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Meet Tasreen Khamisa of Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tasreen Khamisa.

Tasreen is the Executive Director for the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF). TKF is a San Diego nonprofit with a mission to create safer schools and communities by educating and inspiring children in the restorative principles of accountability, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking. For over twenty years, TKF has partners with dozens of local school districts and numerous public and private community organizations to successfully reach more than 500,000 children to guide them in making healthy, nonviolent choices. TKF’s innovative services promote learning through forgiveness and are proven effective in positively impacting youth’s behaviors, increasing their educational opportunities, and improving school climate.

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. Ms. Khamisa recently began playing 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.  Currently, Tasreen has a very involved role within the Coalition for Restorative Schools that presented at the White House and is driven to introduce and expand effective restorative practice programs in schools across the state. Tasreen is also a member of the San Diego Rotary and serves on the Peace Committee. Tasreen is also a proud and active mother frequently volunteering at her children’s school, sports and community activities.

Through her commitment, perseverance, and leadership qualities, Tasreen 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.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a journey of ups and downs. Losing my only brother was devastating. He was my best friend and I did not know how I was going to live life without him. I went through a rough three years of anger and depression. My father’s act of forgiveness was very inspiring to me.

I went through therapy and after 3 years decided to take a leap of faith and come help my father at the Foundation and that choice changed my life. Doing good work in my brother’s name helped me heal, I was doing the work I have always wanted to do, even when my brother was alive, – work with youth that doesn’t have the same opportunity as others. Being able to honor my brother put purpose back in my life.

I was able to find empathy for Tony Hicks the person that killed my brother, I was able to truly with all my heart forgive him and now have a very special relationship with him. We look forward to his upcoming parole in October of 2018. My father and I will speak at his hearing advocating for his release.

I look forward to working alongside him at TKF. One of TKF’s key messages is from conflict, love and unity are possible and that is very true for me in my journey.

Please tell us about Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF).
Tariq Khamisa Foundation is dedicated to teaching and inspiring peace, hope, and forgiveness in youth and setting them on a path towards opportunity. With the goal of creating safer schools and communities, our character-building programs teach children the principles of accountability, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking.

TKF was founded in 1995, after college student, Tariq Khamisa was killed by a 14-year-old gang member, Tony Hicks. Tony was tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Tariq’s father, Azim Khamisa, felt this tragedy created victims on both ends of the gun. In an act of extraordinary grace and forgiveness, Azim reached out to Tony’s grandfather, Ples Felix. The two men came together in the spirit of healing to end youth violence.

The programs and curricula TKF provides instill hope for those vulnerable due to exposure to violence, crime, harm, and poverty. Through educating and inspiring children, TKF has connected with over 500,000 youth in communities across San Diego County. Throughout San Diego (and with plans to expand nationally) TKF offers Peacemaker Assemblies for middle schools, Restorative Workshops with curricula to teach restorative life skills, Peace Educators who mentor individual students, and Peace Clubs to encourage youth leadership.

Changing the lives of young people by instilling hope and empowering them to make positive choices is the hallmark of TKF.

Tariq Khamisa Foundation is a leading educational organization dedicated to promoting learning through forgiveness and restorative practices. Working to create safer schools and communities, TKF teaches children the principles of accountability, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking.

This instills hope for those vulnerable due to exposure to harm and violence and provides children the tools to transform conflict into forgiveness, encouraging them to make positive decisions, improve behavior, and promote civility by leading forgiving and peaceful lives.

The TKF programs are based on the following:
1. Violence is real and hurts everyone
2. Actions have consequences
3. Youth can make good and nonviolent choices
4. Youth can work toward forgiveness as opposed to seeking revenge
5. Everyone deserves to be loved and treated well
6. From conflict, love and unity are possible

TKF is an organization that is bringing healing to our students which is needed at this time in our country. We are committed to giving kids the tools they need to navigate life in a healthy way, Life is going to bring challenges and stress, we can’t change that for our kids but we can teach them to find peace within themselves, build resiliency and strengthen their forgiveness muscle.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I trust my journey was exactly how it should be. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason. This has been a spiritual journey for me of growth. Understanding that we are able to do things bigger than ourselves. If we tap into our spirit, our essence we are able to find clarity and wisdom in life. I thank my father for teaching this to me.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 9948 Hibert Street, Suite 103
    San Diego, CA 92131
  • Website:
  • Phone: 619-955-8777
  • Email: or
  • Instagram: tkf_sandiego
  • Facebook: @tariqkhamisafoundation
  • Twitter: @TKF-SanDiego

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