Train the Next Generation of Interfaith Leaders

IFYC’s mission is to make interfaith cooperation a social norm, and we think that the college campus is a great place to do that. In the campus setting we are already seeing students from diverse backgrounds and worldviews engaging with one another across lines of difference.

Each year, IFYC selects a class of top notch student interfaith leaders who are setting examples of what good interfaith work can look like to serve as mentors, trainers, and community builders for their peers. In a variety of in-person and online spaces, coaches help their peers turn their knowledge into action and build relationships across lines of religious difference.

Coaches receive specialized training in interfaith leadership, and spend a full year working through a development plan with an IFYC staff member. Throughout the year, Coaches train at the Interfaith Leadership Institute, Regional Leadership Gatherings, and serve as leaders of leaders in our student network.

Characteristics of an IFYC Coach

  1. Construct their ethic or theology of interfaith cooperation. Coaches understand how their worldview calls them to interfaith work. Their ability to share how their values and experiences influence their beliefs is vital.
  2. Navigate relationships with care. Coaches have experience building relationships across religious and worldview differences. Bringing diverse groups of people to the table is crucial and navigating relationships is the foundation of that process.

  3. Utilize their strengths and the strengths of others. Coaches are actively aware of their strengths and limitations. As leaders, they create spaces where individuals work together to generate positive change.

  4. Take initiative. Coaches step up and see a project to completion. Assessing the needs of a campus is the first step, but creating and executing a plan to bring about that change is just as important.

  5. Accept failure as part of growth. Coaches recognize that failure is part of the journey and see the twists and turns in the road as experiences worth learning from.

  6. Lead with appreciative knowledge. Coaches understand more than just the basic tenets of various worldviews. They also seek to understand how beliefs are lived out, and then build programs that bring about appreciation for the similarities and differences across faiths, worldviews, and traditions.

  7. Approach decision making with consideration, respect, and compassion. Coaches are self-reflective problem solvers who understand the importance of bringing multiple voices to the table. Examining a challenge through multiple perspectives and seeking input from others is key when leading in diverse spaces.

  8. Train in both in-person and online spaces effectively. Coaches communicate their beliefs and opinions in a thoughtful and compassionate way. By training effectively, their peers feel empowered to become interfaith leaders on campus.

Requirements & Eligibility

Because coaches draw on real world experience from their time in the training room, applicants must have attended an Interfaith Leadership Institute or a Regional Leadership Gathering.

This year, the Coach Program is moving to a calendar year and will go from January 2019 through December 2019. Coaches must be active students in good standing for the full year and cannot be studying abroad in calendar year 2019*. Here are a few additional dates coaches need to be available to travel to Chicago (costs covered by IFYC):

  • December 4th: Launch Call
  • January 24th - 27th: Coach Orientation
  • July 27th - 31st, 2019: Coach Week
  • August 2nd - 4th: 2019 Interfaith Leadership Institute

*With prior discussion, exceptions can be made for short study abroad programs happening in June-July 2019.

Apply for the Coach Program

Applications for the 2019 Coach class are available now and will remain open until 11:59 on September 30th, 2018.

start an application

If you have any questions regarding the Coach Program or applications, email

Meet This Year's Coach Class

ifyc coach program bridget bard

Bridget Bard

- Bridget Bard / Senior at Bellarmine University, Psychology major read more read less
Bridget Bard / Senior at Bellarmine University, Psychology major

Bridget Bard (she/her) is a senior at Bellarmine University (Louisville, KY) studying Psychology and minoring in Theology and Gender Studies. She joined her Bellarmine’s student interfaith group as a freshman, and by her sophomore year became it’s president. This leadership position is what brought her to the ILI and, ultimately, to the Coach Program. She is civically minded, and service oriented and has attended 6 marches, two of which were in Washington D.C. What makes Bridget feel most alive is cruising in her car down a country road in the summer time, with the windows down, and the wind hitting her face while she blares her favorite songs and belts them out. It would be impossible for her to give up music. Her music quote is from a very important song to her, which teaches her to have no hard feelings to others, or towards herself.

“I’m finally learning why it matters for me and you to say it and mean it too. For life and its loveliness and all of its ugliness, good as it’s been to me, I have no enemies.”
– No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers

Natalie Benson

- Natalie Benson / Senior at University of Indianapolis, Psychology and Religion Major read more read less
Natalie Benson / Senior at University of Indianapolis, Psychology and Religion Major

Natalie Benson (she/her) studies Psychology and Religion at the University of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN). Though she is originally from central Illinois, Indianapolis now feels like home (apart from the fact that Hoosiers refer to the popular yard game “bags” as “corn hole”). Previous ILIs revealed to Natalie her passion for connecting people across differences and gave her the confidence to begin interfaith work on her campus. She is excited to help incoming students at the ILI to find their own passion and confidence. In high school, Natalie’s Protestant Christian values motivated her to partner with families in neighboring low income apartments and start a Vacation Bible School, which remains near and dear to her heart. So far, the most influential pieces of Natalie’s undergraduate experience were her recent spiritual pilgrimage across Spain on the Camino de Santiago and her two years as a collegiate swimmer. If you can catch her with some free time, she is probably making coffee, singing the Hamilton album from start to finish, taking a spontaneous road trip to nearby hiking trails, or exploring Indianapolis.

“If many little people in many little places do many little things then the whole world changes.”
–Michael Franti & Spearhead, “Gloria”

ifyc coach program aminata mimi diallo

Aminata "Mimi" Diallo

- Aminata "Mimi" Diallo / Senior at Susquehanna University, Political Science, International Diplomacy, French Majors read more read less
Aminata "Mimi" Diallo / Senior at Susquehanna University, Political Science, International Diplomacy, French Majors

Aminata “Mimi” Diallo (she/her) is a senior at Susquehanna University (Sellinsgrove, PA) with a triple major in political science, international studies with a focus on diplomacy, and French. Born in Mali, Mimi moved to NYC at the age of 10 and she's been living in the Bronx ever since. After attending an ILI as a first-year student at Susquehanna, Mimi and a few of her peers returned to campus and founded “SU Better Together”. Mimi is a very active student leader and has worked extensively with her classmates, the administration, and the board of trustees on many university initiatives. In March 2018, she was elected to be the president of the Susquehanna University Student Government Association (SGA). During a recent semester abroad in Brussels, Mimi served as an intern for a Maltese representative in the European Union. As an aspiring diplomatic ambassador, Mimi hopes to use her interfaith leadership skills to affect positive change across lines of differences in both domestic, and international politics.

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ahmed Hamed

- Ahmed Hamed / Junior at Ohio Wesleyan University, Accounting and International Studies Major read more read less
Ahmed Hamed / Junior at Ohio Wesleyan University, Accounting and International Studies Major

Ahmed is a student at Ohio Wesleyan University of Delaware, Ohio majoring in Accounting and International Studies and minoring in Politics and Government, he hopes to attend law school after graduation. He was born and raised in the Columbus, Ohio area, but made frequent summer trips with his family to Palestine to visit his relatives. After attending the ILI in 2017 Ahmed felt inspired to expand his work in diversity and inclusion to include more interfaith work, especially as his Muslim identity acted as a bridge to connect them both. As the President of Ohio Wesleyan’s Muslim Student Association, he found himself involved in more and more interfaith activities. Energized by his experience at the ILI, the IFYC staff, and support from OWU’s Chaplain’s Office, he applied for the IFYC Coach Program. He currently is working to build both stronger Muslim and interfaith communities on campus and in the Delaware area. Outside the interfaith scene at OWU, Ahmed is on the varsity cross country and track teams where he runs a lot and probably contributes to his abnormal appetite. He can also occasionally be found napping on the couch in the interfaith chapel.

“Every small bone of everyone has upon it a charitable act for everyday upon which the sun rises. Bringing about justice between two is an act of charity. A good word is a charitable act. And removing a harmful thing from the path is a charitable act.”
-Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Andrew Huffman

- Andrew Huffman / Junior at Warren Wilson College, Mathematics Major read more read less
Andrew Huffman / Junior at Warren Wilson College, Mathematics Major

Andrew Huffman (he/him, they/them) is a Junior at Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, NC) majoring in Mathematics. He initially got involved in interfaith work through his first-year seminar, "Interfaith Dialogue," and has never looked back. Andrew is strong proponent that all voices need to be heard within interfaith work, and tries his best to amplify the voices that might get less airtime. You can usually find him working in the Creative Technologies Lab at his school or trying to read any book he can get his hands on. After graduation, Andrew plans on continuing to incorporate interfaith work into his life, while probably pursuing higher education in math.

"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
- Carl Sandburg

Seth Marsden

- Seth Marsden / Junior at Utah State University, Marketing Major read more read less
Seth Marsden / Junior at Utah State University, Marketing Major

Seth Marsden (he/him) is a Junior at Utah State University (Logan, Utah) majoring in Marketing. He first got involved in Interfaith work by working at the Interfaith Initiative on Campus. Since then, he's become an officer in the interfaith club and is excited to be a Coach for the 2018 ILI. One of his biggest goals in life is to help create bridges between groups of people who are different, and learn more about the issues that other people face, so naturally interfaith work has become one of his biggest passions.. You can usually find him in the great outdoors riding ATVs, or the great inside watching a TV. He also loves spending time with his nieces and nephews, his friends and his pet reptiles Cornelius and Nicholas.

"This is a hymn for the hymnless, don't need no forgiveness, 'cause if there's a heaven, don't care if we get in."
- Kesha

ifyc coach program christina martinez

Christina Martinez

- Christina Martinez / Senior at McMurry University, Political Science Major read more read less
Christina Martinez / Senior at McMurry University, Political Science Major

Christina Martinez (she/her) is a Junior at McMurry University (Abeline, TX), majoring in Political Science, and minoring in sociology and interfaith studies with the intention to pursue a career in humanitarian and non-profit work. Christina was born in El Paso, Tx and grew up in San Antonio. Christina has served as a leader in her school’s Better Together Alliance and works with a few other political organizations on and off campus. Her passion for exploring worldviews and trying to take the next step in being a leader within the interfaith movement, led her to apply for the Coach Program and to her surprise she was selected! Voted ”most likely to start a revolution”, Christina is known for her frustration with the status quo and eagerness for change. One of the coolest experiences she has been able to be a part of is working with Refugees in San Antonio with the Center for Refugee services. Christina’s biggest passion is human rights work and the intersection between advocacy and her faith as a Christian Mystic.

“I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart”

Arlen Suarez

- Arlen Suarez / Senior at Rice University, Biochemistry and Cell Biology Major read more read less
Arlen Suarez / Senior at Rice University, Biochemistry and Cell Biology Major

Arlen Suárez (she/her) is a senior at Rice University (Houston, TX,) majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a certificate in Spanish and intercultural communications, with aspirations of becoming a doctor that will take great care of her patients in a humane and compassionate way. Her fascination with the human experience manifests in involvement with the Hispanic association at her school, leading the interfaith group on campus, becoming a freshman advisor, and being a coach for the 2018 ILI! Arlen revels in learning new things about an individual or a group of people and in using this knowledge to bring people together. Often, she can be found striking conversations with complete strangers about the various ways that they perceive and experience the world, a practice which motivates her interfaith work because she believes the only way to help people is to understand them and what’s at their core. Come find her and talk to her about anything ranging from the minutiae of daily living to the meaning or purpose of life through the lens of a specific faith or even what it means to be human in the most universal sense.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
-Paulo Coelho

Gabriel Toscano

- Gabriel Toscano / Senior at Utah Valley University, Philosophy and Integrated Studies Major read more read less
Gabriel Toscano / Senior at Utah Valley University, Philosophy and Integrated Studies Major

Gabriel Toscano (he/him, they/their) is a senior at Utah Valley University ( Orem, UT) double-majoring in Philosophy and Integrated studies with emphasis on Spanish and Religious Studies. His interest in interfaith grew during the 2016 ILI where the willingness of his peers and trainers to engage in meaningful--often difficult-- conversations encouraged him to take back what he’d learned and share it with his community. As president of the Interfaith Student Council at UVU and IFYC coach, Gabriel strives to promote meaningful interactions between the many religious and non-religious worldviews represented on campus by organizing monthly events such as lectures, student-led dialogues and excursions to local religious sites as well as the 2018 Intermountain Regional Gathering. In and around Utah Valley, Gabriel is interested in building cooperative communities where everyone’s voices are heard and needs addressed. Right now most of his time is split between homework, reading, hiking, playing guitar, and figuring out how to pay for law school.

“To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it”
- Bertrand Russell

Emilie "Weave" Williams

- Emilie "Weave" Williams / Senior at University of the Ozarks, Religion & Philosophy Major read more read less
Emilie "Weave" Williams / Senior at University of the Ozarks, Religion & Philosophy Major

Emilie "Weave" Williams (she/her) is a Senior at University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, AR) majoring in Religion & Philosophy with a minor in Sociology. She is founding president of her University's interfaith organization, and came to the IFYC coach program after becoming inspired by the intensity and intentionality of the coaches in her training rooms at two previous ILIs. Weave is originally from the suburbs of Dallas, TX, but has found her rural Arkansan home of nearly four years to be a great place to explore and challenge her passions for diversity and social dynamics. As a two-time recipient of Ozark's overall Outstanding Student in Philosophy Award, she was able to study the ideas of her favorite classical philosopher, Socrates, during a semester abroad in Athens, Greece. If she's not lamenting the loss of her picture-perfect life abroad, you can find Weave reading Kierkegaard, cooking vegan food, running a short 10K, or obsessing over every dog she has ever met. In the future, she hopes to "weave" her loves of religion, philosophy, sociology and linguistics together while attending Divinity School after graduation.

"All that I know is that I know nothing"

Interfaith Leadership Institute

Join aspiring leaders from around the country at this three-day gathering where diverse students get the training and learn the skills to engage diverse faiths and worldviews and build the interfaith movement back on campus and beyond.

Regional Leadership Gatherings

Grow your leadership skills and network with other interfaith leaders in your region. This year, there are 14 gatherings happening on campuses across the country.