Community Recognition for the Center
Here at Xavier University, we take our mission very seriously—to form students intellectually, morally and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, toward lives of solidarity, service and success. And the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has been, since its inception, instrumental in uncountable ways in helping us realize our Jesuit Catholic mission. Michael J. Graham, SJ, President, Xavier University
Over the last decade, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the contributions being made by the Brueggeman Center as a catalyst for bringing together leaders and resources in our community to confront the major challenges (and opportunities) our community faces. Drawing on the resources of Xavier University, the Center has helped bring together coalitions to identify and carry out actions to address such critical subjects as climate change, our growing refugee population and economic equity and social justice. The Center has become an invaluable resource and catalyst to broaden and deepen recognition of the issues we face and help bring together people for concerted actions and results. John Pepper, Retired CEO and Chairman, Proctor and Gamble; Honorary Co-Chair, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability (OES) and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue (Brueggeman) have worked closely for many years to promote the sustainability of the Cincinnati region and address environmental equity issues. Brueggeman and OES have been core organizers for the annual Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit (MRSS), which is the most significant annual gathering of Cincinnati’s green community. Brueggeman has been instrumental in bringing nationally renowned thought leaders to Cincinnati to inspire and shape the local dialogue about our region’s future path. Brueggeman Center Director James Buchanan was appointed by Mayor Cranley to serve on the Green Cincinnati Steering Committee to guide development of the Green Cincinnati Plan. Through the MRSS, sustainability speakers, the Green Cincinnati Steering Committee, and other collaborations, Brueggeman has played a significant role in shaping Cincinnati’s shared vision for a City that stewards resources, succeeds economically, and provides for all of its residents. Larry Falkin, Director of Environment and Sustainability, City of Cincinnati
I have had the privilege of working with the Brueggeman Center for over 20 years when it initially started as Brueggeman Center for Interfaith Dialogue and later broadened its scope under the leadership of James Buchanan. My initial contact was through the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, where I served as the founding Board Chair for 18 years after its opening in 1995. Brueggeman Center's outreach to the Greater Cincinnati community continues to serve as an invaluable collaborative resource for organizations and individuals of other faiths. In addition it works tirelessly to further the causes of other social justice and welfare entities with impact within and far beyond this community. Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati was fortunate to have the Brueggeman Center as an ally after the horrific attacks of 9/11. It provided us a platform to express our voice as Muslim Americans who felt doubly victimized by those attacks and were desperately seeking support and understanding. Since then, we have collaborated on numerous projects to promote interfaith cooperation, community harmony as well as education on topics of importance to our community, country and the planet. In the process, one of the main beneficiaries have been the wonderful young people, our future leaders, getting education at Xavier, one of the area's elite universities. This, in the end, may be the most impactful of the Center's broad-based multi-pronged work to bring about systemic positive change in an increasingly diverse and complex society, with its myriad of challenges. Inayat K. Malik, MD, Founding Board Chair and Past President, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
The Center, James and Cynthia, have been a constant source of support to people committed to increasing the well-being of Cincinnati and the world. When we wanted to host a Neighborhood Economics Summit for a few hundred people, the Center was host, facilitator and administrative support for the gathering. Much of its success was due to their providing the space, the logistics, in dealing with all the complications of holding a conference. James’ way of asking questions and purpose are always useful. When we were talking about our neighborhood work, he suggested and later supported a measure to show that we were moving the needle in the quality of lives in these places. This was the initiation of what is now the Neighborhood Economic Vitality Index. It displays the gifts of people as opposed to the usual measures of needs and what is missing. In our current Jubilee Campaign, James and the Center are guiding the effort by collaboratively giving structure and clarity to responsibilities and the process for moving forward. The Center also has brought into the project some enormously talented people who are generously including this campaign in a larger gathering at Xavier. Years ago, when I was asked to be a visiting consultant to the Xavier Business School, James kindly hosted some conversations to help build connections. James and Cynthia have imagined a Center which is a powerful convening agent for the community. Always bringing unlikely partners together, setting the parameters, and marketing the events. Never ideological, always welcoming. Very unique for a University which has such a large footprint in the city. Peter Block, Author; Founder of Economics of Compassion Initiative; Partner, Designed Learning Consulting
Under the leadership of Dr. James Buchanan, The Brueggeman Center has been a key convener in the areas of interfaith and social justice in Cincinnati. During the past 15 years at the Holocaust & Humanity Center, I have seen firsthand the incredible influence of the Brueggeman Center on our community. The depth and breadth of programming and initiatives that the Brueggeman Center has engaged in throughout the years is inspiring and connects with our mission to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Often providing a neutral setting, the Brueggeman Center has brought diverse parts of our community together to work together on some of the most pressing issues of our times. From responding to modern day genocide, to issues concerning the environment, the Brueggeman Center is at the forefront of issues that shape our community and world. Sarah Weiss, Executive Director/CEO, The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center
The Brueggeman Center for a Dialogue at Xavier University and the work of its director Dr. James Buchanan has had a profound, positive and lasting affect on intergroup relations and our collective work in the region and beyond towards a just, equitable and sustainable society. Dr Buchanan, with the support of his amazing assistance Cynthia Cummings, has been instrumental in establishing cultivating and leveraging relationships with institutions, religious and civic leaders. These relationships have allowed for the population in our region to take advantage of both enlightening programs at Xavier University but as well bring programs from Xavier University and the Center to institutions such as the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati too many to name. These programs and relationships have not only enabled furthering of the mission of the Center but also established long lasting productive intergroup initiatives. The Brueggeman Center and the work of Dr. Buchanan has been a gem for our region and has helped put the region on the national stage with its work. Shakila Ahmad, Immediate Past Chair, The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
The Center teams with the Foreign Policy Leadership Council (www.fplcohio.org) to present noted speakers on a range of international subjects for the greater Cincinnati community. Renowned speakers including Madeline Albright and Richard Clarke, ambassadors, senators, representatives and lesser known experts on a variety of foreign policy subjects have enriched the region’s understanding of world affairs over 15 years over a dinner discussion format. The Center and OMID USA (www.omid-usa.org) partner in an effort to bring solar-powered inventions To Colombia to assist its post-conflict efforts. Through green drip irrigation and cold-storage technology, the team partners with Colombia’s leading NGO and SENA (the University of the Poor in Valledupar) to raise the incomes of poor farmers. Joe Dehner, International Law, Frost, Brown and Todd, Co-Chair FPLC, Board, OMID
Back in 2010, before the community rallied behind immigrants, Brueggeman center was the first to rally behind Africa Foundation-USA. It was the first time a Cincinnati institution had taken a keen interest in the state and success of African immigrants. It was also the first time that we brought the African community together to discuss the challenges they faced. For three years, we hosted the African Summit, bringing together local African communities and representatives from their countries of origin to process passports and traveling documents. We had grand ideas, and though we didn't quite make them work for commerce between Africa and Cincinnati, USA, I believe it indeed laid the groundwork for the success Compass is having now with the African Community. It was at these summits that many connections came about that I now see sprouting around Cincinnati. On a personal level, they clarified my purpose and planted the seed that I wanted my life to be of meaning to the immigrant community - that was the work of the Center, Directed by James Buchanan.
I could go on and on talking about the many pioneering things the Center has done, but what touches me most is the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center. When I first brought Julie to meet you, I knew the Center would rally behind what IRLC was doing. I knew Brueggeman Center would rally behind the most vulnerable in our community, and that perhaps is what I fear we might miss in our community – the knowledge that Brueggeman Center was always there to listen and activate most initiatives that assisted the most vulnerable populations of our community. I hope whoever replaces you will continue being a beacon for the most vulnerable in our community (in addition of course to the dialogues that were always riveting and meaningful). Clara Matonhodze Strode, Principal, Multicultural Solutions; APNET Board; IRLC Board
The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has been a convening force for critical inquiry and discussion for many years. Working within the Xavier University campus, the greater Cincinnati area, and beyond, the Brueggeman Center models the power and practice of dialogue. At times, this involves bringing together like-intentioned people and organizations to work together to build understanding and effect change. Other times, the Center provides the opportunity for sharing differing viewpoints so that voices may be heard and all may learn. This culture of critical inquiry exposes students to the complexities of thoroughly understanding an issue from all sides. Students see how scholars and activists work with others, especially when ideological differences exist. They learn how to frame assertions and arguments from a foundation of logic and facts, especially when passions run high. In a world of intentionally divisive rhetoric, the Brueggeman Center actively creates a safe space where thoughtful disagreement is taught and encouraged as a way to bring people together. Scott Chadwick, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Xavier University 2011-2016, Currently Senior Advisor, American Achieves.
"Center for Dialogue" is more than a name; it is a sacred mission that engenders partnerships. One such partnership is represented by the Jewish Foundation Fellows project between the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue and the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. From 2012-2019 rabbinical students have been mentored by James Buchanan and among the projects they pursued were the co-creation of a website to host the interfaith activities in greater Cincinnati, the development of multi-faith study programs for young adults and sponsoring a coalition of religious leaders to learn about responding to domestic violence ad sexual abuse. The relationship between HUC-JIR and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has borne sweet fruit as rabbinical students have brought the skills they acquired from their learning experiences into their emerging rabbinates. "The holy is greater than the sum of its parts" is a true and telling statement based on the partnership between HUC-JIR and Xavier University's Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. We hope to continue to pursue shared, sacred meaning and spread learning, justice and peace throughout Cincinnati and beyond. Rabbi Jan Katsew, Director of Service Learning, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
When I served as the director of Ethics/Religion and Society (2015-2018), I had the privilege of partnering with the Brueggeman Center to host a number of events that addressed issues of race and racism in Cincinnati and America. Along with other University and community partners we hosted a talk by Ta-Nehisi Coates on race in America and a community Town Hall on the social and racial unrest in Cincinnati in 2001. These are difficult topics, no doubt. However, meaningful dialogue about these topics is much needed. Coates's talk was attended by over 3000 people and the Town Hall on 2001 was not only at capacity, it was also streamed online by local TV news and covered by various news outlets. Collaborating with James and Cynthia at the Brueggeman Center allowed these events to reach a broad audience and provoke much needed dialogue on issues of race and racism in our community. Dr. Gabe Gottlieg, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Xavier University
Reelabilities (now Over the Rhine International Film Festival in Cincinnati) is a film festival that promotes the stories and artistic work of people with different abilities. The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue's sponsorship of the ReelAbilities Interfaith Breakfast brought together for the first time Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders to talk about their experience of disability and pray for inclusion. Their presence combined with film clips from the festival sensitized all in attendance and validated the different abilities. Noel Jules-Dehner, Episcopal Priest and Documentary Film Maker
The Brueggeman Fellows is a fabulous opportunity for occupational therapy majors. Participation in the Fellowship Program has served as pivotal in the lives of several occupational therapy students here at Xavier University. Given participation in the Fellowship Program is a university-wide competitive endeavor and only a handful selected annually; it is the occupational therapy students showing strong initiative for independent study and travel who are selected to participate. Over the past five years our occupational therapy students studied in Central America, England, and China and a fourth is scheduled to study in Asia in 2020. Topics ranged from research on access to health care to the interventions for those involved in the criminal justice system. Such study led to further growth and development of each individual in unique, exciting, and innovative ways. For example, one student recently completed his PhD with his Brueggeman Fellowship a formative backdrop to dissertation completion and work with individuals who speak Spanish. Another remains employed directly by the criminal justice system. Both stand as exemplary occupational therapists as they truly provide services as wanted and needed by the populations they serve. Additionally, the cultural humility realized by study and travel outside the United States will serve to open even more doors for these current and future illustrious occupational therapists. Carol Scheerer, Chair, Occupational Therapy Department, Xavier University
The African Professionals Network (APNET has been very fortunate to consider the Brueggeman Center at Xavier university as a partner and advocate for the immigrant community. For years and on numerous occasions, Dr. James Buchanan and his staff have taken time out of their busy schedules to listen to the needs of the African Community and have provided resources and funding to support our programs. It is my hope that the Brueggeman Center continues to be a connector of resources; a place where all people can express their ideas and thoughts; a place where people come together to express their ideas and thoughts; a place people come to address the problems in our society through dialogue. On behalf of the APNET leadership, we salute you for all your work and dedication to our community. Prince Ellis, President, African Professionals Network (APNET)
The Brueggeman Center is a model of community collaboration. I have had the pleasure of working with the Center and its staff during my tenure at two different institutions—the Taft Museum of Art and the Skirball Museum of Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion. In each instance James Buchanan and Cynthia Cummins have demonstrated what partnership really looks like, investing time and resources to projects that benefit not only the Center but the larger Cincinnati community. The efforts where we have intersected have largely been around interfaith projects. Often, institutions lend their names to community partnerships and it ends there. Not so with the Center. When there was real work to be done, I could count on professional, thorough, and passionate involvement from beginning to end. There has always been a spirit of camaraderie and an understanding that we are better together than separate. Abby S. Schwartz, Director, Skirball Museum, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion
The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has been an incredible partner in the area of sustainability. The center and its director have worked closely with Xavier academic sustainability programs and Xavier’s Sustainability Committee to advance the study of sustainability on campus and beyond, as well as to enhance the sustainability of campus operations. Many of the student Brueggeman Fellows have been engaged in sustainability research abroad. The Center has partnered with Sustainability on a lecture series, free and open to the public, focused on the nexus between sustainability and equity. The center has also participated, and indeed spearheaded community effort to significantly increase our sustainability such as the Green Cincinnati Plan, the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit and helped launch the Cincinnati 2030 District project. In so many ways, the center has ably embodied the Jesuit, Catholic commitment to the welfare of both humanity and our environment. Dr. Nancy Bertaux, Professor, Economics and Chair of EOS Programs, Xavier University.
James Buchanan, on behalf of the Brueggeman Center, has supported Neighborhood Grow in its foundation to foster collaboration in communities around the themes of "Beloved Community", and "Neighborhood Economics". James has provided leadership, mentorship and connections in our work to create sustainable local economies. His influence has been a great asset to Xavier University, and I would hope the values of collaboration will succeed him. I originally met James and Cynthia around the time of the "Neighborhood Economics" conference that was hosted at the Cintas Center in 2015. I have also had the pleasure of serving with James on the Taft Lecture Series committee at Christ Church Cathedral, and the Jubilee project. The Brueggeman Center has also had a major influence in the development of the Midwest Sustainability Summit, which has grown to become one of the major conferences on sustainability in the country. The center really exemplifies a model to serve as a conduit to fostering collaboration which is a great academic opportunity for Xavier's community and students. Derek Peebles, Director, Neighborhood Grow and Past President of the Economics of Compassion Initiative.
The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has provided funding, inspiration, and meaningful conversations for a wide variety of speakers and events. As a faculty member and leader for a number of initiatives over the years, I have valued the Center’s openness to working with the Ethics/Religion and Society program, Sustainability, and many other programs. In addition to making it possible to leverage speakers that we might not otherwise have been able to host, they also provide clean, attractive and convenient lodging for out of town speakers. Perhaps more than anything, the dining space of the Center has been the site of some of my most fond memories at Xavier. Twelve to fifteen people from a wide variety of backgrounds, all with instructions to participate in one conversation, share insights and experiences in an informal setting over good food and all leave more thoughtful as a result. Dr. Kathleen Smythe, Chair, History Department, Xavier University.
I have had a longstanding relationship with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, having worked, initially, very closely with its namesake and interreligious relations icon, Father Edward B. Brueggeman S.J., on numerous dialogic endeavors; then, having the privilege of serving on the Center’s founding board of advisors. Throughout my involvement up to the present, the Center’s work and contributions to the community have honored the memory of Fr. Brueggeman and adhered to the exemplary academic and ethical standards of Xavier University. The Center, under the leadership team of James Buchanan Ph.D. and Cynthia Cummins, has been a major player in providing community education and intellectual enlightenment on a range of critical issues. It has advanced interfaith relations immeasurably and, through its collaborative approach, furthered inclusion, equity and justice in a number of venues. With its small staff, the Center has had to work smarter to bring about the extraordinary community impact it has achieved. And it has! The Center sees a community need, whether it’s the resurgence of hate crimes, tribalism and divisiveness, then prompts us, partners with us, connects us, guides us, and, to the extent it can, helps to resource our efforts to address it. Recent examples are its leading role in the founding of the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate and in organizing our community’s historic Cincinnati Festival of Faiths. Without question, the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue is one of our region’s most valuable players in effectuating a compassionate community. Thank you, James, Cynthia and Fr. Graham! Robert C. “Chip” Harrod, Executive Director, Bridges of Faith Trialogue
The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue has been an important leader in supporting refugees in our community. The Center serves as a respected convener for organizations that are supporting refugees and asylees in Cincinnati, and works to amplify the voices of our families. The Center, through Director James P. Buchanan, PhD, has been involved with Cincinnati's Immigrant and Refugee Law Center (IRLC) from its inception. IRLC provides free legal services to refugee families through community learning centers in Cincinnati Public Schools in order to created a more welcoming, safer, and more stable community for families. The only organization of its kind in the country, IRLC's model is a game changer and it has quickly become a community organization. The Brueggeman Center hosted the official IRLC's official community launch event in May 2018, and Dr. Buchanan has been instrumental in leading the way forward as a founding IRLC Board Member. Julie LeMaster, Executive Director, The Immigrant and Refugee Law Center
Over the last ten years or more if there was any discussion where the “morality” of a complex subject was not clear to me, you were the first people who I thought of to ask for help me understand the different perspectives in play. While I know lots of people in this region, there are very, very few that have gained this level of trust with me. I have been fortunate to have been involved in each of the 5 programs that the Brueggeman is actively contributing to a more just, equitable and sustainable world. In all of them James has been instrumental in making them move in the right direction.The problem the search committee is going to encounter is the challenge to find somebody who was (and is) such a perfect ”fit” for the center as well as for the person. While I am sure you will enjoy and excel on the next phase of your professional life, I think the first thing you could do for the continuous success of the Brueggeman is to spend as much time as required to train and onboard your replacement so nothing gets lost in the leadership transition. All of the 5 program areas are very current complex issues where the Center is making a big difference in our community. Alphonso Cornejo, Chair, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
That our national civic capacities, orientations, and habits are in decline is widely acknowledged. We are increasingly “bowling alone,” in Robert Putnam’s famous metaphor. Add to this the filter bubbles that our online interactions perpetuate. Our formal national ‘debates’ appear to be less about advancing understanding and more about mobilizing one’s faction. For those who value deliberative democratic citizenship, the picture can appear grim. Universities represent potential bastions of civic space and engagement, particularly when they offer venues for productive deliberation on difficult and complex issues. The Brueggeman Center has been at the forefront of creating such civic opportunities at Xavier University, in Cincinnati, and the wider region. By hosting speakers, panels, and dialogues, the Center brought students, faculty, staff, and members of the regional community together in public intellectual forums. The programming fosters citizenship skills and awareness of complex issues, nudging attendees too integrate different parts of their knowledge and life experience. In recent years, the Center has increasingly emphasized community partnerships for collaboration. By taking the initiative as a pro-active broker, the Center has helped overcome information gaps, building relationships of trust, which improve the likelihood of collective action for the common good, while critically assessing conceptions of the good. On a more personal note- I have profited enormously from the Brueggeman Center in terms of my scholarly and personal development. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities to participate in programming and especially for the energy, connections, and wide-ranging interests that James Buchanan has brought to his role as Director. In sum, the Brueggeman Center has fostered civic engagement and collaboration at a time when these are sorely needed, bringing immeasurable value to the Xavier University community as well as the wider public. Anas Malik, PhD, Associate Professor, Political Science, Xavier
In 2005, the Brueggeman Center was the locus of intense interfaith collaboration as a multi-media exhibit, entitled, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, was being created. The idea behind the exhibit came from Professor Yaffa Eliach, Holocaust survivor and the then holder of the Brueggeman Chair for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. But her idea was given flesh and substance by Dr. James Buchanan, Rabbi Ingber, and me—a team of Jews and Christians—working together with graphic artists and many others to commemorate the mutually affirming relationship between a Jew (Jerzy Kluger) and a Catholic (Karol Wojtyła/future John Paul II) that ultimately changed the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism in a fundamental way. The creation of this profoundly moving interfaith project was made possible because of the financial support of many Catholics and Jews, but most especially because of the generous seed money and ongoing support provided by a Catholic institution (Xavier University) and a Jewish institution (Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati). In fact, from the support of Pope John Paul II himself and Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo di Segni to the local promotion of the exhibit by the Catholic Telegraph and the American Israelite, every step of the way was marked by dialogue steadily deepening interfaith collaboration. After its opening on the Xavier campus in 2005, the exhibit travelled the country coast to coast and was seen by more than one million people, before going on display at the Vatican in 2015, where it was experienced by an international audience. In every community that the exhibit visited, new interfaith relationships were established where they may not have existed before. That is the power of the Brueggeman Center’s way of proceeding: bringing people together to tear down barriers to understanding and building bridges to collaboration and friendship—thereby helping to heal a divided world. It was a great privilege to be a part of this interfaith bridge-building initiative, and one of the most personally satisfying projects in which I have ever been involved. William Madges, PhD, Chair, Department of Theology