Meet our Team 

School Board

Effective leadership, good governance, and professional collaboration are the bedrock of successful school system. At Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, we are blessed to have a tremendous team that supports the mission and vision of our school, and deeply cares about all the stakeholders in the school community.

Our Teachers are

  • Certified in B.C.
  • Involved regularly in professional development.
  • They are committed, vibrant, and create a positive environment.
  • Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy has dedicated leadership, fine teaching, and enriched programming all offered in an environment rich with Islamic values and morals.

Below, please find the biographies of our team members-- both staff and board! 

Our Staff

Mr. Cohee is a father, husband, world traveler, and an educator. He is passionate about education and everything that goes along with working with young people. Mr. Cohee started his career in education 30 years ago as a Biology and Health Education teacher in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1994. He played university basketball at UBC and went on to compete professionally in South Africa as well. Mr. Cohee has been a teacher, coach, and educational leader serving a wide array of schools both here in Vancouver, Japan, and China. Specifically, he has served as Head of Department, Director of Athletics, Vice-Principal, Director of Junior School, and Head of School/Principal at schools including Mulgrave, St. George’s, Stratford Hall, Lowell High School, and LaSalle College Vancouver High School. He is committed to providing a safe and caring environment that is conducive to learning for all students and believes in a vision of a highly engaged team of faculty and staff who will inspire each child, every day.

Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Sr. Femida moved to Dubai, U.A.E. where she lived for 10 years, after which, she moved to New York, USA where she finished her formal education. Being a mother of four children, she has a passion for working with children. She has been working at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy for almost 15 years and feels very lucky to work with such wonderful children.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, playing badminton, and just being active with her kids.

Sr. Sidika started working with AZIA 11 years ago, and prior to that, she was an active volunteer since the school opened its doors in 2003.

Currently, Sidika is an office assistant.

Sr. Sidika completed her Secretarial Studies diploma in Montreal before moving to Vancouver. When the Academy first opened its doors, Sr. Sidika was very much involved as an active member of the Parent Volunteer Group and assisted in many school initiatives.  She has also volunteered with students from various grades to assist in their academic skills.

Sr. Sidika enjoys working in a school environment and wishes to provide exceptional support to the students, parents, and teachers of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She is looking forward to another fabulous year.

Aurélia Silva was born in France where she spent her childhood with her parents and sisters. She then moved to Portugal, her home country, where she did her studies at Coimbra University, one of the oldest University in the world. Aurélia has been in the Education field for over 25 years. When she moved to Vancouver, she attended Langara College and Vancouver Community College to pursue her career in Early Childhood Education. Aurélia has worked with all age groups but her passion is the little ones. This is her eighth year at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy as the Junior Kindergarten Head Teacher. Aurélia sees her students as her own and spends the day sharing love and smiles! She is passionate for the yearly years and feels blessed to be part of the life of her young students. Aurélia is also the Director of “Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese School “which operates on Saturdays and serves the Portuguese community, teaching children from Preschool to grade 9. During her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, travelling, sewing and spending time with her daughters and grandchildren.

Sr. Fehmina is an ECE Assistant for Junior Kindergarten at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She has completed her Orton-Gillingham and ECE Assistant Certification and enjoys working with children and helping them reach their milestones. She has experience in a childcare setting for the past 8 years. Besides teaching, she likes travelling, cooking, reading and trying new desserts.

Born in Iran, Sr. Ashraf received her degree in Early Childhood Education in Iran and graduated in 2008. After moving to Canada in 2009, she went back to school to learn English. Having worked as a cashier in Langley, she decided to get her Early Childhood Education Assistant certification to pursue her love of teaching young children. Working at AZIA has always been one of her biggest wishes and has both her children attending Az-Zahraa. She enjoys working with the staff, the children, and the peaceful environment that Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy has to offer. She is thankful to be back teaching at Az-Zahraa as she does not see herself working at any other place. Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy is like home for her.

Mrs. Wassick is from North Vancouver and completed her Bachelor of Education at UBC with a focus on Primary Education.  She has a passion for travel and has taught in South Korea and in Qatar.  Ms.Wassick has previously taught Grade 4 at AZIA and this is now her fifth year teaching Kindergarten.  She enjoys the outdoors, reading and playing sports.

Shray Presenger has 19 years of teaching experience and has completed a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

She has gained valuable experience in Thailand, Winnipeg and Qatar. She also recently became certified as an English Language Learner Specialist with Queens University.

Shray’s teaching philosophy is centered on the belief in creating a safe and inclusive learning environment. She values collaboration between students, teachers, and families, and strives for a student-centered classroom that fosters active participation and hands-on learning. She tailors her teaching approach to each student’s unique needs and backgrounds, using differentiated instruction to ensure their success. She aims to instill a love of learning and a willingness to take on real-world challenges.

Virtue is passionate about teaching. She strives to instill determination in the heart of every child and nourishes each child to grow gracefully. She believes in revolutionizing the way teachers teach by providing unwavering support and principal values. Virtue is committed to working closely with children, parents, and service professionals alike in developing and facilitating a dynamic curriculum while ensuring a warm and encouraging environment.  She has classroom experience which spans from grades K-12 inclusively. At the primary level, she teaches all the core subjects such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) as well as Humanities (English and Social Studies), and Physical Education. Her past experience includes managing the Learning Support Services department for several years. Virtue has taught and supported students with Autism, FASD, ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, and physical disabilities. She is passionate about early-intervention with a collaborative approach to help students excel and reach their full potential. 

Sr. Sakina is originally from Toronto, Ontario. She holds an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Arts – Early Childhood Education from Ryerson University in Toronto. Following her graduation, she embarked on a journey to acquire a master’s degree in education with a focus on the Social Cultural Context of Education, with a thesis on Reading Recovery. Her unwavering dedication to the education of young minds inspired her to obtain a Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior from the esteemed Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
 
Commencing her career with the Toronto District School Board, Sr. Sakina eventually relocated to British Columbia due to her marriage. She earned a Baccalaureate Diploma in Education. She then joined the Surrey Muslim School as a Grade 2 Homeroom Teacher. Her dedication and commitment shone brightly during her 2.5-year tenure. Seeking fresh challenges, she transitioned into the role of a Kindergarten Teacher, where she continued to excel for three years.
 
In her leisure time, Sr. Sakina indulges in her love for reading, travels, and cherishes moments with her family. She is looking forward to an exciting new school year where she can nurture the young minds of tomorrow. 
 

Adem boasts an illustrious educational career that spans over two decades, marked by an impressive tenure of more than 20 years as an esteemed educator. Throughout this extensive period, he has cultivated a wealth of teaching experience, emerging as a seasoned professional dedicated to the intellectual development of the next generation.

 

Prior to embracing a full-time teaching role, Adem established himself as a proficient computer programmer in the late 80s, thereby leaving an indelible mark on the ever-evolving landscape of technology. This foundational experience not only honed his analytical and problem-solving skills but also instilled in him a profound appreciation for the intersection of education and technology.

 

His commitment to the field of education is exemplified by his significant contributions during a two-year tenure at Az-Zahraa, where he skillfully imparted knowledge and enthusiasm to a diverse and vibrant community.

 

Embarking on a distinguished 30-year managerial journey at a reputable company, Adem further honed his leadership skills, gaining invaluable insights into the nuances of diverse student populations. His corporate experience uniquely enriches his teaching philosophy, providing a distinctive perspective that sets him apart in the realm of education.

 

As a Muslim educator with an extensive history of teaching in an Islamic school, Adem is well-versed in Islamic values and teachings. This proficiency has afforded him a deep understanding and appreciation of the culture and traditions of the Islamic world.

 

Adem’s multifaceted background, seamlessly blending technical expertise with extensive managerial acumen, positions him as an exceptional educator who comprehensively grasps the dynamic challenges and opportunities facing today’s students. His impactful contributions at Az-Zahraa, coupled with his diverse professional journey, underscore his unwavering dedication to fostering a supportive and enriching learning environment for all students under his esteemed guidance.

Jacquie has called Richmond home since 2021, sharing her life with her loving husband and wonderful son. Currently in her third year at AZIA, she embarked on an exciting journey in the world of education. Her roots trace back to Alberta where she spent her formative years. However, her passion for teaching has led her across the globe, living and teaching in Mexico, South Korea, Hawaii, Qatar, and Indonesia. Jacquie has had the privilege of educating students from Kindergarten to Grade 9.

Beyond the classroom, she has a sweet tooth for chocolate, which often fuels her daily adventures. In her free time, you can find her on the rugby field, crafting intricate crochets, exploring the great outdoors through hiking, or immersed in a captivating book. Her life is a vibrant blend of teaching, family, adventure, and personal pursuits, and she cherishes every moment of it.

Natalie’s educational odyssey commenced in Montreal, Quebec, as she embarked on a journey that would take her across international borders. Equipped with degrees from Concordia University and Bedford College of Higher Education, she ventured abroad for an enriching academic experience.

 

During her tenure in England, Natalie not only imparted knowledge but also assumed the role of Head of Department for an impressive five-year period.

 

Following this international stint, she extended her teaching prowess to Lauriston Girls School in Melbourne, Australia, before returning to her roots in Canada.

 

For the subsequent 11 years, Natalie dedicated her unwavering passion for education to Collingwood School. However, in a pivotal moment, she chose to prioritize her commitment to family and dedicated herself to raising her son.

 

In 2021, propelled by a renewed zeal to return to the classroom, Natalie found a new professional home at BC Muslim School.

 

Eager to contribute and broaden her impact, she is thrilled at the prospect of inspiring and educating students in her latest role at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy.

 

This marks an exciting new chapter in Natalie’s professional journey, as she brings her wealth of experience and dedication to the vibrant educational community.

Sr. Zaineb is a dedicated and experienced educator with a passion for inspiring young minds. She has an undergraduate degree in science, majoring in biology and minoring in French. Recognizing her passion for teaching, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Education at Simon Fraser University. She embarked on her career, spending several fruitful years as an educator within the Coquitlam school district. Her expertise is in French immersion and science instruction. Seeking to broaden her horizons, she ventured and taught at As-Sadiq Islamic School in Toronto, where she embraced and adapted her teaching style to connect with a unique group of students. Continuously striving for excellence, she recently obtained a Master’s in Education from the University of Victoria.

Br. Hamid began his teaching career in 2013. He holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Languages and a Master’s in Arabic studies from Aix-Marseille University in France. He enjoys outdoor activities, sports, and traveling. He speaks Arabic, French, and English.

Sheikh Saleem’s journey has been one of dedication to education and community service.

After studying at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, he and his wife Arifa Hudda pursued Islamic education in Medina, New York, and then in Qom, Iran.

Sheikh Saleem immersed himself in non-profit work upon his return to Canada. He contributed to the Islamic Humanitarian Service in Kitchener, Ontario, and later became the Director of Publications at The World Federation of KSIMC. He then founded Al-Fath Al-Mubin Publications and the Islamic Publishing House – Canada’s largest publishers of Islamic literature in English – having produced hundreds of articles and over 30 full-length books.

For almost ten years, Sheikh Saleem worked at Research In Motion as a Functional and Process Analyst for the Reverse Logistics of the company.

Over the past decade, he has single-handedly created 500+ original Islamic content videos on YouTube, hundreds of podcasts, and authored and/or translated around 50 Islamic books into English.

He actively supports Shia communities across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver and is currently engaged with the Al-Kisa Foundation in various areas including the research and writing of a multi-volume commentary of the entire Quran entitled The Clear Guidance.

Outside of Islamic work, Sheikh Saleem enjoys traveling and photography.

Sr. Shabnam has been with AZIA for almost 15 years. She has a passion for teaching Islamic Studies and also teaches our JKG class. She has a special training and certification in Orton Gillingham which is a great asset as she is able to meet the learning needs of all children. Her teaching style is comprehensive, integrated, fun and dynamic incorporating all modalities of the senses which allows for a strong and grounded learning experience for the children. Most of all, the children love her compassion and empathy. Her philosophy is to make Islam relevant to the essence and being of the child so that the child is able to realize his/her potential to the fullest and develop into a person that can make significant contributions to society.

Sr. Zainab Bachoo was born and raised in Tanzania and moved to Canada in 1995.

In 2003, Sr. Zainab started teaching Qur’an at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She now serves as a Quran co-ordinator and has had the privilege of mentoring assistant teachers in their development of Qur’anic skills and teaching strategies. During this time, she has developed modules for training teachers in the science of tajweed along with easy to use manuals for parents and students.

Sr. Zainab has been the Quran Coordinator at Madrasah Az-Zahraa for over 15 years, and she also teaches Qur’an privately and at other schools. Her love for teaching the Qur’an drives her to log as many as 30 hours per week of Qur’an teaching time. She has studied Qur’anic Arabic formally and understands the Qur’anic language fluently. Her patience and pleasant mannerism in teaching the Quran has made her teaching successful for all students young and old.

Sr. Zainab is also passionate about increasing her knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an. She attended a week-long course on doctrines of faith organized by NASIMCO. Such opportunities allow her to bring the Qur’an to life in the classroom.

Sr. Masuma has been teaching Quran at AZIA since 2014 and holds an Independent School Teaching Certificate from the BC Ministry of Education. She has completed her Diploma in Islamic Foundations and Islamic Studies. Her priority is to instill the love for learning and reciting The Holy Quran in the students of AZIA and to impart valuable teachings from the Holy Quran through creative and multisensory activities. She has always been enthusiastic and passionate about learning and appreciating the teachings of The Holy Quran.

 

Sr. Masuma has also been supporting students as an Education assistant at AZIA for the past 2 years. She strongly believes in a multisensory approach for learning and is a certified Orton Gillingham Practitioner.

 

She also enjoys mentoring the students in teaching the art of reciting Nasheeds and Nawhas. Sr. Masuma has been actively involved in Madrasah Az-Zahraa, teaching and coordinating Quran for the past 10 years. She has also been volunteering in various activities at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre which include the popular workshops for children and has been an exhibitor for the annual Journey into Islam program; an evening where the general public is invited to learn about Islam and tour the Centre. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, yoga and playing badminton

Lindsay comes originally from the U.S. After obtaining a M.A. in archaeology at the University of Chicago, she moved to Canada and received a diploma in Library and Information Technology from Langara College.  Lindsay worked at West Vancouver Memorial Library before starting at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy in 2022.  She enjoys reading, hiking, knitting, and spending time with her husband, son, and two cats.

Sr. Zahida was born in Uganda, lived in Hamburg, Germany for 20 years where she finished her formal education and graduated with a post-secondary degree. She moved to Canada 28 years ago and has been working at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy since 2007.   

Sr. Zahida is passionate about empowering children and giving them support and guidance to discover their strengths. 

In her free time, she loves to bake, hike and spend time with her family.

Since 2000 Laura Benedetti has been a Special Education Teacher qualified in Ontario and Italy.  She is a versatile and dedicated child advocate with a solid focus on the individual needs of identified and Special Education students.  She is a kind-hearted and empathetic professional employing wide-ranging manipulatives and Individual Education Plans to enhance student achievement.  She is skilled in addressing students’ needs, ensuring children will thrive and develop in an adaptable educational atmosphere.  She possesses excellent interpersonal and communication skills to develop an excellent rapport with all members of the school community.

Mohammad is a seasoned, accomplished, and experienced educator known for his dedication to innovation and creativity throughout his 40-year teaching career. He holds a robust educational background in Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Robotics, Project Management, an MBA, Building Management, and has completed an extensive Educational Assistant program. 

During his tenure at Ivy-Tech Community College, Mohammad’s leadership focused on fostering creativity and improving teaching quality. His contributions earned him the prestigious “Teaching Excellence” award from the University of Texas, along with a promotion to Chairman of the Science & Technology Department, where he oversaw eight technical programs. During this period, he made significant contributions to the US Department of Education’s “The Workforce 2000 Core Competency Program.” 

As a Project Manager, Mohammad demonstrated entrepreneurial acumen and a diverse skill set. Concurrent with his business leadership and consultancy role, he devoted time to mentoring, life coaching, and tutoring students of all ages, guiding them on their paths of personal and professional growth. Throughout his extensive career, Mohammad exhibited an unwavering commitment to excellence and a profound passion for both learning and teaching. 

Driven by his dedication to education, Mohammad conducted extensive research in Quranic thoughts and various topics, including psychology, sociology, history, politics, leadership, behavior, culture, environment, ethics, morals, mundane world and spiritual life. His findings inspired him to delve into the intricacies of human psychology, exploring how the brain acquires and processes information for learning. This led to the authorship of a 3-volume book titled “3D Human, The Apex of Creation,” which covers the aforementioned topics. 

Mohammad is passionately committed to cultivating critical and creative thinking abilities in his students. He is renowned for his talent in understanding individuals’ cognitive capabilities, behavioral patterns, and learning styles, enabling him to meticulously craft and fine-tune effective strategies that transform learning into a seamless, enjoyable, and enriching experience for all. His extensive list of accolades is a testament to his exceptional leadership, innovative approach, and unwavering dedication to facilitating the art of teaching and learning with unparalleled tact and patience.

Rajvir serves as an Education Assistant at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy and holds two diploma certificates in Special Need Education Assistant and Business Human Resources, along with a Degree in Business Administration. Additionally, she has obtained an ECEA Certificate. Rajvir is passionate about working with students, fostering their participation, discovery, and learning through tangible activities.

With over 5 years of volunteer and professional experience with children, Rajvir has amassed a wealth of knowledge in understanding their emotions, promoting collaborative behavior, empathetic listening, and maintaining an optimistic approach.

Balancing her professional life, Rajvir is a dedicated parent to three children who keep her engaged with their daily activities. Throughout her life, she has devoted considerable time to caring for children, thoroughly enjoying every moment of teaching them diverse strategies that bring joy and learning.

Rajvir expresses immense happiness being part of the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy family and eagerly anticipates making a positive impact on the children’s growth and discoveries alongside an exceptional team of teachers.

Najwa began her learning journey in Lebanon when she achieved her degree in English Language Arts and Literature. Her further passion for education led her to further her qualifications with a TESOL diploma from VCC Canada and an Education Assistant Diploma. However, that was not the end of her educational career as she went on to obtain certificates in POPARD, NVCI, ASSIST, and First Aid.  

She had the amazing opportunity of working internationally, both in Lebanon and Dubai as an English language instructor and coordinator, as well as an enlightening practicum in Canada. In Lebanon, she had the privilege of working as an English Language instructor at an official high institute. She also worked as a private tutor in Canada, working closely with learners to ensure they can reach their maximum potential. All these experiences enriched her knowledge within this line of work. Her approach to education has differed for the better in result of these experiences. 

Sr. Najwa has strong motivation and passion in helping students and their parents learn how to navigate each individual’s educational journey. She is determined to support teachers by enhancing their classroom and provide a nurturing environment in which students can thrive. Her goal is to allow each student to grow academically and personally regardless of their individual challenges. 

Beyond her professional life, Sr. Najwa is a dedicated mother to four wonderful daughters and she cherishes the time she spends with her family; they inspire her to balance her family life with her passion for teaching. Another source of joy for her is exploring new cuisines and discovering new recipes in the kitchen, allowing her creativity to grow.

Zahra is an Education Assistant, working with Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy for the past two years. Her passion for cultivating a positive learning atmosphere drives her commitment to using her knowledge for the growth and development of both students and fellow educators.

Zahra’s enjoyment in working with children is evident as she consistently strives to establish connections with students on intellectual and emotional levels. She is also dedicated to fostering a conducive learning environment that supports personal growth. Drawing from a background in psychology, Zahra Moradi leverage her understanding of counseling principles to provide personalized assistance, addressing both academic challenges and emotional well-being.

Outside the classroom, this dedicated Education Assistant actively seeks opportunities to contribute to the field of education. Her commitment extends beyond routine responsibilities as she engages in initiatives for professional development and community projects, demonstrating a desire to enhance the overall educational experience for students and educators alike.

Masooma Jafry, a proud wife and mother of two boys, holds a Master’s in Education and certification in Autism. With a background in Educational Assistance, Masooma has a rich history of innovation and success in driving programs for students with special needs in both British Columbia and Alberta.

Her educational journey includes serving as an Elementary School teacher at the renowned Army Public School in Quetta, Pakistan. Additionally, she has dedicated five years as an ESL teacher at Paragon Educational Academy.

Masooma is a committed professional, known for creating a learning environment that is safe, reliable, supportive, and nurturing for all students, teams, and individuals around her.

Beyond her professional achievements, Masooma is a sports enthusiast who excelled as a hockey player during high school and actively participated in various running games, earning trophies and medals. Her passion and creativity shine through in her leadership and participation in games that prioritize students’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being.

Born and raised in Daressalaam, Tanzania, Sr. Shahida completed her education and obtained a diploma in software engineering. She is a certified Orton Gillingham Practitioner in English and Math.

Enthusiastic about teaching using the multisensory approach, Sr. Shahida is dedicated to empowering children to reach their potential, both in person and online. She is also deeply passionate about teaching the Quran and has been tutoring for the past 7 years. Since 2005, Sr. Shahida has been an integral part of the AZIA school community, contributing as a parent volunteer.

In her free time, Sr. Shahida enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with her family, both in person and through online connections.

Sr. Sakina Sayani was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and she has been a valued member of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy since March 2023. She completed her Bachelor of Commerce in Pakistan and continued her education by obtaining an Education Assistant Diploma and ECEA Certificate from Western Community College.

Sr. Sakina is motivated by a strong desire to assist students on their unique educational journeys. Committed to supporting teachers and creating a nurturing classroom environment, she strives to provide a space where students can thrive academically and personally. Beyond textbooks, Sr. Sakina is passionate about teaching Salaat and basic Islamic knowledge to her students. Her ultimate goal is to facilitate the academic and personal growth of each student, helping them overcome individual challenges.

Outside of her professional role, Sr. Sakina is a devoted mother of two daughters and she likes to spend quality time with her family after work.

Sr. Mahboubeh was born and raised in Yazd, Iran where she completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She then later decided to move to Canada in 2003, where over the years she explored the diverse professional fields before ultimately deciding to return to school in 2020, to update her skills and earn a degree as an educational assistant.

This decision led her to a fulfilling role at AZIA, where she channels her enthusiasm for working with children.

Mahboubeh is passionate about empowering young minds to realize their full potential.

In her free time, she remains committed to personal growth, immersing herself in lectures and cherishing moments with her 3 children.

Hossein Parsi, a 34-year-old Physical Education teacher with 8 years of enriching experience, shares a profound journey into the world of sports. 

His early exposure to gymnastics, swimming, and martial arts laid the foundation for a diverse sporting background. As a former member of school soccer and basketball teams, Hossein pursued academic excellence, obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education. 

Certified in fitness, soccer, self-defense, and karate, he prioritizes safety with First Aid certification. 

Three years as a professor’s assistant at Science and Culture University provided valuable experiences. 

Hossein excels in teaching sports to all age groups, from elementary to high school, and even coaching the Iran National Karate Team. 

His passion extends beyond a singular sport, encompassing badminton, table tennis, basketball, and tennis. Beyond technical expertise, his strength lies in connecting with people, motivating them to achieve physical fitness goals. 

In his leisure, Hossein indulges in writing and reading, having authored three sports books and translated two. Committed to instilling values of athleticism, discipline, and teamwork, he remains dedicated to shaping the next generation.

our school board

Br. Riyaz immigrated to Vancouver in 1967 and his family was the first Shia Ithnasheri family to settle in this city.

His family played a foundational role in the establishment of the Shia Muslim Community of BC. Over the course of more than four decades, Br. Riyaz has taken on various leadership roles within the community. He was instrumental on the Task Force responsible for the Az-Zahraa Centre’s construction.

Br. Riyaz is one of the founders and operators of the Az-Zahraa Housing Society, dedicated to providing affordable housing for those in need. In his professional pursuits, he is a successful entrepreneur, engaging in a diverse range of businesses. He has served on the board of many different for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Beyond his professional and community endeavors, Br. Riyaz is a husband, a father, and a grandfather. His life reflects a journey of service, leadership, and family devotion.

Mr. Cohee is a father, husband, world traveler, and an educator. He is passionate about education and everything that goes along with working with young people.

Mr. Cohee started his career in education 30 years ago as a Biology & Health Education teacher in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1994.

He played university basketball at UBC and went on to compete professionally in South Africa as well. Mr. Cohee has been a teacher, coach, and educational leader serving a wide array of schools both here in Vancouver, Japan, and China.

Specifically, he has served as Head of Department, Director of Athletics, Vice-Principal, Director of Junior School, and Head of School/Principal at schools including Mulgrave, St. George’s, Stratford Hall, Lowell High School, and LaSalle College Vancouver High School.

He is committed to providing a safe and caring environment that is conducive to learning for all students and believes in a vision of a highly engaged team of faculty and staff who will inspire each child, every day.

Sheikh Saleem’s journey has been one of dedication to education and community service.

After studying at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, he and his wife Arifa Hudda pursued Islamic education in Medina, New York, and then in Qom, Iran.

Sheikh Saleem immersed himself in non-profit work upon his return to Canada. He contributed to the Islamic Humanitarian Service in Kitchener, Ontario, and later became the Director of Publications at The World Federation of KSIMC. He then founded Al-Fath Al-Mubin Publications and the Islamic Publishing House – Canada’s largest publishers of Islamic literature in English – having produced hundreds of articles and over 30 full-length books.

For almost ten years, Sheikh Saleem worked at Research In Motion as a Functional and Process Analyst for the Reverse Logistics of the company.

Over the past decade, he has single-handedly created 500+ original Islamic content videos on YouTube, hundreds of podcasts, and authored and/or translated around 50 Islamic books into English.

He actively supports Shia communities across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver and is currently engaged with the Al-Kisa Foundation in various areas including the research and writing of a multi-volume commentary of the entire Quran entitled The Clear Guidance.

Outside of Islamic work, Sheikh Saleem enjoys traveling and photography.

Sr. Zahra Kazemi is a proud mother of two, both recent graduates of AZIA.

She holds a Master of Science with years of experience as a Molecular Biologist.

She taught and worked with gifted and talented youth for nearly 13 years at the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University.

She was on the Board of Directors of the Imam Mahdi Islamic Education Center (IMIEC) of Baltimore and was also the founder and former director of the Mehr Farsi School in Maryland.

She also acted as a parent representative at AZIA for multiple years and co-founded the Muslima Society in Vancouver, where she has passionately advocated for youth engagement and empowerment.

Sr. Zehra Moledina is the founder of Strong Foundations Learning and has been operating childcare centers for the last 23 years.

She has worked with numerous children and can say that she has learned so much from each one.

Over the years, she has developed a unique curriculum by exploring and learning about other philosophies.

Her husband and three children have been her inspiration, and biggest fans and she would not be where she is today without them.

She believes that today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and, that if we can give them the tools that they need in their formative years, they will prosper for their entire lifetime.

Br. Mustafa Ali is a CPA by profession and has dedicated several years in providing his expertise as an executive committee/board member of various social organizations.

He served as the treasurer of the SMCBC for many years.

His passion lies in contributing towards causes that benefit the greater community.

Outside of that, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching his son’s soccer games, and exploring the outdoors.