US Election: Pakistani Americans Running for Political Office in California

Los Angeles, CA: The world is on the brink of being led by women for the first time as Hillary Clinton fights to join the British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel as major leaders on the global stage. It is likely that, within few days of the publication of this article, the 1st, 4th and 5th richest countries on earth - and two of the world's top four military powers - are led by women.

In keeping with this trend, three Pakistani American women are running for political office in California in 2016!

Anila Ali and Farrah Khan are running for a seat on the Irvine City Council and Sabina Zafar is running for a seat on the San Ramon City Council. It is to be noted that though both Anila Ali and Farrah Khan are running for a seat on the Irvine City Council, there are two open seats and it is possible for both candidates to win in this election.

Following are brief introductions of each of the candidates.


Anila Ali

Raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Anila Ali is a proud American citizen and has made Orange County her home community for almost two decades. Married with two grown-up children, Anila understands the challenges that California's working families face.

 Anila grew up with parents who were deeply committed to democratic ideals. She was taught from an early age that all people had value regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation. Her father was a distinguished diplomat and journalist. Her mother was a teacher and philanthropist. Anila reflects the best in both; she is a middle school teacher, author and esteemed community leader.

As a career educator, Anila is an advocate for education and equal access. Her decision to run for Irvine City Council is an extension of her passion for civic engagement including service on the City of Irvine Strategic Plan for Children, Youth and Families Advisory Board and Irvine Public Schools Foundation Board of Trustees.

As the Orange County Chair of the International Leadership Forum (ILF), Anila has worked to inspire and empower young people to see the value of civic and political leadership. ILF helps prepare its Fellows to become future leaders in academic, cultural, business, community, professional, and public arenas. Anila truly believes children are our future and will be strong advocates for policies that support healthy communities, excellent schools, economic empowerment and access for all.

Anila was the proud recipient of President Obama’s Excellence in Volunteerism Award and has been recognized by the LAPD Counter-terrorism Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for her efforts to support safe communities.

 A community-builder and global thinker, Anila Ali has earned respect throughout the inter-faith community for her work to build bridges of understanding. She is the author of a children's book, "Mommy, Am I A...", in response to bullying that occurs when children are unaware of differences in faith and culture.


Farrah N. Khan

Farrah has always enjoyed working with the community.  She started by volunteering at her children's school and several non-profits.  She committed to being an active PTA member and has since served on the PTA Board at the Elementary and Middle School level.  She served as PTA President for three terms at her sons' elementary school, served on the PTA Board at the Middle School and is currently serving on the School Site Council at the High School.  She and her husband are also Legacy Partners with the Irvine Public School Foundation.

She has worked extensively with many community organizations to host events, collaborate on efforts and provide support.  She founded a children's interfaith group, First Drops in 2011. The organization provides children (ages 5-13) and their families opportunities to go on site visits to churches, synagogues, mosques and temples throughout Orange County to get a better understanding of one another. The group partners with a local Church every 4th Sunday of the month to feed the homeless population in Santa Ana. 

One of Farrah's joys has been serving on the Steering Committee for the Irvine Global Village Festival for the past six years.  She is also a proud CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteer with the Irvine Police Department, a program she highly recommends for every resident and business of Irvine.

She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council. Farrah finds great pride in working with the faith communities not only for dialogue, but also to discuss social and economic issues affecting Irvine, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Farrah was appointed as a Community Services Commissioner in 2014.  During her time as Commissioner, she was the only Commissioner who took the time to get to know the city parks, open spaces, land development, amenities and employees.  She was an advocate of sufficient park space. She is committed to keep Irvine the best for our future generations.  The awards and recognition she has received through the years is a testament to her commitment to service. Her most recent being the 2015 Community Service Leader Award from the OC Human Relations Commission.

Farrah has a strong understanding of what it takes to make a city great.  "It takes a partnership of all stakeholders to make a city great.  I am committed to work with our developers and corporations to benefit Irvine's growth as a Master Planned community, with small business for the enrichment of our city and the non-profits to enhance our city's experience. I am reaching out to residents and students to share what they value most."


Sabina Zafar

Sabina moved to San Ramon in 2006 as a single parent with her two children, then aged four and nine years old. She did not yet have a job or a home, and chose San Ramon for its safe community, diverse neighborhoods, and one of the best public school districts in the country. Sabina is a classic example of the American dream – she has worked hard to achieve success and prosperity through determination, and initiative to build a better life for herself and her children. She is proud to be a long-time resident of San Ramon and is wholeheartedly committed to giving back to her city and making a difference for the community she is so passionate about.

Sabina Zafar is a San Ramon City Council candidate, running to promote a stronger community through engagement and innovation for the City of San Ramon. She is an active community leader, a successful business executive, and a technologist by background.

Sabina was appointed to the San Ramon Valley Transportation Advisory Committee in 2015 and is also a member of the San Ramon Dougherty Valley Rotary Club. She is a member of the San Ramon Valley Leadership program, which provides current and emerging community leaders with necessary skills to lead this diverse City and a graduate of Emerge California. As a parent, she has volunteered actively with the PTA and Girl Scouts of Northern California, and is widely recognized for her efforts to bring the community together and extensively volunteers with community projects. She is affiliated with Women in Tech and Women Who Code, organizations promoting the growth of women in the field of technology.

Presently, she leads Solutions Architecture & Sales Engineering for an Internet Software and Cloud Infrastructure Company. She holds a degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of South Alabama.

Sabina is dedicated to serving the city of San Ramon in the City Council as a citizen, a mother and a technologist.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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