Religions for Peace USA and the El-Hibri Foundation are celebrating this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week by issuing a series of short interviews with some of the most renowned and accomplished leaders in the interfaith and peacebuilding communities. “10 Things You Must Know About…” will address eleven different topics in the interfaith field, from overcoming differences of faith, to the role of women in religion. New videos will be added to this site throughout the month of February, so be sure to check back daily for updates!
Meet our featured guests
Paul Chaffee is publisher and editor of The Interfaith Observer (TIO), a monthly internet magazine promoting healthy interfaith culture which began in September 2011. He was the founding executive director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, where he served for 17 years. He sat onUnited Religions Initiative’s original Board of Directors for six years, was a trustee of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) for ten, and served as a Parliament Ambassador for the Parliament of the World’s Religions for three.
Paul led the teams which planned the initial URI-North America summit in 2001 and NAIN’s 20th anniversary NAINConnect in 2008. Over the years Paul has started and/or edited numerous newsletters, including Bay Area Interfaith Connect, published each month by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. His publications include Accountable Leadership (2nd edition, 1996), Shared Wisdom (2004), a booklet about developing interfaith relationships, and Remembered Light (2007). Ordained in the United Church of Christ. Rev. Chaffee was honored as a Distinguished Alum at Pacific School of Religion in 2007 and as an Interfaith Visionary by the Temple of Understanding at its 50th anniversary in 2010.
Dalia Mogahed is the Director of Research at ISPU where she develops, leads and executes ISPU’s community-focused research strategy. Mogahed works closely with scholars and project managers on major research projects related to American Muslim families and institutions. Mogahed is former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, where she led the analysis of surveys of Muslim communities worldwide. With John L. Esposito, she coauthored the book Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. President Barack Obama appointed Mogahed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009. She was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about U.S. engagement with Muslim communities, and she provided significant contributions to the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group recommendations. She is a frequent expert commentator in global media outlets and international forums. She is also the CEO of Mogahed Consulting. Mogahed earned her BS in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin and was a Dean Scholar earning her MBA at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.
Eric K. Ward focuses on issues of racial justice, civil rights and equality in the United States. His grant making supports the consolidation of progress achieved in combating inequality, and the dismantling of institutional discrimination and other barriers to full participation that racial and ethnic minorities and indigenous people continue to experience in society.
Eric has a long and distinguished career as a social justice advocate, working over the past 20 years with local, state and national organizations to implement strategies for change around racial justice and immigrant rights. Before joining the foundation in 2014, he was a programme executive for U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights at The Atlantic Philanthropies, where he helped guide U.S. grant making in the areas of immigration, national security and rights, and civic participation and engagement.
Shamil Idriss became the President & Chief Executive Officer of Search for Common Ground in September 2014. Shamil worked with SFCG in a variety of capacities from 1993 – 2004, including as Burundi Country Director – the organization’s largest program at the time – and as our first Chief Operating Officer from 2001 – 2004. Prior to returning to SFCG, he was the CEO of Soliya, a pioneer in the use of new media for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange and founding member of the Exchange 2.0 Coalition. In 2005 he was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, a project of the Secretary-General established to improve cross-cultural understanding and cooperation between Western and Muslim-majority societies. He has served on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and the Board of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders.
Rev. Sam Muyskens, founder and president of Global Faith in Action, has focused on the “Dialogue in Action” methodology for over 40 years. As a Minister of Music, Minister of Youth, Prison Chaplain, Senior Pastor, and Executive Director of Inter-Faith Ministries – Wichita, Rev. Sam has found that “action centered” dialogue is effective and transformative. He is quoted as saying, while recently attending a consultation with White House staff, “Dialogue in action is more than sharing our beliefs, even more than being respectful of differing religious beliefs – it is relationship building – it is life changing.”
William F. Vendley
Dr. Vendley is the Secretary General of Religions for Peace International. He is a member of its World Council which consists of 60 senior religious leaders from all continents. He coordinates the activities and projects of Religions for Peace’s World, 90 national and 6 regional councils. William assumed leadership of Religions for Peace International in 1994. He is a pioneer in advancing multi-religious cooperation to help resolve conflict and advance development and has facilitated the establishment of multi-religious councils around the world, from Bosnia to Sierra Leone. William is an advisor to a number of governments on matters related to religion and peace. He advised President Obama through his service on the Multi-religious Cooperation and International Affairs Task Force of the White House Faith Based Council.
Katherine Marshall has worked for over three decades on international development, with a focus on issues facing the world’s poorest countries. She is a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service. Her long career with the World Bank (1971-2006) involved a wide range of leadership assignments, many focused on Africa. From 2000-2006 her mandate covered ethics, values, and faith in development work,as counselor to the World Bank’s President. She was Country Director in the World Bank’s Africa region, first for the Sahel region, then Southern Africa. She then led the Bank’s work on social policy and governance during the East Asia crisis years. She also worked extensively on Eastern Africa and Latin America. As a long time manager she was involved in many task forces and issues, among them exercises addressing leadership issues, conflict resolution, the role of women, and issues for values and ethics.
Ms. Marshall has been closely engaged in the creation and development of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) and is its Executive Director. She serves on the Boards of several NGOs and advisory groups, including AVINA Americas, the Niwano Peace Prize International Selection Committee, and the Opus Prize Foundation. She is a board member of IDEA (International Development Ethics Association) and the International Anti-Corruption Advisory Conference (IACC) advisory council. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as a core group member of the Council of 100, an initiative of the World Economic Forum to advance understanding between the Islamic World and the West, and was a Trustee of Princeton University (2003-9). She has co-moderated the Fes Forum which is part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music since its inception. She speaks and publishes widely on issues for international development.
Robert P. Jones
Dr. Robert P. Jones is the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute and a leading scholar and commentator on religion, values, and public life. He is the author of two academic books and numerous peer-review articles on religion and public policy. Dr. Jones writes a monthly column at The Atlanticon politics, culture, and religion. His “Faith by the Numbers” segment is also a regular feature on Interfaith Voices, the nation’s leading religion news magazine on public radio, which is carried on NPR stations around the country.
Dr. Jones serves as the Co-Chair of the national steering committee for the Religion and Politics Section at the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the editorial board for “Politics and Religion,” a journal published by Cambridge University Press for theAmerican Political Science Association. He is also an active member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Society of Christian Ethics, and the American Association of Public Opinion Research.
Susan Katz Miller
Author and journalist Susan Katz Miller is both an interfaith child and an interfaith parent. Her father is Jewish, her mother is Protestant: she grew up in Reform Judaism. After marrying a Protestant, Miller and her husband decided to raise their children in both religions, in a community of interfaith families. Miller served as Board Co-Chair of the Interfaith Families Project of Greater Washington DC.
After her two children were born, she and her husband settled in the Washington, DC, area, and she founded the first blog devoted to interfaith family communities and interfaith identity,onbeingboth.com, and began blogging at Huffington Post Religion.
Miller’s writing has also appeared in Time, Slate, Utne Reader, Discover, Science, National Wildlife, Health, Moment, Jewcy.com, interfaithfamily.com, and many other publications. Miller studied photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her photographs have been published in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and International Wildlife. Her work on interfaith families has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, NPR’s Here & Now, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, on the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and on HuffPost Live, and in dozens of other media outlets. Miller also writes for the Jewish Daily Forward‘s interfaith relationship advice column, The Seesaw.
Najeeba Syeed Miller
Najeeba Syeed is a professor at Claremont School of Theology and director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. She is recognized as a leader in peacebuilding and twice received the Jon Anson Ford Award for reducing violence in schools and in the area of interracial gang conflicts and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007. She has chaired national conferences on Muslim and Interfaith Peacebuilding, served as a mediator in many cases, started mediation programs in many institutions including University of Southern California and several middle and high schools. Schools have reported a drop in disciplinary referrals and violence. Her track record as a peacemaker has made her sought out advisor for state, federal and White House initiatives, and in international conflicts in Guam, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, India and France.
She was formerly the executive director of the Western Justice Center Foundationfounded by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Dorothy Nelson and previous to that appointment was the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. Under her directorship the organizations grew significantly in the areas of school based interracial conflict resolution, anti-bullying initiatives, cross cultural conflict resolution training, officer involved shooting community/police mediation, gang intervention community engaged design, and served a range of clients including the Coca-Cola company, UCLA, USC, Arts Center College for design, LAUSD and the Department of Justice.
As the Interim Director of the Religion and Peacebuilding Center at the United States Institute of Peace, Susan Hayward develops conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation projects targeting the religious sector. Since joining the Institute in 2007, her field work has focused on Colombia, Iraq, Burma/Myanmar and Sri Lanka. From 2010-2012 she coordinated an initiative exploring the intersection of women, religion, conflict and peacebuilding in partnership with the Berkley Center at Georgetown University and the World Faiths Development Dialogue. She co-edited a forthcoming book on the topic. Her research interests include interfaith engagement in the midst of political violence, political Buddhism and the role of religion in hampering and propelling women’s work for peace and justice. She also serves on the international selection committee for the Niwano Peace Prize, which recognizes religious peacebuilders. Prior to joining the Institute, Hayward worked with the Academy of Educational Development’s office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as a fellow of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and with the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Hayward also conducted political asylum and refugee work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Advocates for Human Rights.