Board of Trustees

Dr. Kusumita Pedersen

Kusumita P. Pedersen is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at St. Francis College and Chair of the Interfaith Center of New York. She is also a member of the Climate Action Task Force (CATF) of the Parliament of the World's Religions and of the Climate Working Group of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations. She is co-author of Global Ethics in Practice: Historical Backgrounds, Current Issues and Future Prospects (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and co-editor of Faith for Earth: A Call to Action (UN Environment Programme and Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2020). Kusumita has compiled and edited librettos for two works by Philip Glass: Symphony No. 5: Bardo, Requiem and Nirmānakāya (1999) and The Passion of Ramakrishna (2006). She has been a student of Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) since 1971 and her book Love and Transformation: The Philosophy of Sri Chinmoy is forthcoming from Lexington Books.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss serves as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis. Prior to that she was the Director of Programming, Education and Community Engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation, a Modern Orthodox Jewish synagogue in University City, MO. She is one of the first graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a pioneering institution training Orthodox Jewish women to be spiritual leaders and halakhic (Jewish legal) authorities. She previously served as Acting Executive Director for Religions for Peace-USA, Program Coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Assistant Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Secretariat for the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, the formal Jewish representative in international, interreligious dialogue. Rori is the co-chair of the North American Interfaith Youth Network of Religions for Peace, a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders fellow, and co-editor of "InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook." She is married to Russel Neiss, a Software Engineer for Sefaria, and they have three wonderful children.

Ven. Dhammadipa Sak

Currently trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions; Ven. Dhammadipa Sak, Ph.D., is a Buddhist bhikkhu, the Abbot of US Zen Institute in Maryland, and a Trustee of the International Buddhist Association of America. He is a scholar of early Mahāyāna and Theravāda Buddhism and an acclaimed meditation instructor.

Ven. Dhammadipa was born in Taiwan and brought up in East Malaysia. He was ordained in Sri Lanka in 1987. He later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol in England. He is at present a Research Fellow at Sun-Yat Sen University in China. Ven. Dhammadipa is a Buddhist “ecumenist” who is conversant with the different traditions of Buddhism and seeks to bridge them. He is frequently involved in interfaith activities not only limited to USA, and has been invited as a Buddhist delegate to participate in international interfaith dialogues at UN Assembly, Vatican, Turkey.

Dr. Harpreet Singh

Dr. Harpreet Singh is a scholar of South Asian traditions and languages at Harvard University. His scholarly interests range from studying the formation of religious identities in the premodern South Asia to the nationalization of religious communities in the modern era. He works with a wide range of sources in Persian, Sanskrit, Classical Panjabi, Brajbhasha, Awadhi and Urdu. His teaching responsibilities at Harvard have ranged from introductory courses on South Asian religions to advanced courses on religious nationalism and literary cultures. He co-founded the Sikh Coalition—the largest Sikh civil rights organization in North America—in the wake of hate crimes against Sikh-Americans after the September 11, 2001 attacks. He received a PhD degree in South Asian Religions from Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion and a MTS degree from Harvard Divinity School. Singh currently serves on the Board of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at Harvard; the Board of Trustees of Parliament the of the World’s Religions; the Board of Trustees at the Sikh Coalition and Sikh Scholarship Foundation; and the Advisory Boards of the Pluralism Project at Harvard, and the Institute for Asian American Studies. As a member of the Harvard Chaplains, he serves the Sikh community through the Harvard Sikh Center that he founded. His HarvardX online course, Sikhism Through Its Scriptures, is open to the public.

Rev. Dr. Scott Stearman

Vice Chair of the Board

For 3 decades Scott Stearman has served as a pastor in the Christian (Baptist) tradition. His experience includes congregations in Athens, Greece and in Paris, France. Most recently he has been pastor in New York City where he represents the Baptist global body at the United Nations (supported by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance). He is active in helping to lead NGO committees related to human rights and the freedom of religion and belief and has been active in civil societies advocacy at the High Level Political Forum around the UN’s Agenda 2030 (SDGs). Scott holds a Ph.D. in philosophy (Univ. of Oklahoma) and a Th.M. and M.Div (Princeton Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist, respectively).

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