Teenager in London & Meeting Lady Di: Ali was educated in London in the 1980s while her father served at the Pakistani Embassy. Experiencing discrimination from some classmates prompted her to join various interracial community-building projects. She also became an active youth leader for the All Pakistan Women’s Association. One highlight of her time in the UK was meeting Princess Diana.
From Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to America: : After returning to Karachi for university studies, Ali earned a Bachelors at St. Joseph’s Convent and a Masters at the University of Karachi. She married and lived with her family in Saudi Arabia, where she experienced firsthand restrictions on basic women’s rights. In 1996 her family relocated to southern California, where she earned a Masters in Education from Concordia University.
Career & Civic Engagement: For over two decades, Ali has taught at public elementary and high schools in southern California. She enjoys bringing unusual speakers to her classroom, including Holocaust survivors and Barack Obama’s sister Dr. Maya Soetoro. She co-founded the Irvine Pakistan Parents Association to support public school arts funding via charity events celebrating South Asian heritage.
Post-September 11 Profiling: To address border profiling many Muslim-Americans experienced after 9-11, Ali worked with NYU Law School to produce a documentary titled “Americans on Hold: Profiling, Prejudice, and National Security.” She also co-authored a children’s book promoting tolerance (titled “Mommy, Am I…?”) that tells the story of a third-grader named Aisha who experiences derogatory comments at school.
Empowering the Disadvantaged: Ali co-founded CalPak, a non-profit promoting education for at-risk girls in Pakistan. The organization sponsors schools in remote areas as well as an online certificate program in conjunction with Cal State Fullerton University. Ali co-founded AMMWEC (American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council), which holds an annual women’s leadership conference featuring keynote women Congressional leaders. Ali and her board guide AMMWEC’s unique initiatives to uplift Muslim-American women, including a career internship partnership with Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and a helpline for women in need.
Philanthropic Leadership: Ali has chaired the International Leadership Foundation, which promotes internship opportunities for Asian American youth. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine, which promotes meaningful student dialogue on geopolitical conflicts. In 2018, she received Cal Southern University’s Hecht Philanthropy and Service Award.
Democratic National Convention: Ali served as a delegate representing the 45th Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and 2016 – the first Pakistani Muslim woman to be elected from Orange County. She is a grassroots organizer for the Democratic Party who has raised thousands of dollars for candidates on the local and national levels.
Ali lives in Washington D.C. and is the mother of Sara and Danyal.