Advisory Board Member Bios
Rabbi Justus N. Baird has served as the Director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City since 2007. He oversees the seminary's multifaith programming which strives to prepare religious leaders for a religiously diverse world. Rabbi Baird was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion where he studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. He received a B.S. from Rice University and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resource Management from Harvard Business School. He has taught, preached in, and consulted with seminaries, churches, synagogues, mosques, and interfaith organizations. He teaches the Multifaith Seminar in the Multifaith Doctor of Ministry Program (a partnership between Auburn and New York Theological Seminary). His chapter "Multifaith Continuing Education: Leading Faithfully in a Religiously Diverse World" will be published in early 2009 in the revised edition of A Lifelong Call to Learn: Approaches to Continuing Education for Christian Leaders (Reber and Roberts, eds.).
Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari is Executive Director of the Center for Islam and Public Policy (CIPP) and Director of the American Muslim Studies Program (AMSP) at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. From 1999-2004, he directed Project MAPS: Muslims in American Public Square, which examined the role and contribution of the Muslim community to the American public life. Dr. Bukhari's research interests focus on religion and politics in the United States and South Asia. From 1978 to 1983, he was executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion (PIPO), Islamabad, a member of Gallup International. He served as co-editor of three volumes of the Project MAPS Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Fears, Hopes and Aspirations (published in 2004); Muslim in America: Engaging Polity and Society in Post 9/11 Era(forthcoming); and Prominent American Muslims: A Who's Who Compendium (forthcoming). Dr. Bukhari is a member of Mid-Atlantic Catholic-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Dr. Bukhari is an executive committee member of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations (WCMIR). He holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Karachi (Pakistan) and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut (USA).
Joseph Cornelius Donnelly serves as Permanent Delegate to the United Nations for Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social services organizations with programs in more than 200 countries and territories. As the Caritas representative to the UN, Donnelly has developed working groups with both secular and faith-based NGOs to highlight particular needs of countries and peoples caught in crises, both those well-covered by the media and those "hidden crises" with equally profound destruction of life, land, human rights and basic hopes. Some of these are focused on Northern Uganda, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and Iraq.
Mr. Donnelly’s has worked on Middle East issues for the last two decades, during many years of which he lived in the region and worked to build partnerships in diverse efforts with governments, civil society, religious leaders and the international community. His involvement with and on behalf of Iraqi refugees began in 1991 with the urgent humanitarian needs that followed the first Gulf War. He has continued to the present day working with Caritas programs, NGO partners and U.N. colleagues in the region while advocating at UN headquarters with member states and the UN Security Council.
Muneer Fareed currently serves as Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Dr. Fareed is a co-founder of ALIM, the American Learning Institute for Muslims, which for the past ten years has been involved in introducing classical Islamic thinking to Western audiences, and a fellow of ISPU, a think tank that provides analysis and policy solutions through publications, public events, media commentary, and community research. Dr. Fareed is a graduate of King Abdul Aziz University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and received his Ph.D. in Islamic Law from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Peter Makari has served as executive for the Middle East and Europe with the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since July 1, 2000. For seven of the previous ten years he lived in the Middle East, where he worked with the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) in Cairo, Egypt (1991-1994), and then with the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Limassol, Cyprus (1997-2000). He earned an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo (1993) and a Ph.D. in Politics and Middle East Studies from New York University (2003). He is the author of Conflict and Cooperation: Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt (Syracuse University Press, 2007).
Anisa Mehdi is an Emmy Award-winning journalist specializing in religion, and the arts. She is Artistic Director of Documentary Voices: Pulling Focus , Dubai 2008 and media consultant to the Abraham Path Initiative. For over 20 years she has reported, written, directed and produced television news and documentary programs for major American media outlets, including National Geographic, PBS, ABC News, and CBS, and her commentaries have been heard on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” She has written perspective pieces for newspapers, magazines and Internet sites. Anisa Mehdi is founder and president of Whetstone Productions, a New Jersey-based production and consulting company. She is adjunct Professor of Communications at Seton Hall University.
Rabbi Amy Schwartzman is the senior rabbi of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia, a Reform Jewish Congregation serving 1400 families. Rabbi Schwartzman is a former member of the Executive Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), where she currently serves on its placement commission. Rabbi Schwartzman served as co-coordinator of the Women's Rabbinic Network from 1997-1999 and has worked at the community level with organizations including the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, with national and local housing organizations, and with community AIDS projects. Also on the local level she is a past president of the Mclean (Virginia) Clergy Association.
In 2008, Rabbi Schwartzman was listed by Newsweek Magazine as one of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in America; she was also named one of the "Forward 50" in 2003 (a list of prominent Jewish leaders published annually by the Forward) as well as one of the 10 Jewish "Women to Watch" by the Jewish Women International organization. She received her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Hebrew Literature degree and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
BURTON L. VISOTZKY
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky serves as the Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), where he joined the faculty upon his ordination in 1977. He has served as a dean of the JTS Graduate School, as founding rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the Seminary Synagogue, and as director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS. Dr. Visotzky is a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, and has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University as well as a visiting faculty member at, among others, Union Theological Seminary, Princeton University, and the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow. Rabbi Visotzky served as the Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome during the spring of 2007.
He is active in Jewish–Christian–Muslim dialogue internationally, in capitals such as Washington, Warsaw, Rome, Cairo, Doha, Qatar (where he was in the first group of Jews invited to dialogue by the Emir), and Madrid (where he was in the first group of Jews invited by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia). Dr. Visotzky is the author of nine books and one hundred articles and reviews.
BARBARA BROWN ZIKMUND
Barbara Brown Zikmund has taught and been a leader in theological education for the past 30 years. She has been president of Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT, president of the Association of Theological Schools, and president of the World Conference of Associations of Theological Institutions. She has also served as Professor at the Graduate School of American Studies of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Dean of the Faculty at California’s Pacific School of Religion, and Director of Studies and assistant professor at Chicago Theological Seminary. Dr. Zikmund continues to teach and pursue research and writing in relationship to three institutions: as a Visiting Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Monotheistic Religions at Doshisha University in Japan; as a Research Scholar at the Life Cycle Institute at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; and as a Visiting /Adjunct Faculty member at Wesley Theological Seminary, also in Washington, DC. She is also currently the Director of a two year research project on "Women in Leadership" sponsored by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Zikmund has served on the Program on Theological Education of the World Council of Churches and the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. She has received distinguished alumna awards from Beloit College and Duke Divinity School, the distinguished career service award of the Association of Theological Schools, and the Antoinette Brown Award honoring exceptional United Church of Christ women in ministry. She served as co-chair of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA from 1999-2007 and is a member of the International Association of Women Ministers, the American Society of Church History, and a member of the American Academy of Religion’s Advisory Committee on Theological Education.
LOBNA “LUBY” ISMAIL
Luby Ismail is founder and president of Connecting Cultures, Inc., is a training specialist with over fifteen years of experience in the areas of cross-cultural communication, cultural competency, Arab and American cultures, Islamic awareness and religious diversity. Ismail is the author of “Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa” and “Finding Diversity.” She is frequently used as an expert by national media and major international news programs and recently received press in Associated Press, The Washington Post, BBC World News and PBS’ Religion and Ethics News. She holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a B.A. in International Service from The American University in Washington, DC. She has traveled throughout Europe, including Bosnia and Croatia, and the Middle East, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel.