Emerging Muslim Leaders Create Network Of Support
Neon Tommy, a web-based news source sponsored by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, wrote about the 2009 cohort of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.
"All these people kept on being invited to places and would be asked to react to something, [such as], 'Why are Muslims terrorists? 'Why are Muslim women oppressed?'" said [co-founder and director Nadia] Roumani. "And we want to [address these issues and dispel stereotypes], but we don't know how to do that without building up our institutions and our leadership."
So, in 2006, Roumani and two colleagues convened a group of 22 young leaders in a closed-door session to discuss these issues. It was "part therapy, part strategizing," said Roumani. Of the ideas for action that emerged, the group agreed that creating some sort of leadership development program was at the top of the list.
Roumani then spent the next year researching (mostly) faith-based leadership programs and learning how to teach the same lessons within a Muslim context. They established partnerships with the University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture and Georgetown University's Center for Muslim Christian Understanding, and they fundraised.
AMCLI's first program was launched in 2008. The group recruited for the class was diverse in terms of gender, cultural background, and religious beliefs, reflecting the Muslim population as a whole in the United States, said Roumani. The fellows also represented institutions, mostly non-profits, doing work at the local, regional, and national level.