​Speakers' Profiles


​Dr Afaf Meleis​​​​​
Member, Board of Trustees, AKU​​​

Dr Afaf Meleis is Professor of Nursing and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the course of more than five decades, Dr Meleis, PhD, DrPS (hon), FAAN, has demonstrated a profound passion for pushing the boundaries of nursing science, cultivating the next generation of healthcare leaders and improving women's health. 

During her tenure as the fifth Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (2002- 2014), she fostered a community that is voiced, empowered and dedicated to making an impact on global healthcare; launched multidisciplinary and global partnerships that are advancing nursing science, education and practice; expanded research in critical areas; cultivated a culture of innovation where new programmes and technologies are being developed to address emerging healthcare challenges; and strengthened its commitment to serving and supporting the local community. 

Prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania, she was a Professor on the Faculty of Nursing at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco for 34 years. 

Dr Meleis' teaching focuses on structure and organisation of nursing knowledge, transitions and health, and international nursing. She has mentored hundreds of students, clinicians, and researchers from Thailand, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Columbia, Korea, and Japan. Her scholarship is focused on global health, immigrant and international health, women’s health, and on the theoretical development of the nursing discipline. She is the author of more than 175 articles in social sciences, nursing, and medical journals; over 40 chapters; 7 books; and numerous monographs and proceedings.

Dr Meleis is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, as well as honorary doctorates and distinguished and honorary professorships around the world. Among her awards, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak presented her the Medal of Excellence for professional and scholarly achievements in 1990, and in 2000 she received the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2007, she received four distinguished awards: an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine from the Linköping University, Sweden; the Global Citizenship Award from the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia; the Sage Award from the University of Minnesota; and the Dr Gloria Twine Chisum Award for Distinguished Faculty at University of Pennsylvania, which is awarded for community leadership and commitment to promoting diversity. 

Dr Meleis graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alexandria (1961), earned an MS in nursing (1964), an MA in sociology (1966) and a PhD in medical and social psychology (1968) from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

​Dr Meleis joined the AKU Board in 2015.​


Dr Maria W. O’Rourke RN PhD FAAN
President & CEO,
Maria W. O’Rourke & Associates LLC​​

Dr O'Rourke is currently a Full Clinical Professor of Nursing at UCSF, Department of Community Health Systems, Program Support Faculty, Healthcare Administration and Inter-professional Leadership Program (HAIL), and, CEO & President of Maria W. O'Rourke & Associates LLC. Her practice helps healthcare systems support inter-professional practice based on appropriate use of the professional RN with the intent to improve patient outcomes through role clarity. This work has helped organizations on the ANCC Magnet journey increase their understanding of the essence of profession and build professional practice models highlighting the key decision making role of the RN.

Her expertise on professional role clarity is grounded in her early work in 1965 as an activist who witnessed the serious lack of understanding of professional RN role. This lead to her legislative efforts where she was instrumental in rewriting the California Nursing Practice Act in 1974 which transformed the role of the RN in California as an equal professional partner on the interdisciplinary team. Her clarity of thought on the profession as a discipline and the RN role within that discipline was the impetus for development of  her role based practice theory which posits that role clarity is linked to role identification and role enactment/ comportment. Her leadership development expertise and skill are used to conduct strategic planning events for management using her unique conceptual method called RESULTS.

Although her roots are in nursing, Dr O'Rourke's expertise serves as a foundation for inter-professional leadership. She is committed to helping members of the health care team better understand the professional RN role. To that end, in 1994 she co-founded the O'Rourke Institute for the Advancement of Professional Practice, a forum for healthcare professionals to dialogue and obtain support/advice about their professional practice and leadership efforts. She has been relentless in her efforts to bridge the theory- research- practice gap, and, as the first UCSF Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs at San Francisco General Hospital she established the first nursing research committee that advanced this effort through faculty-bedside clinician collaboration.

A member American Academy of Nursing member since 1985 she participates in Nursing Expert Panels on Building Health Care System Excellence and Theory Guided Practice. As a mentor she facilitated the leadership development of nurse leaders and as guest editor of a National Nursing Journal, Nurse Leader June 2019 edition, she used it as a platform for showcasing her mentees and colleagues work.​

In 2015 she became the Inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Honor Health in Scottsdale Az., and in 2018, was awarded the 2018 ANA/California Ray Cox Award for her lifelong commitment, impact on and dedication to the advancement of Nursing as a profession. She served locally on the Commission on Status of Women, Marin County and was research design consultant for San Francisco Foundation Grant needs assessment for women, Board of Directors Hospice of Marin, Chair, Larkspur's Citizen's Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing environmental impact studies regarding quality of life and health and safety issues, resulting in preservation of open space. 


​Mr Firoz Rasul
President, AKU

Mr Firoz Rasul joined AKU as its President in May 2006. Prior to that, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Ballard Power Systems, a world leader in fuel cell technology, from 1988 to 2003. Between 2000 and 2006, he was President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, where he led the  development of the Global Centre of Pluralism in Ottawa and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, initiatives of the Aga Khan Development Network, with significant education and research agendas. He has also served as a member of the University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors and as a Director on the Board of Science World, British Columbia. 

Mr Rasul holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK and an MBA from McGill University. He was conferred the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, in 2001 and honorary Doctor of Science by University of Alberta in June 2017. Recently, he has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire in recognition of his contribution to education and business in the developing world and beyond.​


​Dr Rozina Karmaliani
Dean, SONAM, Pakistan

Dr Karmaliani is Professor and Dean at School of Nursing and Midwifery and joint faculty with Community Health Sciences at AKU. She is the first AKU alumna to obtain a PhD in nursing in 2000 from the University of Minnesota. 

She has received the Juran Fellowship Award for Leadership in Quality and the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals for her work at AKU. Dr Karmaliani’s research interests include women’s empowerment and adolescents’ health, with special focus on gender-based violence and mental health. Her voluntary service includes Director for Aga Khan Health Services, Rural Support Programme and Founding Chair of the Aga Khan Health Board for Pakistan. ​


​Dr Carl Amrhein
Provost and Vice President,
Academics, AKU​

Dr Carl Amrhein was appointed Provost and Vice President, Academic at AKU in 2017. From 2015 to 2017, Dr Amrhein was Deputy Minister of Alberta Health where he achieved many significant outcomes on primary care, mental health, physician compensation and clinical information systems during his tenure.

Prior to joining Alberta Health, Dr Amrhein was the Official Administrator of Alberta Health Services, from 2014 to 2015. He served as Provost and Vice President, Academic at the University of Alberta from 2003 to 2014. He came to the University of Alberta following 17 years at the University of Toronto. He also served as Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Education, Peking University in October 2012, and named Visiting Professor at Zhejiang University in 2012 and Fudan University in 2016. 

Dr Amrhein holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Pennsylvania State University (1978) and a Ph.D. in Geography from State University of New York at Buffalo (1984) with research interests in economic geography, labour markets, decision theory, migration, and quantitative methods.

Dr Amrhein was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011. In honour of his contributions in advancing the role of traditional knowledge of the First Nations in university programming, Dr Amrhein was awarded the prestigious Eagle Feather. In 2014, he was awarded the Alberta Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration. He was inducted into the Bethel Park Secondary School (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Hall of Fame, in 2017.​

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