Randy Pond’s 20th Anniversary Gala Speech

ING’s 20th Anniversary Gala
Trustees Co-Chair Randy Pond’s Award Introduction

Good evening and welcome to our 20th anniversary celebration.

I joined ING’s board five years ago because I firmly believe our country was built on the principle of pluralism and the underlying assumption that all of citizens should be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, due to misinformation, ignorance and fear some people are not living up to these principles. That is why I believe that ING’s education work is so important. Based on recent surveys, ING’s work is vital not only in improving an individual’s perceptions of Muslims but also in affecting change at the institutional level. By reshaping people’s perceptions about Islam, and by demonstrating how Muslim values are in fact aligned with American values, ING is not only preventing negative behaviors and actions from occurring, but also building positive relationships among all Americans.

And this is why my wife Cindy and I support ING and I hope you will also. Your donations will help us not just maintain the organization, but expand our reach in the U.S. and beyond.

Now it is my great pleasure to present the first award we will be making tonight, which my family is sponsoring, is the “Standing Up for Respect for All” Award. The award’s purpose is to recognize individuals who have stood up for interreligious and intercultural respect in the face of bigotry.

There are two recipients of the award this year: First is Marianne Schmidt, Principal of Parkmont Elementary. The second is a parent of a 6th grader in the same school, Asfia Ahmed.

During the current school year, Asfia’s son was attacked by another student in the school who called him a “terrorist” while choking him. Her son told her later that he wished he’d never told anyone that he was Muslim. Responding calmly but firmly, Asfia contacted Marianne and Dr. Morris, who is the Fremont Unified School district superintendent. In response, Marianne not only disciplined the offending child but also set out to hold several educational sessions on Muslims and their faith for both students and teachers in the school.

Principal Schmidt and Asfia Ahmed, please come to the podium to accept your awards.

Thank you.