Bishop William Swing is the President and Founder of the URI. Bishop Swing had the original vision of URI in 1993 in response to an invitation from the United Nations which asked him to host an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Bishop Swing served as the Episcopal Bishop of California from 1980 until his retirement in 2006. In that capacity, he was a national and international leader in response to the AIDS crisis, co-founded Episcopal Community Services to address San Francisco’s homeless problem, and co-founded Community Bank of the Bay to support local businesses and the economy.
Victor Kazanjian comes to URI as a lifelong peacebuilder dedicated to interfaith and intercultural understanding. His work at Wellesley College is widely acknowledged as the catalyst in the national and international movement to include religious diversity and spirituality as core issues in higher education. Specializing in inter-religious dialogue and conflict transformation, diversity and democracy, and peace building, Victor is a recognized thought-leader, the co-author and editor of several books and numerous articles and a frequent lecturer worldwide.
Mrs. Channa is a Trustee for the Sikh Women Society of Kenya and the Convenor for Social Welfare for the Sikh Supreme Council. She has served many roles in the Inter-Religious Welfare Council of Kenya during the past decade, including as co-chair. Ms. Channa also has served as an Executive Member of the Social Welfare Committee of the East African Ramgahria Board from 2003-2007. She received the Outstanding Leader Award from the Sikh Supreme Council of Kenya in 1992. Mrs. Channa is a founding member of URI, which was first introduced in Kenya in 1998.
Archbishop Odama has served as the Catholic Archbishop of Gulu, Uganda since 1997 and as chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference since 2011. He served as chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an interfaith peacebuilding organization, from 2002-2010, and has worked with numerous other initiatives aimed at ending the war in Northern Uganda. As a bridge builder between the Lord's Resistance Army and the government of Uganda, His Grace acted as an adviser and observer at the Juba Peace Process talks in 2006.
An elder statesman, experienced peace builder and community developer, Honorable Yero is the Wakilin Kpope (ambassador to the Chief and traditional ruler of his community) in the Kaduna State of Nigeria. He works as Board Director with the Interfaith Meditation Center of the Christian/Muslim Dialogue Forum, and previously served as Special Advisor on Religious Affairs to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State. He also served as Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State Ministry of Religious Affairs, and has initiated and directed several interfaith peacebuilding initiatives.
A professor at the University of Dhaka, Dr. Islam worked with different religious scholars to establish the Warm Heart Association – dedicated to promoting inter-religious harmony. He later established the Department of World Religions and Culture, before leaving his country to study Judaism as a Fullbright Senior Fellow. Upon his return from the USA, he founded and now directs a Dialogue Center at Dhaka University, funded by the Bangladesh government.
Mr. Kandage is the Executive Director of the Sarvodaya Shanthisena Movement, a network of organizations that spans Sri Lanka, and has represented URI since its inaugural meeting. He has been directly involved in the reconciliation process in pre- and postwar Sri Lanka, and assisted in organizing a seminar on the moral imagination in Colombo.
Professor Kurakar is a renowned teacher from the St. Gregorios College in Kottarakara, and an author of books related to literature, history and the environment. He serves as the president of the Kerala Palliative Care Initiative and as the Chair of the URI South India region, as well as conducts an examination training center and publishing house in Kottarakara.
Swamini Adityananda serves the crucial cause of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh. She has over 26 years of experience in the NGO and communications sectors, having served and advocated for the poor and marginalized as well as for environmental causes in several African nations, India, the United States, Thailand and other locations, as well as on the United Nations, World Bank and other multi-lateral levels. Learn more about GIWA at www.washalliance.org.
Ms. Bali MBE JP has founded and chaired several interfaith groups whilst working with a number of international organizations to enhance understanding among cultures to address community challenges and transform conflicts. For her achievements, she was honored by Queen Elizabeth II and has been the recipient of a number of international awards. She is a regular keynote speaker at events in a number of different countries and has also addressed the UN General Assembly.
Mr. Gramatikoff is a hierodeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as well a Doctor (Didiaskalos) of the Universal Orthodox Church. He is currently the Chief Expert in religious questions in the municipality of Plovdiv, as well as Vice President of the Eastern European Forum for Dialogue-Bridges NGO. He has been working for years in the field of human rights, defending the traditional view of Orthodox church in terms of respect for all beliefs, beside all theological conceptions.
An artist and teacher, Ms. Horling is a member of an intercultural choir and has worked with migrant children from many different backgrounds, teaching them to explore and reflect upon the world of art. She spent many years working with a member of the German Parliament, has participated in several interfaith conferences and organized seminars on the hidden meanings of fairy tales.
Ms. Lheure has worked with the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue for the past decade. Since 2006, she has worked in the field of mediation for social cohesion in urban areas. She uses specific interfaith dialogue as a tool for prevention and resolution of interconvictional conflicts in the city of Barcelona. Ms. Lheure heads a program, Citizen Dialogue Between Beliefs and Convictions, in cooperation with her local government. Since 2006, she has served on the URI Europe Executive Committee.
Mr. ten Broek is a longtime friend of URI: he co-founded the Steering Committee URI the Netherlands CC in 2003, and attended the Mayapur Global Assembly in 2008. He works as a school director, a Gestalt Therapist, an advisor of a Dialogue House in the district of Segbroek in The Hague, as well as member of Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek (IBS), a URI CC.
Ms. Aquino was born into a Catholic family and did not have any exposure to other religious traditions until 1997 when Pope John Paul II expressed his desire for a more ecumenical church, inspiring her to explore other faiths. This journey led her to URI in 2000 and to a CC, introducing her to many different religions and traditions. With her 15 years’ experience in URI in Brazil and in wider Latin American work, she is looking forward to apply the lessons of her journey to fostering more interfaith dialogue for more effective approaches to poverty, hunger, injustice, environmental issues, and intolerance in our communities.
Ms. Painiqueo is an experienced Mapuche leader and activist, working for the preservation, dissemination, and sociopolitical, economic, and cultural development of the Mapuche people. She founded the Aflailai Foundation in 1980 in Santiago, and has facilitated and participated in several workshops and training courses for organizations, communities, colleges and universities, lectures, and conferences to further understanding of indigenous issues and the Mapuche culture. She contributes to the development of a grapheme alphabet to write the Mapuche language, produces Mapuche music, and directed a documentary on the Mapuche in Chile. Ms. Painqueo was a candidate for Member of Parliament, a Councillor of the Lumaco commune, represents Mapuche women in different national and international meetings, and is a member of URI as a woman of faith and based on her firm belief in the need for more inclusive intercultural dialogue.
Rev. Pajar has dedicated his life to bringing people together through understanding and peace, dreaming of a global village where everyone can live in warmth and generosity. He believes that to truly give voice to the most excluded and uniting local, regional, and global efforts will allow communities to build from the diversity of our experience rather than letting them be barriers. This spirit of cooperation requires responding to circumstances without prejudice, expectations, or requirements.
A member of URI from 2004, Dr. Abu Doma is also a researcher, university lecturer, and social activist. He has been involved with various international and local organizations including the Al Karma Foundation, Al Ilkhaa Aldiny, Rotary International, and the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. He is an elected officer of the Egyptian Engineering Syndicate Board, regularly speaks and participates in international and Egyptian conferences and seminars, and has appeared on several political and economic television shows. Dr. Abu Doma holds a doctorate from Helwan University, Cairo.
Mr. El Hammoumi started working with youth NGOs in Morocco when he was seven years old, and went on to found several national and international level initiatives focused on youth empowerment and engagement in peace tolerance. He is the president of the Young Peoples' Development NGO in Tiflet, the founder of Salam Shabab CC, and a founder-member of the Association of Arab Youths, the International League of Young Journalists, and the Arab Fund to Support Mobility for Young People. Selected as one of the top ten best young journalists in Morocco in 2003 by the Moroccan government, he is also regularly featured in the press and authors works on subjects pertinent to his activism. Through his work with Salam Shabab CC particularly, he hopes to contribute to establishing a harmonious society with people of different religions and an appreciation of this diversity of faith.
Ms. Yaqoob started her journey as an interfaith activist in 2005 as a participant in a program on religion’s role in conflict; though she believes that religion can be instrumental to or become a mask for violence, she has seen firsthand that many recent conflicts have also involved religious beliefs themselves. She has worked for a range of international and local NGOs including ActionAid, the International Rescue Committee, Right to Play, CARE International, and currently the Luminous Group, with a strong focus on monitoring and evaluation, training, and capacity building. She is a member of various organizations including the Jordan Youth Forum, Leaders of Tomorrow, the Jordanian-Danish Dialogue Center, the Arab Network for Dialogue, and Youth Spirit.
Mr. Abeyewickreme was born in Bangkok but has spent most of his life Sri Lanka. Initial intending to be an electrical engineer, he realized his life path lay in social development and peacebuilding. In university, he was part of AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run leadership organization, spending several years in various leadership roles within the organization. Currently, he serves as the Secretariat Coordinator for the South Asia Region of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) at Sarvodaya, coordinating interfaith and intercultural ethics education programs for children in South Asia. He has also been involved in many projects on education, entrepreneurship, leadership, HIV/AIDS, and cultural diversity.
Ms. Rozenman is the Founder and Executive Director of “TRUST - Emun”, a women-led Israeli non-profit organization that works towards building trust and mutual understanding among the faiths in the Middle East in the midst of violent conflict. She has been involved in interfaith and inter-cultural work since the recovery of her son from being seriously wounded in a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997. She co-founded the TRUST WIN (Women’s Interfaith Network) and has led Women’s Walks for Peace locally, regionally, and internationally – most recently at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She co-directs the WIN MENA (Women’s Interfaith Network of the Middle East and North Africa) which is involved in training women leaders in the region. She is a founding member of the Abrahamic Reunion and other interfaith organizations.
Ms. Williams was first introduced to URI in 2005 as a walker on the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers on their world tour. Being a CC member and experiencing the network of support inspired her to become an advocate for interfaith and intergenerational dialogue as a foundation for creating peaceful and just communities. She has received several awards for her service, including the Presidential Certificate of Merit from President Bill Clinton; HBO’s Hearing Her Voice, Telling Her Story Award; Volvo for Life’s American Heroes Award; and the 2008 URI Bowes Award to the Trail of Dreams Team.
Dr. Campbell was inspired to strive for a culture of justice ever since Dr. Martin Luther King taught transformative nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Since then, her life’s work has been grounded in faith-based organizations, most notably in the National Council of Churches where she served as General Secretary. As one of the first female Ministers, she has always been connected with those who are marginalized and struggling to have their voices heard, and advocated for interfaith understanding as the foundation to unity and peace. Dr. Campbell has participated in some of the greatest interfaith and peacebuilding events in recent history, including leading peace missions to the Middle East and negotiating the release of American soldiers in Serbia.
Mr. Fielding is an Episcopalian and a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, and first discovered interfaith work as a seminary student. His background in television production has also translated into his interfaith work, supporting youth activists and use of digital technology to enable a deeper interfaith, inter-generational focus. He has produced videos and facilitated programs with youth and digital media as an entry to interfaith relationship building for URI, Partners in Peace, and Crop Walk SF.
Ms. Reinhalter was born and raised at Kashi, an intentional interfaith community, so interfaith approaches have been the foundation of her life and work from her earliest memories. She attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions for the first time at age 16 in 2004, and awoke to the global need for interfaith cooperation. Returning to live and work at Kashi after completing her education, Ms. Reinhalter applies the principles of her research on the capacity of intentional and interfaith communities to affect change in their larger societies, extending Kashi’s engagement and reach through partnerships with global spiritual, interfaith, and activist communities.
Since 1988, Peter has had an extensive career in the arts as a creative director, producer, artistic director, music director, composer and a champion of intercultural dialogue. He is a winner of the Intercultural Innovation Award and organised the winning slogan of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations’ ‘Do One Thing for Diversity’ campaign. Peter was the Patron for the 2014 Model Global Parliament, an Ambassador for the 2014 Australian Internet Governance Forum and was elected as a World Music Councillor for the Music Council of Australia.
Ros Sam An is the deputy director of Santi Sena, a non-governmental organization founded by Buddhist monks that aims to improve working and living situations for Cambodians through programs in natural resources management, community peace building and alternative education. He is a member of the Interfaith Youth Circle of Cambodia CC and serves on the board of directors of Humanity Bright.
Mr. Sanguila is Chairman of Muslim Sharing Skills for Peace & Development and Director of Pakigdait, a grassroots interfaith, peace-building civil society organization in Mindanao, Philippines. He has participated in the Summer Peace Building Institute of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va., USA, and completed a course in “Islamic Theology: Mazhab Shinazi” at Al-Mufid University, Quom, Islamic Republic of Iran.