Board of Directors

Dr. Wael Haddara

President of the Board

Dr. Wael Haddara is the Medical/Surgical ICU and Site Lead for the Critical Care Outreach Team at University Hospital, and is an Associate Professor at Western University in London, Ontario. As a medical education researcher, he discovered a framework for exploring the words and ideas that are  most fundamental to our culture’s understanding of the purpose and work of medicine. Dr. Haddara also has a strong commitment to community, working with local and national Muslim organizations including MSA National and CAIR-CAN. He is further committed to and engaged in interfaith activities through the Center for Abrahamic Religions at Huron University College, the Center for Jewish-Catholic-Muslim Learning at King's University College and Abraham's Cafe, an interfaith dialogue activity. Prior to entering the medical profession, Dr. Haddara trained and worked as a pharmacist. Dr. Haddara's interests include Middle Eastern politics and Islamic issues.

Khaled Al-Qazzaz

Executive Director

Khaled Al-Qazzaz is an education and communications consultant. He holds a Masters of Applied Sciences in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto (U of T), and pursued a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration at Walden University. In 2005, Khaled moved to Egypt and established a K-12 international school. In 2012, Khaled served in the first democratically elected government of Egypt until the military coup in 2013. Khaled's mandate was to set-up and execute the portfolios for foreign relations, human rights and women's rights for the Egyptian Presidency. In 2016, Khaled moved back to Canada and co-founded and led the QED Foundation serving vulnerable refugees. In 2018, Khaled started I-RSS to encourage the exchange of knowledge between academics and the Muslim community and as a vehicle to bring positive policy change for Muslims in North America. In the same year, Khaled established Zajel Institute to empower members of the Arab Diaspora and exile communities. He is currently a member of the International Justice Circle of Human Rights Watch and is the director of Education and Communications for the Muslim Association of Canada.

Research & Editorial Team

Dr. Raghad Ebied

Research Director

Dr. Raghad Ebied is an education and training consultant, author, and researcher. She completed her PhD in Critical Policy, Equity and Leadership Studies at the Faculty of Education, Western University in London, Ontario. Her doctoral research focused on compassion and resilience-based approaches to support K-12 refugee students. She is a contributing author to  “Leading for Equity and Social Justice: Systemic Transformation in Canadian Education" published by University of Toronto Press (2022), and a faculty member at the Center for Leading Research in Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. As an Ontario certified teacher by profession, her experience includes over 12 years of working with government, non-profit community organizations, schools, and universities in program development and management,  teacher training, community development and education, equity, diversity, inclusion, and intercultural leadership, both in Canada and the Middle East.

Nakita Valerio

Current Editor-in-Chief, RSS Journal

Former Research Director (2021-23)

Nakita Valerio is an award-winning writer, researcher, and community organizer based on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton. She is a current PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, studying Muslim women’s Qur’anic literacy and leadership in Morocco. Her previous graduate studies were in Islamic-Jewish Moroccan history at the University of Alberta, and she also acts as an academic strategist/mentor for graduate students in the arts, especially history, religious studies, and psychology. She served as the Research Director for the Institute for Religious and Socio-Political Studies (I-RSS) for almost 3 years and remains the Editor-in-Chief for the RSS Journal, published through the U of A Libraries Open Journal System. Nakita is the founder of The Nusaibah Collective (a holistic Muslim women's study group) and is a student of the traditional Islamic sciences in the Arabic language, Qur’an and others. Nakita serves as an advisor to the Chester Ronning Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life at the University of Alberta Augustana Campus, is the recipient of the 2018 Alumni Horizon Award, and is the sponsor for the Fatima Al-Fihri Graduate Award in Islamic Studies. She is also the co-founder of a primary school in rural Morocco where she lived for several years before returning to Canada. Additionally, she serves as the Faculty of Arts Representative for UAlberta Alumni Council and as an alumni representative on the GFC University Teaching Awards Committee  and the Faculty of Arts Council.

Dr. Muna Saleh

RSS Journal Editorial Board

Professor Muna Saleh is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Concordia University of Edmonton. Drawing upon her experiences as a Canadian Muslim woman, mother, educator, and researcher, Muna’s doctoral research was a Killam Trusts-funded narrative inquiry into the experiences of Canadian Muslim girls and their mothers. Prior to engaging in graduate studies, she was an elementary and secondary school teacher and leader. Her research interests include multiperspectival narrative inquiry, mothering and motherhood, conceptions of curriculum, familial curriculum-making, and research alongside children and youth with exceptionalities and their families.

Dr. Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui

RSS Journal Editorial Board

Dr. Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui (RSSJ Editorial Board Member) is an award-winning public speaker, media pundit, researcher, and human rights advocate. She is currently a professor of sociology and criminology at Sheridan College and a diversity equity inclusion/policy consultant. Focusing in the areas of migration, race/ethnicity and ethno-religio diasporic identity, Dr. Ghaffar-Siddiqui’s research has explored the ways in which Western Muslim communities navigate their social worlds amidst rising Islamophobia and how intentional community thirds spaces help facilitate integration and belonging for those feeling “spiritually homeless”. Dr. Ghaffar-Siddiqui’s expertise are sought in academic, public, and political forums worldwide and she is regularly interviewed by major media outlets, including the New York Times, CBC News, CTV News and others. Dr. Ghaffar-Siddiqui has served on the boards of The Pluralist Foundation and The Canadian Council of Muslim Women Toronto, is on the advisory boards for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Canadian Muslim Vote, and is the co-founder of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Canada. Dr Ghaffar-Siddiqui also volunteers her time as a Prince Charles’ Trust mentor for youth in the U.K.

Rifaa Carter

Research Supervisor

Domestic Violence Workshop Development Project 2023

Rifaa Carter is an advocate, counselor and community researcher. She has extensive experience working on issues related to gender-based violence, with a focus on improving outcomes for non-status, refugee and immigrant (NSRI) survivors. She works at WomenatthecentrE in the PHAC funded TBI-GBV project, which is co-creating an evidence-based, trauma-informed, multi-sectoral intervention for women who identify as survivors of gender based violence and resultant brain injuries. She is also a community researcher on I-CREAte, a community-based participatory action research initiative focused on improving the well-being of families and communities in Kingston & area. Rifaa is currently completing her BSW in Indigenous Social Work at Laurentian.

Fatima Chakroun

Primary Researcher

Impact of Muslim Organizations in Canada Study 2021; Domestic Violence Workshop Development 2023

  Fatima Chakroun is currently a PhD student at Wilfrid Laurier University. She holds an MA in Religion, Culture and Global Justice and an MA in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory also from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her undergraduate degree was completed at University of Toronto where she majored in Psychology with minors in both Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. Her research interests include Muslim Cultural Politics, Qur'anic Hermeneutics and constructions of Islamic epistemologies.

Dr. Tareq Sharawi


Indigenous Muslims in Canada 2022

Dr. Tareq Sharawi holds a PhD in Civilization Studies (Politics and International Relations) from Ibn Haldun University and a MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol. He has most recently worked as lecturer of Islamic Civilization and Social Sciences at the College of North Atlantic - Qatar. His other experiences include working as research manager at various institutes, consultancies and non-governmental organizations in different countries. Tareq’s doctoral research explores the inviolability of humans in the Islamic classical legal tradition and historical practice. His academic and research interests include human rights, religious and national identity, the development of Islamic political thought, and the works of Ibn Khaldun.

Nuray Catic


Revert Muslims in Canada 2023

Nuray is an MA student at the Faculty of Theology, Huron University College of Western University. She has a bachelor's degree in Biology from Ege University, and a master’s degree in Psychology of Religion from Marmara University. She worked for non-profit organizations in Turkiye such as Kadindan Topluma Egitim Grubu (From Women to Society Education Group) and has given seminars and participated in research teams to investigate the moral values of Turkish youth. Nuray has worked as an author and editor for Timas Publishing, has written children's books as a co-author on moral education and edited several parenting books in Turkiye for Timas Publishing.  After moving to Canada in 2010, she volunteered and worked in Islamic schools to help ESL children’s adaptations. Her research interest areas are Islamic bioethics (clinical context), psychology of religion, children's education, and Muslim immigrants’ experiences in Canada.

Dr. Mawloud Mohadi


Normative Conceptualizations of Family & Kinship in Islam 2022

Dr. Mawloud Mohadi is a Ph.D. holder from the International Islamic University Malaysia, a research  fellow at the Maqasid Institute, Washington, USA, and a deputy managing editor at the Journal of Contemporary Maqasid Studies. He has worked as a translator (Arabic, English, French), editor, assistant lecturer, and independent researcher for the last seven years. His research interests comprise multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary thrusts, namely, world history and civilisations, Islamic thought and scholarship, English literature, international relations and political science, education, and morality. Dr. Mawloud has published several research articles indexed in SCOPUS and WOS Journals, and has a grant-funded book publication forthcoming. He is also interested in contemporary issues such as dependency, the crisis of morality and leadership, failure of political entities in the Muslim world, and the need for public intellectuals.

Walaa Taha

Instructor and Researcher

Muslim Mental Health Project 2022-23

Walaa Taha is a mental health counsellor who is deeply committed to the theoretical and practical revival of Islamic healing traditions within Muslim communities. She is currently pursuing an Islamic Psychology Diploma through Cambridge Muslim College, and the Scholar certification program through Ribaat Academic Institute. Walaa holds a Masters of Science in Counselling Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Psychology from the University of Calgary, Alberta. Walaa has worked and volunteered extensively as a youth program leader, researcher, and community organizer, which includes leading community initiatives such as mental health seminars and youth halaqas. Overall, her research and clinical interests are embedded within the topics related to mental health within an Islamic paradigm, the cultivation of healthy relationships (personal, spiritual, familial, marital), as well as addressing anti-racism and anti-Muslim hate/Islamophobia.

Mariam Kabalan

Researcher and Writer

Muslim Mental Health Project 2022-23; Anti-Racist Mental Health Resources Project 2023

Mariam Kabalan is a researcher and community servant from Treaty 7 territory. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Calgary and has many years of experience both leading and supporting community initiatives. She is committed to working with organizations that improve access to care; whether it be physical and mental health care, access to basic needs like food and housing, or community programming. Her research interests include holistic psychology, individual and community wellbeing through an Islamic lens, as well as psychology through a social justice lens. She is also interested in medical research and how machine learning can be used to make the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses more affordable and accessible to all.

Levi Bjork


Religious Community Needs Assessment 2022-2023; Anti-Racist Mental Health Resources Project 2023

Levi Bjork is a researcher and consultant with over a decade of experience in legal, legislative, public policy, and advocacy roles. Originally from the United States, he practiced law in Wisconsin prior to moving to Canada, which he has called home for the past ten years. In Canada, he has worked in various policy, advocacy, and legislative positions, including for the University of Alberta, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, and the Government of Alberta, where he most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Minister for Culture and Status of Women. Levi holds a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Concordia College, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and is currently completing an LL.M at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. His research in religion has focused on the role of religion in contemporary societies, with a specific focus on Islam. His current research is focused on the resolution of complex disputes outside of adjudicative settings.

Hassina Alizai


Approaches to Combatting Islamophobia in Global Contexts 2021

Hassina Alizai is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at Queen’s University. Hassina’s doctoral research (in progress) examines the experiences of Muslim teacher candidates in Canadian teacher education programs. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) who holds a master's degree in education with a focus on critical policy, equity, and leadership. She has been working on various research projects with faculty professors across institutions.

Emily Hanlon


Muslim Family Units & Conceptualizations in Canada - A Comparative Analysis 2021

Emily Hanlon is a doctoral student in Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa's Classics and Religious Studies department, where her research focuses on concepts like the metaphysical divine feminine, contemporary Sufism and gender. She holds a Master's degree in Information from the University of Toronto's iSchool and a Master's degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University. She has been working as a librarian and researcher for over a decade, and she teaches Humanities, Philosophy and Religion classes in Oakland, California.

Elisabeth Hill

Academic Copy-Editor/ Research Assistant & RSS Journal Editorial Board

Research Support

Elisabeth Hill is a researcher, writer, and editor living on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton AB. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of Victoria and an MA in History from the University of Alberta. In addition to extensive writing and copy-editing experience, she has worked as a curatorial assistant and public programming coordinator at the Art Gallery of Alberta and as a research assistant to multiple projects at the University of Alberta. Elisabeth is currently pursuing an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Alberta.              

Conrad Leibel

Research Assistant

Research Support

Conrad Leibel (he/him) is a researcher with interests in Literature, World Religions and Comparative Literature. He graduated from the University of Victoria with an MA in English Literature and holds a BA in English and Film Studies from the University of Alberta. He has previously published work on open access resources, technology, copyright law as well as film and media studies both independently and as a staff member at the University of Victoria.

Amani Khelifa

Research Assistant

Research Support

Amani Khelifa is a researcher from Treaty 4 territory, currently residing in Ontario. She holds a BA in History from the University of Saskatchewan and is now pursuing an MA in Theology from Huron at Western University. Her interests include Islamic theology and epistemology, educational theories and curriculum development, community-engaged scholarship, and embodied ways of knowing. She has worked as a research assistant for several non-profits and an editorial assistant for the University of Regina Press. Amani brings her research experience and interdisciplinary background to support the IRSS team.

Ayat Ibrahim

Institute Development Assistant Transcriber

Ayat Ibrahim is finishing a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Ottawa. She has held several executive roles on campus associations and enjoys volunteering in her community. Professionally, she has experience working in the government, with a national political party, and in non-profit organizations. Ayat is passionate about marginalized youth leadership, community engagement, and equitable access to education.

Stephanie Bush


Research Support

Stephanie Bush is an administrative professional and transcriber with a wealth of experience working for non-profit associations in Muslim community advocacy and with at-risk youth. She brings her expertise to her role in research support at I-RSS.

Amina Abdille

Student Intern

Research Support

Amina Abdille is an undergraduate student at the University of Alberta pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Sociology and a minor in Psychology. She is interested in issues such as social stratification and inequality, in addition to the intersections of class, age, gender, and ethnicity in Canada.