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The Year of Democracy

2024 has been designated by many civil society organizations as “The Year of Democracy.” 70+ national elections and 50+ local elections are engaging millions of people and shaping the future of the world this calendar year. From January through December, voters will engage in a democratic process and the Parliament of the World’s Religions believes that people, whether religious or not, have an integral part to play in shaping our common future.

This first event of the FOCUS24 series introduces attendees to the impetus for the year-long initiative committing our attention to the collective concern for human rights, freedom, and democracy. Leading experts in political landscapes and human rights internationally address this event to share current trends in the global state of democracy and call attendees to action in defense of freedom and human rights at a time when authoritarianism and extremism are on the rise.

Join PoWR leaders and democracy experts on Thursday, February 22nd  from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm CST for the official launch of FOCUS24 | Faith, Democracy & Our Common Future: Shaping a Path Forward. FOCUS24 is a year-long paid interfaith series building capacity, fostering community, and advancing advocacy efforts in this critical “year of democracy.” Join us in shaping a path forward, register today!

Already registered? Visit the FOCUS24 All-Access page to add the event to your calendar.

Featured Experts

Ian Bassin, Co-founder & Executive Director of Protect Democracy

Ian Bassin is co-founder and Executive Director of Protect Democracy. He previously served as Associate White House Counsel, where in addition to counseling the President and senior White House staff on administrative and constitutional law, his responsibilities included ensuring that White House and executive branch officials complied with the laws, rules and norms that protect the fundamentally democratic nature of our government. His writing on democracy, authoritarianism, and American law and politics has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe AtlanticSlateSalonThe New York Review of Books and other publications. He is a recipient of a 2023 MacArthur Fellowship, the Skoll Award for Social Innovation, and has repeatedly been named among the 500 most influential people in Washington by Washingtonian Magazine. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Rev. Jim Wallis, Co-founder & Chair of Georgetown University’s Center on Faith and Justice

Jim Wallis is a writer, teacher, preacher and justice advocate who believes the gospel of Jesus must be transformed from its cultural and political captivities, and always be “good news” to the poor and oppressed. He is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, renowned preacher and commentator on ethics and public life.

He is the inaugural holder of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Chair in Faith and Justice at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the founding Director of the Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice. In 2022, Washingtonian magazine named Wallis one of the 500 most influential people shaping policy in DC.

Raised in a Midwestern evangelical family, as a teenager Wallis questioned the racial segregation in his church and community, which led him to the Black churches and neighborhoods of inner-city Detroit. He spent his student years involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements at Michigan State University.

He is the founder of Sojourners, and is the author of 12 books, including America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to America; God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It; The Great Awakening; The Call to Conversion; and Christ in Crisis: Reclaiming Jesus in a Time of Fear, Hate, and Violence; his thirteenth book, The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy, will be released on April 2nd, 2024 and is currently available for preorder. Wallis also hosts the popular podcast The Soul of the Nation.

He served on President Obama’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has taught faith and public life courses at Harvard and Georgetown University. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Wallis has previously taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Georgetown University in 2007 when he gave the college commencement address.

“Coach Jim” also served for 22 seasons as a Little League coach for his two baseball playing sons.

Dr. Azza Karam, founding President and CEO of Lead Integrity

Dr. Azza Karam is the founding President and CEO of Lead Integrity, a global consultancy and management company with a Roster of professional women of faith in all spheres of life. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of World Religions (Chicago, USA), the Temple of Understanding (NY, USA) the Royal Interfaith Institute (Amman, Jordan), as well as International Alert (London, UK). She has over three decades of service in international development, humanitarian, peacebuilding and interfaith work, including as a Senior Advisor at the United Nations; as Secretary General of Religions for Peace; and President and CEO of the Women’s Learning Partnership. She has taught in several universities around the world, and published in multiple languages. She is named as one of the The Muslim 500/The World’s Most Influential Muslims.

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