Board of Trustees

Rev. Robert Flannery

Fr. Bob Flannery, a native of Lawrence, Kansas, is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. He is presently pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Carbondale, chaplain of the Newman Center at Southern Illinois University, and diocesan ecumenical and interreligious officer for the past twenty-four years. He is a past-president of the Carbondale Interfaith Council and regularly participates in its Ralph Anderson Interfaith Dialogues.

Flannery is a member of the Metro-East Interfaith Partnership steering committee and is involved with  the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis and the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  He is co-chair of the Carbondale Area Interfaith Refugee Support (CAIRS), and a member of SIIRP, the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project.

A past-president of the Catholic Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), he serves on their board as Awards Coordinator, as well as on the Faiths in the World and Care for Creation committees.  He is past co-chair of the Illinois Conference of Churches and co-authored the booklet entitled “An Ecumenical Study of Baptism:  Similarities, Differences, and Opportunities.”  He has served for over eleven years as a Regent for the School of Theology and Seminary at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. 

A past member of the National Workshop for Christian Unity planning committee, Father Flannery served during his tenure as its national chair, a local co-chair, and as a workshop presenter.  He was a consultor at the meetings of the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and the president of the USCCB named him to the Catholic delegation of Christian Churches Together.  Over the years, Flannery has participated in numerous ecumenical and interreligious formation and interfaith opportunities in the United States and around the world.

He has also served as president of the National Association of Diaconate Directors and chaired one of its annual conferences.  The summer of 2022, he will be keynote speaker and presenter’s coordinator for the National Diaconate Institute of Continuing Education meeting focusing on ecumenical and interreligious awareness.  

Flannery holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in Theology from Saint John’s University and an M.A. in Counselor Education from Saint Louis University.  Part of his seminary experience included  semester abroad studies at The American College Graduate Seminary at The Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium where he was later asked to serve as spiritual director.  Bob is past president and board member of The American College of Louvain Alumni Association and has been named reunion chair for their next meeting in Belgium. At his urging, several past reunion speakers have addressed topics regarding ecumenism and interreligious relations.

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.

Swami Ishatmananda

Swami Ishatmananda is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order and president of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago and Vivekananda Monastery & Retreat in Ganges, MI. He joined the order in 1975 and was ordained in 1986. He served at Advaita Ashrama, a publication center of the Ramakrishna Order, and at the order’s educational institution in Purulia. He founded a center at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands and served as the principal of the Ramakrishna Mission School in Narottam Nagar. He has lectured widely and has published several articles.

Kaleb Nyquist

Kaleb is a strategist for organizations working at the intersection of sustainability, spirituality, and democratic reform. From 2012-19 he oversaw the growth of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action as a steering committee member and civic engagement chair. He has done research on faith-based refugee resettlement in Sweden (funded by Baptist Theological Union), congregational responses to ecological despair in the United States (funded by the Louisville Institute), and the intersection of big data and democratic dysfunction (as part of a data science fellowship with the Flatiron School). He is a member of Ravenswood Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago, where he was the youth director for seven years. With the Parliament, he has served as the 2018 Climate Action Program Associate and 2021 Virtual Convening Associate. Kaleb has a B.A. in Global Studies and Conflict Transformation from North Park University, and a Master of Divinity and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Mr. Bruce Knotts

High impact career as director of the Unitarian Universalist Association Office at the United Nations which advocates for human rights, climate justice and demilitarization of the police. Bruce’s career included service in the US State Department with diplomatic assignments worldwide.

Bruce Co-chairs the UN Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Human Rights; chairs the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security; and serves on the steering committee of the NGO Working Group on the UN Security Council.

Adept in the pragmatic issues of running an organization, from defining strategic mission to negotiation of contracts, real estate and banking arrangements. Make progressive change happen. Proven ability to guide and energize service-focused organizations in achieving tough goals despite opposition, financial limitations and universal red tape.

Successful in championing the rights of indigenous people, women's sexual and reproductive health rights, anti-racism, climate change action and more.

Pushed discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity human rights at the United Nations from near total apathy on the subject to total and positive engagement and advocacy for equal rights for all regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or other such characteristics.

Understands how to integrate social and economic goals, and how nonprofit values and structure can help benefit-focused for-profit businesses committed to providing a public betterment alongside their services. Bruce is dedicated to interfaith action. In addition to serving on the Parliament Board, he also is a co-moderator of Religions for Peace, USA.

Mr. Thomas Lemberg

Tom Lemberg is a now retired attorney and author. He has been general counsel of several technology-oriented companies, including Lotus Development, Polaroid and UGS Software. At Lotus, he led the creation and growth of the Business Software Alliance, the principal trade association of the software industry. Before that work, he was partner in two Washington law firms. He is now an author and has published Difficult Times: A Fresh Look at Democracy in Modern America, a book on why America is so distressed, angry and divided and why our politics are so badly broken.

James Lynch Jr.

Vice Chair of the Board

James A. Lynch, Jr, is a Dharma Teacher as authorized by the lay Buddhist Organization Rissho Kosei Kai. He is an official representative for their outside affairs in the New York City area as well as an official representative for Rissho Kosei Kai to the United Nations.

James is currently the President of the Buddhist Council of New York, which represents more than 750,000 Buddhist in the Tri-State area. James further sits on the Board of Religions for Peace USA which is the largest interfaith peace organization in America today. He has also helped organize the Heiwa Peace Foundation a think tank for peace whose primary work is done in the United States and Asia on behalf of its Founder the Venerable T.K. Nakagaki.

Finally, James is also a tenured professor and Chairman of the Business Management Department in the Koppelman School of Business located at Brooklyn College.

Rev. Charline Manuel

Secretary of the Board

Charline is an ordained Unity minister serving as Senior Minister of Unity Center of Miami for the past 20 years. In addition to seminary studies, Charline holds bachelor's of arts degrees in Sociology and Urban Studies, and a master's of arts degree in Human Resources Development.

Charline has been active in peace work, taking delegations to study at the University for Peace in Costa Rica, building wells for fresh water in Africa, building a school in Haiti, and to the Parliament of the World’s Religions Convention in Melbourne, Australia.

Charline also serves as online adjunct faculty instructor for the Unity Urban Ministerial School located in Detroit, Michigan.

Mahrukh Motafram

Mahrukh Motafram is a first generation immigrant from India who arrived in the US to pursue higher education. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1984 with a Master’s degree in Bio-Organic Chemistry. Further education included an Associate degree in Business and Marketing from the Waukesha County Technical College, Pewaukee, WI in 2002. She is currently pursuing a certification in Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University, WA.

Over the past three (3) decades she has been actively engaged with the North American Zoroastrian community, with most of her contributions being with the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA). She has served on the executive board, Co-Chair for Strategic Planning, and is currently the Co-Chair for North American Zoroastrian Congress committee. She is currently a member, trustee and, a past Board member of the Zoroastrian Society of Washington State. 

Mahrukh served as a Board member and President for the Assistance League® of the Eastside, a nonprofit organization in Redmond, WA that serves local families affected by poverty, homelessness, assault, and domestic violence. During her time on the board, as the Vice President for Strategic Planning she developed a 3-year strategic plan for the chapter.

She is a member of the advisory council for the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University, WA. She is involved in discourses with the Center, that is committed to create and provide educational opportunities for local community organizations and groups in collaboration with national and international partners.

Mahrukh serves on the board of F.I.R.E.S – Fostering Interfaith Relations on the Eastside, (Seattle WA) representing her Zoroastrian faith and community. She engages in cultural and religious discourses, sharing ideas and experiences, thus helping foster relationships through interfaith dialogue. 

In her spare time, Mahrukh enjoys travel and the culinary arts with Feroze, her husband of 38 years.  She has two children, Freya and Jamsheed who have both built successful careers in the banking and financial services industries.

Carl Murrell

Carl Murrell is the Representative to the United Nations for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. He engages in discourses that focus on the advancement of women, race unity and human rights. Mr. Murrell currently serves as Interim President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations. In addition, he serves on the Executive Committee of the Council of Organizations of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. Mr. Murrell also has served as Co-Chair of the Values Caucus at the United Nations.

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