Swamini Adityananda Saraswati

Interim Executive Director

Swamini Adityananda Saraswati has served as a URI Global Trustee since 2014, and was appointed Interim Executive Director for URI in 2021. With 30 years of nonprofit and communications experience, she brings a strong background in interfaith leadership, as well as expertise in policy advocacy, public relations, partnership development, campaigning, strategic planning, and fundraising.

She began her career as a broadcast television producer/writer/director for networks including Discovery International, PBS, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CBC and the TV Guide Channel. She later served as Director of Communications and Development for a crucial interfaith non-profit agency which resettles refugees and violence survivors from around the world. Witnessing the intense suffering of countless people, she went on to co-found the Pan-African Association, which has enabled tens of thousands of survivors of war, hunger, genocide, persecution, and torture from across the world to survive and thrive for over 17 years.

Later in her career, she served as a Director and United Nations Relations Manager for a large international nonprofit, often working within the UN Secretariat, World Bank and IMF on issues including water scarcity, world hunger, climate change, education, HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, disaster risk reduction and response, and women’s rights. She furthermore helped spearhead anti-poverty campaigns in the United States, Africa and Asia. Swamini also was instrumental in the development of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), which was launched at UNICEF World Headquarters, in partnership with UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, and USAID. She was responsible for its strategic plans, development, partnerships, fundraising, and programmes.

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; the proceeds of book sales will benefit URI.


Pamela H. Banks

Director of Finance and Administration

Pamela joined URI in March 2011 originally as a Fiscal Consultant tasked with completing the annual audit, and then transitioning to the finance department. In July 2011, she accepted the position of Director of Finance and Administration. In 2000, as corporate finance was going through various changes, Pamela discovered non-profit service was a better fit for her skill set and was personally more rewarding. Her background includes 20 years of accounting experience, with the last 10 years being exclusively in not-for-profit service. She has directed not-for-profit finance in social service programs in Alameda, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

Biff Barnard

Director of Institutional Advancement

Biff Barnard joined URI as its Director of Institutional Advancement in October 2016, having served as a member of URI’s President’s Council since 2003. While his primary responsibilities are in development and individual and institutional donor relations, he provides support for the URI Foundation, supports URI’s global partnerships, and oversees URI’s Coordinator of Individual Membership. Prior to joining URI, 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 serves on the 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.

Diana Conan

Director of Development

Diana joined the URI team as its Annual Fund and Events Manager in January 2013. In August 2014, Diana was promoted to Associate Director of Development, and in September 2016 to Director of Development. In her new position, Diana oversees URI’s development team’s efforts and all the key aspects of URI's Development Department including the annual fund, the Circles of Light gala, major donors’ relations, international fundraising and foundation and corporate relations. After a decade in the corporate sector, Diana transitioned over the non-profit sector in search of a more rewarding work life and focused on women advocacy issues and affordable education. She has over 16 years of experience stewarding donor relations and managing fundraising events for URI, the Northern California Chapter of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, The Foundation of City College of San Francisco, Coast Guard Foundation and various other non-profits in the Bay Area. Diana was born and raised in France and earned her BA degree from Barnard College in New York City, USA. Diana currently lives in San Francisco and enjoys learning about diverse religious traditions and cooking various cuisines.

Maria Crespo

Director of Cooperation Circle Support

Maria Crespo serves as the Director of Cooperation Circle (CC) Support from her office in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She maintains communication with CCs around the world, manages the CC approval process and is the staff liaison for the CC Approval Committee. Maria moderates URI’s listservs, assists with URI's social media activities, and oversees data collection for URI’s CCs. Prior to this, she served as the Regional Coordinator for Latin America for five years. Maria originally became involved with URI in 1997 when she was appointed as a Trustee in the Interim Global Council. By profession, she is a bilingual school teacher. She is very involved in the Roman Catholic Church as a catechist and lay person, collaborating in the Episcopal Conference for Ecumenism, Relations with Judaism, Islam and other religions. Maria is married and has five children.

Gaea Denker

Communications Manager

Gaea joined the United Religions Initiative as the Communications Manager in 2015. After graduating with a BA from Cornell University and an MFA from Florida State University and working in corporate sector for a decade, she joined the nonprofit world in order to pursue a daily focus on actively creating a better life for all people. In her free time, Gaea enjoys writing plays for the vibrant San Francisco theater community, painting murals for schools, restaurants, and other buildings around the Bay Area, walking her two rescue mutts, and learning new gardening tricks.

Ezra Fairley-Collins

Coordinator of Individual Membership Development

Ezra Fairley-Collins (he/him/his) is pleased to join URI’s staff as the Coordinator of Individual Membership Development. Ezra is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC. While at Wake Divinity, his passion for the interfaith community grew and developed into an imperative to ensure that all spiritual expressions have an equitable place at the table. Prior to beginning at URI, Ezra was the Intersectionality Program Manager at the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a national nonprofit working at the junctions of faith, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Ezra currently resides in Charlotte, NC with his spouse, Malu Fairley-Collins, and their fur baby, Miles.

Mussie Hailu

URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the UN and the African Union, URI-Africa Regional Director, Former Ambassador

Ambassador Mussie Hailu is a peacebuilder who is working at national, regional, and international levels for peace, reconciliation, interfaith harmony, disarmament, the Golden Rule, world citizenship, right human relationships, and international cooperation for the preservation of the environment. He considers himself a Citizen of the World, believing strongly in the inter-dependence of human beings. He celebrates cultural diversity, seeing the differences in race, ethnicities, religions, politics, and nationalities as important elements of the one and indivisible humanity. He has served many national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Mussie also served as Diplomat in the rank of Ambassador and Special Envoy of the President of Burundi. Currently, he serves as URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the United Nations and the African Union, and URI-Africa Regional Director. He is a founding member of URI.

Sally Mahé

Senior Consultant

Sally Mahe, a founding staff person of URI, has held senior staff positions for over 20 years. Sally formerly served as URI Director of Organizational Development and Director of Global Programs, working primarily with regional staff across the world. As Senior Consultant, Sally is on-call for consultation and makes core URI values, practices and in-depth organizational wisdom available to the URI global community. Sally co-authored The Birth of a Global Community in 2003 and A Greater Democracy Day by Day. Sally holds Master's degrees from Harvard and the General Episcopal Seminary, New York. She lives in the Bay Area with her children and grandchildren nearby. Sally maintains the blog Every Voice, where she writes about the varied ways URI Cooperation Circle members all over the world give voice to URI and contribute to its success.

Sally maintains several recurring blog series on the URI website. You can access them at

Nosa Okunmwendia

Senior Accountant

Nosa Okunmwendia was born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria and moved to the United States at the age of 17 to further his education. He received a BS degree in Finance from Chico State University and an MBA from University of Phoenix. He has worked as an accountant and in financial operations for various firms for the last 10 years. Nosa joins URI as a Senior Accountant. He looks forward to working with all the fine people at URI, and working to achieve the organizations’ mission - a mission that is incredibly important right now.

Sarah Oliver

Global Youth Coordinator

Since 2016, Sarah has been the URI Youth Coordinator for the Southern African region, working to strengthen the voices of young people across the regional URI network. In this role, she has led interfaith and leadership skills training programs with youth from Cooperation Circles across South Africa, Malawi, and Mozambique. She developed the Girls Not Brides Campaign with URI Youth Ambassadors in these areas. As an experienced facilitator, Sarah runs interfaith youth programs for high school learners with the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative in partnership with GOAL (Giving Opportunity to Aspiring Leaders), both Cooperation Circles of URI. Within these programs, Sarah strives to create spaces of trust, dialogue, and learning across religious and cultural divides. In July 2019, Sarah took on the role of URI Global Youth Coordinator, expanding her work to connect, support and inspire youth engagement globally in URI’s network.

Isabelle Ortega-Lockwood

Director of Global Communications and Strategic Planning

As the Director of Global Communications and Strategic Planning, Isabelle ensures that the work of all parts of URI are acknowledged and shared within the URI community and the public. She joined the URI team in June 2012, bringing nearly two decades of skills and experience specializing in communications and marketing strategy, graphic design, content development and integrated media planning. Isabelle has lived and worked in five countries across four continents, spearheading communications and marketing programs for non-profits in Canada and South Africa. She holds an Honours Degree in Media, Information and Technoculture from Western University, and completed her post-graduate work with a focus on Digital Design. Isabelle also sits on the board of FLAG, a Canadian foundation that provides education for underprivileged girls in the Philippines. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.

Alice Swett

Director of Global Programs

Alice has spent most of her career applauding, mentoring and training youth and adults working for positive social change. Most recently she managed the City of Boulder, Colorado’s Youth Opportunities Program/YOAB for 16 years. She also served as a Trustee of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. In 2013 Alice was grateful to be named a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, which enabled her to receive a Master’s Degree in Peace Education from the University for Peace in Costa Rica. She spent time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Theatre et Réconciliation, using participatory theater as a tool for community transformation. She loves vegetarian food, intercultural exchanges of all types, ragtime piano, and being outdoors.

Lauren Van Ham

Climate Action Coordinator

Raised in the Midwest, Lauren's professional life began as a performing artist in NYC before attending interfaith seminary in California. After ordination (1999), Lauren served as chaplain in both healthcare and corporate settings, and seminary Dean at The Chaplaincy Institute. Her passion for spirituality, art and Earth's teachings construct her focus in eco-ministry, grief & loss, and sacred activism. She is a guest writer for “Progressing Spirit,” an online publication exploring theology, spirituality and public events. She holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Naropa University. Lauren is a spiritual director and serves as guest faculty for several schools in the Bay Area.

Matthew Youde

Associate Director of Global Programs

Matthew has a background in media production and has worked on diverse projects from corporate videos for businesses to broadcast drama with the BBC. He has been involved in youth and community work in the UK for many years, in both interfaith and Catholic contexts. He has a keen interest in social justice activism and the experiences and struggles of young people in the world of work.

Part of a generation that established URI’s dedicated focus to supporting the leadership of young people, he served as Youth Program Coordinator for a decade, while also taking on other Global Programs duties supporting regions in their work. With youth support under Sarah Oliver’s leadership, Matthew now also works on grant-writing and special projects.


Mussie Hailu

URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the UN and the African Union, URI-Africa Regional Director, Former Ambassador

Ambassador Mussie Hailu is a peacebuilder who is working at national, regional, and international levels for peace, reconciliation, interfaith harmony, disarmament, the Golden Rule, world citizenship, right human relationships, and international cooperation for the preservation of the environment. He considers himself a Citizen of the World, believing strongly in the inter-dependence of human beings. He celebrates cultural diversity, seeing the differences in race, ethnicities, religions, politics, and nationalities as important elements of the one and indivisible humanity. He has served many national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Mussie also served as Diplomat in the rank of Ambassador and Special Envoy of the President of Burundi. Currently, he serves as URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the United Nations and the African Union, and URI-Africa Regional Director. He is a founding member of URI.

Emmanuel Ivorgba

Regional Coordinator for URI Western Africa

Dr. Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba serves as URI Regional Coordinator for Western Africa. He concurrently leads the New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation, a Nigeria-based national nonprofit that received the 2013 United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Youth Solidarity Fund Award. Emmanuel is Convener and Director of the International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue in Nigeria, which annually hosts over 350 participants from more than 10 countries. He is also the founder of Creative Minds International Academy, a school empowering Nigerian students with the ability for critical thinking, exploration of the interconnectedness of all life, and the establishment of sustainable relationships with each other and Earth herself. His life’s work is reaching out to youth around the world to create a culture of peace and justice. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 2014 Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award, for his service to humanity and his peacebuilding efforts, especially in his native country, Nigeria.

Nyasha Mukaratirwa

Regional Coordinator for URI Southern Africa

Nyasha Mukaratirwa is originally from Zimbabwe and currently resides in South Africa. Prior to joining URI, she has worked in the corporate and NGO sectors within Southern Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Business Studies, Master of Commerce Strategic Management, and Digital Marketing diploma. Nyasha is passionate about advocating for peace, justice, and improving the livelihoods of grassroots people. She has a unique mixture of trade qualifications, work experience, and the desire to deliver excellence in whatever role she assumes within the space. Nyasha is a proud mother of one, and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her son, reading, and travelling. She looks forward to adding value to URI and working well with the team.

Despina Namwembe

URI-Africa Great Lakes Regional Coordinator

Despina is a social scientist with a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies. She coordinates the work of over 70 grassroots interfaith organizations doing different social action in the Great Lakes countries of Africa. Despina is a community organizer, trainer, and mentor in organizational development and peace work. Growing up on a continent that sometimes fuses strong customs with religion to deter the full participation of women, Despina has a passion for addressing issues that support women and girls to achieve their full potential. She has widely traveled, which has helped her conceive many “out of the box” solutions which have changed lives. She is also a contributor to different literature in the areas of interfaith, gender, environment and peacebuilding work.

Mahamoud Sougueh

Regional Coordinator for URI-Africa: Horn of Africa

Mahamoud has been the URI Regional Coordinator in the Horn of Africa since 2014. He worked in the municipality of Djibouti and held the post of Director of External Relations (2012-2013). During his tenure as Director of External Relations, he organized civil society around a simple concept that was to give civil society a dialogue and sharing platform to better coordinate their work to help communities. Mahamoud is strongly committed to strengthening the participation of youth in socio-economic development activities and the promotion of living together between communities and respect of diversity. He also worked as a consultant in the field of renewable energies such as photopholtaïque system.


Biswadeb Chakraborty

National India Team Coordinator and Regional Coordinator for URI-Asia: India, East Zone

Biswadeb holds a BA degree in Accounting. He was raised in a family with strong spiritual values and commitment. Since 1996, he has been involved in community organizing and serves in a leadership role with Ektaan Cooperation Circle. Biswadeb is an accomplished musician and songwriter, dedicated to using music as a medium for awakening inner consciousness, building bridges of respect across social barriers, and uniting life on earth.

Father James Channan O.P.

Regional Coordinator for URI-Asia: Pakistan

Fr James is a Pakistani Christian and a Catholic priest. He is URI Regional Coordinator Pakistan and Executive Director of Peace Center, Lahore. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to work with the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims for 5 years and as Consultant to the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for 10 years. Fr Channan attended the Pontifical Institute for Islamic Studies and Arabic language in Rome from 1982-85 and obtained a Licentiate Degree. He also got Masters Degree in Counseling from Emmanuel College, Boston, USA, received graduate credits from Harvard University, USA and a course on Peace Building from the American University, Washington, DC, USA. He got Honorary “Doctor of Divinity” Degree from Norway. He served as Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Christian Muslim Relations for 17 years. He was the organizer of the URI's 1,500 Miles Journey for Peace (Karachi to Khyber). He is the author of 4 books: 2 in English and 2 in Urdu. He has devoted his life to promoting dialogue among religions.

Subhi Dhupar

Regional Coordinator for URI-Asia: Afghanistan and India, North Zone

Subhi is a peace educator and trainer with over four years of experience promoting interfaith consensus and social inclusion among people of diverse cultures at local and international levels. She works as the Regional Coordinator for URI, supporting and mentoring grassroots groups in North India and Kabul, Afghanistan. Subhi models bridge-building and an intergenerational approach as critical to effectiveness and sustenance for grassroots groups. Subhi’s work has taken her to many conflict and post-conflict countries, where she engaged with youth organizations, universities, and public policy makers from around the world. Subhi has studied at Lady Shri Ram College and at South Asian University. She holds a Master’s degree in international relations.

Abraham Karickam

Regional Coordinator for URI-Asia: India, South Zone

Dr. Abraham Karickam is a former Principal of Mar Thoma College, Tiruvalla, Kerala (affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University), where he worked for 28 years in the Department of English. He holds PhDs in English and also in Inter-Religious studies. Dr, Abraham is a Graduate of Bossey Ecumenical Institute (affiliated to Geneva Universty) and has attended several summer institutes in Peace Studies at the Eastern Mennonite University, United States. He is the coordinator for the URI South India --Sri Lanka Zone and Secretary General for the URI Asia Region. Abraham has authored fifteen books and edited a number of books and journals. His important works are “The Concept of Salvation in the Upanishads, the Bible and the Qur’An” and the interfaith novel “Super Souls Revisited”. He also organises the International Conferences on Holy Books at regular intervals in different parts of the world. He represented Mar Thoma Church and URI in three General Assemblies of the World Council of Churches (Canberra, 1991, Harare, 1998 and Port Allegre, 2005). He has been a fellow traveller of Taize Community, France from his student days. He has been engaged in interfaith dialogue for more than thirty years.

Qutub Jehan Kidwai

Regional Coordinator for URI-Asia: India, West Zone

Qutub has been working for interfaith harmony since her university days. "In India, we often experienced violence in the name of religion," she says. "Therefore, I was actively involved in youth and peacebuilding programs. At present, I am involved in women's empowerment and other related issues, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Humanity -- not any community identity -- counts. I believe in tolerance and propagating the gems of values present in all faiths and beliefs, as well as sensitivity toward human needs and sufferings." What Qutub says she finds most compelling about URI is that it represents hope in this war and conflict-prone world. "URI is a world of love, peace and humanity in itself," she says.


Karimah Stauch

Regional Coordinator for URI-Europe

Karimah holds a MA degree in Economics. She also received a MA degree in Islamic Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany. She currently works for the IT Department of German Agro Action (development NGO) in Bonn. She has been the Europe Regional Coordinator since 2003 and is a member of the European Executive Committee (EEC) of URI Europe. She also holds the following positions: Vice-President of the German Muslim- League Bonn, Inc.; founding member of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany; member of the Council of the Sufi-order "Tariqah As-Safinah"; Vice- President of the Christian-Islamic Society (URI Europe),; member of the planning team for "Standing Conference of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe”; member of the advisory board and adviser for Islamic questions for the ESWTR Deutschland; and DMLBonn's delegate to the Muslim Council, Bonn.


Enoé Texier

Regional Coordinator for URI-Latin America and the Caribbean

Enoé is an Anthropologist and Ph.D. in Social Sciences, a professor at the Central University of Venezuela. She focused her research on the holistic paradigm of science. She has coordinated educational programs on inner peace, developing brain potential and exploring our capacity as a human race to live together in harmony. She is also founder and member of Circle of Cooperation of Dialogue and Coordinator of Father Luis Dolan Chair. Since June 2000, Enoé has been leading the Circle of Cooperation for Dialogue and the Luis Dolan Chair, as its academic body at the university, bringing together representatives of different spiritual traditions toward the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. She was the co-founder in México (1996) of the Inter-American Council on Indian Spirituality (CISEI) and was the Chair during the triennium 2007-2010. Among her publications, one of the most known is “Understanding Networks” (1999).


Mamoun Ahmad

Regional Coordinator for URI-Middle East and North Africa

Mamoun Ahmad holds a Master’s degree in International Business. He has been a dedicated social worker since the early 90s. His lifetime mission of promoting intercultural and inter-religious understanding was crystalized in 1993 when he co-founded the Friends of Foreigners club at the University of Jordan. After graduation in 1995, Mamoun continued his mission and social work under several entities, including The Conversation Club at American Language Centre in Amman, University of Jordan Alumni Club, Save the Children, Seeds of Peace, and Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED). In January 2003, Mamoun established "Quested Peace" as a non-profit group aimed at promoting intercultural understanding and interfaith cooperation as well as engaging youth in community service activities. A year later, Quested Peace joined URI as a Cooperation Circle.


Samira Fatma Baručija

Regional Coordinator for URI Multiregion

Samira Fatma Baručija is from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and works as the Regional Coordinator for the URI Multiregion. She is an activist, trying to facilitate dialog, interfaith work, and reinforce the importance of living together for the sake of peace and security. Most of her work nowadays is focused on peacebuilding and creating cultures of peace. For the most of her nine-year-long experience in civil society, Samira has been an educator trying to use the platform of non-formal education to raise awareness, motivate and empower individuals and groups, reinforcing their role in the change they want to see. The work that Samira is doing locally is done through a youth led, youth founded organization called Youth for Peace. She is also a part of the UNDP’s Global Youth Programme as one of 16 young people from around the world, working toward fulfilling the UN’s 2030 agenda. Since 2014, Samira has been a Youth Leader for the United Religions Initiative. Samira loves traveling and cooking.


Tahil Sharma

Regional Coordinator for North America

Tahil Sharma is an interfaith activist based in Los Angeles who was born to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother. Following the Oak Creek, WI shooting of a Sikh temple in 2012, Tahil became involved in efforts for interfaith literacy and social justice and has been doing this work professionally for the past seven years. Tahil serves as one of three Interfaith Ministers in Residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and as the Los Angeles Coordinator for Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus. Tahil also serves various organizations in different capacities to educate, engage, and serve various communities that promote interfaith cooperation and ethical pluralism and social and productive norms in society including the Interfaith Youth Core, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, The Guibord Center, and The Interreligious Council of Southern California. Tahil previously worked as the Faith Outreach Manager for Brave New Films, a social justice documentary organization based in Los Angeles that empowers communities and teaches civic participation through new media, facilitation, and strategies for action. He is also a contributing author to books including Co-Human Harmony: Using Our Shared Humanity To Bridge Divides, Hindu Approaches to Spiritual Care: Chaplaincy in Theory and Practice, and Acting on Faith: Stories of Courage, Activism, and Hope Across Religions.


Musa Mohamad Sanguila

Director of Pakigdait, Philippines, a URI Cooperation Circle, and URI-Philippines Country Coordinator

Mr. Musa Mohamad Sanguila, fondly called Mowkong, was born in war-torn Lanao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines. For over 15 years, he served as Founding Director of Pakigdait, a grassroots interfaith peacebuilding civil society organization in Mindanao. He is currently one of the founding conveners of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, and regularly participates in the think-tank circle that discusses mitigation and reconciliation of religiously-motivated violence in Mindanao. A former consultant of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, he passionately pursues peace talks with the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as the voice of local civil society organizations that are members of the monitoring team. He chairs the PAMANA-LANAW, a province-wide multi-stakeholder convergence that implements community-based projects and infrastructures in conflict-affected villages in Lanao areas, and jointly acts as Lead Convener of Bantay Kalilintad (Peace Watch), a civil society oversight body on the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Sothearat Seoung

Regional Coordinator for URI-Southeast Asia and the Pacific - West Zone

Sothearat is a Cambodian with more than ten years of experience in the social development sector in Cambodia. He is a Clinical Psychologist and an EMDR (Eyes Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) practitioner, trained internationally in "Psycho- traumatology and EMDR." He is an independent facilitator, in the area of organization development. Sothearat has facilitated a great many other seminars and retreats focusing on relationship building and communication skills for various organizations. He was well recognized for using a ‘Whole Person Learning and Creative Process’ methodology, which is the foundation for behaviour change interventions. Sothearat has an extended experience in design leadership development programs for women, youth, and senior NGOs managers. His background and experience in psychotherapy and supervision/coaching for senior NGO managers give him an extra "edge", and an ability to quickly assess the strengths of an individual or organization, as well as an ability to recognize and heal the negative leadership habits and systemic dynamics that can hold an organization hostage. Additionally, Sothearat provides counseling for people with mental distress, and training in psychological health-related topics to organizations working with children and women, orphanages and shelters. Sothearat is a founder and managing director of Centre for Leadership Enrichment (CLE): Additionally, Sothearat support three non-governmental organizations by volunteering to be a board member (BoD- board of director) for those organizations.


Monica Willard

URI Representative to the United Nations in New York

Monica Willard is the main URI Representative to the United Nations and coordinates the team of URI representatives to the UN. She has worked with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) on the annual Student Observance for the International Day of Peace at UN Headquarters since 1997. She was a founding member of the International Day of Peace NGO Committee at the UN in 2002 and is currently serving as Co-Chair. As President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN (2010-2013), she organized programs for World Interfaith Harmony Week, including two held in the UN General Assembly. She was a founding member of the Tripartite Forum, a group of UN member states, UN agencies, and religious NGOs who worked together from 2005 to 2010 to promote cooperation within the UN system on religion, peace and development. Monica served as Chair of the 49th Annual DPI/NGO Conference at the United Nations. Her honors include the Spirit of the UN Award and the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Award.

Mussie Hailu

URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the UN and the African Union, URI-Africa Regional Director, Former Ambassador

Ambassador Mussie Hailu is a peacebuilder who is working at national, regional, and international levels for peace, reconciliation, interfaith harmony, disarmament, the Golden Rule, world citizenship, right human relationships, and international cooperation for the preservation of the environment. He considers himself a Citizen of the World, believing strongly in the inter-dependence of human beings. He celebrates cultural diversity, seeing the differences in race, ethnicities, religions, politics, and nationalities as important elements of the one and indivisible humanity. He has served many national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Mussie also served as Diplomat in the rank of Ambassador and Special Envoy of the President of Burundi. Currently, he serves as URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the United Nations and the African Union, and URI-Africa Regional Director. He is a founding member of URI.