I Am Your Protector is a community of people who speak out and stand up for one another other across dimensions of religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Through our work, we transcend perceived lines of division between different communities and endeavor to change the way people view the “other”. We share knowledge, stories, and tools that inspire people to become each other’s protectors.
Whether through stories circulating in the media or rhetoric dominating the political sphere, we are currently overexposed to narratives that inspire fragmentation, polarization, fear, and hatred towards certain groups and communities. At the same time, we are underexposed to positive and uplifting messages that encourage unity and fellowship. Despite there being countless people who stand up for one another, their stories rarely reach us and fail to get the attention they deserve. This imbalance of information alters and shapes the manner in which we treat and engage with people who are ‘different’ from us.
Hatred towards a certain group becomes legitimized and accepted when the latter is depicted as an overall threat to others’ safety and wellbeing. I Am Your Protector exposes stories indicating that no group or community constitutes a monolithic entity, as even during times of conflict and war people have shown great bravery and risked their own lives to aid those on the ‘other side’.
Witnessing acts of aggression and oppression- from bullying to genocide- we are faced with the choice of turning a blind eye and remaining silent or speaking up and taking action. I Am Your Protector is apolitical and areligious. We expose stories of individuals, regardless of their group affiliation, who stand up for one another. We take no political stance as we cover stories of heroism and compassion in conflict zones around the world. Rather, we share stories that are rarely or never exposed, in order to counter the perception that these kinds of stories aren’t possible or don’t exist.
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We are so grateful to our partners Mypromovideos for their vision, talent and the thougthfulness they poured into creating this video highlighting inspiring stories that honor protectors and shares ways we can rise to be each other’s Protectors. Special thanks to the entire crew at Mypromovideos including Creative Director Vimida M Das, Animator Saravanan R, Illustrator Mohan Kumar N, Music & SFX Suriya Boomibalan, Account Manager Anil Kumar, and Project Manager Mahesh Babu D.
Exhibition engagement and conversations featuring Protectors, youth share about different communities standing up for each other.
The Refugee festival in New York featured a collection of Refugee Protectors. Displaced Kitchen highlighted Chefugees (refugee chefs) who shared their most nostalgic dishes along with the stories of their journey to safety.
Shared Studio invites us to have conversations face to face with people in an other part of the world as if we were in the same room.
I Am Your Protector has the pleasure to partner with Shared Studio and having conversations wile sharing a meal together from New York with Kabul and Heart in Afghanistan. It felt like meeting with new friends at coffeeshop, sharing about our personal lives, our views on the world and laughing together.
Photo credit: Yadin Goldman and Shared Studio
The London Mayor’s office hosted and featured I Am Your Protector at the City Hall. The collection of Protectors from London were exhibited in conjunction with National Hate Crime Awareness Week and open to the public for 3 weeks in October.
I Am Your Protector honored and highlighted Protectors from London with an award ceremony and reception to celebrate them, who inspire us and who reflect the best of the spirit of this unique, diverse and open city, committed to the idea of people standing up for each other, of being each other’s Protectors.
Photo credit: Eva Scherly
NYU, Design for America and I Am Your Protector partnered on a Human Centered Design Thinking Bootcamp to melt hate in innovative ways. The bootcamp was filled with intense learning, sparkling creativity and laughter. It was led by Anne-Laure Fayard, Professor of Technology Management and Innovation at NYU, is also the faculty advisor for the NYU studio of Design for America who aims to tackle social issues through human-centered design. Before teaching in New York, she was a faculty member at INSEAD, in Singapore and in Fontainebleau. She has also been visiting scholar with the Center of Sociology of Innovation at Ecole des Mines in Paris and with Design London and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at Imperial College in London.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
Head of the ethics sector at the European Commission
Director-General of the United Nations Headquarters, Geneva
Executive Director of the USC Spielberg Shoah Foundation
Senior adviser to king Mohammed VI of Morocco
President & CEO at Search for Common Ground
Mayor of New York City
Mayor of London
I Am Your Protector’s Advisory Board
André Azoulay has been King Hassan II and is now King Mohammed VI’s Special Advisor. He also chairs the Committee of Wise Men for the Alliance of Civilizations at the United Nations, is Deputy Chairman of the Foundation of the three cultures and three religions, administrator of the Mediterranean Forum as well as Goodwill Ambassador of Monaco and the President of the Anna Lindh Foundation.
Muddassar Ahmed is founding Managing Partner at Unitas Communications Ltd, a strategic communications consultancy, where he’s lead on projects for the United Nations, US State Department, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) amongst many others. He also founding President of the Concordia Forum, an annual retreat for Western Muslim leaders. In addition, he’s President of the John Adams Society, the UK’s official US State Dept. IVLP Association. He’s a Director of the European Network of (US State Dept) American Alumni, HRH Prince’s Youth Business International & Faith’s Forum for London. He also recently completed a term as an Independent Advisor to the UK Government on combatting anti-Muslim hatred. He has been listed for 3 years in a row as amongst the 500 most influential Muslims globally.
Shamil Idriss is the President and CEO of Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization. He has led Search’s efforts to end violent conflict in more than 35 countries globally, including some of the most devastating conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa. Shamil was appointed in 2005 by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Stephen Smith Executive Director of the USC Spielberg Shoah Foundation, holds the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education, Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California. He is the founder of the United Kingdom Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, England and cofounded the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide.
Leena Nasser was the Executive Director of The Chopra Institute. She has a graduate degree in Mind Brain and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She specializes in the intersection of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and education. She explores the question of how experiential storytelling, told orally, or spatially impacts the mind-brain connection, identity and behavior.
Jim Dratwa has held several positions of great responsibility in that regard at the European Commission and now heads the ethics sector in BEPA (the Bureau of European Policy Advisers to the President of the European Commission), Dratwa is also the Secretary-General of the EC International Dialogue on Bioethics.
Sarah Malachowski is a strategy lead at frog design with a focus on the nexus of organizational design, innovation, and impact. In her 10 years of experience, she has worked with clients at the leadership level at IBM, the Emerson Institute, American Express, AARP, and the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation on large-scale corporate transformation and societal movement strategy. Prior to this position, she spent her career pursuing different forms of impact—from gender-based violence programs in conflict zones in Colombia with Mercy Corps, to impact investing in Pakistan with Acumen, and venture capital in Zimbabwe with Columbia Business School. Sarah holds a Masters Degree from the School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University. On a personal note, Sarah’s grandparents were married in Karachi, Pakistan and later raised her mother in New Delhi, India. They later marched in Selma for Civil Rights and registered voters across the South. She has followed in her family’s footsteps, seeking to design change for those who need it most.
Tamar Miller is the former Director of Leadership Development and Executive Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East at Harvard’s Kennedy School. She is an organizing strategist for social benefit programs, foundations, institutions of higher learning, and religious organizations. She was on the founding board of the Alliance for Middle East Peace and is currently advisor to the Albert E. Marks Charitable Trust.
Jessica Murrey is the CEO & Co-founder, W!CKED SAiNTS Studios, she is an awarding-winning communications specialist and Common Ground activist. She is the CEO/Co-founder of W!CKED SAiNTS Studios, a behavioral technology company that designs interactive story games that are wickedly fun and actively good. She is the creator and author of the text-based interactive story game “Pitfall,” as well as the latest game in the development “Pathways.” At age 24, she received a Northwest Regional Emmy for Community Service for her lead role in “Don’t Turn Away,” an anti-child abuse media campaign. Her PSA “Meth Mirror” won Oregon Association of Broadcasters’ Award for “Best PSA 2012.” Murrey ran the global communication department for Search for Common Ground. Utilizing the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated NGO’s experience, she went on to train young leaders in some of the most hostile places on earth in Social Change Communication. She uses what she’s coined the “Tattoo Method” to design creative campaigns and activities that have the power to shift people’s attitudes and behaviors. She has authored op-eds, including “I’m black. I’m a peacebuilder. I want your help.” and “America’s Identity Crisis: Race and Reconciliation from a Black Peacebuilder,” published in Foriegn Policy. COMMON named Murrey one of the top 20 social entrepreneurs to watch in 2020.
Hussein Rashid is the founder of islamicate, L3C, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency. Dr. Hussein holds a PhD in Near Eastern Cultures from Harvard University. He is a contingent faculty member and has taught at Hofstra University, Fordham University, Iona College, Virginia Theological Seminary, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, SUNY Old Westbury, and Columbia University.
Dr. Christian Busch is the director of the Global Economy program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, where he teaches on purpose-driven leadership, impact entrepreneurship, social innovation, and emerging markets. He is a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the co-founder of Leaders on Purpose, an organization convening high-impact leaders, as well as the Sandbox Network, a global community of young innovators active in over 20 countries. Previously, he served on the faculty of the LSE’s Department of Management and as the inaugural Deputy Director of the LSE’s Innovation Centre. His book “The Serendipity Factor” The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck, develops a science-based framework for individuals and companies to help prompt and then leverage positive accidents – and has been a finalist for the Financial Times/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize for “best business book of a young author”.
Mehnaz Afridi is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College.
I Am Your Protector’s Team
Co-Director, Dani Laurence born as a political refugee from Hungary in Switzerland, lived in the Middle East and in Paris, she is the founder and Co-Director of I Am Your Protector she has been involved in various initiatives, campaigns and projects building in the fields of conflict resolution, interfaith and identifying the root causes and mechanism of how hatred, discrimination, persecution and even extermination are built and how to prevent them. She has been presenting and advising to foundations, organizations, international conferences and universities.
Co-Director, Aziz Abu Sarah Former Executive Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (2009-2015), National Geographic Explorer and Cultural Educator, he produced the National Geographic series Conflict Zone. Aziz has received numerous awards, including the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education, the Silver Rose Award from the European Parliament, the Eisenhower Medallion from People to People International, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism from Search for Common Ground.
Team Lead and coordinator, Madeline Dolgin while a student at NYU she lead campus-wide Syrian Refugee Initiative, was part of the Bond Street Theater who uses theater to heal post-traumatic stress and encourage female empowerment in conflict zones. Since graduating, Madeline has worked on campus at Arizona State University and has been influential in fostering interfaith leaders and creating an interfaith mindfulness initiative.
Head of Pakistan Chapter, Rizwan is active in the field of interfaith harmony and intercultural dialogues in Pakistan, he has been selected to contribute to the National Human development Report by United Nations Development Program Pakistan where he raised the issues about marginalized communities of Pakistan and suggestions of solutions. He also works on strengthening marginalized communities through small and medium enterprises development with technical and financial support.
Head of United Kingdom chapter, Sara Conway is the Partnership Manager at Young Barnet Foundation, she joined the voluntary sector after a career in communications and the music sector. She has worked and volunteered for a range of charities and social enterprises in the children and youth sectors including: Bigga Fish; Spread a Smile; and One to One Children’s Fund. Sara is co-founder of Unity, an interfaith friendship and social action volunteering group in North London and the surrounding area, working with a range of local and international organizations.
Head of education, Kelly Alpert Vest, has been a pioneer in the field of cross-cultural and interfaith programming. Her award winning initiatives have changed the lives and attitudes of many, helping to foster sharing and understanding among some of the most conflicted communities in the world. She conceived and lead HAMSA (Heroes Are Made through Service and Action). Her Seeds of Change program, awarded honors by the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center. She is one of the creators of the No Place For Hate® campaign.
Director of Content Curation, Yair Oded, is a writer and editor with a background in humanitarian work, education, and performance art. He is the US editor at Screen Shot Magazine (London) and Fairplanet Magazine (Berlin), and former relief worker at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
content strategist, Christine Aiko Beck content strategist, photographer, and artist from California. She’s been involved in organizations that support social and environmental justice, the arts, and intercultural exchange. In her day job, Christine works on design and content-related projects for well known tech companies and design agencies.
Designer, Gulraiz Khan, Designer and Lecturer, Humanities & Social Sciences Habib University.
Head of Design, Tymond Tran, is a graphic designer and educator in technology and design.
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I Am Your Protector is a 501C3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization in the United-States