We had the good fortune of connecting with Tasreen Khamisa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tasreen, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born in Kenya, Africa, grew up in Seattle Washington and now live in San Diego, California. My family fled Kenya due to Idi Amin, my mother and father wanted a better life for their family. My parents always pushed me to strive to be the best in everything that I do – to always go the extra mile. I was also raised to appreciate and celebrate my Indian culture. I was raised in the Shia Ismaili faith and both my faith and Indian culture has played a big roll in my life. Growing up the importance of working hard, family and service was ingrained in me and has shaped who I am today.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) is an educational organization dedicated to the goal of creating safer schools and communities. Its character-building programs teach children the restorative principles of accountability, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking, to set them on a firm path towards opportunity. With roots in San Diego, TKF has now begun a national expansion of its Safe School Model with sites in Pennsylvania, and plans for further expansion throughout the country. Preparations are under way for the development of the TKF Training Institute for Peace and Forgiveness with an emphasis on expanded training of educators, parents, and students. These plans will expand TKF’s mission exponentially. TKF was founded in 1995 following the senseless murder of 20-year-old Tariq Khamisa, by 14-year old Tony Hicks. Recognizing victims on both sides of the gun, the families came together in the spirit of healing to launch TKF. In compassion and true restorative justice TKF worked tirelessly to secure Hicks’ release from prison in 2019. TKF is a true testament of the healing power of forgiveness as a catalyst for humanity’s greater good. Tasreen Khamisa is the Executive Director for the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF). In 1995, Tasreen’s life was forever changed when her younger brother Tariq, a twenty-year-old student at San Diego State University, was murdered during a gang-involved robbery. In an act of deep compassion, her family chose to forgive the fourteen year-old assailant, Tony Hicks who was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Her father, Azim Khamisa, saw there were victims on both ends of the gun and he began the foundation in an effort to stop youth violence. Tasreen relocated from Seattle, WA in 1998 to join her father in creating an organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children. Tasreen played a vital part in the release of Tony from prison. Tasreen is a respected administrator and social justice leader with a BA is Sociology from the University of Washington. She has seventeen years of administrative experience in program management, daily operational oversight, staffing and supervision, fiscal control, and board development. She is highly skilled in resource development strategies including donor outreach and management, fundraising, public relations, and donation database systems. As an educator, Tasreen is a dynamic public speaker and facilitator. She has excellent presentation skills with experience in conducting seminars, workshops, and training activities with children and adults. She has been instrumental in the development of educational programming designed to teach and support healthy social-emotional development especially with vulnerable, at-risk youth populations. In 2016, Tasreen presented with the Coalition for Restorative Schools at the White House and is driven to introduce and expand effective restorative practice programs in schools across the state. Tasreen is a member of the San Diego Rotary and serves on the Peace Committee and was recently named one of the Daily Transcripts Influential Women. Through her commitment, perseverance, and leadership qualities, Ms. Khamisa has led TKF in becoming a nationally acclaimed and recognized organization. Being true to her brother Tariq’s philosophy of “living by giving,” Tasreen has found her path of forgiveness, joy, love and peace by living her passionate purpose to serve children. I am most proud to be Tariq Khamisa’s sister. My brother always wanted to leave this world a better place and I have dedicated my life to making sure I honor him and his legacy by serving young people, educators and parents. I have learned so much in my journey of forgiveness. It is possible to heal from the worst moment in your life, to find peace within yourself and be able to show up for yourself and others in healthy ways. Losing by brother was the most painful thing I have ever gone through but my brother gave me a gift, he put me on my purpose, serving and honoring him helped me heal and forgiving Tony brought me peace and I feel fortunate to have Tony in my life, I have 2 brothers by my side now Tariq and Tony.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start at the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas, CA. Walk to Ki’s in Cardiff for lunch and then walk Cardiff Beach. If they were staying a week, I would definitely go to Balboa Park, Coronado, SD Zoo, Hillcrest, Del Mar, Wild Animal Park, Shelter Island. The Prado, the restaurants in Del Mar Plaza (If Fornio one of my favorites), Sushi a must! I like the outdoors and to be near the water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my brother, Tariq who was tragically killed in 1995. He was the most beautiful person I know. He was younger than me but much wiser and taught me so much about the importance of being a good person, a good friend, that time was a gift and to follow your heart. He is such a big part of my story. His loss put me on my path, a path of serving children. He always wanted to leave the world a better and more peaceful place and that is what I strive for, in his name.
Teresa Conahan Decking, Soul of Photography