Friday, October 14, 2011

Champions of trustbuilding are all over the earth. Some operate across the world’s divides while others work on a national scale. Many work right in the neighborhood, building trust on the street corner and in the living room. Four renowned trustbuilders were honored Friday night, illuminating the efforts of those who live The Trust Factor.

Azhar Hussain, Senior Vice President for Preventive Diplomacy, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD); Dr. Douglas Johnston, Founder and President of ICRD; the Australian Ambassador to Washington, H.E. the Honorable Kim Beazley AC; Rob Corcoran, National Director, Initiatives of Change; Terry Flood, Co-founder and Executive Director, Jubilee Jobs; Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Programs, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation ( from left to right) (Photo: Adriana Borra) “Our societies are ready for humans who lead in humility, listen to others and exercise their conscience.”

As Australian Ambassador H.E. the Honorable Kim Beazley painted a picture of the need for trust in areas around the world, he used these words to describe a trustbuilder. His comments opened the reception for the 2011 Trustbuilder Awards, a headline event of The Trust Factor in Washington, DC.

The awards are given to trustbuilders in the local, national and international domains. This year’s recipients were Terry Flood, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Jubilee Jobs, Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Programs at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and co-awardees Dr. Douglas Johnston, Founder and President of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), and Azhar Hussain, Senior Vice President for Preventive Diplomacy at ICRD.

The evening’s themes were simple and straightforward. Each awardee referred to an approach to human relationships that was grounded in a basic faith in human goodness and respect for others. Across the board, presenters described them as humble, visionary and perseverant.

Flood, who has helped over 22,000 people obtain jobs and self-sufficiency, has worked to build trust across economic divides by connecting the disadvantaged unemployed with businesses throughout DC. “I have to believe that everyone has a core of goodness,” she said. “That is the seed of hope that helps me to take the risk and trust others.”

H.E. the Honorable Kim Beazley AC (Photo: Adriana Borra)Christopher shared the sentiment, stressing the significance of positive vision and a steady foundation. “You can’t focus on what you are against. You must focus on what you are for. In the face of animosity, be still and peaceful long enough so that you can be true to the truth in you and see the goodness in the other.”

Consistent respect of the other, appeal to common commitment in faith and willingness to learn were noted as hallmarks of ICRD. The result has been a focused importance of understanding and respecting the faith of those in other cultures for the US foreign policy establishment and academia. The specific work of Hussain has brought partnerships that have trained over 27,000 madrasa leaders in Pakistan.

The approach was simple. The characters direct. The result: Trust being built across divides of cities, states and countries.