The Unitas Team_
President: Sir Stephen O’Brien
Muddassar Ahmed is founding Chief Executive of Unitas Communications Ltd, where he has led on projects with the United Nations, US State Department, the UK Foreign Office, the Arab League, Barclays Wealth, Mosaic, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the British Council. Muddassar is also founding Chairman of The Concordia Forum, a global think tank for transatlantic relations which runs an annual leaders’ retreat.
In 2010, Muddassar founded the John Adams Society (JAS), where he is currently Chair. JAS is the official alumni association for US State Department exchange program participants in England, Scotland and Wales. Alumni include former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well leading members of the present government and various leaders from the corporate, media, political and community organisations. Additionally, he serves as an elected director on ENAM, the European Network of American Alumni Associations, which caters for participants of US Government exchange programs across Europe. Muddassar is also a NATO Young Atlanticist Fellow for 2012/13, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Muddassar is founding chair of the Hikmah Club, an exclusive bimonthly dining club for thought leaders and professionals from the political, media and the corporate worlds, whose sponsors include State Street Bank, PWC, Clifford Chance, HSBC, Credit Suisse, KPMG, Barclays Wealth and Ernst & Young. He is a founding board member of CEDAR, a pan-European network of Muslim professionals, where he chairs the Media Committee. He also holds a range of board positions at a number of leading UK charities, including the Prince’s Youth Business International, an official charity of the Prince of Wales, The Adab Trust, The British Pakistan Foundation, and The Newham Public Affairs Committee.
Previously, Muddassar worked as a TV producer and presenter for the BBC, Channel 4 and Islam Channel Productions. His television credits include Operation Muslim Vote (Carbon Media/Channel 4, 2005), The Retreat (Tiger Aspect/BBC 2, 2006), The Cult of the Suicide Bomber (Many Rivers Films, Channel 4, 2007), Seven Wonders of the Muslim World (Crescent Films/Channel 4, 2008), and Muslim and Looking for Love (Crescent Films/Channel 4, 2009). Between 2006 and 2008, he was the lead presenter for Islam’s Channel flagship prime-time weekly current affairs show Politics & Beyond. Prior to this, Muddassar worked as corporate liaison manager for UK celebrity hypnotist Paul McKenna, where he managed a team of 10 individuals working to secure corporate support for Paul’s work.
Muddassar has a long background of work in the heart of British Muslim communities. He served as spokesperson/campaigns officer for the Alliance of Mosques in East London, where he helped coordinate local government policy across 50 mosques in the East London area. Additionally, he was co-founding presenter on the popular East London Radio Station ‘Radio Ummah’, where he presented a twice weekly current affairs slot and served as head of advertising. He has been a Steering Group member of the Prince of Wales’ charity Mosaic, The Interfaith Alliance in Newham, and the founding General Secretary of MLM UK.
Muddassar is a regular commentator on international and public affairs, particularly on issues concerning the interface between the Western and Islamic worlds. He has written and commented for BBC Newsnight, BBC London, Sky News, CNN, The Times, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, Al-Arabiya, and the Jewish Chronicle.
An MBA graduate of Harvard University’s business school and, earlier, Cornell, Professor Connolly was for many years an Executive Director and Head at UBS for Private Banking Research and a Managing Director for Global Finance Research at Citibank where he first formatted plans for developing Islamic Finance product offerings in New York, Zurich and London. He has been instrumental is setting up Islamic banking subsidiaries, working with Shariah scholars to understand capital markets and treasury products, and developing a context for rating sukuk and other Islamic obligations. He has published prolific articles about finance.
Chief Media Officer: Zahed Amanullah
Zahed Amanullah is Chief Media Officer at Unitas Communications, responsible for the organisation’s overall media strategy, and Managing Director of the Concordia Forum, an annual leaders retreat based in Italy. He has recently been appointed Visiting Programme Director for Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of the UK Foreign Office. He is the former Executive Editor of altmuslim.com, the largest Muslim news website in the United States and a former Director of American Halal, Inc., a pioneering halal food company in the US. He comments regularly on Muslim communities and consumers in national and international media and conferences worldwide. His writings and analysis have been featured in a wide variety of media outlets, including BBC TV and radio, the Guardian (UK), The National (UAE), The Daily Star (Lebanon), CNN International, Al Jazeera, Press TV and many others.
He is a founding member of AMILA, a San Francisco Bay Area-based Muslim community organization, and a founding board member of CEDAR, a pan-European organization of Muslim professionals. Zahed has also served as an advisor to a variety of organisations including Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the US State Department, Britain’s Home Office, the World Halal Forum, and the Radical Middle Way on matters dealing with extremism, integration, technology, commerce, and media. Born and raised in Southern California, he is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
He is the author of five books on international security and foreign policy issues. In 2003, he was a finalist for the Naples Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award, and in 2010 he won the annual international Routledge-GCP&S Essay Prize. His research has also been used by the 9/11 Commission; the US Army Air University’s ‘Causes of War’ collection (2007); the UK Ministry of Defence’s Joint Services Command & Staff College Research Guide on Counter-Terrorism and the GWOT (2008); and Chatham House’s Middle East Programme.
Polling Associate: Alnoor Samji
Alnoor is a former MORI Partner and Director at Ipsos MORI. He joined MORI in 1997 and has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing research, much of it for service sector clients. He has worked in both research agency and in broader consultancy environments, where he has advised non-researchers on the possibilities of market research. Alnoor specialises in researching stakeholder engagement issues and is a regular speaker at industry events. He holds a BSc. (Hons) in Applied Economics and is a Full Member of The Market Research Society.
Blake is an MBA graduate in International Business from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausees in Paris and a graduate of the Institute of Business Management at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He previously worked as a freelance agent for professional North American and European basketball players and has been a property developer and investor across 12 Countries.
Saudi Arabia Associate: Sofana Rabea Dahlan
Sofana is CEO and founder of Tashkeil, a Multidisciplinary Center for Culture and Design. She has also served as a legal consultant in Comparative Arab Law for Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy in Kuwait. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the RSDFHD Foundation for Human Development, a foundation focused on building leadership capacity in the field of human development in the Arab World. She has written extensively on topics such as women’s rights, social values and interreligious dialogue. In 2011, Sofana was the first Saudi to serve as a fellow for the UNAOC in a tour of Europe and the US. In August, she was also selected for the Women’s Media Center for Progressive Women’s Voices Workshop in Media training. In December 2011, she was a panelist on the Creative Industry in Doha’s UNAOC Forum, where she was also selected to close the session with Sheikha Moza. She has also been selected to participate in the Harvard Executive program “Leading for the Future: The Arab Region in a Changing World” where she represented Tashkeil as a social platform for development.
She holds a Law (LL.B.) degree and a Masters degree in Islamic Law at the Faculty of Law in Cairo University. She also holds an MBA degree from the American University of Technology.
Saudi Arabia Associate: Yolanda Perez
Yolanda is CFO and Partner of Tashkeil, a Multidisciplinary Center for Culture and Design. She is fluent in French, Spanish and English with knowledge of Arabic.
She has worked at the Royal Bank of Canada, serving as a Relationship Manager and as a Senior Relationship and Financial Services Manager for Bank of Montreal. She also served as Assistant Vice-President at JPMorgan to serve high net worth international clients in Retail Banking in New York. She was promoted to lead the France Benelux team in the Investment Banking Division of JPMorgan in Bournemouth, England. She later served as an Assistant Vice-President in the Wealth Asset Management Division in London. Yolanda also holds an Islamic Finance Qualification (IFQ) from the Securities Investment Institute in London. Yolanda is currently a partner of Tashkeil, a social enterprise that promotes creatives in the Middle East.
Qatar Associate: Jenny Elliot
Reputation Management Associate: Arif Zaman
Arif is an advisor to the Commonwealth Business Council on Corporate Governance and South Asia and on the Council of the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS). He is also a Visiting Tutor in Reputation and Board Effectiveness at Henley Business School and author of Reputational Risk (Financial Times Executive Briefing 2004). He is on the Board of the UK-based Strategic Planning Society and the Editorial Board of the US-based Journal of Business Strategy. He also serves on the Advisory Panel of the Dinar Standard. Arif was Global Market and Industry Analyst at British Airways (1996-2005) where he won several company and industry awards including for his contribution to BA’s Business Principles and sustainability Policy. In 2002-03, during his sabbatical from British Airways he was an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. In 2003-04 and in the wake of significant thawing in Pakistani-India relations, he led negotiations for the Commonwealth with SAARC which established the first collaborative programme between both organisations.
Associate: Catarina Tully
Cat Tully is an independent consultant working on foreign and development policy issues. Cat was formerly Strategy Project Director at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Here she led strategy projects examining cross-cutting, priority and upstream foreign policy issues, and helped build strategic capability, working directly with the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, UK members of Government, European and US leaders, and a broad network of international policy thinkers.
She has also previously worked in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, developing domestic policy and strategic capability, including a strategic audit of the UK. Cat has also worked for the UN Deputy Secretary General’s office on the UN reform process, Global Compact, UN Development Programme, and with the World Bank in Geneva.
She has a business and finance strategy qualification (CIMA) and spent six years lending her expertise to improving processes and advising leadership teams in charities including Christian Aid and private sector businesses, particularly Procter and Gamble. She advises the UK and US governments and is a Visiting Speaker for the UK’s National School of Government.
Associate: Abdullah Trevathan
Abdullah is currently a senior lecturer at Roehampton University. He was previously Headteacher at the Islamia Primary School for nine years, the first state funded Muslim school in London. He has also worked extensively in the field of teacher training and has a PhD based on exploring the implications of an existentialist Muslim theology. He has also studied in both Morocco and the UK under various Muslim scholars within the Maliki school of jurisprudence as well as other areas of the classical Islamic canon.