We Can Be podcast - The Heinz Endowments

Different but united: the palpable positivity of 24-hours-a-day bridge-builder Wasi Mohamed S2EP10

May 29, 2019

When Wasi Mohamed led the Muslim community in an international fundraising effort that raised a quarter of a million dollars for the families of those killed in the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the world got to know the man many have called “a 24-hours-a-day bridge-builder.”


Born and raised in an Indian-Muslim family in central Pennsylvania, Wasi recalls his childhood home being pelted with mustard packets and paint bombs, and dynamite exploding their mailbox.


“It changes who you are at a very young age,” he says.


But the change it spurred in Wasi was to push forward with palpable positivity when interacting with others and to follow a calling to build bridges between disparate communities, first as executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, and currently addressing economic justice as Pittsburgh local director of community entrepreneurship with Forward Cities.  


Wasi speaks with refreshing candor about how he’s seen the United States’ “wheel of oppression” roll in his lifetime, how we can regain the grace that has been lost by racist narratives that program division into our national character, and why he believes we can, indeed, be “different but united.”



“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments and Treehouse Media. Theme music by Josh Slifkin; incidental music by Giuseppe Capolupo. Guest image by Josh Franzos. Guest inquiries: Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.