NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s Young Alumnus Award winner for 2016 has a passion for resolving conflict and creating understanding between people.
Aziza Hasan, Los Angeles, is executive director and a co-founding team member of NewGround: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change.
Last fall, she was among 18 individuals whom President Barack Obama named to the President’s 3rd Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The council is charged with identifying steps the government should take to reduce poverty and inequality and create opportunity for all, including changes in policies, programs and practices that affect the delivery of services by faith-based and community organizations and the needs of low-income and other underserved persons.
A Halstead native and 1999 Halstead High School graduate, Hasan graduated from Bethel in 2003 with a major in history and social science, minors in global peace and justice studies and human services, and a certificate in conflict resolution.
While at Bethel, she was active in student government, debate and forensics (for which she received a Thresher Award) and social justice organizations. She worked as a student assistant with the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) for three years as the event and project coordinator.
Following graduation from Bethel, Hasan spent two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Interfaith Ministries of Wichita.
During that time, she authored “More Alike than Different,” a joint project of Wichita organizations such as the local chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Interfaith Ministries and the National Conference for Community Justice. The project, which was made to be duplicated, is intended to educate the community about the basic tenets of Islam and dispel misconceptions about the religion.
She also earned an M.A. from Wichita State University.
Hasan co-founded NewGround in 2006 and from 2006-12 served jointly as co-director of NewGround and as MPAC’s southern California and government relations director.
In the latter role, Hasan worked with government officials and law enforcement agencies, often responding to events of national significance, such as the shootings at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, in November 2009.
NewGround, for which Hasan became executive director in 2012, works to facilitate conversations that explore issues at the personal, local, national and global levels – among them identity, gender, pluralism and Israel/Palestine – based on the premise that honest communication forges meaningful relationships and a solid base from which both Muslims and Jews can build in the communities they share.
In 2009, Hasan and a Jewish staffer for NewGround spoke about their organization with Krista Tippett on American Public Media’s “Speaking of Faith.”
Hasan co-authored the 2009 paper “Abusing Women, Abusing Islam: Re-Examining Sharia Court Rulings in Contemporary Times,” the findings of which she has presented at the U.S. Department of State and various conferences, as well as to numerous elected officials and nonprofit advocacy groups.
She has spoken to audiences across the country on topics such as women’s rights in Islam, forgiveness and peace in Islamic tradition, and conflict resolution in Muslim communities.
In 2010, Hasan was Bethel’s commencement speaker. Last summer, she gave a TEDx talk titled “Unlocking the Courage of Curiosity,” which explores the courage it takes to wade through emotionally charged conversations and unlock conflict.
Hasan is married to Abdul Jabbar Sani. They are the parents of two sons, Ramsey and Rayan.
The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association names one or more Young Alumnus Award winners each year. The Young Alumnus Award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, and honors and recognition received.
The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and present a convocation program for Bethel students, faculty and staff, which Hasan will do in the fall 2016 semester.
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
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