Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Women Who Went for It! is a bi-weekly podcast, hosted by Career Change Agent, Sara McArdle. The show features inspiring chats with successful industry changers who share how they found the clarity, courage and motivation to step into a deeper vocation and a life of meaning and fulfillment. We hope you'll see just how many before you have GONE for it—and they're eternally grateful that they took the risk!

Dec 9, 2018

Women Who Went for It Podcast Guest: Aneelah Afzali
In this episode, Sara talks with Aneelah Afzali about her journey from attorney to community activist, interfaith leader, and justice advocate. Aneelah shares what it was like to leave her legal career and very comfortable salary to pursue something unknown and different, and how her colleagues and loved ones responded to her decision. She describes how she knows, with absolute certainty, that she's doing exactly what she's meant to be doing at this moment in time. She also shares some of misconceptions and truths about women in Islam, and changes she's had to make to help build bridges across difference. Today, Aneelah leads American Muslim Empowerment Network at Muslim Association of Puget Sound, or MAPS AMEN.
Want to make your own career change? Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.
Sara and Aneelah discuss:
  • How they know one another
  • Kids4Peace Seattle
  • Aneelah being the 1st in her family to go to college
  • What drew her to law
  • Adversity she had to overcome
  • Applying to 18 different law schools
  • Going into corporate law
  • Making partner at a law firm
  • Serving as general counsel
  • Finding that something was missing from her life
  • Going through a spiritual transformation
  • Growing up as a "Ramadan Muslim"
  • Reading the Quran, cover to cover, for the first time
  • Deciding to leave law to pursue service and knowledge
  • Intensely studying Islam
  • Seeing that her money was running out
  • Applying for jobs back in law
  • Her mosque's leadership offering to create a position for her
  • Founding American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN)
  • Seeing anti-Muslim sentiment locally and nationwide
  • The need for bridge-building, understanding, and unity
  • What Ramadan is
  • What the Quran is
  • The vision of AMEN
  • The impact of this work on her personal life
  • The impact of this work on the community
  • People questioning her when she left law and how scary that was
  • Having faith in the journey and in God to "take the leap"
  • How Aneelah knows she's doing what she was born to do
  • Doing a "Faith Over Fear" Road Show in conservative, rural areas with Pastor Terry Kyllo
  • The importance of confidence in oneself
  • Aneelah's need to get out of a toxic environment
  • Knowing that she could fall back on law if she needed to
  • People's fears for her personal safety in the work she does
  • Seeing her own privilege within this work
  • Her family's emphasis on a strong work ethic
  • Having to be more public
  • Figuring out how to connect with people who think differently
  • Organizing an "Ask a Muslim" booth at a huge Muslim hate rally
  • The stereotypes and misinformation in our culture about women's rights in Islam
  • Aneelah doing a thorough investigation of religions and choosing Islam for herself
  • The origins and purpose of some Muslim wearing wearing a head covering
  • The reasons Aneelah started wearing a head covering
  • How God in Islam is the same as God in Christianity
  • Aneelah's advice for those who are considering "going for it"
  • The unique time we live in
  • A book recommendation: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • How people can learn about their Muslim neighbors
  • ...and more!
Aneelah's full bio:
Aneelah Afzali is Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN) at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). She also serves on the board of directors for Faith Action Network and on the steering committee for Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network. Aneelah graduated from the University of Oregon Honors College and Harvard Law School. She then made partner at a law firm and led as General Counsel of a local healthcare IT company. The Washington State Bar Association honored Aneelah with its Excellence in Diversity award, and Washington Law and Politics recognized her as a Rising Star, multiple years. Five years ago at the time of this recording, Aneelah left her legal career to pursue service and knowledge, two things that her faith emphasizes. Since then, she has served as a community activist, interfaith leader, and justice advocate. She also was named one of 2017's Most Influential People by "Seattle Magazine," she earned the 2018 Humanitarian Leadership Award by the International Rescue Committee, she was selected as “American Muslim of the Year” by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization, and she was identified as one of the 26 Rising Brand Stars in Seattle by "Adweek" in 2018.
Connect with Aneelah and Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS):
Faith Over Fear Road Show:
More Information on Muslims and Islam from Aneelah:
State Department's publication on American Muslims:
The Pluralism Project at Harvard University page on Islam:
Islam Explained (and MANY more topics/resources):
American Muslims Video Playlist:
Connect with Sara and Women Who Went for It:
Nominate a Podcast Guest: 
Phone: 503.893.2043

Want to make your own career change? Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.