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Athenaeum Fall 2013


In case of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled on a later date unless otherwise noted.

Frank Islam Photo Medium Tuesday, September 10 - 7:00PM
FRANK ISLAM: Entrepreneur, Author, Philanthropist

Islam is the Chairman and CEO of FI Investment Group LLC (FIIG), an investment firm he founded in 2007 after he sold his information technology company QSS Group for $300 million. He has authored two books, Renewing the American Dream and Working the Pivot Points: To Make America Work Again, which will be released October 2013, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Indian Express, Economics Times, and India Abroad. In addition, he hosts a TV show “Washington Current Review” on MHz Networks. A well-known philanthropist, Islam and his wife founded the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation, which was founded in 2007 to support educational, cultural, and artistic causes worldwide.

Islam serves on numerous boards, committees and panels, including those of educational institutions such as the University of Maryland Robert Smith School of Business; American University; University of Technology, Malaysia; George Mason University School of Management; and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He also volunteers his time to serve on the International Advisory Council of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP); the Department of Commerce Industry Trade Advisory Committee, and the Maryland Governor’s International Advisory Committee. Islam holds a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science from the University of Colorado, and his website is .
Vic Fazio Photo Small Monday, September 23 - 7:00PM
VIC FAZIO: Former U.S. Congressman / Senior Advisor to Akin Gump

Mr. Fazio served for 20 years as a member of Congress, representing California’s 3rd District. During his tenure of distinguished public service, he was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, serving as a subcommittee chairman or ranking member for 18 years. He was also a member of the Armed Services, Budget, Ethics and House Administration committees.

In addition to his role on the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Fazio was active in the Democratic leadership of the House, holding several appointive and elected positions. He served as the vice chair of the Democratic Caucus from 1989 until 1994, when he was elected chairman, the third-ranking position in the House. He was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm of the House Democrats, for four years in the early 1990s. He also was a majority whip-at-large and served as a regional representative on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Mr. Fazio is involved in community, civic, and charitable activities that include serving on numerous boards, including Northrop Grumman Corporation, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Campaign Finance Institute, the Energy Future Coalition, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and the University of California Davis Medical School Advisory Board.
Arun Gandhi Photo Small Monday, October 14 - 7:00PM
ARUN GANDHI: Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Author, and Socio-Political Activist

Arun Gandhi was born in Durban, South Africa on April 14, 1934. As a person of Indian heritage, Arun's childhood days in South Africa’s apartheid were difficult. He was demeaned by Europeans for not being white, ostracized by Africans for not being black, and subject to racially motivated violence from extremists in both groups.

From 1946 to 1948, Arun lived in India with his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi. During these two years, Arun experienced first-hand the tumultuous period in India’s history to free itself from British rule. These events and his grandfather's teachings strongly influenced Arun’s perspectives on the significance of non-violence in the resolution of conflict.

After the assassination of his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi in1948, Arun decided to be guided by the principles of his grandfather and to dedicate his life to ending senseless violence and to defending those whose human rights are threatened.

In 1956, Arun returned from South Africa to India to spread his father’s ashes on the River Ganges; while in India, Arun was hospitalized and decided to marry Sunanda, his nurse. Since the apartheid government denied Sunanda entry into South Africa, the couple stayed in India, and Arun became a journalist for The Times of India.

In 1987, Arun and his wife moved to the United States to work at the University of Mississippi on a study examining the types of prejudices that existed in India, the U.S., and South Africa. Afterward they moved to Tennessee and founded the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, dedicated to applying the principles of nonviolence locally and globally. In 2007, after the passing of his wife, the Institute moved to Rochester, New York, and is currently located on the University of Rochester River Campus.
Roman Baca and Woman In Red Dress Photo Small Tuesday, October 29 - 7:00PM
EXIT 12 DANCE CO: Founded by Roman Baca, Former Marine and classical ballet dancer

After traveling around Iraq in a Humvee, carrying an M-16 through Fallujah and encountering terrified parents and children while on combat duty, Roman Baca came home in 2007 suffering from stress. Having been a classical ballet dancer in college and before enlisting, he knew that in movement he could express what he could not talk about.

Roman founded Exit 12 Dance Company as a way through movement to “educate audiences about the reality of war, advocate diversity and mutual understanding through cultural exchange, and champion the dignity of all persons.”

In addition, Mr. Baca has volunteered with The Mission Continues in New York City, an organization that provides community service fellowships to post 9/11 veterans so that they can continue to serve their community and country.

Recently, Baca returned to Iraq to teach dance to two groups of young men and women, ages 16-24. One group spoke Arabic; the other Kurdish. At the beginning, the groups sat at opposite sides of the room, not communicating with each other, except for snide remarks. At the end of the five days of dance, they sat together in the courtyard, singing songs and mingling sociably. Dance and Roman Baca had brought them together. As Baca explained to the 250 Iraqi people attending the culminating dance performance, he had served as a marine in Iraq and had come back with art—the Exit 12 Dance Company.

You can watch a video of the EXIT 12 Dance Company by going to .
Maria Dakake Photo Small Thursday, November 14 - 7:00PM
DR. MARIA MASSI DAKAKE: Author and Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies at George Mason University

Maria Massi Dakake holds a B.A. from Cornell University (1990) and an M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. (2000) in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. She is currently Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University and is a founding member and director of the interdisciplinary Islamic Studies program. Her research interests and publications lie in the fields of Islamic intellectual history, with a particular interest in Shi`ite and Sufi traditions, Quran and commentary, and in women’s religious experience. Her book, The Charismatic Community: Shi`ite Identity in Early Islam, was published by SUNY Press in 2008.

She has published several articles on women’s spirituality in Islam, and her lengthy commentary on the Qur’anic Sūrah 4: Women will be published spring 2014 in the Harper Collins Study Quran, a collaborative project for which she served as associate editor

This program is hosted in conjunction with the Montgomery College Germantown Library, as part of the Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association.
William Chang Photo Medium Tuesday, December 3 - 7:00PM
WILLIAM CHANG: Classical Pianist and MC Music Professor

Professor William Chang received his DMA from the University of Maryland. He also studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music for his MM and at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, Japan for his BM.

He studied classical piano with Larissa Dedova and chamber music with Rita Sloan. Professor Chang has performed at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City. In addition, he has also performed internationally in Japan and Korea.

He is a part-time faculty member at Montgomery College and a piano instructor at BlackRock Center for the Arts. His teachers include Boris Slutsky, Marian Hahn, Seth Knopp, Yasusi Hirose, Shuku Iwasaki, and Akira Miyoshi.

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