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Salman Ahmad (SSGWI Co-Chair)

Many of you know Salman Ahmad as a rock star and founder of the hugely successful band Junoon. He has sold over 25 million albums and is one of the most popular and exciting musicians in the world. Salman is also a humanitarian, bridge-builder, and social activist. His real "junoon" (passion) is using his music to bring people together and raise awareness of some of the most important social and political issues of our time: bridging the divide between Islam and the West, promoting peace between Pakistan and India, HIV/AIDS, and global health and poverty.

After 9/11, Salman spoke out in the media about Islam and his identity as a Pakistani-American Muslim. He continues to be actively involved in bridging cultures - through his participation in forums, such as the Brookings Institution and the Search for Common Ground; through his writing, for Newsweek's "On Faith" column and op-eds in the Washington Post and other publications; through his speaking, at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2006, at university campuses around the country, and at Queens College where he currently teaches; through his documentaries, including the 2003 PBS documentary, "The Rock Star and the Mullahs" and the 2005 BBC film about Muslims in America called "It's My Country Too"; and of course, through his music. He just released a song with Melissa Etheridge called "Ring the Bells", a call for peace, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2007 and at the UN General Assembly in 2001, the first band ever invited to perform there.

As UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, and through his music video Al-Vida, Salman has brought urgent attention and resources to this issue throughout South Asia. He has raised thousands of dollars for social causes and for those in need, including earthquake victims in Pakistan and hurricane survivors in the United States. His commitment to bringing India and Pakistan closer together reached monumental heights last year when he performed the first-ever concert in Kashmir, with thousands of young Kashmiris singing "sayonee" (soulmates).

The NYT describes Salman as "South Asia's answer to Santana"; the Wall Street Journal says of his music, "it's a powerful combination of the pumpyour- fist hard rock of Led Zeppelin or Santana and traditional South Asian percussion like tabla and dholak….It's almost as if Van Morrison had slipped into a salwar kameez". And many have likened Salman to Bono, and described Junoon as the "U2 of Asia".

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Dr. Samina Ahmad (SSGWI Co-Chair)

Doctor Ahmad has led a gifted life. It is rare that one can combine two distinct, but totally dissimilar, careers and achieve unprecedented success in both endeavors. Dr. Ahmad has done just that.

A graduate of the University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan with a Medical Doctor degree, she began her medical career at Services Hospital as an Internal Medicine Physician in the Senior Gastroenterology Department where she assisted with fiber optic video endoscopic procedures. Thereafter she accepted an appointment with the National Institute of Child Health as a Casualty Medical Officer working with emergency patients. She rapidly progressed with that clinic to Assistant to the Director, assisting in all areas of the clinic. Thereafter, she started her own practice - Family Practice Health Care Clinic for Women and Children, providing all types of medical healthcare services for women and children.

Deeply concerned about healthcare and its availability to underprivileged women and children, Dr. Ahmad subsequently built and administered the Al-Rehman Welfare Trust & Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan. With boundless energy, Dr. Ahmad hired and trained competent staff, organized all functional areas of the clinic and facilitated assessment, treatment and care forthousands of women and children who might not have otherwise had ready access to such medical services. In addition to the hospital, a school was also built to serve underprivileged children.

As though her medical career wasn't enough to fill a busy day, Dr. Ahmad concurrently developed a second career in scriptwriting, directing, producing and hosting numerous highly popular television programs targeted at healthcare, nutrition, family planning and social issues. Comparable to a Martha Stewart of Pakistan, for many years, Dr. Ahmad hosted television programs on healthful cooking, family issues and nutrition.

She has graduated as a Health Counselor and qualified for national certification as a Holistic Health Practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has also received a certificate of completion for educational outreach from the Teachers College of Columbia University.

Dr. Samina Ahmad is presently the Business Manager for Junoon, ( a highly acclaimed, internationally renowned, Pakistani rock band that specializes in Sufi music promoting peace throughout the world. She organizes tours, books engagements, and manages business affairs, finances and publicity for the band. She recently negotiated in collaboration with the United Nations, a south Asian college tour for the band, to travel to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to raise AIDS awareness. Samina led the band to memorable venues such as the Nobel Peace prize concert in Oslo in December 2007 and a historic first ever concert in Kashmir in May 2008.

Together, Salman and Samina have launched their latest initiative -- the Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI). The New York-based NGO focuses on three main areas: interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue; global health and wellness; and music education. Throughout their lives, Salman and Samina have worked on raising awareness and bringing people together, through music, media and advocacy. Now, they are launching their non-profit to further enable them to confront health and social challenges and lend their voice to bringing people together.

Abid Shaban (Core Team Member)

Abid Shaban has served as chairman of some of Pakistan’s largest NGOs in the past two decades. He has focused on rural development, earthquake-proof housing, construction, water and sanitation. He served as a member of the President’s National Education Advisory Board for Pakistan from 2000 to 2002. Abid Shaban has served as chairman of some of Pakistan’s largest NGOs in the past two decades, including Aga Khan Education Services and Aga Khan Planning and Building Services.

He has focused on education, vocational education, rural development, seismically resistant construction, water and sanitation and disaster mitigation and management. He served as a member of the President’s National Education Advisory Board for Pakistan from 2000 to 2002, the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Private Sector and the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on building and construction from 1997-1999. Abid sits on a number of boards of NGOs. Abid earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and his law degree from the University of Karachi.

AMIN HASHWANI (Core Team Member)

Hashwani is one of Pakistan’s leading entrepreneurs, running businesses in commodities, mining, property and textiles.  An alumnus of Cornell University, he served as the founding president of the India-Pakistan CEOs Business Forum and as president of the Pakistan-France Business Alliance.  He has also been active in the internationally prominent Young Presidents Organization and has founded and managed cross-cultural networks to promote international commerce and peace.

Rob Asghar (Communications Advisor)

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Rob Asghar is a Fellow at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy. His essays and commentaries have appeared in more than thirty outlets around the world, including the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Denver Post, Japan Times and Huffington Post. Asghar is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.


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