Farah Pandith Announced as First-Ever Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate

| Sep. 21, 2020

Today, on the United Nations International Day of Peace, the Muhammad Ali Center is proud to announce the appointment of Ms. Farah Pandith as its first-ever Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate, a distinction that will amplify Ali’s message of peace, respect, and mutual understanding and that will magnify, on a larger stage, the mission of the Muhammad Ali Center.

Ms. Pandith’s impressive career, in part, includes: serving with distinction for three American presidents (George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama); and on the National Security Council, at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of State. She is the former first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities; is a senior fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; and is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ms. Pandith is also the author of How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremism Threat.  Charged with “sustainable civility” and increasing opportunities for communities to work together to be the best of humanity, the inaugural Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate is awarded to a woman who has spent her life working to engage with others, to seek common ground, and listen to voices that are not always heard.

Having this announcement today is fitting on several fronts: First, Muhammad Ali was a United Nations Messenger of Peace. As a fighter and uniter, Muhammad used his athletic accomplishments as a platform for social justice and social change. Second, since late 2019, the Muhammad Ali Center has been associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, whose mission is, in part, “interacting and partnering with diverse audiences; and building support for peace, sustainable development and human rights for all.” This year’s theme is Shaping Peace Together. And third, communities around the globe today are demanding real and sustainable change and a new era of humanity. A re-awakening of longstanding inequities has unleashed a tidal wave of courageous demonstrations that demands a better, more civil, and more peaceful world against racism, bigotry, discrimination, and systematic inequalities. Our world is seeing an increase in hate and extremism that are occurring as a result of “Us vs. Them” ideologies. Opening up as many channels as possible to work together for humanity and with empathy, compassion, and mutual understanding—as Muhammad Ali himself would have done—are both timely and vital. Timing has met opportunity. To echo what the late Civil Rights Leader, Representative John Lewis said, “Peace cannot exist where justice is not served.”

Ms. Pandith’s role as the Muhammad Ali Peace Laureate will include engaging with civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), corporations, philanthropists, and government in ways that build on Ali’s commitment to social justice and civility. The objectives will occur in stages: first by storytelling, then building and connecting with local and global networks for change; and finally by seeding new projects to create actionable initiatives, including potential funding and partnership opportunities. She will hold a three-year appointment.

“I am humbled and honored to be named the Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate,” said Farah Pandith. “I continue to be deeply moved by Muhammad’s example of service as a peacemaker, humanitarian and champion of dignity for all. Especially during this time of great change and promise, his life and example remind us of what is possible. Through this new role, I hope to ignite new possibilities for our shared future, in ways that Muhammad Ali always believed were possible.”

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, said, “It is rare to find a person of this stature and prominence who is so perfectly in sync with Muhammad’s principles and who also has the commitment to tackle the critical issues that are so central to all of us today. Farah Pandith is a trailblazer and pioneer in fighting the ideology of hate and extremism and a forceful advocate for diversity and equity. We are fortunate to have her as our first-ever Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate.”

To begin her efforts as the Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate, Ms. Pandith will spearhead two immediate initiatives in early 2021:

  • The Ali Center Commission on Civility and Compassion: Pandith will launch a bi-partisan Commission that aims to chart a bold vision for the future of U.S. leadership in civility and compassion at home (and abroad) by creating a road map to help heal our country on the local, state, and federal levels and by identifying global relationships that mirror both the Muhammad Ali Center’s mission and Mr. Ali’s message of peace. The Commission will offer the opportunity to build a sensible, youth-oriented approach. Ms. Pandith will serve as a commissioner and advisor.
  • Muhammad Ali’s Spiritual Journey Podcast: An unprecedented podcast, co-produced by America Abroad Media and the Ali Center, and with the partnership of National Public Radio (NPR), will open up Ali’s faith journey through new stories, insights and historic data-points. In sharing this new narrative of Ali’s spiritual journey and common humanity, its aim is to inspire listeners to better understand their own journey in new ways and bring communities together for the greater good. The podcast will also be distributed internationally and will be released during Black History Month in February 2021.

For more detailed information about the Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate position, click HERE.

For more about Farah Pandith, visit


  – Via Muhammad Ali Center.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Farah Pandith Announced as First-Ever Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate.” Announcement, , September 21, 2020.