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Anila Ali

Anila Ali

Anila Ali is a Pakistani-American philanthropist, author, activist and politician. She grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and was educated in London, United Kingdom. She moved to California in the mid 90s, where she became an important figure in the Pakistani community in America. She founded many organisations that have helped interfaith relations in the United States, and has been regularly featured in the media.

She wrote the book, Mommy Am I A..?, which is frequently used to discuss and demonstrate cultural differences.

In 2014, it was announced that she would be running for election in the California's 74th State Assembly district. In 2016, she announced that she would be running for Irvine City Council. [4]

Anila Ali
ResidenceIrvine, California
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationAuthor, Philanthropist and Politician
Spouse(s)Karim Ali
ChildrenDaniyal Ali, Sara Ali

Early life

Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan. Her father was a journalist and diplomat, while her mother was a teacher and philanthropist.

She was educated in the 1980s in London, United Kingdom. Ali became involved in various community service projects while studying in the UK, and became an active youth leader for the All Pakistan Women's Association. [5] While in London, Ali regularly featured in the media in London based magazines and Pakistani newspapers for South Asians. She also regularly gave speeches at the age of 16 at speakers corner in Hyde Park on a Sunday. Ali's most memorable experiences include the Queen's Ball at Buckingham Palace for diplomats and meeting Princess Diana. Ali went to Bousfield Elementary, Holland Park school, and Hammersmith and West London College for her 'O' and 'A' Levels.


After spending much of her early life in England and Pakistan, she relocated to Orange County, California, in 1996. Ali's passion for education led her to Lakeside Middle School, Irvine where she taught as a Resource Aide. Encouraged by her colleagues, she decided to get her credentials and a master's degree in Education from Concordia University in Irvine. After briefly teaching in Irvine at various schools she decided to teach English and writing at South Bay middle school.

Ali joined the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and served on the board for many years until she ran for office in 2014.

To help IPSF raise funds for the critical programs like art and music, Ali founded Irvine Pakistan Parents Association IPPA.

IPPA's goal was to raise money for the schools in Irvine through the promotion of Arts and Culture of South Asia.

Her organization has engaged hundreds of parents in serving the community.


After September 11, Ali became an active member of the Council of Pakistan American Affairs.

Ali campaigned in her community to promote engagement and engage people in cultural exchanges.

She documented her findings and experiences in the form of a documentary alongside Zuhair Mahd.

The film was produced by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at the New York University School of Law. The documentary is titled Americans on Hold: Profiling, Prejudice, and National Security reveals the harmful effects of prejudicial and ineffective U.S. counter-terrorism and immigration policies. [7] Ali is an advocate of protecting the rights of minorities around the world, especially for equality and justice for women in Pakistan and has met regularly with members of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the White House to highlight the plight of minorities around the world.

Locally, between 2007 and 2008, Ali helped mobilize the community of Irvine and Orange County and raised over $100,000 dollars to assist to political candidates, Sukhee Kang and Barack Obama. Kang became the first Asian mayor of Irvine, and Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. Following President Obama's election, Ali was invited to attend the Iftar at The White House, where she presented a copy of her book, "Mommy am I a...?" to the President.

Ali has supported the friendship between India and Pakistan. In 2009, Ali was the recipient of the 2009 International Leadership Foundation Award, for her community service work and outreach to the mainstream community. [8] She also received various Congressional awards and has been recognized by LAPD Counter Terrorism, and the LA Sheriff's Department. Ali works closely with law enforcement agencies on issues concerning Muslims in America- particularly those affecting women. Ali writes and comments on issues that affect Muslims in America and voices her opinions on foreign policy matters regularly. She speaks on Islam, Muslims in America, women's rights, and many other issues and works with many Interfaith groups. [10]

She wrote a children's book, "Mommy am I a" in late 2010.

[11] The book is an interfaith book, which discusses tolerance of differing backgrounds, after her daughter was called a terrorist in school. The book has frequently been used throughout the United States by teachers and school districts to open discussions about tolerance and cultural understanding.

Ali is also known to work in the fields of human rights and gender equality. She spoke up in the media in recent years about gender issues in both Iran and Pakistan, and condemned the Mumbai terrorist attacks. In May 2011, Ali's supported President Obama for hunting down of Osama Bin Laden. Her support and op-ed was printed in the New York Times, the day after his death. [13] Her white paper on the Radicalization of Muslim Youth was submitted to The White House. [4]

Ali was elected as a delegate in 2012, and represented her 45th Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention. It made her the first Pakistani to be elected from Orange County. [4]

Ali ran for California's Assembly District 74. Keith D. Curry (R) and Matthew Harper (R) defeated Anila Ali (D), Karina Onofre (D) and Emanuel Patrascu (R) in the blanket primary. Harper defeated Curry in the general election.

In her book, "Three Steps Behind", Ms. Ali takes us on a personal journey.

She walks us through the dark corridors of oppression, discrimination, and servitude that she experienced under the patriarchal systems of her native Pakistan, and her once adopted land of Saudi Arabia.

This unique perspective from Ms. Ali, the daughter of a diplomat, a venerated model, a loving wife, and an educated mother, exposes the hypocrisy of cultural practices and flawed religious interpretations.

In vivid detail, Ms. Ali describes the framework for gender inequality and racial intolerance that she and other women commonly experience.

Despite suffering everyday humiliations in settings that revile human rights, under the unwarranted disguise of religious authority, the strong willed Anila Ali never loses her focus of securing a future for her children, far away from the toxic systems of both cultures.

Ali had the distinct honor of being a panelist at the White House Summit on Violent Extremism in February 2015, She spoke at the White House as an American Muslim teacher, and leader and shared her thoughts on how to counter extremism with Vice President Biden.

She's writes extensively on how to counter extremism and stop radicalization.

Ali also founded the American Muslim Women's Empowerment Council (AMWEC) in partnership with LAPD Counter-terrorism.

Recently, Ali's articles and OpEds have appeared worldwide on countering violent extremism.

[4] [4] [4]


Ali has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Irvine Public School Foundation. She is also a member and founder of Irvine Pakistani Parents Association, a non-profit which aims to raise money for public schools, within the city of Irvine. Ali is the chair of the International Leadership Foundation, ILF, an organization led by Chiling Tong. ILF promotes leadership in Asian American youth and trains them to get engaged in civic life by providing scholarships and internships in 19 federal government agencies and the executive offices of the President and the Vice President.

The American Muslim Women's Empowerment Council, was also founded by Ali to promote civic awareness and encourage American Muslim women to run for public office and get integrated in mainstream politics and public service.

The foundation has featured in both the LA Times [4] and Fox's Good Morning LA. [4]

Ali serves on the community advisory board of The Olive Tree Initiative at the University of California Irvine.

This initiative promotes a dialogue and understanding of students who want to understand the conflict zones.

Students of all backgrounds hold meaningful dialogues and engage in discussions on and off the campus.

Moreover, they visit the conflict zones and meet the decision makers both in Washington DC and abroad.

The initiative has blossomed into a most effective tool to create an understanding and appreciation of cultures.

Ali's love for education, led her to open the first online degree college in Pakistan, CALPAK Educational Services, [4] to make the dream of American education available in Pakistan at a fraction of the cost and provides young people an opportunity to pursue higher education.

CALPAK's aim is to help close the gender gap and wage gap for women in the workplace in Pakistan, by working with multinationals and enrolling girls in certificate programs from Coastline and business degree from Cal State Fullerton.



  • Mommy am I a? (2010)

  • Three Steps Behind (2014)


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