Our Staff

Basim picture

Basim Elkarra

Executive Director

Basim leads CAIR’s efforts in the Sacramento Valley area to serve as a voice to its diverse and vibrant Muslim community. Elkarra has been instrumental in building coalitions with Ethnic, Interfaith communities, and law enforcement. Basim’s hard work and dedication to defending civil rights and building bridges between interfaith communities and law enforcement has brought him an array of public recognition.  He was honored by former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante for his “Outstanding Community Service.” The Sacramento Bee named Elkarra “Devout and Dynamic” in an in-depth profile of the young Executive Director. He has received awards from the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Harry Truman Democratic Club, California State Controller John Chiang, and received California State Legislature Resolution #52064 for his work in California.

During the last ten years at CAIR, Elkarra worked with law enforcement, schools, and health care providers to ensure they receive diversity training about Islam and the Muslim community. Elkarra appears regularly in the media as a commentator on issues of civil rights, the Muslim community, and foreign affairs. Elkarra currently serves on the Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Transition Team, American Civil Liberties Union-Sacramento Chapter Board, Sacramento Police Advisory Committee, Sacramento Public Library Multicultural Council, Sacramento State University Community Council, Natomas Unified School District Multicultural Advisory Committee, and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association’s (APAPA) Outreach Committee. Elkarra also served on the Sacramento Police Chief Selection committee and the City and County of San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Youth and Education Committee. Elkarra, a San Francisco native and a leader in the Muslim American community, holds a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. In his spare time Basim loves to read and fish! Basim can be reached at belkarra@cair.com.



Saad Sweilem

Civil Rights Attorney

Saad Sweilem is the Civil Rights Attorney of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV). Saad graduated with an English degree from UC Davis. He went to law school and received his J.D. from UC Hasting. Saad served as a Public Defender in the Bay Area before joining the CAIR-SV team. Saad can be reached at ssweilem@cair.com.







Yannina Casillas

Legislative and Government Affairs Coordinator

Yannina Casillas serves as CAIR California's Statewide Legislative and Government Affairs Coordinator. Yannina is a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law where she received a concentration on social justice lawyering and was the Acquisitions Editor of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal. She grew up in the small city of Moreno Valley as the daughter of Mexican immigrants.  As a UCLA student, she was the Vice President of the Muslim Student Association, Vice-Chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee, volunteered with the Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project, and helped develop BruINTENT the nation’s first program to bring scholarships to homeless UCLA students.  As a 2012 Coro alumnus she was part of the nation’s oldest leadership training organization.  The Coro Fellowship in public affairs is a nine month graduate program focused on experiential learning in the major sectors of public affairs: Business, Government, Non-Profit, and Labor. Yannina can be reached at ycasillas@cair.com.

Omar Hashemyan

Programs & Outreach Coordinator

Omar Hashemyan serves as the Programs & Outreach Coordinator for the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV). Omar is a Sociology graduate from California State University, Sacramento. Prior to joining CAIR-SV, Omar was a Legislative Intern for California State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. He can be reached at ohashemyan@cair.com.

Hammad Khan

Outreach & Communications Fellow

Hammad Khan serves as CAIR-SV's 2018 Outreach & Communications Fellow. Dr. Khan is a graduate of the University of California Davis School of Medicine where he served as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the UC Davis Health Student Review. A native of Sacramento, Dr. Khan is a former Co-Director of Shifa Community Clinic where he was recognized in 2016 by President Barack Obama for his work in providing culturally-competent care for underserved communities. As a student at UC Davis, he also served as Vice President of the UC Davis Muslim Student Association, President of the UC Davis School of Medicine Middle Eastern & South Asian Student Interest Group, and a member of the UC Davis School of Medicine Dean's Diversity Council. While exploring his research interests in the health effects of Islamophobia and other public health issues in minority populations, Dr. Khan has presented at conferences across the country as well as being published in several academic journals and media outlets, including The Huffington Post. Dr. Khan also holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychobiology and a Master of Public Health degree with an emphasis in healthcare policy and legislation. He can be reached at communications@sacval.cair.com.