Jain Leaders Convene in Chicago to Shape Future of Community in North America

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Jain leaders from various corners of the United States converged in Chicago this month to deliberate on the multifaceted challenges confronting their community. Spearheaded by Dipak Jain, the former Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, this three-day assembly, held from April 5th to 7th, drew over 125 Jain leaders. Among them were representatives from prominent organizations such as the Jain Association of North America (JAINA), Young Jains of America (YJA), Young Jain Professionals (YJP), and Jain International Trade Organization (JITO), along with other Jain centers across the continent.

The primary objective of this gathering, orchestrated by JAINA’s Long Range Planning Committee, was to chart the course for the future of Jainism. In his keynote address, Dipak Jain, the first Jain dean at a North American academic institution, underscored how fundamental Jain principles like ahimsa (non-violence), anekantvad (multiplicity of viewpoints), and aparigraha (simplicity/non-possessiveness) had steered him through a successful career and numerous life hurdles.

“Excellence has no bounds, you can reach any height but there is always more to do. No challenge ahead of you is greater than the force behind you,” he remarked.

Reflecting on the event, Dr. Manoj Jain, chair of JAINA’s Long Range Planning Committee, remarked, “It was an amazing gathering to get leaders, young as well as seasoned, to gather and share as well as debate how to move forward in developing a vision, mission, and strategy for a community of 200,000 Jains in North America.”

Throughout the event’s eight round tables, participants exchanged insights and experiences on a range of topics, including enhancing Jain Center engagement and raising awareness of Jainism among the broader North American populace.

Prem Jain, a former president of JAINA and member of the Long Range Planning Committee, emphasized the importance of translating vision, mission, and strategy into tangible projects on the ground. He stated, “However, having a vision, mission, and strategy is insufficient for a meaningful change. Hence we need projects on the ground.”

The palpable energy and enthusiasm among attendees were evident as they eagerly sought opportunities to put their learnings into action. At the Jain Leadership Forum 2024, participants were treated to fully vegan meals throughout the weekend and had the chance to hear from over 25 Jain Project Champions.

Yogendra Jain, the team lead from Boston, highlighted the significance of the event in providing a solid foundation for new initiatives, fostering synergies, expanding networking opportunities, and delineating a clear roadmap for shaping the future of Jainism in North America. He shared, “For the attendees, Jain Leadership Forum 2024 provided a solid foundation from which to build new initiatives, create synergies, expand on networking opportunities, and define a clear picture of how to shape Jainism’s future in North America.”

Mayur Shah, the team lead from Philadelphia, emphasized the lasting impact of the forum, noting that each participant left equipped with an enhanced toolkit to inspire their local Jain communities to plan for the future and a broader network of Jain leaders to fortify the foundations of the expansive North American Jain community for future generations.

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