About the IFYC Alumni Speakers Bureau
IFYC's Alumni Speakers Bureau is a nationwide network of diverse religious and non-religious young leaders who have completed intensive interfaith leadership training and are excited to spread the message of interfaith cooperation far and wide. IFYC Alumni Speakers have run a variety of large-scale interfaith action events and draw from their own story and experience as interfaith leaders. Speakers have worked with a variety of organiations, including colleges and universities, public and private secondary schools, faith communities, and non-profit organizations. Our Alumni are available to speak at events, such as panel discussions, conferences, fundraisers, book clubs, assemblies, and more. To inquire about bringing a member of the IFYC Alumni Speakers Bureau to your community, please email Hannah Minks, Student and Alumni Leadership Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress, Rev. Jennifer Bailey is an ordained minister, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice. She is the founding executive director of the Faith Matters Network and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project. Jennifer comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience at nonprofits combatting intergenerational poverty. An Ashoka and Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, Jennifer earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School. She writes regularly for a number of publications including Sojourners and the Huffington Post. Her first book, tentatively titled Confessions of a #Millennial #Minister is currently under contract with Chalice Press. Rev. Bailey is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. When she's not catching up on cheesy reality television shows, you can find her and her husband Ira embracing their inner foodies at new restaurants around the country.
Parth is a first generation Indian-American and currently works at Groupon as a sales manager on their international strategic partnerships team. Parth joined the IFYC family while he was earning his undergraduate degree at Benedictine University, where he co-founded MOSAIC (Movement of Students Achieving Interfaith Cooperation) and was a board member and eventually President of the Hindu Students Association. Parth represented Viacom's social responsibility branch, Viacommunity, on the red carpet at the 2013 MTV VMAs, and has spoken about interfaith related topics at various events over the past few years. He has visited over 25 countries, and traveling is one of his biggest passions. Working in a corporate business environment, Parth aspires to transform interfaith conversation and cooperation into something that transcends the faith-based community and continues in other industries.
Tim is the Communications Manager at Islamic Networks Group (ING), an organization that pursues peace through education and interreligious engagement and pushes back on discrimination against American Muslims by teaching about their traditions in the context of America’s history. Tim completed a BA in English Language and Literature from Aurora University, and continued there as a resident interfaith fellow. He earned a graduate degree in International Studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Tim served as a member of the Faiths Act Fellowship, an international interfaith program aimed at eradicating malaria deaths. Tim’s engagement with American religious pluralism helped him reconnect to his religion, and he views interfaith dialogue as an important step in everyone’s religious/ethical formation. He is often called upon to explain how to argue effectively but respectfully, to explain complex geopolitical problems with stick figures, and to explain whatever oddball passion he’s pursuing this month. In short, he enjoys explaining things.
Nic is the Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, IN. He graduated summa cum laude from both DePaul University (2011) where he double majored in Religious Studies and Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies, and Chicago Theological Seminary (2014) where he received a fellowship from the Forum for Theological Exploration. Nic began working with Interfaith Youth Core as a fellow in 2010 and has been a longstanding member of the Speakers Bureau. Additional interfaith leadership experiences include peace building trips in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan (2010) and Israel and Palestine (2013). His interfaith commitments spring from his Unitarian Universalist faith, which calls him into true relationship and partnership with people across lines of religious difference in order to shape progressive social transformation. Beyond interfaith work, Nic and his wife Hattie enjoy the Green Bay Packers, cheese, and other Wisconsin stereotypes.
Janice grew up in the Mangalorean Catholic community in South India. A first-generation college student, she moved to the U.S. in 2010 to attend Berea College, a tuition-free school where her studies focused on social justice and gender. She recently served as a Clinton Fellow in India, travelling across the country to identify and address the issues affecting girls' retention in schools. Janice’s unique perspective as an interfaith leader helped her to identify interreligious dynamics as a common theme that had gone unnoticed by her colleagues. Janice is also publishing a bilingual children's book on menstruation for girls in rural India, addressing taboos and myths. Janice is a volunteer rape crisis counselor and hospital advocate, and works in the field of abortion access in the southern United States. Janice also hosts a radio show where each episode features songs from around the world focused on central theme like wedding songs, group singing, and songs about fishing.
Usra Ghazi is an interfaith leader, public servant, and aspiring diplomat with over a decade of experience in interreligious youth work in the non-profit sector, including time as an IFYC staff member, during which she managed a strong partnership with the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. She has served as a policy advisor and Franklin Fellow at the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs and as a policy fellow for the City of Boston in the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement where she influenced new policies and programs that effectively engage faith communities. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in Religion and Politics and currently serves as a strategic designer at The Collaboratory – the design and innovation hub of the U.S. Department of State’s Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau.
Katie is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School with a focus on Religion, Ethics, and Politics. She holds a BA in Religious Studies and Political Science from Alma College and an MA of Interfaith Action from Claremont Lincoln University. For four years, she worked for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she developed inclusion-focused religious diversity initiatives, interfaith leadership programs for various colleges and universities, and an interfaith service initiative for community partners. Additionally, Katie speaks publicly about her passions in interfaith organizing for social change, media as a tool for strategic storytelling, and secular/spiritual community building outside of religious institutions. As a millennial “None,” she finds greatest community in a gathering called “Nuns & Nones,” an inter-generational space that explores the intersections of questioning and faith, spirituality and social justice, and ancient wisdom with emerging trends.
Born and raised in Sacramento, a city recognized for integrated diversity, Jacob was exposed to interfaith work and its imperativeness after his first-hand experiences with religious prejudice and segregation in Texas where he earned his BA in International Politics from Texas Christian University. After these experiences, Jacob dedicated his undergraduate career to improving his campus to make it more accepting of all people. At TCU, Jacob was asked to speak at a number of planning events including for the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. In honor of all of his work, he received the TCU Religious Life Leadership Award for leading his community to mutual understanding. After graduating, Jacob cut his teeth on several opportunities with different political and interfaith groups before settling in at the California State Capitol. Disheartened by the political climate, Jacob seeks to breathe new hope into his communities by giving people a seat at the table.
Becca is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in individual, couple, and sex therapy. Before becoming a MFT, Becca completed her undergrad at Santa Clara University and double majored in Psychology and Religious Studies. While at SCU, she was the president of the Jewish Student Union and started a committee to create an interfaith space on campus. She then moved to Chicago and interned for IFYC. Becca later completed her Master’s in Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego, where she learned how to bridge her love for interfaith dialogue and therapy. Becca now works with interfaith and intercultural couples and provides a space for them to dialogue about their spiritual and religious beliefs. She is passionate about teaching other healthcare professionals how to inquire about religion and spirituality to provide the best care for their patients. In her free time, Becca enjoys blogging about modern dating and finding the “purrfect” filter for her cat’s Instagram.
Miranda currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works as the Program Coordinator for the Interfaith Families Project. She is also on the organization team for the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s Young Adult Interfaith Leadership Summit. She completed her undergraduate degree in English Literature at Colorado State University and has earned her M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois. She is an alumna of IFYC’s “One Chicago: One Nation” program. Miranda is also certified in Interfaith Conflict Resolution by the United States Institute of Peace, and is currently an active member of Odyssey Networks and the United Religions Initiative. As a Secular Humanist, she is constantly working on creating new ways for those who don’t identify as religious to be involved in interfaith cooperation.
Established a Spirituality and Medicine Interest Group for the Medical School at University of Chicago
With the support of the fellowship, Aamir established himself as a leader on campus during his first semester of medical school. He organized collaborations between various university departments including hospital chaplains, nurses, undergraduates, and divinity school students. These partnerships have persisted, and in his second year of medical school, Aamir was awarded the “University of Chicago Bridge Builder Award” for fostering these diverse connections on campus. Aamir found that other grants from school programs had extensive strings attached; however, this “fellowship allows you to check in with IFYC as needed and bounce ideas around, but ultimately, the project is yours. “
Hannah Kardon is Pastor of Urban Village Church, an inclusive evangelical community in Chicago. She is ordained in the United Methodist tradition, and like many millennials grew up a 'none' with friends of all faiths. She has spoken and facilitated interfaith trainings at Yale University, University of Delhi, and the University of Illinois as well as dozens of other community organizations and higher educational institutions seeking to grow their interfaith practice. As a former staff member at IFYC she helped administer the first federally funded interfaith service program, Inspired to Serve. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago where she received the Howell Murray Alumni Award for contributions to the community, and her Master's in Divinity from Harvard, where she was a Hopkins Shareholder, the oldest honor in the U.S. for ministerial excellence.
Kinza Khan is a native Chicagoan, born and raised. She works as an attorney at Life Span, an organization committed to helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She also serves as an educator and trainer for Heart Women & Girls, an organization that provides education about and advocacy for issues of sexual health and sexual violence in Muslim American communities. Kinza completed her undergraduate studies in International Studies from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and then went on to receive her Juris Doctorate at DePaul University College of Law. She has worked in issues of child welfare, women's rights, and domestic violence, and is passionate about these causes as well as interfaith work and community development. As much as she enjoys speaking in court, Kinza prefers speaking in panels and workshops, and about her own experiences, interfaith identities, and today's societal issues.
A Native Chicagoan, Maham Khan has been serving her community as an interfaith activist since her earliest days in college, where she served as president of the Muslim Student Association in the immediate wake of 9/11. Her work, writing, and speaking on issues like being a secular Muslim, American-Muslim Patriotism, Islamic feminism, pluralism, and interfaith cooperation has led her to speak with diverse audiences across the world in countries like Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, and France while addressing dignitaries like the Coptic Pope and Former President Barack Obama. In 2017, Maham served as PR chair for the Asian American Coalition of Chicago, spearheading the year’s theme of One World, Our World, to promote cohesion and common ground following a polarizing election year. After working a few years as a producer for NPR’s Chicago affiliate WBEZ, Maham currently works as a freelance journalist, communications consultant, and college communications professor.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Elaine attended the University of Southern California where she was active in both Catholic and Interfaith communities. When she wasn’t practicing or competing on the Division I Women’s Rowing Team, she was working to build bridges across religious groups through education and collaboration. Her work took her to Israel where she experienced first-hand the beauty and complexity of religious diversity. Upon graduating from USC, Elaine combined her passion for education with her Master’s degree in Marine and Environmental Biology to pursue a career in science education. She currently works at the California Science Center as an informal educator, communicating complex topics through fun, engaging curriculum. In her free time, Elaine teaches Confirmation Classes at her local parish, and continues to apply her interfaith expertise building bridges – this time among athletes and dancers, as she competes on both an ultimate frisbee team and swing dance team.
Wendy works as a consultant for the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement in their Informal Science Education Division. After earning her BS from the University of Denver, Wendy served a year with Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, organizing young adults in service-learning with Yachad, a non-profit that does home repair for families in need of assistance. Wendy is passionate about informal education and has previously worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International Spy Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History. Wendy loves to run workshops on storytelling for social change, having values-based conversations, and interfaith leadership on college campuses. In her free time, Wendy can be found nerding out in museums, or scaling the walls at her local rock climbing gym. As an Agnostic Jew, Wendy is passionate about the intersection of faith communities and social justice issues.
Rachael McNeal is the Director of Youth Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church – one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. After receiving her B.A. in Religion/Philosophy and Youth Ministry from Flagler College, Rachael attended Princeton Theological Seminary where she earned her Master of Divinity. Rachael has previously worked as the coordinator of the Interfaith Center at University of North Florida where she organized student interfaith dialogues and service opportunities, hosted large-scale interfaith community events, and developed an interfaith student leadership program. She has written about the intersection of evangelical identity and interfaith cooperation for Huffington Post, IFYC, Sojourners, and On Faith. Rachael received the Student Affairs Award in Excellence for Community Engagement at University of North Florida and appeared on IFYC’s podcast Common Knowledge. On the side Rachael likes to pursue her other passions – binge-watching old episodes of Friends and creating elaborate tent forts for her children.
Samantha Nichols is a seminarian at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and the Lead Organizer of Seminarians for Justice, an ecumenical group of seminarians who organize for social justice in and around Chicago. After attending one of IFYC’s Interfaith Leadership Institutes, Samantha founded an interfaith student group on her campus while a student at Missouri State University. She is pursuing ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She sees her call to ministry as building collective power to work towards collective liberation. Samantha recently led the faith outreach and marched in the 200-mile March to Springfield for a People and Planet First Budget in Illinois. Samantha has spoken in front of thousands of people about gender oppression, economic justice, and her faith. In 2015, she received the Mike J. Hammer Interfaith Leadership Award. Samantha can often be found cheering for the Kansas City Royals or spending quality time with her garden, “Gertrude.”
Sara Rahim is a Youth Representative to the United Nations for Parliament of the World’s Religions. She sits on the advisory boards of One America Movement, the UK-based Grassroot Diplomat, and the Sanctuaries, a spiritually diverse arts collective in Washington, D.C. She has spoken prominently about the role of interfaith cooperation to institutions across the United States and Europe, including at the United Nations. After earning a bachelor's degree in Public Health from Saint Louis University, Sara spent time working in international development, and she has implemented programs in women’s health, youth education, and interfaith engagement in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Germany, and Italy. As a Muslim American, Sara is driven to shift the narrative around faith towards being a disruptive force for good. Sara is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Chicago, specializing in international policy and inclusive development.
Danny Richmond has worked and volunteered on 5 different continents. As Director of Community Engagement at Ve'ahavta, he mobilizes the Jewish community towards an inclusive and just world. Previously, Danny served as Campaign Manager for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the world to tackle malaria by building bridges across faith communities. With over a decade of experience in youth leadership, community mobilization, interfaith engagement and international development – Danny has a passion to demonstrate the power of communities working together to be a force of social change. He shares that passion as a frequent public speaker, including on the TEDx stage. Danny studied in the Faculty of Religion at University of Toronto and received his M.A. from Regents University, London. In 2006, Danny accompanied the Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, on her State Visits to five African nations. Danny has received several honors and fellowships including the Faiths Act Fellowship and Adrianne de Rothshild Fellowship. He has a strong passion for all things chocolate.
Seán is an experienced interfaith and intercultural educator, speaker, and trainer who has worked on several impactful nonprofit programs in the US and Europe. Seán was selected for the inaugural cohort of IFYC’s prestigious Faiths Act Fellowship, where his work was recognized with a community engagement award. Working with London-based 3FF (also known as Three Faiths Forum) he delivered tailored trainings in the US and across Europe, and facilitated award-winning education programs for 5,000+ students. He has presented to diverse audiences in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Kosovo. He is currently a Dialogue Facilitator for Tony Blair Institute’s Generation Global program, connecting students worldwide through video-conference dialogue, and is an Advanced Facilitator for Soliya’s Connect program. He is passionate about education, religious literacy, and social justice. He also works on the administrative staff of a United Church of Christ congregation. Seán holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geography and International Development from the University of East Anglia.
Born and raised in the Kashmir valley, Adah moved to the United States to pursue a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. During her time at the University of Northern Florida, she became involved with the Interfaith Center on campus and the campus chapter of Muslim Students Association. Based on her leadership with interfaith work on campus, Adah was selected to participate in IFYC’s Coach program, one of IFYC’s most prestigious leadership opportunities, mentoring other students across the country. She currently works with HDR Inc. as a bridge engineer and intends to specialize in the field of sustainable engineering. Despite the technical nature of her work, she remains inseparable from interfaith work and dialogue. Adah currently presides as the chair of the Atlantic Institute Young Professionals council and envisions interfaith cooperation to become the very fabric of her home city of Jacksonville.
Tahil Sharma is a nationally recognized leader promoting religious and secular pluralism and social justice. He worked as the Hope Not Hate Campaign and Culturama Coordinator for AMP Global Youth, a project of Americans for Informed Democracy, to promote interfaith cooperation and an intercultural virtual exchange between students in the United States and the Middle East. He currently serves as a UN DPI-NGO Youth Representative for the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Interfaith Liaison for Sadhana: The Coalition for Progressive Hindus. Tahil also serves as a Religious Director for the Office of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, where he is working on local initiatives to promote inter-religious dialogue and community engagement and service. He also serves as the Vice Chair for the Committee on Human Relations for the city of Claremont.
Maneshwar is a healthcare professional with a passion for Sikhism, interfaith cooperation, and music. He currently coordinates quality assurance for a healthcare company. He holds a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Health Systems Management. Beyond healthcare, Maneshwar has been intimately involved with his local Sikh community, helping to organize and teach at various Sikh religious camps both locally and nationally. One of his biggest passions is engaging other communities for interfaith efforts. He started with demonstrations of Sikh devotional music at interfaith gatherings 10 years ago, and now represents the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago at interfaith events. His current project is helping to organize and speaking at “Get to Know Your Sikh Neighbor” events around the Chicago suburbs. When he’s not writing interfaith speeches, you can find him writing songs and performing with his band.
Avi is an organizer committed to social justice and human rights. Avi works at the Open Society Foundations’ Public Health Program, where he supports grantmaking initiatives expanding access to health interventions for marginalized groups. Previously, he worked as Communications Manager for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, a domestic social justice organization. He spent a year as a Faiths Act Fellow in Washington DC at the Malaria Policy Center, where he focused on engaging college students in multi-faith global health activism. Avi holds an MPA in International Policy and Development from the NYU Wagner School and graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a BA in Political Science. He serves as a board member of the international interfaith peace-building organization World Faith, and is a past Global Justice Fellow with American Jewish World Service. In his spare time you can find Avi cooking creative vegetarian dishes and talking about his love of mass transit.
Andrew is the Co-Founder and Director of Tulsa Changemakers, an after-school youth leadership development and action program, and Program Manager of Leadership Tulsa, a city-wide leadership development organization for early to late-career professionals. Originally from Bedford, Massachusetts, Andrew is a 2015 Teach For America Greater Tulsa alumnus and a graduate of the Honors College at College of Charleston. While an undergraduate, Andrew was president of College of Charleston’s Jewish Student Union/Hillel, the founder of Religious Life Exchange, an interfaith dialogue and ambassador training program, and a teacher of comparative religions for high school students at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. Andrew’s primary passions are youth empowerment, positive psychology, and interfaith cooperation. He was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies for his research on gratitude and mindfulness, and has studied Jewish and Buddhist spirituality, transpersonal experiences, and the political activism of Cambodian monks. As a 2016-17 Interfaith Youth Core Germanacos Fellow, Andrew co-founded Act Now Fellowship, a pluralistic leadership fellowship for high school students. He is also a member of Interfaith Youth Core’s Alumni Speakers Bureau. In his free time, Andrew is actively engaged in Tulsa’s Jewish and interfaith communities as a Moishe House Without Walls host, Hillel of Northeastern Oklahoma staff member, and the Co-Founder of Radical Amazement, a Tulsa-based interfaith dialogue group for adults.
Hannah is a graduate student at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology where she is pursuing her Master’s of Divinity. Before starting graduate school, Hannah worked at her alma mater, Queens University of Charlotte, as Assistant Chaplain. There, she strived to increase student involvement in interfaith development and support emerging interfaith initiatives. Hannah often speaks publicly about her passion for interfaith understanding at fundraisers, campus events, and camps and conferences. She has developed interfaith workshops, spoken about her experiences in Israel/Palestine, and shared stories from her travels in Cameroon and passion for clean water in developing countries. As a protestant Christian in the Presbyterian Church, USA, Hannah feels called to bring interfaith understanding to homogenous faith communities, embracing people of all identities to work for justice. When she isn’t speaking or studying, Hannah embraces her “inner grandma” and enjoys knitting, sewing and weaving, contributing a small amount to our shared creation.
Anne Marie (Roderick) Witchger
Anne Marie Witchger is a candidate for ordination in the Episcopal Church. She received a B.A. in Religion from Earlham College, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and will complete a Master of Arts in Ministry from General Theological Seminary in 2018. Anne Marie currently works on the Outreach ministries of Church of the Heavenly Rest in Manhattan, where she helps to coordinate programs related to prison reentry and food insecurity. Anne Marie's passion for interfaith cooperation began in college and continues to inform her faith and ministry today. As a devoted Christian leader, she believes she is called to follow in the footsteps of Christ by seeking peace, cooperation, and unity in her community and in the world. Anne Marie is committed to engaging the tough theological questions that interfaith cooperation demands. In her free time, Anne Marie loves to bake, ride her bike, and brew kombucha with her husband, Joshua.
Keryn Wouden is a professional harpist belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loves using art and music as a platform for collaboration and interfaith awareness. She completed her Bachelors of Music at Chapman University (CA) where she first developed a passion for interfaith work, and somehow survived the Chicago cold to graduate with a Masters of Music from Northwestern University (IL). As a member of Northwestern’s Interfaith Advocates, she helped organized interfaith events including “Feel Better Together” (a mental health campaign) and “Word Against Violence” (a poetry slam promoting reduced gun violence). Within her faith community, she currently volunteers as the regional music director. As a soloist, an orchestral musician, and a professor at Lake Forest College, Keryn works in many environments and is often performing in religious (and non-religious) settings different from her own. Like any good musician, she also has a part time job. She enjoys working for Steve Hagerty, Mayor of Evanston (IL), where she is constantly using her interfaith skills.