Crescent Foundation is guided by a highly passionate and experienced board who bring valuable skillsets and networks from the public and private sectors to our endeavours. The Board of Directors play an important strategic, governance and oversight role in the organisation.
The following is an extract from a conversation with Crescent Foundation Director Affy Bhatti
What were your motivations in wanting to be involved in the Crescent Foundation?
Having already been involved with Crescent Foundation’s sister organisation, Crescent Institute, through supporting its events in Western Australia becoming involved with Crescent Foundation, another organisation with a strong sense of purpose, was a natural progression for me. So when Talal asked me to be part of Crescent Foundation it was a no brainer. Also knowing that there would be a strong and truly diverse Board to oversee, challenge and govern things was a big drawcard.
Thinking about Crescent Foundation’s four pillars of work on a personal level what pillar are you most connected with and why?
They are all important and impactful pillars and in the early days we spent a lot of time discussing how we could really make a difference in each space.
I've probably spent the most time in the refugee education pillar, supporting the development of our strategy to build upon education and to add empowerment and employment to this pillar. I really connected with the mentorship program we developed in partnership with Deakin University. No matter what our starting points in life are, I think education is fundamental to building skills and experience, while connectivity and our network can take us further. Having a mentor to help us navigate things can really help with this.
I also enjoyed the Community Grants program we did a few years back. It was fun being involved in reviewing, selecting, interviewing and awarding grants to worthy causes we felt could execute, scale and have a catalyzing impact.
The Islamic Art pillar is something that has grown on me and given me more balance as a person. It's opened my eyes to things, including making friends with artists, learning more about the history of Islam through a different lens and softening my corporate side! It's also led to some investments in Islamic art of my own from Australia, Turkey, Pakistan and Germany!
Outside of the Crescent Foundation what other work do you do in the not-for-profit space?
Crescent Foundation has kept me pretty busy by itself! I've been actively involved in our mentorship and community grants programs.
I've recently stepped down from Crescent Institute after eight years of service in capacities ranging from State Chapter Lead, Chairman and most recently from the Board.
I was previously on a sub-committee of Auspire (formerly Australia Day Council WA) that celebrated the extraordinary contributions of Australians to society, as well as a panellist that selected the Australian of the Year Awards
I was also on an advisory board for the Western Australian Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests on issues facing culturally diverse communities, representing the Muslim Community of Western Australia
I also co-founded the Muslim Professional Network, connecting Muslim professionals with community based, grass-root projects, to enhance the standards of excellence in the WA Muslim community. One of things I'm proud of is the inter-faith program between Muslims, Jews and Sikhs, including exchange visits to mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras and a football tournament.
How important is it to recognise Islamic learners and educators as part of the Crescent Awards?
Massively important! Having two children in high school myself, I think educators across Australia are our unsung heroes as they are the driving force to develop our children, to prepare them for higher or further education, and later when they enter the workforce. How children perform at school is a ticket to play for them later in life. It seems to me there is very little recognition of our teachers more broadly and less so for Islamic educators. One of the things I've learned from Talal is that if it doesn't exist, just build it, so we did and it was awesome to see so many people turn out for the inaugural Crescent Awardslast August. This year's Awards plan to build on that success and I am very much looking forward to it.