Philanthropist and entrepreneur, Frank Islam was honored with Pride of India award at the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) Silver Jubilee Convention held at the Marriott in Burlington on Aug 29, 2015. Stressing the importance of education and philanthropy, he urged South Asians to invest in the next generation. Islam is one of the largest donors to Universities and recently gave a 2 million dollar donation to, his Alma Mater, Aligarh Muslim University.
He currently heads the Frank Islam Investment group, a private investment holding company that he formed in 2007 after he sold the QSS Group, that he founded and which had
revenues of over 300 million.
Frank serves on the Board of Trustees of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing arts; He also serves on the Board of the Strathmore Center for the Arts and the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts. Frank serves also on the Brookings Institution Council, the
Woodrow Wilson Center National Cabinet, the National Democratic Institute Chairman’s council, the Department of Commerce Industry Trade Advisory Committee and the Export Import Bank of the US. The list goes on and on.
In areas of education, Frank Islam serves on the Boards of over 15 universities , Like Johns Hopkins University, George Mason University, the American University, the Marymount University, the American University in the Emirates, etc.
For his charitable activities he leads the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Charitable Foundation, and Potomac Charities. He is founding member of the Maryland India Business Roundtable, The Indus Entrepreneur’s Washington Chapter and South Asia Center at Atlantic Council.
Frank has authored several books on Entrepreneurship, Education and also writes a blog for the Huffington Post.
“I am honored and humbled by this award” said Islam. “It is indeed humbling to note that this award has been given to only three people in the past – Lyricist and song writer Javed Aktar, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and former Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Rehman Khan.”
What is the secret to his success? “I was given good education and had a supportive family. America gave me tremendous opportunities. That allowed me to take risks and succeed. I now give back to enable others to do the same” said Islam
Philanthropy is very close to Islam’s heart. “Do well here to do good there” said Islam. “Indian Americans are one of the most successful groups of immigrants in the US. We need to give back to the underprivileged in India. ”
“India has 200 million muslims. It is the second largest muslim population. India also has over 200 million people belonging to the lower castes who are very underprivileged. We need to educate and empower them. They need to succeed so that India succeeds. Success breeds success” said Islam.
He strongly believes that philanthropy is nothing but investing in and nurturing the next generation. He was very pleased to donate to Aligarh Muslim University. “Educational institutions like AMU, keeps the dream and hope alive for aspiring students”.
In addition to education, Islam has contributed significantly to the US institute of peace. “America needs a kinder gentler face. We should vote for peace, not for war” says Islam.
Art is also very close to his heart and he gives generously to support it.
Frank Islam has one of the most beautiful homes in the country. What motivated him to build such a home? “ I am very found of art and architecture. I wanted to build something beautiful. However I was very clear that I wanted to use the home as a place to host events to support philanthropy. I have held many a fundraisers in the home to support a wide variety of causes”
He was part of the group of CEOs that accompanied President Obama to India. “It was one of the best trips I have had.I had the pleasure of going into the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. I saw a new India that is ready to engage with America on several levels. There was interest to strengthen, broaden and deepen engagements in trade, commerce, national security , education other areas. I found Modi to be engaging, charismatic and disciplined. There is an interest to make a business friendly environment though there is still a long way to go. ”said Islam. “India is the largest democracy. The US is the oldest democracy. We shall values of diversity and inclusiveness. We have the potential to have a great relationship”
He stressed the need for civic engagement. “Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, though both political and non-political processes” said Islam.
He had a four-fold message for the Indian American community – 1. Do something special for someone in particular 2. Be the best you can be 3. Write your own legacy 4. Be a life long learner.