Who we are and how we got here.
The Organizing Committee
The Afghan-American Conference was an idea implemented by a group of young Afghan-American students and working professionals from across the United States. Our Committee’s involvement with the Afghan community has ranged from Afghan student organizations and working with non-profits, to organizing local community programs. We are excited to bring individuals with varying experiences together to promote dialogue and advance a vision aimed at empowering the Afghan-American community.
Salmon Hossein, Executive Director and Founder
Salmon Hossein is an associate at Skadden Arps in Los Angeles. He spent his early years in the Bay Area and latter years in Orange County. Salmon received a J.D. from Berkeley Law and Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. But his heart still lies with his undergraduate UCLA Bruins. There, he founded the United Afghan Club, which has raised over $100,000 to-date for the needy in Afghanistan. In 2011, he briefly taught English at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. In 2009, the Los Angeles-based Prime Magazine honored him as one of “7 UCLA Bruins Who Will Change The World.”
Zachia Nazarzai, Operations Director
Zachia Nazarzai is a Policy Analyst in LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office. She received her BA in International Development Studies and Political Science from UCLA and her Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Zachia was an active member of the United Afghan Club at UCLA and served as the first female president of the organization during the 2010-2011 academic year. During graduate school, she completed a yearlong fellowship with the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities in Washington D.C. Zachia hopes the Afghan-American Conference will serve as a space for the community to learn from and work with one another.
YOUSUF AZAM, Finance Co-ChaiR, Development
Born in Kabul and raised in New York and California, Joseph (aka Yousuf) Azam lives in NYC. He is currently Senior Vice President, Legal & Group Chief Compliance Officer at News Corp, where he oversees business conduct, internal investigations, and compliance in the areas of anti-corruption, sanctions, export controls, and antitrust. He has held similar roles at HSBC, Accenture and Oracle, and began his legal career at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York. Yousuf is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he served as Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Hastings International & Comparative Law Review and currently serves on the Board of Governors. He holds an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and a B.A. in Politics & Philosophy from NYU. He's been a contributor for MTV News, Ethisphere Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the LA Times and Lucky Peach Magazine. He's currently working with Abrams Press on an anthology of refugee stories being edited by Pulitzer prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen. His contribution to that book, which will be a fundraiser for the International Rescue Committee, was inspired by his introduction to AAC in 2016.
SUSAN ZACA, COMMUNICATIONS CHAIR
Susan Zaca is a Land Use Manager at Modus, Inc. and currently lives in San Francisco where she enjoys hiking its endless hills. She received a B.A. in Urban Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. During her time at UCB, she was an active member in the Afghan Student Association. She helped lead the annual ASA Culture Show fundraisers that raised money to provide essential supplies to Afghanistan, and organized ASA’s annual winter drive collecting winter clothing and school supplies that were sent to Afghanistan. She looks forward to working with the Afghan-American community as a member of the organizing committee for AAC.
Gina Karimi, Applications Chair
Gina Karimi is a UC Irvine graduate from Orange County, California. She studied pure mathematics at UCI and received her M.S. in Biostatistics from UCLA. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was active in the Afghan community and was one of the leaders of ASA-West’s nationwide clothing, blankets and school supply drive for Afghanistan. She is an active board member of the Afghan Health Initiative. After recognizing the lack of engagement with the Afghan community here in the United States, Gina decided to focus on Afghan-Americans. She looks forward to working more with her community via the Afghan-American Conference.
Homaira Hosseini, COMMUNITY INITIATIVES CHAIR
Homaira Hosseini is a Litigation Associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Houston, Texas. Homaira received her B.A. in political science and public affairs from UCLA in 2009. Homaira served as the UCLA Student Body President her senior year where she focused on socially responsible investment of UCLA’s endowment and raised awareness and funds for homeless UCLA students. The University honored her by selecting her as Student Commencement Speaker. Homaira completed her J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2013 where she served as the Diversity Editor on the California Law Review. Homaira is a 2010 CORO Public Policy Fellow and 2011 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow.
SARA NOORZAY, Community ENGAGEMENT Chair
Sara Noorzay is currently working at Activision Blizzard in Los Angeles, CA, but is in the process of transitioning to a Sr. Director of Business and System Operations role at PebblePost, a programmatic mail startup based in NY, with operations on the West Coast. Sara previously worked at firms like Deloitte, Slalom and Hitachi Consulting, where she managed large business transformation projects for Tech and Media & Entertainment clients.
Madina Salemi Nooristani, Finance Co-Chair
Madina has been an Actuarial Analyst for AIG for over 11 years. Madina graduated New York University, Stern School of Business with a major in Actuarial Science, Finance and minor in Mathematics. Being born in Kabul, Afghanistan and witnessing first hand the sacrifices her parents made to escape the war in order to give her a brighter future has made her realize how privileged she is. She has tried in the past to pay it forward to future generations who may not have been as fortunate through various organizations but none inspired her like AAC. She hopes that AAC will continue to grow and prosper so that one day, it can give her son a community to belong to, learn from, and be proud of.
Omar Aziz, Programming Co-Chair
Omar Aziz is a proud Fremonti who grew up with Afghan soccer, Lake Elizabeth picnics, and the beautiful chaos of Afghan Sunday school. He is currently completing his Master's thesis on Muslim college student identity while interning at Rowan University's Office of Social Justice & Inclusion. Omar has worked as a Coordinator for Residential Education at UC Santa Cruz, taught 10th grade math with the Teach for America program in Miami, FL and separately taught in Ramallah, Palestine. In 2014, Omar received the Rowan University Tapestry Award for his efforts in promoting intercultural awareness. In 2015, Omar helped start The Samovar Network, which is an online forum for Afghans to discuss issues affecting the diaspora.
Sabrina Barekzai, Marketing Chair
Sabrina Barekzai is a Social and Content Marketer for Dreamforce, Salesforce's annual conference. Dreamforce is the largest tech conference in the world, held in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Previously, she wrote for The Bay Bridged, an award-winning independent music blog. She also writes and creates her own zines. She has done work with Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which aims to empower the direct voice and writing from Afghan women. She majored in Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, she now lives in Oakland, California.
Samim Abedi, Professional Network CHAIR
Samim Abedi is an Investments Associate for Global Fixed Income Strategies at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co in New York. He received a B.A. in Anthropology and Economics from Williams College, where he graduated Cum Laude. He has six years of experience across Investment Banking and Asset Management. Samim sees AAC as a vehicle to maximize the potential of our Afghan-American community.
Sophie Hossein, Programming Co-Chair
Sophie Hossein is a Surgical Technician at Newport Beach Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Sophie lives in Orange County, California, and graduated from UC Riverside, where she revived UCR’s then-defunct Afghan Students Association. Before that, Sophie was an organizer of the ASA-West nationwide clothing and school supply drive that raised over $5,000 and two tons of clothes and school supplies for Afghanistan. She is currently applying to Physician Assistant graduate programs.
HAroun Dada, Logistics Chair
Haroun Dada is a Senior Analyst at The Wendy’s Company in Columbus, Ohio and the Head of Healthcare Management for GliaLab, a new startup that develops artificial intelligence solutions for the healthcare industry. He received his B.A. in International Studies at The Ohio State University and his M.H.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to Wendy’s and GliaLab, Haroun was a Consultant at Deloitte. At Deloitte, he worked primarily with healthcare systems, health insurers, and pharmaceutical companies to expand government health programming.