A Conversation with Maha Elgenaidi on Feb. 19

Maha Elgenaidi

Maha Elgenaidi, founder and executive director of the Islamic Networks Group, will visit Vanderbilt’s Rothschild Black Box Theater next month for a conversation with Divinity School Dean Yolanda Pierce.

The conversation, which promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of countering bias and engaging in interfaith dialogue, is part of the university’s Dialogue Vanderbilt series of interviews with prominent faith leaders of varying backgrounds. It will be open in person to Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff, while being streamed live for the broader community.

The discussion is expected to explore Elgenaidi’s perspective on the Israel-Hamas conflict and the theological context and historical backdrop shaping it, along with her advice on effective communication practices around deeply personal and polarizing topics. It will be anchored on Vanderbilt’s steadfast commitment to fostering an environment of free expression, constructive dialogue and mutual respect.

The event is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 5 p.m.; Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff may register for in-person attendance. The broader community is invited to register to watch the livestream.

About the series

Dialogue Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy plan to host religious leaders of various faiths to have important conversations about issues affecting society and global relations. On Jan. 18, Rabbi David Wolpe spoke with Pierce about the importance of listening and the complexity of the current conflict in Israel and Gaza.

The Seven Pillars of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy seek to shape the project's research and discussions to holistically study the strengths and challenges facing American democracy. These pillars serve as the project's guide posts as we convene accomplished scholars and experts working to elevate facts and evidence in the national dialogue. This series falls within the pillar, Under God: The Role of Religion in a Divided Time.

About Elgenaidi

Maha Elgenaidi, a prominent figure in interfaith relations, has dedicated her career to fostering understanding and collaboration among diverse communities. She has been at the forefront of initiatives aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Islam as founder and executive director of the Islamic Networks Group. Elgenaidi’s commitment to building bridges between communities has earned her recognition and respect, including the Civil Rights Leadership Award from the California Association of Human Relations Organizations, the Citizen of the Year Award from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Dorothy Irene Height Community Award from the NAACP-Silicon Valley. She was also invited to participate in a White House Listening Session on Islamophobia on May 3, 2023.

About Pierce

Vanderbilt Divinity School Dean Yolanda Pierce holds a Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair. Pierce was appointed the founding director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is the creator and curator of Touching the Sacred, an exhibit on material religion and the Black church. Pierce’s newest book is In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith and the Stories We Inherit. Her most recent essays are in The Christian Century, where she is a contributing columnist.