Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, chairman of the board, and faculty member of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. He was born in Berkeley, California and accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA summa cum laude in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. In 1983, he co-founded Masjid Al-Huda in New Brunswick, N.J. and was the Imam for 4 years. After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, in 1988 he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid Al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid Al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spear-headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences. For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, Imam Zaid was the first American to graduate with a BA in Islamic Sciences from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University. Imam Zaid has been a co-founder and chairman of United For Change since 2009. This effort, through modern discourse, is to create awareness of the broadest and most consuming topics within the Muslim community. The aim is to leverage the diversity through cooperation and goodwill, and address the obstacles that have proven to be divisive. In 2007, he co-founded the Lighthouse mosque in Oakland, CA. As a gifted author and lecturer, Imam Zaid has also authored numerous articles, and translated into modern English several classical Arabic traditional texts. In 2009, Imam Zaid was ranked as "one of America's most influential scholars" in the West, by "The 500 Most Influential Muslims." Imam Zaid currently resides in Northern California with his family.