ABOUT SHARIF ABDULLAH

SHARIF ABDULLAH is an author and catalyst for inclusive social, cultural and spiritual transformation. His work on humanistic globalization has taken him to over two dozen countries and to every continent.  Sharif received a BA in Psychology from Clark University and a juris doctor from Boston University.   Sharif is on the adjunct faculty at Portland State University (Conflict Resolution/Philosophy) and has appeared on several international globalization forums.  His writing includes The Power of One:  Authentic Leadership in Turbulent Times and Creating a World That Works for All.  He is founder and president of Commonway Institute in Portland, Oregon.

SHARIF ABDULLAH is a leading proponent and catalyst for inclusive social, cultural and spiritual transformation. He is currently founder and president of Commonway Institute, dedicated to the creation of a society that is in line with our deepest spiritual values -- a society that works for all. Commonway is designed to build inclusivity, understanding and civic engagement between diverse groups of people.

Background and Training:
Sharif’s quest began in the worst that America has to offer: Camden, NJ.  His early life was a study in toxic relationships, including  welfare, public housing, grinding poverty, near constant violence, and a polluted environment. 

Sharif’s activist and empowerment background stretches back to the mid-Sixties, where he was a founder of the Black People’s Unity Movement (BPUM), an organization dedicated to self-help and development in the inner city of Camden, New Jersey.  As a teenager in the BPUM, Sharif participated in the creation of a sewing factory, two day care centers, over 100 units of affordable housing, a supermarket, gas station and other economic development activities.  

Sharif received a BA in Psychology from Clark University in Massachusetts and went on to earn a juris doctor degree from Boston University.   During his practice of law in North Carolina, Sharif represented a variety of clients, ranging from indigent clients seeking better housing to successful businesspeople seeking new ways to serve their communities.  It was during his law practice that Sharif received the first of several national awards for innovative self-help and community empowerment activities.   

Despite these successes, Sharif became increasingly disillusioned with the adversarial process as a means of reaching an inclusive community.  After practicing law in Charlotte, North Carolina for six years, Sharif  left the practice of law, choosing a path to social change which is positive, inclusive and honors the dignity of all beings.
    
The Work
In the 90’s, Sharif’s focus shifted from physical development as a means of catalyzing community and spiritual development to working with inclusivity, empowerment and spiritual transformation directly.  Sharif has worked with thousands of individuals and facilitated scores of transformation, empowerment and leadership sessions for various public and private organizations, including city and county governments, federal agencies like US Forest Service and HUD, international bodies like The United Nations, and Sarvodaya Shramadana and large corporations like Freightliner Corporation.      

Commonway’s major project, the Three Valleys Project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, catalyzed inclusive community in the small agricultural towns surrounding Portland, Oregon.

Sharif served for five years as adjunct faculty at Marylhurst University, applying the principles of inclusivity for graduate students in business development and transformation.  Sharif also served as a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, conducting interdisciplinary lectures in compassion, wisdom, spirituality and social justice.  Sharif currently is an adjunct faculty member at Portland State University, in the philosophy/ conflict resolution department.

In addition, Sharif has facilitated workshops with organizations like Association for Humanistic Psychology, Institute of Noetic Sciences, the International Conflict Resolution Conference, Institute for Sustainable Development, and others.  At the invitation of President Vaclav Havel, in 1998 Sharif was one of 40 delegates to Forum 2000, held in Prague, Czech Republic.  Sharif returned to Prague in June of 1999 as a workshop facilitator for the student portion of Forum 2000.  Also in 1999, Sharif was a keynote presenter at “The Century of Auschwitz”, a conference on genocide held in Krakow, Poland.

While based in Portland, Oregon, Sharif’s work for an inclusive world has taken him to over a dozen foreign countries, including:

 
EUROPE:
Belgium
Czech Republic (X4)
England (X4)
Italy 
Germany (X3)
Poland  (X2)
Russia  (X4)

MID EAST AND ASIA
Bahrain
China (X2)
Indonesia (X3)
New Zealand
Sri Lanka (X9)
 

THE AMERICAS
Bahamas
Belize
Brazil  (X2)
Canada  (X5)
Cuba (X3)
Mexico  (X5)
 

Sharif is the author of  The Power of One:  Authentic Leadership in Turbulent Times and Creating a World That Works For All.  In addition, he has published many articles on the subjects of values, personal and cultural transformation and empowerment. Sharif's work has been featured in a number of books and publications, including The Rise of the Intelligent Organization, A House Divided, and A Cultural Diversity Sourcebook, Bridging the Racial Divide, and The Psychology of Terrorism.

Sharif has served on numerous boards and commissions, including as Chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Minority Affairs Commission (1988-90), the Federal Home Loan Bank Housing Advisory Board (1990-92), Chair of the Portland Affordable Rental Housing Commission (1992-95), and on the Association for Humanistic Psychology (1993-95).  Sharif is currently on the Advisory Board for Friends of Trees and is a Founding Board member of the Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES! A Journal of Positive Futures. 
 

My work is essentially spiritual.  Not the empty platitudes that are mouthed on Sundays (or Fridays, or Saturdays...), but a real-time dynamic search for meaning in a world gone crazy.  We are not here to increase market share, freshen our breath or root for the home team.  We are here to actually act like we love each other, and to act out that love on a daily basis.  

Spirituality for me is an unrelenting commitment to honor the Divine within each of us.  I can’t do that if I am at war with others, or at war with myself.  I am committed to ending the war.  I am committed to creating a world that works for all.

Sharif Abdullah