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Banquet Speakers Bio
Sara Minkara is the founder and CEO of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), a nonprofit committed to developing a more inclusive society through empowering youth with disabilities and transforming social and cultural stigmas against disability globally.
ETI is committed to achieving inclusion for all people through groundbreaking initiatives that challenge stereotypes about people with disabilities. Sara strives to elevate marginalized voices and viewpoints and promote a robust, authentic respect for individual value through the organizations.
A Lebanese-American Muslim woman who lost her sight at age seven, Sara has transformed her unwavering passion for empowering persons with disabilities into innovative, empowering programs. ETI’s programs support individuals with disabilities to become catalysts for change in their own lives, their communities, and beyond.
Sara’s personal pledge to equip young people with disabilities with the confidence and skills to succeed as individuals and advocates blossomed as an undergraduate at Wellesley College. With support from the Clinton Foundation, she founded ETI in college and expanded its programs and mission while earning her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Today, Sara is an internationally recognized advocate in the areas of disability inclusion, female leadership, and social entrepreneurship. Dynamic and memorable, she speaks and facilitates workshops across the globe, leveraging her personal background and professional expertise on disability inclusion, social entrepreneurship, empowerment, women’s leadership, and more.
Ahmed Elkhaldy is the VP of Fund Development at Mercy Without Limits, a USA based non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of vulnerable communities worldwide. Elkhaldy is an accomplished community developer with over 22 years of faith-based youth development, humanitarianism, outreach, and consultants. He is also the VP of Top Notch Consultant.
Currently residing in Iowa, where he earned a degree in Bachelors of Art from the University of Iowa majoring in religious studies. He is currently completing his last year of medical school at the U.S.A.T. College of medicine. He taught Arabic and Islamic Studies for continuing education programs at Kirkwood Community College.
Ahmed Elkhaldy has extensive work in public education and outreach programs, leading informative seminars to churches, universities, law enforcement, and educators on interfaith and diversity. Additionally, he is a speaker at local and national conferences. Since 2006, Ahmed Elkhaldy has been the Imam and President of MAS Iowa Islamic Center. He previously served as the Imam of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 2000-2006; and was the associate Imam at Islamic Society of Central Florida from 1996-2000.
Elkhaldy served as National Director of MAS Service Corps (MSC). He also served as the National Director of the Inter-Religious Center of the Muslim American Society from 2005-2006. He has been a member of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County’s Board of Directors since 2000 and has served as Vice-President from 2004 to 2007, then president of the council on 2008.
In 2005, Elkhaldy co-founded and joined the Executive Committee of the Children of Abraham in Cedar Rapids, IA. In 2006 Elkhaldy joined the Board of Directors of Barnabas Uplift, an outreach program to assist the working poor in the community.
Elkhaldy is a licensed Judo instructor with a second-degree black belt from the United States Martial Arts Association. In his free time, he coaches judo for the MAS Iowa youth center. In addition to Judo, he also practices Hapkido, Arnis and Kumdo. Elkhaldy enjoys leading youth activities and programs.
As part of his work with Mercy Without Limits, once a month, for a week, Elkhaldy leads the Ride for Orphans (RFO) campaign. RFO is a motorcycle tour that started in 2016 to raise funds and support orphan projects for Mercy Without Limits orphans in Syria, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Since its establishment, Elkhaldy has ridden to eight states and visited more than 200 mosques, 30 schools, and many places of worships.
Born in Washington DC, and raised in Maryland Raef brings a unique sound to the faith inspired music scene.
His love of music began with the purchase of an old guitar on ebay when he was a teenager. From there, he’d take self penned poems and turn them into heartfelt songs.
His debut album, ‘The Path’ (2014) reflects his identity as an Musilm American, taking us on a journey through aspects of his faith and stories from his life.
Raef hit it big in Indonesia and for the last four years has been the star of a Ramadan TV series, ‘Journey of a Backpacker’. In the series, Raef visits notable Indonesian towns and cities and encounters a host of interesting characters along the way.
Awakening Music, his label, is getting ready to release Raef’s second album ‘Mercy’ in the next few months. In addition, he’s busy at work on a unique children’s album, due for release some time in 2019 inshallah.