Rafia Khader named Chautauqua’s new director of religion programs


Chautauqua Institution on Friday announced the appointment of a key new staff member for religious programming at the nearly 150-year-old not-for-profit and within its interfaith community. Rafia Khader has been named the Institution’s director of religion programs. 

Khader comes to Chautauqua from LaunchGood, a global crowdfunding platform that helps Muslims “launch good” in the world, where she served as program manager. Prior to this strategic management role, she worked at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy where she served as managing editor of the Journal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by Indiana University Press. Khader also contributed to the multireligious educational and research projects of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving as a program manager.

Active in interfaith work since graduate school, Khader more recently started an interfaith women’s group, the Muslim-Jewish Women’s Alliance, in partnership with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, serving as the inaugural Muslim co-chair. Khader has also been a regular community voice and volunteer with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.  

Melissa Spas, Chautauqua Institution’s vice president for religion, said Khader will help Chautauqua continue to build upon its groundbreaking legacy of interfaith and multireligious dialogue.

“I am excited for the Chautauqua community to benefit from Rafia’s intellectual depth and program creativity,’’ Spas said. “She has demonstrated her capacity to build innovative and diverse programs through her previous work, and her expertise about interfaith and multireligious work will make her a tremendous asset to the Department of Religion and the whole Institution. Already I have seen the way that Rafia’s network and imagination will benefit the Interfaith Lecture Series, as we discuss possible future themes and speakers.”  

“Chautauqua Institution has played a pivotal role in the history of this country, and I am honored to join its Department of Religion. While secularist demographic trends often make our headlines today, religion and spirituality remain the bedrock of this country — not to mention the rest of the world,” Khader said. “I look forward to exploring these nuances through some fresh perspectives as part of our Interfaith Lecture Series and the new programs the Department of Religion hopes to offer beyond the summer season.”

Khader earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Benedictine University, and a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She lives with her family in Indianapolis. She begins her service to Chautauqua on Sunday.


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