AAC Profile: Joy-Ellen Lipsky

The Ambassador Advisory Council (AAC) is made up of Parliament Ambassadorswho dedicate their time, effort, and professional experience to develop and improve the Ambassador program. Each month Ambassadors will be introduced to a member of the AAC. This month we interviewed Rev. Joy-Ellen Lipsky of San Jose, California, USA. 

Rev. Joy- Ellen Lipsky,  CCP, PMP

Joy-Ellen, tell us about yourself.

I was a software engineer who worked for local government, startups, and larger corporations, where I became a product manager then a partner marketing manager. I have a B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Math, an M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences - Software, and an M.Div. in Interfaith Studies.  I am a Certified Computing Professional (CCP) and a Project Management Professional (PMP).  

I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Kriya Yogini. I was ordained in 2008 and am currently working on my D.Min (Doctorate in Ministry). I am single with one older sister, two nieces, and 3 grandnieces and a grandnephew.  

My hobbies include reading/book clubs, crocheting, traveling, and watching sports. I became an Ambassador in 2008 and was selected for the Ambassador Advisory Council in 2012.

So you're a businesswoman, but also very engaged in peacebuilding on the local level. Tell us, what is your day job, and what positions do you hold in your local interfaith community?

I am the Board Secretary for the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, I work with the Compassion Games for Team Silicon Valley, and  I am an advisor for The Listening Post at San Jose State University (empathic listening for students, employees, and community members).  

I am, of course, a member of the Parliament Ambassador Advisory Council.

You are deeply involved in interfaith organizations both at the local level and at the international level. What do you most enjoy about working with people from faiths outside of your own?  

It gives me perspective about the nature of belief, what draws people to their faith, and it allows me to see the good in others and their service and to connect more deeply to my own faith communities.

What do you find most challenging in regard to your interfaith effort?   

Getting people from some religions to participate in interfaith dialogues and activities.

You first became involved with the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2009, how did that come about? 

My spiritual teacher at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment was Vice President of the Board at the time when the 2009 Parliament was to happen in Melbourne.  A group of us worked to become The Inaugural Partner City of the Parliament, which we did and received the award onstage in Melbourne.  I became an Ambassador and helped to inform community members about the upcoming Parliament event.

Why did you choose to become an Ambassador and later join the AAC?

I truly believe that there will be no peace in the world if there is no peace among the religions. I became an Ambassador in order to let people know about the importance of religious tolerance, getting to know about other religions, and to get people to participate in the 2009 Parliament event. After the event, a small group ofAmbassadors    (Eileen Epperson, Kay Lindahl, and Shareda Hosein) got together and contacted others to see if they were interested. I said yes in 2012.

What has been the most rewarding thing you have experienced through your involvement with the Parliament?   

Receiving the award onstage at the 2009 Parliament and meeting my AmbassadorAdvisory Council siblings at the 2015 Parliament was very rewarding.  That said, helping to grow this grass roots group of Ambassadors from around the world with a handful of volunteers is incredibly gratifying.

Each Ambassador will at some time experience a special event through participating in the Parliament, what event has been your favorite?

Having lunch with the Dalai Lama and a relatively small group at Santa Clara University.

With almost seven years of Parliament experience behind you, how does it feel to be such a vital part of the Parliament family and the global interfaith movement?

It is a privilege to be an Ambassador and a member of the Ambassador Advisory Council.  To be a part of a sea change in thinking about interfaith dialogue and learning about other faiths is wonderful.  Each of us can make a difference in this world just by doing one small thing for another person, learning about and listening to your neighbors, and becoming a light for interreligious tolerance.

*Please note: Interview has been edited for length, brevity or clarity.

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