Founder and president
Ani Zonneveld is founder and President. Since inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in 12 countries and 19 cities. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, participated in many interfaith dialogues and is a strong supporter of human rights and freedom of expression. She is the brainchild of Literary Zikr – a project that counters radical Islam on-line and co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled “Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada”; she has contributed to many forewords and numerous anthologies too many to list; is a contributor for HuffingtonPost, OpenDemocracy and al-Jazeera, and recently gave her TEDx talk titled – Islam: As American As Apple Pie; on the national Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Council and the subject of a documentary title "al-imam" featuring Ani's activism works. As an award winning singer/songwriter, she utilizes the power of music and the arts in countering radicalism as she speaks-sings her message of social justice and peace from a progressive Muslim woman’s perspective, and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. in 2004.
Born and raised Muslim from Malaysia and based out of Los Angeles, Ani spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an Ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview.
For a detailed overview of her CV, click here.
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MPV Secretary/MPV-Atlanta President
Kelly Wentworth was inspired by her strong belief in an open and inclusive worship space to create the American Islamic Fellowship (AIF) in Atlanta, GA in 2007. In 2011, AIF became a part of Muslims for Progressive Values and Kelly joined its board. In Atlanta, she has helped create a mosque space with continuous activities, educational programs, and chaplaincy and officiant services. Kelly received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language from Tennessee Technological University. She spent two years in Yemen and worked as an EFL Instructor where she received a diplomacy citation from the U.S. Department of State. She currently works as an Implementation Consultant for an event software company. Kelly actively participates in human rights, women’s rights and LGBT rights efforts everywhere she can. She is a part of various projects that promote music and arts in the community. Kelly is a fellow at the Muslim Institute, which exists to promote and support the growth of thought, knowledge, research, creativity, and open debate.
MPV Treasurer/MPV-NY Founder
Barza Diaz is one the founding steering committee members of MPV-NY. She was born in Pakistan and raised in New Jersey. As an eldest child of first generation immigrants in the US, Barza was encouraged to continue to appreciate her religious and cultural background. After graduating from Saint Peter’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Barza actively sought a progressive Muslim community that would accept people judgment-free and found MPV. Barza previously worked as an auditor for CohnReznick to review financial integrity of her clients’ financials. Today she works as a Cost Accountant for Benjamin Moore.
mpv-un Youth Representative
Mahfuzul was born and raised in Queens, New York. He has a BA in International Political Economy and Economics from Fordham University. Currently an intern with the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, where he helps coordinates the Youth Assembly at the United Nations and other international projects. He’s been active abroad in South Africa, the Philippines, Bosnia, Turkey, and Bangladesh. He has aspirations of higher education and a career in the International Relations. He believes an inclusive community will naturally gravitate towards progress for mankind as a whole.
Frank Parmir is a lifetime native of Columbus, Ohio. He is a retired carpenter and anti-nuclear weapons activist. Because he experienced such a common and casual tolerance for war and poverty within his society, Frank spent most of his adult life publically agitating for better ethics, but identifying himself as an atheist. After a visit to Konya on the eight hundredth anniversary of Rumi’s Union with God, Frank became deeply interested in Islamic Sufism. With subsequent readings of the Qur’an he found an ‘utterly magnificent description of the Infinite Power and Perfect Goodness of The One Reality.’ Frank and his wife took shahada at Masjid Omar in 2008. Visiting various nearby Mosques and finding none that would be welcoming of the their two lesbian daughters (should they embrace Islam) with full equality. Frank started MPV- Columbus which is the only inclusive mosque in Ohio, and perhaps the whole Midwest, with a regularly scheduled female khateeb.
Ahmed Karrar is a 2nd year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He was born in Coventry, England and has been living in America since 1996. He grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan and attended University of Michigan-Flint for undergrad; currently a civil rights law clerk at the Council of American Islamic Relations in Chicago and has aspirations of going to business school after attaining his law degree. He has always been an advocate for progressive values within the Muslim world and looks forward to working with MPV to building Muslim communities in which inclusion and open dialogue are promoted.
Barbara Khandakar is a local Board Member of MPV-Atlanta and has been involved with the community since 2009. Her compassion for equal rights and a community with a judgment-free environment for all ages brought her to American Islamic Fellowship, which later became part of Muslims for Progressive Values. Barbara's focus has been on education for children within an open environment of Progressive Muslims and providing them with a love of Islam and curiosity. Barbara received her education in Environmental Horticulture and worked in the horticulture field for 10 years managing, designing and, training. She also is a mother of 4 brilliant life-changers. She taught Sunday School for 4 years at an Episcopal church in Georgia and is an advocate for her own children, standing up to make sure they receive the rights they deserve within the Special Needs programs.