Team Wise.


Ready to support the self-empowerment of Muslim women across the globe...
and smash the patriarchy.

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Rana Abdelhamid

Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Rana Abdelhamid has organized around human rights issues with Amnesty International USA for the past eight years on campaigns related to women’s rights, torture and the Arab Spring. She currently serves on the National Resolutions Committee, has served on the National Youth Action Committee and served as the Youth Delegate to Amnesty’s 2015 International Council Meeting. Rana is a recipient of the UNAUSA Leo Nevas Human Rights Youth Award and the Running Start Rising Political Star Award.

At 16, with a black belt in Shotokan Karate, Rana founded the Women's Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE) as a self-defense, leadership and entrepreneurship program for young Muslim women in New York City. Over the past five years, WISE has engaged hundreds of participants through its programs with chapters in NY, Texas, NJ, Washington D.C., Edinburgh, Dublin and Madrid. She has also conducted extensive political science and economics research on the inclusion of Muslim minority communities in New York City and Madrid. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.


Kanwal Haq


Kanwal Haq is a researcher and a community organizer. She has dedicated her career to serving underrepresented and marginalized populations. After completing an undergraduate career in Biological Sciences, Psychology, Multicultural Studies, Human Development and Family Studies, Leadership and Public Service- Kanwal spent time abroad studying community well-being, with a focus on women, in Kigali, Rwanda.  Kanwal has since served as an educator via the Americorp Urban Education Fellowship, as an Advisor to the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, and has completed a Master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from Boston University School of Medicine. Kanwal's independent research delved into emotional well-being and resource utilization, with a focus at how political and social forces influenced community well-being of Muslim Americans. Kanwal serves as COO of WISE to translate her research into practice- developing programming that allows Muslim women to create the spaces they need, themselves. 

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Maryam Aziz

Chief Learning Officer

Maryam Aziz will be joining WISE as an Associate Self-Defense Instructor. Maryam Aziz is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan. She is a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Goju Ryu Karatedo under the New Jersey State Black Belt Association run by Hanshi Anthony D. Lingo. She has been practicing martial arts for 13 years and has been an assistant instructor for 9.5 years. She has been organizing and/or conducting self-defense seminars for Muslim women since 2011. Her doctoral research explores how 20th century social movements used martial arts practice as a form of community organizing and liberatory education.Her experience and talent will allow us to bring more self-defense instruction to more young Muslim women across the country and the world.



Development Manager

Shahrin Azim is a second year college student at Macaulay Honors College at Queens College pursuing a BA, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Environmental Studies. Aside from the sciences, she is studying Arabic and hopes to learn more languages. Being a Bangladeshi immigrant and living in New York, one of the most diverse places in the world, has allowed her to be more appreciative and curious towards other cultures. She loves experiencing the cuisines of different countries, gallery hopping, and watching classic Bollywood movies. Shahrin has also developed an interest in activism for human rights. She has been involved with the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment for almost 2 years and has been empowering young Muslim women through programming done by WISE. Currently, she is the NY Regional Director for WISE. In the future, she plans to become a doctor and travel the world, working with Doctor Without Borders.



Syeda Nasim

Regional Director: NYC

Syeda Nasim is a Mathematics and Physics major at Hunter College of the City University of New York, as well as an Astrophysics research fellow at AstroCom NYC, an affiliation between the City University of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, and Columbia University. She has been involved with WISE since her participation in Mentee Muslimah 2015, and has since become coordinator of our Leadership-Fellowship Program, and is currently the New York Regional Director. Through WISE she aspires to help young Muslim women embrace their identities, teach them how to combat their intersectional struggles, and raise awareness on the complexity of Muslim womanhood.

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Hind Essayegh

Regional Director: Washington, D.C.

Hind Essayegh received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco in 2004, and her M.A. in International Studies and Diplomacy from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco in 2008.  She also attended the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster and Hessen International Summer University in Frankfurt, Germany. Hind has a diverse background as linguist, educator, and women’s rights advocate. She worked as a translator and interpreter for the Baltimore County Public Schools, and as an Adjunct Professor of Arabic at Montgomery College in Maryland. She also served as Communications Associate at KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

Kinda Darwish Laffiteau

Regional Director: Dallas, TX

In addition to her duties as an Officer and Texas Regional Director for I’M WISE, Kinda is the operations manager for the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation. For the past year Kinda also worked as a facilitator for IGNITE, an organization which teaches young women how to become politically active and engaged in public service. Before that Kinda worked for the International Rescue Committee where she ran support groups for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Kinda has a Master's degree in Development Studies from Dublin City University in Dublin Ireland and prior to getting her Masters, Kinda spent 8 years working for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on UN programs involving Population and Development as well as Gender and Communication. During her time at the UNFPA, Kinda was also a key contributor to the Modernization of Vocational Education and Training in Syria, a project that was sponsored by the European Union (EU). Kinda is delighted that the WISE program gives her the opportunity to share her gender, development and communications knowledge as well as her work and personal experience in order to inspire young Muslim and non-Muslim women in Texas and help them to develop the self-confidence, self-defense and leadership skills they will need to follow their dreams and become leaders and role models for other young women in their local communities. Kinda strongly believes that “One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.” — Sheila Murray Bethel.