Director of Public Affairs at Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA)
Christina Tobias-Nahi has served at Islamic Relief USA since 2006. She initially joined the organization as a board member, and has since worked as a volunteer and a member of staff, where she now holds the title as the director of public affairs.
In addition to carrying out IRUSA’s advocacy and interfaith work, Christina enjoys hiking with her dog, reading, being outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends.
Christina Tobias-Nahi Story
Christina Tobias-Nahi was born in 1971 in Denver, Colorado. As a young child, she moved around the East Coast and West Coast with her mom. They eventually settled down in Hawai’i. She affectionately deems her parents as two of the most influential figures in her life.
She credits Hawai’ian culture for her observational nature, as Hawai’ians place great influence on the wisdom of elders and allowing elders to hold the most space for conversation.
Her favorite subject in school was English, where she discovered her love for creative writing. Aside from her love of water sports, her favorite hobbies growing up were ballet and Hula dancing, which is dance through storytelling. In high school, she was very involved with theatre and drama.
Her love for the arts inspired her to seek an undergraduate degree in dance ethnology—the study of dance through anthropology, culture, history, language, and literature—with a focus on Asia-Pacific.
During her senior undergraduate year, Christina studied with a teacher who came to Hawai’i from mainland China. The teacher placed special emphasis on preserving minority culture and the arts. After graduation, Christina followed her teacher back to China, where she studied at an institute under her tutelage. She credits the experience as her fondest travel memory.
Upon her return home, Christina said, “I went back to Hawai’i and suddenly felt that it was a small island and that there was a big world out there that I wanted to explore.”
She decided to book a ticket to Europe, and ended up settling in Paris, where she obtained her first graduate degree in international relations. It was there she met her husband, a graduate student from Morocco, who she has been happily married to for 25 years.
Christina, her husband, and their young son and daughter moved back to the United States, where they settled in Boston. She embarked on her career at Harvard University with the Islamic Legal Studies program. At Harvard, she obtained her second graduate degree in education policy, with a special focus on immigrants in the United States.
While in Boston, Christina was involved in interfaith and community work. In 2006, she joined the Islamic Relief USA board of directors. Since then, she has worn many hats within the organization. She served as a board member, a volunteer, and is now the director of public affairs.
Her fondest memory within the organization was a trip to Lebanon where she witnessed firsthand the impact that IRUSA’s project have. During her visit, she saw an IRUSA-funded sports project serving Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese youth. The project created a space for the boys and girls to play sports like basketball and soccer, and promoted peaceful coexistence for the next generation.
At IRUSA, she aspires to positively impact everyone who crosses her path. Her passion for social justice dates back to her childhood in Hawai’i, where she saw firsthand the effects of colonization, the reality of poverty, and the long-lasting ramifications of lost livelihood and dignity. On her main career objective, Christina says, “It’s always been about seeing who the most vulnerable are, and [discovering] what ways we are able to support them in regaining their dignity.”