On Friday, May 20, 2011 a group of around 40 invited guests from the private sector, academia, and the social/NGO sector gathered in Conte Hall in the Heritage Building at Haigazian University to be introduced to Mr. Donald Goertzen and Mrs. Cyra Goertzen. The Goertzens will be working at Haigazian University for the next 15 months, seconded by the Mennonite Central Committee, to plan and help establish a Center for Economic Justice at Haigazian University. Between the two of them, Cyra and Donald bring extensive experience in economic justice work in the United States and the Philippines. This has taken the form of international advocacy involving governments and multilateral agencies, livelihoods work in the rural Philippines, teaching graduate and undergraduate students, program development and research. Cyra’s emphasis in her graduate work is on knowledge management and national innovation systems. Donald holds graduate degrees in divinity and journalism and has completed doctoral course work in social ethics and political economy.
The evening was opened by Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, President of Haigazian University, who spoke of the need for economic justice and for a change in the way things have been done over the years. He also shared about who the Goertzens are and the experience that they bring to this work. The head of the Mennonite Central Committee in Syria and Lebanon, Ms. Sarah Adams, shared of her excitement for the partnership with Haigazian University and the Mennonite Central Committee as well as her anticipation for the center that will be created. Cyra and Donald Goertzen both shared some of their vision for their time working to establish the center and their plans to learn as much as they can about the realities of how things are done here in Lebanon so as to open the best center possible. The final word of the evening was given to Her Excellency Minister Nayla Moawad, founder and honorary president of the Rene Moawad Foundation, who encouraged and supported the endeavor and gave the Goertzens some wise counsel as they begin the process of establishing the center. The rest of the evening was designed for those in attendance to get to know the Goertzens and to share ideas about economic justice with them.