SAFF 2020: Thursday

Thursday, November 19, 2020
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST

Opening Night

This event will be available online at the time listed above Pacific Standard Time at

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The annual Sikhlens: Sikh Arts & Film Festival opens virtually on Thursday, November 19th on This event will feature a welcome by Daniel Struppa, President of Chapman University, remarks by Essraa Nawar, Kevin Ross, and Dr. Gail Stearns, all from Chapman, two keynote speakers, the virtual launch of our annual 120-day art exhibition and the book launch of Home of the Beloved. We will also be launching our annual Art Calendar which can be requested at Please join us by clicking on the website below on November 19th at 7:00 PM PST.


Programming is subject to change without notice.

Pavneet Mac
Pavneet Mac, Master of Ceremonies

Hosted by Pavneet Mac

Pavneet Singh Mac is a corporate defense attorney who specializes in all things employment law. Yet, he still finds time to pursue his hobbies as a musician, an editor for Lakers Nation, and a zealous advocate for underrepresented and low-income communities through pro bono legal services. Pavneet was recently inducted into the Best Lawyers in America for their Ones to Watch accolade, given to attorneys earlier in their careers who have demonstrated outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States.

Daniele Struppa, President of Chapman University

Welcome Message by Daniele Struppa, President, Chapman University

Daniele C. Struppa, Ph.D. is the thirteenth president of Chapman University. He joined Chapman University in 2006 as provost, responsible for creating and implementing academic priorities for the University and for the allocation of resources to support those priorities. In 2007, with the addition of further leadership responsibilities, he was appointed as Chapman’s first chancellor.

He came to Chapman University from George Mason University, where he served as director of the Center for the Applications of Mathematics, as chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and as associate dean for graduate studies. In 1997, he was selected dean of George Mason’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Prior to his tenure at George Mason, Dr. Struppa held positions at the University of Milano (Milan, Italy), the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy) and the University of Calabria (Calabria, Italy).

Headshot Essraa Nawar
Essraa Nawar, Development Librarian, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University

Remarks by Essraa Nawar, Development Librarian, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University

Essraa Nawar received her bachelor’s degree in commerce with an emphasis in accounting from Alexandria University, Egypt (2002). She also holds an MBA from the American Management & Business Administration Institute, Cambridge, MA (2005), a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) from Brandman University (2015), California AND a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) at San Jose State University, California (2017). She plans to pursue her PDH in educational leadership. 

Essraa Nawar has been the Development Librarian – Head of Library Development and Marketing and the Chair of the Arts, Exhibits and Events Committee at the Leathery Libraries at Chapman University, California, since 2009 where she helped raise over 5 million dollars in support of the Libraries at Chapman University.  She co-curated the exhibits “Empowering Muslim Women”, “Egypt the Revolution Continues” and a “A Country called Syria”. Over the years Essraa has studied, lived and worked in many places, including the Gulf area (Qatar), Washington D.C., where she worked for The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and Alexandria, Egypt where she worked for Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In 2009, she moved with her husband and family to Orange County, California in 2009.

Essraa speaks and holds workshops all over the world whether in the United States, Europe or the middle east on topics of librarianship, the importance of exhibits and programs in academic libraries and how to use them as an educational tool, how libraries can be a hub for diversity, pairing fundraising with diversity efforts as well as successful fundraising models for academic libraries. She is also passionate about interfaith relationships and the power of living in a diverse world.

Dean Kevin Ross
Kevin Ross, Dean of Leatherby Libraries

Remarks by Kevin Ross, Interim Dean, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University

Kevin Ross, Interim Dean of the Leatherby Libraries at Chapman Universityhas worked in higher education for over 25 years as a teacher, librarian, and administrator. Kevin’s educational background includes a B.A. in Elementary Education from St. Ambrose University, an M.L.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa, an M.A. in Organizational Leadership with a Human Resources Management Certification, and a Ph.D. in Education from Chapman University.  

Kevin has worked at the Leatherby Libraries since 2000, and he has held a variety of positions in the library including Distance Education librarian, Coordinator of Bibliographic Instruction, Web Manager, Head of Reference, Chair of Public Services, Associate Dean, and Interim Dean. In his current role, Kevin provides leadership and support for library administrative services; serves  as human resources’ liaison in collaboration with the campus HR Department; supervises, mentors, and evaluates the library’s  four Chairs, the Assessment Librarian, and our Administrative Coordinator; participates in library advancement activities; and oversees assessment planning, strategic planning, goal setting, and the library’s operations budget. 

Headshot Vishavjit Singh
Vishavjit Singh, Captain America, cartoonist, writer, performance artist

The Comic Art of Vishavjit Singh

Vishavjit Singh is a New York City based cartoonist, writer, performance artist and creator of He got his spark for cartooning in the post 9/11 tragedy when Americans with turbaned and bearded countenance became targets of hate/bias crimes. For the past few years, he has been traveling across the US with his Captain America persona armed with turban, beard, and humor to tackle fear, anxiety, bigotry, and intolerance. He hosts talksand keynotes on diversity, inclusion, vulnerability and storytelling in schools, universities, and companies. He gave talks at Google, Apple, and NASA in 2018. He is the subject of a widely acclaimed short Sikhlens production, ‘Red, White and Beard,’ launched online in 2015. He has been featured in Facebook and Ad Council campaigns. His message and work have been covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Time Magazine.

Vishavjit Art Exhibition
Vishavjit Singh Virtual Art Exhibition. Narrated by Vishavjit Singh.

Launch of Virtual Art Exhibit

The artist Vishavjit Singh takes the audience through all the illustrations and Captain America images from the 2021 Sikhlens Art Calendar titled, “The Comic Art of Vishavjit Singh”.

Bicky Singh and Kevin Ross, Dean of the Leatherby Libraries.

Presentation of Annual Sikhlens Art Calendar

Bicky Singh presents a 2021 Sikhlens Art Calendar titled, “The Comic Art of Vishavjit Singh” to Kevin Ross, Dean of the Leatherby Libraries.

Headshot Gail Stearns
Gail Stearns, Dean of Fish Interfaith Center, Chapman University.

Remarks by Dean Gail Stearns, Fish Interfaith Center, Chapman University

Gail J. Stearns is The Irvin C. and Edy Chapman Dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Chapman University.  Dr. Stearns works with students, faculty and staff at Chapman University. Through Chapman’s beautiful Wallace All Faiths Chapel, she brings together persons and organizations from many faiths throughout Orange County. She fosters interfaith celebrations and gatherings, as well as academic conversations in the areas of faith and religion. These include such topics as the scientific and religious study of Consciousness, and conversations in Religion and Economics.  Dr. Stearns most recent work is as a teacher of Mindfulness, a meditation that cultivates present awareness, helps to reduce anxiety, and fosters compassion.  She will Introduce Jagjot Singh, Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur, who will introduce keynote speaker, Jessi Kaur.

Headshot Jessi Kaur
Jess Kaur, Author and Speaker.
Book Cover - Home of the Beloved
Home of the Beloved: Sacred Spiritual Concepts by Jessi Kaur

Keynote Speaker: Jessi Kaur

Jessi Kaur’s new book Home of the Beloved is an elegant coffee table book that delineates the journey of the soul back to its true abode, the Source from where it emanated. It covers fifty concepts that comprise the essence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and is full of inspirational lessons learned from gurbani. Jessi Kaur describes abstract concepts with clarity and a depth of understanding that is both rare and illuminating. While the book is an expression of Jessi’s devotion, it sets the reader on the path of higher consciousness.

She is a TEDX speaker and has written three children’s books, Dear Takuya, The Royal Falcon and The Enchanted Garden of Talwandi. She has been written up as a pioneer in Sikh Children’s Literature. Her books are used as Enrichment Literature and Teacher’s Resource in diversity education in public schools in US, UK, Canada and other countries.

She has created a vast body of work on gurmat related subjects and has become an authoritative voice in gurbani interpretation and applicability to life. Her essays on Sikhi and contemporary issues have been published in online and print journals. She has delivered workshops and seminars at international conferences, Sikh youth retreats, and has been invited to speak at the Parliament of World’s Religions several times. She has been featured in TV shows and award-winning documentaries. She produced a multicultural children’s musical based on one of her books, The Royal Falcon.

Jessi was the Co-Founder of International Institute of Gurmat Studies, founded IGS Now, and is on the board of Kaur Foundation and Chardikalaa Foundation. She is a Talent Acquisition Consultant to leading technology companies in Silicon Valley. She has also served two terms as a Fine Arts Commissioner for Cupertino, CA. Prior to moving to the US, she taught English Literature at Delhi University.

Headshot Gurpreet Singh
Gurpreet Singh

Closing Remarks by Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh was educated all over India culminating with a MSc from Delhi University. She came to the US, leaving home alone for the first time, to earn a MS. She worked as a Computer Programmer and Analyst before joining her husband Bicky at Future Computing Solutions, to value add to a growing company, handling accounting and Human Resources. Gurpreet learned to speak Punjabi in the US, a benefit of langar Parshaada sewa, and taught herself Gurmukhi.  She spent twelve years volunteering in Punjabi school. Sehaj Paath is salvation from the daily grind, as is learning from the great treasure of our Gurus.

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