Kashif Shaikh

Kashif Shaikh is the Co-Founder and President of Pillars Fund. In 2010, Kashif and a small group of Muslim philanthropists founded Pillars to strategically organize wealth within their communities and support American Muslim civic institutions and leaders building a more just, equitable society. For the next five years, Kashif volunteered his time and resources to grow and lead Pillars. In 2016, he was asked to be Pillars’ first full-time executive director and transitioned Pillars from a volunteer-run fund to a fully operational foundation. Under his leadership, Pillars has invested more than $6 million in Muslim community organizations and initiatives to build collective power and transform what is possible for Muslims in the United States.


At the heart of Kashif’s career in philanthropy is a dedication to promoting racial equity and creating opportunities for Muslims and people of color to tell their stories through art. Prior to launching Pillars, Kashif was a program officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where he helped manage a portfolio of more than $20 million and helped scale a variety of Chicago nonprofits working at the intersection of racial justice, poverty, and education. He also managed the Foundation’s corporate partnerships and helped develop corporate social responsibility strategies for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Blackhawks, and Chicago Bulls. His career began at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, where he developed strategies to engage the organization’s largest corporate partners.

Kashif’s expert insight has been featured in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Variety, and NPR, among others. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Peabody Awards, Chicago Humanities Festival, and Mortar, a nonprofit based in his home town of Cincinnati that helps entrepreneurs from historically marginalized communities access resources to start and run successful businesses. He has been named a Philanthropy Forward Fellow by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group, a New Profit Civic Lab Entrepreneur, and an Ambassadors for Health Equity Fellow. In 2017, Crain’s Chicago Business named him to their 40 Under 40 list. 

Kashif holds a BA from Ohio State University and MA from Northwestern University.

photo of Kashif Shaikh


Gathering the faithful and the secular: Cross-belief bridging for social justice and belonging
Faith leaders of many religions have long been at the forefront of movements for social justice, and yet are often overlooked in the stories and narratives we tell about those very fights. This is perhaps due to a longstanding discomfort and disconnect between secular justice leaders and those who are faith-based, despite the central role that religious belief and spiritual communities play in the lives of people of all backgrounds. Indeed, it may be deeply remiss for those of us fighting for justice and belonging to overlook the opportunities inherent in bridging with faith and spiritual...