New Staff + Summer Plans

July 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

We’ve finally landed at the Astana in Richmond! After many months of packing and preparation, and a very special Season of the Rose, we officially arrived in RVA on the 4th of July.

Since the move, we have begun getting our office set-up and have focused on practicalities, such as helping Pir Zia and his family settle into their new home before heading off for their summer teaching tour of Turkey, the Swiss Alps, and Suresnes, France. Now that they are off, we have begun to focus more fully on getting ready for a public launch of the Astana this fall.

New Staff

Kenneth Sparks

Perhaps the most important aspect of our preparations has been the hiring of new staff. We are pleased to announce that we have just signed agreement letters with two great people. Kenneth Sparks, our new Executive Assistant, will support Pir Zia and Alia, and manage all operations related to the Astana. In addition, Muhasaba Molly Wender, a long-time student of this path, will be our new Programs Manager. We are extremely excited and grateful to have an incredibly capable staff come together to manage activities at the Astana and across North America.

Biographies for staff can be found here.

Muhasaba Molly Wender

We also plan to hire two additional positions this fall: ourAdministrative Assistant and Communications Manager positions will be advertised in September with start dates in October.

* Even as we hire these new positions in Richmond, we want to recognize former staff members Yaqin Aubert and Molly “Moon” Mooney, two of our most devoted friends. Both are shifting into new roles with Yaqin becoming the Vice President of the Inayati Order, a board role, and Moon building her career as a healer, farmer and naturalist. We will miss them both.

Summer Plans

As we prepare to open the Astana, we have decided to cloister ourselves away a bit to focus on a few important projects. Over the next ten weeks, we will work on the following:

  • Preparing the Astana to open in time for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Christianity, November 2-5, 2017. This will be the Astana’s first program, and will include a special public blessing ceremony. (Preparations include construction to create a public meeting space and audio-video room, and full furnishing of the building and grounds.)
  • Creating new promotional materials and booklets describing our work and sharing Hazrat Inayat Khan’s teachings.
  • Working on communications including a new e-newsletter, updated website, and fall appeal, all noting the Astana as the center of our activity.
  • Finalizing details for upcoming programs, including enhanced leadership training opportunities, and a new Suluk class to launch September 2018.
  • Collaborating with our Esoteric Leadership on how to best support and promote Inayati Order teachers, guides, centers, and programs across North America.

While we work on all of the above, please know that you will hear from us again, and more regularly, beginning Monday, October 2, 2017. Until then, we appreciate your patience as we do everything needed to for a proper launch in November.

New Email Address

As a part of our new transition, we are phasing out the use of the word “Secretariat” in favor of “Astana” and “Headquarters.” Our offices will now be known as The Astana or The Inayati Order North American Headquarters.

As a part of this change, we are discontinuing use of secretariat@inayatiorder.org and ask that everyone begin to use the email address, astana@inayatiorder.org.

Our primary phone number, 518-794-7834, will stay the same, at least for now.

If you can, please try to be with us, either in person or online, for the Inayati Order Astana’s launch in November. Registration is open for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Christianity, with additional details to come.

Thank you for your kindness, friendship, and support as we have made our way to Virginia. May the Astana become a home of love, harmony, and beauty for all our friends worldwide!

With love,

Jennifer Alia Wittman
Executive Director

Roshan Peay
Chair of the Board

Latest News From the Board

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Executive Committee of the Inayati Order Board of Trustees. We are writing the first of a few messages to update you with news following our March 2017 Board retreat, held this past weekend at the Abode of the Message. As an outcome of its strategic planning process, the Board has been honing in on key areas of focus as we seek to serve the renewal of our organization. In the upcoming weeks, we will update you on several areas of our work, beginning this morning with personnel and board changes.

Personnel Changes

In assessing and planning for the most pressing needs of the organization, and in preparation for our move to Richmond, we have identified several changes to our personnel structure that are necessary to increase capacity. In the new structure we will be expanding from four to five full-time paid positions; these will include the Pir, the Executive Director, a Director of Programs, Executive Assistant, and Administrative Assistant. In this reallocation of resources, the position of Esoteric Secretary will be discontinued.

The position of Esoteric Secretary was originally designed as a two-year role, ending this past January, to provide support to Pir Zia as the Inayati Order assessed its needs during a time of tremendous transition. Beginning this coming fall, responsibilities of this role will now be shared between the Executive Director, an Executive Assistant (to be hired), and select contractual support hired on a project-by-project basis.

The Board has been in close contact with Yaqin Aubert, who has been skillfully and steadfastly serving as Esoteric Secretary over the past two years, regarding this change. Yaqin will be leaving administrative tasks to the new team, but has graciously agreed to continue serving the esoteric needs of the organization in his new position of Vice President of the Inayati Order, a board position most recently held by Taj Inayat. We are delighted that Yaqin has agreed to serve the Order in this way, availing us of his continuing counsel and spiritual and moral support of our collective work.

Board Changes

This past weekend the Board also bid farewell to three of its most longstanding and deeply committed members: Amina Hall, Fazl Peay and Hadi Reinhertz. We have cherished their guidance and are deeply grateful for their heartfelt and unwavering service.

All three outgoing board members, as well as previous board members Bayazid Ware and Taj Inayat, will form a new Advisory Board of the Inayati Order. This group will help us maintain institutional memory and provide their ongoing expertise to the organization.

Additionally, the Board welcomed new members Hakima Elizabeth Normand (Portland, OR), Raqib Kogan (Tacoma Park, MD), Tajalli Roselli (Cambridge, MA), and Isfandarmuz Hanna (Calgary, Alberta). Look here for a full list of Board members and biographies: http://inayatiorder.org/board/.

With the departure of Amina (who is becoming the North American Vice President of the Universal Worship), Roshan Peay now takes over as Chair, Huzur Nawaz German as Vice Chair/Treasurer, and Tajalli Roselli as Secretary.

Next Steps

The Board has been hard at work planning for our upcoming relocation to our new headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Once we have all details set, we will share them with you.

The Board continues to commit itself in service as it guides the Inayati Order forward in an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty to create the most effective container for the work of our Pir and for spreading the Message far and wide.

In loving service,

The Inayati Order Executive Committee
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, President
Roshan Anne Peay, Chair
Huzur Nawaz German, Vice Chair and Treasurer
Tajalli Roselli, Secretary
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Executive Director

Future Communications

To keep you up-to-date on our activities, we will continue to share regular reports like this one here.

Inayati Order Update

Summer 2016

Over the last four months, we have focused almost entirely on programs—many programs! In this time, we hosted four live gatherings, plus two online courses, both with an in-person component. All of us involved in making these programs happen have now had a chance to rest and are beginning to get ready for our fall schedule. But, before we turn the corner and look at a new season, here are a few highlights from spring and summer, so far.

Programs

Inayati Leadership Visioning Gatherings
This winter and spring, we brought together Inayati leaders from across the globe in two separate Leadership Visioning Gatherings, one in Europe in late January, and another in New Lebanon, New York, in April. About 85 Inayati leaders attended both gatherings, which were designed to get us talking about Hazrat Inayat Khan’s legacy, the Inayati Order as it stands today, and about how we would like to see the future of our organization unfold.

Deepa Gulrukh Patel, the Inayati Order’s International Coordinator, based out of the United Kingdom, led this effort, and will be facilitating next steps—a series of “task groups” looking at four areas: culture, leadership, organizational structure, and our relationship with the wider world. Task groups will be made up of 2-3 attendee-leaders from each of the European and North American leadership gatherings, and will invite involvement from the larger mureedship over the next 6-12 months.

Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Buddhism
The second session in our Wisdom of the Prophets series ran from May 5-8 at the Abode of the Message. Lama Jigme Chotso and Dr. Joe Loizzo joined Pir Zia this time to discuss Buddhism’s relationship with Sufism. 53 people attended online, and 30 people in-person. We are hoping for greater in-person participation for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Zoroastrianism in November (see below), as well as growing online participation.

All previous Wisdom of the Prophets session video and materials will be available for purchase by Inayati Order initiates later this fall, and are already available to past participants.

Entering the Consciousness of Pir Vilayat: A 100th Birthday Celebration
Our “Pir Vilayat 100th Birthday Weekend,” June 16-19, was one of our most celebratory and joyous programs ever. 85 people participated in the full weekend, with over 120 people attending evening programs and the Universal Worship on Sunday.
Aziza Scott served as Master of Ceremonies, with Pir Zia giving two talks and leading the group up to Pir Vilayat’s Pod on the day of Pir Vilayat’s 11th Urs on June 17. Other teachers and events included: Taj Inayat guiding early morning teachings each day; Tasnim Fernandez, Zarifah Kadian, Saphira Linden, and Mikhail Horowitz sharing  stories in the Abode’s Library; Sharif Munawwir Graham telling his own stories about Pir Vilayat in several sessions; conductor Sara Tarana Jobin organizing music throughout, and pieces of Bach’s B Minor Mass, featuring acclaimed musicians and vocalists from New York City; a special Ramadan Feast at 8:50 pm Saturday night; a birds of prey demonstration, including Pir Vilayat’s favorite falcons and hawks; and Universal Worship (called a Cosmic Celebration) on Sunday morning.

The “Falcon Demonstration” was livestreamed on Facebook with over 600 views so far. We also livestreamed the opening evening, Pir Zia’s Saturday morning talk, the Bach concert, and Universal Worship, with over 250 people viewing each.
Pir Vilayat 100th birthday photos, an article about the gathering by journalist Humera Afridi, and the Falcon video can be found at the following link:
http://inayatiorder.org/pir-vilayat-100th-birthday-photos/

Season of the Rose: Essentials of the Sufi Path
Season of the Rose, July 6-11 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, was unlike any event we have held before (more of a community gathering and summer school than a retreat or seminar). The space was “civilized,” as one of the participants put it, on a gorgeous campus, with beautifully designed buildings and gardens, including upgraded amenities, such as athletic facilities and expansive organic and ethical dining.
We shared the campus with a number of other groups, including over 60 Japanese high school students wanting to make friends with us, to practice English, and sing Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift songs.

Our Inayati community of 145 people created dedicated spaces in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel and Templeton Student Building to gather and study Breath, Love, Beauty, Light, Death, Guidance, Meditation and Remembrance, among other things.

Evaluations have been very positive, with everyone praising our teachers, the location, and especially Sukhawat Ali Khan, who played qawwali music throughout the gathering. There are questions about how to have a program that allows for silence, and a contemplative container, and how location affects these elements. All points will be taken into consideration as we prepare for next year’s Season of the Rose, scheduled for June 28-July 3, 2017, at the Abode of the Message. We will return to the West Coast again in 2018.

Season of the Rose photos and audio can be found at the following link:
http://inayatiorder.org/season-rose-photos-audio/

Aziza Scott & Suhrawardi Gebel’s Online Courses
Aziza and Suhrawardi both taught courses this spring, live and online from the Abode’s Meditation Hall. 2,000+ people participated in their courses worldwide, with 60-150 attending each in real-time online, and another 20-30 in-person at the Abode. Initially, each course was offered for free, to allow the greatest accessibility, then moved to Vimeo for rent or purchase. If you would like to own and/or re-watch these courses, they can be found at http://inayatiorder.org/multimedia/.

Suluk Academy
Suluk’s Jabalqa Class of 28 students met twice, once in April with Pir Zia as lead faculty, and a second time in June, with Gayan Macher. Both sessions were on the theme, Contemplation. Jabalqa has completed its first year, and will enter its second year in September, with graduation set for June 2017.

We anticipate launching a new two-year Suluk class fall 2018, after taking a year off for our office relocation.

Pir Zia Travels
Also, during this time, Pir Zia has traveled leading programs at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado (April 15-17) and Zenith Institure in the Swiss Alps (July 25 – August 6), as well as attended part of the Federation of the Sufi Message Gathering in Berlin, Germany (May 18-22). We will share more about Pir Zia’s annual travel in a report issued this fall.

Communications

We continue to upgrade our communications and technological infrastructure under the leadership of Satya Inayat Khan, the Inayati Order’s Director of Communications.

Over the past months, we have continued to Enhance Program Promotion through online marketing, e-newsletters, social media, and word of mouth. The difference can be seen in strong attendance numbers for the Pir Vilayat 100th Birthday Weekend and the Season of the Rose. As we continue to upgrade and refine promotion, we will begin to look more closely at pricing as a factor, and also at ways to better reach new audiences.

In July, we created several Promotional Pieces, including: a new Inayati Order postcard, sharing basic information about the Order; an Info-Collection Postcard to collect contact information from those who attend events; and an Inayati Order Water Bottle, featuring our new heart and wings logo. (The water bottle was first given as a gift to Season of the Rose faculty and staff, and will be made available for sale through our website later this year.)

Satya has also created an Online Learning Environment (Inayati Order Premium Membership), integrated with our website, for students of Inayati Order online courses. Students are issued a log-in and are able to see all current and archived video from courses they have purchased, as well as related notes and materials. Current courses available include: Season of the Rose 2016 audio; Aziza Scott’s three-part series on Esotericism; Suhrawardi Gebel’s five-part series on The Message; and Pir Zia’s eight-part course on Unfolding the Message. Wisdom of the Prophets, parts I & II will be soon be available as well.

Facebook is currently our most active form of social media. In July, the Inayati Order’s Public Group Facebook page experienced increasing conflict between its members. We intervened and changed the page to allow moderator-approved posts only, and to more clearly state that the page is only for posts directly related to Inayat Khan’s teaching and Inayati Order offerings.

Several years ago, a Digital Media Archive was set-up to archive audio, video and images, using a specialized Amazon S3 Cloud Service. This service has been primarily used to archive Suluk audio and notes. We are in the process of expanding the online archive to include digital media from past programs. Currently, there are two issues that we are trying to resolve:

1. A faster way to upload digital media with limited broadband.
2. An easier way to upload digital media via an uploader plug-in.

Then, of course, there is regular Communications Maintenance, including updates to the website, e-newsletters, database work, online program registration set-up, and social media outreach.

Relocation

As announced last September, the Inayati Order Secretariat in North America plans to move from the Abode of the Message, its home of the last 13 years, to a more populated and diverse location. While the Abode will remain the Order’s primary residential community and retreat center in North America, the new headquarters will become our hub for organizing webcasts, programs, print and digital media; supporting students, teachers, guides and center leaders; as well as managing Pir Zia’s teaching and writing schedule.

After months of researching and visiting possible locations for the new office—including Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, NC, and Atlanta, GA—we are currently setting our sights on Richmond, Virginia.

Pir Zia and his family visited Richmond in April, somewhat by accident on their way back from a tour of the South. They loved it, finding it to be a dynamic, diverse, culturally rich, receptive, and affordable city. Jennifer Alia Wittman, the executive director of the Order, also visited in June, finding a surprisingly open environment for our kind of work. Later this  week, once Pir Zia returns from Europe, we will head back down to Richmond to look at real estate, meet with local friends, and generally get a better sense of the place before making a final decision. We hope to announce our location pick by early September, with a plan to move Spring 2017.

Abode of the Message

As the Inayati Order Secretariat prepares to relocate, the Abode is well on its way to reestablishing itself as an independent community and retreat center dedicated to the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Good things are in the works at the Abode, with a new board in place, a new Executive Director just hired (after 21 months as Executive Director of both the Abode and Inayati Order, Jennifer Alia Wittman will now focus solely on the Inayati Order), and summer appeal actively inviting investment in the Abode’s future.
For details on all of the above, including recent financial data, please visit www.theabode.org/news/. (Also, if you love the Abode, and would like to receive the weekly Abode e-newsletter, please consider signing up at www.theabode.org.)

Finances


The Inayati Order Budget for 2016 was approved by the Board and is attached. In addition, we have also included a comparison to the 2015 Budget vs Actual Performance of the organization. We will be issuing a detailed financial summary in our new Annual Report, to be issued Fall 2016.

Board of Trustees News


For the last two years, the Inayati Order Board has been tirelessly devoted to: making sure that the Abode has the infrastructure it needs to survive, and eventually, thrive; incorporating our new name, The Inayati Order; and laying the groundwork necessary for large-scale realignment of our work, including the Secretariat move and unification of all Inayati Activities into a clear public presence, relevant and accessible for today’s seekers.

The period from September 2014–August 2016 could be thought of as Phase I. Now we are entering Phase II. During this next phase, we will: relocate the North American Secretariat; begin a conversation with the Five Activities (Esoteric School, Universal Worship, Healing Order, Ziraat & Kinship) about how to integrate our work to create a unified organizational structure; reach-out to Inayati Center leaders to create a responsive network of support; and develop a model for expanded leadership development within the Order, among other things.

In October we will meet for an Inayati Order Board Retreat in New Lebanon, New York, and begin to focus on a Strategic Planning process integrated with the post-Leadership Visioning Gathering “task group” work mentioned above. Over the next year, stay tuned for ways that we plan to involve our larger community in this process.

Upcoming Programs

Consider joining us for four upcoming programs this fall. Over Labor Day weekend in the United States, Pir Zia and friends, including Aziza Scott, Khabira Brown, and Yaqin Aubert (with Sarah Leila Manolson, Salima McCall, and Rehan Morey offering evening zikr programs), will guide a three-day Silent Retreat at the Abode (in-person only), September 2-5, 2016.

A few days later, Pir Zia will launch a multi-year online course studying the Sufi Message Volumes, beginning with the newly published volume I, The Inner Life. Join us for four Thursday night teachings, September 8-29, 7–8:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time. Video will be available in real-time, and free throughout the month of October. Please purchase a copy of the new Sufi Message Volume, The Inner Life, updated, authenticated, gender inclusive, and with added supplemental material, so you can study along with us. www.sulukpress.org.

Then, November 10-13, join us in-person or online for Wisdom of the Prophets III: Sufism & Zoroastrianism, with Pir Zia and Dr. Jehan Bagli, an ordained Zarathushti priest through Navar and Martab ceremonies.

Closing out our year, December 2-4, the Inayati Order of the Greater Boston Area will host Pir Zia in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a two-day meditation seminar, Know Thyself, an Exploration of the Within.

Please find details and registration information for all programs on our website www. inayatiorder.org/calendar/

Future Communications

To keep you up-to-date on our activities, we will continue to share quarterly reports like this one. Look for a new update this fall. In the meantime, previous reports can be found on our website on the footer under “Organizational Blog” (http://www.inayatiorder.org/organization/). Also, always feel free to reach-out to us at secretariat@inayatiorder.org.

We hope you thoroughly enjoy the rest of your summer!

Inayati Order Update

Spring 2016

Last September, after our fall Inayati Order–North America Board Retreat, we sent out an update sharing some big changes, decisions made, and next steps for the Order. Today we would like to give you a few more updates and highlights about some of the things happening within the Inayati Order currently.

Our New Logo
On January 1st, we launched our new name, The Inayati Order, and a new website, www.inayatiorder.org. Now, in the last week, we have also revealed our new logo (see above) as a next step in creating a unifying identity representing the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. You can read about and see variations of the new logo here: http://inayatiorder.org/our-new-logo/.

Relocation
Another big change is that we plan to move Pir Zia and the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat offices from the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York, to a more populated area in the next year, likely a site in either the Mid-Atlantic or Southeastern part of the United States. We are in an intensive stage of researching and considering sites. So far, we have:

  • Initiated and regularly convened a relocation committee, including board members—Pir Zia, Taj Inayat, Amina Hall, Roshan Peay, Fazl Peay, Huzur Nawaz German, and Mahbood Seligman—and staff members—Yaqin Aubert, Jennifer Alia Wittman, and Deepa Gulrukh Patel.
  • Narrowed the search criteria and cities under consideration. Important factors emerging for us include—cost of living, cost of doing business, climate, diversity, cultural vibrancy, local interest and support, and ease of travel.
  • Begun to develop space requirements and usage needs.
  • Begun to consult with and research brokers, with the hope of hiring a broker and/or relocation project manager by this summer.
  • Begun to establish a definitive project schedule and budget, knowing that we hope to move June 2017.

Once we pare down the possibilities to just two or three primary site candidates, we will seek feedback from all of you on our choices, and invite your help in finalizing our location. If you haven’t seen this before, background on the rationale for our move can be found here: http://www.inayatiorder.org/organization/executive-committee-letter-october-2015/

Abode Transition
On a related note, since 2005, the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat has provided both board oversight and on-the-ground management for the Abode of the Message, our retreat center and residential community in New Lebanon, New York. We are currently in the process of collaboratively developing a plan to return management of the retreat center to a newly formed Abode Board of Trustees and management staff.

To this end, this past January, an Abode Steering Committee was appointed as a first step in the process. Abode Steering Committee members include: Huzur Nawaz German, chair; Aimee Johnson; Gabriel Steadman; Nasreen Moayedi; and Mahbood Davis. We expect a full transition to a new Abode Board of Trustees and on-site leadership by the spring of 2017.

The Abode Steering Committee has just published its own update that you can read here.

Finances
The Inayati Order in North America is a small, faith-based non-profit organization with an annual budget of around $500,000. In 2015, we spent $475,962, $330,518 going to general operating expenses (including staff, rent, insurances, phone, technology, etc.), $77,957 to program development, $27,696 to direct support for our Pir (not including salary or staff support), $26,100 to communications, and $13,691 to costs of publications and credit card fees.

Last year, we raised $514,801 in support of the areas named above, $271,983 through donations and sponsorships, $229,754 through program fees, $20,000 through grants (temporary restrictions), and $6,977 through sales.

In addition to this, within the last year, we raised $233,401 for the Abode of the Message, with $168,913 coming through the then Sufi Order–North America, both as checks and as on-line donations through Donor Perfect. The Abode Summer Appeal 2015 came together quickly, in response to an anticipated Abode financial shortfall. Because things came together so quickly, we used the Inayati/Sufi Order’s existing on-line donation system to ease the process. Future Abode fundraisers will use a new donation system owned and operated by the Abode. All monies specified for the Abode were audited and fully transferred to the Abode in September 2015 by our outside accountants, Kensington Business Solutions.

Over the first part of the year, we spent considerable time closing-out our bookkeeping for 2015 and budget planning for 2016. An Inayati Order Statement of Financial Position for December 31, 2015, is now available, as well as related Financial Highlights. We will share the Inayati Order Budget 2016 in our summer e-newsletter.

Communications
As for communications, we continue to actively modernize and update all of our technologies, including our new website (WordPress) and e-communications (Mailchimp), an easier on-line registration system (EventBrite), improved audio and video archiving (Amazon S3), increased access to video and audio (coming), and updated print materials and resource publications (coming), among other things. Each month, we aim to improve our communications bit-by-bit.

Next, we will focus on timeliness and responsiveness via email and phone (we hope new administrative staff, as well as technology, will help), growing-out our website with more offerings and better up-to-date information, and specialized communications packages for local Inayati Order Centers, among other things. If you have ideas or questions about Inayati Communications, please feel free to e-mail them to Satya at communications@inayatiorder.org.

Upcoming Programs
Registration is now open for a variety of upcoming programs, including: Wisdom of the Prophets – Part II: Sufism & Buddhism (in-person and on-line), May 5-8 at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY; Entering the Consciousness of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan: A 100th Birthday Celebration, June 16-19 also at the Abode; and Season of the Rose: Essentials of the Sufi Path, July 6-11 in Portland, Oregon. For a full list of programs and registration details, please visit http://inayatiorder.org/calendar/.  (Partial scholarships are often available, so please ask!)

We are also expanding our on-line programing with two new series this spring: Esotericism with Aziza Scott, Thursdays, April 7-21, and The Message with Suhrawardi Gebel, Thursdays, April 28 – May 26. Pir Zia is also planning to offer a livestream course this fall. All on-line courses are first offered on a donation basis for 3-4 weeks (to be as accessible as possible to our worldwide audience). After this period, we move our on-line programs to Vimeo for rent or purchase.

Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering
Next week, April 22nd-26th, an internal organizational event is happening at the Abode of the Message: the Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering, bringing together over 90 Inayati leaders from across North America, with representatives also from Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The purpose of the gathering is to contemplate and discuss the future of our Order.

The Inayati Order is going through some big shifts, and in the context of the changes taking place, sincerely hopes to better unify all of our collectively held pieces across continents, countries and states, integrating the Five Activities, and bringing together generations of Inayati leaders in one shared body and clear organizational identity.

In January, a first meeting was held in Suresnes, France, to begin the conversation. Details from that gathering, as well as the one here in the United States, will be shared in our Summer Newsletter 2016. (A report will also be sent out earlier from Deepa Gulrukh Patel, our International Coordinator, and the lead organizer of these gatherings.)

Board Membership
Our board currently has 10 members, including a new addition, M’ellen Kennedy, who joined our group this past January. M’ellen is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Vermont, a Universal Worship Cheraga, a Sufi Healing Order Shafayat, and a member of the Sufi Healing Order Board. As a board member, M’ellen will chair the newly formed Five Activities Committee, collaboratively looking at ways we can integrate the Esoteric School, Sufi Healing Order, Universal Worship, Kinship Activity, and Ziraat under the umbrella of the Inayati Order. For more on M’ellen and others on our board, you can find a full list of board members, with bios, here: http://inayatiorder.org/board/.

Staffing
As of this past month, Chris Jalila Maddox has taken over the post of Suluk Administrator from Sarah Leila Manolson (who has been filling in) for the Jabalqa class (September 2015 to June 2017). Jalila is a graduate of Suluk’s Gulzar class that graduated last June. She is an experienced event organizer, and is founder of the Wild Woman Project, which hosts circles worldwide, as well as an annual festival on the Abode’s Mountain. http://thewildwomanproject.com/

Currently, our small staff is made up of: Pir Zia as head of the Order; Yaqin Aubert as Esoteric Secretary; Jennifer Alia Wittman as Executive Director; Satya Inayat Khan as Director of Communications (12.5hrs/week); Chris Jalila Maddox (10hrs/week); in addition to several others contractors or professional volunteers who assist us throughout the year. See our full staff list here: http://inayatiorder.org/staff/.

We are currently in the process of hiring two new positions: an Executive Assistant, and an Administrative Assistant. You can find details on both of these positions here. As we plan to move our offices in the next year, we will hire both positions on contract through June 2017, with a possible option to move with us to the new site. Please help us spread the word about these opportunities to serve our Order.

Future Communications
Our hope is to report like this quarterly. We intend to send-out our next e-mail in the Summer of 2016, followed by Fall 2016, etc. Between reports, if you have any related questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at secretariat@theabode.org.

Thank You
We thank all of you who have participated and supported the Inayati Order over the past year. One of our goals is to move toward a greater transparency and responsiveness, taking every organizational step in service to our unfoldment as individuals and as a collective, all representing the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the world today.

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Survey Results and Drawing Winners

Dear friends,

Attached are the results from the two surveys recently conducted by the Mureeds and Centers Committee of the Sufi Order International North America (SOINA):

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in these surveys, which are providing enormously useful information to the SOINA Board and its committees. We take these inputs very seriously and are using the information to help us set priorities for the future.

We are also pleased to announce the winners of the drawings for free copies of the beautiful new edition of the Gayan-Vadan-Nirtan of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

  • Anne McDade of Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  • Aqdas Linda Newmark of San Francisco, California, USA

Congratulations to you both!

Many blessings,

Mahbood Seligman, National Representative
for the Mureeds and Centers Committee of the Sufi Order International North America (SOINA)

New Executive Director Appointment

Dear friends,

The Board of the Sufi Order International is pleased to announce the appointment of Jennifer Alia Wittman to the position of Executive Director of the Sufi Order International-North America. In this position, Alia will build on the efforts of the last year in executive management of the Sufi Order International-North America and the Abode of the Message. Alia has served the Sufi Order for almost 20 years and adds this position to a long list of roles for which she has provided leadership.

By way of background, Alia first became interested in the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan as a college student and later, in 1996, took initiation. She has served as a youth leader in the Sufi Order and as a mentor for younger mureeds. She was asked to join the Board of Trustees of SOI- NA, serving from 2001 through 2006.

Prior to her work with the Sufi Order, Alia was extensively involved in youth leadership, the youth service movement, and non-profit development. At 19, she was already student government president of her community college, overseeing a $200k student activities budget. In the years following, as a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Alia would be appointed to numerous state commissions and national projects, including the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, and the Points of Light Foundation’s YES Ambassadorship.

In 1995, Alia was on the team that developed and implemented the AmeriCorps National Service Program in Maryland. At the same time, she also founded the Maryland Youth Service Action Committee, a statewide corps of young people dedicated to advancing volunteerism and service, becoming its first Director under the auspices of the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism. In 1998, at just 26, she was hired to be the Executive Director of Hands on Baltimore (now Business Volunteers Maryland). Hired to stabilize the organization, refine its staff structure and clarify its strategic direction, she put the organization on a new footing and raised over $900k in just two years.

In 2002, during a period of financial crisis, she took over as General Manager of Omega Publications, the publishing arm of the Sufi Order. Working together with a team of dedicated mureeds, Alia helped create a ten-year plan to pay off all debts and avoid bankruptcy.

In 2006, Alia co-founded and became the first Executive Director of Seven Pillars House of Wisdom, a project of Pir Zia’s and a collective of leading thinkers stressing the vital importance of sustainable ecological systems, a rich inner life, cross-cultural and interspiritual understanding, and chivalric service. As Executive Director, Alia developed the initial infrastructure, organized over 40 programs and events, raised more than $850,000 during an economic downturn, and facilitated a successful financial recovery after its investors suffered major losses in 2008.

In October of 2014, during a period of transition, Alia was asked to step-in as Interim Manager of the Sufi Order International-North America and the Abode of the Message, serving as ‘on-the-ground’ management at a critical juncture. Now, with many months of progress, the Board of Trustees has strong confidence in Alia’s organizational leadership and grounding in effective operations management. Her unique ability to manage complex systems and situations, and to create harmony among diverse perspectives has substantiated her as the choice for executive leadership for the SOI-NA and the Abode at a time of significant change and transition.

As such, the Board of the Sufi Order International has authorized a two-year contract with Alia as Executive Director of the Sufi Order International-North America. Alia will provide primary support to the work and teachings of Pir Zia and the Sufi Order, will focus on revitalizing and repositioning of SOI-NA, streamlining operational systems, and upgrading and modernizing all aspects of the work of the Order. Alia will continue to work on the transition process with SOI-NA and the Abode, now well underway.

We look forward to working with Alia and are excited about the skills, attunement and commitment that she brings to the organization at this time of change and possibility.

In service,

Amina Linda Hall

Amina Linda Hall
Board Chairperson
Board of Trustees SOI-NA