Contributor

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim

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Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim are the Directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. Over the last twenty years, the Forum on Religion and Ecology has been drawing together the research and insights of scholars, theologians, and laity within the world’s religions. They have identified ideas, ethics, and practices regarding ecology and justice from these traditions in books, journals, and films. Now there are environmental statements from the world’s religions, educational programs, and grassroots projects on the ground. 

Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies.  

Her concern for the growing environmental crisis, especially in Asia, led her to organize with John Grim a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard (1995-1998). Together they are series editors for the ten volumes from the conferences distributed by Harvard University Press. In this series she co-edited Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard, 1997), Confucianism and Ecology (Harvard, 1998), and Hinduism and Ecology (Harvard, 2000).

Tucker has been involved with the Earth Charter since its inception. She served on the International Earth Charter Drafting Committee from 1997-2000 and was a member of the Earth Charter International Council. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of Orion Magazinethe Garrison Institute, and Green Belt Movement U.S.

Grim teaches courses in Native American and Indigenous religions and World religions and ecology. He has undertaken field work with the Crow/Apsaalooke people of Montana and Salish people of Washington state. He is the author of The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians (University of Oklahoma Press, 1983) and edited Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community (Harvard, 2001). Grim is co-executive producer of the Emmy award winning film, Journey of the Universe. This film is the center piece of massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by Yale/Coursera.
 

Jonathan Oskins

Jonathan Oskins graduates in May 2013 with his M.A. in the inaugural class of the interreligious Claremont Lincoln University. He has been a Board member with the Academy for the Study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam since 2008. He is also the Media Relations intern for the nonprofit S.A.R.A.H. (Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope) as well as I Am Jerusalem. Jonathan currently is Communications Intern for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN). For two years in a row he was an editor of Epoché, the UCLA Undergraduate Journal for the Study of Religion, and president of the “Bolle Study of Religion Student Organization at UCLA.” Jonathan was TIO’s first Guest Editor, overseeing the March 2013 issue on “From Toddlers to Millennials – Reimagining Interfaith Community.” Jonathan Oskins graduates in May 2013 with his M.A. in the inaugural class of the interreligious Claremont Lincoln University. He has been a Board member with the Academy for the Study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam since 2008. He is also the Media Relations intern for the nonprofit S.A.R.A.H. (Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope) as well as I Am Jerusalem. Jonathan currently is Communications Intern for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN). For two years in a row he was an editor of Epoché, the UCLA Undergraduate Journal for the Study of Religion, and president of the “Bolle Study of Religion Student Organization at UCLA.” Jonathan was TIO’s first Guest Editor, overseeing the March 2013 issue on “From Toddlers to Millennials – Reimagining Interfaith Community.” 

Yonatan Neril

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Rabbi Yonatan Neril founded and directs the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, based in Jerusalem, which works to catalyze a transition to a sustainable, thriving, and spiritually-aware society through leadership of faith communities. Yonatan speaks internationally on faith and ecology, and co-organized five interfaith environmental conferences, in Jerusalem, New York City, and Washington D.C. He is the lead author and general editor of two books on Jewish environmental ethics including Uplifting People and Planet: 18 Essential Jewish Teachings on the Environment. A native of California, Yonatan completed an M.A. and B.A. from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, and received rabbinical ordination in Israel. He lives with his wife and two children in Jerusalem.

Susan L. Lipson

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Susan L. Lipson is an author, independent writing teacher, and free-lance book editor, as well as a speaker, program creator, and volunteer in the Interfaithcommunity and in her own Jewish faith community. She serves on the board of the Poway Interfaith Team (POINT). She has taught religious school, as well as creative writing workshops and tutorials. In addition to writing about faith-related topics, she writes poetry, songs, and  fiction for both adults and children. She occasionally serves as a cantorial soloist, too. Susan has a passion for making connections with others and erasing social boundaries. Her publications and blog posts can be found online by searching “Susan L. Lipson, Author & Teacher.” 

Lawrence Lerner

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Lawrence Lerner is a Wiccan priest, venture capitalist and President of Pagan Pride in Western Washington State. An active member of the Washington state business community, Lawrence is passionate about promoting economic development by investing in and nurturing new businesses. Lawrence is active in the interfaith and social justice communities. He’s a requested speaker across a wide range of topics and was asked to speak at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

Fadi Hindi

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Fadi Hindi is United Religion Initiative’s Consultant for Marketing and External Outreach as part of the Global Support Office Team. Fadi comes to URI with extensive experience in the technology sector as a global minded Talent and Operations leader skilled in developing human capital strategies and solutions for early stage SaaS companies. His strengths are grounded in systems design, data analytics, and organizational effectiveness practices, which allow him to influence at all levels of the organization. Furthermore, his passions for creating a bespoke employee experience across the organization comes from his ability to collaborate with diverse groups of global stakeholders, to diagnose and analyze business problems and opportunities to scale. 

Fadi's focus for URI is digital transformation and creating an external marketing strategy that has a vibrant outreach program enlivening URI’s existing network, enlisting new members, and forging new partnerships through innovative approaches to online learning, media, social media, and marketing. 

Fadi has a degree in International Relations and Peace & Justice Studies, and is experienced and committed to all forms of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Fadi's passion for interfaith engagement in peacebuilding flows from his history as a refugee from the Iraq war and encounters with the diversity of people of all beliefs across the world. 

Syed M. Hassan

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Syed M. Hassan is the public affairs specialist at Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization that fights poverty, hunger, and homelessness, among other social ills in more than 40 nations around the world. He has been with the organization since 2017. A former reporter, Mr. Hassan's goal for the organization is to show Muslims and the organization in a positive and productive light. In addition to disaster relief, Mr. Hassan has worked to help the organization gain notice in other areas related to humanitarian aid and social justice. They include food security, gender justice, clean water, and greater focus on helping vulnerable populations. Mr. Hassan's interests include current events, religious studies, and watching baseball and football. His favorite teams are the New York Mets and the Chicago Bears. 

Peter B. Gudaitis

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Peter B. Gudaitis has served as the president of the National Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN), and as a consultant, recovery contractor, researcher and trainer since 2007. He lectures nationally and internationally on interfaith and inter-religious partnerships and disaster management, as well as on religious literacy and competency in crisis settings, and disaster readiness, response and recovery best practices.

Gudaitis has over 25 years of experience in chaplaincy, disaster emergency management, faith-based philanthropy, program management and social services administration. As associate director of Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York from 1999 to 2003, he managed community-based outreach and youth grant programs and also directed diocesan 9/11 relief and recovery programs. He has eight years of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) experience.

Gudaitis holds a Master of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church and a B.A. from Kenyon College. He has served on many local and national boards and committees in a variety of capacities.

Silvana Faillace

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Silvana Faillace is Senior Director of Development and Humanitarian Assistance (DHA) at CWS. Silvana brings over 15 years’ experience in international development and the public health/nutrition field. She has extensive experience in the design, management and implementation of a wide variety of development and humanitarian strategies and programs at local, regional and international levels and across different cultures, having worked in Africa, South East Asia and the Americas. She has served in several leadership positions including as National Executive Director with the Colombian Red Cross, and Indonesia Country Director with Hellen Keller International. Before joining CWS she was Health and Nutrition Officer with UNICEF, Colombia. She holds a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Political Science from Los Andes University in Colombia.

Felipe Zurita

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Felipe Zurita joined the Golden Rule Project team in March of 2017. Since then, he has shared his talents and passion coordinating all our projects to promote more kindness and empathy in our communities. From project coordination, to graphic design, social media, managing our website and keeping our projects sustainable, Felipe is always trying to bring the Golden Rule to life through his work and life.

He is a native to Chile, who after graduating from college and living around the world, decided to set foot in Salt Lake City, and loves it.

Lauren Zinn

Lauren Zinn is an Interfaith educator, minister, and consultant. Through her custom-designed youth and adult programs, she guides all people in growing spiritually – with, through, or past – religion. She also designs and officiates interfaith ceremonies for special occasions. Her background in business training bolsters her consulting to interfaith and faith-based organizations. She is currently focused on mentoring rookie religious school teachers and functionaries of any tradition in moving from a Sunday School to a Spiritual School experience with their students through her Ten Principles of Responsible Religion. Lauren earned a Ph.D. in Educational Planning, a Masters in Philosophy, and a Certificate in Gaming-Simulation from The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), studied at The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (Montclair State University, NJ) and is a seminary-ordained Interfaith Minister (All Faiths Seminary, NYC). She is uniquely positioned to shift the paradigm underlying religious education to a spiritual one benefitting all humanity. She is available to speak on her work including her forthcoming book, Responsible Religion: From Sunday School to Spiritual School.

Michael Zimmerman

Michael Zimmerman is the founder and director of The Clergy Letter Project, an international organization of more than 15,500 religious leaders and scientists created to demonstrate that religion and science need not be in conflict. Through The Clergy Letter Project, Zimmerman created Evolution Weekend and has nurtured its expansion around the world. Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for congregations around the globe to elevate the level of discourse about the compatibility of religion and science, thousands of congregations in 20 countries have participated.

Dr. Zimmerman, a biologist, is vice president for Academic Affairs / provost at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is the author of Science, Nonscience, and Nonsense: Approaching Environmental Literacy, published in 1995 by Johns Hopkins University Press. Additionally, he has published scores of scientific papers and hundreds of opinion pieces and book reviews in the popular press. He currently writes for The Huffington Post.

Andre Van Zijl

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As an award-winning artist of international merit, Zimbabwean born artist Andre van Zijl’s work has historically been an artistic commentary on socio-political and global culture from a holistic spiritual standpoint. In his ancestral and adopted homeland, South Africa, he was a victim himself of the political secret police, which has deeply motivated him to give voice to those without a voice. Art to him “is a creative sword for peace.” His work from this era challenged the institutionalized inequities between the privileged wealthy few and the exploited dis-empowered masses, structured as a system of government called apartheid – “apart-hate”. This included other forms of oppressive political power that deny challenging art, cross cultural communication, and democratic spiritual growth. Andre’s art was instrumental as a historical voice of progress and change in this tumultuous period and is represented in many important international museums, public and private collections and numerous publications worldwide. Most recently he was published in the 4 volume series – “100 Years of South African Art “ – by Wits University for the South African National Gallery, 2012. 

Andre's most recent one-person exhibition was at the 2015 World Parliament of Religions in USA entitled "I AM: An Archaeology of the Future". This exhibition is ongoing as he continues to add to the tableaux of images illustrating artifacts gathered from a future spiritually based civilization. Currently, the artwork is 10 ft. high and 40 ft. wide. These themes exploring the impact of mystical identity are shared through his ecstatic poetry "Emptied of Myself".
Andre is currently writing a memoir on his spiritual journey. He is a board member of the Southern California Parliament of World Religions (SCCWPR), as well as co-founder, co-director of All Paths Divinity School

Sister Zeph

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Likened to a “Malala with a laptop,” Sister Zeph is an award-winning crusader for girls education and digital skills in rural Punjab, Pakistan. At the age of 13, Sister Zeph began going door-to-door to recruit students for her free open-air school in her region, where 52 percent of women were illiterate.  Today she braves threats to her life, and her school, called  Zephaniah Free Education, provides education to hundreds of girls annually, teaching formal education, English, computer skills, business education, and sewing. Zeph attributes much of her success to the use of digital tools – from World Pulse to YouTube – which helped her inspire supporters, share success stories, and fundraise. In 2014 she was the recipient of World Pulse’s Lynn Syms Prize.  In partnership with sculptor and philanthropist Lynn Syms, the prize recognizes an outstanding grassroots woman and visionary voice using digital tools to effect change.  In 2015 she was also recognized by the Malala Fund, and a major documentary called “Flight of the Falcon“ was made about her life.

Kira Zalan

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Kira Zalan is a freelance journalist based in Africa, where she has covered counter-radicalization, peace building, technology and sanctions. Before changing continents, Zalan was an associate editor and then a temp managing editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she oversaw the publication of the weekly feature news magazine The Report. She was also the Washington reporter for MoneyLaundering.com, where she covered financial regulation and financial crime. Her freelance work has been published by PRI/GlobalPost, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, The Root, Marie Claire, Redbook, Ms., Rewire, Center for Public Integrity, Global Investigative Journalism Network, Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines. Zalan received a master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University and one in Russian and post-Soviet studies from the London School of Economics. 

Malcolm Clemens Young

Malcolm Clemens Young is the rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos (in California’s Silicon Valley) and a founder of Ventana School. He is the author of The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau (2009) and The Invisible Hand in the Wilderness: Economics, Ecology and God (2014). He did his undergraduate work at U.C. Berkeley and has a doctoral degree in theology from Harvard University.

Wai Kit Ow Yeong

Ow Yeong Wai Kit holds a master's degree (with distinction) in the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London (UCL). Born in Singapore, he graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a BA (first-class honours), majoring in English Literature and minoring in Philosophy. He has been president of the NUS Buddhist Society (2010-2011) and vice-president of the campus interfaith group NUS Interfaith (2009-2012). His research interests include modern religious literature, contemporary British and Irish poetry, as well as topics in the philosophy of religion. He is a recipient of the Singapore Ministry of Education Teaching Scholarship and teaches English and Literature at Bukit Batok Secondary School there.

Margaret Wolff

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

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

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.