Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf Is the Founder and Chairman of The Cordoba Initiative, a multi-faith organization whose objective is to heal the relationship between the Muslim World and the West. He is also the Founder of ASMA Society, the Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City, and a Trustee at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. He is an active member of the World Economic Forum’s C-100, which works to promote understanding and dialogue between the Western and Islamic worlds. He was recently awarded the Peacebuilders Award by the Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution for his work in bridging the gap between the Abrahamic faith traditions. Imam Feisal frequently interviews with various media and has previously appeared on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and BBC among others. His published writings include the books Islam: A Search for Meaning, and Islam: A Sacred Law. His latest book, What’s Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West, ranked among The Christian Science Monitor’s top four Nonfiction books of 2004.
John Bennett is theca-founder and Executive Director of the Cordoba Initiative. He was previously founding Executive Director of the Garrison Institute, whose mission is to apply the wisdom of the world’s great contemplative traditions to issues of civil society. He also serves as vice chair of the board of trustees of Naropa University, America’s premiere institution of contemplative education. In 2001, Bennett retired from his position as vice president of the Aspen Institute. While in that position, he helped rebuild the relationship between the Institute and the Aspen community and greatly increased the Institute’s activities and programs in its Aspen home. In doing so, Bennett pioneered new ways to bring the Institute’s tradition of enlightened civil dialogue to bear on significant issues facing individual lives. He brought to Aspen a variety of new community programs, including seminars on Shakespeare, wilderness, the crosscurrents between music and philosophy, and an acclaimed education program, the High School Great Ideas Seminar: The Good Life and the Good Society; and most of these remain active and successful today. He also conceived the idea and acted as the organizing point person for the Aspen Institute’s 50th Anniversary Symposium, an event which convened a diverse group of Nobel prize winners, heads of state, and other world leaders from the fields of business, religion, art and academia to explore globalization and its effects on humanity. In 1999, Bennett completed his fourth term as Mayor of Aspen, Colorado. During his four terms in office, he focused on critical issues of building & preserving community – the challenge of maintaining the character, values & livability of a small city under enormous economic pressure to grow and change. Bennett, a graduate of Andover and Yale University, worked to control suburban sprawl, build affordable housing, preserve the environment, support the arts & humanities, and create an innovative transportation system offering alternatives to the single occupant automobile. Collectively, all of his efforts were aimed at improving the quality of life of Aspen valley residents. As mayor, Bennett presided over a $40 million budget, which produced a surplus each year he was in office. Aspen Magazine wrote of Mayor Bennett, “He has brought civility to city government and championed long-term regional planning, gathering the valley’s mayors for the first time… His mark lies heavily upon Aspen, and his vision will guide her into the next century.”
Daisy Khan is the Executive Director of ASMA Society (American Society for Muslim Advancement), a non-profit religious and educational organization dedicated to building bridges between the American public and American Muslims through culture, arts, academia and current affairs. As wife of Imam Feisal, Ms. Khan mentors young Muslims on the challenges of cultural assimilation and reconciling Muslim and Western identity. She has previously created unprecedented interfaith programs such as The Córdoba Bread Fest and a groundbreaking theatrical production on 9/11 titled Same Difference. Currently, she is directing two cutting edge intrafaith programs: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow which seeks to empower emerging Muslim leaders in North America and Europe; Muslim Women Leaders’ Forum, an annual international forum where Muslim women convene to develop new strategies for the advancement of their rights. Ms. Khan frequently lectures and serves on panels, and has been featured in PBS’s documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, National Geographic’s documentary Inside Mecca, and a Hallmark Channel program titled Listening to Islam. Ms. Khan has been quoted by print publications including Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Newsday. Born in Kashmir, India and educated in the US, Ms. Khan acquired a BFA degree in Interior Architecture and was until recently the Director of Project Management at a Fortune 500 company when she decided to dedicate herself full time to ASMA Society.
Mino Farooq Akhtar is an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, and has lived in United States for 35 years; she grew up in Middle East, Europe and Asia, and came here when her father came to the UN; she attended college in New York City. She lives in New Jersey with her husband. She has four children, 2 adults and 2 in college. She has co-founded and worked with various groups to organize the American Muslim community of New Jersey and increase interaction with media, elected officials and other community and peace groups. Mino has also been a public speaker on the subject Islam and Women, civil rights and inclusive globalization at various Northern New Jersey and New York City events since 9-11. Mino is a board member of the Womens Fund of New Jersey.
She is educated in computer science and worked on Wall Street for 18 plus years in the area of advanced technology implementation for large financial services firms. She had her own management consulting firm for several years, before joining a large pharmaceutical company recently as Director of Organizational Effectiveness. Her personal interests include the promotion of human values in organizations, social responsibility in businesses, bridging different cultures and religions and building true democracy through participative dialogue and negotiation. She recently obtained a Master’s in Human and Organizational Transformation from California Institute of Integral Studies (2005).
Daanish Masood is currently Executive Coordinator at ASMA Society, a non-profit religious and educational organization dedicated to building bridges between the American public and American Muslims through culture, arts, academia and current affairs. Previously, Daanish worked as Outreach Coordinator for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee where he developed a program to increase civil rights awareness in New York’s Arab and South Asian immigrant communities. Over the last few months, he has been dedicated to organizing and developing programmatic content for the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow forum. Daanish’s main interest is in the political economy and economic anthropology of the Middle East and South Asia, particularly the issues of foreign labor in the Gulf region. He wrote his undergraduate thesis on the Saudi government’s “Saudization” program, and hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in this area in the near future. Daanish graduated New York University with honors in Analytic Philosophy and Middle Eastern Studies. His language skills include: Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Hebrew. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Lukhnavi parents, he has been living in New York for the past eight years.
Sana Sayed is an aspiring CPA who is currently doing her B.B.A. in Accounting at the Zicklin School of Business in New York City. She is currently a Program Associate at ASMA Society and is also Ms. Daisy Khan’s niece. Ms. Sayed was on the project management team for the last Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference which took place in New York, USA and has also played a big role in organizing the current one. She was born and raised in India and moved to New York just three years ago to pursue her studies. In India she was a part of community youth clubs like The Rotaract Club (Rotary), and Searching and Service in Unity, and has played an active role in serving the community by working closely with people of different faiths and religions. In New York, she has helped raise money for mostly Muslim victims of the Earthquake in South Asia, the Tsunami and also to help rebuild schools in Northern Kashmir.
Shafiq Walji born in Houston, TX, is a motivated and compassionate student of Philosophy and Islamic Studies at Boston College. By merging philosophy’s emphasis on imaginative, conceptual thinking and critical reasoning with the social conscience of Islam, he envisions opportunities to think out-of-the-box and strategically implement solutions that maximize impact while minimizing risks. Through interdisciplinary experiences in the academic, corporate, governmental, and institutional sectors, he hopes to apply the gained knowledge to arrive at both a greater intellectual and spiritual understanding, necessary to evolve and accommodate to the ever-changing environments demanding innovative, long-term responses. Highlights of his background include working in partnership with the US-Arab Bilateral Chamber of Commerce in welcoming a Dutch Media Group exploring the question of Muslim integration and being accepted to intern with the Afghani Ministry of Justice in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is currently working with the ASMA Society to achieve the vision of bridging the divide between Western and Muslim communities through open dialogue, knowledge-transfer, and the empowerment of Muslim leadership. He speaks English and French and is presently learning Arabic.