Board of Directors

Najia Haneefi

Co-chair (2020 to present)

Najia has 3 + years of Research and Administrative experience at Carleton University. She has 10+ years of experience in executing sponsored International Development projects from proposal development to implementation and award closeout in the areas of Education, Human rights, Gender Equality, and Child Protection. She has also decades of experience in fundraising and event management for Non-Profit Organizations. Najia is well versed in developing curriculum and delivering training on gender equality and development topics. 

She holds a Master’s degree in Education, Leadership, Evaluation, Curriculum and Policy Studies from the University of Ottawa, Canada in 2015-2016. Additionally, Najia also holds Honors degree in International Development and Globalization with Minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Ottawa, Canada 2011-2015.

Dr. Gretchen Ferguson

Co-chair (2020 to present)

Dr. Gretchen Ferguson is the Director, Global Engagement at Simon Fraser University International and is responsible for developing and strengthening SFU’s partnerships and strategic relations in Africa, the Middle East, and South, Central & Western Asia. Gretchen has dedicated her career to fostering international connections for community-engaged research and learning related to sustainability, community development, and Indigenous economies. She has expertise in the Sustainable Development Goals, decolonization and reconciliation, the Social Economy, and is passionate about diversity and social inclusion.  Gretchen holds a PhD in Geography from Simon Fraser University and an MA in Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia.  She is on board Advisory Group for Solid State Community Industries. 

Eyerusalem Abebe

Treasurer (2020 to present)

Originally from Ethiopia, Eyerusalem currently lives and works on the the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō (Stolo), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. She studied Global Development at the University of the Fraser Valley and is currently working as the operations manager of a local non-profit organization. Her studies and work is driven by her passion to dismantle systemic barriers for marginalized communities across this increasingly-connected globe.

“I am honoured to be involved in this necessary work to empower girls and women with access to resources and opportunities so they can become the leaders they want to be. Our future depends on women leaders rising everywhere”.

Roohafza Zarabi

Secretary (2020 to present)

Roohafza was born and raised in Afghanistan, she has recently moved to Vancouver Canada. Roohafza has completed her BA in Economics from Kabul University in Afghanistan. She is currently working in the financial services field with a Vancouver based banking institution. She is dedicated to equality and justice, and has been an advocate for women’s rights and education since a young age.

“I am excited to contribute to the purpose I believe in and stand for my values. I believe together, we can build just and inclusive communities.”

Friba Rezayee

Founder and Executive Director (2018 to present)

Friba Rezayee is the founder and the Executive Director of Women Leaders of Tomorrow and its leadership in sports project GOAL (Girls of Afghanistan Lead). She was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 18, she made history by competing in Judo at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as Afghanistan’s first ever female Olympic athlete.

Friba’s participation in the Olympics brought Afghanistan back to the world stage in sports after the fall of the Taliban. She inspired hundreds of other Afghan girls to join different sports, in a sports revolution for Afghan female athletes.

Friba has resided in Vancouver, Canada since 2011 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Friba has been an outspoken and passionate advocate for women and girls’ education, gender equality, human rights, and women’s rights in Afghanistan and worldwide from an early age to present. She is currently working as an educator in the Vancouver, Canada public school system.

Zarene Rashid Malik
(2020 to present)

Zarene Rashid Malik studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge MA. She has a Master’s degree in Education (1991). She is also a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University (1995), a management Training Program for college/university heads. Furthermore, Ms. Zarene Malik has over thirty years of managerial experience in senior positions with government and non-governmental organizations. Zarene has worked with the government of Pakistan to develop best policies for education.

During her tenure, Zarene has made invaluable senior-level connections in the education and business communities throughout Pakistan. Zarene has touched many young lives by academic assistance such as college application and senior thesis for students whose first language is not English. As the Country Manager for Advising for the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan, (Fulbright Programme) Zarene has helped students from neighboring countries, including refugees from war-torn Afghanistan.

Dr. Brian Glyn Williams

Advisor (2020 to present)

Dr. Brian Glyn Williams is Professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He is the author of seven books dealing with warfare, terrorism and ethnicity in Islamic Eurasia including The Last Warlord. The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime. Dr. Williams has travelled extensively throughout Afghanistan doing his own field research and working for the US government. Dr. Williams has also carried out considerable research in Central Asia and the greater Middle East region including helping Yazidi girls captured by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorists to return them to their families.