Mahnaz Shabbir inspires communities to embrace diversity so that they infuse inclusion proactively
Mahnaz Shabbir embraces her faith, her country and hope in our humanity. After becoming increasingly vocal in the Midwest in teaching Americans about Islam and encouraging inclusion and peace, Mahnaz left her job to become a full-time activist.
A former vice-president for a Catholic-sponsored healthcare system, MBA graduate, journalist, mother of four...Mahnaz, born in Philadelphia and whose family immigrated from India, got “in touch” with her Muslim heritage when she was given the assignment at a seminar to write about a moment that made her stop putting her hand up. She poured her heart into the essay. “I wrote the first line,” I am an American-Muslim woman, and then covered it all. When I read the story aloud, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was then that I found my voice. I am a Muslim and a I am a communicator." Today, Mahnaz is a nationally-known educator for government agencies, not for profits, school districts, law enforcement agencies, universities-giving over 250 presentations nationwide.
Mahnaz Shabbir is president of Shabbir Advisors, an integrated strategic management consulting company focusing on planning, marketing, diversity transformation and education on a national and international basis. During the last eighteen years, Mahnaz has given over 250 lectures, locally, nationally and internationally to organizations interested in knowing more about diversity issues. She has been the subject of dozens of articles, both locally and nationally. She has been a lecturer at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Belvoir, VA. She is now an adjunct at Avila University teaching “Diversity in the Workplace". She also works with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services as an expert in training law enforcement. Mahnaz is a member of the Overland Park Citizens Advisory Council Racial Profiling and Non-Biased Policing Board. She serves as an advisory board member for the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and the Crescent Peace Society. Her work has been featured nationally in an A&E Documentary (2018) about communities recovering from hate crimes.
Prior to forming her own company, Mahnaz was the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Business Development at Carondelet Health, a Catholic health care system in Kansas City. She had been with the organization for over 18 years. In this capacity, Shabbir planned $40 million projects like the four-story medical mall at Saint Joseph Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Mahnaz is very involved in community activities. She was on the steering committee for the 2017 Women’s March in Kansas City. Mahnaz was a board member of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, Boy Scouts of America, Truman Medical Center Board, CRES (Center for Religious Educational Studies), University of Missouri-Kansas City Women’s Center Board, and University of Kansas Medical Center Advancement Board She is also the past president of the Heartland Muslim Council and past board member of the Crescent Peace Society. In 2005, then Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius appointed Shabbir Mahnaz to the REACH Health Care Foundation Community Advisory Committee, a $100 million foundation. She was also on the faculty at Park University teaching in the Master of Health Care Leadership Program and Baker University. Family Circle and Entrepreneur magazines and other local and regional media outlets.
Her article, “I am an American Muslim Woman” appeared in the Kansas City Star and was syndicated throughout the United States. She has also written articles for Kansas City Voices, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, and Ingram’s Magazine. Her articles are found in national publications such as New Light, the National Catholic Reporter, Boomer Market Advisor and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Mahnaz co-authored the chapter on Islam in The Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers published in 2013. It is an extraordinary compendium of religious traditions as an invaluable resource to all healthcare providers. The user-friendly resource contains specific and detailed information on faith traditions vital for providing optimal spiritual care in a clinical setting
Mahnaz was featured in the CBS special “Open Hearts, Open Minds”(4:20 min) and interviewed on Voice of America. She presented an hour-long program on the radio show, Voice of the Cape that aired in Cape Town, South Africa to 150,000 listeners. She was interviewed on Channel Islam International broadcasting to 150 countries worldwide from Johannesburg, South Africa. She was featured at the Church of Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas that was lived streamed to over 1000 viewers for their series on Understanding the Rise and Response to Islamic Terrorism. Mahnaz was part of a local PBS special, "Muslims in the Metro" panel.
Mahnaz is the mother to four Eagle Scouts and a grandmother. She is also a certified tree farmer.
Mahnaz’s Awards and Recognitions:
Kansas City Press Club Journalist of the Year
Community Image from the Heartland Muslim Council
YWCA award for the Gold Honoree in the category of Racial Justice
Shabbir Advisors was nominated as “Minority Professional Service Firm of the Year” at the US Small Business Administration annual regional
Crescent Peace Society Award for her contributions in community service
Human Rights award from Church Women United
ACLU Liberty Award for Racial Justice
CRES annual Thanksgiving Dinner Award
Distinguished Humanitarian Award from Harmony
Midland Islamic Council-Interfaith and Outreach Award
FBI Kansas City Division-Citizen Academy
Ingram’s Magazine as one of the “50 Kansas You Should Know”.
Invited to the International Women’s Forum
Interfaith Ambassador Award from the Muslim Journal
“Harriet Woods Guardian of the Flame Award” from the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus
Civic Leader of the Year Award from the Mid-America Asian Culture Association
I am an American Muslim Woman
Learn first-hand and share the experiences of a United States citizen who is a member of a religious minority. In her presentation, Mahnaz explores how many Americans confuse cultural practices with the Muslim faith, such as expelling the myth that Islam is oppressive to women. For example, Muslim women were the first women in the world given the right to divorce and own property in their own name over 1,400 years ago. Mahnaz wears a hijab (traditional scarf) and draws upon her real-world experiences to break down barriers and educate on the true meaning of more than 7 million Muslims in the United States.
Working to Make the World a Better Place
Mahnaz knows how to tell her story in a way that invites other people to think about their own stories. She uses techniques that have the audience learn more about other people and their cultures. She challenges them as Gandhi would say, “We are the change we wish to see in the world”.
Diversity Training Workshop-Putting Thoughts into Action
Participants will examine their own filters regarding diversity issues via exercises in order for them to train others in the field of diversity. The following are examples of these exercises:
Listening To and Being With Each Other
Horatio Alger Exercise:
Diversity via Venn Diagram Exercise
My Cultural Assets Exercise
I Want You to Know Exercise
I have engaged Mrs. Mahnaz Shabbir on more than a dozen occasions since 2003 in my elective course—Middle East Strategic Studies—at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Mrs. Shabbir has been an effective and articulate spokesperson in a variety of related subjects. As a result of her engagement with my students--middle grade US military officers from all the Services, and international officers from more than a dozen countries—she has consistently provided a positive image of Muslims and Islam, effectively countering a multitude of widespread stereotypes and myths.
Students will carry their impressions of her presentation and personal example long after they've forgotten everything they have read.
PROFESSOR JOHN CARY (Retired)
DEPARTMENT OF JOINT AND MULTINATIONAL OPERATIONS, US ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE, FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS