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

Sponsors

Hebrew College & Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries

Need

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.

Response

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.

Program Structure

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.

Eligibility

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).

Participant Expectations

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.

Fellowship Stipends

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 (treid@hebrewcollege.edu) with any questions.

Meet The Fellows:

2019-2020 Boston Bridges Fellows

Lobna Agbaria

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.

 

Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee

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.

Mireille Bishay

Mireille Bishay is an Egyptian-American wife, mother, friend, and professional who has lived in and around the Boston area for over 30 years, and has worshipped and served at Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church throughout that time. She holds a BA in Economics from Boston College and a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Boston University. Her passion is to create environments that teach young people to develop their abilities to understand openly, evaluate critically, and communicate effectively about ideas that will impact their world. She believes that critical thinking, open dialogue, and respect for those holding opposing viewpoints is the best way to facilitate responsible action and bridge even the most seemingly insurmountable of gaps. She has professional experience in economic consulting and analysis along with graduate level research focused on the exploration and comparison of religious and non-religious sources of identity, value, and social responsibility. Currently Mireille serves as the Associate Director of the Interfaith Youth Fellowship Program at Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries.

 

Sadananda Dasa

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.

Debbie Duval

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

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).

 

Nils Klinkenberg

Nils Klinkenberg  has served as executive director of the Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) since June 2017. Before joining BHFH, Nils most recently spent six years in Washington, DC working as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other state and federal agencies. He grew up attending Framingham (MA) Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), very active in the youth programs of New England Yearly Meeting as a participant and later as a volunteer staffer. Nils holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an M.S. in Strategic Leadership toward Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden. He is on the board of directors of StartingBloc, a social impact leadership-development fellowship. Nils holds a long-time interest in the dynamics of community and the factors that support strong feelings of connection in groups.

 

Rachel Leiken

Rachel Leiken is currently pursuing her Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. There, she studies theology, aesthetics, and faith-based organizing. Her research is focused on women’s ritual practice and embodiment, as well as the intersections of queerness and religion. Rachel is trained as a community organizer and has worked in the labor movement with unions and faith communities around the Boston area. She has also served as a facilitator in various Jewish and interfaith settings. Rachel works as a Boston Field Fellow for OneTable, which supports people in their 20s and 30s in ending their week meaningfully by hosting Shabbat dinners. She serves as a Chaplaincy Intern at Brown University in the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life.

 

Nicole Morris

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

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

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.[1] Anberin is currently in the process of completing her ThM at Holy Cross Seminary and hopes to continue her studies at Boston University.

[1] 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.

Jessica Rosenberg

Jessica Rosenberg is a third-year Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School where she studies narrative, Jewish historical ritual, and contemporary ritual innovation.  She plans events for the HDS Jewish Students Association and hosts Beit Mishmosh, a monthly interfaith breakfast and discussion.  Previously, she lived in Krakow, Poland where she worked as an experiential educator for the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland and as the JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corps Fellow at Krakow’s Jewish Community Center acting as the Director of External Relations.  Jessica was born and raised in New York and received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Kenyon College in 2008.  Prior to moving to Poland, Jessica worked in publishing and at Jewish nonprofits as a communications professional in New York.

 

Sam Scheidt

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

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.