My name is David Heayn-Menendez and I am the new Executive Director of PA IPL. I am so happy and excited to be part of our interfaith community and to lead the moral fight against climate change. I am a Philadelphia native but I currently live with my spouse and two sons in North Central Pennsylvania – Lewisburg, where I attend the Sunbury Islamic Center. My background is as a community organizer/campaign manager, local elected official, and for much of my life, as an educator. Most of my scholarship and teaching focused on the religious history of the Middle East and North Africa region, and especially on intercommunity interaction. Most recently I have been the Director of Public Education at a Philadelphia-based arts and culture non-profit.
It was my passion for community organizing, social justice, and environmental stewardship that brought me to PA IPL, because the vital work of preserving and protecting our natural environment and our communities is a foundational and inextricable component of living a life of faith. Together as members of faith we can hold each other up, amplify our voices, and tend the garden entrusted to us. We are a community guided by our faiths to action, to preserve the environment for the benefit of all.
Since my start at the end of the August, I have been warmly welcomed with open arms by the Board and members of PA IPL. In the coming months, I hope to meet and speak with many of you to hear your concerns and goals, and to forge a new path together. Recently I have been reminded of a quote from my time at Villanova from Saint Augustine, “Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” In order to grow PA IPL, in terms of its impact, its reach, and its finances during this period of transition we must first take a breath, a moment to contemplate who and what we are, and then move forward, renewed in our mission and with the wind at our back.
May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you,