The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization. CAIR's mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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Meet Our 2016 Banquet Speakers



U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen

Congressman Rick Larsen represents the Second Congressional District of Washington state, which includes portions of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties and all of Island and San Juan counties

Rep. Larsen wrote an Op-Ed which was published on April 23, 2016 in the Everett Herald to affirm American values of religious freedom and to publicly and vocally speak about the lives of American Muslims. His Op-Ed came after the CEO of Electroimpact, a company based in Mukilteo, WA was found to have been leading an anti-mosque campaign to oppose construction of the mosque in the city of Mukilteo. 

Read more about him here: https://larsen.house.gov/about-rick


Amanda Saab

Born in Dearborn, Michigan, Amanda Saab is the first American Muslim in hijab to appear as a contestant in "MasterChef,” a competitive cooking reality show aimed at finding the best amateur and home chefs across the country.  See: www.fox.com/watch/461766211782/7684704768

Shortly after getting married and completing graduate school, Saab and her husband moved to Seattle after he was offered a new job. In Seattle, she began a career as a social worker while developing a hobby centered around cooking. She would blog about her unique recipes and they received a positive reception.

She and her husband were big fans of the show MasterChef and one day decided to respond to an ad that asked for chefs to audition for the program. On her website, www.amandasplate.com, she showcases recipes for various offerings, including appetizers, dinners, and desserts. Dishes showcased on the blog include Mediterranean zucchini boats, jalapeño popper chicken and turmeric cupcake with goat cheese icing.


Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason

The Reverend Doctor Steven L. Thomason to serves as Dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. Previously, Rev. Thomason was Priest Associate at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, the largest parish in the Diocese of Arkansas. He holds a Masters of Divinity from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. He was ordained in 2004 at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Springdale, AR, where he served as Rector.

Rev. Thomason believes the Episcopal Church must engage in conversations on environmental sustainability, social justice, and the pressures of 21st Century American family life. Steve invites members to a call of action that extends beyond the walls of the church.  His ministerial interests include a theology of health care, clinical and social ethics, and the dialogue between science and religion.

Also a Doctor of Medicine, Steve served as a member of the faculty at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  The Bishop of Arkansas sanctioned Steve’s unique calling in bi-vocational ministry as Interim CEO and Chief Medical Officer at Circle of Life Hospice, a non-profit organization providing compassionate end-of-life care.  He travelled to Belize to assist a foundation in establishing hospice care.

Rev. Thomason and his wife Kathy have been married for 27 years and have two young adult daughters, Jane and Jill. When not at work, he balances work with daily exercise, blogging, tending roses and cooking a fine meal to enjoy with family and friends.


Imam Siraj Wahhaj

Imam Siraj Wahhaj was raised in Brooklyn, New York and studied in New York University where he played basketball and also met his teammate who introduced him to the Nation of Islam. Imam Wahhaj later became a Sunni Muslim and since then has been active in many Islamic organizations.

In 1981 Imam Wahhaj started his own mosque, Masijd Al-Taqwa. 

In 1988, he led an anti-drug movement which led to the closure of 15 drug houses. This effort was highly acclaimed by the New York Police Department and the media.

He has served as the vice president of Islamic Society of North America since 1997 and on the Majlis al Shura, a consultative council of Islamic scholars, since 1987. He is a member of the Board of Advisors for the American Muslim Council and has also served on the national board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He is currently the Imam (or religious leader) of Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn and is the leader of The Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA).