MSA Leadership Summit Recap

4 Dec 2016

MSA Leadership Summit Recap

Asalaamu Alaikum,

Last weekend, we hosted, along with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering & the Islamic Center of NYU, our annual MSA Leadership summit. In this two full day summit, we equipped MSA board members from 9 different MSAs across New York and Pennsylvania with essential leadership skills, mindsets, tools and resources to increase their impact on students on campus and others off campus.

Throughout the years, I have been approached by many MSA Leaders from around the country. Some are put into leadership positions without much training, mentoring, or guidance. In general, they get very little administrative direction from their predecessors and don’t receive much leadership and management training. Naturally, that leads to anxiety, stress, and an endless/ineffective process of trial and error. With that in mind, we started the MSA Leadership Summit last year. We’ve designed and tailored the summit to help MSA board members grow and develop their leadership skills and serve their community at their highest potential. The objective of the summit is to equip young leaders with leadership and management skills in order to maximize their impact on and off campus. 

This year, MSA Leaders from the following schools attended the summit:

College of Staten Island
Drexel University
Hunter College
John Jay School of Criminal Justice
Lehman College
Marymount Manhattan College
Medger Evers College
NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Queens College
We would like to thank our sponsors who made this summit possible with their generous sponsorship. Your generous support helped us train, support and empower over 30 young leaders during the summit. Special thanks to NYU Tandon & ICNYU for hosting and supporting the summit. Thanks to all the MSA leaders who dedicated their time and traveled many miles from near and far to attend the summit. Thanks to all the MSA leaders who were not able to attend but continue to serve their MSA and their community, despite having many personal responsibilities.

Here are just some of the highlights of last weekend’s summit:

Building a Strong Foundation

Any organization without a strong foundation is not likely to sustain itself for long. In this session, MSA Leaders were trained on how to effectively build a strong foundation for their MSA to ensure that it functions effectively for many years to come.

Meeting Management 

Team meetings are part of any organization – both profit and non profit organizations. During this session, the MSA Leaders learned how to effectively plan for and manage their team meetings to avoid wasting time and to maximize the time spent during their board meetings.

Situational Leadership

MSAs and other organizations are bound to face unexpected circumstances or crises at some point. Whether it’s vandalism, internal team conflicts or technical difficulties during events, MSA Leaders trained on leadership skills to help them mitigate and handle such circumstances whenever they arise.

Financial Planning

Budgeting and financial planning are part of any project or event that an MSA or any other organization plans. MSA Leaders, who often work with a very limited budget, were trained on some of the basic financial planning skills to help them utilize their budget efficiently and create new ways of funding their events and activities.

Forming Partnerships & Networking
When MSAs partner with one another, they are able to utilize one another’s strengths, resources, and experiences to collectively work on projects together. During the summit, MSA Leaders learned how to strategically partner with others and had the chance to network with one another to work on potential collaborations in the future.

Effective Communication
Effective communication is essential to any team working on a project with one another. During this session, MSA Leaders trained on some practical communication skills to help them communicate with one another more clearly and effectively.
MSA Board Succession
Every year, new students are elected or appointed to lead the MSA for the year. New board members tend to face several challenges while transitioning to their new roles, especially if it’s their first time holding a leadership role. MSA Leaders learned how to transition and train new members of their team to ensure a smooth transition.
Stress Management
MSA Leaders juggle various responsibilities including their MSA leadership responsibilities, their school work duties, their family, their friends and others which often leads to extra stress and anxiety. During this session, the MSA Leaders trained on various ways of mitigating and managing their stress.
Time Management
With all of their responsibilities, MSA Leaders need to be able to manage their time well to make sure they fulfill all their duties. In this session, MSA Leaders trained on time management skills that will help them utilize their time effectively without comprising time spent with their family and friends.

Here is some of the MSA Leaders’ feedback after attending last week’s Leadership summit:

If you are in a leadership position, in any organization, you must attend the OTI summit. This was my second year at the summit and I can honestly say I learned more than the first year. We are presented with a broad base of information but what made the information truly useful was the practicality with which it was presented. Our instructors, brothers Almathil and Hasan, are knowledgable with experience in their industries, an added value to the experience of the OTI summit.                                                                                                                                                                      – Bilal Khan | President | Drexel University MSA


This summit was an amazing experience and opportunity. I learned much more than I could have hoped for, and I’m confident that I can easily convey what I learned to my fellow board members and other leaders alike. We learned essential and valuable lessons that deal with all aspects of leading and running an MSA. We learned how to effectively communicate and conduct board meetings, the importance of making partnerships with other student organziations, how to manage our time most efficiently, and much more. I really enjoyed how practical and interactive the sessions were, along with the many opportunities to talk and interact with other MSA’s to share ideas and build partnerships. Attending this summit is a must on all MSA members who want to take their MSA’s to the next level.”    

Anas Qatanani | Education Chair | Drexel University MSA


The MSA Summit is a must for current and aspiring board members. The skills, guidelines, and advice we received from both Mohammed Almathil and Mohammad Hasan are genuine, proven, and timeless. They will benefit you and your organization for all future successions to come if implemented and maintained. The Stress Management workshop with Mohammad Hasan has inspired me to look for balance, and the Time Management workshop with Mohammed Almathil has pushed me to be careful with my time, and view it as a precious commodity.”  

 Ziha Qureshi | Vice President | College of Staten Island MSA


Attending this summit helped me improve on effective communication, time management and board succession and leadership from Mohammed Almathil and Mohammed Hassan. I now have the tools I need to help nurture and grow my MSA and give those who come after a clear way to follow when it is their turn to step up in’sha’allah. I definitely recommend this summit to all MSAs out there. You will not only learn a lot but it will change your views on certain things and open networks for you to collaborate with other MSAs so you can learn from one another.”     

–  Maryama Sillah | Vice President | Medgar Evers College MSA


The MSA Leadership Summit is a must for any MSA board member, whether experienced or new. Mohammed Almathil and Mohammad Hasan both gave incredibly important knowledge all board members should understand and implement in their respective MSAs. I especially found the workshops on meeting management and leadership transference by Mohammed Almathil helpful as I feel that that is a recurring issue in MSAs and definitely something we can all improve on, in shaa Allah.

–  Binita Zaman | Secretary | John Jay College MSA


The MSA Leaders: Legacy Builders summit with Mohammed Almathil and [Mohammad] Hasan was beyond amazing! I learned a lot of strategies that will help me Insha’Allah to be an effective leader wherever I go, whether it’s at the work place, as a student, or trying to improve on my own schools MSA outlook and foundation. It really broadened my horizon and opened up new doors on ways to becoming “better” at what I already do. This summit really re-wired my brain to think clearly and to make wise decisions. I would definitely recommend this for other MSA leaders as this will be a positively life-changing experience and would help fill the gaps of what was missing in their roles as a leader and in their personal lives in general. The most important sessions that resonated with me was “Effective communication”, “Meeting Management”, and “Forming Partnerships and Networking with other MSA’s”. Those sessions were extremely fascinating! Alhamdulilah, I am enlightened!

      –  Jillann Mahmoud | Secretary | Marymount Manhattan College MSA 


We ask Allah SWT to make this initiative a means of positive change for the MSA leaders and for many more to come.  Once again on behalf of Oaktree Institute, we appreciate all of the sponsors and supporters who made this summit a reality.

If you would like to sponsor our next Leadership summit, our workshops and programs, click here. If you would like to sponsor specific workshops or projects, contact us by clicking here.

Best regards,
Mohammed Almathil
Executive Director
Oaktree Institute