Malik Gillani

Founding Executive Director

Malik is nationally recognized for his leadership in the arts and education sectors. He has innovated programs that expand cultural representation and artistic access. Most notably, he conceived of and developed Silk Road Rising’s model for creating online video plays which are now being viewed around the world. He also conceived of, developed, and piloted our two arts education programs, Myths to Drama and EPIC (Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course), and spearheaded their growth from elementary, middle, and high school classrooms to also include multi-generational and community-based learning for immigrants and refugees.

In his arts service capacity, Malik has been a volunteer grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the City of Chicago’s CityArts Program. He has presented papers at local and national conferences on creative entrepreneurship, community organizing, and cultural production. Malik has also played a pivotal role in encouraging Chicago-based theatre companies to expand their repertoires of storytelling.

Malik earned a Master’s in Non-Profit Administration from North Park University, and a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts from St. John's College, with an emphasis on the Great Books. He is a Kellogg Executive Scholar (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and has been awarded a Certificate of Professional Achievement in Nonprofit Management. Malik is a recipient of the IBM Business and Technology Leadership Award and the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship Award. He was honored by Changing Worlds for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. Under the leadership of Malik and his husband, Jamil Khoury, Silk Road Rising was inducted into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for “showcasing works that address themes relevant to LGBTQ Silk Road peoples and their diaspora communities.” Most recently, he was named a Leader for a New Chicago by the Field Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In the fall of 2019, Malik suffered a heart attack and stroke, and is currently living with aphasia (a language disorder) and apraxia of speech (a speech disorder). As his recovery continues, Malik is developing a play titled, The Art of Aphasia, with partners at Texas Tech University, which he hopes to perform in 2026.

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Silk Road Cultural Center is a dba of Gilloury Institute, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization
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