Employee Spotlight: Promoting Interfaith Harmony Both In and Out of the Office
Each month, we shine a light on a Points of Light employee who is making a difference in their community. These stories of service highlight the individual volunteer efforts of our dedicated staff, what motivated them to get involved, and how service has inspired them.
As a development coordinator in Points of Light’s Atlanta office, Ruwa Romman’s primary role is to support our development team, ensuring they have all the tools they need to raise funds for our organization and its many programs. This role requires that Ruwa be well versed in a variety of tasks including report creation, Salesforce management, donor stewardship and, occasionally, research of potential funders. Both inside and outside of work, Ruwa is a passionate advocate for bringing people together across different faiths.
She takes this passion into her community as a speaker with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, an organization that sends volunteers to schools, police departments, houses of worship, and other locations to speak to others about Islamic heritage and history to help bridge cultural gaps. We sat down with Ruwa to learn more about her involvement with this organization.
Q: How did you become involved with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta?
A: I became involved with the Islamic Speakers Bureau in middle school, when the organization facilitated an interfaith service day with the Candle School of Theology’s Youth Theological Initiative. We volunteered at Books for Africa, then broke bread and talked about our respective faiths.
Q: What is your role and how has it changed over the years?
A: I first attended their events, then I completed the training and became an official speaker five years ago. I now take on speaking engagements at schools, houses of worship, and other places that want to start that dialogue between communities
Q: Has your involvement with ISB Atlanta inspired you to give back in other ways?
A: Yes, it inspired me to start COEXIST Oglethorpe at Oglethorpe University, where we facilitated interfaith dialogue, visited houses of worship, and served around the Atlanta community at different nonprofits.
Q: Has your experience with volunteer service influenced your career? How?
A: It has made me more intentional about my conversations with my colleagues and the kind of environment I want to work in. I actually conducted a “Know-Your-Muslim-Coworker” lunch and learn last year. I did a quick overview of American Muslim beliefs and practices, then the group and I engaged in a Q&A. It was such a great moment because I was still relatively new and a lot of my coworkers were not sure how to start that conversation. It opened a new form of communication that has continued.
Q: What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
A: People from different backgrounds can come together around community betterment. That kind of experience helps not only build bridges, but it helps strengthen ties between people.
Q: What's been the most rewarding part of your experience?
A: Seeing how many people say, “oh I can’t believe how similar we are.” Although this work isn’t just about finding the similarities, it helps knowing we are not all that different.
Q: What have been some challenges that you and your organization have faced?
A: We have had some audience members and people show up to events who were incredibly combative. Thankfully, we’re trained how to de-escalate the situation, but it’s still difficult to have someone see you as less than even though you’ve never met them before.
Q: What advice do you have for others who are looking for ways to get involved?
A: Talk to your neighbors. Find a nonprofit that needs help and get a group together. Just do it. You may not have everyone come out the first time, but it will grow.