Meet the Team
  • Amber Hacker, Director of Alumni Relations, oversees IFYC’s alumni program where she equips and resources hundreds of IFYC graduates in support of their interfaith leadership in higher education, religion, and civil society. Prior to managing the alumni program, Amber channeled her passion for leadership development and service through her work with the Days of Interfaith Youth Service, Fellows Alliance, Bridge-builders Network, and IFYC’s conferences. Amber drives the alumni program strategy, mentors alumni leaders, and works with IFYC’s robust alumni network to cultivate interfaith cooperation in their personal and professional lives. Outside of IFYC, Amber is pursuing her MBA to explore ways to apply best practices in business to nonprofit work, and geeks out about productivity tips. Amber’s commitment to interfaith cooperation is inspired by Jesus’ call to love to our neighbor.

  • Anna Besmann, Marketing & Communications Associate, coordinates IFYC’s social media and email marketing. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She moved to Chicago from Knoxville, Tennessee to get her Masters in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, and decided to stay here for lack of anywhere better to be. Her philanthropic work is widespread, from working as online media manager to support families of special needs children to interning with the Active Transportation Alliance. Anna comes to us from the Chicago Community Trust, having upgraded her job from database managing and donor research but downgraded her office height by about 17 floors. In her free time she enjoys board games, biking, and running a photo blog featuring public art and strange sights in the city.

  • April Mendez, Vice President of Campus Mobilizing, heads IFYC’s work to scale campus and student leadership for interfaith cooperation. Her pathway to interfaith work as an Evangelical Christian student who spoke out when a local mosque was burned down is chronicled in Eboo Patel’s first book, Acts of Faith. April is the organization's first hire and has done everything from designing and leading programs to managing strategy and operations. Prior to joining IFYC, she founded The Crib Collective, an organization focused on creating a culture of social entrepreneurship among Chicago youth. She is a graduate of Carleton College, an alumna of Public Allies and a current MBA candidate at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. April and her husband José live in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, where Mexican hot chocolate and fresh churros are favored delicacies.

  • Becca Hartman-Pickerill, Campus Stewardship Manager, liaises with college and university partners (staff, faculty and students) to vision, plan, live-out, and evaluate their interfaith work on campus. Becca has a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Northwestern University and a Masters in Forced Migration from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. At IFYC Becca spends much of her time communicating with people leading the interfaith work on their campuses, brainstorming, sharing stories, and communicating promising practices to a network of diverse schools and higher education networks. Inspired by the world’s diversity, Jesus’ radically simple abundant love, and the American Baptist commitment to freedom of and from religion, Becca feels blessed to pursue interfaith work as a career.

  • Ben Correia, Director of Campus Assessment, oversees the development of interfaith assessment services and resources, consults with campus partners on assessment practices, and guides research and findings dissemenation related to CRSCS and IDEALS. Having a B.A. in Religious Studies from the College of Idaho, an M.S.Ed. in Student Affairs Administration from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago (anticipated 2016), Ben held various professional roles in higher education administration, including residence life, student activities, academic advising, and leadership development. A commitment to fostering student leadership development, creating inclusive communities, and addressing society's most complex problems through collaborative endeavors fuels Ben’s interest in interfaith cooperation.

  • Brendan Randall, Director of Campus Engagement, works with campuses to implement sustainable leadership practices that promote religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation. A recovering lawyer, he has an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and is pursuing an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Formerly a senior research associate with the Pluralism Project, Brendan now supervises IFYC’s campus engagement team and provides a variety of on-campus services ranging from capacity building to strategic planning. A native Minnesotan, he is thrilled to be back in the Midwest (notwithstanding the winters). Also a former high school history teacher, Brendan thanks his students for sparking his interest in religious diversity and interfaith cooperation (as well as teaching him how to play cricket).

  • Cara Doidge Kilgore, Special Events Manager, manages the logistics and production for IFYC's major events. Her work includes coordinating the Interfaith Leadership Institutes and higher education convenings related to interfaith studies and organizations in partnership with IFYC. Cara earned a BA in religion from Texas Christian University and a MTS from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Cara's interest in interfaith cooperation began as a teenager visiting houses of worship with her church youth group and grew as she found ways to combine her interest in religion with her passion for service and social justice. Outside of work, she can be found having family dance parties with her toddler, husband, and dog and devouring a good novel. Cara lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Carr Harkrader, Educational Resources Manager, writes and designs educational resources and materials for IFYC. Carr earned a BA in political science and history from UNC-Chapel Hill and a M.Ed from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Carr creates and develops many of IFYC's educational materials, everything from book discussion texts to training facilitation guides. He also co-hosts and produces "Common Knowledge," IFYC's podcast focusing on interfaith literacy. While he supports all campuses during work hours, he roots exclusively for his Carolina Tar Heels outside of the office. As an educator, Carr's interest in interfaith cooperation comes directly from his belief in the power of students, faculty, and education professionals to affect enourmous in the world around them.

  • Cassie Meyer, Faculty Partnerships Consultant, works with faculty engaging interfaith in the classroom. She develops online resources for the classroom, manages IFYC's Teaching Interfaith Understanding Seminars (in partnership with the Council of Independent Colleges), supports faculty developing courses and curricula in interfaith studies, and manages IFYC's work with the American Academy of Religion. She has an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School and has taught at several universities and seminaries; she regularly writes about interfaith and higher education and is a contributing editor for the Journal of College and Character. Cassie lives with her family on top of a mountain in Sewanee, Tennessee. She is committed to interfaith work as a way to follow Jesus's commandment to love our neighbors.

  • Conrad Hudson, Accounting Manager, is responsible for overseeing the successful budgeting and reporting of organizational funds. Conrad is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where he used his energies outside of accounting classes to build community and bridges for the non-religious as President of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics. At IFYC Conrad tracks revenue & expenses and produces financial documents for internal and external stakeholders to ensure compliance & transparency. Previous experiences with non-profits include the Willow Domestic Violence Center, the Humanist Community at Harvard, and the Secular Student Alliance board of directors. He is also an alumni of IFYC’s Interfaith Leadership Institute. Conrad believes with the powers of spreadsheets and empathy combined, interfaith cooperation can win the day.

  • Esther Boyd, Manager of Curriculum Development, develops resources for blended learning curriculum in Interfaith Leadership, organizes faculty seminars, and broadly supports the emerging academic field of Interfaith Studies. Esther holds an MA in Religion and Literature from Yale where she began exploring the role of storytelling in identity formation. When she isn't avidly reading course syllabi and religious social theory, she loves to be outside, make music, and laugh. In addition to her work with IFYC, Esther is the Director of Communications for State of Formation under the Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, working to amplify the voices of emerging interfaith leaders around the world. As a Secular Humanist, Esther is a firm believer in the service mantra "What I can, where I am, with what I have", and strives to apply that to her own interfaith and justice work.

  • Hannah Minks-Clark, Student Leadership Associate, supports Better Together organizers as they strive to make interfaith cooperation a top priority on their campuses. Hannah graduated from Dominican University with a BA in theology. At IFYC, Hannah spends her time building relationships with students and campus professionals while aiming to hone the interfaith identity of each campus she serves. Beyond the walls of IFYC, Hannah can be found in her snug living space with her nose in theology texts, sporadically calling upon the Real Housewives to give her brain a break. Interfaith work provides Hannah a fuller revelation of God as she learns the perspectives of many people in their distinct pursuits of truth.

  • J.M. Conway, Campus Engagement Manager, partners with stakeholders as they work collaboratively to expand and sustain interfaith cooperation within their campus communities. Conway also studies Religious Leadership for Social Transformation at Chicago Theological Seminary and is an active contributor to local interfaith activism for ecological justice. Conway has a Master of Education degree with a focus on college student development from Loyola University Chicago and was a Posse Scholar during their undergraduate years at DePauw University. IFYC's mission sits at the intersection of so many of Conway’s passions, merging pluralism, civic engagement, and youth leadership through action. Conway is a womanist artist, social justice peer-counselor, and currently identifies as agnostic and secular humanist.

  • Jenan Mohajir, Director of Interfaith Leadership Institutes, oversees the overall strategy, development and implementation of the Interfaith Leadership Institutes (ILIs). Jenan received her B.S. from DePaul University in elementary education and Islamic studies. Over the last decade, she has led skills-based trainings on interfaith service and cooperation here in the United States and around the world. Jenan spends her time designing IFYC’s interfaith leadership curriculum and managing the ‘look and feel’ of the ILIs, spearheading what has become a truly holistic interfaith leadership experience at the institutes. In her personal life, Jenan also serves on the steering committee for the Hyde Park Muslim Family Circle, which fosters the social and spiritual growth of Muslim families and individuals within the robust cultural setting of Hyde Park, Chicago. On weekends, Jenan enjoys spending time with her family and playing 'chef' with her rambunctious toddler. Jenan is a committed Muslim, and is deeply inspired by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad to build a world where we can live together in equal dignity and mutual harmony.

  • Joe Morrow, Campus Engagements Manager, grows and stewards relationships with campus stakeholders in order to foster model campus environments of interfaith cooperation. Joe comes to IFYC with professional experience in Christian ministry, higher education, non-profit organizations and corporate settings. An ordained Presbyterian pastor (PCUSA), he understands his interfaith work as part of the ministry of reconciliation. Joe received his MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and BSFS from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. When not at IFYC, you'll find Joe preaching, writing, parenting, and enjoying food.

  • Josh Simon Goldman, Institutional Advancement Associate, stays in touch with IFYC's community of supporters and provides opportunities for them to contribute to the organization. A graduate of Denison University, he conducted research at the intersection of education, communication, and leadership studies and worked with organizations such as Ashoka. In the office, Josh searches for ways to inspire passion for interfaith cooperation and commitment to IFYC. This involves tons of letters, emails, and conversations (even the occasional high five) with supporters across the country. Interest in community service, democratic practice, and compassionate friendships get Josh going in the morning. Energized by the potential for thoughtful college students to completely change the world, Josh is glad to support IFYC students and allies every day.

  • Julia Smith, Marketing and Communications Manager, manages projects and cultivates relationships with new-to-IFYC campuses, leaders, and networks. She has experience in community organizing, writing, events, and education, having worked with Idealist.org, NTEN, Pipeline Fellowship, 826DC, and others. If you’re brand new to IFYC, odds are you’ll chat with Julia; she'll ask to hear your story first, as she's endlessly inspired by the leaders whose hard work IFYC lifts up. Still need an icebreaker? Ask about her hometown, nieces, or social media lightbulb moments. Julia believes that colleges are uniquely positioned to make positive change, and feels lucky to work with a team that creates spaces for folks on campuses to ask big questions, build skills, leverage privilege, share food and laughter, and work for peace and justice.

  • Kait Miller, Foundations Relations Associate, stewards relationships with foundations. Kait has a B.A. from St. Norbert College in Peace & Justice and Religious Studies. She spends her time at IFYC communicating with foundations, writing compelling grants and reports, and managing the foundation project timeline. Away from IFYC, you can find Kait cycling around Chicagoland, cheering for the Chicago Bears, and drinking excessive amounts of tea. Kait grounds her passion for interfaith work in the values of communio and radical hospitality professed by the Norbertine tradition.

  • Katie Bringman Baxter, Vice President of Programs, is responsible for all areas of IFYC’s program strategy. She guides IFYC’s various programmatic initiatives to develop leaders, cultivate campus environments, and produce a growing knowledgebase for interfaith cooperation in higher education. Katie has been published in the Journal of College and Character and Liberal Education, and presents regularly to higher education audiences. Her interest in religion and her background in higher education are rooted in an MA in College Student Personnel (Bowling Green State University) and a BA in Religion (Wittenberg University). Beyond IFYC, Katie enjoys cooking and canning, training for half marathons, and serving on the board at her Lutheran church. Both her professional experience helping students learn from those who are different and her personal religious convictions motivate Katie to work for a world where people of different backgrounds honor and respect one another.

  • Kristi Del Vecchio, Academic Initiatives Associate, works to support, resource, and network scholars interested in interfaith and interreligious studies. Alongside her work at IFYC, Kristi studies Theology at Catholic Theological Union as an Arthur Vining Davis Foundations scholar; her studies focus on the opportunties and challenges of environmentalism within interfaith work. Kristi studied religion and biology at Concordia College in Minnesota, where she led Concordia's Better Together campaign, worked with IFYC as a Better Together Coach, and supported the campuses' first Secular Student Community. Kristi’s interest in service led her to the world of interfaith cooperation, where she was--and still is--inspired by a diverse group of people uniting to address the pressing issues of our time.

  • LaTanya Lane, Campus Stewardship Associate, coaches campuses in their efforts to create opportunities for interfaith cooperation and builds infrastructure for her team to do the same. A graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary, LaTanya brings her experience as a community organizer and extensive work in non-profits to her work at IFYC. When not at IFYC LaTanya spends her time finding good stories to listen to, read, or write. LaTanya believes that most problems are best solved together and working with IFYC to bring folks together across differences for the common good is essential to building the kind of world she wants to live in.

  • As Senior Director of Co-Curricular Partnerships, Mary Ellen Giess oversees IFYC's strategy supporting campus staff committed to interfaith work. Mary Ellen has served a variety of programmatic and strategic roles at IFYC and continues to steward one of IFYC's highest programmatic partners in the White House through the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Mary Ellen joined IFYC in 2008 after completing her Master’s in religion and government at Harvard Divinity School. Mary Ellen earned her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and it was her personal on-campus experiences that inspire her to build interfaith cooperation in higher education. Outside work, Mary Ellen can be found chasing her family (husband, daughters, and dog alike) around town.

  • Masood Haque, Campus Engagements Associate, partners with campuses to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Masood graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Psychology, where he spent his time organizing interfaith events and supporting the local neighborhood through community organizing and activism. He also worked with IFYC as a Better Together Coach and for various non-profits across the nation. In his current position with IFYC, he works with faculty, staff, and students to strengthen and grow interfaith ideals though various levels of campus life. In his free time, Masood enjoys broadening his musical palette, playing video games, and performing stand-up comedy. Masood is inspired by his Muslim faith to do what he can to make the world a more peaceful place for all.

  • Mat Schramm, Marketing and Communications Manager, focuses on IFYC's digital communication, storytelling, and content development. Mat is a graduate of Purdue University, where he studied Industrial Design. At IFYC, he spends his time managing IFYC's email communication and constituent network, writing and editing content for large audiences, and driving timelines for communications projects. When he's away from his desk, you can probably find him tweaking his latest graphic design project, watching Purdue basketball, or planning his next gym workout. As a Christian, the spark for Mat's inspiration to become an interfaith leader came from a bumper sticker he saw when riding his bicycle in traffic: it read, simply, "Jesus was radically inclusive."

  • Megan Johnson, Campus Engagement Consultant, works closely with campus partners to develop and implement sustainable leadership practices for interfaith cooperation. Megan’s undergraduate work in culture and politics at Georgetown University and her graduate work in religion and conflict at the University of Chicago Divinity School sparked her interest in bridge-building and youth activism. Prior to IFYC, Megan worked for five years for Seeds of Peace where she developed leadership programs for young people from conflict zones. When not at IFYC, Megan spends time playing trains with her two kids and exploring new green spaces in Cincinnati. Megan’s commitment to religious pluralism stems from witnessing first-hand the cost of religious division and her experience building connections across lines of difference.

  • Megan Lane, Co-Curricular Partnerships Manager, works with Student Affairs professionals and other campus staff to determine the best ways to support interfaith cooperation on their campuses. Originally from North Carolina, Megan holds master’s degrees in both Religion and Higher Education Administration and is passionate about leadership development. She spends her time designing educational resources and viritual trainings for campus professionals, presenting at conferences, and facilitating trainings on campuses nationwide. Away from the office, you can find her wandering around Chicago with her dog and educating her Midwestern friends on the correct spelling of the word ‘y’all’. As a Humanist, Megan is dedicated to equality in all of its forms and to the inclusion of the non-religious in interfaith work.

  • Mesha Arant, Executive Office Associate, works closely with IFYC Founder and President Eboo Patel, managing his speaking engagements, campus visits, and schedule. She also works as Eboo’s research assistant and spends much of her time supporting executive staff and IFYC’s Board of Directors. Mesha received her B.A. in Religion from Wofford College in 2012 and her Master of Divinity from Yale in 2015. Her current interests include African-American humanism, ethics, and bridging the theist/non-theist divide. As an Agnostic, she is open to mystery and truth in many different forms, which contributes to her love of learning and her dedication to making interfaith work a social norm. In her free time she enjoys working on her art, music, and writing.

  • Nasser Asif, Director of Communications and Marketing, oversees outreach to new campuses and IFYC's engagement with the public. Nasser comes to the interfaith movement from a career in brand marketing, advertising, and nonprofit communications consulting. Most days you'll find him planning campaigns, managing creative projects, and thinking about the storytelling IFYC can use to inspire new leaders. On his own time, you'll usually find him reading about various obscurities and oddities on Wikipedia, cooking something spicy, and listening to vintage country music; often simultaneously. Nasser believes that America is more dynamic and diverse than ever before, and he sees the interfaith movement as an essential actor in shaping a civil society that is just, vibrant, and geared towards progress.

  • Noah Silverman, Director of Faculty Partnerships, works with faculty and senior administrators to think holistically about interfaith cooperation across their campuses. He holds an MA in religious studies from New York University and has been professionally involved in interfaith work for over a decade on three continents. In conversation with campus partners, Noah spends his time at IFYC exploring the contours and implications of the academic study of interfaith cooperation. When not at work or improvising his way through new parenthood, Noah loves going to the theatre, traveling, and rethinking Jewish communal education. Noah became interested in the fields of young adult leadership, interfaith understanding, and conflict resolution while living in Jerusalem.

  • Pete De Kock, Vice President of Operations and Communications, leads IFYC’s operations and communications initiatives including accounting, HR, IT, and marketing. He also serves as Treasurer, working closely with the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors to ensure excellent financial processes. Pete is a graduate of Grinnell College and Harvard Divinity School, where he studied political and social ethics. Earlier in his career he worked on multiple federal elections and for the U.S. House of Representatives. Pete and his wife Jen live in Chicago and are the proud parents of two sons. He enjoys biking, fishing, and rock and roll, but his greatest love is his family. Pete is especially inspired by the civic dimensions of IFYC's mission, and is committed to helping write another chapter in the United States' story of religious pluralism.

  • Prerna Abbi, Alumni Relations Manager, works with the folks who have both graduated from college and completed an IFYC program. After earning her BA at Syracuse University, Prerna served as an AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity, organizing faith communities and students around affordable housing. Now Prerna spends her days mentoring IFYC’s alumni, supporting their personal and professional work to grow interfaith cooperation. She spends her free time listening to nerdy podcasts, trying her hand at all of the recipes and crafts she’s pinned, and getting excited about intersectionality, feminism, and LGBTQ issues. As an Agnostic Mostly-Secular person from a Hindu background, Prerna is driven to make space for all identities and hopes to be a voice for those who don’t fit neatly into check boxes.

  • Rachel Schwartz, Mission Delivery Associate, works with a national network of institutions of higher education to assess and enhance the quality of their interfaith programming. Rachel came to IFYC from Northwestern University where she earned a BA in philosophy and psychology. At IFYC she works on the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, supports institutions of higher education who administer the Campus Religious and Spiritual Climate Survey, and regularly communicates with campus leaders. When not working, she can be found reading philosophy and unconsciously singing. After reflecting on her experiences of religiously motivated violence, she wrote her philosophy thesis about it, and was inspired to work on making interfaith cooperation a social norm.

  • Randa Kuziez, Alumni Relations Associate, supports IFYC Alumni in advancing interfaith cooperation in their personal and professional lives. Randa comes to IFYC with 10 years of interfaith experience in the US and abroad, work on eradicating malaria, starting her own business, and serving as Vice President of the  Muslim Student Association of the US and Canada. Randa holds a Master Degree in International Relations from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BA from Saint Louis University. With an eye to the growing need for interfaith leaders in government, public policy, and social entrepreneurship, Randa works closely with alumni in these sectors. Randa loves to spend time with her family and friends, explore Chicago with her husband, and being out in nature . Randa is inspired by her Muslim faith to serve God by serving others. 

  • Rebecca Russo, Director of Campus Stewardship, supports and builds relationships with campuses that are prioritizing interfaith cooperation in various aspects of campus life. Rebecca comes to IFYC with professional experience in Hillel, student leadership training, organizational development, and non-profit organizations. Rebecca graduated from Brown Unversity with a B.A. in Middle East Studies and is a current MBA candidate at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. In her free time, Rebecca loves singing, traveling, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her family. Rebecca's interfaith experiences while living in Morocco and Israel inspired her to join the interfaith movement, seeing religious and nonreligious identity as a basis for common understanding and action.

  • Taryn Harris is IFYC's Office Associate who assists each department at IFYC, especially accounting. She has super-hero tendencies and in her position she solves problems and rescues people from deadlines, discomfort and disorganization. Taryn's been doing this sort of work for much of this millennium and is happy to be part of an organization teaching and advocating interfaith cooperation. At IFYC Taryn is immersed in a variety of tasks like ordering business cards and sourcing organic coffee creamer. She does what it takes to keep IFYC's office running smoothly! When she's not supporting staff she is with her Lucumi community, dancing at a house party, or cooking scrumptious food. Taryn hopes to help establish the Lucumi as leaders in service and interfaith cooperation.

  • Tony Banout, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, leads the team that manages IFYC's philanthropic partnerships and stewards our Board of Directors. He has over a decade of nonprofit management and leadership experience in diverse fields such as social services, civil rights, and health care. Tony holds a Ph.D. in Religion from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago for a dissertation treating democracy and religious freedom. He also engaged Islamic Studies and Arabic, and was a Provost Dissertation fellow and junior fellow of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. He has a Master's in Theology from the Washington Theological Union and a B.A. in Business from St. John's University, where he credits the Vincentians for forming his interest in the transformative power of religion. He and his wife Julie are parents to Lucas, Nina, and Leo, and members of First United Church of Oak Park. When not ruminating at a desk or trying to keep up with his kids, Tony can be found on a bike, running, or with his guitar.

  • William Campbell, Senior Director of Student Leadership, oversees the strategy for supporting student leaders. William comes to the interfaith movement from a career in Christian identity development, student leadership, and LGBTQ social action. Joining IFYC in 2012, he has held a number of positions but currently oversees the pipeline of students to alumni. He spends most of his time leading a creative team of staff that provide the training, networking, and support for students who are passionate about interfaith cooperation. Outside the office, William can be found writing about leadership and organizational culture, speculative fiction, or the influence of geek culture. William identifies as a Christian, a creative, and an ally to student leaders.