What we do

Our primary purpose is to help immigrants, refugees, and international students from children to adults academically and socially in their transition to America. We are committed to helping with school assignments, exam preparation, and inspiring individuals to achieve high grades. Our ultimate goal is to empower people with the skills and critical thinking abilities necessary to have a positive lifestyle in America.

Ahmad Hilal Abid, who emigrated from Afghanistan to the U.S. when he was 17 years old, started a small class with 20 immigrants and refugee students in his garage at home in 2020. He began by helping students with school assignments in Math and English. His services became so popular in the community, necessitating a move to a larger space in Lynnwood, Wash. The House of Wisdom now helps over 100 students and increased the number of subjects it offers tutoring in thanks to a volunteer staff with diverse areas of expertise.

At the start, he named this small class the House of Wisdom. The House of Wisdom was a magnificent Baghdad, Iraq library built by Caliph Haroun Al-Rasheed (ruled 786 – 809 CE). Christians, Jews, Muslims, and scholars from around the world researched, studied and translated books at the House of Wisdom. It was where both male and female scholars, translators, scientists, scribes, authors, and much more from all over the world came together. They would meet for discussions and discourse on important works in various languages, including Arabic, Farsi, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, and Latin. Famous scholars of the time that studied at the House of Wisdom include the Father of Algebra, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

Ahmad Hilal Abid believes strongly in diversity, equality, and fairness. He believes that “if we put our hands and minds together and accept our differences, we will be able to restore the House of Wisdom and spread knowledge and love through community and bring people together from different ethnicities and backgrounds.”

Meet our Leadership Team

Ahmad Hilal Abid

Ahmad Hilal Abid immigrated to the United States in 2018 at age 17 and established the House of Wisdom in 2020 during the pandemic in his father’s garage, originally accommodating 20 local immigrants and refugees. Over time, the organization has expanded its reach and now provides personalized tutoring, cultural learning programs, and other valuable resources to hundreds of students. Abid holds two degrees in paralegal and general studies from Edmonds College, and he will be pursuing further studies in Political Science at the University of Washington starting this fall.  

During his time at Edmonds College, Abid held various leadership positions such as Chair for the Student Trustee Committee, Chair for the Student Government Selection Committee, Executive Officer for Diversity, etc. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his outstanding work both as a student and through the House of Wisdom. Notably, he was honored with the Governor’s Student Civic Leadership Award and nominated as one of two students from Edmonds College for the All-Washington Academic Team. The Washington State Senate also passed a resolution acknowledging Abid’s contributions to the House of Wisdom. Several local news outlets, including the Seattle Times, Everett Herald, My Edmonds News and Lynnwood Times, have featured Abid and recognized the impactful work of the House of Wisdom.  

Ahmad’s overarching mission through the House of Wisdom is to promote diversity, education, and foster an inclusive environment built on understanding and respect.

Holly Jacobsen (Secretary)

Holly A. Jacobsen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the House of Wisdom. She holds a BA from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Additionally, she earned her teaching credentials from the Woodring College at Western Washington University showcasing her commitment to education and academic excellence

Having retired from her teaching career in 2020, Holly now devotes her time to teaching English to recent immigrants, empowering them with the vital language skills to navigate their new lives. With a remarkable background in supporting non-profit organizations, she brings her invaluable expertise and boundless passion to the House of Wisdom.

Burhan Abid (Treasurer)

Burhan Abid, our treasurer with a rich professional background, immigrated to the United States in 2014 and immediately established himself as an accountant for prominent nonprofit organizations such as 501 Commons and Committee for Children. Burhan currently holds the position of a senior service manager at Greystar

With a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kardan University and over 25 years of expertise in diverse domains including organizational management, accounting, general ledging, financial reporting, financial analysis and budgeting, Burhan brings a wealth of knowledge to the House of Wisdom.

Asma Ali (Vice President of Community Engagement)

Asma Ali is a manager of the data reporting and analytics team. She has a strong background in database analysis and project management, and she enjoys using her skills to contribute to the platform that is needed to recruit, retain and recognize active and inactive volunteers. She graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. While in school, she was on the Dean’s List for her exemplary academic performance and leadership skills. In her available time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, outdoor activities, water activities, and holding conversations with multicultural people.


Steven Torres (Board Member)

Seven years ago, Steven Torres moved to the U.S. and experienced culture shock, including the challenge of learning English. He joined the ESL/ELA program at Edmonds College, where he met our President Ahmad Hilal Abid. After completing his ESL classes, Steven earned his undergraduate degree from Edmonds College as well as multiple certificates from Latino Education Training Institute (LETI) and Mi Centro. Currently working as an office assistant for the English Language Acquisition department at Edmonds College, he now teaches Spanish and English to our students, bringing his language expertise to our team.

When asked about why he joined the House of Wisdom, Steven said “As an immigrant who knew no English, I understand the difficulties of navigating a new country. Helping immigrants find success and resources to learn English is what I am passionate about and something I can do through the House of Wisdom.”

Brent Mulvaney (Vice President of Outreach)

Brent Mulvaney our Vice President of Outreach, brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to serving Indian tribes and their programs since obtaining his Juris Doctor degree from Seattle University. Before completing his legal education, Brent spent nearly a decade as an Academic Support Specialist at Edmonds College working with the Learning Support Center and the Services for Students with Disabilities office.

With his personal background as an indigenous individual and a former student who experienced homelessness, Brent offers a distinctive and invaluable perspective on how the House of Wisdom can best support our current and future students and their families. Leveraging his expertise as an attorney specializing in tribal advocacy and administrative law, Brent is enthusiastic about collaborating with our Board of Directors to expand the range of services we provide to our thriving community.