New to Interfaith Work? Join the Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program
September 23, 2022
Physician / DR, Georgetown University
Aamir Hussain is a resident physician specializing in dermatology. Aamir holds an MD and Masters 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.
Consultant, Princeton Theological Seminary
Amar is an author, writer, and speaker working at the intersection of faith and public life. He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where he studied American religious history and Public Theology. This year he launched an independent consulting firm, Scholarship for Religion and Society LLC, where he works with nonprofits, churches, and philanthropic organizations, and emerging leaders to help navigate the complex issues of our society today.
Nurse practitioner, DNP, Recent UMN grad
Anastasia recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice-Nurse Practitioner specializing in adult and gerontology primary care. Her commitment to merging interfaith work and healthcare began in college when she double majored in nursing and religion after witnessing Muslim and Hindu women create a clinic for their community. The women spoke about how their faith traditions called them to work together and how their different beliefs strengthened the care they provided. Young continued to bridge her twin vocations as an Interfaith Scholar at Concordia College as well as a Peace Scholar in Norway. In 2018, Young co-created the Interfaith Healthcare Cohort for IFYC alumni (now Interfaith America Emerging Leaders) to further develop healthcare-specific interfaith skills. In 2021, Anastasia was an Interfaith Innovation Fellow and worked on a project to equip healthcare providers with resources and tools needed to incorporate patients’ beliefs into their care and continues this work today.
Progressive Christian/Secular Humanist
Operations, People & Design Associate, DC Design/2021 USC Marshall Alum
Angie Luo’s personal mission statement is to flow toward love and celebrate. Raised Catholic and turned interfaith leader during undergrad at USC, she now identifies as Progressive Christian or Secular Humanist (dependent upon whom she’s talking to). As co-founder of the Interfaith Business Network and Podcast, she has discovered her passion for continuing her interfaith leadership at the intersection of religion and business. She dreams of writing a book that helps business leaders build just workplaces where creativity, authenticity, and joy are celebrated (or something like that). She enjoys spending time outdoors, baking, dancing, ceramics, and lately, going on early morning walks with her husband to say hello to the sun.
Youth and College Minister, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral/Univ. of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Clare is a graduate of the University of North Florida where she received her bachelors 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 Alumni 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).
Non denominational Christian
Interfaith Engagement Coordinator, Utah Valley University
Ellie founded an interfaith dialogue at West Texas A&M with a coffee in one hand, and all the courage she could muster in the other. At Utah Valley University, Ellie spends her days coordinating interfaith activities for the Reflection Center on campus, co-advises the Interfaith Student Council, and training faculty and staff on campus to engage across lines of worldview difference. Her dogs Tex and Bracken and husband Andrew, keep her busy at home when they aren’t involved at K2, their church in Salt Lake City.
Senior Development Officer, 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 UK. Osman 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, etc., overseeing fundraising portfolios worth of Millions of dollars. He was an Interfaith Innovation Fellow with IA in 2020 and is currently among the 25 interfaith leaders and dialogue practitioners who received the 2021 KAICIID International Fellowship.
Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
J.T. Snipes, Ph.D is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Prior to his faculty appointment he worked for over 12 years in higher education administration. Currently, his research interest focuses on religion and spirituality in higher education, African American collegiate students, and critical race theory in education. He recently completed his award-winning dissertation entitled, “Ain’t I Black too: Counterstories of Black Atheist in College.” It explores the narratives of secular African American students in college. His latest edited volume Remixed and Reimagined: Innovations in Religion, Spirituality, and (Inter)Faith in Higher Education invites readers to rethink religious scholarship and practice in higher education and student affairs.
Senior Account Executive, 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 BA 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.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Executive Administrator/Harpist, Sandplay Therapists of America/Musician – Self-employed
Keryn Wouden Anderson is a professional harpist and loves using art and music as a platform for collaboration and interfaith awareness. She completed her Bachelor’s of Music at Chapman University (CA), where she first developed a passion for interfaith work and somehow survived the Chicago cold to graduate with a Masters of Music from Northwestern University (IL). As a harpist, Keryn is a seasoned and reviewed artist. She has performed regularly with various groups and released her first album in 2017. In addition to her music career, Keryn has worked as a facilitator and spokesman for the importance of interfaith dialogue. As a member of Northwestern’s Interfaith Advocates, she helped organize interfaith events, including: “Feel Better Together” (mental health campaign) and “Word Against Violence” (a poetry slam promoting reduced gun violence). She has presented on IFYC’s podcast “Common Knowledge”: Mormonism and Interfaith and has been a member of the IFYC Speaker’s Bureau since 2014. She was an Interfaith Innovation Fellows (previously known as the Germanicos Fellowship) from 2018-2019, where she had the opportunity to develop a home-supported interfaith curriculum for preschools. Keryn also works in business administration and currently supports Sandplay Therapists of America in meeting their organizational goals. As a soloist, an orchestral musician, and a business-woman, Keryn works in many environments with various ages, ethnicities, and religions. She loves to travel, rock climb, and play games with her family. She has lived in many different places and is currently based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
My work as an interfaith programmer has consisted of hosting meaningful meals, facilitating challenging conversations, and bringing people together to celebrate through music. I believe in effectively challenging community members to reconsider assumptions about the beliefs of others and the values that we each hold. I’ve found that when a group is able to communicate and challenge respectfully, that community is able to grow and learn. Talking through differences is difficult work; it’s also work I find to be well worth the challenge.
Community Care Program Coordinator/Poet Laureate of Portland, Maine, MaineTransNet
Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a religious Black mulitiracial 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, was a recipient of the Interfaith America Alumni Interfaith Leadership Fund, and was an Interfaith Innovation Fellow along with creative partner Mia S. Willis (they/them). Mia and Maya co-host the video essay series Dying/Laughing, a live action and animation discussion series dedicated to speaking candidly about suicidality and confronting its representations in entertainment media. You can find Maya as one of three artists of color representing Maine in The Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America series and more of their published work on mayawilliamspoet.com. Eir debut poetry collection, “Judas & Suicide,” is available for pre-order via Game Over Books. Maya encourages people to support Maine Inside Out, Portland Outright, MaineTransNet, and Rise & Shine Youth Retreat.
Senior Project Manager, CompStat for Justice, Center for Policing Equity
Olivia Elder is an advocacy professional, organizer, and dancer based in Washington, DC. Olivia is currently a Senior Project Manager at the Center for Policing Equity and the UU The Vote 2022 Campaign Organizer for Universalist Unitarians for Social Justice. She recently left a role on the Infrastructure Sustainability team at Meta (formerly Facebook), where she supported the planning and execution of Meta’s flagship sustainability event: Earth Week. Before her time at Meta, Olivia supported partnerships, engagement, coalitions, and grantmaking on the Criminal Justice Reform team at FWD.us, where she focused on advocacy for families impacted by incarceration. Outside of work, she is the founder of Project117 – a microconsultancy providing education around climate justice, criminal injustice, and faith-based action. When she’s not working, you can find Olivia taking virtual dance classes, doing home renovation projects, or desperately searching for good barbecue in the DC area.
Senior Regional Head of Travel Sales, US & International, Groupon, Inc.
Parth is a first-generation Indian-American who identifies with the Hindu faith. He currently works at Groupon as a Regional Head of Travel Sales on their Getaways team and is a Realtor® with eXp Realty. Additionally, he holds a position on the IFYC Alumni 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.
Agnostic, culturally Hindu
Health Communication Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Suraj Arshanapally is a Health Communication Specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading efforts related to travel health 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 of building a healthier society. As an interfaith leader, he has served as a Better Together Coach, Interfaith Innovation Fellow, and Interfaith Summit Trainer with Interfaith America.
Regional Coordinator for North America, United Religions Initiative
Tahil Sharma is an interfaith activist based in Los Angeles who was born to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother. Following the Oak Creek, WI shooting of a Sikh temple in 2012, Tahil became involved in efforts for interfaith literacy and social justice and has been doing this work professionally for the last decade. Tahil serves as one of three Interfaith Ministers in Residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and as a Board Member for Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus. Tahil previously worked as the Faith Outreach Manager for Brave New Films, a social justice documentary organization based in Los Angeles that empowers communities and teaches civic participation through new media, facilitation, and strategies for action. He is also a contributing author to books including Co-Human Harmony: Using Our Shared Humanity To Bridge Divides, Hindu Approaches to Spiritual Care: Chaplaincy in Theory and Practice, and Acting on Faith: Stories of Courage, Activism, and Hope Across Religions. Tahil’s favorite topics of interfaith work include progressive interpretations of religion and spirituality, gender and sexual diversity, racial justice, community organizing, political engagement, and intersectionality within movements of justice and equity.
Coaching and Training Specialist, Close Up Foundation
Wendy works as a Coaching and Training Specialist at the Close Up Foundation in Washington, DC. After earning her B.S. from the University of Denver and completing her year with Avodah, Wendy worked as a consultant for the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement in their Informal Science Education division. Wendy is passionate about informal education and has worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International Spy Museum, and the National Building Museum. In 2019, Wendy completed facilitation training with Resetting the Table on facilitating challenging conversations across lines of difference. Wendy is a Certified Personal Trainer and has worked as a climbing coach for both youth and adults. In her free time, Wendy can be found nerding out in museums, playing video games, or scaling the walls at her local rock climbing gym.
Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program
Apply for the Mentorship
Both current Emerging Leaders and folks new to our network are eligible to apply, with priority given to new interfaith leaders. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with a deadline of November 11.
The Emerging Leaders Network inspires me to carry out projects I’d only dreamed of. We learn from and inspire each other.