Board of Imara (Directors)

2016 BOD

Ayman Nassar, Chairman of Board

Founder and chairman of Islamic Leadership Institute of America (ILIA), he has over 25 years of experience in enterprise architecture, enterprise and individual transformation, youth development, project/program management and systems engineering & architecture where he managed over $0.25 billion in projects. Over the past 20 years he has coached, taught and counseled hundreds of youth and young professionals and has been a certified mentor and coach with Big Brother Big Sister, Lutheran Social Services, Dar Al-Taqwa, Prince George’s Community College Asian, Latino, African, Native American (ALANA), New Beginnings Youth Center, Howard County Detention Center and ILIA. Ayman is a member of the Howard County Reentry Council and the Howard County Ethnic Diversity Round Table. He holds two Master degrees in electrical engineering, engineering management, and systems engineering and holds certifications in half a dozen leadership areas. He has been trained in cultural competence, youth development, reentry, psychology, curriculum development and has devised over 140 courses and programs for youth and adults. He was faculty at University of California, Prince George’s Community College, Strayer University and Howard Community College. He has also offered dozens of public speeches . Ayman also acts as an advisor consultant to masjids and Islamic institutions on topics of organizational excellence, strategic planning, organizational development, enterprise architecture and sustainability. He published a number of books in the areas of leadership and project management and writes frequently on topics of leadership and management from the Islamic perspective. Ayman holds graduate degrees in Engineering Management, Systems Engineering and Electrical Engineering, and is certified in project management, systems engineering, IT architecture, quality management, organizational excellence and six sigma. He also attended the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo in 2003 where he studied basics of governance models among other topics.

Bari Bako, Member 

Bari Bako has bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Finance from University of Albany, NY. She also has Masters in Business Administration from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Her background is in finance & accounting; and credit risk management and assessment. She has been working with ILIA since 2012 as the treasurer. She helps with accounting and other finance related subjects. In 2016 she joined the Board of Directors of ILIA. She has also been active in the community at Maryum Islamic Center where she served on the Board of Trustees, and organizes women’s events at Dar Al-Taqwa and other volunteer groups.

Zahra Ahmed, Member 

Dr. Zahra Ahmed, a native of Baltimore City, is currently practicing as a Family Physician at Greenway Family Medical Center in Greenbelt, MD. As an active member of her community, Dr. Ahmed acknowledges the challenges of adolescence and adulthood that the youth are facing especially in today’s high-speed world and has always been interested in and involved with various youth and leadership programs. She finds ILIA to be a unique and profound organization that promotes and enhances youth development through activities and experiences that aid in their social, ethical, emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being. Dr. Ahmed lives with her family in Beltsville, MD.

Essam Tawfik, Member 

Sheikh Essam Tawfik has been one of the renowned khateebs/speakers based in the Washington DC Area and actively involved in Islamic activities and instructing in different Islamic Universities, institutions, centers and communities in the US and other different countries for the last 25 years. He is also the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Iqraa & Rattel Institute ( for teaching Arabic and Quran to Non-Native Arabic Speakers, he is also a board member at Islamic Leadership Institute of America. Moreover, Sheikh Essam is a Licensed Professional Civil Engineer in the US with over 25 years of professional engineering and project management experiences in the US and other different countries.

Sherif Halawa, Member 

Br. Sherif is a Computer Scientist, he has been involved with the organization since its inception is various roles and joined the Board in mid-2016, he has also been involved with the Boy Scouts of America. While at ILIA Sherif has overseen ILIA’s technology services, Green Sprouts, and supported many initiatives.



Past Boards of Imara

2009: Ayman Nassar, Ammar Nada, Arif Kabir, Walaa Sidky, Salah Elleithy

2010: Ayman Nassar, Ammar Nada, Arif Kabir, Walaa Sidky, Mahmoud Abouelrous, Shafqat Abbasi

2011: Ayman Nassar, Mahmoud Abouelrous, Mariam Eltoweissy, Noha Elansary, Saad Rehman

2012: Ayman Nassar, Noha Elansary, Ibrahim EL-Araby

2013: Ayman Nassar, Noha Elansary, Ibrahim EL-Araby

2014: Ayman Nassar, Ibrahim EL-Araby

2015: Ayman Nassar, Ibrahim EL-Araby, Fatimah Steffanoff

2016: Ayman Nassar, Ibrahim EL-Araby, Sherif Halawa, Talaat Shehata, Essam Tawfik, Zahra Ahmed, Bari Bako

2017: Ayman Nassar, Sherif Halawa, Essam Tawfik, Zahra Ahmed, Bari Bako