How the Emerging Leaders Network is Building Interfaith America
December 5, 2022
Using the Building Interfaith America Grant, Seth Browner (Jewish) worked with his team at the Hillel House (University of California-Davis) to host two initiatives: an “Interfaith Moveable Feast” and an “Interfaith and Solidarity Shabbat.” These events, hosted in partnership with other faith communities and organizations, equipped students to be interfaith leaders and bridge builders in their community.
Identifying a need in her Latter-day Saint community, Keryn Wouden (LDS) leaned into the vision of the Building Interfaith America Grant to propose a project that equipped her to educate members of her own faith community on the importance of interfaith cooperation and engagement. In return, Keryn’s project also emphasized the unique gifts and insights that the Latter-day Saint community contributes to the vision of an Interfaith America.
Kinza Khan, JD (Muslim) utilized her BIAG funding to receive training in conflict mediation. As a South Asian woman, Kinza saw a need in her own community for religiously literate mediators from culturally and religiously diverse backgrounds. In proposing her project, Kinza highlighted the expressed need from many of her clients for mediators who understood their complex context. To put her training into practice, Kinza worked with organizations like the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, Apna Ghar, Arab American Family services, American Civil Liberties Association, and National Immigration Justice Center to offer pro-bono mediation services for those in need.
Sharon Nicol’s (Christian) project supported her enrollment in an intensive mediation training for community members in the Washington D.C. area. This training equips attendees like Sharon to intervene in conflict situations involving people of diverse backgrounds. Sharon’s project highlighted how this project will help her address systemic issues like the correlation between high levels of poverty and populations of Black residents while also tangibly serving these communities through certification as a conflict mediator.
As a member of the Emerging Leaders Network, Ibrahim Al Hajiby (Sunni Muslim) used the Building Interfaith America Grant fund to attend two conferences this fall: the ICNA-MAS Regional Convening in Houston and the MAS-ICNA convention in Chicago. Both conferences focused on the intersection of faith and public life and emphasized seeking justice and racial equity in our world today. “For me, interfaith is at the core of what it means to be a Muslim,” Ibrahim concluded. “Learning more about my faith and gaining leadership skills through this opportunity will make me a more effective interfaith leader in my community.”