Meet Our Team
NADIA HASSAN, EXecutive director
Nadia Hassan, MBA is known amongst her peers as a Social Strategist for young people. A California girl and daughter of US Marine, Nadia is the Executive Director of Young Leaders Institute, a youth leadership platform and network connector that empowers youth toward social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Nadia has an MBA from Bentley University, where she did her thesis in Islamic Finance and Sustainable Economics. In 2011, Nadia founded the Villa Park Peace Coalition (an interfaith peace coalition) to counteract the hate and anti-Muslim bigotry coming from the Tea Party in Orange County. Nadia led The Coalition to a victory which resulted in the defeat of a Villa Park City Council member, who was dismissed from her position as Vice Chairperson of the GOP for her bigoted rhetoric. Nadia’s political activism gained her media attention with numerous media outlets, such as C-SPAN, CNN, USA Today, Al-Jazeerah, Washington Post- and others- as well as board and committee appointees with numerous interfaith organizations. Nadia is currently a media contributor and has appeared on TV / radio shows such as The Heat, Open Lens, Sputnik Radio, and U.S. Arab Radio. As a peace and justice advocate, Nadia uses her national platform to fervently speak out against the systemic racism and the religious intolerance that is currently plaguing our communal and political spheres. Nadia serves on the Prince George’s County Muslim Council and is a National Committee Board Member to the Muslim Caucus of America.
sophie bouwsma, social media and program fellow
Sophie is a musician and peacebuilder focused on addressing the roots of structural and cultural violence in the United States. She is passionate about cultivating genuine relationships, facilitating dialogue on difficult topics and shaping transformative learning environments. Sophie has collaborated with CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Standing Rock Michigan Tent, Cosecha GR, Kauffman Interfaith Institute and the Poor People’s Campaign. She is completing her MA in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training and has studied peacebuilding with the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) Peacebuilding Program, Vahidin Omanovic (Center for Peacebuilding, Bosnia), Dishani Jayaweera (Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Sri Lanka), Tatsushi Arai (United Nations Peace Envoy) and Musicians without Borders. She is currently conducting research on evangelical approaches to peace and conflict studies.
Priyanka Nighot, Intern
Priyanka is from Mumbai, India where she studied Commerce for four semesters at the Mumbai University, India. She is currently studying Business Management and Administration at Northern Virginia Community College. Priyanka worked for an NGO as an Intern of Alumni Engagement Vertical, and she has been part of the Apni Shala’s Youth Project program which is based on the social emotional learnings in her country. Therefore, she wishes to establish her own non-profit organization that will help youth in education in the future because she loves to organize events and interact with people.
Serine Belka, Social Media Intern
Serine was born and raised in Algeria and moved to the US when she was 12 to finish school. She is very active, creative and hands on in everything she does. Serine believes that as a teenager, training from a young age is important to develop your personality and to transform and mature your mind. She is skilled on social media, and she hopes to help younger communities learn more about YLI and the various opportunities that are available to them. As an intern, her goal is to contribute a teen's point of view and to give input as to what interests youth, making YLI better for participants and for herself. She plans to attend PGCC this fall to major in IT or Marketing Management.