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, Executive Director

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.

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Maryam Aziz

Chief Self Defense Instructor

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.

Hajera Siddiq

Director of Fundraising

Hajera Siddiq works at the Clinton Foundation, which works on global and national issues such as: climate change, access to HIV/AIDS medication, women's and girls participation globally and much more. She was also a SUNY New Paltz Global Engagement Program graduate, a program to prepare students for global citizenship, training them for challenges such as peace and security, human rights, climate change, and sustainable economic development. In addition, she has a long history of research; she was an anthropology student research assistant at SUNY Stony Brook, focused on researching religion in cross-cultural perspectives. She was also a Yale Arthur Liman fellow, researching specific issues related to detention to access to justice. In addition to her research background Hajera was also previously a Hagedorn Foundation fellow researching disaster preparedness on Long Island. Hajera graduated from SUNY Farmingdale with a B.A. in International Relations with a double minor in Political Science and Middle East and Islamic studies.

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Hind Essayegh

Washington,D.C. Regional Director

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.

Erica furgiuele

Director of Communications

Erica graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College with Rana in 2015. She has plans to be Rana's speechwriter when she runs for President of the United States, but that's far in the future. Erica is a playwright, actor, singer, composer, and lyricist who holds a B.A. in Theater and Film Studies. Erica has performed Off-Broadway and was awarded the 2013 KCACTF Award for Best Classical Actress. When she's not learning a new opera, she is reading up on public health and humanitarian issues and staying current on every episode of SNL. She is immensely excited to use her skills as a writer and speaker to help WISE become more visible on the national stage and to see the amazing work of all our WISE women unfold into the world. 

Kinda Darwish Laffiteau

Texas Regional Director

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.

Nada Ali

Mentorship Program Coordinator

Nada Ali is an Egyptian American who migrated to the United States in 2002. Growing Up in New York City, Nada is passionate about serving her community in many ways. While attending stony brook university, she majored in the health sciences and concentrated on the public health track. Moreover, she also completed her pre-dental courses and will pursue a career in dentistry. Her passion for giving back to the community goes beyond health related means. Nada is involved with WISE, which is an initiative created for empowering and encouraging women to be leaders and to strive to their full potential. Nada hopes to combine her passions for dentistry, public health and female empowerment to serve her community in the future.


Syeda Nasim

Fellowship Manager

My first exposure to the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment was the summer I joined the Mentee Muslimah program. Since then I’ve become a co-coordinator of the NY Leadership-Fellowship Program with Shahrin Azim, who is also currently the regional director of WISE NY. As far as my academic background, I am a Mathematics and Physics major at Hunter College of the City University of New York, as well as a research fellow at AstroCom NYC, an affiliation between the City University of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, and Columbia University.




NYC Regional Director

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.