Nausheena Hussain is the co-founder and Executive Director of a new platform to empower women in her community known as RISE- Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment. She is dedicated in building a movement to address leadership development, increase community engagement, and create a philanthropic legacy for change. Hussain shares her beginnings from a 9-5 job to starting her own non-profit organization. The road to leadership has been met with challenges but Hussain is committed to uplifting her community.
In 2011, I took a leap. A leap from corporate America into the nonprofit world. Why would I want to leave a secure job, with benefits, a 401(k), stock and stability? Because, I couldn’t find purpose in that work. As the housing bubble burst, the stock market crashed, unemployment started to rise, I didn’t feel right trying to market DJ equipment to a customer base I had nothing in common with.
So, like a good Muslim girl, I turned to Allah and prayed. I asked Him: “help me find a better path, one to serve you.” And so in the summer of 2011, I ventured out to join a civil rights organization to protect the rights of Muslim Americans. My main job was to raise funds as a newly minted grant writer. I observed in the Muslim community that there was an abundance of charitable giving and wealth, but it was all individual donor based. I also noticed women were donors, doing the work, but never acknowledged or in leadership roles. Coupled with anti-Muslim rhetoric, a rise in discrimination and hate towards Muslims, I realized something needed to be done.
So, in September 2015, I met with a handful of Muslim women to talk about female leadership, civic engagement and philanthropy. From these conversations, we realized the inherent need to build a sisterhood and, through it, create more sustainable change. We needed a safe space, to build a network and to acknowledge our power.
That was the launch of Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE). As the network grew, it became apparent that many sisters were creating an impact in their communities but were going unseen. Most stories and images of Muslim women out there were negative and unreal.
RISE has become a platform to amplify the voice and power of Muslim women by building the network, changing the narrative by telling our own stories, through leadership development, and community impact. Through our storytelling projects, we change the narrative and define the Muslim American woman’s story. We train and equip women with the necessary skills to engage and participate in civil life, become part of the solution creating decision making process thereby improving society.
I took that second leap of faith from running an established nonprofit to becoming a social entrepreneur running a new nonprofit. Some say a leap of faith is only scary until you land. Well, I’m ready to take off again. RISE.