Get to know the newest members of the Cara Staff in 5 questions.
Cara Plus Integration Manager
Tell us about where you worked or what you studied before coming to Cara.
I am a first-generation Pakistani American Muslim woman, so my personal and professional life has been centered on building inclusive communities and working to increase access and equity. I gained global health field experience implementing refugee and migrant health programs in North Africa and the Middle East. I’ve stayed committed to interfaith and intercultural action and have continued to develop interfaith leadership programs for young people around the globe. This past June, I completed my Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. During my time at Harris, I was eager to expand my understanding of social impact and sustainable solutions for addressing poverty. In that sense, Cara Chicago seemed like the perfect next step.
Why are you excited to join the Cara family?
I’m specifically excited that Cara will be fueling its expansion efforts to bring its service delivery model to other communities. While we might have the ‘secret sauce’ that has been working in Chicago for the past 30 years, we are being intentional in selecting affiliate partners with whom we can co-create and co-learn together. Seeing how our partners, Lutheran Social Services of Indiana and Atlanta Mission, have adapted our model to fit their demographic and needs is a unique process. As a natural community builder, I am also eager to help grow the Cara Network and to think through processes of network learning, knowledge integration, sharing best practices, and best failures. In our case, scaling is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and context always matters. Also, I’ve got an amazing team!
Tell us about when you went in the Motivations circle for the first time. What was the question and how did you answer?
The first time I went in the Motivations circle was for my job interview. I was given little information besides Motivations being part cheer circle and part storytelling. My question was, “What are you afraid of, and how are you overcoming that fear?” I shared that I’m afraid of never being content with where I am, and always having to work towards a new goal. To overcome that fear, I actively work on celebrating the little wins in life as well as trying to be fully present in the moment. It’s important to work hard and celebrate our milestones, but it’s equally valuable in taking a breath and being happy with where you are now. After answering, I sang “I Will Survive.” What an experience! What I love about Cara is that we practice what we preach.
What is the best experience you have ever had?
I’ve been super privileged to pursue what I love, and it’s even more of a privilege when your passion takes you around the world. When I began moving my interfaith advocacy to larger platforms, I was given the opportunity to attend (and eventually design and lead) interfaith and intercultural programs in other countries. This past summer, I organized an Interfaith Youth Forum for 100 young people from 40 countries in Baku, Azerbaijan. It took lots of planning and an amazing team, but we were able to pull it off! With that said, sometimes things do not go accordingly to plan. A few years ago, after finishing a training in Sudan, we organized a one-day trip to see the Nubian pyramids. I was on a bus full of 40 people a few hours into the desert when we got hit by a sandstorm and the engine broke down. Hours of waiting and eventually pushing the bus, we were finally rescued and able to see the pyramids.
What’s left on your bucket list?
I want to see more of the world and would love to visit 50 countries by the age of 30. I’m three countries away from hitting that goal, so I’m very close! I also believe traveling can be done on a strict budget, and I am the queen of tracking down cheap flights.
Ready to join the best and brightest in social purpose? Check out the Cara Careers page for opportunities to join our team.