Tune in for tonight's program in honor of Special Education Day on the anniversary of our nation's first federal special education law. Signed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) made education available to all American children, and this day honors the progress that has been made in special education.
Executive Producer: Abdul Malik Mujahid
Host(s): Janaan Hashim
Producer: Afra Siddiqui
Dr. Mona Minkara is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Chemistry. She is a legally blind researcher in the field of computational chemistry, with a current focus on Monte Carlo algorithms and surfactants.
Dr. Minkara has been enthusiastically conducting research since her first summer as an undergraduate at Wellesley college. She received a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates award each summer as an undergraduate and conducted a year of research funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute after graduating Wellesley. She was then awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and moved to the University of Florida, focusing my efforts on drug design and biological systems using computational chemistry. After she received her PhD from the University of Florida, she was asked to join Professor J. Ilja Siepmann’s group, doing novel work studying surfactants using Monte Carlo algorithms
Dr. Minkara’s interests lie far beyond the strictly scientific; she is always up for new experiences and has had the pleasure of trying activities ranging from zip-lining to whitewater rafting. She also has a wide range of musical interests, both in listening to nearly every genre and even performing music as an accomplished hand-drummer. Further active interests include martial arts, rock climbing, tandem biking and knitting. Dr. Minkara is an accomplished public speaker and was honored to deliver the commencement address at Wellesley College upon her graduation.
Lamya Hamad works as an Instructional Assistant and Substitute Teacher at AERO Special Education. A graduate from Robert Morris University, and current Medical Assistant at Loyola Medical Center, she never planned on teaching special needs children, but found the work rewarding and plans on continuing her involvement.
Over the span of her 20 year career, Joohi Tahir has had vast exposure in the field of Sales & Marketing across a wide variety of industries: Retail Buying, Strategic Planning & Research, Brand Management, Sales & Sales Training, and Customer Loyalty & Retention. Joohi developed market positioning strategies and led a team approach to always advocate as the voice of the customer — always marketing to serve a need. After serving as a Buyer of Women’s Apparel and a Strategic Market Planning Manager at the largest catalog company in the country, she followed another path. Through conviction and hard work, and a strong desire to serve her community, Joohi focused her efforts and skills toward the Halal market. She has worked in Sales & Marketing roles for companies like Al-Safa Halal and Guidance Residential, LLC and most recently, served as Vice President, Marketing for Crescent Foods, Chicago, where she played a vital role in the vision and mission of the company to take Halal to Mainstream America. Speaking globally on the subject, she has been an invited speaker at Global events in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Malaysia, and the UK.
Aside from her corporate, professional accomplishments, her personal passion to advocate for Muslims with Disabilities has led to her appointment as Executive Director of a revolutionary newly launched nonprofit organization founded by Sheikh Omar Suleiman called MUHSEN: Muslims Understanding & Helping Special Education Needs. With her own family being affected by disability, Joohi has been outspoken over the past 13 years, specifically about inclusion for her daughter who is on the Autism Spectrum. She started with small community initiatives, talks, and support groups, then a masjid event in another state, leading up to speaking to our Masjid Administrators and mainstream scholars about the need for our communities to be more aware and be made more accessible for our loved ones with disabilities. The goal of MUHSEN is to provide a “Special Friendly” environment and build “Masjids of Ihsan” which will be welcoming and caring environments for all. Whether physical, neurological, or cognitive disability, we are collectively responsible for caring for these individuals and including them in our communities. As a leader of this organization, Joohi advocates and markets the needs for which MUHSEN will build programs and services across North America. With these efforts, MUHSEN strives to eventually re-mosque so many families who have become un-mosqued through awareness, accommodation, and acceptance for all. Now serving a very underserved new marked and being their voice, Joohi lives in Naperville, IL with a very supportive husband, and is the busy mother of three daughters.
[Background image: Alexstardreamstime stock photos]