Margaret Wolff is an author, freelance writer, and retreat leader whose work navigates the intersections of spiritual, personal, professional, and societal transformation in women’s lives. Her writing and training use creativity and dialog as vehicles to explore this great adventure and provide the deepened self awareness and skills that bring concrete benefits for the individual, her family, her organization and community, and the world at large. Margaret’s expertise includes interfaith and intergenerational collaboration, change management, values clarification, and peace and reconciliation issues. Retreat topics include: “Conversations That Matter: Dialogue As Transformation & Saving Grace,” “Spirit at Work: Making Your Work & Life Be About What You Value Most,” “Women As Leaders,” “Listening to Your Inner Voice,” and “Learning to Tend & Befriend the Chaos in Our Lives.” Her writing clients run the gamut from blogs, interviews, articles, and stories for Beliefnet, Feminist.com, and Yoga International to, collateral materials, website content, project proposals, and development for the corporate and non-profit sector. She has degrees in Art Therapy, Psychosynthesis, and Leadership and Human Behavior. Contact Margaret at www.InSweetCompany.com or 760-310-3069.
George Wolfe is Professor Emeritus at Ball State University where he served as director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies from 2002 to 2006, and Coordinator of Outreach Programs from 2006 to 2014. He is a certified mediator and was trained to conduct interfaith dialogue at All-Faiths Seminary International in New York City where he was ordained an interfaith minister. In 1991, he was awarded an open fellowship from the Eli Lilly Endowment which made possible his first trip to India where he became interested in the nonviolent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.
Wolfe received his doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University. As an educator, he frequently lectures both within and outside the United States on topics related to nonviolence, peace education, academic freedom, and the role of the arts in social activism. He has been a featured speaker in the Hall of Philosophy at Chautauqua Institution and has served as a panelist at the annual International Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado. He has also served on the advisory council of the Toda Institute for Peace, Policy and Global Research, and served as a visiting scholar at Limburg Catholic University in Hasselt, Belgium. In the spring of 2007, he presented peace education workshops in the island nation of Saint Lucia by invitation of the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Wolfe is also a classical saxophonist who held the rank of Professor of Music Performance at Ball State University. He has appeared as a soloist with such ensembles as the Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force, Chautauqua Motet Choir, the U.S. Navy Band Brass Quintet, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and the Saskatoon Symphony. He has also given recitals and master classes throughout the United States, as well as at major conservatories and universities in Europe, Central America, and the Far East.
Hailey Woldt is passionate about helping to improve the world by supporting visionary individuals including entrepreneurs, artists, diplomats, and anyone with a good idea and a good heart. She has a masters degree in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a bachelors in international affairs from Georgetown University, and has had a varied career including researching with the Brookings Institution, investing with the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, backpacking in New Zealand, and is currently supporting visionary startups by working with MassChallenge UK.
Diane Winston is Religion Dispatches director. She holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, and has worked as a reporter for several of the nation’s leading newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun, Dallas Times Herald and The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the author of Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army (1999) and co-editor of Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture (2002).
JW Windland is a comparative mythologist and founder of the Encounter World Religions Centre, an internationally recognized educational organization designated as a “Gift Of Service To The World” by the Parliament of World Religions. Encounter promotes religious literacy and celebrates religious diversity. It blends academic and experiential learning, focusing on four aspects of religion: people, places, practices, and philosophy. JW has more than forty years experience in the study, teaching, and first-hand encounter of world religions. In addition to an academic background in religious studies, JW has long-term friendships with practitioners, joins in their rituals and introduces thousands of people to the distilled wisdom of diverse communities in the North American mosaic. JW lectures internationally to universities, religious groups, and service and professional organizations.
Birgitta Winberg was born in 1953, in Stockholm, Sweden and brought up in a working class environment, with no academic tradition. Raised in a suburb of Stockholm, she experienced the calling to the priesthood quite early, at the time of my confirmation, when she was 15 years old. Winberg studied theology at the University of Uppsala and earned a Bachelor of Divinity in 1984. She was ordained a priest in the Stockholm diocese, Church of Sweden in 1985. She felt that her calling was to work with people who were not traditional church people, so she worked her first five years in a multicultural suburb with many problems. After that Winberg was asked by the bishop who ordained her, Professor Krister Stendahl of Harvard University, to become a chaplain at a Stockholm prison. “You are the right person for that,” he said. And he was right. She worked as a prison chaplain for 22 years.
During this time Winberg was involved in international prison chaplaincy work through the International Prison Chaplains Association. She represented Europe for ten years and was the president of the organization for five years. During this time she worked with representatives of different churches and religions, chaired side-events at UN conferences, visited prisons and prison chaplaincy teams all over the world to encourage and equip prison chaplains to work with human rights for inmates. After arranging a world-conference in Stockholm 2010, she was asked by Bishop Eva Brunne in Stockholm to work with interreligious dialogue at the diocese. Since 2010 she's worked at the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue in Stockholm, for the Church of Sweden, and the diocese of Stockholm.
Winberg is single, as so many Swedes are, living in the inner city of Stockholm with her dog Mary.
Caroljean Willie is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master’s Degree in Reading and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Education. She has extensive experience working cross-culturally throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America as a teacher, teacher-trainer, cultural diversity consultant, and retreat director. She is the author of Praying All Ways: A Multiple Intelligences Approach to Prayer (2007) as well as numerous articles in professional journals. She is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences and has also given presentations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. She currently resides in the greater New York area where she serves as the NGO representative at the United Nations for the Sisters of Charity Federation and also works with microfinancing projects in Africa.
Audri Scott Williams is a global trustee for the United Religions Initiative, former dean of Continuing Education and Community Service at Charles County Community College, former U.S. Army Reservist, author, and human rights activist. She is especially known for her 12 years spent walking the world for peace and for the Red Flame of Freedom, a movement dedicated to ending modern forms of slavery. She has been a servant of the people at a grassroots level locally, nationally, and internationally for over three decades, receiving numerous awards for her service to humanity. Recently she declared her intention to be a Democratic candidate for the 2018 elections for Congress in the state of Alabama.
Monica Willard helped organize the first United Religions Initiative gathering in New York in 1997 and signed the URI Charter in June 2000 at the United Nations garden. She has been at the UN since 1991, representing The Ribbon International and Pathways to Peace before representing URI, starting in 2002. Ms. Willard chaired the annual UN Department of Public Information NGO Conference in 1996. Since 2005, she has worked with member states and UN system agencies to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace. As URI’s NGO representative to the United Nation, her portfolio includes the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 and the Tripartite Forum, a partnership with member states, UN system agencies, and religious non-government organizations (NGOs) to promote interfaith cooperation for peace. “Representing the URI at the UN affords me the wonderful opportunity to share the work of the URI with member states,” she says.
Janessa Gans Wilder is a former CIA officer turned peacebuilder, social entrepreneur, and nonprofit executive. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Euphrates Institute, an organization that builds peace and understanding about critical Middle East issues. She founded Euphrates after five years at the CIA focused on the Middle East, including serving 21 months in Iraq from 2003-2005. Janessa is a frequent speaker in interfaith, community, government, international, and educational settings. She has written dozens of articles and been interviewed by major news outlets, including CBS, CNN, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Democracy Now, and many more.
For over a decade, Janessa has provided the vision and leadership to grow Euphrates Institute into a global network of peacebuilders and changemakers, now comprising 22 Chapters worldwide. She created and leads transformative Travel Study programs to Israel, Palestinian Territories, and Jordan, focused on listening to the ‘Other’. She conceived of the Visionary of the Year program to honor, support, and increase the visibility of groundbreaking changemakers. In the fall of 2015, she organized a coast to coast speaking tour for the year’s visionary, which included speaking at the United Nations on the International Day of Peace, an NPR interview, and a speech to officers of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Previously, Janessa taught political science at her undergraduate alma mater, Principia College, and was a consultant to the State Department. She has a Master’s degree in International Policy Studies from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in International Relations from Principia College.
When not traveling to the Middle East, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family.
“I’ve experienced the impact of healing the divide between Middle East and West through the power of personal relationships. I’m so grateful to be part of a community that understands how timely, imperative, and, indeed–possible, is change in our relations with the Middle East. And that the best way to accomplish this is to begin with ourselves and our perceptions.”
Justin Wilbur is a senior facilitator, project manager, and trainer at Youth LEAD, a leadership program based out of Sharon, Massachusetts that actively puts “youth in the driver’s seat" by putting them in charge of facilitation and management. Through his four years of work with Youth LEAD (formerly Interfaith Action), he has facilitated heated discussions, engaged in community building work, and planned the annual Teenage Interfaith Diversity Conference.
Jim Wiggins, Ph.D., joined Syracuse University’s Department of Religion after completing his graduate work in 1963. He served on virtually all departmental committees, including director of graduate studies in religion (1975-80), and was elected by his colleagues as chair of the Department for five four-year terms (1980-2000). His academic field is Western religion and culture, with interests in the history of Christianity and Christian thought, religious/cultural diversity, death and dying, interpretive theory, mysticism, and narrative and religion. His book Religion as Story appeared in 1975; he is co-author of Foundations of Christianity (1972), Christianity: A Cultural Approach (1987), and In Praise of Religious Diversity (1996). From 1983 until 1992 he served as executive director of the American Academy of Religion. From 2002 until 2010 he was executive director of InterFaith Works of Central New York, a multi-purpose agency with a staff of two dozen. Jim is a trustee of North American Interfaith Network.
Betsy Wiggins is a practicing speech-language pathologist living in Syracuse, New York. She is co-founder of Women Transcending Boundaries (WTB), a women’s interfaith organization formed immediately after September 11, 2001. WTB developed the model for “Acts of Kindness Weekend,” a community-wide weekend of volunteerism during the weekend of 9/11 not only in Syracuse, NY, and also in Detroit and other sites. Prior to her marriage to Jim Wiggins, she was a professional meeting manager for the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as for the Carter Center of Emory University in Atlanta.
Sandy Westin became regional coordinator of United Religions Initiative in North America after leading the planning and producing of URI-NA’s second regional summit in 2008, an event which brought URI North America new growth and vitality. For a quarter century Sandy has been a ‘make it happen’ person on effective communications, nonprofit administration, and event management. Along the way she picked up skills in data management, data management, focused nonfiction writing, and administrative systems, all of which she uses in her nonprofit work and consulting. In managing a national conference on eco-spirituality at the University of Colorado in 1995, she managed an event with 50 speakers, 70 volunteers, and 500 attendees. Recently she has been studying storytelling as another way to support community and collaboration. She is also active in building collaborative support for the “11 Days of Global Unity” global celebrations scheduled for September 2011.
Reverend Terry Weller was ordained in 1998 and holds standing from the interfaith New Seminary in New York and the Christian ABBA Ministries of Canada, with special interests in liturgy and spiritual counseling. For seven years he worked for the Toronto Star and has edited various newsletters. He is the publisher and editor of Interfaith Unity News. This nine-year-old electronic monthly carries listings, links, book reviews and articles about upcoming interfaith activities across Canada and, for major events, the world. He is a founding member of the Newmarket & Area Interfaith Council, sits on the Toronto Area Interfaith Council, and is active in the North American Interfaith Network and United Religions Initiative. He is also actively engaged as a teacher, spiritual director, and certified addictions counselor. Terry is The Interfaith Observer’s assistant editor.
Matthew Weiner is an associate dean of religious life at Princeton University. He served as program director for the Interfaith Center of New York, where he developed a methodology for engaging religiously diverse communities through civil society, working with over 500 grass roots religious leaders and the New York State Court System, the New York Public Library, Catholic Charities, the New York Board of Rabbis, and the United Nations. He earned a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.A. from New York University. He writes about public religion, interfaith and civil society, and engaged Buddhism.
Kimberly Weichel is a passionate advocate for women as well as educator, author and, peacebuilder with extensive global experience. Until recently she was CEO of Peace X Peace, an international women’s peacebuilding and leadership organization that lifts and multiplies women's voices, promotes leadership and gender equity, and nurtures a global network of 30,000 peacebuilders in 125 countries.
Kim is a development, gender, and peacebuilding expert with 30 years' experience directing international projects focusing on conflict resolution, leadership, women, community development, education, and advocacy. She has led training programs on conflict transformation and transformative leadership in various countries.
Kim has extensive experience in Russia, South Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada and Australia. She played an instrumental role in the citizen diplomacy movement with the former Soviet Union as well as the transformation of apartheid in South Africa. She is a published author, TV correspondent, public speaker, and radio producer. Learn more by visiting her website www.kimweichel.org.
Mark Waters serves as associate professor of Servant Leadership and Religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas and directs McMurry’s Center for Global Leadership and Servant Leadership Center. Previously, he served as pastor of churches in Texas and Kentucky for 17 years and for another 7 years was the executive director of Just People, Inc., an Abilene nonprofit agency providing empowerment services for youth and adults in poverty. His research interests include interfaith dialogue/reconciliation, religions of the world, theologies of religion, and servant leadership. Mark graduated from Texas Tech University in 1980 and later completed MDiv (1984) and PhD (1991) degrees in theology, homiletics, and pastoral care at Southern Seminary. He completed additional graduate study in church history and world religions at Baylor. Mark has training in servant leadership learning communities through Ann McGee-Cooper and Associates in Dallas and in leadership and organizational learning through the Society for Organizational Learning in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Elder Rachael Watcher has been a practicing Witch all of her adult life and a Wiccan for more than 30 years, the last 20 as an elder. She is an active member and frequent trustee of her own national organization, Covenant of the Goddess. Her primary work is in communications, focused on audio/visual and journal production. She has edited several pagan journals over the years and is currently transferring them and other historical documents onto digital media, making them available for future research. A long-time interfaith activist, Rachael is active in United Religions Initiative through the Think Peace International Cooperation Circle and other URI CCs. She was the technical director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio’s video team that broadcast 20 live interviews over the web from the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne. She is also a trustee of the North American Interfaith Network.
Dr. Annalee Ward directs the Wendt Character Initiative, a campus-wide effort to promote excellent moral character and lives of purpose. She brings a passion for students and a love of learning to the work of guiding the various programs. After a long career as a professor of communication arts, her generalist background, interest in ethics, rhetoric, and popular culture, along with work on the art of preaching inform her work in the Center.
"It's a privilege to work collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff in an environment where a meaning-filled University Mission guides our work all for the glory of God.”
Her research interests are diverse, and currently she facilitates a research team that produces an online journal, "Character and . . ."
Some of her publications include: Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film; “The Tourist Gaze and the Church: Megachurch as Tourist Site;” “Gran Torino and Moral Order;” and “Multi-dimensional Media of Theme Parks and Museums.”