NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Bethel College graduate is among the 18 individuals whom President Barack Obama has appointed to the President’s 3rd Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Aziza Hasan, Los Angeles, who grew up in Halstead, is currently the executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, an organization she co-founded in 2006.
From 2006-12, Hasan served jointly as co-director of NewGround and as the southern California and government relations director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
In that role, Hasan worked with elected and appointed 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.
She 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.
NewGround 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. NewGround has been featured on American Public Media’s “Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett.
Following graduation from Bethel in 2003, 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 MPAC chapter, 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.
Hasan graduated from Halstead High School in 1999 and from Bethel College in 2003 with a degree in history 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 as a senior) and social justice organizations.
Also while at Bethel, Hasan was the event and project coordinator for the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), 2000-03.In addition to her B.A. from Bethel, Hasan earned an M.A. from Wichita State University.
The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships brings together religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations.
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.
President Obama will announce additional members to the council at a later date. “I am confident that these outstanding men and women will serve the American people well, and I look forward to working with them,” he said.
Hasan expressed particular thanks to the KIPCOR and Bethel faculty with whom she worked most closely while at Bethel.
“I have so much gratitude for everything you have done to help me see effective ways to better navigate difference,” she said. “Thank you!”
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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