Photo R to L: Prof Mona Khoury-Kassabri, Laura Marks, Alan Jacobs (BFHU Chair)
Coming from a Christian Arab family in Haifa, gaining a place at the prestigious Hebrew University of Jerusalem, later a Fulbright Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, and a visiting professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work University of Toronto, Prof Khoury-Kassabri, rose to become Dean of the Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work & Social Welfare. Her own research revolves around issues related to child and youth welfare as she continue to explore and understand how to mend divisions between minorities and the ‘mainstream’ in Israeli society particularly within the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Now, as Vice President Diversity and Strategy, she is responsible for ensuring that overlooked minorities are not just better represented at the University but engaged. “It’s simply not enough to open your doors, people know they are different, and arrive with challenges much of which can be helped through socialisation between groups in a meaningful sensitive manner. Campus might well be the first instance of interaction, it’s hard to imagine”
During her short stay in London, Prof Khoury-Kassabri met with counterparts at leading UK universities, covering diversity issues and strategic planning while exploring bilateral academic and research ties and opportunities for establishing student exchange programmes. These connections weren’t easy over the past 2 years due to Covid restrictions; now, once again the UK’s world-class universities and the Hebrew University, Israel’s foremost centre of advanced learning and research, can see connections flourish.
In addition to media interviews, Mona was guest speaker at a British Friends evening gathering, a beautiful outdoor location on a warm summer evening. The event, facilitated by Laura Marks, co-Founder of Nisa-Nashim and founder Mitzvah day, saw Mona speak openly about her diversity role at the Hebrew University and some good cause for optimism “we are fortunate”, said Mona, “that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recognises its responsibility to meaningfully give student the feeling that they belong and more broadly feel equal and not discriminated, to feel that the University belongs to all of us”. In her very candid style, Mona adds, “there is a saying, diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being invited to dance”
Professor Khouri-Kassabry was recently ranked #3 in Globes listing [in Hebrew] of Israel’s 50 most influential women.