Safa ZarzourEducator, Civic Leader & Attorney.
Mr. Zarzour holds a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University School of Law, a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Arkansas State University. He is a member of the Bar in the State of Illinois, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Mr. Zarzour is a passionate educator. He is currently an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, teaching courses in Education and Islamic Law. For over a decade, he served as a teacher, then principal of Universal School, one of the largest PreK-12 independent Islamic schools in the United States, with enrollment of over 650 students. During his tenure at Universal, the school tripled its enrollment and became known among Islamic schools in North America for pioneering educational and social service programs, as well as outstanding student academic achievement. Mr. Zarzour continues to serve as the vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the Universal School.
In addition, Mr. Zarzour is a recognized national educational leader. He is the chairman of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America, CISNA, which claims membership of 50 Islamic schools and educational organizations. CISNA’s goal is to provide services to the over 300 Islamic schools in North America. Also, Mr. Zarzour serves as the Program Chair of the ISNA Education Forum since its inception in December 1999. The Forum provides networking and professional development opportunities to over 500 Islamic school educators annually.
Working with the broader community in the area of education, Mr. Zarzour is also a member of the Board of Advisors of St. Xavier University School of Education and member of the Board of Directors of the Governor State University Foundation.
Mr. Zarzour is known to many local Muslim communities in the United States and around the world including Belgium, South Africa, and the Middle East, through his workshops, lectures, and presentations on legal, educational, and community issues. In 2008, Mr. Zarzour was a presenter at the Brussels Forum, an annual gathering of political, civic, and academic leaders on both sides of the Atlantic brought together by the German Marshal Fund to discuss issues of development, security, education, and future relations between Europe and the United States.
Mr. Zarzour is active in interfaith circles. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Bernadine Center at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago where he serves along with distinguished faith leaders from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. He has participated for several years in the Mid-Atlantic Muslim-Catholic Dialogue. In 2005, Mr. Zarzour participated in a “Religion and the Press” symposium sponsored by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University alongside Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George, Michael Kotzin, Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and professor and scholar of religion Edith Blumhofer, to discuss the responsibility of the media to report the facts accurately, regarding religion and religious communities, and the ramifications of erroneous coverage and stereotyping.
Mr. Zarzour is a well known civic leader in Chicago’s southwest suburb of Bridgeview. He has served in various capacities in his town, including as an administrative coordinator, Zoning Commissioner, and an elected trustee of the Bridgeview Public Library. Currently he is serving his second term as an elected Commissioner of the Bridgeview Park District. In 2006, he was named to the transition team of Illinois State Treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias, who is currently running to fill President Obama’s vacated seat in the United States Senate.
Mr. Zarzour’s civic and educational work has been featured in many media including 60 Minutes, PBS Front Line, Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine and many others. Mr. Zarzour has received several honors and awards for his public service. Most recently, Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley handed him the Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ 2009 Outstanding Service Award.
Over the last 15 years, Mr. Zarzour helped establish and has served on the boards of a variety of local community and advocacy organizations including being the chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago.
As an attorney, Mr. Zarzour is a principal of the law firm of Zarzour, Khalil & Tabbara, LLC. He focuses his law practice in the areas of local government, education and nonprofit law. Prior to his founding of the law firm, Mr. Zarzour worked for several years as an associate attorney at the law firm of Odelson & Sterk, Ltd., Evergreen, Illinois.
Mr. Zarzour lives with his wife Rhonda and their children in Bridgeview, Illinois.