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.
Imam Saffet Abid Catovic has his MBA and is a long-time US Muslim Community Organizer/Activist and Environmental Leader. He was a national organizer of Bosnia Task Force – USA a coalition of the major National and Regional Muslim Organizations advocating for an end to the Genocide in Bosnia during the early 1990s. From 1992-2001 Served in various Senior level capacities in the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina including Minister Counselor at the Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations – NYC and Deputy Federation Contract Administrator at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United States in DC. Currently Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Climate Action Task Force and serves on the Parliament’s, Board of Trustees; Member of the Statewide Clergy Council of Faith in New Jersey (part of the Faith in Action National Network), and Board member. GreenFaith Fellow and serves as their Senior Muslim advisor; Co-founder and Chair of the Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ); a founding committee member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Green Initiatives; Consultant to the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change (2015); a founding member of the Global Muslim Climate Network (GMCN); Co-drafter of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) “Fatwa” Religious ruling on fossil fuel divestment; Member of the scholars Drafting team of “Al-Mizan-Covenant for the Earth” organized under the auspices of UNEP – Faiths for Earth; Board member-Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) Advisory group Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology; Imam and Muslim Chaplain at Drew University Madison, NJ where he also received his MA in Religion and Society, specializing in Religion and the Environment and is currently Doctorate of Ministry student. Head of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith, Community Alliances and Governmental Relations in Washington, DC.
Charline is on the faculty of the Unity Urban Ministerial School located in Detroit, Michigan and serves on the Board of Directors of Unity World Headquarters in Missouri. In addition to serving as chair for the Global Ethic Committee, Charline currently serves as the Parliament’s secretary of the Board of Trustees.
After attending the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Spain, which Charline describes as a life-changing event, she has been dedicated to the mission of the Parliament and the pursuit of just and fair living conditions within local communities and around the globe. Charline currently makes her home outside of Orlando, FL.
Sahar Alsahlani has been on the interfaith scene in NYC for years, in myriad roles that promote interfaith social justice. She is a member of the Community of Living Traditions, an intentional multi-faith community, and co-chair of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the country’s oldest interfaith organization geared toward peace and non-violence. Alsahlani is also on the board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Religions for Peace, USA, United Nations-affiliated NGOs; a fellow at Greenfaith, an interfaith environmental network; and a board member of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Alsahlani perceives her work as a way to encourage civic engagement with people from different backgrounds in the five boroughs. She has been involved in justice activism as a representative of CAIR and the broader Muslim community, including environmental justice causes, such as Standing Rock, and racial justice causes, such as Ferguson and Charlottesville
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 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.
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 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.
Lewis Cardinal is a communicator and educator, he has dedicated his life’s work to creating and maintaining connections and relationships that cross-cultural divides. His work has mirrored his personal vision of a socially just and responsive society.
Lewis has received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Public Service, the IndSpire Award for Public Service (the highest award given to an Indigenous person by Indigenous people in Canada), the Province of Alberta’s Centennial Medal for his work in Human Rights and Diversity, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grant MacEwan University, and was recently conferred the Honorary Degree of “Doctor of Sacred Letters” from St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Lewis is Woodland Cree from the Sucker Creek Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. His consulting company, Cardinal Strategic Communications, specializes in Indigenous education, communications, and project development. Currently, Lewis is Project Manager for “kihciy askiy–Sacred Land” in the City of Edmonton, Canada’s first urban Indigenous ceremony grounds.
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.
Mary Doak (Ph.D., The University of Chicago) is Professor of Theology at the University of San Diego, where she has taught since 2007. Her recent publications include A Prophetic Public Church: Witness to Hope Amid the Global Crises of the 21st Century (Liturgical Press, 2020), and Divine Harmony: Seeking Community in a Broken World (Paulist Press, 2017), along with other books and articles on public theology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. She had the honor of serving as president of the College Theology Society from 2019-2021, and as president of the American Theological Society (Midwest) from 2007-2008.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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