By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The public is invited to attend The Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City’s 11th Annual Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 7 at the Tower Hotel, 3233 NW Expressway.
Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. The program and dinner, featuring Mediterranean food, will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The host committee includes Governor Brad Henry and Kim Henry, University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry, Gene Rainbolt BancFirst Chairman, and Tony Say President of Clearwater Enterprises.
Mary Blankenship Pointer, Senior Vice President and Corporate Relationship Manager of Republic Bank and Trust, will serve as the event chair.
Each year the Dialogue Institute raises money for a local non-profit to show their commitment for Oklahoma and its people.
Proceeds from this year’s dinner will raise funds to support Oklahoma City’s YWCA programs and services benefiting victims escaping domestic violence.
The Friendship Dinner keynote speaker will be Dr. Scott Alexander, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program, at the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.
Dr. Alexander holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities. He is dedicated to the study of Islam in the context of his broader training as an historian of religions.
His teaching and research interests include medieval Muslim sectarianism, the mystical traditions of Muslim spirituality, Quranic studies, and the history and future of Muslim-Christian relations, and interfaith dialogue.
The evening will include the presentation of three awards.
Governor Bill Anoatubby, The Chickasaw Nation will receive the Leadership Award; Louisa McCune-Elmore, Executive Director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation will be honored with the Community Service Award; and Dr. Paul Sechrist, Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) President, will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I am very honored to be recognized by the Dialogue Institute with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Sechrist said. “The work of the Dialogue Institute aligns with my life’s work, which has been around communication and education.
“We have much to gain by coming together, working out our differences, finding commonalities, and living in harmony,” Sechrist added. “I commend the Institute for its role in making Oklahoma City and the world a better place.”
Ersin Demirci, Executive Director of the Dialogue Institute Oklahoma City said, “The dinner is among our signature events where we recognize outstanding achievements of those that dedicated themselves in their profession and service to society by generously contributing their time, energy, expertise and financial resources.”
“Last year, we raised money for Red Cross Central Oklahoma for Moore tornado victims. This years` dinner will benefit domestic violence programs and services of the YWCA Oklahoma City.”
The Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City offers a place to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse cultures and faiths by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.
“The Dialogue Institute is a great asset to our community,” said Blankenship Pointer. “People from different cultures get together to look for solutions to problems affecting our world.”
General admission tickets are $75 and sponsorships are available. To purchase tickets, contact Ersin Demirci at 405-924-5105 or to learn more visit dialogueok.org.