Executive Director

Khalil Demir

Born in a remote village in Southeastern Turkey, Khalil Demir understood what poverty meant at a very young age. Raised by unschooled parents, young Khalil thirsted for knowledge and pieced together the scraps of literacy his parents could offer him, teaching himself to read at a young age.

Mr. Demir began his activist career as a student before leaving Turkey to pursue his education in Switzerland. There, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology, before continuing on to the United States where he obtained advanced degrees in history and nonprofit management.

In 2001, Mr. Demir founded Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) with a group of Muslims driven to improve the lives of the poor worldwide. Since then, he has overseen the establishment of schools, orphanages, vocational training programs, and health clinics around the world; the construction of water wells, mosques and community centers in Africa, USA, and the Navajo reservation; the delivery of millions of dollars in emergency humanitarian aid to survivors of wars, natural disasters and other catastrophes, including the Syrian conflict, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti among others.

Mr. Demir has represented ZF on television and radio, including National Public Radio, and also serves as a member of the ZF Board of Directors. He has visited more than 25 countries and speaks six languages fluently. He lives in Illinois with his wife and four daughters.


Dr. Hasan Arslan

As a student, Dr. Hasan Arslan was an advocate for social issues in Turkey, and his concern and interest in humanitarian efforts remained with him when he moved to the United States of America. Dr. Arslan completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Chicago and, during his studies, he dedicated his free time to helping Zakat Foundation of America with his skills and experience. He has been a board member since 2006 and was elected President in 2007. Dr. Arslan works as a Computer Programmer in California where he lives with his wife and two children.


Aidah Abdallah

Ms. Aidah Abdallah joined the board of Zakat Foundation of America in 2011 after volunteering with the organization at the administrative level. Ms. Abdallah pursued her elementary teaching degree at Moraine Valley Community College and is a legal secretary for a firm in the downtown loop. She has also volunteered as a youth counselor at the Orland Park Prayer Center, and continues to be an active volunteer in the community. Aidah lives in Illinois and has three nephews and four nieces.

Board Member

Dr. Mehmet Tarhan

Dr. Mehmet Tarhan worked in an administrative capacity with Zakat Foundation of America’s Istanbul office for over four consecutive years. Dr. Tarhan obtained his doctorate in Religious Studies from Temple University in 1996 where he based his research on religious education in Turkey. Dr. Tarhan and his family currently reside in Northern California where he runs his own business.

Sr. Saoussen resides in Toronto, Canada with her family. She is an accountant specializing in real estate with over 15 years of professional experience. She became involved with Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) in 2003, going from being a donor to becoming a dedicated volunteer and, later on, a board member. Sr. Saoussen has represented ZF in various conventions, such as the ISNA Convention in Chicago and the RIS Convention in Toronto. In March 2011, she completed a two-week mission to the Libyan border with the ZF team, participating in an emergency relief effort to assist the civilians suffering in the wake of the conflict in Libya.