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Former Gov. Thomas Kean to Keynote Drew University Peace and Empowerment Awards March 31

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An Irish humanitarian, author and film producer will be the first recipient of the “Peace through Truth and Reconciliation” Award, being presented by Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict (CRCC), at a gala where Thomas H. Kean, former New Jersey Governor who also served as Drew’s 10th president, is chairman and keynote speaker.

Award-winner Don Mullan was a teenager attending his first protest in Derry when he witnessed the tragic shooting of civilians by British soldiers in 1972, leading to what is commonly known as Bloody Sunday.

Mullan, who became a bestselling author, film producer and humanitarian, is widely regarded as the man who got the British government to re-examine the events of that day, which ultimately led to the British government apologizing for the massacre. He is also credited with helping to advance the Irish peace process.

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Mullan will receive the CCRC’s first “Peace through Truth and Reconciliation” award from Drew Professor Christine Kinealy at the gala on March 31.

“Don has been tireless in his efforts to uncover the truth about distortions of history, and to much personal sacrifice,” Kinealy said. “He’s passionate about Ireland, but his work is universal. He’d say we can’t just argue our cause, because our cause is social justice everywhere.”

A second award will be given out that evening. “The Empowerment through Education Award” will be given to the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF), a Morristown-based organization that raises money to provide college tuition for Afghan women to study at colleges around the United States.

AGFAF, which began in 2008, pairs Afghan women students with participating U.S. institutions, finds host families for the students and provides financial support. At least 30 students have already been assisted through the fund, attending institutions such as Yale, Rutgers, Mount Holyoke and Drew.

Shamila Kohestani, the former captain of the first Women’s Afghan National Soccer Team, graduated from Drew in 2012 through the AGFAF program. She will be presenting the award to AGFAF at the gala. AGFAF Founder Leo Motiuk will accept the award.

“AGFAF recognizes that education has the power to make not only Afghanistan, but the world a better place,” Kohestani said. “Investing in women’s education in Afghanistan will result in improving women’s lives, health, gender equality and reducing poverty.”

The gala will be held at a private home in Mendham on Mon. March 31. Individual tickets begin at $250, and VIP tickets and sponsorship opportunities are also available. The VIP reception, which begins at 6 p.m., includes the interfaith artwork of George Lewis, music and photo opportunities. The dinner and awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Please call 973-408-3227 by March 21 to purchase tickets.

About Drew University

Drew University is a private, liberal arts university located in Madison, N.J., just 29 miles west of New York City. Ranked among the top liberal arts institutions nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Washington Monthly, Drew is also listed in Princeton Review's Best 378 Colleges. The Drew promise—We Deliver Full-Impact Learning to the World—emphasizes the university's commitment to borderless education that enables a student's greatest success in a globally connected world. Drew has a total student enrollment of more than 2,000 in three schools: the College of Liberal Arts, the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and the Drew Theological School. The undergraduate program offers degrees in 30 different disciplines, while Caspersen and the Theological School offer degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. For more information, visit

About Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict

Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict (CRCC) focuses critical attention on the complex ways in which cultures and religions interact, especially in moments of crisis and conflict. CRCC seeks to encourage and facilitate scholarly understanding of and conversation about the most problematic, and often tragic, intersections where religions and cultures meet. Each year, CRCC welcomes scholars and public figures to campus, such as leading Egyptian human rights and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim; Iranian-American scholar and author of the bestselling book Zealot, Reza Aslan; and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. For more information, visit

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