Board of Trustees

Nitin Ajmera

Chair of the Board

Nitin Ajmera is a senior management professional and practitioner of the Digambar Jain tradition.  He is Chief Accounting Officer at Town Sports International. He also teaches at Drexel University. He has been associated with the Jain Center of America-New York and Jain Samaj of Long Island in many capacities ranging from a teacher in Jain Sunday School, committee chair, to the President. Nitin is the Chair of the Board of the Parliament of the World's Religions.

Naeem Baig

Mr. Naeem Mohammad Baig, is former President of Islamic Circle of North America, ICNA, and currently he is Director of Interfaith Alliances and member of the National Board of the Islamic Circle. He serves as Director/Imam of Outreach and Interfaith Programs at Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center.

Naeem Baig serves as the co-chair of the 'National Muslim-Christian Initiative'. He also serves as the Muslim Coordinator for the ‘Catholic-Muslim Mid-Atlantic Dialogue’.

Mr. Baig is National Moderator for 'Religions for Peace USA'. He is member of the board of 'Interfaith Workers Justice”.

He is the founder of ‘International Interfaith Cooperation for Religious Freedom’. He is a student of Islam and his focus is human rights, religious freedom and social justice. He regularly gives Friday sermons at various Islamic Centers and gives talks at Islamic and Interfaith conferences.

He serves as a volunteer Chaplain at local hospitals and has successfully completed 3 Units in Clinical Pastoral Education

Rabbi Michael Balinsky

Rabbi Michael Balinsky is the Executive Vice President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, an organization representing two hundred rabbis of all denominations. He is a member of the Jewish Catholic Scholars Dialogue in Chicago, serves on the executive of the Council of Religious leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and is on the Advisory Board of the Bernadin Center at Catholic Theological Union. Rabbi Balinsky was a Hillel director for twenty-two years, over nineteen of those as the director of the Louis and Saerree Fiedler Hillel Center at Northwestern University.

Kehkashan Basu

Iconic youth leader, global influencer, environmentalist, champion of children’s rights, a Forbes 30 Under 30, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner and a passionate advocate of women’s rights, Kehkashan Basu is a trail blazer who has been challenging the status quo and breaking social strictures and taboos which impede the progress and rights of future generations. 

Winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize for her work on children's rights and the environment, and the first-ever Voices Youth Gorbachev-Shultz Legacy Award for her work on nuclear disarmament, Kehkashan is a tireless advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She is a United Nations Human Rights Champion, National Geographic Young Explorer and the youngest ever Global Coordinator for the UN Environment Program’s Major Group for Children & Youth. She was named the youngest recipient of Canada's Top25 Women of Influence, one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women and is the Council Lead of the Toronto-St. Paul's Constituency Youth Council. 

Kehkashan is the Founder President of the social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which provides young people in 16 countries a networking platform to engage in the sustainable development process and take actions to mitigate climate change. Her internationally acclaimed work on sustainability has resulted in her being named one of the Top 100 SDG Leaders in the world and one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. She is the youngest member of Canada’s Women in Renewable Energy forum and the youngest Councillor of World Future Council. 

Kehkashan is a 2020 L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honouree, and the recipient of the 2019 Innovator of the Year Award for Sustainability Education, the John Muir Conservation Award for Habitat Restoration, the Energy Globe Award, the Turner Prize for Social Change and the Women Super Achiever Award. A powerful voice for future generations, she has spoken at over 200 United Nations and other global fora across 25 countries.

Debra Boudreaux

Debra Boudreaux is a senior volunteer with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. She has more than 32 years of experience working on major projects related to charity, medical care, education, and humanitarian aid. Debra was previously the CEO of Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and several community advisory councils for SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and COVID-19. Debra engages with Social Work and Sustainability of Global Environmental Changes among SDG grass roots projects. She leads Buddhist and Catholic interfaith dialogues and serves as a member of the UN Multi-Faith Advisory Council. To this day, Debra has patterned her daily life on the teachings of Dharma Master Cheng Yen: “Gratitude, Respect and Love.” She carries this spirit into communities in need and all over the world.

Imam Saffet Catovic

Treasurer of the Board

 

Saffet Abid Catovic is a United States Muslim Environmental Leader of Bosnian-Anglo descent. He is one of the first GreenFaith Muslim Fellows and is Co-founder and Chair of the Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ). He is a founding board member of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Green Masjid Task Force. He is a member of the Drafting Committee of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change and a founding member of the Global Muslim Climate Network (GMCN). He serves as the Imam and Muslim Chaplain at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey.

Rev. Phyllis Curott

Phyllis Curott is one of America’s first public Wiccan Priestesses, an attorney and author whose groundbreaking books, published in fourteen countries, made Wicca accessible to the world and awakened an entire generation to the Goddess. Named one of the Ten Gutsiest Women of the Year by Jane Magazine, she was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Clergy and Scholars. New York Magazine declared Curott’s teaching the culture’s “next big idea” and her Youtube series on Wicca has more than 1,113,000 views. Widely covered in the international media, Time recently published her challenge to the world's faiths to lead the way in the fight for the human rights and dignity of women as one of “America’s leading voices.” Curott was the Vice Chair of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions and creator of the historic 2015 Inaugural Women's Assembly. She is founder of the Temple of Ara, the world’s oldest shamanic Wiccan congregation. Curott received her degree in philosophy from Brown University and her Juris Doctor from New York University. She is currently working on her next book, WICCA, Awaken the Divine Magic Within, out November 2018 for Hay House.

Dr. Dolly Dastoor

Vice Chair of the Board

Dolly Dastoor is a widely published research clinical psychologist and specializes in the assessment of dementias, most recently was Clinical Administrative Chief at the Program in Dementia with Psychiatric Comorbidity at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal and Asst Prof in Psychiatry, McGill University. She received her doctorate from Concordia University. Before coming to Canada, she was a Senior Research Fellow in Psychiatry and coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Project on Schizophrenia at the University of Ibadan. She has been active in women’s organizations, especially Zonta International and attended CSW meetings in Vienna and New York. She is past President of the Zoroastrian Association of Quebec and of FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America) the umbrella organization representing over 20,000 Zoroastrians in United States and Canada. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the FEZANA Journal since 2005.

Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Vice Chair of the Board

Dianne Dillon-Ridgley was recently elected to our Board of Trustees and serves on our Climate Action Task Force. She is committed to establishing the "Age of Sustainability" facilitating the changes needed in our social architecture, democratizing institutions, expanding human rights for gender, ability and racial equity, breaking down barriers and opening minds and doors-creating new language and frames to catalyze society. She is currently the Executive Director of the Women's Network for a Sustainable Future.

Dianne was born into a family with a legacy of civic and social activism dating back to the period of Reconstruction in the U.S. and is committed to challenging the barriers of Race, Gender, Human Rights, Economic Disparity and embracing sustainability in all its dimensions and parameters domestically and internationally. Originally from Dallas, she has advised and served on over twenty-three U.S. delegations at the UN and International forums spanning the tenure of three U.S. Presidents. By appointment of the White House she attended the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, followed by the 1997 UN General Assembly Special Session and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002, making her the only person to serve on all three US delegations. For over a decade Dianne represented the World YWCA (Geneva, Switzerland) at UN Headquarters in New York, chairing the Millennium NGO-DPI Summit in 2000, which first introduced the Millennium Development Goals. In 1999 she was appointed to the Oxford University Commission on Sustainable Consumption. She spent ten years as chair of the U.S. Partnership-Education for Sustainable Development.

She is a current or past trustee or staff member of an array of organizations that are committed to sustainability, including Interface, Inc. (the world's largest manufacturer of modular carpet tiles and global leader of sustainable design), Green Mountain Energy, the Center for International Environmental Law, The National Wildlife Federation, Population Connection, The River Network, the Women's Environment and Development Organization, the Association of Iowa Human Rights Agencies, the Auburn University School of Human Sciences, and the University of Iowa Tippie School of Business Management. She also helped to found "the 100 Grannies for a Livable Future" and Plains Justice, an environmental law center for the Great Plains region focused on ending the use of coal and promoting renewable energy adoption.

Dianne lives in Iowa City, Iowa, and has two adult children, Karima, who graduated from Harvard and Dasal, who graduated from Morehouse in Atlanta.

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QUOTES:
"I really believe, as humans, we are hard-wired to be in nature. Our buildings need to be beautiful and functional in ways that make us feel like we are in Nature, whether we are in the heart of Iowa or the heart of Manhattan" Dillon-Ridgley says.

"Again and again through her work, Dianne has demonstrated-and embodied-the linkages between the environment, human rights, and social justice that underlie CIEL's own mission," said CIEL President, Carroll Muffett. "We are privileged to be a small part of her tremendous legacy."

In the 2007 book, "Women In Green" for which she wrote the forward: PAUL HAWKEN said: "We have a conception of leadership in the world that is about charismatic male vertebrates and that's our template. Then we project that onto women, saying, 'she's great, but he's the leader.' Dianne does so much, yet one might not know her name. She doesn't have that hierarchical role, but she is a REAL leader."

Dr. Manohar Singh Grewal

Manohar Singh Grewal was born in 1935 In India and immigrated to the United States in 1963. He obtained his ScD in material science from MIT and then worked for the Gillette Corporation from 1971 until 1998. He has several scientific publications and US patents to his credit.

At Gillette Corporation Dr. Grewal led a team that was able to eliminate the corporation’s use of TCE, a known carcinogen, from its worldwide operations. This patented process removed over half a million tons of TCE from use annually

Dr. Grewal is the founder, former president, and former chairperson of the New England Sikh Study Circle, Inc., of Boston. He was president of the World Sikh Organization, chairperson of World Sikh Council from 2006 and 2011, and a member of the Regional Council of WSC-AR from 2006 – 2008 and 2010 -2012.

In his retirement, Dr. Grewal lives with his wife in Thetford, VT. There he is active on the Thetford Senior and Affordable Housing Committee and Thetford Energy Committee where he works collaboratively with regional towns to promote clean energy projects.

Currently serving on the board of Trustees of the Parliament of World’s Religions and served as Chairperson of the Langar committee at 2015 Parliament of the World’s religions at Salt lake city.

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