New Hires at ING

(San Jose, 6/26/07) ING News and Events of Note:

ING Hires New Associate Director and Senior Development Associate

ING is pleased to announce that it has recently hired a new Associate Director and Senior Development Associate. Julie Larson, ING’s new Associate Director who will be responsible for the day- to-day management of the organization, has over 25 years experience in education and management. Julie is a graduate of SJSU and Aarhus Universitet, where she earned three M.A. degrees in Linguistics, US History, and European History. Julie has been working in the field of education for more than 25 years, having managed academic and training organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her passion is curriculum management, with an eye to balanced content and delivery that leaves an impact. As a manager, she believes in cooperative understanding and the productive power of teamwork. Having spent a ten year hiatus in Denmark, Julie now resides with her son in the Evergreen foothills of the South Bay, her birthplace and childhood home.

The second new ING staff member is Deana Rabiah, as Sr. Development Associate who will be responsible for the organization’s fund development. Deana has 8 years experience in resource development. She received her M.P.H from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where her focus was on community health and non-profit management. She previously worked at ACCESS (the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) in Dearborn, MI, where she headed the post-9/11 Education Outreach program. While at ACCESS she was part of the team that fundraised, researched and developed the first-ever Arab American National Museum, which opened in 2005. Deana resides with her husband and daughter in Santa Cruz.

These new hires mark a major turning point for the organization, as fourteen years after its founding, the organization has evolved into an institution that is independent of any one or few individuals. For a complete listing of ING’s staff, visit this page:

ING President Addresses League of Women Voters, 6/21/07

ING’s President, Maha Elgenaidi addressed the League of Women Voters on 6/21 in San Jose, at their monthly meeting of South Bay area members. She spoke on the topic of “Islam and Contemporary Issues”, addressing issues concerning church and state, Islamic law, and Islamic perspectives on pluralism, war, modernity, women and spirituality. The audience of 40 women took advantage of the generous amount of time allotted to ply the speaker with questions which evolved into a wonderful dialogue that highlighted our common humanity. It was a valuable exchange for both the attendees and the speaker, as well as ING’s new associate director, Julie Laursen, who also attended the event.

ING Speaker Delivers Talk at Los Altos Methodist Church, 6/13/07

On Wednesday, June 13th an ING speaker delivered an “Orientation on Islam and Contemporary Muslims” at the Los Altos Methodist Church. The presentation, which covers the basics about Islam and Muslim culture, was met with both enthusiasm and great curiosity from audience members, many of whom had not previously had a chance to interact with a Muslim American. While the time allotted was relatively short, the audience took full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions in an hour long dialogue, where the topics ranged from women’s issues to the conflict in Iraq. One participant noted to the speaker on email:

“It was good to learn more the Islamic faith and Muslim people. Clearly, we learned a lot and your presentation dispelled a lot of myths and incorrect thoughts. The visit turned into an interactive session… and for each of these controversial topics, you answered each question diplomatically (and with humor) by bringing the focus back to Islam and that these practices are cultural and not a part of the faith. Most importantly, you brought out the commonalities between Christianity and Islam, and helped us to see that Muslims are really not all that different… Everyone in that room learned a little more yesterday about tolerance. Let’s hope each one discusses your visit with at least one other person whether it’s their family, neighbor or friend. There’s a lot of myths to dispel about Muslims that makes up 25% of the world population.”

To schedule a presentation on similar topics, contact the ING office at 408-296-7312 or visit the ING website at

ING Speaker Visits Wilkinson School, El Granada, CA, 6/12/07

ING speaker, Khatija Afroze visited Wilkinson School in El Granada, California on Tuesday, June 12th for an early morning presentation to the entire school. Wilkinson is a small private school near San Francisco that offers a year-round educational program from preschool through the 8th grade. The group of about 50 students graders were very friendly and perceptive, and were oblivious to many of the prevalent stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, focusing their questions instead on the details of Muslim prayer, dress and gender interaction. They also enjoyed listening to some Muslim rap and the younger ones were very excited to have their names written in Arabic. While ING presentations are mainly directed towards middle and high school students in the context of social studies or history, ING also frequently makes presentations to elementary school students whose teachers want to broaden their understanding of other cultures and faiths. The enthusiasm and eagerness of younger students makes such events a truly joyful experience for all.