On Saturday, February 28, 2015, VIU’s School of Public & International Affairs (SPIA), in conjunction with the Institute for Islam & the Sciences (IIS), hosted an interfaith workshop entitled Expanding Faith and Cultural Communities’ Cooperation in Fairfax County. Bringing together representatives from twelve different organizations, the workshop was a new step in identifying and expanding collaboration opportunities in the Northern Virginia area, especially in Fairfax. Eight speakers discussed their involvement with a variety of organizations, showcasing their latest projects and initiatives.
Dr. Klara Bilgin, Dean of the SPIA, made the introductions and spoke about VIU and the SPIA. Dr. Ahmed Alwani, Executive Director of the IIS, presented information about the Institute and emphasized the need for interfaith and intercultural cooperation. Dr. Victoria Ashiru, also of Virginia International University, provided information about the School of Continuing Education (SCE).
The program consisted of two panels, the first focusing on social justice, humanitarian assistance, and other issues where faith communities act as advocates. The second panel focused on themes of integration and education. The speakers represented a broad spectrum of different faiths and community organizations. Among some of the distinguished speakers were:
- Mr. Jim Sollo, Board Member of the Virginia Center for Public Safety
- Rev. Dr. Jean Wright, Member of the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
- Mr. John Horejsi, Coordinator of Social Action Linking Together (SALT)
- Rev. Dr. Danny Spears, Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia
- Ms. Sharon Zamarra, Chair of the Children and Youth Committee for Faith Communities in Action (FCIA)
- Mr. Robert Faithful, GreenFaith Fellowship Leadership Project
- Dr. Rosalia Fajardo, Executive Director of the Multicultural Family and Education Center (MFEC)
By bringing together faith, community, and university leaders, the SPIA and IIS reinforced the university’s commitment to play an important role in the local community.