Boston Bridges Fellowship
A Fellowship for Religious & Communal Leaders
As an imam, I do not often find spaces in which I can open up with peers about the questions, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams that I hold at any given time. Being in community with the other Bridges fellows has allowed me to enter such a sacred space. Each person brings their own life experiences to the table, which has helped me reflect more deeply on my own work and religious journey. I’m hoping to stay connected to the members of my cohort and to the program in the future.– Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman, Program Associate, New England, Facing History & Ourselves
We live in an age of unprecedented interaction among people with different religious identities and communal affiliations. In order to foster a healthy democratic society and enrich our religious communities, we need leaders that can help their constituents engage this diversity in constructive and meaningful ways.
Hebrew College is excited to present the Boston Bridges Fellowship Program for emerging religious and communal leaders. The purpose of the initiative is to provide outstanding individuals the opportunity to develop sustained relationships with peers from different religious and cultural contexts and to refine and deepen their leadership skills for service in a diverse society. 12 Fellowships will be awarded annually.
The Boston Bridges program will consist of 9 in-person meetings (once monthly from September to May) at the Walker Center for Ecumenical Exchange in Auburndale, MA. Each meeting will include an informal dinner (30-45 minutes), a leadership development presentation (45-60 minutes), and group discussion (45-60 minutes). Sessions will be led by Hebrew College faculty and staff, as well as outstanding religious, cultural, and civic leaders from the Greater Boston area. Fellows will also be invited to introduce each other to their respective religious communities in creative ways.
This fellowship program is open to leaders with up to approximately five years of professional or significant volunteer experience in houses of worship, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and health care facilities in the Greater Boston area (or from elsewhere in New England with permission from the program coordinator).
Each participant will actively engage in at least eight of the nine in-person sessions. The group meetings will require 30-45 minutes of reading or other preparation. All fellows will be expected to write two short reflective essays on their experiences in the program or on a related topic.
Anticipated Meeting Dates
Thursdays, 6-9pm: September 19, 2019; October 24, 2019; November 14, 2019; December 12, 2019; January 23, 2020; February 20, 2020; March 12, 2020; April 2, 2020; May 7, 2020.
Each participant will receive a $500 stipend paid in two equal disbursements, January 2020 and June 2021. Final stipend disbursements will be contingent upon participation in a minimum of eight cohort gatherings, submission of two reflective essays no later than May 31, 2020, and a brief exit interview and written evaluation with the Boston Bridges coordinator to be completed by May 31, 2020.
How to Apply
Applications for this year’s cohorts are currently closed.
Please contact Tom Reid, Miller Center Associate Director (email@example.com) with any questions.
Meet The Fellows:
2020-2021 Boston Bridges Fellows
Caro Barschow (she/they pronouns) is an educator, writer, and seminarian at Boston University School of Theology. They are an aspirant for ordination with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Caro’s spiritual influences are broad, woven by the thread of a belief that awakened hearts bring forth healing and transformation to people, planet, and society. Caro lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rev. Burnham is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ where she is both a Community Minister (First Church in Cambridge, Congregational) and a chaplain at VNA Hospice. In patients’ homes, assisted living facilities, and at the Tippett house in Needham, Krysia cares for those at the end of life and for their families. She also leads bereavement support groups and memorial services. Krysia holds degrees from Smith College, Columbia University, and Andover Newton (where she was a Presidential Scholar). She is a former magazine writer and editor with stints at The New Yorker and ELLE. Krysia celebrates and blogs about her Judeo-Christian heritage; she is developing a memoir about life at the end of life and how we may look through the lens of a person’s death to see how that person has lived. Krysia and her husband Stephen have three adult children and enjoy dance, sailing, and time with family.
Jenny Bonham-Carter and her family moved to Boston from her home country, Sweden, in 2016. She’s a member of Somerville Community Baptist Church. A social worker for over 20 years, Jenny has also lived/worked in the UK, Burkina Faso, and France. In 2008, she began studying Human Rights which lead her to a Master’s Degree and to the field of interfaith, first in Stockholm and now Boston. She has been the vice chair of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries and now works for H.E.R.O. (Healing Empathy Redemption Oasis) Nurturing Center while being active with – among others – NDC (New Democracy Coalition) and CREW (Communities Responding to Extreme Weather). Jenny is also a musician; she ran the music for the Poor Peoples Campaigns Massachusetts chapter in 2018 and has since been doing song leading and performances during many other gatherings and rallies. Jenny is now, together with musical colleague Walter, very excited to be building up an interfaith social justice song group.
Kim is an artist organizer, community builder, radical inclusion specialist, deeply devoted Buddhist practitioner and soon to be ordained Zen Buddhist priest. With an M.Div. in Theology from Boston University and a B.S. in Cognitive Science from Vassar College, Kim brings an interdisciplinary background in science and theology with a strong focus on justice, equity and community building. With skills as a faith leader, a creative, a writer and a trailblazer, Kim has successfully implemented many projects that bring multiple faiths into conversation with one another towards healing and social justice. She trained for 8+ years as a Buddhist monastic and has extensive experience teaching meditation, designing and facilitating group dialogue, coaching, programming, and digital marketing. Her strengths include storytelling, organizing for community power, managing teams, collaboration, thoughtful attention to detail, and creative thinking. She is an energetic and empathetic community builder and spiritual mentor.
Shelby Carpenter joined the Tufts University Chaplaincy as the Program Coordinator in July of 2019. As Program Coordinator, she oversees key interreligious and interfaith programming on Tufts’ undergraduate campus. These programs include the Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education (CAFE) Pre-Orientation program, Tufts Interfaith Student Council, and Tufts MLK Jr. Day of Service. She also develops advancement efforts for this office through supporting alumni relations, coordinating Giving Tuesday, and managing grants. Shelby obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a focus on transatlantic slavery in colonial New England from Tufts University. Through her experience in the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program, she had the honor of co-presenting on best practices for interfaith-inspired community engagement programming at NASPA’s Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Knowledge Community and the NASPA 2020 Annual Conference. Alongside her professional life, Shelby dedicates her time to playing with her two kitties, reading, and engaging her local community. Since 2016, she has acted as Assistant Educator at the Royall House & Slave Quarters when needed. As of March 2020, she makes grocery deliveries for the local food pantry, ProjectSOUP. After we can safely re-engage in local community organizations in person, she hopes to return to her adult ballet and tumbling classes.
María Soledad del Villar was born in Santiago de Chile in 1985. She is now living in the Boston area while pursuing her PhD in Systematic Theology at Boston College. She is also a Resident Minister serving college students and a member of the Latinx community of St. Ignatius Parish at Chestnut Hill. During her life, María Soledad has been able to combine her academic interests in theology, feminism, and politics with an active life of pastoral work among marginalized communities and young people both in Chile and the US. She is also a history teacher, and holds two masters, one in Contemporary History and one in Theology (M.T.S). She recently published a book that narrates the stories of the social workers of Vicaría de la Solidaridad, a Catholic institution that defended human rights during the last Chilean dictatorship (1973 – 1989). She is also co-founder of the movement Mujeres Iglesia, a Catholic and feminist movement based in Chile, that unites Catholic women from different parts of the country in the common effort to deepen their faith through a feminist lens, and pursue justice for women both in the Church and society.
Josh grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania and has long been interested in religious and spiritual traditions. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 2016, cum laude, with a B.A. in religious studies, along with induction into Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology. Currently, he is a fourth-year student in the rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. Josh values learning from the religious traditions of others to help foster a more complete sense of his own spiritual life and journey.
Sakshi is a Research Assistant and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has previously worked as a school counselor for elementary school in India. She is passionate about social-emotional learning (SEL) education, and preventive mental health care for children, and also holds a master’s in clinical psychology from India. Sakshi has been a member of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) since 2012, and has served as a young women’s block- and district-level leader in India and the US. The SGI is a community-based Buddhist organization that promotes peace, culture and education centered on respect for the dignity of life.
Andrew Kimble is from Los Angeles, CA and currently resides in Roxbury, MA. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Morehouse College in 2014. For the next two years, he worked for a top national law firm as a conflicts analyst. In 2019, he graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Boston University School of Theology. Much of his professional and academic work falls within the discipline of social ethics, spirituality, and Afrofuturism. He is a licensed minister in the AME Church and is the assistant director of alumni and donor relations at the Boston University School of Theology. In his free time, Andrew enjoys listening to jazz, running outdoors, and visiting the used book section in local bookstores.
Abdul-Malik Merchant serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University and the Middleton House of Corrections. After his family converted to Islam when he was 8-years old, he was immediately embedded between a multitude of ethnic groups within the Muslim community. Then, before he turned 18, Abdul-Malik was accepted to study at Umm al-Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, where he spent the next decade studying traditional Islamic studies in the religion’s birthplace. It was after returning home that Abdul-Malik found his passion in serving others pastorally, but also in the academy. Last semester he completed his Masters in Theological Studies, from Boston University’s School of Theology, concentrating on practical theology. The nexus of his interests fall at the intersection of spirituality and emotional well-being. These experiences provided him with a cultural reflexivity that he brings to his chaplaincy and academic work.
Hazel Monae is an extroverted introvert who enjoys seeing the world through travel, eating spicy food, and laughing heartily. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Willamette University and her Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. Hazel lives, works, and creates leadership development curriculum at the intersections of anti-racism/racial equity, ethical leadership development and theology. Hazel is the Associate Director of Engagement and Leadership Development at Episcopal City Mission.
Karim leads and supports a wide range of efforts that bring people together, deliver return to community, and encourage social responsibility. He approaches all his projects with a passion to serve others and create positive change. In his current role as the Community Project Manager in the Islamic Society of Boston, Karim oversees the organization’s programming team and serves as the primary point of contact for civic engagement projects and community outreach initiatives. He has been appointed by the city of Cambridge to serve as a commissioner for immigration rights and citizenship in 2018 for 3 years. He is also serving currently as a board member at CMM – Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. Karim most enjoys helping people who are facing adversity in their lives to connect with the resources they need to improve their lives and make a meaningful change in their communities. Before joining the Islamic Society of Boston, Karim had 9 years of experience in the corporate world in various management positions as well as nonprofit organizations in the Middle East.
2019-2020 Boston Bridges Fellows
Lobna Agbaria is the Program Director of Our Generation Speaks (OGS), a fellowship program and incubator where emerging Palestinian and Israeli leaders create high-impact ventures. She was introduced to the organization as a 2017 fellow, during which she co-founded SnapLand, an online platform for real estate professionals creating a new, disruptive standard and home base for real estate due diligence. Lobna practiced law for 7 years, two of which she managed her own law firm in Tel Aviv, which specialized in construction law with a focus on planning and building. In 2012, Lobna co-founded the Sana Foundation, a nonprofit that provides academic scholarships to Arab women in Israel who are seeking higher education degrees. Additionally, Lobna was a professional Volleyball player in the first division of the Israeli professional league. Lobna holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Preeta is a spiritual companion who draws on a broad and deep range of experience. She spent 20 years in academia, coaching and consulting as an advocate, educator, researcher and author. She is a strong voice for combining spirituality, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and social change. Preeta is an Ayurveda and black-belt Tae Kwon Do practitioner whose daily practices come from yoga, Let Your Yoga Dance, and meditation. She is a Co-founder and partner at WhiteLeaf Advisors LLC, previously led a team at Deloitte, and was a business school professor at Brandeis and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has a PhD in Strategic Management from the Wharton School and BS in Computational Biology and Business from Carnegie Mellon.
Sadananda Dasa received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Allahabad and his MBA from S P Jain Institute of Management, Mumbai. He has ten years of experience in the corporate world in various management positions. During his four-year stint as a Lead Consultant at Infosys, Sadananda took keen interest in the philosophy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a fifteenth century saint who inaugurated the Bhakti Movement of India. He joined ISKCON Bangalore in 2011 and was trained in the philosophy and practice of Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam. He also received diksha (spiritual initiation) from Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON, under the Officiating Acharya system of initiation. Sadananda has lived in Boston since 2016, and continues to counsel students, university faculty, and young families as a spiritual guide. He also conducts online courses on meditation and Vedic literatures for students and young people from around the world, and spends considerable time of his day in spiritual practices, mantra meditation, self-study and distance-study of Vedic literatures with his seniors in ISKCON Bangalore.
Deborah “Debbie” Rogers Duval is a Pastoral Resident in the Urban Pastoral Ministry Program with City Mission and Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston. Debbie earned her MDiv from Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) with certificates in Ministerial Leadership and Pastoral Care. Her field education placement was at United Congregational Church in Worcester and Worcester Fellowship, a church for the unhoused population of Worcester. She recently completed one year of Clinical Pastoral Education at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale. Debbie is seeking ordination with the United Church of Christ and has been an active member in UCC churches for over 30 years. She serves on the Board of Directors for Star Island Corporation, a nonprofit religious and educational retreat center. Debbie is mom to three adult children, Noni to five grandchildren, and partner and best friend to her husband, Duncan. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, exercising, camping, and reading.
Leah Goldstein has been a part of the Hebrew College community for over six years. She is currently the Associate Director of Prozdor, but over the last few years her main focus has become her role as Director of the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston (JTFGB), a year-long teen philanthropy and leadership program. JTFGB gives her the opportunity to teach and share her deep passion and love of giving back to the next generation of activists and change makers. A native of Austin, Texas, Leah relocated to Boston almost nine years ago to earn an MS in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University. During her time in graduate school, she interned at several local Jewish organizations. Prior to coming to Hebrew College, she worked at the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. Leah lives in Brookline and spends her time outside of work with organizations which share in her passions. She sits on the board of Samaritans, is involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and volunteers with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS).
Nicole Morris is a Master of Theological Studies Student at Harvard Divinity School and focuses on the intersections of public health, religion, and racial justice in African-American and other marginalized communities. She has been involved with and played a key role in non-profit organizations including Data for Black Lives, a grassroots women-of-color urban farm project in Dorchester, the Radcliffe Institute’s Summer of H.O.P.E., which focuses on youth-centered social justice activities. In addition to her graduate studies, Nicole is training to become a doula in hopes of addressing the maternal health crises plaguing Black communities, as well as completing research on the role of faith-based institutions in addressing food security for formerly incarcerated women, and bioethical concerns and the theological impacts of death and dying within communities of color. She is looking forward to connecting with her colleagues to learn and grow together.
Cate Nelson works at the intersection of spiritual community, spiritual formation, and co-design. She spends her time creating spaces for people to connect in creative, unexpected ways to self, others, God, ideas, imagination, and communities. Cate is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Boston University School of Theology and directs the Center for Flourishing at Reservoir Church in Cambridge, MA.
Anberin-Eugenia Pasha was raised in India by her Sufi mother, an artist for whom religion was a divisive affair, and found herself in search of a faith that could answer her questions; a faith that was both socially and spiritually accountable, and that did not discriminate against the marginalized women and children who so often found themselves abused by a cruel caste-bound system in India. As a documentary filmmaker, Anberin found herself in Serbia working on a project. In Serbia, Anberin was drawn to Elder Thaddeus whose gentle demeanor and teachings gave her first glimpse into Orthodox Christianity that shunned worldly power in its thirst for grace and humility in the name of Jesus. While pursuing her M.Div at Holy Cross, Anberin worked on a documentary film, “Love to the End,” about St. Maria of Paris. Anberin is currently in the process of completing her ThM at Holy Cross Seminary and hopes to continue her studies at Boston University.
 Mother Maria was a poet, a theologian, who worked and cared for the homeless, the destitute, and the Jews when Paris fell to the Nazis.
Sam Scheidt Sam is a second-year MTS student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Sam is from La Crosse, WI, and attended Luther College in Decorah, IA. At Luther College, Sam served as president of Catholic Student Community, and his primary research interests were ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. In his first year in Boston, Sam led the STM Interreligious Engagement Group. He hopes to teach at the university level, and is interested in religious texts, intra/interfaith dialogue, community development, and practical theology. Sam currently lives in Boston, and he enjoys biking around the city, drinking coffee, and watching the Green Bay Packers.
Rev. Liz Weber is passionate about building community across differences. She is the Minister for Pastoral Care at First Parish in Concord, Unitarian Universalist (UU), and her love for community stems from twenty years of leadership in UU circles that offered her both support and challenge. Previously, Liz was a spiritual care (CPE) resident at Massachusetts General Hospital. She completed her undergraduate work at Northeastern University and graduate work at Andover Newton Theological School. In addition to her MDiv, Liz holds graduate certificates in spiritual care and religion and conflict transformation. Liz’s first career was as an American Sign Language interpreter in high schools and grad schools, hospitals, and public and private businesses across Eastern Massachusetts. Her hobbies include hiking, woodworking, and singing with friends.
2018-2019 Boston Bridges Fellows
Zachary Cole is the Program Manager for the Tufts University Chaplaincy, a dynamic hub supporting religious, spiritual, ethical, and cultural life for all members of the Tufts community. He is charged with coordinating and implementing high-level programming and outreach efforts to connect and integrate the University Chaplaincy with all segments of the university and external partners. He also serves as the Co-Chair for the Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Knowledge Community for the NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education professional organization.
Prior to joining Tufts, Zachary spent a year as the Values in Action Fellow at the Humanist Community at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he organized monthly interfaith community service programs in partnership with local religious and philosophical communities. Since December 2015, he has served as a consultant and event planner for the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College to plan an annual interfaith meal-packing event. Zachary holds a BA in Religious Studies and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MA degree in Higher Education from Boston College. He is a proud North Carolina Tar Heel (Go Heels!) and loves basketball and his two cats, Cassidy and Henry.
Rabbi David Finkelstein has been the rabbi and spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel in Waltham, MA since 2014. His current rabbinic work maximizes musical and textual engagement in prayer, teaching and facilitating study groups, and the use of storytelling. Rabbi David holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison (minor in piano performance), a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Newton, and chaplaincy training at Massachusetts General Hospital. Among Rabbi David’s interfaith activities are regular participation in the Waltham Ministerial Alliance, a multifaceted partnership with Waltham’s First Lutheran Church, weekly participation in an informal interfaith gathering called Two Priests and a Rabbi (2-3pm every Wednesday at Waltham’s Cafe on the Common–all are welcome), membership in Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and a budding friendship with the Waltham Islamic Society.
Sara Gardner is the Associate Director of Young Adult Programs at Hebrew College. Before joining the college’s Adult Learning team, Sara conducted research on the culinary heritage and cultural identity of Sephardic Jews in Madrid as a Fulbright Scholar. Sara is also the creator and head blogger of Boka Dulse (www.bokadulse.com), a food blog dedicated to Jewish food history, and regularly contributes to The Nosher, a Jewish food publication sponsored by MyJewishLearning.com. An avid cook and food historian, Sara also teaches cooking classes – some of her past teaching engagements include the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid and The Gefilteria. She is also the editor of the recently-published cookbook, The Rosh Hashanah Seder Cookbook: Stories and Recipes from the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid, currently available on Amazon. In 2016, Sara graduated with a BA in International Literary & Visual Studies and Spanish from Tufts University. Sara also worked as a Fellow for Innovative Community Building for Tufts, employing her passion for creating vibrant and engaged Jewish communities.
Philip Halikias is a Coordinator for online learning and continuing education at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, where he helps creating and overseeing content for the online Masters, as well as clergy and lay leader education. Philip is working on a Doctorate of Ministries in Transformative Leadership at Boston University, and is awaiting ordination to the diaconate, in the Greek Orthodox Church. Philip has been involved in Interreligious and Ecumenical activities, and is passionate about authentic engagement with the religious other. Philip is originally from New York, and has lived in Boston for four years. He is married to his wife, Christine, and they have a daughter, Maria.
Shelton Oakley Hersey, has sought out, participated and facilitated spaces for reconciliation over the past decade. Her Bachelor degrees are from Rhodes College (Memphis, TN) in Religious Studies and Sociology. From Los Angeles and Fuller Theological Seminary, where she obtained a Masters in Intercultural Studies and Urban/International Development, to Mexico and South Africa, she has worked cross-culturally in bridge-building, development of communities and leaders, and spiritual formation, confirming her deepest passion: seeing lives and communities whole and living out their God-given potential. As the Interfaith Youth Initiative Program Director (a program of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries), she brings together emerging youth leaders of Greater Boston across difference, understanding the significant role in unlearning and relearning that which divides and unites us. With her husband Scott, she enjoys living life in Jamaica Plain and loves being outdoors, sharing a slow meal with community, expressing herself through visual art and reading a really great book.
Tom Reid is the Associate Director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership at Hebrew Colllege. In May 2019, he completed his Master of Divinity (MDiv) magna cum laude at Boston University School of Theology. His studies included a focus on religion and conflict transformation and interreligious engagement. Tom is also a candidate seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Prior to returning to higher education, Tom spent over ten years working in a variety of fields: clean energy in Boston, environmental and green building consulting in Boston and Dubai, and business education in Madrid, Spain. Originally from Kansas, Tom holds a BA with honors from the University of Kansas in Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, and Spanish and an MA in European Politics, Policy, and Society granted jointly by the Euromasters consortium of European universities and funded by a Fulbright grant.
Joe Viola is a second year M.Div. student at Boston University School of Theology. Joe is from New Haven, CT and attended college at Clark University in Worcester, MA. At Clark he co-founded an interfaith group and served on the board of directors of Greater Worcester Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministries. During his first year at BU, Joe served as the Recruitment Coordinator for the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI). He is currently interning at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, where he will work on interfaith programming across the university. He is hoping to pursue university chaplaincy. Joe is interested in the intersections of faith and social justice, interfaith dialogue, and youth/young adult spiritual development. He currently lives in Boston, and in his free time enjoys seeing live music, reading, and spending time outdoors.
Yan Wang is a third year MDiv student at Boston University School of Theology. In 2014, he came to the US to be a researcher at the Elie Wiesel Center of Jewish Studies, Boston University. In the same year, he was baptized into Christ in Grand Rapids, Michigan and became a member of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). After settling in Boston, he joined the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and transferred his membership to the First United Presbyterian Church of Cambridge. He is now under the care of Boston Presbytery in the ordination process to be a Presbyterian minister.
Before coming to the US, Yan Wang was a professor of Judaic Studies at Shandong University, China. He did his master and PhD at the same university. In 2009, he was granted a faculty position upon his graduation from his doctoral studies. Since then he taught at the Department of Religious Studies till 2014 when he left China. Yan Wang lives in Quincy, MA, with his wife and their daughter.
Jennifer Weston (Hunkpapa Lakota) has worked for the past two decades with tribal community programs, including on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas, where she has served her tribal government as an environmental outreach coordinator and grant writer. Currently she is project director for Mukayuhsak Weekuw: The Children’s House, and Language Department Director for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, where she has worked since 2012. From 2008 to 2012 Weston managed the Endangered Languages Program for Cultural Survival in Cambridge, MA, and served as assistant producer for the film WE STILL LIVE HERE: Âs Nutayuneân. Weston previously worked as an associate/web producer for the PBS documentary series WE SHALL REMAIN, and as a correspondent for Lakota Nation Journal. As both a student and staffer at Brown University, she developed Native studies curricula and community programs to support student retention. Weston trained as a journalist with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters in Providence, RI, the founding editor of Indian Country Today, and through a PBS-funded research and production apprenticeship at WGBH-Boston.
2017-2018 Boston Bridges Fellows
Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman has been a thought-leader, family counselor and educator for over a decade. He received a degree in Islamic Studies from Al-Baseerah Institute in Saudi Arabia in 2006 and is pursuing an MA in Global Inter-religious Leadership from Andover Newton Theological School. After a seven-year career as a chaplain in the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Imam Taymullah served as Spiritual Advisor for Northeastern University and Islamic Studies teacher at the Islamic Academy for Peace. He went on to become the first paid Muslim chaplain at Harvard University, where he also taught a graduate course on Islamic Polity at Harvard Divinity School. Currently, he is an Educator Liaison at Facing History and Ourselves where he teaches difficult moments in history such as Post-Civil War Reconstruction & the Fragility of Democracy as well as Holocaust and Human Behavior to high school educators. In addition, Imam Taymullah works intimately with Boston Public School teachers, creating strategies to meet the learning needs of at-risk youth. He serves on several boards including Shared Nation and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Resilient Collaborative Committee. Imam Taymullah writes a blog on Huff Post and hosts a podcast about reformed criminals called Exconversations, available on itunes.
Sidra Ali is a Master’s of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School concentrating on the interplay of politics and religion within the social justice realm. Sidra’s work in the non-profit sector includes her work as a teacher in Detroit Public Schools and as the co-founder of Detroit is My Home, a non-profit organization that seeks to serve the impoverished community with material resources such as food, clothing and hygiene supplies. Sidra also served as an assistant lecturer for an interfaith class at Rochester College and University of Detroit Mercy. While her graduate work is still evolving, Sidra’s research looks at narrative and social polity and applies them to Muslim and interfaith communities in the West. She looks forward to working with her colleagues and learning from their experiences and enriching her own perspective on structural and sustainable peace.
Elder William H. Dickerson, II is the Executive Director of a Faith- Based community organizing non-profit called Brockton Interfaith Community. He is a Colorado native, a pastor, and has been community organizing for 5 and half years. His expertise is in racial equity and leadership development. Over the past five years as a community organizer, he has spearheaded activities to impact change within faith and oppressed communities. His work is deeply rooted in his Faith in G-d and his love for community. His main focus is to develop ordinary people in communities to become prophetic faith leaders that develop power to strengthen communities, develop relationships with Public Officials, and ultimately develop other community members to become leaders as well. He fights not just for himself but for his Family including his parents, siblings, wife two nephews, Morgan and Samuel and his future son William III.
Donna Hakimian is the Baha’i Chaplain at Harvard University. From 2012-2015, she served as the Representative for Gender Equality and the Advancement of Women at the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Washington D.C. Ms. Hakimian holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. from McGill University.
Ordained at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2012, Adam has been a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, JOIN for Justice Clergy Fellow, and recently completed training as a Jewish spiritual director through Bekhol Levavkha at Hebrew Union College. For the past five years, he has directed these passions toward building communities that support the development of the whole person by connecting individuals with religious and spiritual resources – and one another – to promote spiritual wellness, social justice, collaboration, dialogue and understanding. As Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek and Jewish Advisor to Swarthmore College – and now Rabbi-Chaplain at Hebrew SeniorLife, Adam enjoys supporting and mentoring visionary leadership, facilitating dialogues across difference, and having conversations about what matters most to people.
The Reverend Amy Lunde-Whitler is an ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ and serves as the Pastor of Christian Union Church in West Groton, MA. She is also an Executive Co-Director at Walker Center for Ecumenical Exchange in Auburndale, MA. Amy also serves as the President of the Community Chaplaincy Council, an inter-faith chaplaincy group serving Newton and Wellesley. Amy graduated with an M.Div from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. She is from Houston, Texas but has made a home in Auburndale, MA along with her husband, Josh and her son, Josiah.
Originally from Minnesota, Katie grew up in a large family with a strongly committed Christian faith. She received her BA in Theology from Bethel University in Minneapolis, followed by a MA in Theology and Culture from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, where she focused on Spirituality, Creativity, and Leadership. Having been a member of many different Christian communities, Katie eventually landed in the Roman Catholic tradition and remains passionate about ecumenical and interfaith work, grounded in her own experience and relationships. She now works at The Paulist Center, a Catholic community in downtown Boston, as the Pastoral Minister for Young Adults and Communications. Katie has recently received a spiritual direction certification from Still Harbor, an organization focusing on social justice and contemplation in interfaith settings. Nurturing people’s spiritual lives, both individually and collectively, has long been her passion and great joy. She is excited to see what adventures and learning will unfold in the coming year.
David Penn is a PhD Candidate in Theological Studies at the Boston University School of Theology who is passionate about cultivating community. His research interests include imagination, wonder, and theology; human and ecological flourishing; and human development. His publications include the articles “Youth and Cultural Construction,” and the upcoming “Against the Generation Gap: Thinking ‘Otherwise’ About Adolescence.” He is a member of the interfaith Newton Religious Educators group and is working on several ecumenical youth initiatives in the Newton area.David also cultivates community through music. Prior to moving to Boston from South Dakota, he taught and played percussion professionally and he currently plays in a local orchestra and teaches in the summer. He can also be seen around town training for triathlons. He is grateful to his wife and two children for their love and enthusiasm on this shared journey.
Rabbi Becky Silverstein believes in the power of community, Torah, and silliness in transforming the world. He is passionate about building Jewish communities (and a world) that invite, allow, and encourage people to bring all of their identities into them. These communities are built primarily through active, affirming engagement with Jewish tradition, texts, and culture. Becky currently works as a Jewish Spiritual Advisor at Northeastern University and is the Program Director at Teen Beit Midrash. Becky also sits on the boards of the Jewish Studio Project (Board Chair), Keshet, and SVARA. Becky identifies as a genderqueer, transguy and uses he/him pronouns. He is a lifelong NY Mets fan, has no problem rooting for the Red Sox (unless they are playing the Mets), and lives in Jamaica Plain, with his spouse, Naomi.
Shrestha Singh serves as Hindu Chaplain at both Brandeis University and Wellesley College. Shrestha grew up in the Bay Area in California with her Indian immigrant parents and her older sister and has spent many years navigating that confusing territory in between cultures and worlds. The work she does with students stems from that place, and she is particularly interested in that intersection between the “inner” spiritual life and the work of engaging in the sacred and beautiful mess that is community and the “outer” world. Shrestha is passionate about talking about mental health, gender, race, and sexuality, and about working with folks to navigate issues of identity and faith. She enjoys hiking, cooking, drinking tea, and playing with her two pit-bull mixes, Clooney and Scout.
Kelly Steinhaus is the Executive Director of UniteBoston, a 501c3 non-profit organization that she co-founded in 2010. Motivated by Jesus’ prayer in John 17 “that they would be one,” UniteBoston pursues friendship and reconciliation among Christians of all denominations and ethnic backgrounds. UniteBoston runs an online events calendar, inter-church worship and prayer, and collaborative service days for churches in Boston. This fall, UniteBoston will be hosting dinner parties in neighborhoods to further shared prayer and mission among Christians. Kelly has studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is now pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Boston University. She is preparing to be ordained in the American Baptist tradition, and was invited to speak at the North American Academy of Ecumenist gathering in Fall 2017. Kelly also enjoys spending time outdoors, and you can find her frequently biking around the city, swimming in the ocean, and climbing mountains.