Listed below are contributed chaplains to the Kay Spiritual Life Center supported by their respective faith communities.
Personal Phone: (301) 951-0539
Born in 1948 at sea to Palestinian refugee parents, Dr. Ahmad was raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1970 and in 1975 obtained a Ph. D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Arizona. He teaches an introductory course on Islam at the Wesley Theological Seminary and holds a position as senior lecturer at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD where he has taught honors courses in “Religion and Progress” and on “Religion, Science, and Freedom.” He has also taught college courses on Islam and Development at Georgetown University and graduate courses in Islam and Development and Theory of Social Change at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. Dr. Ahmad has lectured on Islam at the Foreign Services Institute and for the Joint Special Operations University’s Middle East Orientation Course. He has done postdoctoral work in astronomy at Harvard, the University of Maryland, and under contract to Goddard Space Flight Center and for private firms. He is currently President of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, an Islamic think-tank in the Washington, DC area.
Dr. Ahmad is an internationally sought-after speaker on matters relating to Islam and Muslims. He is author of Signs in the Heavens, co-editor of Islam and the West: A Dialog, and co-author of Islam and the Discovery of Freedom. Dr. Ahmad‘s essay “An Islamic Perspective on the Wealth of Nations” appears in the International Library of Critical Writings on Economics series #129 The Economics of Property Rights. His most recent books are The Islamic Rules of Order and the Directory of Policy Experts in Islamic Studies and Muslim Affairs. In addition to serving as a Muslim chaplain at American University, he is a chaplain at the Adventist Behavioral Center and the Perkins Hospital, Imam of the Dar-adh-Dhikr Mosque, President of the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation, and arbitrator for the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. He resides in Bethesda with his wife Frances Eddy.
Dr. Ahmad has received the “Star Cup for Outstanding Public Service” award from the Montgomery County Civic Federation, the “Champion of Democracy Award” from Marylanders for Democracy, the “Samuel P. Chase Freedom Award” from the Libertarian Party of Maryland, and the “Sentinel Award” from the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
AU Phone: x3324
Jason Benkendorf was recently appointed Executive Director of American University Hillel. An AU alumnus, he is excited to return to his old stomping grounds and eager for the chance to work and learn with the extraordinary people who make up the AU community.
Jason comes to Hillel following five years with The Curriculum Initiative (TCI), an organization that supports inclusive Jewish programming at independent high schools. He previously served as Senior Officer of Public and Academic Affairs at the Embassy of Israel, during which time he worked closely with student activists at AU and other DC area campuses. Jason has also been involved with BBYO in a variety of capacities over the last fifteen years.
A passion for public service brought Jason to DC, and he received his BA in political science from the AU School of Public Affairs. He subsequently completed an MBA at Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in organization development.
Jason is a devoted Washington Nationals fan, an avid reader, and a summer camp enthusiast (17 years and counting). No matter the weather, rest assured that he wishes he was wearing flip flops.