Managers
Bene board
Working team
Managers Bene board Working team

Benevolence is governed by a Board of seven remarkable women that bring together a diversity of skills, knowledge and lived experience.  Grounded in the Prophetic framework of leadership; the Board governs the overall execution of the organisation’s mission, manages the organisational finances, and sets long terms priorities for the organisation.  Additionally, the Board oversees the CEO and BeneKids/Youth Principal, who are responsible for the day-to-day management of Benevolence and BeneKids/Youth, respectively.  Overall, the members of the Board contribute to the educational, management, legal and financial skills needed to ensure year-to-year excellence for Benevolence. 

Our CEO, BeneKids/Youth Principal and Management Team are also comprised of highly talented women.  Our CEO leads the overall strategic management of all programs offered by Benevolence and its day-to-day operations through managing our committed and valued Management Team and its volunteers.  Similarly, our BeneKids/Youth Principal manages and oversees the implementation of our BeneKids/Youth school and associated programs, providing support and guidance to the proficient teachers and volunteers who contribute to its success.

Together they strive to provide strong, strategic and personal leadership to their respective roles to develop and fulfil Benevolence’s vision, mission and values; passionately and actively contributing to the success of this community organisation.

RESIDENT IMAM

Shaykh Abdinur

Shaykh Abdinur Weli

Sh Abdinur Weli is an active faith leader in the Melbourne Muslim community. He is the head Imam at the Islamic Council of Victoria, a member of the Board of Imams and the religious advisor at Sanad Foundation.

Over the years, Benevolence has been blessed to have worked closely with our respected teacher and Shaykh. He has been a guiding light for us behind the scenes, and we are honoured to introduce him to the community as our Resident Imam.

BOARD MEMBERS

Rufiath Chjair

Rufiath Yousuff

Chair

Rufiath Yousuff is one of the founding members of Benevolence and has been dedicated to serving the Bene community since 2008. Professionally she is a Senior Solicitor working in Criminal Law at the Office of Public Prosecutions. She has been active in the Muslim and wider Australian community for 20 years including in the U.S., where she is also a New York qualified lawyer. Rufiath is also a former Board Member of the Australia-Indonesia Institute working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a former Board Member of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association (JCMA). She is passionate about fostering a community that is grounded in their sense of belonging in Australia, while also true to their faith and cultural identities.

Rita

Rita Narangala

Vice Chair

Rita Narangala has been an active member of Benevolence since its inception. She brings her skills as an engineering manager to steer Benevolence’s strategic direction in the areas of risk, ethics and governance. Rita’s personal passions are environmental sustainability, social justice and developing people. The opportunity to pursue these as a Saturday teacher at Benekids is something she thrives on. As a convert, Rita deeply appreciates the importance of Benevolence as a community and family for those without ancestral roots in Islam

Maryam Bavdi

Maryam Badvi

Secretary

Maryam Badvi has been enthusiastically involved in Benevolence Australia since 2008. She has developed strong relationships through Benevolence, and is keen to propogate the connectivity and Islamic knowledge to equally benefit the community. Maryam’s background is in legal and scientific studies, and she is motivated to provide her skills and knowledge as a lawyer to the Benevolence Board and broader community to support Benevolence’s vision, strategies, governance, and community work.

Livia Michelini

Livia Michelini

Treasurer

Livia Michelini has extensive business experience, both locally and internationally, with particular expertise in business development and strategy, having managed financial portfolios of up to $6m. Amongst other academic qualifications, she holds a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Melbourne and is currently completing a Bachelor of Islamic Sciences at Charles Sturt University. Passionate about innovation, cultural diversity and social outcomes, she has been involved in the Benevolence community since 2014 and believes in its vision and values and relevance to Australian society.

GENERAL MEMBERS

Susan Carland Profile Pic

Dr. Susan Carland

Dr Susan Carland is a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and Churchill fellow at Monash University. She also sits on the Victorian Government Anti-Racism taskforce and the advisory board for the Valmae Frielich Project for the Study of Bigotry at the Australian National University. She has academic books published by Oxford University Press, Melbourne University Publishing, and Brill, and is a columnist for Sunday Life magazine in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Firmly believing in Benevolence’s ethos and approach to Islam in Australia, Susan has been a part of the Benevolence community since its inception.

Toltu Tufa

Toltu Tufa specialises in connecting with diverse communities and believes Benevolence has a genuine pulse on what Australian Muslim communities need. Toltu has won state awards for her educational programs, and most recently founded Afaan Publications, an initiative to promote Africa’s fourth most widely spoken language: Afaan Oromo. When Toltu is not enjoying her two children, she works in the forensic field as a Psychologist.

Hibah

Hibah Jamal

Hibah Jamal has been involved with Benevolence Australia for several years, initially as a member and volunteer, attending community events and programs. Since participating in Benevolence’s Spirit of Leadership program in 2019, she has made strong connections within the organisation and in the wider Muslim community.

Hibah works in financial services and brings her professional knowledge and skills to her Board role.
She recognises and appreciates the importance of Benevolence as a welcoming, diverse and community-oriented environment and is motivated to support its work and widen its reach within society.

MANAGEMENT TEAM

Saara Sabbagh

Saara Sabbagh

Chief Executive Officer

Saara Sabbagh has served the Melbourne Muslim community across a broad range of services for over three decades. She has worked in the field of cross-cultural education, youth, family violence, health and wellbeing, faith based education and much more. Her passion for creating a third space where conversations on identity, faith, spirituality and inclusion within an Australian context, inspired her to create Benevolence in 2008. Saara is passionate about reviving the ancient wisdom of the Islamic tradition through teaching the virtues of the Prophetic Way, spiritual values, and promoting a life of God consciousness.

Zulfiye Tufa

Zulfiye Tufa

Community Programs Manager

Sumaya Asvat

Sumaya Asvat

Education Programs Manager and BeneKids Principal

Sena

Sena Kocoglu

Communications & Digital Marketing Manager

Sena has been managing the Benevolence Communications and Digital Marketing operations since 2019.

 

Sena has spent the last few years working in women-led & run initiatives, and is passionate about empowering women and Muslim communities, both of which she feels are deserving of being adequately represented and marketed to. She hopes to enable this through her work at Benevolence, while strengthening the community spirit and widening our reach to other communities around Australia.