qualifying whilst at the National Audit Office, and for the last 6 years has worked in the charity sector. He has a Diploma in Charity Accounting (DChA) as part of his Postgraduate Diploma in Charity Accounting and Financial Management gained from Bayes Business School. He has been a governor of Citizen School Trust and is passionate about using his financial and change management expertise to support organisations who are ambitious about reducing deprivation and increasing equality.
He has a BA in Maths from Oxford University, and an MSc from London School of Economics in International Health Policy (Health Economics).
Josh has been a trustee since 2022. He is Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.
Mohammed Ali MBEFounder, Soul City Arts
Mohammed Ali is an award-winning artist, curator and producer. He has been commissioned to work internationally with leading galleries, festivals, arts centres and theatres to produce large-scale murals in open spaces in the communities where people work, live and play. As an artist, Mohammed is passionate about sharing and presenting untold stories. He works collaboratively with communities to create unique and immersive arts experiences that inspire and engage people to experience and connect with art.
Mohammed is the Founder of Soul City Arts, a leading independent arts organisation based in Birmingham that has worked with artists, academics and activists from around the world to commission and present innovative exhibitions, performances and digital installations. He has worked extensively in places like Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, New York and South Africa.
Most recently, Mohammed has embarked on an ambitious project to tell the story of the Bangladeshi pioneers of Britain’s historic curry house trade. The Knights of the Raj is a unique insight into the lives of people like his father who helped pioneer the curry house trade that has transformed Britain’s culinary tastes. The exhibition debuted at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2017 to critical acclaim. A follow up arts installation premiered at the Museum of Food and Drink in New York in 2018.
Remona AlyJournalist & Broadcaster
Remona Aly is a journalist, commentator and broadcaster with a focus on faith, lifestyle and identity. She writes for The Guardian and other media outlets on topics ranging from The Great British Bake Off to burkinis, fashion to interfaith football, and Ramadan to rock music.
Remona is a regular Pause for Thought contributor for BBC Radio 2 on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, and previously the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary. She is also a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood, which creatively explores a spiritual theme through music, history, prose and poetry.
Remona is Director of Communications for Exploring Islam Foundation which specialises in dynamic PR campaigns and resources on Islam and Muslims across media platforms, receiving global attention. She is also a podcast presenter for Things Unseen, produced by CTVC, and has hosted the Othello Project podcast supported by Amal. She also presents and co-produces a podcast for Claritas Books, a Muslim publishing house.
Previously, Remona was the Deputy Editor of emel, a vibrant and glossy British Muslim lifestyle magazine which was the first of its kind to launch nationwide.
Syima AslamDirector, Bradford Literature Festival
Syima Aslam is Founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival (BLF). In just four years she has established BLF as one of the most innovative and inspirational festivals in the UK. Bringing together literature from around the world and across all genres, BLF promotes intercultural fluency and reflects the changing face of contemporary Britain.
Before founding BLF, Syima had a successful career in both the public and the private sector, working in marketing, inward investment, and strategy building in the education sector.
Syima’s ambition is to create real and lasting change for the people and communities of the city in which she lives and works. Her commitment to young people and her passionate belief that education has the ability to change lives are the inspiration behind everything she has achieved with the festival.
Alia Al ZougbiJoint CEO, Shubbak
Alia is Joint CEO at Shubbak and an independent producer, performer and facilitator. She has worked closely with national and international organisations including the British Museum, the National Theatre, Clore Leadership and the British Council to create high-profile, critical encounters that question the parameters of cultural representation and inclusion in education and the arts. Previous to joining Shubbak, she was Head of the cultural learning organisation Global Learning London. She is a Clore Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and she volunteers nationally and internationally to coach and mentor those with reduced access to opportunities in the cultural industries. She is a recipient of the Writer’s Guild Olwen Wymark Award for the encouragement of new writing in 2019 and was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland in 2008.
Monique Deletant-BellExecutive Director/Joint CEO, Jacksons Lane
Monique is an experienced arts leader who has worked across the arts sector and is currently Executive Director/Joint CEO at Jacksons Lane where she is leading a capital project. She has worked as Director of Dance Hub Birmingham/Deputy Director of Culture Central where she set up the new £2 million initiative with partners across the dance sector and led on a number of wider projects including the Birmingham Cultural Education Partnership and Commonwealth Games events. She has led Stratford Circus Arts Centre and Rich Mix, successfully reapplying for Arts Council funding and developing new initiatives. She also works in a freelance capacity coaching, mentoring and supporting organisations through change. Prior to working in the arts, she worked for an MP and the Civil Service.
Zarah HussainVisual Artist
Zarah Hussain works at the intersection of science and spirituality, combining contemporary digital art with rigorous training in traditional hand-drawn Islamic geometry. Her work encompasses infinitely looping animations made with code, interactive apps, painting and sculpture.
Her most recent project, ‘Numina’, was a large scale sculpture with a digitally animated surface. Commissioned by the Barbican for their foyer spaces programme in 2016, Numina combined designs found in the art of the Islamic world with contemporary digital arts by mapping animated geometric patterns onto a pyramidal wall sculpture set in a hexagonal grid.
At the Islamic Art Festival in the Sharjah Museum in 2015/16, Hussain presented ‘Sharjah Spectrum’ – a large scale installation with digital animations on three walls that viewers could interact with using mobile phones. She also projected her animated geometry over the exterior of the William Morris gallery in 2015. Entitled ‘Magic Carpet’, this animation provided background visuals for the Transcender music festival at the Barbican.
‘Symmetry in Sculpture’, Hussain’s solo show at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery was extended twice in 2014 due to popular demand and numerous exhibitions of her painted work have received much critical acclaim.
Hussain has completed several Public Art Commissions, including a room in the new Royal London Hospital and an outdoor shutter project in Barking and Dagenham funded by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.
Asad Ali JafriCultural Producer, Community Organiser, Artist
Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer, community organiser and interdisciplinary artist. Using a grassroots approach and global perspective, Asad connects artists and communities across imagined boundaries to create meaningful engagements and experiences. Asad has over two decades of experience honing an intentional and holistic practice that allows him to take on the role of artist and administrator, curator and producer, educator and organiser, mentor and strategist.
Shelina JanmohamedVice President, Islamic Marketing, Ogilvy
Shelina Janmohamed is the bestselling author of ‘Love in a Headscarf’, a memoir about growing up as a British Muslim woman. Her new book, ‘Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World’, is an exploration of rising group of global Muslims who believe that faith and modernity go hand in hand, and they are going to have a disproportionate influence on our future world.
She is an established commentator on Muslim social and religious trends, particularly around young Muslims and Muslim women, and writes for Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the National and the BBC.
Shelina is also Vice President of Islamic Marketing at Ogilvy, she was named one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims, and specifically one of the UK’s 100 most powerful Muslim women. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising named her as one of the ‘Future Female Leaders of British Advertising’.
Fin KennedyArtistic Director, Tamasha Theatre
Fin Kennedy is an award-winning British playwright and Artistic Director of touring theatre company Tamasha. Fin’s first play ‘Protection’ was produced at Soho Theatre in 2003, where he was also Pearson writer-in-residence. His second play ‘How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found’ won the 38th Arts Council John Whiting Award and has been produced around the world.
Fin writes regularly for young people and has two published volumes of plays, ‘The Urban Girl’s Guide To Camping’ and ‘The Domino Effect’ and other plays, developed through a long-term residency in an East London school. For Tamasha, Fin dramaturged and produced the national tours of ‘My Name Is…’ by Sudha Bhuchar (2014), ‘Blood’ by Emteaz Hussain (2015), the award-winning ‘Made In India’ by Satinder Chohan and the forthcoming ‘Approaching Empty’ by Ishy Din (Kiln Theatre/Live Theatre Newcastle 2019).
Fin is creator or co-creator of various innovative Tamasha community projects including ‘Taxi Tales’ (ARC Stockton, BBC 2), ‘Hear Me Now’ (Rich Mix/Ovalhouse/RADA), ‘Re-Fuel’ (Rich Mix/Theatre Royal Stratford East/Amal 2017) and ‘Leila & Justice, Inc.’ (Barbican Box 2018). Fin has written eight Afternoon Plays for BBC Radio 4 including returning series ‘The Good Listener’, set inside Government spy agency GCHQ, and ‘On Kosovo Field’, a collaboration with musician PJ Harvey.
Abdul-Rehman MalikJournalist, Educator & Cultural Organiser
Abdul-Rehman Malik is an award-winning journalist, educator and cultural organiser. In June 2019 he was appointed Lecturer and Associate Research Scholar at the Yale Divinity School. He also serves as the Programme Coordinator at Yale University’s Council on Middle East Studies and is responsible for developing curricula and partnerships with public schools to promote better cultural, language and religious literacy about the Middle East to educators and students alike. Abdul-Rehman also serves as Director of the Muslim Leadership Lab, an innovative student leadership programme being incubated at the Dwight Hall Centre of Social Justice at Yale. He remains Programmes Manager for the London-based Radical Middle Way, which offers powerful, faith-inspired guidance and tools to enable change, combat exclusion and violence and promote social justice for all. His work has spanned the UK, United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Mali, Morocco, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia.
Abdul-Rehman is a frequent journalist for BBC Radio, offering perspectives on contemporary spirituality. Until 2018 he regularly presented the popular Pause for Thought segment on Radio 2 and Something Understood on Radio 4. His most recent essay for Radio 3’s Holy Week 2019 was entitled ‘Behold the Man’. In conjunction with The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Abdul-Rehman will be launching and hosting a new podcast in 2020 entitled ‘This Being Human’, which will explore the kaleidoscope of contemporary Muslim experience and identity.
In addition to providing curation and content guidance to a variety of cultural and literary institutions, Abdul-Rehman works to create platforms at the intersection of arts and social change. He is committed to building Muslim cultural capital, cultural leadership and supporting cutting-edge artistic production. In January 2015, he became Director – a voluntary position – of the Insight Film Festival, a unique year-round festival that celebrates the intersection between faith and film. He was Creative Advisor to English Touring Theatre’s acclaimed, radical reimagining of Othello from 2016-2019 and curated The Othello Project, a multidisciplinary festival of artistic responses to the production.
Abdul-Rehman recently trained over 150 young civil society leaders in Indonesia to use the power of theatre and storytelling to bridge interfaith and intercultural divides against the backdrop of violence and discrimination as part of a Google.org funded initiative called Project Cerita. The ‘Duta Cerita’ – young leaders – have now, in turn, reached over 1500 of their peers. The programme has now been piloted in the UK and in the Netherlands and is being launched in Singapore in 2020.
Abdul-Rehman was artist-in-residence at the Doris Duke Foundation’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Design and Culture in June 2018. During his residency at Shangri La, Abdul-Rehman curated a series of programmes and original performances around the theme, “What is Muslim Culture?”.
Abdul ShayekArtistic Director and Joint CEO of Tara Theatre
Abdul Shayek is the Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Tara Theatre. He was previously the founding Artistic Director & CEO of Fio, an international theatre company based in Cardiff, and before this he was an associate at the National Theatre of Wales
He is a member of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group as well as a trustee of mid-Wales dance company Impelo. Abdul was a Clore Cultural Leadership Fellow (2013-14), during which he spent time at Film4 and M&C Saatchi. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of East London and has guest lectured at a host of other institutions.
As a director and theatre maker Abdul’s work is rooted in creating innovative participatory experiences, projects and productions and identifying and developing artists and new audiences. He has worked in TV, film and more recently opera (new and classics) with both ENO and WNO. He has staged contemporary classics and adapted novels for stage. In the short time leading Tara Theatre, he has created an audio walking experience in response to the pandemic (which will be touring UK festivals, theatres and civic spaces in 2022) and commissioned 12 new monologues with national and international writers. Future projects include making a major VR experience, as well as a site-specific gig theatre piece as part of Tara’s Bangladesh 50 season.
Juliet SimmonsFounder, Piece of Cake
Juliet is the Founder of Piece of Cake – a creative marketing consultancy working with not-for-profits and creative organisations. Her background is in event production, advertising and marketing and she has worked with blue-chip clients around the world. Juliet was the Creative Director at the JCC for London (now JW3) for six years prior to founding Piece of Cake. She is a member of the Book Council for London’s Jewish Book Week and volunteers for Ministry of Stories, as well as at a monthly drop-in centre for refugees and asylum seekers.
Raymond SimonsonCEO, JW3
Raymond Simonson is the first CEO of JW3, London’s Jewish Community Centre – the only Jewish community, arts and cultural centre of its kind in the UK – which opened in October 2013. He is a qualified community and youth worker with a BA in Jewish History & Hebrew, and an MA in Applied Anthropology and Community & Youth Work, and is an alumnus of the Senior Faith Leadership Programme (formerly the Cambridge Coexist Leadership Programme) – and has over 20 years’ professional experience in informal Jewish education, leadership development and community building.
Raymond was the first full time Executive Director of Limmud, an international, cross-communal, volunteer-led Jewish community learning organisation. Prior to this he was the Jewish Agency’s Director of Informal Education, where he spent a decade working with thousands of Jewish community educators and youth leaders across the UK. In a lay capacity, he sits on the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee, and the advisory boards of Mitzvah Day and the London Jewish Forum and mentors a handful of young professional leaders across the British Jewish community.
He is eternally grateful that his wife, an NHS Psychiatric Nurse, and two children are incredibly patient.
Eckhard ThiemannIndependent Arts & Culture Manager
Eckhard Thiemann is a curator, programmer and arts manager, specialising in contemporary Arab culture, dance and international cultural programming and exchanges.
He is the Programming Associate – Dance for The Lowry, one of the UK’s largest arts centres, where he develops an international dance programme across its three venues, presenting over 25 dance productions across the year. He is also Producer – International for Collective Ma’louba, a theatre company of Syrian artists based in Germany and France, developing their international profile and touring.
From 2012-2021 he was Artistic Director of Shubbak, London’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture. Shubbak regularly reached audience of more than 50,000 people in festival programmes of performances, exhibitions, commissions, Participatory activities and touring. It received the 2019 UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture.
Eckhard was Associate Artistic Curator for CODA – Oslo International Dance Festival in October 2017. He has been a freelance producer for the digital platform The Space. He worked twice with Siobhan Davies Dance as interim Creative Producer, significantly enhancing the company’s international profile. He was a producer for the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad and curated the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2011 and acted as adviser for the 2014 festival. He curated Outspoken – New Performance From Arab Artists for International Dance Festival Birmingham (2010), and produced African Crossroads for Dance Umbrella (2009). He programmed the opening season of Pavilion Dance and the conference Digital Futures in Dance. Previously he was Artistic Director of Woking Dance Festival, and Year Of The Artist Coordinator for South East Arts.