Raja B. Marhaba is the Founder and President of The Jonathan Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, Inc. The motivation for establishing The Jonathan Foundation was driven by her personal struggles with having two children with disabilities and the multiple battles she endured to obtain appropriate special education and related services from their school district over a period of seven years. The result: eight due process complaint filings, including a hearing; an appeal to the federal Ninth Circuit District Court; as well as periods of extreme financial hardship from the cost of paying for private assessments, specialized interventions, and placements, retaining legal representation, and witness fees. Thus, Raja envisioned The Jonathan Foundation to be the vehicle she would use to assist families, like her own, in dealing with a "broken" special education system, "one child at a time".
Since its inception in 2001, The Jonathan Foundation has provided families of children and adolescents with various types of disabilities with information, resources, referrals, and direct advocacy services by Raja in both special education and regional center matters. Moreover, Raja has developed a strong relationship with Children of the Night, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing children from prostitution and continues to volunteer her professional advocacy services to children and teens served by the organization's programs. Driven by her personal experience and the outcomes of some of the cases in which she had been involved, Raja decided to launch the "Assessment Scholarship Program" in 2014 to lessen the financial burden families are faced with when obtaining private evaluations.
In addition to her involvement in The Jonathan Foundation, Raja is not only a licensed realtor, but also the co-owner of MarTec Construction, Inc., which she runs with her husband, Omar. She and Omar have operated MarTec Construction for over twenty years. Due to her work in the company, MarTec Construction has been recognized as a woman-owned business since 2003.
Raja's educational background includes possessing an Associate of Applied Science degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College in Business Administration. She also holds a certification in Paralegal Studies with a Concentration in Litigation and Corporations from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also successfully completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) Program. Raja was selected and successfully completed the first cohort of the federally-funded Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) Program in 2006. After her completion of the SEAT Program, she was selected to be a member of the Education Panel & Committee for the Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, which is comprised of special education attorneys and advocates, who are court-appointed to represent the educational needs of children involved in the foster care and probation systems.
Raja continues to hold active memberships and certifications with the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Granada Hills Rotary Club, National Women’s Business Enterprise and Women-Owned Small Businesses. Additionally, she has earned several awards as a result of her more than twenty years of success with MarTec Construction and, later, The Jonathan Foundation, including being one of several women recognized with the Enterprising Women of the Year Award in February 2016.
Raja has been married over 30 years to her husband Omar and they have two sons - Omar Jr. and Jonathan.