Executive Committee (of the Global Council of Trustees)

URI’s primary governing body, the Global Council, is comprised of Trustees who are elected from - and by - URI Cooperation Circles. The Executive Committee of the Global Council is responsible for general governance oversight. 

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

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.

Preeta Bansal

URI Global Council Trustee (At-Large); Senior Advisory Council Member

Preeta Bansal served for more than 25 years in some of the most senior posts in the public and corporate sectors – from the White House, to US diplomatic and human rights work, to the top echelons of state government and global corporations and law firms. After a long career scaling the heights of institutional power, she is an anchor for ServiceSpace – an all-volunteer, global generosity-based ecosystem and movement of 2 million people worldwide committed to building collective capacity for sustainable transformation at the grassroots. ServiceSpace draws on all the world’s spiritual, indigenous, and wisdom traditions to further a vision of changing the world by changing ourselves, and innovates in network science and technology to amplify small shifts in behavior and consciousness by building local and global communities of practice. Preeta is a dedicated meditator, community volunteer, independent corporate director, investor, nonprofit leader, philanthropist, and lecturer at MIT. A constitutional lawyer by background, Preeta is Chair of Civic Nebraska, one of the largest democracy-building organizations in the American heartland, and is on numerous local and global nonprofit, foundation, and university boards. She is a graduate with top honors from Harvard-Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School. She received the National Organization of Women’s “Woman of Power and Influence Award”, was named one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, and received the “Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism” on Capitol Hill. She has been profiled by The New York Times as a “poised and playful” “superstar” and “nimble, unorthodox thinker.” She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Biff Barnard

Director of Institutional Advancement

In October 2016, Biff Barnard joined URI as its Director of Institutional Advancement, having served as a member of URI’s Senior Advisory Council since 2003.  Biff served as URI’s Acting Executive Director from September 2021 through July 2022, and, on August 1, 2022, resumed his position as the Director of Institutional Advancement. His primary responsibilities are Fundraising (individual and institutional donors) and Partnership Relations.

Prior to 2016, he was Managing Partner of Barnard/Montague Capital Advisors; Managing Director of Caltius Mezzanine; Senior Vice President of Allied Capital; and Chairman and CEO of Heller First Capital. Biff served as Chairman of the Advisory Council of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, as President of the San Francisco Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, and as a Director of ACG-Global. He served on the San Francisco East Bay Advisory Board of Heritage Bank of Commerce. Biff received a B.A. from Stanford University. He lives in Walnut Creek, California, with his wife, Connie.

Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku

URI Global Council Trustee for Asia (2018-2022)

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.

Pulin Sanghvi

URI Global Council Trustee (At-Large); URI and URI Foundation Treasurer; Finance and Operations Committee Chair; Senior Advisory Council

Pulin Sanghvi is a speaker, author, and educator on the topics of purpose and meaningful work based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pulin led structural reimaginations of career development at Princeton University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and he created and taught a model of hypothesis-driven exploration that has engaged thousands of members of the Princeton, Stanford, and Yale communities. Previously, Pulin was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Palo Alto and an investment banker with Morgan Stanley in New York. Pulin holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with Distinction in Economics from Yale University. Pulin serves on the boards of The Peace Studio and Hospital de la Familia Foundation, and previously served on the national board of Positive Coaching Alliance. He also serves Yale in multiple capacities, including as a Fellow in Davenport College and previously as Executive Officer of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors.

Barbara Shannon

URI Global Council Trustee (At-Large); Senior Advisory Council Member

Barbara Shannon is a business growth expert. She is CEO of the Shannon Group advising C-Level corporate executives with clients that include FEI/Thermo Fischer, Lumentum, HireRight, Flextronics, and others. She helps clients achieve game-changing results for themselves and their businesses. She is founder and chair of THECEOBOARD, a San Francisco-based CEO peer group, and ATHENA, a monthly mastermind group dedicated to the success of women entrepreneurs. Barbara hosts the Bernstein CEO Speaker Series, serves on the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change, and is a frequent speaker and panelist on big shift business transformation. Previously, she was with Deloitte Consulting, where she guided senior executives at JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, Lockheed Martin, Hewlett Packard and Applied Materials. Barbara gives back locally as a board member at We Vote, as a Global Ambassador for How Women Lead, and as the coach-in-residence at Save The Bay. She has also served as a member of the URI Foundation Board. Barbara received her BA from Smith College and her MBA at The Wharton School.

The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing

Founder and President Emeritus 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 Emeritus 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.

Morgana Sythove

URI Global Council Trustee for Multiregion (2020-2024)

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.

Jerry White

Executive Director

Social Entrepreneur, Senior Ashoka Fellow, and humanitarian activist Jerry White furthers his peacebuilding journey by joining United Religions Initiative as Executive Director.

Jerry White is an author, diplomat, and humanitarian activist known for leading high-impact campaigns, three of which led to international treaties: the Landmine Ban Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Ban, and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 1984, White lost his lower right leg while hiking in an unmarked minefield in Israel. He worked closely with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and shares the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. White wrote of his experience helping thousands of war victims build resilience in “Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down.”

White studied religion at Brown University, theology at Cambridge University, and business at the University of Michigan. He has an honorary degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and teaches religion, violence, and strategy as a Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia.

Jerry White and his wife Kelly live in Washington, DC, and have four adult children.