About the IFYC Alumni Speakers Bureau

IFYC's Alumni Speakers & Trainers 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 & Trainers have run a variety of large-scale interfaith action events and draw from their own story and experience as interfaith leaders. They have worked with a variety of organizations, including colleges and universities, public and private secondary schools, faith communities, and non-profit organizations. Our Alumni are available to speak or train at events, such as panel discussions, conferences, workshops, 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 hannahm@ifyc.org.

Parth Bhansali

- Parth Bhansali (Hindu) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Parth Bhansali (Hindu) / Chicago, IL

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 Brauhn

Tim Brauhn

- Tim Brauhn (Catholic) / Denver, CO / Read More / Read Less
Tim Brauhn (Catholic) / Denver, CO

Tim Brauhn is the Communications Manager for Islamic Networks Group (ING), a non-profit organization that pursues peace and counters all forms of bigotry through education and interfaith engagement. Tim received his MA in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver with a concentration in Religion and Politics in the Middle East and Central Asia. He also holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Aurora University in Illinois. Tim was an inaugural member of the Faiths Act Fellowship, an elite international program for interfaith leaders run by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Aside from the Faiths Act Fellowship, he has been involved in numerous IFYC programs across the country since 2005.

Elyse Brazel

- Elyse Brazel (Christian) / Alberta, Canada read more read less
Elyse Brazel (Christian) / Alberta, Canada

Passionate about art and community building, Elyse’s first immersion into intercultural work was as a Refugee Settlement Worker in Toronto. This experience sparked her love for social justice. In 2009, Elyse was selected for the inaugural cohort of IFYC’s prestigious Faiths Act Fellowship. She experimented with social entrepreneurship as a founding member of Faith House Ottawa, an interfaith intentional community for students and young professionals. She is alumna of the Russell Berrie Fellowship, focused on Catholic-Jewish relations, and the KAICIID International Fellowship Program, exploring the use of IRD in peacemaking and conflict transformation. Elyse’s current work is fostering an inclusive campus environment at the University of Calgary as the Education Coordinator at The Faith and Spirituality Centre. Elyse’s educational background includes: Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA 2006), University of Alberta. MA in Public and Pastoral Leadership (MAPPL 2014), and Diploma in Indigenous and Interreligious Studies (D.ISS 2017), Vancouver School of Theology. Diploma in Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies (2016), The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Tyler Coles

- Tyler Coles (Unitarian Universalist) / Alexandria, VA read more read less
Tyler Coles (Unitarian Universalist) / Alexandria, VA

Tyler Coles is a Southern-raised native of Roanoke, VA who supports community at the intersections of race, religion, and sexuality/gender towards collective liberation. This work includes organizing with an interfaith lens, facilitating LGBTQ spirituality collectives, speaking on international panels, and serving as a Movement Chaplain towards “knowing the Beloved Kindom on earth." They hold a Bachelor of Arts in history from Roanoke College and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. As a Scholar-Activist Tyler has been the recipient of a number of special recognitions including the Rev. Dr. John E. Bushnell Award, the Rev. Dr. Paul L. Yount Prize, the Mike Hammer Award for Interfaith Leadership, and was recently recognized in the Maroon Spotlight Clergy & Lutheran category.

Currently, Tyler is supporting the development of innovative young adult community, rooted in Unitarian Universalist values, outside of Washington D.C., serves on the Steering Committee of Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministeries (DRUUMM), and is a Candidate for the Ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Janice D'souza

- Janice D'souza (Roman Catholic) / Lexington, KY / Read More / Read Less
Janice D'souza (Roman Catholic) / Lexington, KY

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

- Usra Ghazi (Muslim) / Washington, DC / Read More / Read Less
Usra Ghazi (Muslim) / Washington, DC

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.

Jacob Greenstein

Jacob Greenstein

- Jacob Greenstein (Seeking, Agnostic) / Sacramento, CA / Read More / Read Less
Jacob Greenstein (Seeking, Agnostic) / Sacramento, CA

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 Hirsch

Becca Hirsch

- Becca Hirsch (Jewish Agnostic) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Becca Hirsch (Jewish Agnostic) / Chicago, IL

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.

Aamir Hussain

Aamir Hussain

- Aamir Hussain (Muslim) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Aamir Hussain (Muslim) / Chicago, IL

A native of Farmington, CT, Aamir Hussain is currently a medical student at the University of Chicago. He holds a master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a BA from Georgetown University in Government. He writes frequently about interfaith dialogue, Islam, and the intersections between healthcare and spirituality and has given lectures around the United States on these topics. He has been interviewed by the New York Times, Al Jazeera, and PBS, and his writings have been featured in medical journals and several online outlets including Religion News Service and the Huffington Post. Aamir is known as "The Pun-isher" for his penchant for puns.

Hannah Kardon

- Hannah Kardon (United Methodist) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Hannah Kardon (United Methodist) / Chicago, IL

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

- Kinza Khan (Muslim) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Kinza Khan (Muslim) / Chicago, IL

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.

Andy Kirschner

- Andy Kirschner (Jewish) / Chicago, IL read more read less
Andy Kirschner (Jewish) / Chicago, IL

Andy Kirschner is the founder of 100 Reasons to Win, a consultancy that engages nonprofit leaders to find reasons to succeed and achieve their personal and organizational missions. He first recognized the importance of interfaith cooperation building coalitions as a community organizer, where working across lines of difference became necessary to achieve a more just democracy. A former member of the IFYC staff, Andy has more than a decade of experience with coaching, sales, and nonprofit management. He is currently completing an Executive Master’s in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus Institute and volunteers on the Board of Directors of Challah for Hunger, an organization that builds communities inspired and equipped to take action against hunger. He performed improv comedy for years and calls back to it often in his presentations. 

Elaine Krebs

- Elaine Krebs (Roman Catholic) / Los Angeles, CA / Read More / Read Less
Elaine Krebs (Roman Catholic) / Los Angeles, CA

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 Low

- Wendy Low (Conservative Jewish) / Washington, DC / Read More / Read Less
Wendy Low (Conservative Jewish) / Washington, DC

Wendy Low is a program facilitator living in Washington, DC. She first engaged with IFYC as a Better Together Coach. After earning her B.S. from the University of Denver, Wendy served a year with Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, organizing young adult groups in service-learning with the non-profit, Yachad. Wendy is passionate about informal education and has worked at museums across DC. Wendy is currently in training with the organization Resetting the Table to further her skills facilitating challenging conversations across strong divides. Through her work with the IFYC Alumni speaker's bureau, Wendy runs 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.

Rachael McNeal

Rachael McNeal

- Rachael McNeal (Episcopalian) / St. Augustine, FL / Read More / Read less
Rachael McNeal (Episcopalian) / St. Augustine, FL

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.

Seán Rose

Seán Rose

- Seán Rose (Christian - Catholic) / Santa Cruz, CA / Read More / Read Less
Seán Rose (Christian - Catholic) / Santa Cruz, CA

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.

Tahil Sharma

Tahil Sharma

- Tahil Sharma (Hindu and Sikh) / Claremont, CA / Read More / Read More
Tahil Sharma (Hindu and Sikh) / Claremont, CA

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 Singh

- Maneshwar Singh (Sikh) / Chicago, IL / Read More / Read Less
Maneshwar Singh (Sikh) / Chicago, IL

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 Smolen

- Avi Smolen (Jewish) / New York, NY / Read More / Read Less
Avi Smolen (Jewish) / New York, NY

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 Spektor

Andrew Spector

- Andrew Spector (Jewish) / Tulsa, OK / Read More / Read Less
Andrew Spector (Jewish) / Tulsa, OK

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.

Clare Stern

- Clare Stern (Episcopal Humanist) / Kansas City, MO read more read less
Clare Stern (Episcopal Humanist) / Kansas City, MO

Clare (no "i") was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and currently lives in Kansas City Missouri. Clare is a graduated December of 2016 from the University of North Florida where she received her bachelor’s in Health Science with a concentration in Public Health with a double minor in health education and community leadership. While her degree may be in health science, her true passion is in interfaith work and youth leadership development. Four months after graduation she joined the Kansas City Interfaith Youth Alliance and Faith Always Wins Foundation team as their Executive Director of Interfaith Programs. Clare comes from an interfaith family and got involved in Interfaith Youth Core's Better Together network her freshman year in college after a peer mentor heard her story. Clare has gone through a number of IFYC’s programs such as The Better Together Organizer program, National Leadership Team, and the Better Together Coach Program, and is currently a member of the Alumni Network. During Clare’s junior and senior year of college she was awarded the Noor Inayat Khan Interfaith Community Service Scholarship, Osprey Community Engagement Medallion, and a finalist for the The Albert D. Ernest, Jr. Caring Award. Clare was also a participant in the Jewish National Fund’s Caravan for Democracy. After returning from Israel, she and the senate president created a new position in Student Government as Interfaith Chaplain to reflect a more inclusive message that matched the diverse voice of the university campus. Clare is also an AmeriCorps Alumn and a flexi-vegan (vegan sometimes vegetarian) and has a new rescue puppy, KC that keeps her on the move and teaching her more about patience. Clare loves to: run, travel, and discover local coffee and tea shops.

Ellie Thompson headshot

Ellie Thompson

- Ellie Thompson (Nondenominational) / Salt Lake City, UT read more read less
Ellie Thompson (Nondenominational) / Salt Lake City, UT

Ellie founded an interfaith dialogue at West Texas A&M with a coffee in one hand, and all the courage she could muster in the other. She moved to Utah in 2013, completed her Master’s in History, a year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and is a sitting board member for the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable. Ellie’s had the privilege of attending IFYC’s Interfaith Leadership Institutes, the inaugural Alumni Gathering, organizing Interfaith Leadership Labs across the state of Utah, and was a Germanacos Fellow where she explored the idea of intergenerational interfaith dialogue. Ellie spends her days coordinating interfaith activities for the Reflection Center at Utah Valley University. Her dog Tex and husband Andrew keep her busy at home when they aren’t involved at K2, their church in Salt Lake City.

Hannah Trawick

Hannah Trawick

- Hannah Trawick (Protestant Christian, Presbyterian Church, USA) / Atlanta, GA / Read More / Read Less
Hannah Trawick (Protestant Christian, Presbyterian Church, USA) / Atlanta, GA

Hannah is a graduate student at Columbia Theological Seminary where she is pursuing her Master of Divinity Degree. Before starting graduate school, Hannah worked at her alma mater, Queens University of Charlotte, as Assistant Chaplain. There, she partnered with students, faculty, staff, and administration to increase student involvement in interfaith development on campus and support emerging interfaith initiatives in the wider community.  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.

Elizabeth Welliver

- Elizabeth Welliver (Presbyterian) / Nashville, TN read more read less
Elizabeth Welliver (Presbyterian) / Nashville, TN

Elizabeth Welliver is an interfaith educator and alumni trainer for Interfaith Youth Core. She is currently a Master of Divinity student at Vanderbilt Divinity School as a Carpenter Scholar. As a student leader, Elizabeth organized interfaith and mindfulness programs at Davidson College where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion. She attended the ILI as a participant in the foundations, advanced student, and educator tracks. Elizabeth works for interfaith cooperation as an immigrant rights activist and has supported the Sanctuary Movement in Tucson, Arizona and Austin, Texas. Elizabeth is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) influenced by Quakerism. Elizabeth loves writing poetry, studying eco-theology, and supporting grassroots movements for social change.