2013 LEADD Schedule!
ODU LEADD, Norfolk, Virginia- March 2012
Baltimore LEADD, Maryland- April 2012
Oklahoma LEADD, May 2012
Unitarian Universalist Association, General Assembly LEADD June 2012


United World college LEADD- Montezuma, NM October 2012
Grand Rapids, Michigan LEADD August 13-17th, 2012
Northern Virginia LEADD May 19th, 2012
Austin Texas area LEADD May 6-8, 2011
Fresno, CA area LEADD May 27-29, 2011
Monmouth County, NJ LEADD April 15-17, 2011

LEADDers on the Hill

LEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity) is an innovative program for high school students developed by members of the Interfaith Alliance and a dedicated group of volunteers who have acted as founders, curriculum planners, teachers and workshop leaders since 2005. Students who attend LEADD become immersed in the history of the First Amendment, particularly its Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. The First Amendment is the foundation of America’s unique devotion to religious liberty and the hope in and vision for creating a truly pluralistic American society. Students learn about current policy, legislative and legal issues regarding religious freedom.
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August 2012 LEADD Featured in The Grand Rapids Press!

Kent County interfaith teen seminar grounds kids in their own religion, opens their eyes to others

Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 2:00 PM     Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012, 2:02 PM

By Charley Honey | The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- After seeing her religion attacked in the worst way, Jasleen Kaur found it healing just to have a place to talk about it.

She talked to a dozen other high school students last week about her Sikh faith, as they did about their Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, in a youth leadership workshop hosted by the Kent Intermediate School District. For Jasleen, a Forest Hills Northern junior, the three-day seminar provided welcome support following the Aug. 5 murder of six Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wis.

“It just hurts when you hear people who don’t know anything about your religion going out there and killing you,” said Jasleen, 15, during a lunch break. “Being born into this beautiful religion, you don’t expect anything like that happening.”

She had sympathetic listeners in Sarah Mageed, a Muslim, and Madeline Reeves and Ceara (cq) Hillary, both Catholics. All take their faith seriously and don’t want to see anyone else’s attacked, figuratively or literally.

Small-Community Style Politics

Eliza BlanchardI am from Vermont, a state so small that politics have to be civil. It’s much harder to run an attack ad against your opponent when most of the voters in the state will have met that opponent, and seen first-hand that he or she is not actually a monster; it’s much harder to believe an attack ad when the person being attacked is your neighbor, coworker, or friend. I believe that a large percentage of the incivility in today’s political environment comes from a sense of disengagement. The average voter will never get to meet the candidates for president, so why shouldn’t we believe what we hear about them in the media? The media is, after all, the only contact we have with presidential candidates.

But in Vermont – and other small communities – we get to meet the candidates for political office, have conversations with them, and decide for ourselves whether we agree with their positions. In 2006 both candidates for the House of Representatives seat, Democrat Peter Welch and Republican Martha Rainville, vowed to never launch a personal attack against one another. They kept that vow, and their campaign was more engaging and substantive than any other campaign that I’ve followed. I ended up respecting both candidates more than I ever would have if they had been uncivil to one another.

LEADD Response

Recent controversies surrounding the proposed building of mosques continue to pop up around the country—most noticeably in Murfreesboro, TN and New York City. In the press, in public hearings, we’ve seen the best and worst of our politicians and fellow citizens. As is often true when strong religious beliefs clash in the public sphere, tempers flare and civility seems in short supply. How should our elected officials, candidates for office, and citizens model debates about religion and politics in America and why? What impact does the current process have on future religious liberty issues in the US?

Sofi HersherWhen I was six years old I told my father I was going to be the first female president of the United States of America. Fourteen years later, I’ve learned to be a little more realistic with my goals. Children all over this country dream of making a difference, dream of being the President or the Mayor or Governor of their state. These kids need role models, politicians who stand for something other than just getting elected. One of the great mottos of the U.S. is “E Pluribus Unum,” translated from the Latin to “Out of many, one.” It represents that as American’s we come from many different backgrounds, faiths, and cultures, but that we are all Americans. It is on the seal of the President, Vice President and the US Congress.


Learn More!

Our August, 2012 LEADD in Grand Rapids, Michigan was featured in the local news, click here to read the article! Click here for more information on what a LEADD training could look like in your community.


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