Over the years, Andra’s horizons have expanded to embrace people of different faiths and cultures. From her early years as a teacher in Early Childhood Education where she taught in the most privileged and also underprivileged schools, to becoming the Department Chair of the ESOL Department (English Speakers of Other Languages) where her students shared stories of their countries’ struggles and their personal challenges emigrating to the United States, Andra learned the importance of “welcoming the stranger” and embracing people of different religions and cultures; a principle embedded in the world’s religions. As winner of the US Department of State’s, ”Awards For Excellence in Teaching”, when Andra was presented the opportunity to represent the US along with other professionals, she gladly accepted her assignment in Moscow, Russia to collaborate and share educational strategies. Still, Andra counts as one of her greatest accomplishments as a teacher, helping a young high school girl who was an elective mute to speak.
Upon retirement, Andra’s focus became interfaith bridge-building coordinating many interfaith and peace events in the Washington Metropolitan area. One in particular covered by Voice of America, was “Yes We Can Middle East Peace” bringing together US musicians from different faith traditions and musicians from Israel/Palestine to give hope of peace in the region. It was natural, then, for Andra to serve for many years on the Unity Walk Interfaith Steering Committee inviting the interfaith community to bond and “get to know one another” with its many activities that cultivated respect and acceptance bringing about peace and harmony among religions.
As past MLK Program Director for the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, Andra coordinated the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Commemorative event in Washington, DC, bringing together people of different religions to serve on the MLK Planning Committee. As an adjunct to the program, Andra founded the “Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Peace Expo: Welcome to the Beloved Community” featuring over 45 organizations who offered needed services to our community. In order to “pass the torch” and ensure our youth will carry on this important interfaith work to be of service, Andra added to the program the presentation of the “Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Humanitarian Youth Award” honoring youths, like its first recipient Mikaeel Martinez Jaka, who have selflessly given back to humanity.
In response to the upsurge of religious hate crimes, Andra became the Co-Founder and President of the “Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum to build ties of communication and cooperation and co-founded JAMAAT ( “Jews and Muslims and Allies Acting Together”) that hosts many community building events, one of which is the “Annual Summit of Greater Washington Imams, Rabbis and Leadership Colleagues” which Andra coordinates in conjunction with the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society ( JIDS) of Washington. As Co-Chairman of JAMAAT’S “Committee Against Bigotry and Hate”, Andra worked with the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center in Washington, DC. to develop a “Civil Dialogue Training Series” for Community Leaders and coordinated the well known, “Spread Hummus Not Hate” Interfaith Bus Tour stopping at universities and on the Hill with statesmen to affirm that we are One Human Family. Andra currently serves as one of JAMAAT’s Executive Directors and is their Advisor.
The Interfaith Liaison of Fairfax County invited Andra to join Fairfax County Government’s “Clergy and Leadership Council” where she served as the Chairperson of the Council’s Charter Development Committee and member of the Council’s Domestic Violence Task Force to train clergy how to address this important issue in their respective congregations. Her relationship continues today with Fairfax County as a member of their interfaith “Faith and Equity Steering Committee” and with FCPS on their “Equity Policy Steering Committee”. Andra is also a member of Tysons Interfaith and the multi-cultural choral group Mosaic Harmony.
In the international arena, Andra has been a Presenter at the “Parliament of World Religions” and recently founded the,“International Interfaith Service Initiative ( IISI) Youth Leaders”, whose motto is, “ Living Our Faiths Through Service” in hopes of bringing the world’s youth together in service to humanity. In addition to her other activities, Andra serves as President Emeritus and Advisor on the Board of Directors of one of Mohanji Foundation’s many charitable organizations, “World Consciousness Alliance” ( WCA ), a global initiative whose mission is to raise consciousness through the arts of the importance of living the highest of human values and ethics; which are truly exemplified in all religions. In 2022, under the auspices of the WCA, Andra brought together representatives from around the world to coordinate the Global Festival of the Arts to raise consciousness of the needs of the impoverished communities in the Amazon RainForest.
Currently, she serves as Advisor on the Board of the Mohanji Foundation USA.
Andra resides in N.VA and has three adult children and three grandchildren. She enjoys her interfaith work and hosting her new video/audio podcast, “What’s Up Humanity? Stories That Open Minds and Hearts” featured on her “What’s Up HUMANITY?” YouTube Channel and Anchor By Spotify.