Speakers

Daisy Khan

Daisy Khan

Challenging Islamophobia

Daisy Khan is Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing an American Muslim identity and to building bridges between the Muslim community and the general public through dialogues in faith, identity, culture, and arts. Ms. Khan mentors young Muslims on challenges of assimilation, gender, religion and modernity, and intergenerational differences. In the aftermath of 9/11, Ms. Khan created interfaith programs to emphasize commonalities among the Abrahamic faith traditions, such as a groundbreaking theater titled Same Difference and the interfaith Cordoba Bread Fest.

To prioritize the improvement of Muslim-West relations and the advancement of Muslim women globally, Ms. Khan has launched two cutting edge intrafaith programs to start movements of change agents among the two disempowered majorities of the Muslim world: youth and women. The MLT: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow and WISE: Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality programs were launched at an international scale in Doha (MLT) and in Malaysia (WISE). Both programs seek to convene, empower and build networks in their target groups; and to facilitate the emergence of a leadership that speaks with a credible, humane and equitable voice in the global Muslim community.

Ms. Khan has recently received major national coverage in the media on the recent rise of Islamophobia and the Cordoba House in New York City. She also actively lectures and debates in the United States and internationally. Her recent appearance on a panel with Christine Amanpour helped shift the narrative on how the media covers Islam in America. She has previously debated Christopher Hitchens on National Public Radio after the Danish cartoon crisis and she moderated a discussion in Denmark between young Muslims and Flemming Rose, the original publisher of the controversial cartoons. In May 2007, Ms. Khan became the first Muslim woman to speak at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Texas on the National Day of Prayer.

Ms. Khan frequently comments on important issues in the media, and has appeared on ABC, PBS, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, National Geographic, Al Jazeerah, and the Hallmark Channel. She has also been quoted in several print publications, such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Saudi Gazette, The National and Khaleej Times. In July 2007, Ms. Khan appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine along with 40 members of ASMA. In the same issue of the magazine, she also co-wrote an article on the symmetry between core Islamic values and the constitution of the United States.

Ms. Khan is the recipient of several awards, including the Interfaith Center's Award for Promoting Peace and Interfaith Understanding, the Auburn Seminary's Lives of Commitment Award, the Hunt Alternatives Prime Movers Award, the Women's E-News 21st leaders for 21st century and the Jericho High School Alumni Hall of Fame Award.

Born in Kashmir, India, Ms. Khan spent the first 25 years of her career as an interior architect at various Fortune 500 companies. In 2005, she decided to fully dedicate herself to elevating the discourse on Islam and improving the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims globally through ASMA and its sister organization the Cordoba Initiative.

Robert Putnam

Robert D. Putnam

American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us

Robert D. Putnam is the Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. Raised in a small town in the Midwest and educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, he has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the British Academy, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past president of the American Political Science Association. He was the 2006 recipient of the Skytte Prize, the most prestigious international award for scholarly achievement in political science. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today.”

He has written a dozen books, translated into twenty languages, including the best-selling Bowling Alone: "The Collapse and Revival of American Community", and "Better Together: Restoring the American Community", a study of new forms of social connectedness. "His Making Democracy Work" was praised by the Economist as "a great work of social science, worthy to rank alongside de Tocqueville, Pareto and Weber." "Both Making Democracy Work" and "Bowling Alone" rank among the most cited publications in the social sciences worldwide in the last half century.

Putnam has worked on these themes with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as with British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Ireland’s Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and many other national leaders and grassroots activists around the world. He founded the Saguaro Seminar, bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners from across America to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal. His earlier work included research on political elites, Italian politics, and globalization. Before coming to Harvard in 1979, he taught at the University of Michigan and served on the staff of the National Security Council. He is currently undertaking research on the challenges of building community in an increasingly diverse society.

Putnam’s most recent book, "American Grace", co-authored with David Campbell of Notre Dame, focuses on the role of religion in American public life. Based on data from two of the most comprehensive national surveys on religion and civic engagement ever conducted, "American Grace" is the winner of the American Political Science Association's 2011 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.

Jean Elshtain

Jean Bethke Elshtain

How Do We Talk? Religious Discourse and Public Life

Jean Bethke Elshtain, regularly named as one of America's foremost public intellectuals, is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, Divinity School, The University of Chicago, with appointments in Political Science and the Committee on International Relations and holder of the Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom at Georgetown University.

She writes frequently for journals of civic opinion and lectures widely in the United States and abroad on themes of democracy, ethical dilemmas, religion and politics, and international relations. Her books include "Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought"; "Meditations on Modern Political Thought; Women and War; Democracy on Trial" (a New York Times ‘notable book’ for 1995); "Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life"; "Augustine and the Limits of Politics; Who are We? Critical Reflections, Hopeful Possibilities" (recipient of the Theologos Award for Best Academic Book 2000 by the Association of Theological Booksellers); "Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy" (honored by the Society of Midland Authors in 2002); "Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World" (named one of the best non-fiction books of 2003 by Publishers Weekly); and "Sovereignty: God, State, and Self" (her Gifford Lectures, published 2008).

Professor Elshtain is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; a Guggenheim Fellow; a Fellow at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation; holder of the Maguire Chair in Ethics at the Library of Congress; a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, where she also served on the Board of Trustees. She has been a Phi Beta Kappa Lecturer and in 2002 she received the Goodnow Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Political Science Association for distinguished service to the profession. She has served on the Board of the National Humanities Center and currently she is a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress, and the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2008 she was appointed by President Bush to the President’s Council on Bioethics. In 2006, she delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining such previous Gifford Lecturers as William James, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Jean Bethke Elshtain is married and the mother of five children. She has four grandchildren (including one adopted grandchild). She was born in the high plains of Northern Colorado where her immigrant grandparents settled and spent years doing stoop labor in the sugar beet fields of Northern Colorado. She tries to honor that heritage of hard work in her own life.