WASHINGTON, D.C: Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam received the third Interfaith Leadership Award on November 20, 2016, for his support of interfaith dialogue, and contributions to the arts and higher education around the world.
The award, instituted by the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, was presented to the Potomac, MD, resident by Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin, who was elected to Congress from the state’s 8th Congressional district on November 8.
The award ceremony, attended by dozens of leaders of various faiths, was held at the historic Metropolitan AME Church here. It was part of the 37th Annual Interfaith Concert, a celebration of religious and cultural unity through the arts.
“I accept [the award] with all humility and on behalf of the members of the Conference and those of you in the audience who are working diligently together to build bridges, to break down the barriers, and to promote dialogue of understanding and a shared sense of community throughout the DC area,” Islam said while accepting the award. “You are doing the heavy lifting required to create a more unified and just community here in the metropolitan area. And, I am doing what I can to help lighten your load. I see us as partners and collaborators in this interfaith endeavor.”
He added that it can be done “through our creeds, through our seeds, and through our deeds.”
Messages from Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett were read out at the event.
Islam, who came to the United States more than four decades ago, founded the information technology company QSS in 1994. When he sold it in 2007, it had more than 2,000 employees and sales of $300 million.
Since then he has been focusing on philanthropic efforts through the foundation he and his wife, Debbie Driesman, set up. The Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation has supported a number of civic, educational and artistic causes and institutions including University of Colorado, Montgomery College, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the U.S. Institute of Peace and Aligarh Muslim University, Islam’s alma mater.
The Interfaith Concert included performances by the Metropolitan AME Cathedral Choir, Avesta Performers of DC area Zoroastrian Association, Cambodian Buddhist dancers, the Metropolitan Washington Baha’i Chorale and the Mosaic Harmony Multifaith Chorus. Popular WUSA9 anchor Peggy Fox was the mistress of ceremonies. Another speaker of the evening was InterFaith Conference Executive Director Rabbi Gerry Serotta.
The InterFaith Conference, which was launched in 1978 and consists of 11 historic faith communities, promotes dialogue among different religious groups and works toward achieving social and economic justice in the region. Its current member faiths include the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities.