Zhaleh Afshar

Zhaleh is a core trainer with AORTA. She is a mixed-race, able-bodied woman with Filipino and Iranian ancestors. She grew up in an upper-middle class household in southwestern Ontario, Canada, with parents who instilled in her a sense of civic responsibility early on through their own international development work. Zhaleh is passionate about racial and gender justice, queer liberation, progressive and inclusive Islam, and connecting local and international struggles for self-determination and decolonization.

As an undergraduate student in Montreal, Zhaleh was a producer with Spitfiyah! Women of Color Radio Collective and a facilitator with the Sexual Assault Center of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS). There she first learned about Kimberle Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality—a concept that would catalyze her future facilitation and advocacy work.

Over the past 11 years, Zhaleh has served in a variety of nonprofit administrative, development, and communications capacities. She began her career as a violence prevention educator at Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, where she organized community events and facilitated workshops. In New York, she has worked with organizations like Race Forward (formerly Center for Social Inclusion), StoryCorps, and NYU Wagner’s former Women of Color Policy Network. Zhaleh has also been a producer with Asia Pacific Forum Radio Collective, where she co-produced a weekly radio show about the Asian and Middle Eastern diaspora. She has organized with Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (now Gabriela NY), Raha Iranian Feminist Collective, and the New York Energy Democracy Alliance. In 2017, as an independent consultant for nonprofit organizations, Zhaleh became a frequent collaborator with AORTA.

Zhaleh earned her Master’s in Public Administration with a specialization in public and nonprofit management and policy from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor’s degree in Middle East Studies and Political Science from McGill University.

When she is not facilitating, Zhaleh is a “sometimes” writer and media-maker. Her writing has appeared in Refinery29 and she has read at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division (BGSQD) bookstore in New York City.