Ellie Anders founded an interfaith dialogue at West Texas A&M, and from that experience grew a desire to work in higher education promoting the interfaith movement. She completed a Masters in History and a year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Multicultural Initiative at Salt Lake Community College. Ellie was honored to be chosen as a Chair to assist in the establishment of the Young Adult Council for the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable. To date, Ellie has had the privilege of attending Interfaith Youth Core’s Interfaith Leadership Institute and the first Alumni Gathering. Ellie was again humbled and honored to be chosen as a 2014 NAIN Young Adult Scholar.
David Barickman was born and raised in the area around Champaign, IL. He earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Sociology at Franklin College in Franklin, IN. He was involved in religious life, interfaith, and residence life as well as religion and sociology honorary societies there. David is starting his first year at CTS as a M.Div. student and is interested in the areas of college or hospital chaplaincy as well as interfaith engagement.
Laura Brekke is the Director of Religious Diversity at Santa Clara University, a Jesuit Catholic university in Santa Clara, CA. She is both the chaplain to Protestant students, and to all non-Christian students at on campus. She earned an M.Div from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and a Certificate in Theology for Ministry from the University of Cambridge. She has been ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her research interests include the interplay of religious minority communities in countries with state-recognized religions, women in interfaith leadership, popular culture and its use in interfaith dialogue, and comparative theologies of the “Other.” She is published in Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith: Theology and Doctor Who, a collection of academic essays looking at theological themes in the long-running British sci-fi series.
Daniel José Camacho is currently a Masters of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School. Originally from Uniondale, New York, Daniel graduated from Calvin College in May 2013 with a B.A. in Philosophy. He is passionate about combining academics, faith, writing, and social justice work. Daniel has worked in multiple Protestant congregations, residence life, as a research assistant at The Colossian Forum, and for the Long Island civil rights non-profit ERASE Racism. His writing has been published in places such as the Perspectives Journal of Reformed Thought, Christian Century, and Religion Dispatches, and his commentary has appeared in the New York Times. Daniel is pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Katelynn Carver is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School. Raised nominally Catholic, she is best described as a spiritual seeker. She pursued the sciences and other humanities before she became enraptured by religious studies, and graduated summa cum laude from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio with a BA in History and Religion and a BS in Psychology (2011). From this background, she does her utmost to prioritize the integration of diverse perspectives—religious, disciplinary, cultural, and otherwise—in lending academic discussions of the central questions of human experience not only the breadth and depth they deserve, but also the context and applicability to lived experience that they demand. Katelynn’s most recent work has sought to highlight the interdisciplinary threads of deep intersubjectivity in human relationships, specifically within a Whiteheadian framework, to better understand the multifaceted reality of human suffering.
Abigail Clauhs is a first year student at Claremont School of Theology, where she is pursuing an M.Div. Originally from deep in the Bible Belt, she graduated with a B.A. from Boston University in May 2014, where she concentrated in religion and in literature. With a dedication to diversity and interfaith cooperation, Abigail led the BU Interfaith Council, where she coordinated discussions and interfaith service events among many Boston-area colleges. She also has a love for community service and a commitment to social justice that has led her to teach classes to immigrants and refugees, work with the homeless, and volunteer with hunger-fighting initiatives. Abigail is pursuing ordination as a Unitarian Universalist community minister and hopes to work in a career in the nonprofit/NGO world, empowering marginalized communities through humanitarian work.
Emily Cohen is a rabbi-to-be at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in suburban Philadelphia. She serves as the Rabbinic Advisor for Bryn Mawr College Hillel and teaches at various area synagogues. In the summers, Emily relishes leading Jewish teen trekking groups with Adamah Adventures. Before beginning rabbinical school, Emily spent a year working for an educational NGO in rural China and a year serving with AmeriCorps in Minneapolis Public Schools. An avid musician, writer, and baker, Emily always seems to find time in her schedule to sing with a chamber choir, work on her latest work of fiction, and make fresh bread.
Chris Crews is an Appalachian, Ohio transplant currently living in Brooklyn. He is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Political Theory at The New School for Social Research (NSSR) in New York City, where his work focuses on the intersections of religious worldviews and environmental politics in the Anthropocene—especially Earth-centered and animist spiritual traditions. He is an anti-racist organizer and has been involved with and written extensively about social and environmental justice movements in Ohio and New York. Through his involvement with the India China Institute he has worked in China, India and Nepal, and he is currently leading their Sacred Himalaya Initiative, which is focused on studying religion, ecology and climate change in communities around sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. He writes regularly at www.chriscrews.com.
Elizabeth Simson Durant received her Master of Divinity degree from Marylhurst University in 2013. Her Master’s thesis focused on reading strategies for racial justice in Christian biblical interpretation. From 2009 to 2012, Liz co-coordinated Wisdom’s Feast, an interfaith women’s spirituality conference in the Portland-Vancouver area. A busy mom, passionate preacher and dedicated advocate for racial justice, Liz is working (slowly) towards ordination in the United Church of Christ. Read her blog at racismisawhiteproblem.com.
Sarah Fein is a PhD student in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. She is especially interested in the ways in which the roles of women and gender were constructed in the Hebrew Bible, and how these roles were later interpreted by early Jewish communities. Sarah received her MTS in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Harvard Divinity School (2014) and her BA in Religion with Honors from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH (2009). She also received a MS in Special Education from Hunter College in New York, NY (2011) while serving with Teach for America in an under-resourced public school. She continues to be passionate about working with children and improving education in this country for every student. Sarah was raised in a liberal Protestant household and was an active member of her church growing up. She credits this experience with developing her sense of religious community and social justice. After discovering a passion for Jewish history, thought, and practice in college, and with the support of her husband, who is Jewish, Sarah converted to Judaism in 2011. She is thoroughly enjoying the challenge and adventure of studying Jewish women academically while living as an observant Jewish woman.
Deborah-Ruth Ferber graduated cum laude from Tyndale University College (Toronto, Canada) and then continued graduate studies in peace and theology at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, Indiana). Deborah has a special interest in international development, social justice/social change, and economic justice. Currently she is giving special consideration to exploring the intersection of peace and marginalization and the Theology of Constructing the Other, specifically in relation to people with developmental disabilities. Deborah is currently employed by L’Arche Daybreak (Richmond Hill, Ontario), an intentional community for people with varying degrees of developmental disabilities. Her previous work experience includes being a Campus Food Strategist for the NGO: Meal Exchange, and doing various pastoral and social work internships. Eventually, she hopes to pursue her Doctorate of Ministry. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her personal blog at http://debdebbarak.wordpress.com/, or follow her on Twitter at @pandamennodeb.
Haley Feuerbacher is a doctoral candidate in Religion and Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies at Southern Methodist University. As a doctoral candidate in Religion and Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies at Southern Methodist University, she believes scholarship is never neutrally related to economic, political, and social realities, and in order to be an ally for justice efforts, we must be engaged with the grassroots. To keep her feet on the ground, she is a youth minister, a newly married mother of a 7-year-old son, and an activist in economic and gender justice efforts domestically and in South Africa. She is constantly humbled by the brilliance, passion, creativity, and perseverance of leaders and participants in these efforts! Her dissertation project explores patriarchal metanarratives concerning family structure and the material impacts on unmarried mothers, as well as the production of counternarratives and theologies that deconstruct these. Her research interests include progressive evangelicalism; gender and economics; indigenous responses to imperialism; creative arts as social protest; and postcolonial theologies and theory.
E. Neil Gaiser is a dual-degree student pursuing a Master of Divinity specializing in Interreligious Contexts and a Master of Theological Studies at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ohio Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Leadership and Ministry in May of 2014 and is a member of the Pinnacle Honors Society. He is an active member of the United Methodist Church and is pursuing ordination in the West Ohio Conference. He has been studying comparative religion for over a decade and is interested in pursuing interfaith work professionally. To that end, Neil is currently serving as a committee chairperson for SAIL (Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders), a prominent interreligious and non-profit organization located in Columbus Ohio. In his spare time, Neil enjoys traveling with his wife Alvie, playing golf, reading, writing, taking walks and going to the gym when his workload allows him to. He is also the proud owner of three cats!
llona Gerbakher is a scholar and journalist currently living in Rabat, Morocco. After completing her degree in Islamic Theology in 2013 at the Harvard Divinity School, she moved to Qatar as a Georgetown Arabic Language Fellow. While living in Doha, Ilona conducted research on Wahhabi fiqh in the Gulf. She then moved to Morocco to complete her studies of advanced Classical and Moroccan Arabic. She will be moving to Jerusalem this fall, in order to work as a Comparative Religions fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Dorie Goehring is a first year MDiv student at Harvard Divinity School. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social ethics, comparative religion, and anthropology, particularly with regard to how to construct spaces of human flourishing. Vacillating between identities of “Catholic” and “heretic”, she has a passion for social justice, especially with issues concerning global women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and mental health advocacy. A former intern with the Unitarian Universalist Office of the United Nations, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham. University cum laude in Theology and Anthropology, with a minor in Women’s Studies. At Harvard, she is a co-founder and current President of Harvard Better Together, the University’s first inter-school interfaith service initiative. In her downtime, one can find her learning languages (French, German, and Arabic), drinking tea, r eading poetry, and listening to and playing obscene amounts of music.
Saadia Faruqi is editor of the Interfaith Houston blog, organizer of the annual Interfaith Women’s Peace Conference, and interfaith coordinator for the women’s group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Houston. She writes on topics related to Muslim Americans on the Tikkun Daily blog, and is currently conducting a research project on the representations of Muslim women in American print media. She is enrolled in the Master in Liberal Arts program at Baker University with a concentration in sociology, where her main interest is the intersection of religion and sociology. Her upcoming short story collection “Brick Walls: Stories of Hope and Courage from Pakistan” is slated to be published in 2015.
Patricia ‘Iolana holds a PhD in Literature, Theology and the Arts from the University of Glasgow where she examined the significance of Jungian and post-Jungian theory to the development of the Western Goddess Movement. An ordained Pagan Minister and Interfaith advocate, she is fascinated with personal experiences and approaches them from a psychodynamic perspective called Depth Thealogy—which combines Goddess Thealogy with post-Jungian analytical psychology. Her publications include: Spaces of Spirituality, Feminine States of Consciousness (2017); Goddess 2.0: A New Path Forward, She Rises! Volume 2 (2016); Testing the Boundaries: Self, Faith, Interpretation and Changing Trends in Religious Studies (2011); and Goddess Thealogy: An International Journal for the Study of the Divine Feminine 1(1) (2011). She can be found on the internet through her website, on Instagram @PaganMinister, Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blog talk radio: Jung and Goddess.
Mark Randall James is a PhD student in religious studies at the University of Virginia, in the Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice program. His studies focus on Jewish and Christian interpretation of scripture and the distinctive rationalities of scriptural religious traditions. Many of his intellectual interests and existential questions arise from his experience growing up within evangelicalism and working as a youth pastor at an evangelical church in Baku, Azerbaijan from 2003-06. As part of his journey towards a more historic and liturgical expression of Christianity, he was confirmed in the Church of England in 2008. He currently co-ordinates the UVA Scriptural Reasoning group, which practices Abrahamic interfaith dialogue through the interpretation of scriptural texts. He also sits on the board of the Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice program. He received a BA in Philosophy from Stanford University in 2003 and a BA in Theology from Ridley Hall and Cambridge University in 2008.
Originally from the Boston area, David Joslin graduated from Merrimack College in 2005 with a B.A. in French. After working in finance for several years, David moved to Israel and volunteered for a combat unit in the I.D.F serving in the Nachal 50 Battalion during Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense. After the army, he worked as a Marketing Analyst for a Tel-Aviv start-up company and obtained an M.A. in Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Outside of work and school, he has been a leader in Ach Gadol (Big Brother), a mentorship program designed to help soldiers who are estranged from their parents. David is excited to begin his rabbinic studies this fall at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and continue his work in interfaith communities, Israel awareness, and gender queer issues. In his free time, he volunteers with home-bound seniors, and adamantly cheers on Boston sports teams.
Nagothu Naresh Kumar is a graduate student at Central European University, Budapest. His research interests include Religion and Global Politics, Intellectual History and Anthropology of Religion. He is currently involved in a project that maps shared sacred sites across South India.
Eli Lieberman graduated from New York University in 2011 with a Master’s degree in Religious Studies, and from Queens College in 2012 with a Master’s in Library Science. He is interested in issues relating to the intersection of religion and personal identity, history, anthropology, and interfaith communication. He has conducted research on gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews and their affiliation to the Orthodox community, and Judaica collection development in academic libraries.
Jenn Lindsay is a third-year graduate student (’11) at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. At Union Theological Seminary, she has served as co-chair of the Interfaith Caucus and her program focus is Interfaith Relations and Ecumenics. She hails from San Diego, raised in a religiously eclectic family whose members draw from progressive Jewish, Christian Scientist, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu and secular humanist traditions. At Union, she is studying interreligious family systems, the interaction of religious, cultural, and secular law, US liberation theologies, public and secular discourse about “mixed” families (in terms of religion, sexuality and race), and how progressive/liberation theology affects congregational lives and everyday experiences of faith. She is also very interested in “secular spirituality” and contemporary “seekers,” and engages various social scientific methodologies to participate and interact with religious and secular spiritual communities. Her theological work is presently in conversation with Reinhold Niebuhr, Dolores Williams, Sallie McFague, Paul Tillich, Robert Goss, and Ada María Isasi-Díaz. This past summer Jenn worked at The Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies and conducted ethnographic research in the field of interfaith studies, focusing particularly upon interfaith couples and families as a context for interreligious collaboration, conflict mediation and dialogue. Prior to attending Union Theological Seminary, Jenn played folk music throughout North America; her music is available on iTunes and at www.JennLindsay.com. Jenn majored in playwriting at Stanford University (’01) and attended graduate school at Yale School of Drama (’05).
Christi Mallasch is currently a dual degree student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, attempting to get both her Masters of Arts in Practical Theology as well as her Masters in Theological Studies. She is particularly focused on Ethics and Ecology. She is known for laughing too loud, knitting ridiculous things, and being sunburned in the summertime.
Rev. J. Cody Nielsen is Executive Director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Minnesota and NASPA’s Expert in Residence for Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Initiatives. For ten plus years Cody has worked professionally in higher education and now travels the country promoting and working with universities on policy and practice work to ensure campus communities incorporate religious, secular, and spiritual identity into the diversity work on campus. He blogs at www.campusministrymatters.com and enjoys working with campus ministries around fundraising and board development as well as strategic planning. A biker and runner, Cody enjoys the outdoors and any chance he can get to explore the natural settings around him. His nearly three year old son is the highlight of his life.
Otto O’Connor is in his final year at Andover Newton Theological School and serves as an Associate Chaplain at the Waysmeet Center at the University of New Hampshire, an interfaith Campus Ministry where all ways meet. He is currently on the path towards ordained ministry in the Unitarian Universalist tradition and is exploring a call to campus ministry. Otto hails originally from Canada, but currently lives in Boston.
Micah Pace is currently an MDIV candidate at Boston University with an emphasis in Global and Community Engagement. He was raised in Texas in the Southern Baptist tradition and has academic interests in comparative religion and pluralism.
Grace Patterson is a committed interfaith advocate and writer. As the Director of Programming for World Faith, she supports religiously diverse teams of young people around the world who are working to end religious violence and global poverty. As the Director of Operations for Mean Communications, she works with several interfaith organizations helping to craft and execute communications strategies that will compel others to join, create, and do.
In her fourth of six years at Hebrew College Rabbinical School, Salem Pearce is passionate about social justice and human rights and hopes to spend her rabbinate advocating for criminal justice policy reform. She is the rabbinic intern at Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue in Jamaica Plain, as well as the community organizer and social justice project coordinator at Temple Israel in Brookline. This summer she trained to be a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Salem has been a fellow with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; part of the American Jewish World Service’s Global Justice Fellowship for Rabbinical and Graduate Students; and a rabbinical student fellow with Rabbis Without Borders. She has also co-led an interfaith CIRCLE program that studied sacred texts abusive to women. Before rabbinical school, for seven years in D.C., she raised money for local and national nonprofits. A native Texan, she dearly misses Tex-Mex and her family — but not the oppressive humidity of Houston. Her feelings about Austin, where she received a degree in Classics from the University of Texas, are more nuanced. Salem now lives in Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Tom Peteet is a medical student at UMass Medical School, and is pursuing residency in Family Practice and Primary Care. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2004 as a double major in physics and philosophy. Afterwards, he taught math and reading in inner city St. Louis through Teach for America. He is a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher, and graduate of UMass Mind-body stress reduction program (MBSR). He has travelled to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Uganda to do clinical work, and writes about global health, medical education, ethics, palliative care, and humanism in medicine. He is currently taking an extra year of medical study to do rotations at Concord penitentary, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Jared Pfost is a PhD student in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. His academic focus is on the history and literature of the ancient Near East, particularly ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible.
Rev. Kathryn Ray is an ordained Baptist minister, currently serving as Minister with Children and Youth at a multiethnic church in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. She is also Program Coordinator for Clergy for a New Drug Policy. She holds a dual degree from the University of Chicago in Divinity and Social Service Administration. Her academic passions include the intersection between liberation theology and performance theory.
Mackenzie Reynolds is a queer and trans* activist and social services provider, with over a decade of experience providing supportive services and programming in health centers, community organizations, libraries, and congregations, working especially with queer and trans* people, HIV-affected communities, and poor/working class people. She came to NYC from Washington State in 2003 to study at Union Theological Seminary, where she received an MA in Philosophy of Religion, focusing on feminist philosophy and theology. Mackenzie loves to think, write, and talk about: Mussar (a Jewish ethical practice), olam ha’ba (the world to come), food, and bringing together progressive and radical politics with ritual practice and belief. Mackenzie has been accepted to the rabbinical program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for fall of 2013.
Attorney Wilfredo Amr Ruiz is also a Chaplain who obtained his B.A. and Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico. Ruiz was a U.S. Navy JAG Corps Officer honorably discharged in 1997; who later engaged in his private law practice. Ruiz was admitted in the Hartford Seminary’s graduate program on Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations; and later joined the Navy Chaplain Candidate Program. Ruiz worked as a chaplain in the Connecticut Valley Hospital and various Immigration Processing Centers. In 2007 Ruiz performed the Hajj Islamic Pilgrimage. Ruiz is a regular columnist in different newspapers and electronic media outlets. He is regularly interviewed and consulted on a as an expert on foreign policy, politics of the Middle East and the Muslim World; Islam, and Christian-Muslim relations.
Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder holds a Bachelor degree in Religious Studies and Political Science from the University of Oklahoma (2010). After working as the Director of Communications for the Xenia Institute – a small community-engagement non-profit – Chelsea returned to school to complete her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (2013) where she focused on Comparative Religion. With a passion for community development and interfaith dialogue, Chelsea has interned with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue, the Heartland Institute for Religion and Public Life, and Interfaith Power and Light of Massachusetts. She is now living in Amman, Jordan where she is working with Syrian refugees and continuing her Arabic studies.
Lauren Tuchman completed a master of arts in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011 and did her undergraduate work in religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her interests include the intersections between religion and gender, as well as between religion and disability. Her website is http://judaism.bellaonline.com
Tina Walker-Morin, M.S.Ed., M.B.A., is Program Director at the Massachusetts Bible Society with over a decade of experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors. In her many roles, she excelled in marketing, fundraising, event planning, and personal training. She is currently enrolled at Andover Newton Theological school in the Master’s of Divinity program, with an anticipated graduation date of May 2015. Most recently, she also served as a student minister at Brooksby Village in Peabody, MA and First Church in Ipswich, MA. She is also a member in discernment with the Essex Association of the United Church of Christ, through which she is looking to become an ordained minister.
With respect, curiosity, and humor, Wendy Webber is actively engaged in nurturing not just interfaith, but interbelief dialogues and initiatives. Wendy is currently circling the globe working on drinkable water and thinkable education with Pathfinders Project–a humanist service year. She has a Masters of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School. Wendy is a published author whose writing can be found in Glossolalia and on her blog, The “H” Word. She is a founding member of the Open Party—an atheist, agnostic, interfaith, and multi-faith group at Yale Divinity School that fosters inter-belief dialogue on and off campus as well as community service projects that include religious and nonreligious alike.
J.R. Wilheim has long been fascinated by the subject of religion. He is particularly interested in how language shapes and is shaped by faith. Having lived and worked on multiple continents, J.R. hopes to start a career promoting interfaith understanding.
Adam Zagoria-Moffet is currently a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, after having graduated from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) in 2011. Concurrently, he is pursuing an MA at JTS in Jewish Thought, concentrating on Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah. His interests are in Sefardi halakha and culture, human rights, ethics, and mysticism. He is married, has an infant son and two cats, and enjoys cycling and classical music in his free time. He blogs at kabbalunch.com.
Nora Zaki is a second year Master of Divinity student at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School interested in Islamic and Qur’anic Studies, Arabic, ethics, chaplaincy, and interfaith engagement. She hopes to combine academia and scholarly interests with community engagement through her work. She loves walking and biking along Lake Michigan, cooking ethnic foods, and playing a good competitive game of ping pong.
Arzina Zaver is currently a first year PhD student with the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) at McGill University. Her research looks at the complexities of neutrality in the professional- epistemological stance of Ethics and Religious Culture teachers in Quebec. Additionally, she is interested in areas of research around the pedagogy of religious education, third space and the role of faith in a secular society. Arzina graduated with a double masters (Masters of Teaching, Masters of Arts in Muslim Societies and Civilizations) from the Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Institute of Education (University of London) in London U.K in 2010. She received the highest grade on both of her masters reports as well as a distinction in my Masters of Teaching degree. She is also involved in affairs at McGill University and sit on the DISE Faculty Research Committee and serves as Secretary for the Education Graduate Student Society.