ABOUT THE TEAM
Sabeeha Rehman, a popular author, blogger and speaker on the American Muslim experience, is best known for Threading My Prayer Rug. One Woman’s Journey From Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim, her irresistibly charming 2016 account of
growing up in Pakistan. Short-listed for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, it also won Booklist and San Francisco Book Festival honors, and was listed among top memoirs by Readers Digest. Excerpts from her memoir were featured in the Wall Street Journal, and Salon.com. Since the publication of her memoir, she has given over 250 talks in nearly 100 cities at houses of worship, academic institutions, libraries, and community organizations, including Chautauqua Institution. Sabeeha has given talks on the art of memoir writing at academic institutions including Hunter College, New York. She is an op-ed contributor to the Houses of Worship column of the Wall Street Journal. Her writings have been published in New York Daily News, Forward, Salon.com, Tiferet, and Patheos.com. She has co-authored with Walter Ruby her next book We Refuse to be Enemies. How Muslims and Jews Can Make Peace, One Friendship at a Time. It will be published in April 2021. Rehman can be reached at www.sabeeharehman.com.
Zurriane Bennett is one of today's best mentors, and trainers, having helped and guided thousands in the area of personal growth and success for over 20 years. He is a leader, retired Marine Chief Warrant, law enforcement officer, program manager, teacher, successful father, husband, and man. He has authored 4 books, and is the visionary force behind Positive Self-defense as its creator. He is a dynamic, driven speaker and trainer. He has worked with Google, Library of Congress, Washington DC National Guard, Franciscan Mission Service, Sexual Assaults Victims' Advocacy Service, LifeWay, Station House, Several for profit, Not for profits, Universities, private companies, law enforcement, military, and many more.
Melissa Thomas is a sophomore at Briar Woods High School. She is the president of the DC Chapter of Shanti Bhavan, a nonprofit, and has led fundraisers. She actively participates in organizations at her school, including FBLA, in which she is the Vice President of Community Service. She has participated in a variety of speech competitions, placing 2nd in Virginia for FBLA and qualifying for Metro Finals in Policy Debate. She is in the Youth Committee for KAGW, a DC based non-profit. She is also the co-lead of the Eagle Ridge Middle School Debate Club and worked to develop the confidence in future high school students. She has received her Future Award for FBLA, Silver Award in Girl Scouts, and is currently working towards her Gold Award. She approaches any daily task with dedication, caution, and a calm attitude. In her free time, she enjoys watching TV and spending time with her family.
Sarah Myers West
Aarya Walvekar is a Senior at Briar Woods High School, and the founder of Euphoria Dance studio, a small business which provides affordable dance lessons to local children. Aarya is a passionate advocate for Mental Health and the Body Positivity + Health at Every Size Movement and has created various awareness campaigns as well! Furthermore, Aarya participates in school and community theater and volunteers as a Director for local kids plays. In her downtime, Aarya loves to do yoga, cook for her friends and family, and spend time with her younger sister!
Mark Witte's research deals with applied questions in macroeconomics and public finance. His main interests are in consumption theory and topics in taxation. His teaching interests include macroeconomics, money and banking, public finance, and the economics of the environment and the extraction of natural resources. He has been voted onto the Associated Student Government honor roll numerous times in recognition of both his teaching and student advising. He has been honored with a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) Distinguished Teaching Award, and a WCAS Distinguished Leader in the Undergraduate Community Award.