The Ann & Issa Khalil Fund for the Development of Intrepid Souls provides small grants to artists and faith leaders to participate in transformational journeys or field research.
Few people have had greater impact on the ethos, vision and community of Telos than Ann & Issa Khalil.
Parents to Telos co-founder, Gregory Khalil, their adventurous spirits, rare intellects, and compassionate souls both modeled and helped ideate the community we now know and love.
Blessed with an abundance of talents, both Ann and Issa were pioneers. They were the first in their families to receive formal higher educations and went on to build extraordinarily impactful lives–Ann as a leading archaeologist, and Issa as a scholar of religion and a theologian.
But they themselves were not formed in a vacuum. They were only able to fully realize their gifts because good people of good will—often strangers—believed and invested in these perhaps unlikely individuals seeking to do good in the world.
The Ann & Issa Khalil Fund for the Development of Intrepid Souls (AIKFDIS) seeks to build community and provide support for other similar spirits. AIKFDIS provides scholarships for people to (a) participate in Telos trips and programming, in particular related to Palestine/Israel; and (b) undertake transformational journeys and/or field research connected to the broader theme of negotiating power in the quest for mutual flourishing, especially as it connects to Palestine/Israel.
Preference is given to faith leaders (clergy and others seeking to influence how communities of faith wrestle with these issues) and artists. Preference is also given to individuals with a specific interest in Palestine/Israel. A majority of funds disbursed will go to women and individuals from underrepresented/oft-ignored backgrounds.
A human described by remarkable courage and grounded passion, uncommon ability and precocious vision, radical openness and warm humility.
A human possessed by purpose and unshakeable integrity, who regularly dares to take calculated personal and professional risks, often against her own self interest.
A human intuitively aware of place and potential, which is expressed both by a radical drive to understand the world as it is, not as she or he might like it to be, along with the audacity to believe that each and every one of us impacts our world, whether for better or for worse, and thus decides to marshal her or his limited energies for the greater good.
*The Khalil Family, including Issa, originally tried to launch a stand-alone project after the passing of Ann in 2014 called the Ann Knudsen Khalil Foundation for the Development of Intrepid Souls. After holding those limited funds in trust, Ann and Issa’s family decided to fold that concept into this Fund after Issa’s passing in 2022.
ANN & ISSA’S STORY
As Issa would often quip, Ann and Issa first “bonded” together at the University of Chicago’s Bond Chapel.
It was December 2, 1967. Elsewhere, the University of Chicago was commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the world’s first successful attempt at nuclear fission, which happened in one of its labs. A clever reporter contrasted that scientific milestone with Ann & Issa’s improbable fusion.
Ann was a professor of Ancient Greek Art History and Archaeology there. Issa was finishing his PhD in Patristics (study of the early fathers of the Christian Church) at the Divinity School. But the path to their “bonding” was neither obvious nor likely.
Ann was born to working-class Danish immigrants in Boston’s Back Bay. Issa was born into a family of farmers and stone dressers in Beit Sahour, Palestine, just a short walk from Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem.
Ann was the first in her family to go to college. By the time she had met Issa, she had received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (when most other Ivy League’s wouldn’t even accept women as students), achieved fluency in seven languages (if one counts Ancient Greek and Latin), led archaeological expeditions across Asia Minor and the Middle East, performed internationally as a celebrated flutist, and become a professor at the most prestigious institution for her field in the world.
Issa, which means “Jesus” in Arabic, was born on Orthodox Christmas in 1927 into a large Palestinian Christian family near Bethlehem. His first cries echoed off the meter-thick stone walls of a home built by his grandfather’s grandfather. When finances didn’t allow him to continue his studies after seventh grade, he began farming the family’s fields. He and his mother Fahima would cart vegetables on donkey back to Jerusalem’s Old City for sale. Though he did not become a refugee, he would live through the horrors of the Nakba, which began in the years surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. Much later, he would go on to earn scholarships to Eastern Mennonite College for his Bachelor’s, Wheaton College for his Master’s, and the University of Chicago for his Doctorate–where he and Ann met.
Naturally, their intellects, drives and unusual backgrounds drew them together. But it was their adventurous and loving spirits, their penchant for whimsy, and, especially, their embodied Christian faith that would unite them.
When war disrupted their plans to settle in the Middle East, Issa accepted a position at San Diego State University, co-founding its religious studies department. While in San Diego, Ann tragically developed a degenerative disease that slowly stole her mobility and her career. She outlived doctors’ prognoses by decades and remained as engaged and active as her limited energies would allow (she lead the Archaeological Institute of America’s San Diego chapter for many years, for example). But despite her early and lasting contributions to her field, Ann’s–and to a lesser extent Issa’s–professional ambitions were thwarted. So they redirected their energies into providing a rich and stimulating upbringing for their two children, Alex and Greg, while lovingly caring for each other through a tumultuous and horrifying disease process.
Early on, they still mustered the energy for one last epic family adventure: They co-lead an archaeological expedition in Syria. Ever the intrepid explorers, one summer day in 1981 they packed the entire family in their SUV and spent months driving from San Diego to Damascus (and eventually back), shipping themselves and their vehicle where there were no roads. In Syria, the family alternated between their home in Damascus and their excavation in Busra, where they lived in a sparsely-equipped tower room of a spectacular and otherwise uninhabited 11th century castle.
Issa’s encyclopedic knowledge, theological understandings rooted in his lived experience in the birthplace of Christianity, Palestine, and his career as a seminary professor in Lebanon made his 25 years teaching at SDSU especially impactful. Many of his students went on to join the clergy of multiple faiths or become leading academics themselves. Many stayed in touch with him throughout his life.
Ann and Issa’s unlikely fusion bridged continents and cultures, birthing infinite possibilities. Nearly everyone who they encountered were dazzled by their intellects, charm and rare life trajectories. Yet most were even more taken with their irrepressibly loving, creative, and principled spirits. Whether in the face of war or disease, both Ann and Issa called us all to a better version of ourselves: they clearly lived out their values in public and private, directly modeling a gracious way of being that never allowed their struggles to define them or the family.
The Ann and Issa Khalil Fund for the Development of Intrepid Souls seeks to honor and multiply this determined and loving spirit. What they knew–and what we at Telos know–is that while our world may rarely celebrate the extraordinary characters of people like Ann and Issa, their spirits are not unique.
We share our world with many millions of fellow Intrepid Souls. Yet few claim Ann and Issa’s good fortune to be able to fully develop their gifts.
This Fund seeks to provide small grants to fellow Intrepid Souls. These grants will enable like-spirited individuals to embark on similarly transformative journeys, pursue innovative field research, and amplify these values in our broader culture–helping to shape and constrain power for the benefit of all mankind.
FUND DESCRIPTION AND APPLICATION
This fund provides small grants (generally $500-$5,000) in the form of:
Travel subsidies to participate in Telos trips and/or
Grants to pursue travel and/or original field research related to equitably leveraging and building power for systemic justice. (Scholarship to cover tuition and other expenses related to an academic program will NOT be covered.)
Most funds will be disbursed to:
Projects and travel connected to Palestine/Israel;
Women and individuals from other underrepresented/underestimated/oft-ignored backgrounds (people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, people whose families lack financial/educational resources); and
Individuals seeking to impact how the West engages Palestine/Israel.
We are currently NOT accepting applications, as initial decisions for limited funds will be made from recommendations from Telos staff, board and the Advisory Committee. However, feel free to contact a member of the team if you’re generally interested in the work of Telos.
All decisions will ultimately be approved by Telos Board of Directors. An Advisory Committee may provide recommendations.
Donating to the Fund
Click the link below to donate. Or mail your checks to Telos, P.O. Box 70872, Washington DC 20024 and specify “Fund for Intrepid Souls.”