Global Council Trustees

URI’s primary governing body, the Global Council, is comprised of Trustees who are elected from - and by - URI Cooperation Circles. Each region selects three Trustees to serve on the Global Council for a four-year term, providing guidance and overseeing URI’s strategic growth.

AT-LARGE TRUSTEES

Kiran Bali, MBE JP

URI Global Council Chairperson (At-Large Trustee)

Kiran Bali MBE JP is a practicing Hindu has been leading at the global interfaith level for many years. As an environmental activist, Kiran has been leading grassroots projects to help tackle climate action. Most recently, she was on the frontline of a climate march to the Vatican the entire time leading slogans of justice for the environment. She gave the Hindu opening words for the One Earth, One Family multi-faith climate march to a cheering crowd and called for all religions to join hands to create a brighter and more sustainable future through the divine spirit. She launched the Hindu declaration on Climate Change in India, and spoke at the launch of the interfaith declaration on climate change in New York. For her voluntary endeavours, Kiran has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and has been the recipient of a number of international awards. She is a regular keynote speaker at events in a number of different countries and has also addressed the UN General Assembly.

Becky Burad

URI Global Council Treasurer (At-Large Trustee)

A founder and principal of Bridgeway, LLC, a financial services company, Ms. Burad has served on the boards of Grace Cathedral, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Lutheran Social Services of North America, and has been chairperson of the URI Audit committee since 2007.

Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell

URI Trustee for North America

Dr. Campbell was inspired to strive for a culture of justice ever since Dr. Martin Luther King taught transformative nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Since then, her life’s work has been grounded in faith-based organizations, most notably in the National Council of Churches where she served as General Secretary. As one of the first female Ministers, she has always been connected with those who are marginalized and struggling to have their voices heard, and advocated for interfaith understanding as the foundation to unity and peace. Dr. Campbell has participated in some of the greatest interfaith and peacebuilding events in recent history, including leading peace missions to the Middle East and negotiating the release of American soldiers in Serbia. She is based in Ohio, USA.

Don Frew

URI At-Large Trustee

Elder Frew is a Wiccan Elder and High Priest of Coven Trismegiston in Berkeley CA. He is a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess. He has represented Wicca in interfaith work for over 30 years, including on the Board of the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, at all of the modern Parliaments of the World's Religions, and on the Board of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. He founded and serves as Director for the Lost and Endangered Religions Project and is Vice-President of The Interfaith Observer online journal. He has been active in the URI since 1998 and currently coordinates the Spirituality and the Earth CC (Multiregional). He served as a North American Trustee on the URI's first elected Global Council, as an At-Large Trustee on the second & third Global Councils, as a Continuing Trustee on the fourth Global Council, and serves again as an At-Large Trustee on the current Global Council.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr.

URI At-Large Trustee

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. is an enrolled member of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations and is an internationally recognized leader in human and community development. During the past 45 years, he has worked with Indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America, Micronesia, South East Asia, India, Hawaii and Africa. He served 16 years as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. With Elders from across North America, Chief Phil co-founded the Four Worlds International Institute (FWII). As well, Chief Phil is a Director of the Four Directions Corporation, an Indigenous owned company, incorporated in 1996 as Four Worlds’ economic development arm.

Wambui Ngige

URI At-Large Trustee

Wambui Ngige is an attorney based in Nairobi, Kenya. Wambui mobilizes young men and women to join URI and break the cycle of youth being used to propagate hate. Her experience in research and advocacy on youth and women’s rights have enabled her to use unity of religions to bring women and young people together as a way of fighting extremism and uniting Kenyans. Wambui strives to help URI engage and sustain interconnected communities to promote respect for diversity, non-violent resolution of conflict and social, political, economic, and environmental justice.

Swamini Adityananda Saraswati

URI At-Large Trustee

Swamini Adityananda is the Director of Programmes, Policy and Development of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA). GIWA was launched at UNICEF Headquarters in New York with the understanding that it is crucial to engage the world’s many faiths to address the vital cause of poor water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions, the main reason behind the majority of our world’s childhood deaths. She has over 28 years of experience in the NGO and communications sectors, having served the poor and marginalized in locations including several African nations, India, the United States, Southeast Asia, as well as at the United Nations and World Bank levels. Swamini Adityananda is also the co-founder of the Pan-African Association, which has provided direct services to survivors of war, violence, displacement and torture to over 100,000 people from nations across the world.

Sok Sidon

URI At-Large Trustee

A trustee from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sok Sidon is a member of the Youth Partners for Development and Peace CC (YPDP), which he founded and continues to lead. Sidon has been working in the interfaith community with the United Religions Initiative community since 2008, when he was one of the participants in the URI Young Leaders Program and Global Assembly. Outside of URI, Mr. Sidon works extensively with civil society organization and media since 2005, creating content to promote human rights, democracy, peace, and sustainable development through youth participation projects.

AFRICA

Ochola II Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleod Backer

URI Trustee for Africa

Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleod Backer Ochola II is a pacifist, a spiritual leader, and an advocate for peace and stability in the world. He is also a member of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a URI CC, which has become very instrumental in advocacy for peacebuilding and conflict transformation in Uganda and the world at large.

Fr. John Ng’oma

URI Trustee for Africa

With over twelve years of URI experience, Fr. John Ng’oma looks forward to bringing in new ideas that will enable URI to be more self-sustaining and to be more visible at the grassroots level. He will continue supporting the Regional Leadership Team and also serves with the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi.

Honorable Elisha Buba Yero

URI Trustee for Africa

An elder statesman, experienced peace builder and community developer, Honorable Yero is the Wakilin Kpope (ambassador to the Chief and traditional ruler of his community) in the Kaduna State of Nigeria. He works as Board Director with the Interfaith Meditation Center of the Christian/Muslim Dialogue Forum, and previously served as Special Advisor on Religious Affairs to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State. He also served as Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State Ministry of Religious Affairs, and has initiated and directed several interfaith peacebuilding initiatives. He is based in Jos, Nigeria.

ASIA

Ravindra Kandage

URI Global Council Assistant Treasurer

Mr. Kandage is the Executive Director of the Sarvodaya Shanthisena Movement, a network of organizations that spans Sri Lanka, and has represented URI since its inaugural meeting. He has been directly involved in the reconciliation process in pre- and postwar Sri Lanka, and assisted in organizing a seminar on the moral imagination in Colombo. He is based in Kesbewa, Sri Lanka.

Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku

Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku (affectionately known as “KK”) has worked at the grassroots level for a number of years and brings the success of local interfaith actions and the richness of diverse religious practices to the Global Council. Based in Kolkata, KK has worked as the regional team president for URI’s East India region and has been a mentor and facilitator for over ten years. He has also rendered pastoral service to communities, especially Muslims and Animists based at the Peace and Conflict Resolution Center. KK looks forward to continuing to build bridges and partner with likeminded organizations and government agencies promoting interfaith actions.

Dr. C.N.N. Raju

URI Trustee for Asia

Dr. C.N.N. Raju has been doing interfaith work since 1965. Presently he is the Hon. Secretary of Brahmo Samaj, Basavanagudi, Bangalore and Hon. National Treasurer of Central Council of Bhahmo Samaj, which is the apex body governing 60 Mandirs (churches) located in different parts of India. The vast exposure which he has gained over the past many decades in serving interfaith, social, and service organizations have helped him learn to address social and community issues successfully. Dr. Raju lives in Bangalore, India.

EUROPE

Daniel Eror

URI Trustee for Europe

Daniel Eror’s experience comes from both field work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and from running Youth for Peace, an NGO and URI CC, for the last 4 years. With more than 10 years of work in the field of interreligious dialogue, peacebuilding and reconciliation, his work has mostly been in providing seminars, workshops and training in order to reconstruct people’s mutual trust, allowing them to meet each other and start to think constructively.

Petar Gramatikov

URI Trustee for Europe

Mr. Gramatikov is a hierodeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as well a Doctor (Didiaskalos) of the Universal Orthodox Church. He is currently the Chief Expert in religious questions in the municipality of Plovdiv, as well as Vice President of the Eastern European Forum for Dialogue-Bridges NGO. He has been working for years in the field of human rights, defending the traditional view of Orthodox church in terms of respect for all beliefs, beside all theological conceptions. He is based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Marianne Horling

URI Trustee for Europe

An artist and teacher, Ms. Horling is a member of an intercultural choir and has worked with migrant children from many different backgrounds, teaching them to explore and reflect upon the world of art. She spent many years working with a member of the German Parliament, has participated in several interfaith conferences and organized seminars on the hidden meanings of fairy tales. She is based in Bonn, Germany.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Salette Aquino

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Ms. Aquino was born into a Catholic family and did not have any exposure to other religious traditions until 1997 when Pope John Paul II expressed his desire for a more ecumenical church, inspiring her to explore other faiths. This journey led her to URI in 2000 and to a CC, introducing her to many different religions and traditions. With her 15 years’ experience in URI in Brazil and in wider Latin American work, she is looking forward to apply the lessons of her journey to fostering more interfaith dialogue for more effective approaches to poverty, hunger, injustice, environmental issues, and intolerance in our communities. She is based in Campinas, Brazil.

Sofia Painiqueo

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Ms. Painiqueo is an experienced Mapuche leader and activist, working for the preservation, dissemination, and sociopolitical, economic, and cultural development of the Mapuche people. She founded the Aflailai Foundation in 1980 in Santiago, and has facilitated and participated in several workshops and training courses for organizations, communities, colleges and universities, lectures, and conferences to further understanding of indigenous issues and the Mapuche culture. She contributes to the development of a grapheme alphabet to write the Mapuche language, produces Mapuche music, and directed a documentary on the Mapuche in Chile. Ms. Painqueo was a candidate for Member of Parliament, a Councillor of the Lumaco commune, represents Mapuche women in different national and international meetings, and is a member of URI as a woman of faith and based on her firm belief in the need for more inclusive intercultural dialogue. She is based in Lumaco, Chile.

Rev. David Limo Pajar

URI Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean

Rev. Pajar has dedicated his life to bringing people together through understanding and peace, dreaming of a global village where everyone can live in warmth and generosity. He believes that to truly give voice to the most excluded and uniting local, regional, and global efforts will allow communities to build from the diversity of our experience rather than letting them be barriers. This spirit of cooperation requires responding to circumstances without prejudice, expectations, or requirements. He is based in Lima, Peru.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Dr. Ahmed Osama Abu Doma

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

A member of URI from 2004, Dr. Abu Doma is also a researcher, university lecturer, and social activist. He has been involved with various international and local organizations including the Al Karma Foundation, Al Ilkhaa Aldiny, Rotary International, and the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. He is an elected officer of the Egyptian Engineering Syndicate Board, regularly speaks and participates in international and Egyptian conferences and seminars, and has appeared on several political and economic television shows. Dr. Abu Doma holds a doctorate from Helwan University, Cairo. He is based in Dokki, Egypt.

Naoufal El Hammoumi

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

Mr. El Hammoumi started working with youth NGOs in Morocco when he was seven years old, and went on to found several national and international level initiatives focused on youth empowerment and engagement in peace tolerance. He is the president of the Young Peoples' Development NGO in Tiflet, the founder of Salam Shabab CC, and a founder-member of the Association of Arab Youths, the International League of Young Journalists, and the Arab Fund to Support Mobility for Young People. Selected as one of the top ten best young journalists in Morocco in 2003 by the Moroccan government, he is also regularly featured in the press and authors works on subjects pertinent to his activism. Through his work with Salam Shabab CC particularly, he hopes to contribute to establishing a harmonious society with people of different religions and an appreciation of this diversity of faith. He is based in Tiflet, Morocco.

Ameenah Ezzat Yaqoob

URI Trustee for Middle East and North Africa

Ms. Yaqoob started her journey as an interfaith activist in 2005 as a participant in a program on religion’s role in conflict; though she believes that religion can be instrumental to or become a mask for violence, she has seen firsthand that many recent conflicts have also involved religious beliefs themselves. She has worked for a range of international and local NGOs including ActionAid, the International Rescue Committee, Right to Play, CARE International, and currently the Luminous Group, with a strong focus on monitoring and evaluation, training, and capacity building. She is a member of various organizations including the Jordan Youth Forum, Leaders of Tomorrow, the Jordanian-Danish Dialogue Center, the Arab Network for Dialogue, and Youth Spirit. She is based in Amman, Jordan.

MULTIREGION

Suchith Abeyewickreme

URI Trustee for Multiregion

Mr. Abeyewickreme was born in Bangkok but has spent most of his life Sri Lanka. Initially intending to be an electrical engineer, he realized his life path lay in social development and peacebuilding. In university, he was part of AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run leadership organization, spending several years in various leadership roles within the organization. Currently, he serves as the Secretariat Coordinator for the South Asia Region of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) at Sarvodaya, coordinating interfaith and intercultural ethics education programs for children in South Asia. He has also been involved in many projects on education, entrepreneurship, leadership, HIV/AIDS, and cultural diversity. He is based in Kiribathgoda, Sri Lanka.

Elana Rozenman

URI Trustee for Multiregion

Ms. Rozenman is the Founder and Executive Director of “TRUST - Emun”, an Israeli organization building trust and mutual understanding among people of different faiths in the Middle East in the midst of violent conflict. She has been involved in interfaith and inter-cultural work since the recovery of her son from being severely wounded in a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997. She co-founded the WIN URI in 2006 as an interactive global network for women's projects to be realized locally and globally. She co-founded the TRUST WIN (Women’s Interfaith Network) and has led Women’s Walks for Peace locally, regionally, and internationally – most recently at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She co-coordinates the WIN MENA (Women’s Interfaith Network of the Middle East and North Africa) which is involved in training women leaders in the region. She is based in Jerusalem, Israel.

Audri Scott Williams

URI Global Council Secretary (Multiregion Trustee)

Ms. Williams was first introduced to URI in 2005 as a walker on the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers on their world tour. Being a CC member and experiencing the network of support inspired her to become an advocate for interfaith and intergenerational dialogue as a foundation for creating peaceful and just communities. She has received several awards for her service, including the Presidential Certificate of Merit from President Bill Clinton; HBO’s Hearing Her Voice, Telling Her Story Award; Volvo for Life’s American Heroes Award; and the 2008 URI Bowes Award to the Trail of Dreams Team. She is based in Alabama, USA.

NORTH AMERICA

Fred Fielding

URI Trustee for North America

Mr. Fielding is an Episcopalian and a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, and first discovered interfaith work as a seminary student. His background in television production has also translated into his interfaith work, supporting youth activists and use of digital technology to enable a deeper interfaith, inter-generational focus. He has produced videos and facilitated programs with youth and digital media as an entry to interfaith relationship building for URI, Partners in Peace, and Crop Walk SF. He is based in California, USA.

Johnny Martin

URI Trustee for North America

Johnny Martin is a student at Arizona State University (ASU) studying Religion, Public Life, and Conflict. He is the founder of Sun Devils Are Better Together (SunDABT), an interfaith student organization and URI Cooperation Circle at ASU. He is a board member of the Arizona Faith Network (also a URI Cooperation Circle). Johnny was a Young Adult Scholar with the North American Interfaith Network in 2015 and is a former Better Together Coach at Interfaith Youth Core. He is a convert to Islam and has been practicing Sufism since he became Muslim in 2014.

Valeria Vergani

URI Trustee for North America

Valeria Vergani is a religious studies scholar and interfaith activist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She was born and raised among the vineyards of Valpolicella, in Northern Italy, and lived in the Polish capital city of Warsaw for two years. She moved to British Columbia to attend Quest University Canada, where she studied contemporary expressions of Tibetan Buddhism in the kingdom of Bhutan. Currently she serves as Interfaith Coordinator for City in Focus Foundation, an interdenominational Christian organization, and as a Director of the InterSpiritual Sustainability Society, a registered URI Cooperation Circle in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ardey Turner

Ex Officio Trustee

Ardey Turner is a Reiki Master, Healer, Trainer and Medical Intuitive. She has been a part of URI since 1998 in putting on two conferences at Stanford and at Carnegie Mellon for the charter signing. She formed the Multiregion Circle of Healers Cooperation Circle. As chair of the Leadership Council, Ardey piloted a variety of experimental fundraising programs for the region.

SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Dr. Potre Diramptan-Diampuan

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Dr. Potre Diramptan-Diampuan comes to the Global Council after having previously served as a Regional Coordinator and a Senior Interfaith Advisor for the Philippines. She is a co-founding member of the United Kingdom- Philippines Partners for Peace (UKPPP), a group organized by the Filipino scholars (from Mindanao) to the UK with the support of the British Council – Philippines to assist in the peacebuilding efforts in Mindanao.  In the Philippine bureaucracy, Dr. Potre is also a Consultant at the Office of the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) on Peace and Other Special Concerns. As an educator, she has been in many teacher trainings to personally train and help teachers include peacebuilding approaches to their curricula and school activities. In addition, she has been functioning as a speaker and lecturer on topics intended to deepen interfaith and intercultural understanding across societies.

Peter Mousaferiadis

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Mr. Mousaferiadis has had an extensive career as a creative director, producer, artistic director, music director, composer and a champion of intercultural dialogue. He has established himself as one of Australia’s leading cross cultural directors. Peter has directed large scale intercultural concerts and ceremonies throughout Australia, China, the Philippines, and Malaysia. In 2003, Peter founded Cultural Infusion, a global social enterprise that works with schools, youth, digital media and the arts to promote cultural harmony for a more cohesive and richer society. Cultural Infusion delivers programs in India, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Cambodia and throughout Australia. Cultural Infusion has been the recipient of numerous awards including the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Intercultural Innovation Award. In 2015, Peter was appointed as an Associate to the UNESCO Chair for Intercultural and Interreligious Relations, Asia-Pacific, and elected as a board member of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria. In 2014, Peter was appointed a patron of the Model Global Parliament and in the same year was presented with the Cultural Revolution Award by the Punjab Government of Pakistan in recognition of 25 years’ contribution to cultural diversity through arts and cultural programs. He is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Bishop Stephen L. Villaester

URI Trustee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Chairing the Interfaith Council for Peace in Mindanao, Bishop Stephen L. Villaester has been doing interfaith work for over twenty years. He knows that accomplishing the goals of URI at the local level contributes to the synergy that is created at the global level.

EXECUTIVE TRUSTEES

The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing

President and Founding Trustee

Bishop William Swing is the President and Founder of the URI. Bishop Swing had the original vision of URI in 1993 in response to an invitation from the United Nations which asked him to host an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Bishop Swing served as the Episcopal Bishop of California from 1980 until his retirement in 2006. In that capacity, he was a national and international leader in response to the AIDS crisis, co-founded Episcopal Community Services to address San Francisco’s homeless problem, and co-founded Community Bank of the Bay to support local businesses and the economy.

Bishop Swing is an inspirational speaker and an author, most recently of A Bishop's Quest: Founding a United Religions and The Sacred and the Silly: A Bishop's Playful and Eventful Life. Both books are available on Amazon.com; the proceeds of book sales will benefit URI.

The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr.

Executive Director

Victor Kazanjian comes to URI as a lifelong peacebuilder dedicated to interfaith and intercultural understanding. For the past two decades, he served as Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life, Dean of Intercultural Education, Co-Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Program, and Director of the India Program at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA. Victor’s work at Wellesley College is widely acknowledged as the catalyst in the national and international movement to include religious diversity and spirituality as core issues in higher education. Specializing in inter-religious dialogue and conflict transformation, diversity and democracy, and peace building, Victor is a recognized thought-leader, the co-author and editor of several books and numerous articles and a frequent lecturer worldwide. In 1998, Victor co-founded Education as Transformation, an international organization working with colleges and universities around the world to promote religious pluralism and spirituality in education. He is also a visiting faculty member and Fulbright Scholar at the Malaviya Center for Peace Research at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, and member of the Global Learning Leadership Council of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Victor is also an ordained Episcopal priest. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an B.A. from Harvard University.