Global Council Trustees

URI’s primary governing body, the Global Council, is comprised of Trustees who are elected from - and by - URI Cooperation Circles. Each region selects three Trustees to serve on the Global Council for a four-year term, providing guidance and overseeing URI’s strategic growth.

AT-LARGE TRUSTEES

Kiran Bali, MBE JP

Chair of the URI Global Council of Trustees (At-Large Trustee)

Kiran Bali, MBE JP is a remarkable global organizational leader and spokesperson in areas of interfaith understanding, environmental justice, women’s empowerment, and peacebuilding through selfless service and multidisciplinary approaches. Kiran was honored by HM Queen Elizabeth II with the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire accolade in 2008 and has received a number of international awards for her achievements. Tackling cli-mate change through advocacy and empowering grassroots communities with knowledge, she launched the Hindu declaration on climate change in India and spoke at the launch of the inter-faith declaration on climate change in New York. As a UK magistrate, Kiran underpins all her initiatives with the principles of social justice, compassion and equity toward creating safer, healthier and stronger inclusive communities.

Becky Burad

URI Global Council Treasurer (At-Large Trustee)

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.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr.

Hereditary Chief, Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations, and URI Trustee

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. is an enrolled member of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations and an internationally recognized leader in human and community development. During the past 45 years, he has worked with Indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America, Micronesia, South East Asia, India, Hawaii, and Africa. He served 16 years as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. With elders from across North America, Chief Phil co-founded the Four Worlds International Institute. As well, Chief Phil is a Director of the Four Directions Corporation, an Indigenous-owned company, incorporated in 1996 as Four Worlds’ economic development arm.

Wambui Ngige

Human Rights Attorney, Kenya; URI At-Large Trustee

Wambui Ngige is an attorney based in Nairobi, Kenya. Wambui mobilizes young men and women to join URI and break the cycle of youth being used to propagate hate. Her experience in research and advocacy on youth and women’s rights has enabled her to use unity of religions to bring women and young people together as a way of fighting extremism and uniting Kenyans. Wambui strives to help URI engage and sustain interconnected communities to promote respect for diversity, non-violent resolution of conflict and social, political, economic, and environmental justice.

Swamini Adityananda Saraswati

Director of Programs, Policy and Development of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), a URI Cooperation Circle; URI At-Large Trustee

Swamini Adityananda is the Director of Programs, Policy and Development of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA). GIWA was launched at UNICEF headquarters in New York with the understanding that it is crucial to engage the world’s many faiths to address the vital cause of poor water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions, the main reason behind the majority of our world’s childhood deaths. She has nearly three decades of experience in the NGO and communications sectors, having served the poor and marginalized in several African nations, India, the United States, and Southeast Asia, as well as in the context of the United Nations and the World Bank. Swamini Adityananda is also the co-founder of the Pan-African Association, which has provided direct services to survivors of war, violence, displacement, and torture to over 100,000 people from nations across the world.

Sok Sidon

URI At-Large Trustee

A trustee from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sok Sidon is a member of the Youth Partners for Development and Peace CC (YPDP), which he founded and continues to lead. Sidon has been working in the interfaith community with the United Religions Initiative community since 2008, when he was one of the participants in the URI Young Leaders Program and Global Assembly. Outside of URI, Mr. Sidon works extensively with civil society organization and media since 2005, creating content to promote human rights, democracy, peace, and sustainable development through youth participation projects.

AFRICA

Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola II

URI Trustee for Africa

Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola II is a pacifist, a spiritual leader, and an advocate for peace and stability in the world. He is also a member of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a URI CC, which has become very instrumental in advocacy for peacebuilding and conflict transformation in Uganda and the world at large.

Fr. John Ng’oma

URI Trustee for Africa

With over twelve years of URI experience, Fr. John Ng’oma looks forward to bringing in new ideas that will enable URI to be more self-sustaining and to be more visible at the grassroots level. He will continue supporting the Regional Leadership Team and also serves with the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi.

Honorable Elisha Buba Yero

URI Trustee for Africa

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. He is based in Jos, Nigeria.

ASIA

Ravindra Kandage

URI Global Council Assistant Treasurer

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. He is based in Kesbewa, Sri Lanka.

Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku

Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku (affectionately known as “KK”) has worked at the grassroots level for a number of years and brings the success of local interfaith actions and the richness of diverse religious practices to the Global Council. Based in Kolkata, KK has worked as the regional team president for URI’s East India region and has been a mentor and facilitator for over ten years. He has also rendered pastoral service to communities, especially Muslims and Animists based at the Peace and Conflict Resolution Center. KK looks forward to continuing to build bridges and partner with likeminded organizations and government agencies promoting interfaith actions.

Dr. C.N.N. Raju

URI Trustee for Asia

Dr. C.N.N. Raju has been doing interfaith work since 1965. Presently he is the Hon. Secretary of Brahmo Samaj, Basavanagudi, Bangalore and Hon. National Treasurer of Central Council of Bhahmo Samaj, which is the apex body governing 60 Mandirs (churches) located in different parts of India. The vast exposure which he has gained over the past many decades in serving interfaith, social, and service organizations have helped him learn to address social and community issues successfully. Dr. Raju lives in Bangalore, India.

EUROPE

Daniel Eror

President of Youth for Peace, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a URI Cooperation Circle, and URI Trustee for Europe

Daniel Eror was born in Sarajevo in 1988. He studied in the Master’s program of Economics and Management at the University of Sarajevo and the Master’s program of Interreligious Studies and Peacebuilding at the Faculty of Catholic Theology. He is an active member of civil society, with 12 years of progressive experience in the field of intercultural dialogue, reconciliation and peacebuilding, engaging mainly with young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as abroad. He is Co-Founder and President of Youth for Peace, one of the most prominent youth-led organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina working on peacebuilding. He has been an active member of URI for several years and URI Global Council Trustee since 2018. He is a certified trainer working with youth in the fields of conflict transformation, dealing with the past, human rights and discrimination.

Petar Gramatikov

URI Trustee for Europe

Mr. Gramatikov 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. He is based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Marianne Horling

URI Trustee for Europe

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. She is based in Bonn, Germany.

Duncan Wielzen

Ex Officio Trustee

Duncan Wielzen is the current URI Europe Chairperson. Mr. Wielzen is employed as a pastoral worker in the R.C. diocese Rotterdam (Netherlands). He has MA degrees in Theology, Religious Studies (Intercultural Ministry), and Educational Studies. He also has a Ph.D. in Theology from Catholic University Leuven (Belgium). Mr. Wielzen works at the intersection of pastoral ministry and religious education. He is the chief editor of Interfaith Education for All: Theoretical Perspectives and Best Practices for Transformative Action (2017), prefaced by the Rev. Victor Kazanjian, URI’s Executive Director. Next to chairing the URI Europe Board, Mr. Wielzen is also a member of two URI CCs in the Netherlands. His involvement is at both the interfaith grassroots level and the international academic level.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Salette Aquino

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Maria Salette Mayer de Aquino is from Brasília, Brazil. She was the bilingual secretary by Siemens from 1975 to 1985. With a Masters in Applied Linguistics, she worked as a professor at UNICAMP - State University of Campinas from 1988 to 2012, in the areas of German Language and Community Work (university extension), Collaborator in the Discipline of Art, Science and Society for a Culture of Peace, as well as Director of CEL - Language Teaching Center of UNICAMP from 2009 to 2011.

Salette has been a member of the United Religions Initiative (URI) since 2000 and is the co-founder of the URI Cooperation Circle in Campinas. She has served as a member of the URI Global Council since July 2016, and is now re-elected for 2020-2024. She is also a member of four URI Cooperation Circles in the Latin America region, including CC Brasília, Wisdom CC, WIN-CC and the CC of Latin American Musicians. Salette's areas of interest are interfaith cooperation, cultures of peace, disarmament, environment, Indigenous peoples, and the anti-racism struggle.

Francisco Morales

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Francisco Morales is Urban Indigenous member of the Aymara community in Argentina, and he is a social science student and writer on issues of Indigenous worldview and Latin American thinking. Francisco has been a part of URI since 2008, when he and others founded Comunidad Cosmica CC. He was selected as URI Youth Ambassador in 2010 and serves as a member of the URI Multiregion Leadership Team. He has been a part of the youth facilitators team since 2017.

Currently, Francisco is also advisor to different social organizations on issues of interreligious dialogue and diversity in conflict situations. He is a member of the First Nations of America Student Community - CEPNA. Together, with other Indigenous writers, Francisco founded the Circle of Indigenous Written and Oral Knowledge.

Rosa Delia Macas

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Rosa Delia Macas (Quizpe), from Ecuador, is a teacher of primary education. She speaks Spanish and Kichwa, the language of the Indigenous people - Kichwa Saraguro. She has a Masters degree in Bilingual Education and is a member of the URI member group CC Samay. Rosa Delia shares her ideas for the URI Latin America and the Caribbean region:

“Start from a new dawn and persevere from the cleanliness and positive changes that we have experienced living in this time of the pandemic-coronavirus since March 2020, in which, the whole of humanity has put on the table the spiritual, material and economic aspect. Generate actions for the responsible care of the environment and good coexistence with the beings of Mother Earth, starting from each of its spaces. Strengthen harmony and peace for the world, starting from the person or from himself- the family, community - people and the world. Exercise and practice inter-religious coexistence, and in harmony achieve consensus for actions for the good of our represented [people].”

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Anwar Dehaq

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

Anwar Dahak is from Yemen and is head of the Youth of Peace organization. He works as an Investigative Journalist in ARIJ network and he graduated from the Faculty of Information in Sanna’a University's Public Relations program. Anwar is a member of the United Nations Volunteer Advisory Committee in Yemen, a trainer in the United Nations Volunteer Administration, a trainer in Active Citizenship for the British Council, and he has participated in many conferences worldwide as well. Anwar is the founder of several youth initiatives that have served young people since 2011 and he believes that, in life, all the religions have one thread, which is peace. 

Naoufal El Hammoumi

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

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. He is based in Tiflet, Morocco.

Omar Tayeh

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

Dr. Omar Ahmad Tayeh is from Amman, Jordan and has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with experiences in the private sector, public institutions, NGOs, and educational institutions. Dr. Tayeh is one of the founders of the Arab Council for Gifted and Talented, Jordanian Psychological Association and Jordanian Volunteer Center, and has worked as a general director for one of the biggest schools in Jordan, as well as the President of Private Schools Council. He has also established cultural exchange programs between Jordan and the USA, Germany, Italy, and other Arab countries. Dr. Tayeh is interested in subjects related to education, peace, cross-cultural Issues, human rights, and religions. 

MULTIREGION

Perri McCary

URI Trustee for Multiregion

Perri (P.K.) McCary is a Houston artist, educator, and social activist who works tirelessly to cultivate relationships across racial, gender, generational, and cultural aisles. P.K. is a founding member of URI, one of many individuals from diverse backgrounds and religions. She is the author of nine books, starting with her acclaimed Black Bible Chronicles series. Her current book, Hindsight2020?, was recently released this year. “Mama PK,” as she is affectionately called, is the co-founder of Think Peace International, a communications media network for peace activists. She is a world traveler and believes that when we PRACTICE to do better, we GET BETTER. keep

Morgana Sythove

URI Trustee for Multiregion

Morgana Sythove, a Wiccan Elder, first became aware of URI in 2004 at the PWR/Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona but it was not until 2008 that she became involved with URI in the Netherlands. Since then, she has become involved in various CCs in Europe, North America, and South-East Asia. Her interest and passion for Earth Spirituality and environmental issues brought her into contact with many diverse people and cultures. As she became more involved with various grassroots projects she became more aware of the problems Indigenous people face and the many problems caused by pollution and monoculture, resulting in climate change. Morgana has been instrumental in the formation of the new Multi CC Planetary Wellbeing and, together with the URI Environmental Network CC and Spirituality and the Earth CC, has strengthened the bonds with many environmentalists and partner organizations such as Charter for Compassion in supporting grassroots initiatives.

Issac Thomas

URI Trustee for Multiregion

Mr. Issac S. Thomas is a young leader from Kerala, India. He joined URI at the age of 13 and has been working amongst youth since then. Initially part of the South India Sri Lanka region, he was one of the first young leaders training program (YLP) candidate and later became the Youth Ambassador for the region. He founded Global Youth Movement (GYM) CC in 2017 and joined the Multiregion. Under his leadership, youngsters have grown and thrived as individuals and as a group concentrating on platforms like interfaith, intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, conflict resolution and reconciliation, women and youth empowerment, environmental protection and sustainable development, disarmament of nuclear weapons, advocacy for human rights etc. His vision, work ethics and ability to build bridges have kept him steadfast in his mission as a peace multiplier. He is also the coordinator of ‘One Billion Youth for Peace’ movement by Cosmic Community CC and an active member of the Youth Ministry of Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. Outside of URI, being a Bachelor of Technology graduate in electronics and communication, he works as a Network Engineer in Doha, Qatar. He strongly believes that URI is a global family and sticks to the motto 'Think globally and act locally.'

NORTH AMERICA

Geneva Blackmer

URI Trustee for North America

Geneva Blackmer is the current Program Director for The Interfaith Center at Miami University. She holds a B.A. in Religion and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Athens State University. She is a first-year interdisciplinary Ph.D. student in Theology at Amridge University. She serves as an At-Large Director for the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and an Administrative Director for the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada. As an intern and historian for CRES, she helped found the Kansas City Interfaith History Project, in conjunction with her published thesis. She has previously worked with the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington on Emergency Services Resource Outreach and the Parliament of the World's Religions on their Climate Commitments Project.  

Adeola Fearon

Ex Officio Trustee

Adeola Fearon is a practitioner of Yoruba Traditonal Spirituality; an intuitive healer, artist, coach and author with a passion for empowering individuals and all humanity. Her journey has allowed her to serve as an advocate for interfaith dialogues, human services, and in various aspects of community development. She is the founder of the Charlotte Red Bench Cooperation Circle whose purpose is to grow individual and communal capacities for love, forgiveness and compassion.

Adeola Fearon is a URI North America Ex Officio Trustee.

Fred Fielding

URI Trustee for North America

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. He is based in California, USA.

SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Dr. Potre Diramptan-Diampuan

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Dr. Potre Diramptan-Diampuan comes to the Global Council after having previously served as a Regional Coordinator and a Senior Interfaith Advisor for the Philippines. She is a co-founding member of the United Kingdom- Philippines Partners for Peace (UKPPP), a group organized by the Filipino scholars (from Mindanao) to the UK with the support of the British Council – Philippines to assist in the peacebuilding efforts in Mindanao.  In the Philippine bureaucracy, Dr. Potre is also a Consultant at the Office of the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) on Peace and Other Special Concerns. As an educator, she has been in many teacher trainings to personally train and help teachers include peacebuilding approaches to their curricula and school activities. In addition, she has been functioning as a speaker and lecturer on topics intended to deepen interfaith and intercultural understanding across societies.

Peter Mousaferiadis

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Mr. Mousaferiadis has had an extensive career as a creative director, producer, artistic director, music director, composer and a champion of intercultural dialogue. He has established himself as one of Australia’s leading cross cultural directors. Peter has directed large scale intercultural concerts and ceremonies throughout Australia, China, the Philippines, and Malaysia. In 2003, Peter founded Cultural Infusion, a global social enterprise that works with schools, youth, digital media and the arts to promote cultural harmony for a more cohesive and richer society. Cultural Infusion delivers programs in India, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Cambodia and throughout Australia. Cultural Infusion has been the recipient of numerous awards including the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Intercultural Innovation Award. In 2015, Peter was appointed as an Associate to the UNESCO Chair for Intercultural and Interreligious Relations, Asia-Pacific, and elected as a board member of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria. In 2014, Peter was appointed a patron of the Model Global Parliament and in the same year was presented with the Cultural Revolution Award by the Punjab Government of Pakistan in recognition of 25 years’ contribution to cultural diversity through arts and cultural programs. He is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Bishop Stephen L. Villaester

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Chairing the Interfaith Council for Peace in Mindanao, Bishop Stephen L. Villaester has been doing interfaith work for over twenty years. He knows that accomplishing the goals of URI at the local level contributes to the synergy that is created at the global level.

EXECUTIVE TRUSTEES

The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing

President and Founding Trustee of URI; Former Episcopal Bishop of California

William E. Swing, 7th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California (1980-2006), was born in Huntington, West Virginia. He graduated from Kenyon College and Virginia Theological Seminary, and holds six honorary degrees. Bishop Swing served as a priest in Wheeling, Weirton, and Chester, West Virginia. He also started a church at Waterford Park Race Track in Chester, pioneered homeless work in San Francisco, and played a critical role in saving St. Luke’s Hospital. He served on the Board of the American Foundation for AIDS research for 20 years and has spoken throughout the world. He was instrumental in starting a capital development bank in Oakland. He is known as an outspoken leader about the standing of gays and lesbians in the church. He led the radical expansion of the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, California. Bishop Swing is the Founder and President of the United Religions Initiative. He is married to Mary Taylor Swing and has two children and three grandchildren.

Bishop Swing is an inspirational speaker and an author, most recently of A Bishop's Quest: Founding a United Religions and The Sacred and the Silly: A Bishop's Playful and Eventful Life. Both books are available on Amazon.com; the proceeds of book sales will benefit URI.

The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr.

Executive Director

The Rev. Victor Kazanjian leads URl's global grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network of over 1,000 groups working in more than 100 countries and at the United Nations to build bridges of cooperation between people of all beliefs and cultures. Prior to joining URI, Victor served as Dean of lntercultural Education & Religious and Spiritual Life and Co-Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Wellesley College, and as visiting faculty at the Malaviya Center for Peace Research at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, where he served as Fulbright Professor of Peace and Justice Studies. Co-Founder of Education as Transformation Inc., an international organization that works on religious diversity and spirituality in higher education, Victor is also an author, educator, recognized thought-leader and trainer in areas of intergroup dialogue, multicultural and interreligious understanding, conflict transformation, diversity and democracy, social justice, community organizing, and peacebuilding. He is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and was trained as a community organizer working to address the systemic causes of poverty and injustice through the support of community-based groups. He holds degrees from the Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard University.