2023 Candidate Statements for MuBANY Elections

2023 Candidate Statements for MuBANY Elections!

This year, MuBANY has all 5 Director positions up for election! For context, MuBANY's Board is composed of 4 Officers, who serve two-year terms, and 5 Directors, who serve one-year terms. 

On May 11th, members will receive an email entitled “Vote Now: MuBANY 2023 Board Elections” from an Election Buddy email address which will allow for electronic voting. 

Members can vote any time between May 11th to May 22nd 11:59pmEST through Election Buddy, or in-person at MuBANY’s Annual General Meeting on May 16th. 

Thank you to all who have submitted candidate statements, and to all of our members who have made MuBANY what it is!

Candidate Statements

Rubina Ali

My parents are Hyderabadi Indians but I grew up in Southern California (in Orange County) close to my Dad’s family.  It was actually my Dad’s older brother (my “Thaaya”) who settled in California first.  At that time, my parents were living in London as my Dad was finishing up his clinical training there.  My Dad was one of six children and came from very humble means, so the obligations to support his rather larger family fell on him and my Thaaya.   After years of living thousands of miles away from family, my Dad moved to California in the early 80’s to live closer to family.  He always talks about that time and being away from family as being the biggest sacrifice he had to make in those earlier years of his career.  My Thaaya who had slowly helped build a community for himself in California helped my Dad establish himself as well.  In fact, my Thaaya was one of the founding members of the Garden Grove Mosque in Southern California and when my Dad arrived he was brought into the fold.  The mosque and its members grew larger and larger over the years.  I never knew how much hard work went into developing that sense of community.  It happened seamlessly.  The mosque served as a market place to help new settlers find homes, employment, and other likeminded individuals.  It was a place for people to get together, pray, eat, and, for me personally, to take Sunday school classes (that I would inevitably ditch to eat ice cream sandwiches in the parking lot with my friends).  I grew up reaping all the benefits of my Muslim community and heritage that my Dad and Thaaya had established for me—never fully appreciating it until I lost it. 

I made my own journey and sacrifice for the sake of my rizq/career when I moved to the east coast for law school and then on to my corporate jobs thereafter. Oftentimes the number of Muslim lawyers was dwarfed by the large numbers of everyone else.  Indeed, in one of my legal roles, I was the only Muslim lawyer in a team of over 100+ lawyers.  I did not feel that same sense of community that I had back at home.  I kept wondering, “where is my tribe” in all of this.  It was the first time I realized what my Dad and Thaaya probably felt like when they were first getting settled in California.  While a lot has changed for the better over the years, in some respects, and in some communities (especially the legal field), more changes are needed.  When I first learned about MuBANY I knew I wanted to get more involved because I longed for that sense of connectivity.  But after years of not having that community and with negative portrayal of Muslims in the media, I never truly felt emboldened to wear my religion on my sleeve.  It became easier to practice my faith in private and keep that part of my identity separate from my work identity, which only further isolated me.  It was only recently that I felt that something needed to change.  I wanted to be a part of something that would allow me to connect with my tribe--to help people who are establishing themselves, looking for opportunities, careers, advice, a place to get together, pray, eat, and, occasionally, shirk their responsibilities and eat ice cream sandwiches with me in the parking lot.

It is for these reasons that I hope to contribute as a Director and fellow Board Member of MuBANY (if you all will have me). As I director, I hope to plan networking events that will focus on cross-pollination of ideas across different legal sectors and other Muslim professional groups (MUPPIES), spearhead mentorship projects, work on advancing careers of Muslim lawyers across sectors, source pro-bono work, and find fun activities for the group to participate in (game nights, iftars during Ramadan, happy-hours with your favorite mocktails). We can be thoughtful about what activities we put our efforts into, but I would be happy to find new opportunities to partner and further the MuBANY brand.

Ramz Aziz

My name is Ramz Aziz. I am a mid-level Finance Associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York, practicing primarily in the areas of corporate borrowing and lending. Prior to that, I was an associate at White & Case LLP in the firm’s New York office and an associate with Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in the firm’s Toronto office. In my life before law, I worked as Vice-President and President of the Dalhousie Student Union, advocating for civil rights and earning certifications in project and change management.

I am tremendously grateful for MuBANY’s impact and achievements throughout the years for the benefit of the community and wish to advance the interests of the organization and its members by serving as a Director.

With respect to my qualifications, I am fortunate to have over 10 years of experience in corporate strategy and governance as a corporate/non-profit director, having served as a director with, among others, Dalhousie University, Penny Appeal Canada, the Islamic Finance Authority of North America, the Fort York Food Bank, and most recently, Miftahul Uloom Academy, an Islamic Montessori school. I was also blessed to serve on the City of Toronto’s Advisory Group for Digital Infrastructure Planning, advising Toronto’s Chief Information Officer. 

Regarding my experience in advocacy, I am grateful to Allah for having served as an International Human Rights Fellow, preparing a report on the right to life for the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing as well as researching migrant rights in Canada. I also served as a Fellow with the School of Cities, a think tank at the University of Toronto, researching and advocating for equitable frameworks for digital transformation in smart cities. I was fortunate to present my findings at various venues, including at KPMG’s Hyperconnected conference.  

In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my spouse and two young children, reading and volunteering in the community.

The majority of my efforts in the community are focused in the areas of poverty alleviation, chronic food and housing insecurity and education. I hope to leverage these experiences, networks and perspectives to develop avenues for impact for MuBANY and its members. 

If elected to the Board, I plan to work with the Officers to help build MuBANY into one of the premier bar associations in the United States by:

Expanding Member Services: Creating value for our stakeholders through:

  • Enhancing our jobs and member directories, and introducing a referral service;
  • Organizing the annual gala and other professional/social/educational events (including the iftar, Eid, career panels, networking events and other opportunities for social interaction); and
  • Designing opportunities for recent graduates, law students and young lawyers to gain experience and propel their careers, including expanding the mentorship program. 

Developing Partnerships: Growing MuBANY’s reach through: 

  • Collaborating with professional associations on events and initiatives to increase representation in the legal profession; 
  • Integrating MuBANY into New York State’s beautiful cultural mosaic through programming with community-based organizations; and
  • Conducting outreach to underserved and marginalized communities through strategic partnerships with community service organizations.

Building Communities: Bolstering MuBANY’s community impact by:

  • Serving hard to reach communities by establishing a Community Legal Clinic for Muslims and other individuals in need;
  • Advocating on issues of timely importance to the community; and
  • Supporting grassroots campaigns and other member-driven initiatives to break barriers.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my candidacy. It would be a privilege to build upon the weighty legacy of past MuBANY Directors and Officers. I trust that my experience in corporate governance, law and business will enable me to make a lasting, positive impact on MuBANY and its stakeholders.

Abdul M. Hafiz

My name is Abdul M. Hafiz, and I am again seeking your support in becoming a MuBANY Director.

Professionally, I am an associate at White & Case LLP and practicing in the Data Privacy Cybersecurity and Commercial Litigation groups.

Personally, I was born and raised in Staten Island and am the son of Ghanaian immigrants. I am a proud husband and father residing in the Bronx.

Very early on in my life, I began volunteering in my community during elementary school and also advocating for various causes such as window safety, environmental preservation, and
more. I matriculated through NYC public schools and subsequently completed my undergraduate degree at Northeastern University as a Torch Scholar. I returned to New York and earned my law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

I’ve had the privilege of becoming involved in MuBANY during law school. From 2017 to 2018, I served on the Gala Committee. From 2018 to 2019, I served as the Law School Liaison. In
2021, I served as a mentor in MuBANY’s inaugural mentorship program. This year, I served as a Director and assisted in mentoring law students, planning events, and serving as a Gala Co-
Chair. There is an important need for continuity in our leadership as we continue this important work and do more for our members.

I would be humbled and elated to serve again as a MuBANY Director for the 2023-24 term. Thank you for your consideration.

Sidra Mahfooz

My name is Sidra Mahfooz, and I am re-running for a Director position with MuBANY for the 2023-2024 term. After graduating from NYU School of Law in 2018, I worked as an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton until 2021. Since 2021, I have been working as a staff attorney at the ACLU.

I have had the privilege of serving as a MuBANY director during the previous three years. During this time, I helped organize a number of projects and events aimed at helping to advance the Muslim legal community. I co-organized and implemented the inaugural MuBANY mentorship program, which partnered NYC practicing legal professionals, law students and prospective law students together and provided a platform for Muslim legal professionals to connect. I helped plan in person networking events, mentorship trainings and other professional programs alongside the mentorship program as well. I additionally helped to pitch the idea of a MuBANY podcast in the context of co-organizing a panel re different legal career paths. I’ve also helped organize other panels, including a panel on the joint CCR/CUNY CLEAR/ Debevoise No Fly List litigation before the Supreme Court and served on panels relating to big law and identity in coordination with the Georgetown University Law Center. In addition to the programs that I’ve organized, I've also helped draft MuBANY advocacy letters to congressional members calling upon them to support bills aimed at addressing human rights abuses against Muslim populations across the world. I’ve additionally helped to advance the judiciary initiative by coordinating with future judicial candidates and participating in meetings to build a judiciary pipeline. Additionally, I’ve represented MuBANY in various events and coalition meetings aimed at supporting DEI initiatives within DOJ, SDNY and EDNY and other meetings aimed at curbing discrimination and providing assistance to NYC communities. Prior to my role as Director, I also served as a MuBANY law student liaison, where I served on the MuBANY gala committee, interviewed MuBANY spotlight members for the MuBANY newsletter, and assisted in organizing events to further community engagement. As Director, I hope to continue strengthening the MuBANY community by organizing events geared to our members interests and creating spaces for networking, mentorship and advancement.

MuBANY helped support me during law school and my professional career, not only through their generous scholarship program, but also by providing meaningful opportunities for growth, a network of wonderful colleagues and a platform to support our community. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to further my efforts to serve the needs of our community. Thank you for your consideration.

Humza Qureshi

Salaam All! My name is Humza Qureshi and I am humbled to ask your support in becoming a Director for MuBANY. I am currently a third-year Corporate Associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

MuBANY has been pivotal in my legal career dating back to law school. Community service and building platforms for Muslims has been one of my motivations to become a lawyer and throughout my professional journey. MuBANY members have been inspirations and mentors to me as a first-generation lawyer trying to find my way around the New York City legal world. I first became involved with MuBANY as a bright-eyed 1L at Rutgers Law School in Newark, making every possible trip across the Hudson to MuBANY events, including volunteering at the 2019 Gala. As President of the MLSA, I helped organize law student networking events hosted by MuBANY. This year, I have had the pleasure of serving on the 2023 MuBANY Gala Committee which has given me a more special insight into the organization and its inspiring and dedicated leadership. I hope to join this special group as a Director this year and help continue to carry this organization forward. Organizations like MuBANY serve such a critical role for our community, and I hope to help strengthen the organization, build this professional and social platform for Muslim attorneys and make MuBANY one of the premier NYC Bar Associations. 

Aside from all this, I live in Central New Jersey with my wife Bunyad (who also serves as Treasurer for the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association) and cat Pita. In my spare time, I love playing and watching all sports (I have taken a greater interest in playing golf (MuBANY golf tournament?)), hanging out with friends, exploring the best pizza in NY and NJ, enjoying Yemeni coffee at Qahwa House and being involved in my local masjid.

I would be honored to receive your vote to be a Director. Thank you. 

Fatoumata Waggeh

Legal advocacy, community organizing, and social justice are at the core of my identity and purpose in this dunya (world). As a first-generation Gambian-American, the daughter of Black immigrants, and a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist, I am committed to using my legal education to address the systemic inequities facing marginalized communities throughout inner-city America. Fundamentally, I am committed to harnessing the power of the law for the benefit of the forgotten among us: help make our society's most marginalized fight for their rights and protect them from injustice.

My professional trajectory demonstrates a commitment to take action. As a Civic Organizer at African Communities Together (ACT), I successfully campaigned for the inclusion of French and Arabic into New York City's language access plan. I coordinated a coalition consisting of legal advocates, faith leaders, community partners, in which I organized rallies and protests to combat President Trump's Muslim Ban and Refugee Ban and preserve TPS and DACA. I facilitated Know Your Rights workshops at local masjids in The Bronx and helped use my voice and skills to advocate for our city's growing Black immigrant community. As a Corporate Paralegal at Wachtell Lipon Rosen & Katz, I advocated for working-class New Yorkers through a Legal Aid Society's housing rights project, where I helped individuals file claims against landlords responsible for unwarranted rent increases and discrimination. Furthermore, I am the co-founder of the Smiling Coast Women Empowerment Network (SCWEN), a mentorship program for West-African-Muslim-Women committed to empowering them to pursue higher education, explore issues of social justice, and grow into thought leaders. While in law school, as an Extern at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, I helped the organization further its work on educational and racial justice. Today, as a junior Litigation Associate at Shearman & Sterling LLP, I continue my passion for legal advocacy. As a recipient of the "Pro Bono All Stars Award," I have helped fight for the asylum rights of a family displaced at the border and helped further police accountability and racial justice concerning the New York Police Department (NYPD). 

Engagement with MUBANY will be a trajectory to my political ambition of using the law to break cycles of poverty and injustice. I look forward to helping MUBANY further its work on advocacy and help build the present and future Muslim legal leaders. As a Director, I am not only committed to helping MUBANY bring to the forefront the unique issues facing Muslims in New York City, but also build new partners, including local grassroots organization, civic organizations and local Masjids. Specifically, I also hope to help MUBANY elevate the issues facing Black Muslims, in particular, a group that continues to be invisible in Muslim spaces. All while doing this, I will help foster a strong Muslim community among MUBANY members, MLSAs, the Muslims of New York City and our allies, that is refreshing, impactful and engaging. My intersectional identities and diverse professional backgrounds position me to be an asset to MUBANY's Board. I am a team-player, inquisitive, personable, patient, honest and courageous. Last but not least, in many ways, I am New York City, having been born and raised in The Bronx and still residing in the same neighborhood I grew up in. I will bring this unique perspective, knowledge and history as a native New Yorker to my work as a Director. Ultimately, helping ensure that MUBANY is in fact the Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Ayyan Zubair

My name is Ayyan Zubair, a second-year associate at Allen & Overy LLP and former judicial law clerk. Though I was born and raised in New York, I had not encountered many Muslim lawyers from the area until I became connected with MuBANY. MuBANY's programming provided me with a network of like-minded people and helped me get to where I am today. It would be my honor to serve as a Director to give back to a community that has given me so much.