Announces launch of MPAC-NYC chapter at 2nd annual awards dinner in NYC
New York — In front of a packed New York City audience last week, the Muslim Public Affairs Council honored Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, with the MPAC Foundation’s 2nd Annual Human Security Award.
MPAC leaders also announced the opening of a New York City chapter that will brings MPAC’s work to engage with national media and leadership development.
Following a touching video compilation of the extraordinary work Dr. Yunus has accomplished, the Nobel laureate shared the story of the birth and evolution of the Grameen Bank, which he founded in the mid-1970s to provide small, collateral-free loans to women in remote Bangladeshi villages who were crippled by poverty.
“Whatever I have done, you can say it’s the work of a desperate person,” Yunus told the audience, after being presented with the award by Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati and MPAC Foundation Chairwoman Zubeida Khan. “If you can make so many people happy with such a small amount of money, then why shouldn’t you do more of it?”
The MPAC Human Security Award was created to recognize those extraordinary individuals who protect and empower the world’s most vulnerable populations. The inaugural award was presented to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for his efforts to reduce nuclear proliferation.
In 2006, the Nobel Prize committee awarded Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank for “their efforts to create economic and social benefit from below.” A pioneer and maverick who Business Week magazine dubbed the “microcredit missionary,” he is also the author of “Banker to the Poor” and “Creating a World Without Poverty.”
Starting in the mid-1970s in the Chittagong district of Bangladesh, Dr. Yunus’ innovative approach has been exported to more than a dozen countries worldwide. Most recently, he helped launch Grameen America in New York City. To date, the Grameen Bank has lent $5.1 billion to 5.3 million people, 96% of whom are women.
During the event, MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati also announced the launch of the MPAC-New York City chapter, which will be headed by Naoma Nagahawatte. MPAC-NYC steering committee members Dalia Mahmoud and Shaheryar Azher shared their plans for their local efforts.
Special guest Rabbi Marc Schneier, co-founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding with hip-hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons, shared his hope for increased Muslim-Jewish dialogue to break down barriers to mutual understanding. The Foundation recently held a historic summit of American imams and rabbis, which will result in a nationally aired public service announcement denouncing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.