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.
Mr. Farooq serves as an Advocate before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is the coordinator of the National Muslim-Christian Dialogue Gujrat CC and a founding member of URI Pakistan, where he has worked to open many free interfaith schools and camps for poor children, and to launch several programs for adults. He has participated in many marches and protests, including the 1999 Millennium Peace March from Karachi to Khyber, and has arranged many workshops, seminars, and rallies for peace.
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.
Mr. Saleemi is coordinator of the Peace and Environment CC in Pirma Hal, Pakistan. He has participated in several URI programs, seminars and peacebuilding workshops, including the 2009 Global Conference in Mayapur, India. He has previously served in a number of government positions – including General Secretary of the Social Welfare Society, member of the District Development Committee and member of the Health Committee, and currently serves as member of the Anti-Narcotic Task Force in the Toba Tek Singh District. He also manages a small nursery, citrus farm and apiary.
Ms. Bali has founded and chaired several local and regional interfaith groups and worked with many international organizations to enhance understanding among cultures to address community challenges and resolve conflicts. For this work, she was honored by Queen Elizabeth II and has been designated an Ambassador for Peace. In 2010, she was presented an award for achievement in social services by the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Ms. Bali serves on URI’s Young Leaders Program Steering Committee and on the URI Europe Executive Committee.
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. Van Buuren is a Christian interreligious theologian, gestalt therapist and intercultural consultant. He previously headed the Intercultural Department for Guidance and Spiritual Care at the Utrecht Medical Centre, where he introduced a new definition of "spiritual care," in which the spiritual power hidden and expressed through various religious and spiritual traditions is mobilized. He serves as chairman of the Steering Committee for URI in the Netherlands.
Mr. Avruj is the coordinator for the Humanity Team in Argentina, co-founder of the Sin Barreras Group and an active member of the Argentinean Peace Council. An actor and an author, he has co-written the book "New Leaders: Behaviors That Are Shifting Reality." As a social entrepreneur and spiritual activist, he works to create equality, build communities and teach leadership and personal awakening.
A professor of elementary education and social anthropology, Mr. Quispe is a member of the Amaru Cooperation Circle in Ayacucho. He helped manage the Latin American Regional Assembly for URI in 2004.
Dr. Cravo is a member of the Goiás CC. A professor of history, she holds a doctorate in religious science from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Goiás and has researched such topics as religion and health, spirituality and quality of life, unconventional therapies and conflict mediation. She has served as General Coordinator of the Organizing Committee for the Third Conference of State Mental Health for the state of Goiás.
Mr. Al-Tamimi performs leadership training and economic development in Palestine and is the coordinator of Volunteering for Peace Cooperation Circle of the URI in that country. He is an active member of the URI MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Steering committee, a member of URI’s Young Leaders Program, and is active in several other URI projects.
Mr. Rizk is a member of the Tolerance CC. He is a writer for Al Masry Al Youm, a daily newspaper in Egypt, and has presented an online radio program, “The Bridge,” that deals with the topics of interfaith and coexistence. He has provided workshops and training on leadership, communications skills, media awareness and tolerance, both locally and internationally.
Ashraf Samir is a member of both the People for Peace CC and the Save Our Souls CC. He previously served as an organizer and manager for the Quested Peace CC. He also formerly served as a legal representative for URI from 2006-2009, and worked to coordinate a URI MENA conference.
Mr. Frew is a Wiccan Elder and High Priest of Coven Trismegiston in Berkeley CA. He is a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess. He has represented Wicca in interfaith work for over 25 years, including on the Board of the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, at all of the modern Parliaments of the World's Religions, and on the Board of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. He founded & serves as Director for the Lost & Endangered Religions Project. He has been active in the URI since 1998 and currently coordinates two CCs: Expressing the URI in Music & the Arts CC (Multiregional) and the Spirituality & the Earth CC (Multiregional). He served as a North American Trustee on the URI's first elected Global Council and as an At-Large Trustee on the second Global Council.
A software engineer and monk who serves as President of the Bhaktivedanta Institute in Kolkata, Mr. Rao is a member of the T.D. Singh Science and Spirituality CC and Secretary of the URI India Trust. He began his work with URI under Dr. T.D. Singh, a former trustee and founding member of URI. He later served as part of the core hosting team of the URI Global Assembly in Mayapur.
A founder and principal of Bridgeway, LLC, a financial services company, Ms. Burad has served on the boards of Grace Cathedral, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Lutheran Social Services of North America, and has been chairperson of the URI Audit committee since 2007.
A former lobbyist and investment banker, Mr. Pappas also served as a political campaign director before becoming an ordained priest of the Greek Orthodox Church. During his sixteen-year ministry, Mr. Pappas worked to aid the homeless and to establish interfaith relationships. He now serves as Executive Director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council CC. He also serves on many public and private boards, including the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement, the National Shrine of Saint Francis, the Interfaith Center of the Presidio (where he serves as chairman) and URI’s North America Region Leadership Council. He was recently appointed to a seat on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
Ms. Tobias has served as a Fellow at the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva with the Working Group for Indigenous Populations and is presently the Program Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, as well as a Board member of the Levantine Cultural Center and the Euphrates Institute at Principia College. Most recently she has been invited to join the program design team at the InterSpiritual Center of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Currently serving as a North America Trustee, Rebecca worked to develop the "Protecting and Restoring the Sacred CC," which encourages collaborative activities between members of the formal environmental movement and regional First Nations communities.
Sam Wazan is the author of The Last Moderate Muslim. He is a combat-zone survivor, a Middle East expert, and a grassroots catalyst for peace. He is a member of the Board at Mecklenburg Ministries, Chair of the Charlotte Cooperation Circle, and member of the Comparative Religion committee at Temple Beth El. In 1995, Wazan earned an MBA in the USA. In 2000, he founded an Information Technology services firm, which he sold in 2005. In 2009, he resigned from a prestigious corporate position. His drive to catalyze peace led him to write his personally inspired novel. He converted his war stories and daily struggles of survival to lessons learned to inspire the public to act for a more peaceful world.
Mr. 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.