Born in Pakistan, Shaista Mahmood moved to the United States in 1976 after graduating from Punjab University in Pakistan. She is the wife of Rafat Mahmood (Ray), the proud mother of four children, and grandmother of three. Shaista has long been active in helping people, especially children in need. The Mahmoods have for decades raised money to build schools and support
children in Pakistan and other countries. Shaista raises funds for and serves on the Boards of Children's National Hospital, Developments in Literacy (DIL)
Schools in Pakistan, and the Aschiana Foundation (Street Children in
Shaista is passionate about women's empowerment through education and entrepreneurship, and was instrumental in advocating for the founding of the U.S. Pakistan Women's Council, which was launched at the United Nations in 2012. She is also a Board Member of the World Affairs Council and the International Center For Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), and she and Ray serve on the Advisory Board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The Mahmoods believe
that the way to make a difference in today's world is by taking an
active role in bringing people together and working on the issues
collaboratively. To this end, they host events large and small that bring U.S. and Pakistani government, business, military and civil society leaders and experts together to share a meal as they relate their experiences, increase mutual understanding and explore cooperation on issues of common concern.