Meet Our Staff
We are the people running this project with the goals of bettering our community through education and art. Learn about where we come from, who we are, why we started this project, and what we do beyond it.
Cyrus Newquist and Ahad Ansari
Coming from a diverse background, Cyrus Newquist views his local community as an extension of his family. He joined Islamic Artists of Orlando as he saw it as a perfect cross section of his love for his religion,his love for the arts, and his community. Cyrus believes that it is through mutual cultural understanding that we grow closer together towards common good. He is a senior at Lake Highland Preparatory School.Outside of Islamic Artists of Orlando, he participates in his school’s congressional debate and robotics teams, (remotely) interns for the UCSD Pulmonary Imaging Lab, and plays guitar in his free time.
Ahad Ansari has always had a passion for interactions between cultures. He joined Islamic Artists of Orlando as he felt that it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring Islamic culture to his hometown. In light of recent events, he feels that it is necessary to incorporate an understanding of diversity among our local community. Ahad is a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. He enjoys participating in his school’s speech and debate team, cooking, and playing piano and violin in his free time.
Ahmed Bilal has always been very involved with his community and has been extremely passionate about the interactions between the cultures around him. Ahmed joined the IAO as he wanted to bring forth the diversity of the Islamic cultures to Orlando. He believes that the more interactions people have with unique cultures the more the appreciation for the diversity would exist. Outside of IAO, Ahmed is currently a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. Beyond working for the project, he enjoys working as an editor for the school Newspaper, Writing poetry and music, and participating on the tennis team
Editor and Head of Outreach
Amal Qureshi is the head of outreach at Islamic Artists of Orlando. She has had a passion for making and appreciating art since she was little, and this love has led her to become involved in IAO. Coming from an artistic family has only furthered her enthusiasm for the subject, and she channels this when discussing all forms of art. Outside of IAO, Amal enjoys making art herself, watching films, participating in her school’s speech team, and having spirited political discussions.
Editor and Event Coordinator
Sana Sheik has lived in Orlando all of her life. Her passion for visual arts, and her desire to empower Muslim’s in her community sparked an authentic interest in the project. Outside of IAO, Sana is currently a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. Beyond working on the project, she enjoys participating on her school’s speech and debate team, doing art, and being an activist in her community.
SOCIAL MEDIA LEAD
Maha Ahmed, with her fascination of the arts, led her to join Islamic Artists of Orlando as the Social Media Lead. She loves to help her community and would like to do that by presenting Islam in a unique way. She believes that bringing awareness to the community is one of the most essential aspects of bringing change in the overall society. Outside of IAO, Maha is a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. She enjoys participating on her school’s speech and debate team, reading and writing, and volunteering to help her community.
EDITOR AND EVENT COORDINATOR
Serena Ata has lived in Orlando for the entirety of her life. A sophomore in high school, and - from reading countless literary works to poring over various art pieces with wide eyes - she has realized the potency of artistic expression in the discussion of complex subjects regarding race, religion, and culture. Not only does this appreciation for distinctive varieties of art cause her to consider herself as being more artistically inclined, but her commitment to competitively performing in piano, theater, and speech have further intensified the extent of the impact which art has on her life. Serena hopes to bring this artistic passion into every contribution she makes to the Islamic Artists of Orlando in its various endeavors.
Hamzah Faiyaaz Jhaveri
Project Founder and President
Hamzah Jhaveri has lived in Orlando for the majority of his life. He conceptualized Islamic Artists of Orlando after the Paris shootings of 2015 to recast a positive image of Islam throughout his community. After the Pulse Massacre, Hamzah's fledgling organization assumed a greater significance in his wounded community. Aside from running IAO, Hamzah is a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. He works part time as a biophysics researcher at the University of Central Florida. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poetry, and volunteering.
Muhammad Yusuf Khattak
Project Vice President and Chief of Media
Muhammad Khattak has been Vice President of Islamic Artists of Orlando ever since its establishment. His passion for philosophy and cultural studies sparked into an authentic appreciation for the arts that he uses everyday in working on the project. Outside of IAO, Muhammad is currently a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School. Beyond working for the project, he enjoys participating on his school’s speech and debate team, writing music, and reading.
Michael Levin has been project manager for Islamic Artists of Orlando since its third month of operation and feels very thankful to be participating in such a relevant and meaningful community based project. Other than helping to organize events and exhibitions for IAO, he splits his time between teaching art history at Lake Highland Preparatory School and English at Valencia College, and playing music in various rock projects.
Interested in Contributing?
If you think you have the time, skills, and resources to regularly contribute to our project as a staff member, please press the button below and write us an email. We would love to have you working on our staff!