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Our Team

Why Umano

Having volunteered for over a decade within the leadership circle of some of the world’s largest charitable organizations, I have realized that unless we change the way we relate to others, charity alone cannot address the magnitude of the challenges the world faces today.

We have worked extensively to alleviate poverty and other related socio-economic issues collectively across various borders, and yet we continue to observe tremendous human suffering as well as new environmental and existential threats to our future.

At Umano, we seek to explore the concept of driving sustainable change through empathy. We believe it is only through empathy that we can truly learn to love others, become compassionate to animals and respectful to our planet.

Umano was born to inspire empathy and motivate change.

Azhar Signature

Azhar Hameed

Founder, Umano

Zehra Abbas

Executive Director

Zehra has had a keen interest in exploring how to make the world a kinder place since her time volunteering for organizations like War Against Rape and The Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture in her youth. Zehra is the founder and volunteer President of Youth Troopers for Global Awareness and its social enterprise, Studio.89, a non-profit community hub and fair trade cafe providing a free space for events, workshops and resources with a specific focus on activism and youth leadership development. Studio.89 aims to benefit humans, animals, and the planet. While traveling, Zehra enjoys narrow cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, cuddling street animals, and volunteering with various charity organizations to advance her knowledge about community care from a holistic lens. 

Vinyse Barber

Volunteer Lead

Since 2009, Vinyse has worked in the field of volunteer engagement for both grassroots and national charities, in roles that support families experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, seniors, and newcomers. As an avid volunteer herself, Vinyse has co-led an annual environmental festival, fostered palliative cats, and co-founded a non-profit to help street dogs in India. In her spare time, she enjoys all the vegan food that Toronto has to offer, manages her cat and dog’s Instagram account, and runs a social enterprise with her husband to teach people how to grow veggies. 

Kirsten Cooney

Fundraising Lead

With over 22 years in the non-profit sector, Kirsten has worked with a number of organizations that address issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness and how they impact children and families.  An enthusiastic fundraiser and volunteer, Kirsten has shared her passion for cultivating relationships and organizing events that engage, entertain, and inspire. She has shared her time with a number of charitable organizations that support children and youth, refugees, and organ transplant recipients. As an avid traveler, nature lover, and lifelong learner, Kirsten loves meeting new people and exploring new places. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children, and beloved canine companion, Finnegan.

Azhar Hameed

Founder, Philanthropreneur

Los Angeles, California

Hina Abidi

Animal & Arts Advocate

Los Angeles, California

Jennifer Estevez

CEO & Constant Student

San Francisco, California

Jessika Ava

Grants Program Director

Rochester, NY

Mandeep Rupal

Attorney

Los Angeles, California

Azhar Hameed

Founder, Philanthropreneur

Los Angeles, California

Ann Marie Gaouette-Stevenson

General Manager of a Nonprofit

Mississauga, Ontario

Hina Abidi

Animal & Arts Advocate

Los Angeles, California

Julie Danaylov

Entrepreneur

Toronto, Canada

Mandeep Rupal

Attorney

Los Angeles, California

Meghan Emery

Food Scientist

Toronto, Ontario

Hina Abidi

Animal & Arts Advocate

Los Angeles, California

Jessika Ava

Grants Program Director

Rochester, NY

Laura Notaro

Teacher

Milan, Italy

Mandeep Rupal

Attorney

Los Angeles, California

Rachael Pettus

Teacher

Paphos, Cyprus

Carolyn M Scott

Filmmaker and Creative Director

Santa Rosa, California, USA

David Giardina

Singer, Model, Filmmaker

New York City, New York

Jeanette Diehl

Producer, Director, StoryEditor

Toronto, Canada

Julie Danaylov

Entrepreneur

Toronto, Canada

Kamal Prasad

Content Creator

Hayward, California, USA

Kevin Lacroix

Motion Graphics Animator

Toronto, Canada

Khizer Riaz

Director of Animation

Karachi, Pakistan

Mariam Riaz

Assistant Director & Art Director – Animation

Karachi Pakistan

Pasquale Marco Veltri

Filmmaker, Writer and Content Creator

Toronto, Canada

Raymond Cruzzola

Filmmaker

Toronto, Canada

Tahir Khan

Owner of a Plant Based Lifestyle Company

Toronto, Canada

Usman Riaz

Director – Animation

Karachi Pakistan

THE KAAVAN PLEDGE

 

I pledge to think critically and with compassion about my relationship with animals 

- I will advance my knowledge about the sentience of animals
- I will research and consider my decisions to use products and support activities that abuse and exploit animals
- I will learn about what happens to animals in industrial farming, laboratories, zoos, circuses, and fashion
- I will abstain from participation in animal exploitation and educate others 

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THE EMPATHY PLEDGE

I believe that Empathy can reduce suffering in the world, therefore I pledge that:

- I will make a conscious effort to enhance my empathetic abilities

- I will be mindful of my ego which can discourage my ability to relate to others

- I will stand and speak up for the well-being of humans, animals, and our planet

- I will align my thoughts, speech, and actions with the core principle of empathy

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