The faith community has the largest audiences and build the highest levels of trust among its congregations, making diversity and inclusion extremely important to understanding and respect. As our nation continues to struggle with acceptance, we must also open our minds to learn more about the vast faith traditions and cultures that make up the diverse tapestry of New Jersey and the nation.

While life-threatening incidents of Islamophobic hate crimes hit an all-time high across the nation, the American Conference on Diversity will be honoring the Islamic Networks Group of New Jersey Director Seham Abdala with the Interfaith Diversity Champion Award on Thursday, April 7.

In line with the mission of our organization, Ms. Abdala says: “I believe that a deeper understanding of different religions and cultures will contribute to peace and harmony in the world.”

Ms. Abdala, an American Muslim, worked as a Principal Engineer at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCD), a Johnson & Johnson company, for more than 20 years. She was one of the leaders who launched the first fully automated blood bank instrument in the world. She received several Johnson & Johnson R&D awards for excellent performance and teamwork. She visited most European countries and worked with colleagues from Europe, Asia, and Japan.

While at Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Abdala started the Association of Middle Eastern and North African Heritage (AMENAH) affinity group chapter at OCD. Led by Ms. Abdala, AMENAH (an Arabic word that means trust worthy) collaborated with the many other J&J affinity groups as well as participated in Diversity and Inclusion awareness programs.

Ms. Abdala took early retirement from J&J and started NJ Islamic Networks Group (NJ-ING), a local chapter of a national organization based in San Jose, CA. She is a volunteer acting as the executive director, board member, and a certified speaker. ING promotes tolerance and understanding of Islam and other religions through presentations and multi-faith panels in schools, temples, and civic organizations. The organization’s basic objective with regard to schools is to provide administrators and teachers with a reliable resource about the basic tenets of Muslim faith and to complement the study of Islam in the context of World History and Social Sciences. Additionally, ING provides cultural diversity seminars about Muslims tailored for healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers, and corporate managers.

In addition to honoring Ms. Abdala, the American Conference on Diversity will present awards to the following:

The Luing Family, Berkeley College (Legacy Award)

Jennifer Allyn, Diversity Strategy Leader at PwC (Corporate Ambassador Award)

Deborah Dagit, Principal of Deb Dagit Diversity (Diversity Ambassador Award)

Sue Henderson, Ocean High School Counselor (Education Diversity Champion Award)

This annual fundraiser is more important than ever because it supports education that opens minds that can save lives! The American Conference on Diversity’s mission is to build just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. By bringing together top executives and community leaders, we hope to raise $300,000 to continue to provide diversity and inclusion services, including the signature Lead for Diversity Institute. The yearlong program has positively impacted the lives of more than 3,200 high-school students over the past two decades by providing leadership development so youth can take action against all forms of hate in their schools and communities.

In addition to networking, dining, and entertainment, this year’s fundraiser will include a silent auction of artwork, sports memorabilia, and fine jewelry items. The annual event will kick off with a stellar cocktail reception at 6 p.m. at the historic Pleasantdale Château (757 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052).

Seats are limited and filling up fast! Purchase tickets today by contacting Gala Coordinator Barbara Getze at or (800) 626-8097 today. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Want to demonstrate your commitment to youth leadership-development and diversity & inclusion? Various sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Dinner sponsors include: Berkeley College, Prudential Financial (Executive Advisory Leadership), PSEG, Verizon (Executive Founder), Investors Bank, L’Oréal USA, NJM Insurance Group, New Jersey Natural Gas (Community Underwriters), PNC Bank, and Genova Burns (Justice Sponsors).

About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity is dedicated to building just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit to learn more.