Following the loss of his only son Tariq in 1995 to a senseless, gang-related murder, Azim chose the path of forgiveness and compassion rather than revenge and bitterness. This amazing choice led to the establishment of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (www.TKF.org) and the subsequent forgiveness movement which has reached millions.
Azim Noordin Khamisa – an author, thought leader, peace activist, and international inspirational speaker – was born in Kenya, Africa of Eastern roots. Azim had early training in mathematics, economics and international finance in the United Kingdom. A successful international investment banker with over 45 years of experience, he has conducted business in Africa, the Middle East, Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia. (www.SovereignCapitalMarkets.com).
A man always on the go, taking action for societal transformation, he is the Founder and Chairperson of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation now in its 25th year (www.TKF.org). Azim is the Co-Founder of the Constant And Never Ending Improvement (CANEI) program established in 2001 in partnership with the National Youth Advocate Program (www.nyap.org), currently active in several cities and is in its 19th year (LINK). He serves as Vice-Chair of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (www.Noetic.org), which studies consciousness and was founded by Edgar Mitchell, the sixth astronaut to walk on the moon, some 46 years ago.
Committing his life to halt the continuing cycle of violence among youth, Azim became a social activist after his 20-year-old college student son Tariq was senselessly murdered while delivering pizzas in January 1995 by Tony Hicks, a 14-year-old gang member. Out of unspeakable grief and despair, Khamisa was inspired to transform his loss through the miraculous power of forgiveness. Believing that there were “victims at both ends of the gun,” Azim forgave Tony and founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to break the cycle of youth violence by saving lives, empowering positive choices and teaching the principles of nonviolence and peacemaking. Soon after establishing the foundation, Azim invited Ples Felix, Tony’s grandfather, and guardian, to join him. Together, since November 1995, the two have shared their story and message through TKF’s Peacemaker Assemblies and other programs. The duo has reached over a million elementary and middle school children and several million via video programs, guiding the youth to choose a peacemaker’s life of nonviolence and forgiveness. Tony Hicks, now 39, was released in April of 2020. Azim was at Tony’s parole hearing in November of 2018 with his daughter Tasreen Khamisa (ED of TKF) and both strongly advocated for his release. Tony won parole at this hearing, was finally released in October of 2019, and now volunteers for TKF as a strong advocate for youth to not follow in his former footsteps. He uses his personal story of transformation, after receiving Azim’s forgiveness and learning to forgive himself, to inspire youth to choose a life of nonviolence and peacebuilding.
Azim serves and has served on the Board of Directors of various non-profit and for-profit organizations. He was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Sponsors at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Azim serves on the Board of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is a member of the Wisdom Council of the Summer of Peace. Azim is a strong proponent of collaboration and believes that while no single nonprofit or organization has the complete solution, collectively we do. Because of his work in impacting social policy and norms, Azim is a highly regarded, respected leader and a sought after speaker nationally and internationally. Azim has given over 1000 presentations to grade schools and university students and over 600 keynote speeches at conferences worldwide – including an audience of 300,000 at the “Stand for Children” rally in Washington D.C. in 1996. He also conducts public and corporate customized workshops and training programs to foster effective, purposeful and impactful leadership through the process of forgiveness. Over the last 25 years of his global work, he has helped many individuals, couples, families and management teams in both the corporate world and the nonprofit sector.
Azim has received over 80 regional, national, and international awards. These include: in April 1997, the National Crime Victims Special Community Service Award presented by President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In December 2002, he received the prestigious “Search for Common Ground'' international award for “Building Peaceful Communities” along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ted Koppel. Other awards include 2003’s “California Peace Prize,” 2006’s “Freedom Heroes Award,” 2008’s “Death Penalty Focus Award” and “The Spirit of Crazy Horse Award,” the latter being given alongside Muhammad Ai. Azim continues to be honored by different facets of the community for his service, in 2019 he was presented the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Dr. Martin Luther King Human Dignity Awards, the 10 News Leadership Award, and the Peacemaker of the Year Award. See the Awards list for many more.
With various inspirational products available on his website, he is an award-winning author of the book: Azim’s Bardo – From Murder To Forgiveness – A Father’s Journey. He followed up this book in November 2007 with From Forgiveness to Fulfillment, showing the continued evolution in an unfolding story that is his path, his passion, and his life. The third book in the trilogy is From Fulfillment to Peace, which provides the final recipe for sustained peace. The forward of this last book of the trilogy was written by Tony Hicks. He was published again in 2009 by Random House The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back from Life’s Hardest Hits, coauthored with Jillian Quinn. Azim’s 5th book; Leadership for the Greater Good - a Guide for Truth to Power Champions is scheduled to be launched in May 2020. Azim’s story is featured in an upcoming feature film, as well as documentaries such as The Power of Forgiveness, Unlikely Friends, Azim Khamisa – The Tool of Forgiveness and The Truth.
Azim often shares, “We humans continuously confront defining moments in our lives. Sometimes these events are joyous; sometimes they are tragedies. At these moments it’s important to make the right choices. When we do, we are literally able to manifest a miracle and produce transformation in ourselves and others.” In his keynote speeches, Azim covers a diverse arena of applicable topics: which include talks on each of his 5 books; inspiring effective, purposeful and impactful leadership, the journey of forgiveness destination peace, restorative justice, how to transform conflict into unity in intact management teams. Azim also conducts a train-the-trainer two-day certification Forgiveness Workshop for professionals and a day and a half workshop for intact management teams of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations of how to transform conflict into unity and inspire passionate performance. Azim is an accomplished speaker and when asked customizes his talk to the theme of the conference or event. Invite him to speak at your corporation, organization or gathering, and be moved, motivated and inspired.
A well-traveled, multi-lingual naturalized United States citizen, he resides in La Jolla, California, Azim is also the proud father of Tasreen and Tariq and a proud grandfather of Khalil, Shahin, and Miya.