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King University News :: Philanthropist and Writer Roberta Ahmanson to Speak at King College

King College and the Buechner Institute welcome Roberta Green Ahmanson, a writer and philanthropist whose public activities focus on deepening awareness and understanding of the role of religion in public life, the importance of knowing history to understand the present, and the vital role the arts play in shaping human experience. Ahmanson will speak at King's Memorial Chapel and Student Center Complex Boardroom on Feb. 20, as part of the Institute's 2011-2012 Lecture Series.

A notable philanthropist who has also worked in journalism and the arts, Roberta Ahmanson will bring an interesting perspective to the Buechner Institute's series for the spring of 2012, stated Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute at King College.

Ahmanson, chairman of the board of the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City, is a regular speaker at the International Arts Movement's annual encounters, and a frequent commentator on the arts. She has sponsored a number of international art exhibitions in the United States and Great Britain, the most recent being The Sacred Made Real at the National Gallery, London, in the fall of 2009.

Ahmanson also serves as chairman of the board of the Media Project and a contributor to Oxford University Press's 2008 award-winning book, Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion. In the book, Ahmanson, along with her co-authors, Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert, contemplate questions such as Why do the media so often miss or misunderstand major news stories. The authors derive that understanding religion is vital in accurately reporting and interpreting current events.

The essays in Blind Spot examine news stories reported by major media sources in which key religious dimensions were ignored, overlooked, or misrepresented. Ahmanson, along with Marshal and Gilbert, offer readers, whether people of faith or not, an analysis of the news media's uneasy relationship with religion and religious issues.

Ahmanson also co-authored the book, Islam at the Crossroads: Understanding its Beliefs, History, and Conflicts, with Marshal and Gilbert in 2002.

With her husband, Howard, Ahmanson is a trustee of their private philanthropy, Fieldstead and Company. Most recently, the Ahmanson's received Arts Orange County's 2010 Achievement Award for Outstanding Arts Philanthropist.

Ahmanson is currently serving as the second Visionary-in-Residence for Biola University during the school's 2011-2012 Year of the Arts. Ahmanson helped orchestrate and fund the event, a yearlong series of exhibits, interdisciplinary lectures, concerts, reading, symposia and collaborative projects at Biola. Ahmanson chose the theme, Sanctuary and Sacred Space, for the year and loaned some of her extensive art collection to Biola University for exhibitions, including an exhibition of the work of Danish artist Maja Lisa Engelhardt.

Both Ahmanson and her husband, Howard, were granted honorary doctoral degrees from Biola University in 2006.

Ahmanson previously worked as a sixth grade teacher in Toronto, Canada, then as a religion reporter and editor for the San Bernardino Sun and the Orange County Register, both in Southern California. She grew up in Iowa and was educated in Michigan and Missouri.

Roberta Ahmanson will present Imagination Becomes Reality at 10:30 a.m. in King's Memorial Chapel, and Beauty for Ashes at 7 p.m. at the College's Student Center Complex Boardroom on Feb. 20. Both events are open to the public and free to attend. For more information, contact Dale Brown at 423.652.4156 or visit www.buechnerinstitute.org.