Message from the Executive Director
In the context of this unprecedented time period in our lives, it is with humility, gratitude, excitement, passion, and unwavering commitment, that I assumed the role of Executive Director of Sharing Sacred Spaces, Inc. on July 1st. Thank you to Suzanne Morgan and the Board of Directors of Sharing Sacred Spaces, Inc. for making this transition seamless.
Suzanne Morgan, the organization’s founder and visionary, has retired from this role after almost two decades of service to interreligious understanding, community-building, and the vehicle of architecture to bring people together. When I had the fortune of meeting Suzanne about three years ago, I was impressed by her unique approach to interfaith work. From educating on the commonalities of religions across time and space through architectural models to building healthy and sustainable interreligious communities of laypersons across the continent, I found that Suzanne’s approach disrupted the way interfaith work was being done. Her contribution is significant.
Working side-by-side with Suzanne over the years, I also learned of her kindness and generosity toward all people. She, indeed, could educate on the meaning and symbolism of the temple doors; but she also welcomed people through those doors with an openness and interest in others that invited a transformational encounter.
It is this legacy of innovation and inclusion that I know is foundational to building new, healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities; and it is this legacy that I intend to carry on in my new role.
I come to my new role as the former Director of Programs for the organization and will continue to lead and expand our program development from my new position. I bring an extensive background in the study of religion, interreligious understanding, violence and non-violence, organizational systems and diversity strategies, research, facilitation, and teaching to my role as well.
In 2020, Sharing Sacred Spaces, Inc. is positioned well to weave a fabric of relatedness, trust, and solidarity across groups that would otherwise remain in isolation. The pandemic has removed opportunities for both regular and spontaneous interactions across difference. And herein lies our opportunity to rebuild these interactions with intention. Now more than ever our programs will generate opportunities to dialogue, educate, and depolarize. We will take this opportunity to build solidarity networks based in understanding, trust, compassion, and love.
Our three partner cities have to this point successfully transitioned to a virtual format, and I’m pleased that this format has also boosted our program attendance. No longer bound to geography, I like to think we have achieved global status well before our predictions.
In 2020, we also aim to bring our proven community-building and “spatial” program design into other contexts — particularly schools — where the pandemic will severely limit opportunities to interact and will also exacerbate social and economic siloes. I believe and trust in our model (virtual and otherwise) to address consequences of the pandemic proactively.
I am very excited about the future of Sharing Sacred Spaces, Inc., and am committed to ensuring that we continue its legacy of innovation, inclusion, education, and transformational encounter. I aim to fulfill all of our major goals of 2020-2021, working alongside our dedicated board members, talented staff, and stellar community partners.
I look forward to the year ahead as we walk along this new terrain, forging our path, and building our new world.
Vanessa Avery, PhD