The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Michael Curry has served as the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church since 2015, the first African-American to do so. He has been extensively involved in preaching missions, Crisis Control Ministry, the Absalom Jones initiative, the brokering of millions of dollars of investment in inner city neighborhoods, and the founding of day camps, day cares, and educational centers for children and families. In addition, Bishop Curry inspired a $2.5-million restoration of St. James Episcopal Church in Baltimore after a 1993 fire. Before his election as presiding bishop, he served the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina for 15 years, where was continued to be active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality. He has received honorary degrees from Sewanne and Yale.
Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author. Her award-winning book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, helped to spark a national debate about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States and inspired racial justice organizing and advocacy efforts nationwide. Alexander has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. Currently, she is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she is exploring the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration, and working with other committed souls on multi-media projects aimed at transforming public consciousness with respect to race, justice and democracy in America.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian based in Belfast. He teaches religion, storytelling, and conflict transformation and is a popular speaker at conferences and festivals in Ireland, the U.K., the U.S., and Australia. He is the leader of the Corrymeela Community, a Christian witness to peace in Northern Ireland, and is the author of two books of poetry: Readings from the Book of Exile and Sorry for Your Troubles. His prose book of narrative theology, In the Shelter: Finding a home in the world, was published in 2015 and described as “A profound, fluent, and searching spiritual autobiography…seasoned by resilience and reality” by the Church Times.
The Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman
Liz Edman is an Episcopal priest, political strategist, and writer. She is author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity (Beacon Press, 2016). She has lived and worked on the front lines of the most salient contemporary issues where religion meets sexuality, serving as an inner-city hospital chaplain to people with HIV/AIDS from 1989 to 1995 and helping craft political and communications strategies for marriage equality efforts. In 2017, she partnered with Parity to create Glitter+Ash Wednesday, a project to increase the visibility of progressive, queer-positive Christians and to explore Christian liturgy through a queer lens. Her writing has been featured in Salon.com, The Advocate, LGBT Nation, and Religion News Service. She lives in New York.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America. In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. He then wrote, produced, and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. He has written for daily newspapers and national magazines, and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Virginia Tech massacre. He also directed the Emmy-nominated White People, which aired on MTV in 2015. In 2016, Vargas launched #EmergingUS, a multimedia news platform he conceived focusing on race, immigration, and the complexities of multiculturalism.
Deirdre Good, Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street, formerly served as Academic Dean at General Theological Seminary and Interim Associate Academic Dean at Drew Theological School. She was Professor of New Testament at General from 1986-2015, and prior to that served as the chair of the religion department at Agnes Scott College, as well as on the religious studies faculty at Valparaiso University. She is the author of many scholarly articles and the author and co-author of numerous books, including Jesus’ Family Values, Jesus the Meek King, and Mariam, the Magdalen, and the Mother. Her latest book, co-edited with Katie Day, Courage Beyond Fear: Strategies of Formation & Resistance, (to be published in 2018) focuses on upheavals in theological education particularly human costs and theological issues.
Adnan A Zulfiqar
Adnan A. Zulfiqar is a legal scholar, educator, and strategist working on issues of criminal justice, Islamic law, and foreign policy. He is Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, a Truman National Security Fellow and a member of the Urbane Development Collaborative. His scholarly writing focuses on revolution, war, and criminality, but he regularly provides media commentary on domestic and foreign policy matters. Zulfiqar previously served as the first Interfaith Fellow and Muslim Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania and on the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia. In 2005, he co-founded, along with his sister, Banja Umodzi (“One Family”), a humanitarian organization focused on relief aid and reconstruction, as well as orphan care in the cities and rural areas of Malawi (Africa).
Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph. D.
Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph. D. is Associate Professor of Bible at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and was recently appointed as the incoming Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost. She served as Campaign Coordinator for “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters” and Associate Editor of The Torah: A Women's Commentary (URJ Press, 2008). She is the author of Figurative Language in Biblical Prose Narrative: Metaphor in the Book of Samuel (Brill, 2006) and numerous articles on biblical poetry, metaphor, and other topics. Her current research focuses on metaphors for God in the Bible.
The Rev. Winnie Varghese
The Rev. Winnie Varghese is the Priest and Director of Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street. She oversees the domestic grants program, direct service, and outreach from Trinity Church, and programming in areas of service and justice for Trinity Church. Before coming to Trinity, the Rev. Varghese was the rector of St. Mark’s in the Bowery, a historic Episcopal congregation in New York City. From 2003-2009, she served as the Episcopal Chaplain at Columbia University. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post; author of Church Meets World; editor of What We Shall Become; and author of numerous articles and chapters on social justice and the church.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones
The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones is the Priest & Director for Core Values & Latin America & Caribbean Relations at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City. In this role, he oversees the continued integration of Trinity’s core values into the life of the community, as well as develops ministry partnerships with communities that share Trinity’s values in Latin America. Fr. Mark has a wide range of experience, including 14 years of Jesuit training and work as a missionary in Belize, Brazil, Guyana, and Mexico, that trained him well for the multicultural richness of the city, and helped prepare him for working well with groups and people of various cultural backgrounds. He is an award-winning author; his most recent book is The Rastafari Book of Common Prayer.
Shawn McNesby Fischer
Shawn McNesby Fischer is a theatre-maker and educator whose workshop with incarcerated men, “Theatricalizing the Personal Narrative,” was featured in The New Yorker. Shawn specializes in facilitating participatory forms of theatre that focus on issues of youth development, social justice, and community expression. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Poughkeepsie Youth Theatre, an after-school program where youth ages 14-21 create original theatre based on their interests and life experience. Shawn was an actor and dancer in NYC for 25 years and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association. She holds a master’s degree in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York.
Yoel Haile grew up in Asmara, Eritrea and moved to California in 2006. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he received his undergraduate degrees in Black Studies and Political Science and his Masters of Public Policy. He helped initiate and negotiate black student demands to the campus chancellor that resulted in over $3.7 million immediate and committed funding for the recruitment and retention of black students, staff and faculty. As the Political Director of the Afrikan Black Coalition, Yoel helped lead campaigns that resulted in the University of California divesting all of it $25 million in holdings from private prisons and recently terminating $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo.
Chelsea MacMillan is a spiritual director, movement chaplain, and co-host of the podcast The Rising: Spirituality for Revolution. She was ordained as an interfaith/interspiritual minister at One Spirit in 2015, was a cohort of the 2017 Spiritual Direction Practicum at Still Harbor, and is currently a student of the Living School, with Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault. Chelsea has served as the Program Manager for The Reciprocity Foundation, as the Interfaith Advisor for Kids4Peace, and is the co-founder of the Brooklyn Center for Sacred Activism, an interfaith/no-faith/spiritual but-not-religious community bound together by a shared commitment to making the world a better place.
Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul
Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul is past chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. Professionally, he is a Critical Care specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago and Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Dr. Sahloul cofounded MedGlobal, a medical NGO, to address global health disparity and to send medical volunteers to disaster areas. His many awards include Chicagoan of the year for 2016 for risking his life in medical missions to Aleppo, the Heroes Among Us award by the American Red Cross, the Commitment to Change Award by the National Immigration Justice Center, and the annual humanitarian award by UNICEF Chicago 2017.
Irene Kapustina | Director
Irene Kapustina is a stage director and educator. Born and raised in Minsk, Belarus, Irene came to the US to study theater (Loyola University, Chicago) and attend Second City. Irene has directed at The Barrow Group, The Drama League, The Kraine, Manhattan Rep, Hunter College, and other venues. With a deep interest in using art to develop community and build international relations, Irene obtained an M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. Founder of The Angle Project, a New York City-based theatrical production company and performance art initiative, Irene helps displaced and multicultural communities.