7th Youth Leadership Grants Theme and Speakers

“Present at the Beginning: Celebrating Three Women and Three Faiths”


Part I: Essay (4 pages)

Before writing, reflect deeply about the sources of strength for Yocheved, Mary and Khadija when faced with injustice and persecution. Then, write an essay answering the following question:

• How did Yocheved, Mary and Khadija’s strength and wisdom support the compassionate ideals which are at the heart of the three Abrahamic faiths?

Part II: Project Description (4 pages)
Develop and propose a plan of implementation for a practical teen-based community project that implements what you have learned in Part I.

• Identify a challenge facing contemporary society

• Develop a teen-based project that addresses this challenge and implements the deep meaning of compassion as exemplified by these women.


Panel of Kick-Off Speakers


Rabbi Rachel Gartner: Yocheved’s Lasting Presence

Rabbi Rachel Gartner is the Director of Jewish Chaplaincy at Georgetown University. Before turning her sights on campus work, Rabbi Gartner was a pulpit rabbi for four years, served as a chaplain for Jewish aging and elderly, and was part of a rabbinic team at New York City’s Conservative synagogue Bnai Jeshurun.

Watch the video presentation from Rabbi Rachel Gartner

Download Rabbi Gartner’s Suggested Resources


gartnerSister Helen Scarry, R.J.M.: Mary and Her Faithful Influence on Jesus and Christianity

Sister Helen Scarry is the Roman Catholic Chaplain in Campus Ministry at Georgetown University responsible for ministering to the spiritual needs and programs related to the students, faculty and staff of the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the Medical School.

Watch the video presentation from Sister Scarry


gartnerDr. Zahra N. Jamal: Khadija: A Window into the Soul of Islam

Dr. Zahra N. Jamal is the Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow on International Women’s Rights at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago, the Director of Strategy and Research at the Isma’ili Tariqah and Religious Education Board USA, and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Watch the video presentation from Dr. Zahra N. Jamal


gartnerShayna Solomon

Shayna Solomon is a co-founder and co-leader of Social Action for Everyone (SAFE), a group formed after receiving a micro-grant from the Fund for the Future of Our Children. SAFE’s goal is to bring interfaith teens together to do social action projects, both forming strong connections between people of different faiths and giving back to the community.
In addition to her interfaith work, Shayna is also a senior at Montgomery Blair High School where she attends the Communication Arts Program, a magnet program for students who excel in the humanities. Shayna participates in several school related organizations. She co-captains the debate team. She also is co-president of a social activism group called Students for Global Responsibility, which educates about and advocates for various international and local issues.

Watch the video presentation from Shayna Solomon


gartnerEmily Gantz McKay: Community Project Development

Emily Gantz McKay is an independent consultant who until December 2011 was President/CEO of Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit Development and Pluralism, a Washington, DC-based multicultural nonprofit consulting entity she founded in 1994 to provide tools to nonprofits to build just, inclusive, and thriving communities and societies. Mosaica’s special commitment is to strengthen and support entities that serve and represent populations whose voices are least likely to be heard when policies are made and resources allocated. Mosaica uses a multicultural team model and helps prepare individuals and nonprofits to work successfully in multicultural societies. Emily has spent her entire career in work related to civil rights and social justice, domestically and internationally.

Watch the video presentation from Emily Gantz McKay