Appreciative Inquiry at the United Nations 70th and URI 15th Anniversaries

29 June 2015

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an exciting philosophy for change that was created by Professor David Cooperrider and his associates at Case Western Reserve University. The United Religions Initiative has used Appreciative Inquiry interviews at its gatherings since 1996 to help create relationships which are at the heart of the URI’s growth and appeal.

At the June 27, 2015 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, which took place concurrently with the 15th anniversary celebration of URI's charter signing, URI Co-Director of Global Programs & Organizational Development Sally Mahé led an Appreciative Inquiry session for the crowd gathered at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, USA.

Audience members were encouraged to engage in Appreciative Inquiry discussions with the people around them to better connect and understand each other and the paths that led them to this shared moment.

Watch the full video of Sally's introduction and explanation:

When the Appreciative Interviews were concluded, participants were invited to take an "ussie" (like a "selfie" photo, but with two faces) and share them with the larger community. The following are some of the photos sent in after the activity.


Monica Willard, Nushin Mavaddat, and Paul Martin. “Our wish is unity of humans and spiritual connection.”


Chinese Kee Tiow and American Libby Traubman. “We concluded that this is indeed The Citizen's Century. So human connections must be established on a vastly grander scale as URI encourages, before the UN or any large institutions have the needed Change environment of relationship skills, spirit, and creativity.”


Rev. Norma Powell, from San Francisco, and Al Monteiro, native of Brazil and resident of SF.


Camila Andrea Mena and Dennis Reno. “We wish for community across boundaries! And sharing on the importance of listening!”


Yen Ting: "I wish for a bloodless alternative to settle conflict and disagreement."
Fred: "I wish that water may not be privately owned."


Lakota Chief Philip Scott and Jewish Len Traubman say aho and thank you to URI for including everyone in excluding no one.


Chen Yin Noah & John Alex Lowell


Tomiko Nojima (URI) and Kerstin Weidmann (St. Matthew's Lutheran Church SF)


Kumar and Jayanthi Balachandran


Jaleh Kilpatrick

Jennifer Wagner

Jennifer Wagner


Qinglun Huang

Julianne Cartwright Traylor, Associate Director, International LLM and Visiting Scholar Programs at University of San Francisco School of Law

ussieUN70-CathyStevens-VenerableMiaolung- WendyOoi.jpg

Cathy Stevens, Venerable Miaolung (Fo guang shan-SF), and Wendy Ooi (Fo guang shan SF YAD). "We wish for the prioritization of environmental sustainability over profit in policy-making."

ussieUN70Brenda WestAndJoyce Wilding.JPG

Brenda West & Joyce Wilding "Peace With Earth For Peace On Earth"


Dr. Marco Tavanti (Professor, School of Management, Program Director, Master of Nonprofit Administration) and URI Executive Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian. “Thanks for the conversation and sharing of passions for a better world.”


See more videos from the Grace Cathedral celebration: URI Executive Director Victor Kazanjian's speech and The Right Rev. William E. Swing, URI President and Founding Trustee's speech.