In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made Khalid the youngest chaplain in history to the New York City Police Department. At the time, Khalid was only 24. Today, he is also the Executive Director and Chaplain of the Islamic Center at New York University. At NYU, Khalid is building a community with his vision of a pluralistic American Muslim community in mind. Khalid says, “my work involves creating supportive spaces for people to recognize who they are and help them find the courage to meet the person they can potentially become.” He is working to build a religious community around these principles at the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the world.
What major change or innovation makes you excited about the future?
I think the advent of social media has created a new way for people to make demands of what they want. It’s inspiring to see people see that they have power as a group and not waiting for a single individual or leader to speak up for them. It also creates opportunity for diverse groups to collaborate and come together on issues in ways that they might not have been able to otherwise.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
I believe diversity is advantageous only when it’s harnessed and utilized to breed a much-needed pluralism. I’m hoping over the next five years that I can be a part of whatever is necessary to make New York City more pluralistic in all frames of diversity, whether that is racial, ethnic, cultural, social class, religious, spiritual or any other box that we try to put each other in.
What is the best or worst advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is that a healthy and strong community is usually one that knows where its leader’s home is. The way I took this is that leadership isn’t about leading from a distance, but being with the people that you are blessed to serve and letting them be with you.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do or be when you grew up?
I think I wanted to be in the Olympics as a runner. Unfortunately my growth spurt still hasn’t happened yet.
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