Many religious communities as well as minority groups have leadership institutes, but having a leadership institute for the Georgia Muslim community was a vision yet to be realized. While researching how to start a community leadership institute, we found that there were many models followed by various communities. The Georgia Association for Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) provided a framework that best fit the needs of the Muslim community. We are grateful to our friends at GALEO for their generosity with information and their time. The ISB Leadership Institute, we took the GALEO model and worked it to fit our specific needs. We reached out to the ISB circles of supporters and allies, who enthusiastically supported our idea.
We had Fortune 100 companies’ consultants who were excited about our program and offered their training expertise to the ISBLI participants, Kennesaw State University hosted us for all 9 sessions, Roswell Community Masjid hosted the kick-off dinner, and the list goes on.
Our ISBLI participants attend workshops for skills building once a month for a period of months, and they also work in groups to complete a project or tackle an issue faced by a non-profit. We have coaches for each team and project owners from the non-profits. The projects for the 2019 ISBLI class are: developing mental health resources for caregivers and institutions for the Muslim community, creating and marketing a Public Service Announcement about Georgia Muslims and their contributions, and developing a program for a charter school to reengage with their graduates.
Lessons learned to date working on the ISBLI:
1. A vision does come true if organizations work hard and find the right resources to make the vision become a reality.
2. People from all backgrounds want to help others succeed. It is absolutely fine to ask for each other’s help and involvement.
3. A theoretical concept is not the same as a real live project. The impact that we are seeing in the 2019 class is beyond description. People from different backgrounds are working together and getting to know each other at a deeper professional level, the skills learned have been immediately applied in the participants’ careers and lives, and there is a definite sense of pride being part of the ISBLI.
We are looking forward to the recruitment and selection of the 2020 ISBLI Class!
By: Soumaya Khalifa