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Auburn Honors Women Who Change the World


J K Hanok, jkhanok.com, May 21, 2009
New York, NY - Auburn Theological Seminary will present its 2009 Lives of Commitment Awards to three visionaries: philanthropist and film producer Abigail Disney, environmentalist Wendy Paulson, and Rabbi and Cantor Angela Buchdahl. Auburn's 2009 Young Healer Award, presented in partnership with The Sister Fund, will go to Fatima Haidara, 16, a New York City teen anti-violence activist who was raised in Mali and Mauritania.

The Lives of Commitment Awards, to be presented at a gala breakfast May 28th at the Waldorf-Astoria, honor women leaders whose spiritual ideals lead them to devote their lives to healing and repairing the world. Preacher and author Barbara Brown Taylor will offer the invocation.

2009 LIVES honoree Abigail Disney is co-founder of the Daphne Foundation and producer of the award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back To Hell, which tells the story of the Muslim and Christian women of Liberia who united over religious differences and impossible odds to end the dictatorship and civil war in Liberia and help elect the first woman head of state in African History.

"I feel a little like an evangelist for [this] kind of work," said Disney, a grand-niece of the legendary Walt Disney. "It's been the answer to privilege for me. If privilege can be a toxin, then the serum is engagement, and connectedness, and rolling up your sleeves and becoming a part of the human race."

2009 LIVES honoree Wendy Paulson is a dedicated environmentalist who works to overcome our society's increasing "nature deficit disorder."

"I love the fact that Auburn seeks to connect spirituality and spiritual quest with commitment, because they go hand in hand," said Paulson, who has chaired two states' chapters of The Nature Conservancy and works with students from the New York City School System to increase their awareness of nature.

2009 LIVES honoree Angela Buchdahl, the daughter of a Korean Buddhist mother and an Ashkenazi Jewish American father, is the first Asian-American woman to be ordained a rabbi or a cantor in any Jewish denomination. She is both.

"Being our most authentic selves is a way that we offer the best of ourselves," said Buchdahl. "As a rabbi and cantor born of a non-Jewish mother, I have always understood what it feels like to be an insider and an outsider in the Jewish community, and more and more I have come to understand that is an authentic expression of what it means to be Jewish - not having to squelch a piece of ourselves to be in relationship to God."

Auburn Theological Seminary's Lives of Commitment Awards were first presented in 1997 to recognize the unique contributions of women leaders to our society and the world. Past honorees include Dr. Jane Goodall, Blu Greenberg, Daisy Khan, Ruth Messinger, Sr. Helen Prejean, Mary Robinson, Alice Walker, and Faye Wattleton.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to honor all these magnificent women," said Auburn Seminary's President-elect, the Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson. "In a time when moral leadership is so much needed in our world, these women stand as beacons for all of us."

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Auburn Seminary is a nationally recognized theological center that provides innovative educational programs for a religiously diverse world. Founded in 1818 to train Presbyterian ministers, today Auburn prepares leaders of many faiths to meet the challenges of religious and public life. Auburn shares a campus with Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
(Tags: University, Women, Award)