Alumni Spotlight: Hind Essayegh, No Means No Worldwide

Hind Essayegh is the Curriculum and Training Manager at No Means No Worldwide, an international NGO working to end sexual violence through their violence prevention curricula. The organization trains instructors in high-risk environments to deliver the No Means No programs to girls and boys ages 10-20. Hind is also the regional director for Malikah’s DMV chapter. She leads the chapter’s programs building power and safety for Muslim women and girls through self-defense and healing. Hind has a diverse background as a linguist, educator, and gender justice organizer. Before her current positions, she worked as an Adjunct Professor of Arabic at Montgomery College in Maryland and as Communications Associate at KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership (CPNL): Why did you want to work in the nonprofit sector? 

Hind Essayegh: It wasn’t planned. I immigrated to the United States in 2007, after getting my master’s degree in Morocco. Getting a job in the field that I was trained in, diplomacy, was not possible for me. Getting a degree overseas made it really hard to find a job. So, I looked for an internship in the nonprofit sector to get some skills and experience. That was my first step into the nonprofit sector.

CPNL: Can you explain the importance of the four pillars of Malikah, empowerment for Muslim women and girls through self-defense, healing, organizing, and financial literacy? How are they integrated into your programming?

Hind Essayegh: Malikah is a global collective of women looking to empower each other with skills and emotional support. Malikah has trained organizers and chapter leads all over the globe: US., Canada, India, Germany, Britain, etc. and they work to uplift their communities depending on their needs. Malikah National is based in New York and works within four pillars – self-defense, financial literacy, organizing, and healing. I lead the DMV. Chapter of the organization, where we focus on healing and self-defense primarily for Muslim women. Self-defense is a great tool for prevention, interruption, and healing from any type of violence, not only sexual and gender-based violence.

CPNL: How does the implementation of your organization’s main pillars vary across global locations?

Hind Essayegh: Each year, Over 20 Chapter Leads graduate from Malikah’s Gender Justice Institute. These facilitators identify the needs of their communities and decide for themselves how they want to use the skills they learned at Malikah to empower their communities. I chose my community and the skills I think are most needed, noticing what gap I can fill. The special thing about Malikah is that the Chapter Leads are empowered to decide what works for them and their communities.

CPNL: How did you choose self-defense and healing as the main pillars to focus on at the D.C. Chapter?

Hind Essayegh: My first encounter with Malikah was when the founder, Rana Abdelhamid,  gave a workshop in D.C in the context of increased hate-based violence against Muslim women. The experience was so empowering and inspiring. It is the holistic approach of empowerment through self-defense that I found the most appealing. This model provides mental, verbal and physical skills for empowerment and healing. I also have a background in Martial Arts, so the work incorporates my personal interests.

CPNL: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Hind Essayegh: I am proud of building a strategic plan and a communications strategy for Malikah DMV that will help the Chapter grow. I know we are not where we want to go now, but we have a very good basis from where to start.

CPNL: Your organization is heavily involved in the DMV community and beyond. What have been some of the key successes or challenges in creating and cultivating these relationships?

Hind Essayegh: we had great success at the offset when we were doing in-person training. I attended the Certificate Program and created an elaborate strategic plan, but its implementation was challenging, especially during COVID-19. Our chapter is volunteer-based, so volunteer retention was difficult. I have now been focusing, almost exclusively, on my new position at No Means No Worldwide, but there are plans to start in-person activities with Malikah in the future.

The transition to my position at No Means No Worldwide has been great. The organization works on fighting sexual violence through self-defense training and positive masculinity programming and has a wide presence in Africa. It’s the same line of work as Malikah, and my experience in the Georgetown Program helped me smoothly step into my role. I had a comprehensive view of the challenges nonprofits face and could contribute valuable ideas to the growth of the organization.

CPNL: What skills from the Certificate Program have translated to your current work?

Hind Essayegh: I joined the organization at a stage of growth and expansion and I was able to contribute with knowledge and skills I learned from the Certificate Program. It was incredibly helpful that the certificate program shared  a Google Folder with valuable resources. I refer to them quite often. Because of the collaborative culture of the organization, I get to share knowledge from the Certificate classes from storytelling to strategy building.  Attending the strategic planning sessions were very helpful. Everyone at my organization says how process-oriented I am, and the Certificate Program is why. Whenever I embark on a new project, I need a strategic plan mapping out next steps and timelines.

Another resource from the program I return to often is incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As No Means No Worldwide was establishing its culture and values, and discussing DEI, the discussions we had in the Program were essential to developing critical thinking about how to make a change at an organizational level.

CPNL: What advice would you give to other professionals who are considering participating in the Certificate Program?

Hind Essayegh: *Thoughtful pause* Just do it. It’s incredibly helpful – it helps people grow personally and professionally. Although it is titled “Executive Management” it’s not only for executives. The skills translate to other positions. I am Curriculum and Training Manager, but I am able to share that knowledge with my executives and other people in the organization. I am a manager and have a team, and these skills are incredibly valuable. I have landed my dream job, and I really think my participation in the Certificate Program played a big role.