We're All Interfaith Leaders.
IFYC works with leaders across the campus environment — faculty, staff, administrators, and students. We offer the tools, guidance, opportunities, and networks needed to bring interfaith engagement into their campuses, classrooms, research, and lives. Learn more about our team here.
“Peace is only found in yes.” - Anthony de Mello, SJ
Brian Anderson, Student Leadership Manager, oversees the Interfaith Leadership Institutes, the grant process for our Interfaith Leadership Labs, and the hiring of our Interfaith Coaches. Brian has a B.A. in Religious Studies and Psychology from Butler University, an M.A. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University, and an M.A. in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University Chicago. Brian comes to IFYC having worked in Higher Education in a variety of capacities for the past 10 years; most recently as an Interfaith Campus Minister. He is excited to bring a wealth of knowledge to share with our campus partners. When not at IFYC, Brian is involved with bringing arts and culture programs to his community. You can also find him spending time with his family or in his garden.
Tony Banout serves as Senior Vice President, nurturing IFYC's philanthropic partnerships, leading a team responsible for revenue, and stewarding the Board of Directors. He has over 15 years of social sector leadership experience in fields such as human 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. His B.A. is in Business from St. John's University, where he developed a love for business strategy and found that the Vincentians of the Catholic tradition nourished his roots in the Coptic Orthodox faith of his birth, while shaping his belief in the socially transformative power of religion.
Bex Bates, Director of Marketing and Communications, manages our outreach strategy to new and existing campuses to deepen their engagement with IFYC and widen our reach. Her background has always centered around marketing and communications but has spanned several sectors - government, private and non-profit - and countries. She has worked with religiously persecuted communities in the UK, Malaysia, and continues this work in Chicago as a volunteer. Her time at IFYC is spent supporting the program teams in communicating with IFYC's various audiences about how we can assist them in their interfaith work, as well as looking at ways we can reach new audiences and campuses. She loves to read, do yoga, and paint protraits in her spare time. Bex's main motivation for being part of the interfaith movement is that she has seen the effects of religious intolerance around the world and the potential outcomes of what would happen if we weren't actively doing and encourgaing interfaith work.
Katie Bringman Baxter
Katie Bringman Baxter, Vice President of Program Strategy, guides IFYC’s programmatic initiatives to cultivate campus environments, develop interfaith leaders, and produce a knowledgebase for religious pluralism 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 professional background in higher ed are rooted in an MA in College Student Personnel (BGSU) and a BA in Religion (Wittenberg University). Beyond IFYC, Katie enjoys venturing around Chicago with her family and serving on the board at her Lutheran church. Both her work 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 can live, work, and build community together.
Janett I. Cordovés
Janett I. Cordoves, Co-Curricular Partnerships Manager, equips and empowers campus professional staff to be interfaith leaders. Prior to joining the IFYC team, Janett worked in higher education for thirteen years, serving in various roles within residence life and crisis response, as well as in academic initiatives within first-year seminars, orientation and retention, and senior-year experience courses. Janett has a bachelors in Applied Mathematics, masters in Higher Education, and doctorate in Ethical Leadership. Janett serves as the social media editor for the Journal of College and Character and researches #digitalfaith, interfaith cooperation, and the spiritual experiences of first-generation college students.
Ben Correia-Harker, Director of Assessment & Research, oversees the development of interfaith assessment services and resources, consults with campus partners on assessment practices, and manages research efforts and findings dissemenation. Ben has 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; and he continues to conduct research on and teach about college student leadership development. Having held various professional roles in higher education administration, it is his commitment to fostering student leadership development, creating inclusive communities, and addressing society's most complex problems through collaborative endeavors that fuel Ben’s interest in advancing interfaith cooperation.
Cara Doidge Kilgore
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.
Mary Ellen Giess
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.
Amber Jean Hacker, Vice President for Operations and Communications, oversees projects ranging from accounting, IT, and talent development to IFYC thought leadership, branding, and messaging. A leader on the IFYC team since 2007, Amber stewarded a variety of key programs prior to stepping into her current role, including the IFYC Alumni program, Days of Interfaith Youth Service, Fellows Alliance, Bridge-builders Network, and IFYC’s conferences. Amber also serves as Treasurer, working closely with the Board of Directors to ensure accurate and efficient financial processes. Outside of IFYC, Amber is pursuing her MBA to explore ways to apply best practices in business to nonprofit work, and maintains a passion for productivity tips. Amber and her husband Jason live with their three-year-old son Erik in Chicago. Amber’s commitment to interfaith cooperation is inspired by Jesus’ call to love to our neighbor.
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.
Becca Hartman-Pickerill, Campus Stewardship Manager, liaises with college and university partners to vision, plan 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. Outside of work you will find Becca running with her toddler by Lake Michigan or enjoying a delicious meal. 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.
Megan Hughes Johnson
Megan Johnson, Campus Strategy 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.
Michael Kendricks, Director of Salesforce and IT, administers Salesforce for IFYC and performs work on other IT projects. Michael graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Computer Technology. Prior to IFYC he worked in IT in the financial sector. In his current position, he manages IFYC's implementation of Salesforce and partners with IFYC leaders to improve operation and add features. He also performs project management for various IT initiatives at IFYC. In his free time, he enjoys listening to any new music he can find, sports, spending time with family, and engaging in city-focused discussion. Michael believes that IFYC's mission is of key importance to our growing multi-cultural society and higher education is an optimal place to reach and engage with future leaders.
Gabi Lukens, Marketing and Communications Associate, supports the marketing team with digital content strategy, email marketing, and social media. Gabi received her B.S., B.A. in business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Missouri. Prior to joining IFYC, Gabi worked as a marketing associate at a regional arts council in Kansas City, where she developed a love for working in the nonprofit sphere. Outside of work, Gabi loves fitness, traveling, and exploring all of the neighborhoods and restaurants Chicago has to offer.
Hannah Minks, Student and Alumni Leadership Manager, develops programs and communication tools that speak to the needs of both students and IFYC alum. Hannah received her B.A. in Theology from Dominican University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary. Having taught Catholic theology at the high school level for a handful of years, Hannah brings her education experience to a variety of spaces at IFYC in both curriculum development and training capacities. Hannah also brings personal experience to her position having been through many of IFYC’s programs as an undergrad student and alum, most recently the Germanacos Fellowship. It was through this fellowship that she began her project 10 Dorothy Days, a series of events that combined the idea of a social with community service so folks could get to know one another across lines of difference while serving the common good, all taking root in Hannah’s personal inspiration from Catholic figure Dorothy Day. Apart from her 9-5 at IFYC, you can find Hannah reading philosophy books or watching the Real Housewives of New York City.
Jenan Mohajir, Senior Director of Leadership, 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.
As the Director of Academic Initiatives, Carolyn works with faculty across the country to develop, support, and sustain innovative interfaith studies curriculum. Carolyn has a Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics, and Human Culture from Chicago Theological Seminary. She has taught and wrote for a number of academic institutions and religious organizations. When not working, Carolyn is hanging out with her husband and son, enjoying the lake, playing in the park, and eating delicious Chicago food. Carolyn’s Christian faith calls her to work for healing, peace, and justice and she has learned that one of the most powerful ways to do this is to build relationships with, learn from, and work alongside those from different religious and non-religious traditions who share these same values.
Rebecca Russo, Director of Campus Stewardship, works closely with campus partners to develop and implement sustainable interfaith initiatives across campus life. Rebecca joined IFYC in 2014 with prior professional experience both on-campus and in the not-for-profit sector. Most recently, Rebecca worked on campus at Northwestern University’s Fielder Hillel. Rebecca graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Middle East Studies and received her MBA from 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.
Nadia Salam, Accounting Manager, oversees accounting and budgeting, tracks revenues and expenses, and prepares financial reports to ensure compliance and transparency. She comes to IFYC with 22 years of accounting experience at various nonprofit organizations. She earned her M.Phil degree in Economics from Quaid-i-Azam University, and she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Accounting and Financial Management from DeVry University. She lives in Carol Stream with her husband and a son. Interfaith work is Nadia’s personal passion. Being a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Nadia fully recognizes the importance of religious pluralism, religious freedom and the strength of interfaith knowledge. Nadia is also a cake decorator who enjoys baking and decorating cakes for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and all occasions.
Nora Samuelson, Foundation Relations Manager, oversees grants management as part of the Institutional Advancement Team. Nora comes to this position with 13 years of professional experience in non-profit organizations and higher education, working as a program manager, fundraiser, and educator. Outside of work, Nora loves to travel, with a goal of going abroad at least once a year. During her travels, Nora has been fortunate to learn about diverse world cultures, religions, and religious practices. Nora holds a B.A. in Political Science and English from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Mat Schramm, Graphic and Web Design Manager, oversees all media production at IFYC (print and digital design, video, and the Common Knowledge podcast). Mat spends most of his time managing team projects, upholding IFYC's visual brand in print and on the web, and maintaining relationships with vendors and external designers. 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."
Noah Silverman, Senior Director of Learning and 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.
Teri Simon, Executive Assistant/Office Manager, provides administrative support for the Executive Team including Eboo Patel, Founder and President. In this role, she works closely with individual donors, high-level campus and higher education stakeholders. She also coordinates the general operations of IFYC by managing our office while providing general support for team-wide functions. Teri holds a B.S. in Business Education and prior to joining IFYC, she was at the University of Chicago as an executive assistant to a Nobel Laureate Professor of Economics. In her free time, you might see her biking along the lake shore, exploring the back roads or on a century ride somewhere in the Midwest. Teri is passionate about the IFYC mission as she sees knowledge and understanding of religious pluralism as the path to a peaceful and enriching existence.
Slavica Sudar, Accounting and Advancement Administrator, oversees daily bookkeeping activities of the organization and is also assisting Institutional Advancement Team with donor stewardship and fundraising activities. Slavica has worked in the nonprofit sector for six and a half years, focusing on accounting. Slavica graduated from Loyola University Chicago with B.S. in Anthropology and still maintains her love for history and different cultures by traveling and often visiting museums. She strongly believes in the beauty of a multi-cultural society and feels an interfaith cooperation is a key step to achieving it.
Susan Vernon, Director of Foundation Relations, oversees all aspects of IFYC’s relationships with foundations and their funding. She leads her team in strategic planning, identifying, cultivating and securing funding from foundations to support all of IFYC’s crucial programs and wonderful teams. Susan holds a BS in social work from the State University of New York – College at Buffalo and MSSW from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She brings with her years of experience in social service programming and fundraising in the nonprofit sector, plus business skills from her work with major corporations. A former thespian, she enjoys going to plays, movies and dance performances, and music and writing are her creative outlets. Walks in nature and meditation bring her back to Spirit and the wonders of the Universe. Susan strongly believes that pluralism is what makes America great and that interfaith cooperation is the path to peace.
Hannah Willage, Alumni Relations Manager, supports IFYC alumni to use their interfaith skills in their careers, personal lives, and civic areas they feel passionate about. She worked for 15 years as a community organizer on a variety of issues with Russian-speaking refugees and students experiencing homelessness. Hannah earned her Bachelor’s degree from Knox College majoring in Mathematics and Russian. She supports the Alumni team in keeping track of our more than 1300 alumni and how they are continuing to develop as interfaith leaders in their lives after college. She enjoys playing and reading with her two children, and exploring all of the Chicago neighborhoods. To Hannah, interfaith leadership means being a good listener, being able to take risks, and having a genuine love of people.
Angela Zonderman, Director of Human Resources, supports IFYC and its dedicated staff in all realms of HR. Angela graduated from University of Michigan and has since honed her operations and human resources skills in national and international organizations in the US and abroad. She spends most of her time looking for qualified candidates who are passionate about IFYC's mission and supporting the day-to-day needs of IFYC’s current staff. Angela considers herself to be ‘crafty’ and dabbles in photography and knitting. Angela is honored to be contributing to IFYC’s work as she sees the interfaith movement as the foundation for building peace in the world.