In the crucial work of bridge building, relationships are necessary. We need partners, allies, and co-laborers if we are to create the beloved communities our world needs. We also need relationships because this work is often taxing — emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Relationships keep us grounded, offer support when we are in need, and increase our potential for generative, longstanding impact in our world today.
This fall, Interfaith America is launching our second year of the Emerging Leaders Mentorship program. This is an opportunity open to all members of Interfaith America’s Emerging Leaders Network, whether you are new to this field or are a seasoned leader in this work. This program exists to equip interfaith leaders with the networks and relationships they need to thrive as leaders and field builders. Through intentional, one-on-one conversations, mentors and mentees each grow as they learn from one another, share ideas, and imagine together what it might look like to unlock the potential of America’s religious diversity.
Our mentors are longstanding members of the Emerging Leaders network, who can help guide you through Interfaith America’s programing, advise you on a Building Interfaith America Grant, help strategize your goals as a leader, offer professional development, and more!
Apply to receive a mentor today. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Muslim, Physician / Doctoral Resident at Georgetown University
Aamir Hussain is a resident physician specializing in dermatology. Aamir holds an MD and Master of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. He is a practicing Muslim who has been involved with interfaith activism since his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University. Aamir served on the front lines of the New York City coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Aamir has been awarded several interfaith leadership grants to mentor students from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine. His interests are in medical education, health policy, and in the intersections between spirituality and healthcare. He currently practices dermatology in the DC Metro Area.
Christian, Nurse Practitioner at Allina Health
Dr. Anastasia Young (She/Her) holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Minnesota and works as an Oncology Nurse Practitioner in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Young is the co-creator and leader of the Interfaith Healthcare Cohort for the Emerging Leaders Network. Her work has been extraordinarily valuable for healthcare workers across the country who seek to foster resilience, avoid burnout, and better understand the role that faith can and should play in both patient care and the well-being of healthcare workers.
Byron Tyler Coles
Unitarian Universalist, Community Minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond
Rev. Byron “Tyler” Coles (they/he) is a native of Roanoke, Virginia, and the only child of Monica and Terry. Inspired by wisdom of their faith, Tyler believes the best of our collective effort calls us towards conjuring the Beloved Kin-dom on earth as it is in heaven. They engage this mandate through the work of multi-religious organizing, supporting young adults, and movement chaplaincy. Tyler currently serves as a staff member of the Unitarian Universalist Association where they support faithful leadership across the American South.
Christian-Episcopal, Youth and College Minister at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Clare Stern is a graduate of the University of North Florida where she received her bachelor’s in health science with a concentration in Public Health, a double minor in health education and community leadership. While her degree may be in health science, her true passion is in interfaith cooperation, spiritual formation, and youth leadership development. Clare comes from an interfaith family and got involved with Interfaith America (formerly known as Interfaith Youth Core) her freshman year in college. Clare is currently a second-year seminarian at Univ. of Dubuque Theological Seminary with the hopes of one day becoming an Episcopal priest. She remains and active member of Interfaith America’s Emerging Leaders network and the Episcopal Public Policy Network as an Ambassador. She is also in the process of becoming a presenter for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Holding Hope and FaithNet programs to better address mental health in faith-based communities. She is a flexi-vegan (vegan sometimes vegetarian), loves long distance running, discovering local coffee and tea shops, and spending time with her husband and partner Andrés and black Labrador Retriever, Nera (Hebrew for “candle, light”).
Christian, Multi-Faith Advisor of the William Jewett Tucker Center at Dartmouth College
Ellie Anders (she/her) founded an interfaith dialogue at West Texas A&M in 2012 with a coffee in one hand, and all the courage she could muster in the other. Ellie spent 10 years building interfaith infrastructure across the state of Utah. Now at Dartmouth College, Ellie is rebuilding the interfaith programming at The William Jewett Tucker Center for Spirituality and Ethics. Her dogs, Tex and Bracken, and husband, Andrew, are exploring their new community in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire.
Muslim, Senior Development Officer at the University of Toronto
Irshad Osman is an Imam by training and a fundraiser by profession. He obtained his bachelor’s in Islamic studies from Sri Lanka and master’s in public policy in the United Kingdom. Irshad currently works as a Senior Development Officer at the University of Toronto. Passionate about Inclusive Philanthropy, he has worked at United Way Toronto, Silent Voice Canada, IDRF, and JFA Canada overseeing fundraising portfolios worth millions of dollars. He was an Interfaith Innovation Fellow with Interfaith America in 2020 and a KAICIID Fellow in 2022. He currently serves on the board of Encounter World Religions, Toronto and in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advancement Community Council at the University of Toronto. Irshad is the founder of “Muslim-Indigenous Connection” program in Canada that trains 25-35 Muslim youth every year to learn about the Indigenous communities, their spirituality, values, worldview and understand their past and present struggles due to settler-colonialism.
Agnostic, Senior Account Executive at Lucas Public Affairs
Born and raised in Sacramento in both a household and a city full of integrated diversity, Jacob has been curating the necessary skills and passion for intercultural and interfaith work from a young age. As a young adult, Jacob put these skills to their biggest test yet in Texas where he earned his bachelor’s in International Politics from Texas Christian University. In Texas, he had first-hand experiences with ethnic and religious prejudice and segregation, pushing him to dedicate his undergraduate career to improving his campus and community to be more accepting and understanding of all people. In honor of all of his work, he received the TCU Religious Life Leadership Award for leading his community to mutual appreciation and understanding. Since graduating, Jacob has worked with and for several communications, governmental and political, and interfaith groups including the United Religions Initiative, California Interfaith Power and Light, the California State Capitol, and the California Medical Association. Recently, Jacob was a part of the Interfaith America Vaccine Cohort where he helped guide his peers through communicating complex scientific information to diverse communities. He currently serves as a Senior Account Executive at Lucas Public Affairs where he manages emerging needs and strategy for various clients on anything from climate and financial issues to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Christian, Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
J.T. Snipes (he/him), Ph.D is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Prior to his faculty appointment he worked for over 15 years in higher education administration. In his current position as a faculty member, Dr. Snipes researches diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. His specialty is religious diversity on college campuses. In addition to his teaching and scholarship, Dr. Snipes also works as a diversity consultant with CenterState CEO. His biggest desire is to support business leaders in making their companies more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Harpist and Executive Administrator at Sandplay Therapists of America
Keryn Wouden (she/her) is a professional harpist and loves using the arts as a platform for collaboration and awareness. She completed her bachelor’s of Music at Chapman University and a master’s of Music from Northwestern University. As a harpist, Keryn is a seasoned and reviewed artist. She has performed regularly with various groups and in many spaces. In addition to her music career, Keryn currently works as an Executive Administrator for Sandplay Therapists of America. Keryn was an Interfaith Innovation Fellows in 2018 and loves the diversity of experience interfaith work provides.
Laura Bohorquez Duque
Roman Catholic, High School Social Studies Teacher for ESL Students
Laura Bohorquez Duque (she/her) was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, before traveling to Dubuque, Iowa to study, where she became passionate for interfaith dialogue and social justice. She has a Master of International Relations from the University of Chicago with a concentration on human rights. For the last few years, she’s lived in the Chicago suburbs working at non-profits, advocating for a welcoming community, educating immigrant families on their rights, and helping them find the resources they need to thrive in their community. In 2022, she became a high school social studies teacher for ESL students.
Jewish/Humanist, K-12 Educator in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Matthew Segil (he/him) is a middle school math and science educator in Massachusetts. During his time as a teacher, he’s invited colleagues and friends to his house for interfaith dinners centered around the Jewish practice of Shabbat. Matt is the leader of the Cambridge-based interfaith community The Bread Breakers. As an interfaith leader, it is his goal to build an inclusive community focused on education, joy, and cultural exchange. Is currently co-leading the Interfaith at Work Education Cohort with Melanie Young.
Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a religious Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently the seventh poet laureate of Portland, Maine. Maya was a Better Together Coach as an undergraduate student at East Carolina University, is a recipient of the Interfaith America Alumni Interfaith Leadership Fund and is an Interfaith Innovation Fellow along with creative partner Mia S. Willis (they/them). Interfaith is important to me; it is our central connection to how we stay alive and how we take care of one another in this world.
Hindu, National Account Executive at Reddy Ice
Parth Bhansali is a first-generation Indian American who identifies with the Hindu faith. He holds a position on the Interfaith America Emerging Leaders Speakers Bureau and a fellowship with ACWAY. Working in a corporate business environment, Parth aspires to help transform interfaith conversation and cooperation into something that transcends the faith-based community. He has spoken about the intersection of business and interfaith work at various events, including the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions and the 2021 G20 Interfaith Youth Forum.
Christian, Mental Health Counselor and Founder of Project Passport LLC
Sabriya Dobbins (she/her) is the award-winning Founder of Project Passport LLC, a preventative mental wellness company focused on empowering individuals and teams to take control of their mental health through interactive retreat and workshop experiences. She is also the Founder and Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern of Fruits of Freedom Counseling, where she supports working professionals and emerging young adults in addressing mental health challenges. As the Christian author of “Purpose Doesn’t Care What’s in Your Bank Account,” she developed and led the interfaith project, “The Kaleidoscope Experience,” an interactive series that explores the lenses of life.
Agnostic/Hindu, Health Communication Specialist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Suraj Arshanapally (he/him) is a Health Communication Specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading efforts related to travel health and COVID-19 communication. In 2018, he graduated from Yale University with his MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences. He enjoys leveraging digital media for public health and social good. Suraj believes that interfaith cooperation is a vital component to building a healthier society.
Hindu-Sikh, Regional Coordinator for North America at the United Religions Initiative
Tahil Sharma (he/they) is Regional Coordinator for North America at the United Religions Initiative (URI), the world’s largest interfaith network of grassroots communities, dedicated to establishing cultures of peace, justice, and healing in the world. Tahil’s Hindu and Sikh background inspires his work for education, pluralism, and justice, working in local, regional, and international spaces for over a decade. Tahil also serves as an Interfaith minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, a Board Member of Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and as a member of the Racial Justice & Religion Commission at the Aspen Institute.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.