The Atlanta Business Chronicle named Dr. Mahnaz Charania, Director of the Glenn Institute for Service Learning and Philanthropy, as one of its 2018 "40 Under 40" honorees. Dr. Charania has sought to implement practices that enhance student learning by addressing community and environmental needs through immersive service experiences while developing critical skills for success in the 21st century. She is the founding Executive Director of the Rozhar Education Collaborative, which seeks to tap into learner data to improve student learning and outcomes.
Dr. Charania has been on the Digital Promise Research Advisory Board, served as the Director of Strategic Planning, Research, and Program Evaluation for Fulton County Schools, and is a Fellow with the Pahara Institute. She has uthored over 15 publications which include her contributions to 74million.org, a non-partisan and non-profit new site covering education in America.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle seeks to recognize individuals who have made significant career achievements and demonstrated civic responsibility. “This recognition is even more significant because it amplifies a core value that we, as Shia Ismaili Muslims, try so hard to live by—and that is, the importance of service and using one's talents, skills, and resources to improve the communities around us,” says Dr. Charania. She adds: "I deeply believe that an ecosystem of diverse thinkers and doers can attain powerful solutions to pressing problems. So challenge yourself” she advises the youth “to learn from and partner with people from diverse fields, sharing talents while finding innovative strategies to disrupt the status quo.”
Karim Shariff is the Managing Partner of Pacific Point Realty, a residential real estate development firm recognized for promoting responsible and sustainable practices. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Karim actively serves in leadership roles with several community organizations. An awardee of 40 Under 40 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2017 and an Emory graduate, Karim notes “commitment to service got woven into the fabric of my daily life at an early age as a volunteer in Jamatkhana.” He believes that this motivation for the community service ingrained into his persona led him to be awarded the 40 Under 40.
Karim’s accomplishments span the spectrum from his position as Chairman in an arts organization, and Co-Chairman position with a civic and professional leadership development organization. He is also involved with the Atlanta Public Schools system has been recognized as an Arts Leader of Metro Atlanta. Most recently, he was inducted as an Honoree by Outstanding Atlanta.
These accomplishments stem from Karim’s desire for service to the society at large. He adds: “This form of outreach allows us to engage with people who may not have had any previous exposure to Ismailis, or Muslims in general. As such, we become de facto ambassadors of the community showcasing the true elements of Islam. This is a critical role that each of us can play…this type of impact is very important to me.”
A Health Scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Behnoosh Momin was named to the University of Georgia (UGA) Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. Established in 2011, the annual award honors the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40. Dr. Momin was recognized for her success in the health sciences at the federal level. In a congratulatory letter addressed to her, the Lt. Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle stated, “Georgia is a much better place because of your exemplary public service, and I am extremely honored to have such an outstanding citizen in our state.”
Dr. Momin’s area of expertise is in cancer prevention. She provides evidence-based recommendations to research studies and leads her own studies to identify the effects of tobacco cessation on cancer rates. Her inspiration comes from the Imam’s guidance on education, and the need to use it for the betterment of humanity. “As an Ismaili Muslim, I am hoping that this award is a small contribution towards Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision for the Ismaili community,” says Dr. Momin.
“I can’t do all the service the world needs, but the world needs all the service I can do!” This is the mantra that Munir Meghjani adopted at an early age and this has served him well. A 2010 Emory graduate, he is a commercial and investment real estate broker with Sands Investment Group by profession and also co-founder of Knock on Wood Creations, which makes handcrafted wood accessories.
Munir’s passion and commitment to service is an evident driving force in all his undertakings. The nonprofit HOPE (Helping Organizations and People Everywhere), which he co-founded, engages young adults in service through interactive events. HOPE partners with existing like-minded nonprofit organizations addressing basic human needs. Munir also played a critical role in the establishment of AROMA (Activist Recruiting Organizing & Mentoring in Atlanta), a group geared toward strategically and creatively mobilizing activists.
Emory University’s Alumni Association awarded the 2017 40 Under 40 to Munir for being “A progressive thinker, social and civil entrepreneur and dedicated community member in Atlanta.” This dedication also resonates in his desire to share knowledge and life experiences by speaking to diverse audiences across the globe. Beyond all his commitments, Munir still makes time to lend his voice by serving on several boards including the Emory University Alumni Association Board, as Development Chair, Georgia State’s RIALTO Center for Arts, as Chairman of the Board, Oxford College Alumni Board, Leadership DeKalb, and Interfaith Community Initiatives.
Finally, another recipient of the 2018 Emory University Alumni Association 40 Under 40 Award is Asad Abdulla. Recognized for his innovation and management skills as well as his community service leadership, Asad is a thought leader in the technology product management sector. He serves on the board of Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Product Management Society, an organization dedicated to educating, promoting, influencing and uniting Georgia's technology community to foster an innovative and connected marketplace that stimulates and enhances Georgia's tech-based economy.
Service comes naturally to Asad and is part of his identity as a proud American Ismaili Muslim. He demonstrates a keen passion for interfaith dialogue, serving within our community and service organizations, as well as a deep commitment to student mentorship. His work was recognized by Emory University in 2012 when they honored him with the Humanitarian Award for building bridges through interfaith dialogue and initiatives.
“Focus on developing a few distinct skills that may appear disparate,” Asad advises students, “how you bring these different skills together is what will differentiate you from others and help you create your unique narrative.”
The above recipients, in their pursuit of excellence, have upheld the Ismaili spirit of service by giving back to their communities. Through a commitment to leadership and volunteerism, each has embraced Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision for engagement and dialogue with the community at large. Each one of them attributes their achievements to their upbringing and values instilled in them as Ismaili Muslims. They are indeed role models for the youth to follow as they aspire to simulate this trajectory and accomplish even loftier goals.