About the Interfaith Leadership Institute

The Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) is the largest gathering of students and educators with a commitment to American religious pluralism. Each year, hundreds of people converge in Chicago to learn, train, share, and get inspired to bring the movement for interfaith cooperation back to their campuses and communities.  Over the course of three days, participants learn to bridge divides and forge friendships across lines of religious and worldview differences. Come to the ILI with the passion to bring people together and leave equipped with the knowledge and skills to make it happen. Learn more about who can come and what to expect.


What to expect at the ILI

Training Tracks

Introductory and advanced training tracks are designed to support those new to this work by laying the foundation for interfaith leadership, and providing advanced skills in topics ranging from strategic planning to navigating tricky challenges and more. Learn more about our student and educator tracks.

Discounts & Scholarships

As we do not want cost to be a hindrance to engaging with interfaith leadership, we have a number of discounts, as well as registration scholarships available.

2019 IL Schedule


  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Check-In
  • 11:00am: Orientation for First-Time Participants (optional): The ILI has a lot to offer you. From the training room to all-participant networking opportunities, we want to make sure you have your questions answered before programming gets underway. As part of the orientation, you'll have the opportunity to take part in our Talk Better Together program that ensures meeting tons of new people in a short amount of time!
  • 12:00pm – 1:15pm: Opening Lunch with Eboo Patel, Founder and President of IFYC: IFYC Staffer Carr Harkrader and IFYC Alum Usra Ghazi will kick things off and welcome you to our 23rd ILI. Then our President and Founder Eboo Patel will share insights on the interfaith movement.
  • 1:30pm – 3:30pm: Training Session 1 for All Tracks
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Break with Refreshments
  • 4:00pm – 6:00pm: Training Session 2 for All Tracks
  • 6:00pm – 7:30pm: Engaging Religious Difference in Divided Times: Dinner and Conversation: During dinner, Eboo Patel will moderate a conversation between Alia Bilal, Director of Community Relations at IMAN; Emma Green, Staff Writer at The Atlantic; and Montse Alvarado, VP and Executive Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.


  • 8:00am – 9:00am: Breakfast
  • 9:00am – 10:30am: Training Session 3 for All Tracks
  • 10:30am – 11:00am: Break with Refreshments
  • 11:00am – 1:00pm: Training Session 4 for All Tracks
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm: Lunch with Birds of a Feather Affinity Groups: During lunch, a selection of tables will be assigned topics for our Birds of a Feather Affinity Groups. These will be based on your suggestions. Other tables will remain open and available for those needing a mid-day brak, conversations with new colleagues, or to check in with your campus delegation.
  • 2:00pm – 4:00pm: Unconference: After lunch, IFYC is turning the conversation over to you! Tables will be assigned topics based on your suggestions. You choose where you want to sit and discuss the work being done on your campus and how your interfaith leadership skills can drive civic change.
  • 2:00pm – 4:00pm: Exhibit Hall Open: Concurrent with the Unconference, there will be an exhibit space with tables staffed by graduate schools and non-profit organizations who are in partnership with IFYC. Stop by to learn more about scholarship opportunities and ways to take your interfaith leadership to the next level.
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm: Program Showcases: For student participants, join current IFYC Coaches to learn about the ins and outs of the Coach Program. Applications for the 2020 Coach class are due October 2nd, so come with questions! For educators, we've invited several campus staff and faculty to present on the promising practices and program models that their campuses have utilized to build interfaith cooperation.
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Break with Refreshments
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm: Faces of Interfaith Leadership: To close our time on Saturday, IFYC Alumni will share stories that highlight their worldview identities, theology or ethic of interfaith cooperation, and personal interfaith journeys before answering participant questions. Bring questions as we will conclude with a Q&A!
  • 5:30pm – Night on the Town (Dinner on your own)


  • 8:00am – 9:00am: Breakfast
  • 9:00am – 11:00am: Training Session 5 for All Tracks
  • 11:00am – 11:30am: Break with Refreshments
  • 11:30am – 12:15pm: Building Your Interfaith Program: In this program, we're inviting you to pool your collective knowledge from your training rooms to construct powerful interfaith cooperative programs for your campus community. IFYC Staff, Coaches and our MCs, Carr and Usra, will be present to assist in developing your action plans. We'll also share information about how IFYC can help you fund your future events.
  • 12:15pm – 1:30pm: Closing Lunch and Leadership Award Presentation: Before we say goodbye, we'll announce our 2019 Mike Hammer and Rising Star Interfaith Leadership Awards. Be sure to stay and learn from their experiences and how they've been successful at implementing interfaith programs.

2019 ILI Speakers

alia bilal

Alia Bilal

- Alia Bilal / Inner-City Muslim Action Network read more read less
Alia Bilal / Inner-City Muslim Action Network

Alia J. Bilal serves as Director of Community Relations of Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), where she is responsible for cultivating and maintaining individual donors in order to sustain and advance IMAN’s critical social justice work, and engaging other organizations and institutions around strategic programs and initiatives. In her eight years at IMAN, Alia has worked on development, community organizing, and policy, advocating on issues related to food, criminal, and juvenile justice, and strategizing around creative new ways to get healthy foods and safe physical activities into Chicago neighborhoods.

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Alia graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in International Studies and a concentration in Islamic World Studies. Alia has given talks and conducted workshops on the connection between faith and social justice, IMAN’s community organizing model, and access to healthy food both locally and across the United States. She is an appointee of the Equity Advisory Council of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and lives with her husband and son on Chicago’s South Side.

Emma Green

- Emma Green / The Atlantic read more read less
Emma Green / The Atlantic

Emma Green is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers politics, policy, and religion. Previously, she served as the managing editor of the magazine's website. In 2018, she was the winner of the Religion News Association's first-place award in religion-news analysis, and she spent a year living in and reporting from Israel and Palestine. She has spoken at universities across the United States, including Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has also appeared in outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR. She is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and lives in New York City.

Eboo Patel

- Eboo Patel / Interfaith Youth Core read more read less
Eboo Patel / Interfaith Youth Core

Eboo Patel is a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation and the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground and the recent Interfaith Leadership: A Primer. Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He is a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America and a frequent speaker on the topic of religious pluralism. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. For over fifteen years, Eboo has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.

Montse Alvarado

- Montse Alvarado / Becket Fund for Religious Liberty read more read less
Montse Alvarado / Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Montse Alvarado joined the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in 2009 and was named VP & Executive Director in February 2017. With a background in public policy and campaigns, she has led initiatives at Becket in development, communications, strategy and operations that have helped secure religious liberty victories against the contraceptive mandate, protect the rights of churches to choose their leaders, and safeguard the free speech of crisis pregnancy centers and religious groups on campus. She was recently profiled by the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition with the following introduction: "A defender of all religion, on the front lines of America’s culture wars."

Montse has a Masters from the George Washington University and a B.A. from Florida International University. She served on the Montgomery County Commission for Women in Maryland and is currently on the board of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, the leading advocate against the legalization of assisted suicide; a lay consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Religious Liberty Committee; a member of the President’s Advisory Counsel of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students; and on the Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board for the Philos Project. Although not an attorney, she "plays one on TV" advocating for Becket clients on major television and radio networks including Univision, CNN en Español, Telemundo, Fox Business, and EWTN. Born in Mexico City, she is fluent in Spanish and French and is a competitive jazz and classical vocalist.

ILI Resources

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