The Islamic Center hired Dr. Mohsen El-Biali, then the Director and Imam of the Washington D.C. Islamic Center, to lead the Islamic Center of Southern California as its director. Dr. Biali was a graduate of Al-Azhar University and a prolific writer and speaker who encouraged the growing community to become more involved in the community at large. It is widely believed that Dr. Biali was the first to initiate an interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Catholics, which was the foundation of a successful and long-running commitment to interfaith understanding and partnerships that continues today and expanded to other interfaith activities in subsequent years.