The American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI) develops and trains American Muslim leaders who are committed to civic engagement. AMCLI strives to empower these pioneering leaders to realize their full potential, and in doing so, have a more effective and sustained impact on the issues affecting their communities, and America at large. Our nation is stronger when all citizens participate in shaping our democracy.
AMCLI fellows are at the forefront of creating a greater presence of Muslims in the public square. They are actively reshaping what it means to be a “Muslim leader,” moving away from self-appointed spokespersons to leaders accountable to their communities. We believe that these leaders, when properly invested in, nurtured, and supported will be able to transform their organizations into highly innovative and effective partners in social change for the betterment of all Americans.
During a nine-month program, AMCLI focuses on empowering the individual leaders, improving organizational strategies, and increasing the health, vibrancy, and interconnectedness of the organizations working in this field. Participating in AMCLI provides emerging leaders with renewed energy, greater skills, and a more nuanced analysis of how change happens.
Some AMCLI notable accomplishments include:
- Graduated 84 fellows from across the country
- Developed comprehensive curriculum to build the capacity of a network of Muslim nonprofit organizations
- Increased the visibility of AMCLI Alumni through public receptions and press coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, and Voice of America.
- Presented AMCLI’s learning and methodology at Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit, World Islamic Economic Forum (Malaysia), Center for American Progress, Federal Emergency Management Agency, White House Next Generation Leadership Meeting, the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, and Yale University
- Launched Community Organizing Residency Program (COR) with Jewish Funds for Justice, Union Theological Seminary, and Jewish Organizing Initiative that has trained 11 Muslims in community organizing, along with their Christian and Jewish counterparts
The American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute is housed at the University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
AMCLI has been made possible through generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, McCormick Foundation, One Nation for All, Open Society Foundation, Pillars Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Security and Rights Collaborative (a project of the
Proteus Fund), Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program, University of Southern California, and Georgetown University.
“Having a cohort of Muslim civic leaders across the country to bounce ideas off of, get advice from on professional obstacles, share lessons learned, and to collaborate with on national campaigns will ultimately benefit us all. Together, we have so much to offer the world and I now feel reinvigorated about our community’s latent potential.” Sharmeen Premjee, 2008-2009 Fellow
“This program has led to the creation of a network of young, vibrant leaders who have already so
enriched my life and my work, and who without a doubt will be a source of guidance for the Muslim community for generations to come.” Sophia Latif, 2008-2009 Fellow
“AMCLI is a great program that brings a diverse group of Muslim Americans to learn from and grow with each other.” Mostafa Mahboob, 2009-2010 Fellow
“AMCLI is an empowering, transformational and phenomenal experience. It has solidified my
personal sense of service and purpose. It redefined my view of our community, our future and our
potential.” Farhad Chowdhury, 2009-2010 Fellow
“My experience in AMCLI was truly eye-opening for my career and personal enrichment. AMCLI training has helped me apply more effective leadership skills to my work as a spiritual and social leader in the Muslim community.” Imam Mansoor Sabree, 2010-2011 Fellow
AMCLI sessions include a distinguished group of lecturers and facilitators. View the list of speakers from the first four years of the institute.
After spending two years doing research on American Muslims, their identities and their organizations, Nadia Roumani had heard one refrain over and over. Around the country so many leaders in their twenties and thirties were on the verge of burnout. Their organizations were overtaxed as they responded to all manner of community needs. And they were being asked to address pressing issues in isolation from others, without proper training and support.
Nadia enlisted two colleagues, Brie Loskota and Edina Lekovic, to craft a process that would identify a cohort of young Muslim professionals and channel their dynamic, committed, and creative minds to identify new possibilities for the next generation of leaders in Muslim communities.
On July 28, 2006, twenty-two young American Muslim civic leaders convened at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Pocantico Conference Center to confront issues of common concern. (View the list of attendees.) The women and men around the table had been carefully selected through a nomination process and represented the ethnic, social and geographical diversity of the Muslim communities of America. As the participants shared ideas, stories, disappointments, and triumphs, they developed a renewed sense of community and cultivated a shared belief that their civic work, if strategically nurtured, could lead to a vibrant and civically engaged Muslim community in America.
Eight individuals from the retreat agreed to work together to craft a professional development program that could build leadership in this area. The following individuals developed the seeds of an idea that would become the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute:
- Muneer Aliuddin, a community activist
- Gibran Bouayad, an interfaith leader
- Tannaz Haddadi, a mediator
- Dalia Hashad, a human rights attorney
- Edina Lekovic, a communications professional
- Brie Loskota, a university administrator
- Nadia Roumani, a non-profit and philanthropic consultant
- Khadijah Fatinah Sharif-Drinkard, a corporate attorney
Over the next two years, Nadia and Brie worked to build AMCLI into a leadership development program with the following goals:
- Identifying leadership needs, human capital gaps, organizational best practices and theological resources on civic engagement in Islam
- Equipping leaders with practical skills in communication, community mobilization, leadership, policy analysis, advocacy, and organizational management
- Connecting to a network of civic leaders (Muslim and non- Muslim) across the country and facilitating a forum for constructive intra-Muslim dialogue
- Guiding the development of projects, partnerships, and resources
- Sustaining the learning with ongoing opportunities to interact with fellows and alumni.
AMCLI soon found a home at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, and created a partnership with Georgetown University’s Bin Talal Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding. With grant support from the Ford Foundation, the program launched in 2008 with the first AMCLI cohort of 20 fellows from across the United States. Several funders also supported this effort in its first year, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation and One Nation for All.
The feelings of isolation and burnout continue for many young leaders, but now AMCLI is an established program that is reshaping the landscape and building communities of trust and cooperation among American Muslim leaders. AMCLI is actively supporting a new generation of leaders who are able to fully engage co-religionists, constituents, and fellow citizens in the work of building better communities for all.