Board of Governors
The Board of Governors is a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees with delegated responsibility for the operational oversight of the organisation as defined in and regulated by the IIS’s Articles of Association. Members include:
He has served as the Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Director of the Prince Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program. A specialist on Ismaili and Sufi traditions in South Asia, he teaches a variety of courses on Islam, including Ismaili History and Thought.
He is the author of many articles and several books, including Celebrating Muhammad: Muslim Devotional Poetry in Praise of the Prophet; The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Languages: A Descriptive Catalog and Finding Aid; and Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literature of South Asia. Professor Asani has been engaged in promoting literacy about Islam and Muslim cultures in various forums. He serves on the advisory board of Harvard’s Religious Literacy Project and Pluralism Project.
He has been a member of the American Academy of Religion's Task Force on the teaching of religion in schools and a consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Project. He is the recipient of the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations, the Petra C. Shattuck prize for excellence in teaching, and the 2020 Harvard Foundation Faculty of the Year Award for his efforts in promoting inclusion and belonging at Harvard.
Professor Asani has taught for many years on various IIS programmes including the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities and has served on its Academic Steering Committee. Professor Asani received his undergraduate and doctoral education at Harvard University.
Over the past 15 years, Dr Jamal has been actively involved with the IIS, providing her expertise on the history of Muslim civilisations and lecturing for a variety of IIS programmes, including the Secondary Teacher Education Programme.
Currently, she is developing educational materials for the secondary curriculum on Muslim Societies and Civilisations at the Department of Curriculum Studies at the IIS. Dr Jamal has also engaged in various projects on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network’s Department of Diplomatic Affairs, including providing insight into current issues in Muslim societies and their roots, as well as for the Canadian foreign ministry (Global Affairs Canada) and the Portuguese foreign service.
She continues to volunteer in the realm of religious education as a lecturer and faculty member with several institutions within the Ismaili community.
After graduating from Manchester University with a first-class degree (BA Hons) in Islamic Studies, Dr Jamal completed her MA and PhD at the School of Near Eastern Literatures and Languages, New York University, where she specialised in medieval Persian history with an emphasis on the Ismaili communities of the time.
She has published several works, including Surviving the Mongols: Nizari Quhistani and the Continuity of Ismaili Tradition in Iran.
Her role focuses on increasing diversity, ensuring equity for under-represented communities, and enabling an environment of belonging for over 20,000 employees across 36 countries.
Prior to joining Google, Mrs Govindji was the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Vodafone. Central to her role was creating an inclusive culture while driving Vodafone’s ambition to be the best company for women by 2025.
Previously, she spent ten years at Gallup where she was on the European Management team and led a team of consultants advising organisations on strengths and employee engagement, to drive improved productivity and performance. Her career started with seven years on the Graduate Scheme at Kingfisher.
Mrs Govindji has many years of voluntary service, with a particular focus on human resources, including supporting recruitment for the Aga Khan Development Network and serving as a member of the Ismaili Council for the UK. In 2017 Mrs Govindji was awarded the Power of Women award for Diversity and Inclusion and the prestigious Asian Woman of Achievement Award for Business in 2014. She has a BA Hons in Social and Political Science from Cambridge University and a postgraduate Business Diploma from Oxford University.
She is a member of the Board of Governors of Marymount International School, an International Baccalaureate girls boarding school in London.
He has held visiting appointments at law schools in the US, Italy, Hong Kong and Israel, as well as at the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies in London. He is the author of Islam, Law and the Modern State and has published widely.
Currently, Dr Jamal serves as Deputy Director of the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at the National University of Singapore and is joint Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Journal of Comparative Law.
Dr Jamal has also held senior appointments in the institutions of the Ismaili community in East Asia.
He studied Politics at McGill University, Law at the University of Toronto and was called to the Bar of British Columbia.
Subsequently, he pursued the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities at The Institute of Ismaili Studies and earned an LLM degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Dr Jamal completed his PhD at the Faculty of Laws, University College London.
Prior to this, he was a Director at Barclays Capital and Co-Head of the Integrated Oils Equity Research Team, and spent two years in East Africa exploring entrepreneurial opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Mr Karim has previously served as Honorary Secretary of the Aga Khan Education Board (UK) with responsibility for the financial and operational planning and delivery of programmes aimed at improving access to quality education by the Ismaili community.
He was also Deputy Convener of an international steering team responsible for developing and delivering six high-profile programmes that celebrated His Highness the Aga Khan’s Golden Jubilee.
Mr Karim was educated at Dulwich College, London, and Cambridge University, where he graduated with a degree in Economics. He also holds an honorary degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a CFA Charterholder.
His lead responsibilities within the group include all aspects of acquisitions, financing and development, and the strategic growth of the company. Mr Kassam is actively engaged within the Ismaili community and has held a number of senior roles within institutions.
He has been chairman of the Grants and Review Board (GRB) for UK Ismaili institutions since 2015, where he is mandated to ensure compliance with proper standards of financial discipline, accountability and cost management effectiveness. Prior to this, he was a member of the GRB from 2012 to 2015. Mr Kassam served on the Aga Khan Foundation UK National Committee from 2006 to 2017 and was chairman of its finance sub-committee during this period.
He was Honorary Secretary of the Ismaili Centre London Management Board from 2006 to 2012, where he was responsible for overseeing the financial operations of the Ismaili Centre. Mr Kassam has been involved in a number of community projects, including the development of the West London Jamatkhana, and was a member of the National Co-ordinating Committee (UK) for His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee.
Mr Kassam is based in London, where he was born, and holds an Honours degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Kent.
He has served previously in several professional capacities at the Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan in France, and the Aga Khan Foundation’s Head Office in Switzerland.
Mr Kassim-Lakha serves on several Executive and Advisory Committees within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), in the domains of education, scholarships, health and habitat. He organised the Enabling Environment Conference, a high-profile initiative aimed at enhancing effective private-sector contribution to development in Afghanistan (June 2007, Kabul). Prior to joining the AKDN, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Company in North America, and has also held management positions in the technology and hospitality industries.
In keeping with the Ismaili community’s long-standing tradition of voluntary service, Mr Kassim-Lakha has held numerous voluntary leadership positions in Canada, Kenya, Switzerland and France. Mr Kassim-Lakha was awarded an MBA by Harvard Business School and an SB (Engineering Science) degree, summa cum laude, by Harvard College.
Under her leadership, the AKU has become the only university in Pakistan and East Africa to be accredited by the UK’s Advance HE, enabling faculty to internationally benchmark their teaching to gain Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellowships. It has also established the first inter-disciplinary Teachers’ Academy in the developing world.
Professor Khamis is a Principal Fellow of the HEA, one of only 1,000 in the world, and serves as a member of the Global Perspectives Advisory Group at Advance HE.
Professor Khamis is a past member of the Aga Khan Education Board (UK) and Grants and Review Board (Pakistan), and currently serves as a Director for Aga Khan Education Services, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. She is a former President of the East African Higher Education Quality Assurance Network, and has also served on the governing board of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education.
Professor Khamis has worked in academia and development settings, serving as CEO of the Child to Child Trust (UK) and working with international and multilateral agencies, including the World Bank, UNICEF and Comic Relief. She currently resides in Kenya, and holds a BSc in Nutritional Sciences (King’s College, University of London), an MBA with Distinction in Higher Education Management (University College London) and PhD (King’s College London).
Over the course of 12 years at Barclays, he served as Group Finance Director and Vice-Chairman and in various business leadership positions. He was CEO of JP Morgan Cazenove, a London-based investment banking business. Mr Kheraj is currently Chairman of Rothesay Life, a specialist pensions insurer, Deputy Chairman of Standard Chartered, an international banking group, and a member of the Finance Committee of the University of Cambridge.
Mr Kheraj is a former Non-Executive Director of National Health Service England, and has served as a Senior Adviser to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Service and to the Financial Services Authority in the UK.
He has also served as a member of the Board of the UK-US Fulbright Commission, the Princes Trust Development Board, the Investment Committee of the Wellcome Trust and the Finance Committee of Oxford University Press.
Mr Kheraj spends a substantial proportion of his time as a Senior Advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and serves on the Boards of various entities within the Network, including the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia, and is Chairman of the AKDN Endowment Committee.
Mr Kheraj was educated at Dulwich College, London, and Cambridge University, where he graduated with a degree in Economics.
She was a Member of the Board for First MicroFinance Bank in 2004-06, and between 2009 and 2019 was a Member of the Leaders’ International Forum and the first President of the Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Tajikistan, with the responsibility for the Jamat in four countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In 1992 Dr Mamadambarova joined Khorog State University (KSU), where she served as Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Dean of Humanities and finally as Vice Rector of International Relationships.
Prior to joining KSU, she spent 16 years with the Foreign Languages Faculty at the Dushanbe Pedagogical University, first as an Assistant Professor of English, then as Vice Dean of the Foreign Languages Faculty and subsequently Head of Department.
Dr Mamadambarova has consulted with the Christensen Fund on various research projects and has participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the USA. She received her first degree from the Dushanbe Pedagogical University in 1976 and PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990.
She is a lecturer in German language and literature at a community college in Heidelberg. Prior to this, she lectured on the same subject at the University of Heidelberg.
She has published two books, The Voice of Heart, a poetry book in Farsi, and Socialization of Afghan Women: Learning and Education Processes of Migrants in Germany, and several articles. She is a renowned public speaker on topics of lifelong learning and intercultural communication.
Dr Mir Malekyar has travelled extensively to Afghanistan for teacher training programmes run by GIZ, a development agency that provides services in the field of international development co-operation. She has also led various committees and forums focused on issues concerning women, immigration and culture. She has worked at the Academy for International Co-operation as a tutor, delivering lectures about Afghanistan for Germans who wish to work there.
Dr Mir Malekyar was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, the eldest of eight children. Her family fled to Germany in 1982, where she applied for asylum and later became a naturalised citizen.
She earned her Master’s degree in German and Farsi Literature at the University of Heidelberg in 1991, and in 2016 was awarded a PhD, magna cum laude, for her research work in Education at Goethe University Frankfurt.
He was a banking and finance partner for some 30 years and established and led the firm's Global Derivatives group, where he is now a consultant. He is a Visiting Professor at the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh.
Mr Motani has served on a number of Ismaili Constitutional bodies, including as the Legal Member of the National Council for the UK and as a Member and then Chair of the International Conciliation and Arbitration Board.
He has been Vice-Chair of the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation (UK) and is its company secretary. He is a trustee of The Aga Khan University (International) in the UK.
Mr Motani has served as a trustee of arts charities, such as the National Association for Gallery Education and Bow Arts Trust, and is a Lay Governor at the Glasgow School of Art. He is also a member of the Steering Group of the Canary Wharf Multi-faith Chaplaincy. He graduated with a degree in Law from Cambridge University and then qualified as a solicitor.
She has published in the fields of visual cultures, constructions of masculinity, and the engagement of religion and film, including Shi‘i Islam in Iranian Cinema: Religion and Spirituality in Film, and Visualizing Iran: From Antiquity to the Present. She is an active member of the University of Edinburgh community and has served on the Steering Group of GenderEd, and the Senate. Professor Pak-Shiraz is an appointed member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Board member of the Academic Council of the Iran Heritage Foundation, and National Committee Member of the Aga Khan Foundation (UK).
She has been external examiner to undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS).
Professor Pak-Shiraz is on the editorial and advisory boards for Brill and Iranian Studies and has been a peer reviewer for Harvard University Press and Edinburgh University Press, among others.
She has curated five annual film festivals in Edinburgh and been a jury member and presenter at a number of international film festivals in the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iran. After receiving a BA in Tehran, she completed the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities at IIS, followed by an MA in the Anthropology of Media and PhD in Film and Media.
With his academic background in education, religious studies, international development and philosophy, Professor Panjwani has an interdisciplinary approach and has published widely in the areas of philosophy of education, citizenship, teacher education, imagination, religious education, hermeneutics and Islamic Studies.
He is on several editorial and advisory boards and has acted as a consultant to many organisations, including the International Baccalaureate, the Aga Khan Academies and the government of Punjab. In 2016 Professor Panjwani was appointed as a commissioner on the UK’s national Commission on Religious Education. He has also taught as a visiting lecturer on many IIS programmes and has served as Chairman of the Aga Khan Education Board for the United Kingdom.
Professor Panjwani holds a DPhil in Philosophy of Education from the University of Oxford; an MA in Education and International Development from the Institute of Education, University of London; and an MBA and BBA from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi. He is also an alumnus of the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities at The Institute of Ismaili Studies.
Minutes of Meetings
The Board of Governors typically meets ten times a year and meetings are regularly attended by Heads of Departments and subject matter experts. The minutes from these meetings are available to view below:
In accordance with regulatory guidelines, the Board of Trustees has compiled a Register of Member Interests which is updated on an annual basis. The Register extends to member of the Board of Trustees and members of the Board of Governors. Declarations are made annually and are updated as and when circumstances change. This information is held in the Director’s Office and will be available for inspection upon request by contacting the Secretary to the Board of Governors Selina Kassam Ramji at firstname.lastname@example.org