US Congressman Keith Ellison honored Lori Saroya in the Congress for her leadership and advocacy efforts in Minnesota efforts in promoting justice, civil rights and mutual understanding among the Minnesota Islamic community and all peoples of faith, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. As Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Saroya has been at the forefront of building coalitions and improving Muslim relations across the Minnesota state, IINA reported.
Saroya was raised in Bloomfield, Iowa. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Catherine University and her Juris Doctor (professional doctorate degree in law) from Hamline University. As a child of the only Muslims in a small town, she and her family were subject to messages of hate and unfair treatment. She took these early life experiences and turned them into positive actions. While still in high school, Saroya organized the Iowa Conference on Islam at the University of Iowa.
Recognizing a lack of Muslim civil rights advocacy groups in Minnesota, she decided to fill the gap. In 2007, she co-founded the Minnesota chapter of CAIR.
The organization has quickly become a strong voice for Muslim civil liberties and advocacy across the state. CAIR-MN successfully fought for and won the establishment of the Abu Hureira Islamic Center in St. Anthony, MN despite misguided local opposition.
In 2014, Saroya along with members of CAIR-MN led the first ever Jewish-Muslim Youth Day at the Minnesota Legislature. This ground breaking interfaith even train students on successfully engaging in discussion with legislators on the pressing issues of racial profiling, immigration, and safe schools.
CAIR-MN's outstanding work has been recognized repeatedly on the state and national level.
Among some of the organization's many awards to honour her include the ''Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Anti-Racism Award'' from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the ''Pro Bono Difference Maker Award'' from the American Bar Association.
It is through achievements such as these that Saroya became the recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation Fellowship worth of $100,000 in 2014. This fellowship stands as a testament and a capstone to the truly amazing work that Saroya did in her time as Executive Director. Through this grant, she will be able to take even greater leaps in her advocacy work.
Congressman Ellison noted that the outstanding efforts and hard work, of Saroya's CAIR-MN has immensely benefited the Muslim minority in Minnesota, adding I applaud Saroya's extraordinary work in advancing the civil rights of the Muslim community and fostering a more vibrant and culturally understanding Minnesota. On behalf of the people of Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District, I wish you continued success and impact in your future advocacy work.
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