The theme of tonight’s banquet is “Embracing our Tradition, Seizing our Future” and it perfectly encapsulates the unique situation in which our organization finds itself.
On the one hand, MPSN has a rich history. MPSN was founded to develop and support the next generation of American Muslim leaders and to promote civic engagement within the American Muslim community. For 18 years, MPSN’s Summer Fellowship Program has helped our fellows embrace certain traditions around public service. Through the summer program, MPSN fellows learned that the strength of our community lies within its diversity – diversity of sect, race, ethnicity, and political beliefs – a tradition that is reflected in the diversity of the 2011 summer fellows. MPSN fellows experienced the pride and joy that comes with serving a cause greater than yourself – a tradition that is reflected in the community service projects our fellows participated in. MPSN fellows learned that the simplest act of positive engagement can create a tremendous amount of good will and a lasting impression – a tradition that is reflected in the generous contributions of our guest speakers and lecturers, who donated their time and energy to engage the fellows. All of these traditions are carried on through our alumni, whose dedication and belief in MPSN has sustained the organization’s mission beyond anyone’s expectations, including the visionary founders, Mr. and Mrs. Quraishi.
On the other hand, MPSN has a bright future ahead of it and we have taken many steps towards fully realizing the organization’s potential. We have made great strides in increasing MPSN’s ability to act as a platform for public discourse and reflection on the American Muslim community. We have created and provided even more opportunities for our growing alumni base to engage with the organization. We continue to build and formalize partnerships with local organizations and governmental agencies. Having been told recently that MPSN is the American Muslim community’s best kept secret, we have taken steps to increase MPSN’s presence in DC and in the greater national community. In other words, we don’t want to be a secret to anyone.
As the fellows finish the summer program in the coming week, they will be entering MPSN’s alumni network at this incredible moment for the organization. MPSN will be moving towards a brighter future while continuing to hold on to the traditions that make MPSN great. It is a difficult balancing act, but one that I know MPSN, the 2011 fellows, our alumni and other supporters will be able to handle successfully. The key to this balancing act is support – from our alumni and other stakeholders. It is this support, in the form of both time and money, which allows us to move forward, continually building on the best of the previous generations’ work while creating our own traditions that will help us contribute meaningfully to the world around us.
I am excited for all that is in store for MPSN and our fellows, as they go forth having completed this singular experience. I am looking forward to see who will be coming along for what promises to be an amazing ride.