WAW in the US
WAW’s Headquarters, New York Community Center, and Advocacy Program in the United States (US) are staffed by a small yet powerful group of individuals whose commitment to WAW is unparalleled. Our US team is highly experienced with diverse, professional backgrounds that ensure all our program needs–from the US to Afghanistan–are met.
US Headquarters Staff
Najia Nasim | Executive Director
Kevin Schumacher | Deputy Executive Director
Kevin Schumacher joined Women for Afghan Women in December 2016. As Deputy Executive Director, he works closely with the program and operations team in Afghanistan, supports the Finance, Communications, and Development teams in our New York Headquarters, and interfaces with WAW donors, partner organizations, and other stakeholders. He has close to 20 years of experience in grassroots organizing, human rights documentation, political research, sexual rights, and gender equality advocacy, refugee assistance, media outreach, and safety and security training. He formerly served as the Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa at OutRight Action International, an international human rights advocacy group. From 2006 to 2009, Kevin served as the Communications’ Coordinator for the same organization. Prior to joining OutRight, he worked at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace and social justice organization, as the Coordinator for Iran and Iraq. Kevin is bilingual in Farsi and English, has an advanced comprehension of Standard Arabic, and has a basic understanding of Turkish. He has an M.A. in International Relations from the National University, Teheran, Iran, and an M.A in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
Naheed Samadi Bahram | US Country Director
Naheed Samadi Bahram was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her family migrated to Peshawar, Pakistan after her mother was killed in a bomb explosion in Kabul. After graduating from high school and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Peshawar, Pakistan, and at the early age of 18, Naheed began teaching ESL to Afghan women living in refugee camps and taught English to children at the Country Grammar School in Peshawar. Naheed moved to the United States in 2006, and graduated from Queens College in June 2011 with a Bachelors in Finance and Economics. She began working with WAW in 2007 as a volunteer and moved up the ranks to become Program Director at the New York Community Center, where she oversaw all of WAW’s programming in New York before she was promoted to US Country Director. In addition to her many responsibilities managing WAW’s operations in the US, Naheed has served on the Board of the Flushing Interfaith Council and on the Organizing Committee of the Annual Queens Borough President’s Office Iftar Event.
Naheed recently completed the Senior Leadership Program for Non-Profit Professionals at the Columbia Business School of Executive Education and has completed an Immigrant Women’s Leadership Fellowship with the NYC Mayor’s Office For Immigrant Affairs. Today, she serves as a member of the Queens Borough President’s Immigration Task Force and is an adjunct lecturer at Queens College. She also serves on the Queens College Community Advisory Board. Naheed has won an incredible amount of awards for her service to the community and to survivors of domestic violence.
Ahmad Yama Nasir | Financial Controller
Ahmad Yama Nasir (Yama) was born and raised in Kabul, Yama left Kabul for Peshawar in 1996—when Taliban took over the capital. While in exile, he pursued his studies and graduated high school in Islamabad. After more than a year as a volunteer with YCDP for Afghan refugees in Islamabad, he started his first professional job with DFID Afghanistan office, located in Islamabad. He returned to Kabul in 2002 to continue to work for DFID Kabul as Financial Management Officer. Subsequently, he worked for UNDP Afghanistan’s media support project at Presidential Palace; as Director for Finance & Human Resources for USAID/LTERA Project and as Deputy Director for Admin at Government Media and Information Center. In 2009, he was admitted to Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania, as an accounting major. He graduated with honors in 2012 and returned to Kabul to join his wife and daughter. From late 2012 until September 2014, he held various positions at Inteqal LLC, PAHNA Group and Pajhwok Afghan News (his latest engagement at Pajhwok as Chief Admin Officer involved overseeing the entire administration department’s activities, including financial management). He has also conducted World Bank (HR Improvement at Ministry of Education) and EU (training evaluation at Ministry of Agriculture) funded consultancy projects in 2010 and 2013. He has been married to Naseeba for almost 8 years and has a 2.5 years old daughter—Yalda. All three migrated to the US in September 2014.
Nataliia Skalii | Financial Analyst
Nataliia joined Women for Afghan Women’s finance team in 2019. Born and raised in Ukraine, Nataliia received her Master’s Degree in Economics after completing her undergraduate studies. She moved to the United States (US) with her family in 2015. Nataliia comes to WAW with extensive experience in accounting, auditing, and financial analysis both in the private and non-profit sectors. In Ukraine, she worked for the international public accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as auditor; and for one of the largest private agriculture companies in the country, as a financial analyst. Other prior US experience includes working as a financial analyst/grant accountant with the Institute of International Education in New York. At WAW, Nataliia is responsible for preparing financial statements, grant-specific expense reports and budgets, facilitating annual audits, and other financial management functions, among many other tasks.
Dolma Gurung | Finance Coordinator
Dolma pursued her bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Stony Brook University. After graduation, she worked as an accountant at The Yale Club of New York City, which provided Dolma with a great platform to develop skill sets that she needed to further her career path. She joined Women for Afghan Women in 2019 with not only her experience in finance, administration, and other coordination requirements, but also an ardent enthusiasm to be part of a team that works together in order to bring about positive change. Her commitment and eagerness to work for an organization committed to doing the right thing fuels her hard work and ambition to also do her part in the world.
Mona Abu Rayyan | Communications Manager
Mona Abu Rayyan joined Women for Afghan Women in 2015. With an education in International Relations, History, Economics, and Filmmaking, Mona has almost 20 years’ experience in the for-profit and not-for-profit domain, spanning from organizational development and strategic planning to marketing, media, and strategic communications. At WAW, Mona was responsible for setting a new communications strategy for the organization that included rebranding WAW, and updating and overhauling all of WAW’s communications and social media platforms, material, and collateral. Before WAW, Mona worked extensively in the non-profit domain in the Middle East working with refugee women, youth, and grassroots organizations. She has also worked on promoting Middle Eastern arts and culture prior to moving to New York in 2012. Her career has been spent working on bringing not-for-profit initiatives towards their strategic goals of attaining sustainability and long-term viability while maintaining the integrity of their core missions and altruistic visions. Before coming to Women for Afghan Women, Mona worked as an independent consultant or at high-level management positions for companies and organizations including, Handicap International, Oxfam Quebec, UN-ESCWA, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Lebanese International University, the Arab Resource Collective, Optimiza Ltd., Ashkal Alwan – the Association of Lebanese Plastic Artists, InfoPro Management, and Saatchi & Saatchi, among others.
Kristine Wee | Development Manager
As Development Manager at WAW, Kristine Wee leads all grant writing and report writing, donor communications, manages event logistics, and works with all WAW teams to ensure grant compliance and donor-responsive communications. Kristine started her work in international development as a student activist and organizer in the Philippines and Cambodia. Growing up in one of the conflict-affected regions of the Philippines developed her interest in issues that intersect gender, conflict, and migration. She believes in fueling social change by building strong communities and systems. Her work includes contributions to the Philippines’ peace negotiating panel and fundraising for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She joined WAW in 2016 as the Development and Reporting Associate. Her education background is in Development Studies with a focus on Development Management.
Rigi Philip | Development Associate
Rigi Philip joined Women for Afghan Women’s development team in 2019. She is responsible for supporting the development team’s fundraising strategy by providing grant proposal and report writing, in addition to providing administrative, communications, and events management support. Rigi completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Texas at Austin and has a Master’s Degree in International Education Development with a focus on Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. She formerly worked with The Tibet Fund in various capacities related to office and grant administration, fundraising, and educational programs. Her passion for education, women’s empowerment, and community development was developed through her volunteer experience with civil society organizations in India and Nepal.
New York Community Center Staff
Shgoofa Rahmani | Case Manager
Shgoofa Rahmani was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. She moved to New York in 1995 and graduated in 2011 from Queens College with a degree in Sociology and English. She first joined WAW in 2011 as an intern, then stayed as volunteer for the following year. And, although she went back to her teaching job, her heart remained with WAW and the women she had the privilege to work with and help as a volunteer and during her internship. Today, Shgoofa works full-time at WAW and is responsible for assisting clients with their social service needs, coordinating and connecting clients to various services as per their needs. Shgoofa worked in a law firm, and was a teacher for 15 years in an early childhood school in Queens prior to joining WAW full time in 2016 as the New York Community Center‘s Case Manager.
Sapna Owais | Caseworker
Sapna was born in Kabul, Afghanistan but her family moved to Peshawar, Pakistan in 1996. After graduating from high school and receiving certifications in English and computers, she began her career with the International Red Cross (IRC), working as a facilitator at a Women’s Empowerment Center in Shalman Refugee Camp for 2 years. In 2010, Sapna moved back to Kabul to work with Roots of Peace as gender manager–leading their program in 16 Afghan provinces, which aimed to build the capacity of women in horticulture and to support them through different trainings and relief packages that provided basic tools for running a small businesses.
In 2017, Sapna moved to the United States through the SIV program with her family. She began working at a public school in Queens, New York as a teacher’s assistant and as a student advisor. In parallel to her job at PS 206, Sapna worked as a volunteer interpreter with HIAS. In November 2019, Sapna joined the team at Women for Afghan Women’s NYCC as a caseworker committed to supporting and empowering WAW’s clients by assisting clients with connecting to social services, providing support in immigration-related matters, advising clients suffering from domestic violence, and providing interpretation for clients in Family Court, among other tasks.
Shazia Akberzai | Caseworker
WAW’s Caseworker, Shazia Akberzai, like many Afghans, lived as a refugee in Pakistan for many years. While living in Pakistan, Shazia played an active role in refugee camps, supporting displaced teenage girls like herself to learn English and develop skills. Shazia first joined WAW in October 2008 as an Office Manager. She re-joined the organization in September 2015 as a Caseworker because of her strong background in Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Hindi, and English. As WAW’s Caseworker, Shazia helps lead WAW’s Case Management Program, including implementing domestic violence services. She carries out a myriad functions, including helping clients to cope with social, economic, emotional and behavioral problems in their daily lives as well as providing counseling services, interviewing clients, meeting with lawyers, and carrying out routine administrative duties, among other tasks. Her biggest motivation for being a part of the team is to use her background and skills to make the world a better and safer place for women and girls.
Roshni Ahmed | Coalition and Outreach Coordinator
Roshni Ahmed was born and raised in New York in an Indian immigrant household. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University where she studied International Studies and Sociology, with a minor in Islamic Studies. Roshni began working in case management for the diverse immigrant community in Baltimore through the International Rescue Committee. She later interned in Amman, Jordan with UN Women to support programming and research for refugee and vulnerable women. She was eager to use her experiences and increase collaboration in New York, joining WAW as the Coalition and Outreach Coordinator in 2019. Roshni looks forward to building on WAW’s advocacy efforts and organizing for the women, immigrant families, and Muslims communities in NYC at large.
Michael Tracey | Immigration Attorney and Legal Advisor
Born and raised in Manhattan and the Bronx, Michael Tracey has worked his entire life in public service and for the public interest. After attending high school and college in the Bronx at Fordham, Michael joined the Fire Department of New York City in 2005, and worked his way to the rank of Lieutenant. In 2009, Michael started law school and quickly became interested in Immigration Law. Since his admission to the New York Bar, he has worked tirelessly in private practice and for non-profits serving immigrants from across the world. In addition to running a small practice in Brooklyn where he works with clients individually, he works as Women for Afghan Women’s part-time Immigration Attorney and Legal Advisor, offering legal counsel and consultations to WAW’s clients on issues ranging from family petitions and adjustment of status, to non-immigrant visas, naturalization and citizenship, and cancellation of removal, among others.