Karen Keyworth was a pillar of the Muslim educational community in the United States. She was a pioneer in Islamic education for nearly 30 years, founding an Islamic school in East Lansing, MI, and co-founding the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA). One of the pinnacles of her educational efforts occurred in 2015, when she was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Islamic Education Award by ISNA.
In 1998, she partnered with Judi Amri of Fairfax, VA to found this organization, the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA), in order to strengthen Islamic schools by facilitating networking amongst North America’s K-12 private Islamic Schools and educators. The ISLA remains the only organization dedicated solely to supporting Islamic education in the U.S. She managed one of the ISLA’s main contributions: the Islamic Educators Communication Network (IECN) email list, which comprises over 450 educators across North America.
Keyworth handled ISLA’s networking, public relations, and fundraising, as well as created policy and identified trends. In addition, she conducted research, and provided interviews and support to those seeking to better understand Islamic education. She authored approximately 80% of the site’s current web content and was the main writer for its webpages. As an ISLA representative, she made presentations at numerous community conferences and worked with educators to establish standards and best practices.
She researched Islamic schools in the US via designing and analyzing data collection and written results for a 2007 publication by Georgetown Universe and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Her research was also published in “Educating the Muslims of America” (ed. Yvonne Haddad and Farid Senzai). In addition, she published eight articles for Islamic Horizons, nearly half of which were anchor articles for its annual education issues.
She held a Bachelors (linguistics, 1980) and a Master’s degree (English and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (1982), both from Michigan State University. She spent almost 25 years as an adjunct professor at Jackson Community College and at Lansing Community College. At the latter, she taught ESL courses and developmental writing. During her eight-year ensure, she held the position of Portfolio Coordinator.
She frequently liaised between the community and the media, spoke about Islam at schools and churches and served as the chair for the American Muslim Council’s Lansing chapter.
Karen Keyworth is survived by her husband Fuad M. Al-Kabour; son Mohammed; daughters Sarah, Maryam and Hannah; and grandson, Khalid.