In the past few months, Quaiser Abdullah, assistant professor of instruction in the Communication and Social Influence Department, has taken on many new commitments to better serve local communities. Abdullah, who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Temple University, recently secured leadership positions with the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), Interfaith Philadelphia and the Mayor’s Commission on Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the city of Philadelphia (MCFBIA).
Prior to his appointment to the board of ACR last month, Abdullah was concerned with the association’s official thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion. After voicing his concerns to the association, which aims to improve the public understanding and professional practices of conflict resolution, he decided to pursue a board member position. He hopes that his presence on the board will help the association “acommodate non-white voices in the conflict resolution space and the conflict management space” along with focusing work on non-white spaces of conflict.
Abdullah was also recently elected as vice chair of Interfaith Philadelphia, an agency that strives to build interfaith relationships throughout the city and its surrounding communities. Among his various commitments within the agency, he has particularly volunteered his time to lead many of the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for over a decade. He has sat on the agency’s board since 2016, but wanted to take his time before running for the position of vice chair since the vice chair will presumably assume the position of chair after a year. In all of his roles, he wants to ensure that the agency remains “a successful training hub...to facilitate good multi faith or cross-faith dialogue.”
Abby Stamelman Hocky, executive director of Interfaith Philadelphia, believes that Abdullah’s election to vice chair is well-deserved, calling him “a gifted leader with a great deal of perspective” who “embraces so much of what we’re all about.”
After collaborating on events with Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, the recently appointed director for faith-based and interfaith affairs for the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, Abdullah was brought on as a commissioner for MCFBIA when it was launched in September. Abdullah’s connections to the Muslim community, including his position as chief operating officer and imam of the local Quba Institute of Arabic & Islamic Studies, are invaluable in establishing relationships with other members of faith throughout the city. Right now, the commission is working on an official response to the death of West Philadelphia resident Walter Wallace, Jr., a Black man who was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of his killing by police officers.
“With the commission I want to see us be present on the ground when communities are hurting or find ways to support religious leaders being present on the ground when communities need support or communities are hurting,” Abdullah says. “I want to see us have a more active religious presence, visible religious presence, in spaces of trauma and in spaces of pain.”
Abdullah, whose academic research and instruction centers conflict resolution, interpersonal communication and organizational and leadership development, hopes that his work can further contribute to the causes of each organization, especially in terms of their diversity, equity and inclusion practices and beliefs. He believes that such change is critical to true transformation in local and national communities.