Change is hard, especially in the non-profit world, where relationships are built on friendship and community. Like many of you, we’ve been getting acquainted with Nadia Khan, the new Executive Director of The Light House Project. The Light House Project empowers Muslim youth to pursue projects and programs, achieve their goals, find safe spaces, and build community. We spoke to Nadia about her vision, experiences, and goals as executive director:
Could you tell us about yourself and why the Light House Project is important to you?
NK: I’ve always been passionate about working in the Muslim sector. From a young age, I’ve been involved in various Muslim organizations and later got my Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management. This position allows me to fulfill my passion for working in the Muslim community and putting my experience and knowledge to use in a positive way.
We’ve heard about the vision others have related to the Light House; what’s yours?
NK: I envision the Light House Project becoming a hub of young Muslim activity. A place where young Muslims come to connect, share their ideas, and take on projects that help change the world. We’ve recently moved our office to Cary, and I would love to see the building brimming with activity by Muslim organizations.
What is needed to make your vision possible?
NK: We would love it if young Muslims took advantage of the resources the Light House Project is offering! The mentorship and guidance of the Light House Project exist to help young individuals get started on a project. Our mission is to empower Muslim youth to be able to carry out the goals that they want to achieve. If we can see young Muslims achieving their goals and doing good across the community, our mission is being met.
We’ve seen leadership fluctuate as the community transforms and changes– how do you view change?
NK: Change can definitely be a good thing, as each person brings their own perspective on things and vision of what they’d like to achieve. However, there still needs to be some consistency and a smooth transition that lets supporters know that even if certain things have changed, the root of the organization remains the same.
What is the most surprising story you’ve heard or conversation you’ve had since you started working for The Light House project?
NK: One thing that really surprised me coming out of February is just how much the tragedy in 2015 affects people today. It demonstrates just how impactful this event has been for our community.
The Barakat and the Abu-Salha families founded The Light House Project in memory of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha, victims of an islamophobic shooting in 2015. The families hope to honor Deah, Yusor, and Razan and to bring healing to their Muslim community. As the new Executive Director, Nadia hopes to further the legacy of the Barakat and Abu-Salha families.
In our community, the Light House Project is synonymous with Farris Barakat (founding board member) and his family. Could you tell us more about your relationship with Farris and the Barakat family? What do you want people to know about fitting in this position?
NK: I have very large shoes to fill taking on this role after Farris. I’m not related to the Barakat or Abu-Salha families, nor do I intend to take any ownership of what being connected to the family means. My job is to take the Light House Project to the next level as we heal from the tragedy. We need to see the Light House Project transcend time and meet the needs of the community and Muslim youth.
What are some challenges related to The Light House Project management that you want to make people aware of?
NK: Coming out of the pandemic with a new generation of Muslims has been somewhat challenging. Given this context, we hope that young Muslims can see us as a resource. Once we overcome the challenge of reintroducing ourselves post-pandemic, we aim for smooth sailing!
One last question: What is your favorite part of working at the Light House?
NK: My favorite part about working at the Light House Project is making that connection with members of the community and seeing how our organization has already or can possibly impact their lives in a positive way.
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