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CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya Awarded 2014 Bush Fellowship

CAIR-MN-logo(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 3/4/14) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today announced that Executive Director Lori Saroya has been awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship. The fellowship was awarded to 24 exceptional leaders from across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations.

In a news release, the Bush Foundation stated:

“We are thrilled with our new class of Bush Fellows. It's an extraordinary group of leaders who are already making a real difference in this region,” said Bush Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy. “We are excited to see what they will make of the opportunities that a Bush Fellowship offers and what it will help them accomplish for their communities.”

Since 1965, the Bush Foundation has worked to develop the leadership capacity of the region by making investments in more than 2,200 people through its Fellowship programs. The Bush Fellowship is designed for people who have already demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities, but who feel they could accomplish even more for their community with focused, intensive leadership development. The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to articulate what they need to become a better leader — whether through a self-designed learning experience or an academic program – then providing them with the resources and support to make it happen.

“Some have used their Fellowship to pursue doctorate degrees, others to obtain bachelor's degrees. Some have used it to travel across the country and build connections with thought leaders on topics important to their community, others to build stronger networks within their community,” Reedy said. “What Fellows do during their Fellowship is unique to their individual needs, but the impact is often the same: an experience that leaves them better equipped and better networked to be a more effective leader for their community.”

Almost 400 people applied for the 2014 Bush Fellowship. Applicants were asked to describe their vision for strengthening or contributing to the common good of the region and to explain how they would use a Bush Fellowship to achieve that vision. From the initial pool of applicants, 60 semi-finalists were selected and invited to provide additional details about their vision and themselves, including three references who could speak to their qualities as a leader. From there 36 finalists were selected and invited to travel to the Bush Foundation's headquarters in Saint Paul, Minn. for a half-day of interviews with the Fellowship Selection committee, which was composed of community leaders and Bush Fellowship alumni from across the region.

“The Bush Fellowship selection process reflects the abundance of talented and visionary leaders who want nothing more than to strengthen their ability to contribute to the common good in our communities,” said Lars Leafblad, the Bush Foundation's leadership and engagement director.

“We believe the future success of our region is tied to the success of these leaders. The Bush Foundation will continue to invest in encouraging people to think bigger and think differently about the impact they can have in their community.”

Under Saroya's leadership, there has been a tremendous growth of CAIR-MN. Last year, CAIR-MN handled nearly 200 cases, including employment discrimination, school bullying and harassment, land use opposition, hate crimes and vandalism, racial and religious profiling, and extra-judicial exile. CAIR-MN received the 2013 Difference Makers Award from the American Bar Association, named a 2010 “Difference Maker” by the St. Cloud Times, received the 2011 Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Anti-Racism Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits, named the 2012 CAIR Chapter of the Year, selected for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners' 2013 “Nonprofits to Know,” and featured in the Rochester Diversity Council “What Works.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,


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