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Q and A with Rahman Khan

by Mark Peres

September 7,2008

Rahman Khan (Rock-mon Kon) is president of GoodWorks Media Group, a multi-channel enterprise whose mission is to inspire, educate and motivate people to do good. Prior to launching GoodWorks in 2008, Rahman was Director of Diversity and Community Relations at Compass Group. Previously, he spent ten years at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where he led the Department of Diversity and hosted and produced the award-winning TV talk-show, “Diversity Matters” for five seasons. Rahman has served on numerous boards, including those for Community Building Initiative and International House. He is a graduate of three leadership organizations, Focus on Leadership, Leading the Way and Leadership Charlotte. Rahman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Education degree in Counselor Education from Florida A&M University.

What is GoodWorks Media Group?

GoodWorks Media Group is a company whose mission is to inspire, educate and motivate people to do good. It has four aspects: consulting for diversity outreach and training, public speaking, event assistance, and our flagship enterprise: GoodWorksTV which produces GoodWorks with Rahman Kahn on WTVI. The show will showcase people and companies that consistently do good works. The show will examine what is being done, how it is being done, and hopefully encouraging others to get involved. Our first broadcast will be Sunday, October 17, 2008 at 7 PM. The motto of our show is: “All Good, All The Time.”

What led you to your mission?

There have been several influences that have inspired me to launch GoodWorks Media Group. I worked for 10 years in the school system, then 3 years for a corporation, I’ve been very active in the non-profit sector, I’ve participated in several leadership programs, and I’m guided by my faith as a Muslim – and all of it has reinforced that we focus too much on the negative. The negative only continues to limit us and hold us back. Instead, a focus on the positive is what inspires others and ultimately improves our community.

All these experiences have helped form me. I want to live with integrity, and work and speak for what’s good and right. That’s how I define my life. I want to share that it’s ok to be good and to do good. That’s what excites me.

Much of your career has been in diversity work. How do you understand diversity?

Diversity is respecting people. Diversity work is about creating opportunities for people to know each other. It is understanding the value that people bring to the table, and benefiting from that value. We don’t have to like each other for any reason, but diversity work reminds us that it is in all our interest to play well together. Diversity helps diversify and strengthens us.

What drew you to the work?

My first job was working with young students as an elementary school counselor. I was a young man from Washington DC who had moved to the South. I remember my first day in a school here in Charlotte that had a mix of lower and middle income students. I was wearing a starched shirt, a tie and shined shoes, having just earned my master’s degree in counseling, ready to begin my career, when a third-grader came up to me and asked: “Are you the janitor?” It was a personal moment that brought home how we draw conclusions about people in our community. Later, I went to work in the central office of CMS, and I saw how parents from all neighborhoods were constantly “protecting” their kids from others that were perceived as different from them.

How did work on television come about?

When I was at CMS, Chief Communications Officer Nora Carr approached me and said she thought I would be ideal for a new show on the CMS channel entitled, “Diversity Matters.” I had not given media work any thought at all prior to that, but Nora saw something in me and encouraged me to do it. It was an interview format show in which I had the opportunity to talk with regional leaders about diversity issues. I ended up hosting the show for five years. It was challenging, yet comforting. I felt most like me in that chair.

Tell us more about GoodWorks with Rahman Kahn.

The show will tell stories about people doing good work who are not in the goodworks business. We will highlight people who are doing good work because they want to, not because it is their job. We will focus on education, the environment and diversity. The show will have three segments: notable names, a corporate spotlight, and everyday people. Our first season launches in October and will run weekly for eight week through the end of November. Then we’ll have another block of new shows in the spring. People who are inspired will be able to connect to stories that move them through our website. Our hope is that good will inspire good.

How might people contribute to GoodWorks?

Folks can come to our website and contribute financially as a sponsor or benefactor, they can let us know about great stories, or offer us suggestions. And of course they can watch the show.

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