Peace & Justice Task Force


  • Mr. Thomas Lemberg
  • Sahar Alsahlani
  • Rabbi Michael Balinsky
  • Kehkashan Basu
  • Rev. Phyllis Curott
  • Dr. Mary Doak
  • Mr. Bruce Knotts
  • James Lynch Jr.
  • Dr. John Pawlikowski
  • Rev. Dr. Scott Stearman
  • Thomas Lemberg

    Mr. Thomas Lemberg

    Task Force Chair
  • Saahar alashlani

    Sahar Alsahlani

    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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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. Mary Doak

    Dr. Mary Doak

    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.

  • Mr. Bruce Knotts

    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.

  • James Lynch Jr.

    James Lynch Jr.

    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.

  • James Lynch Jr.

    Dr. John Pawlikowski

    Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski is author/editor of some 15 books including “Catechetics and Prejudice”. He served four terms by presidential appointment on the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and served six years as president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and its Abrahamic Forum based at Martin Buber Haus in Heppenheim, Germany.

  • Rev. Dr. Scott Stearman

    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).


Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions is headquartered in the City of Chicago, the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, and other tribes such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox. 

PoWR recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land. We remain committed to the advancement of dignity and justice for Indigenous Peoples’ and their communities in the region and around the world.


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