WE HAVE AN EXTRAORDINARY LINEUP OF SPEAKERS
PLEASE CLICK ON “+” TO READ THIER TITLE AND BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Ed Bastian holds a Doctorate in Buddhist Studies and is the founder and president of Spiritual Paths Foundation. His writing and teaching is the product of over forty years of research, study, and teaching, especially during the past decade, with over fifty esteemed teachers from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and Native American traditions. He is the award winning co-author of Living Fully Dying Well, author of InterSpiritual Meditation, author of Creating Your Spiritual Paths, publisher of Meditations for InterSpiritual Wisdom, and producer of documentaries on religion for the BBC and PBS.
Ed is the former co-director of the Forum on BioDiversity for the Smithsonian and National Academy of Sciences, teacher of Buddhism and world religions at the Smithsonian, an Internet entrepreneur and translator of Buddhist scriptures from Tibetan into English. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Antioch University in Santa Barbara where he is teaching courses on Buddhism, meditation and religion. Ed teaches online courses as well as seminars and retreats at such organizations as One Spirit Interfaith, Chaplaincy Institute, CIIS, Sacred Art of Living and Dying, Interspiritual Centre of Vancouver, Cascadia Center, Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Hollyhock Retreat Center, Garrison Institute and La Casa de Maria.
He is the Co-President of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara, co-founder of ECOFaith Santa Barbara and member of the United Religions Initiative Environmental Cooperation Circle.
BIO: Adam Bucko is an Activist and the Spiritual Guide for homeless youth in New York City. He is an advocate for a contemplative approach to social change. He grew up in Poland behind the Iron Curtain and spent his early years exploring the anarchist youth movement as a force for social and political change. At the age of 17, Adam immigrated to America where his desire to find his path towards a meaningful life led him to monasteries in the US and India. His life-defining experience took place in India, where on his way to a Himalayan hermitage he met a homeless child who lived on the streets of Delhi. This brief encounter led him to the “Ashram of the Poor” where he began his work with homeless youth. After returning to the US, he worked on the streets of various American cities with young people struggling against homelessness and prostitution. In 2004, Adam co-founded (with Taz Tagore) the Reciprocity Foundation, an award winning nonprofit that empowers homeless and at-risk youth to break the cycle of poverty. The Foundation offers programs that combine contemplative, therapeutic, and creative tools for personal transformation with business skills
BIO: Dr. M. Darrol Bryant was raised on the prairies of North Dakota. He received his B.A.in Philosophy and Political Science from Concordia College in Minnesota, USA, his S.T.B. from Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, USA and his MA and PhD from the Institute of Christian Thought at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, Canada. He has been teaching since 1967 and has taught at Renison College in the University of Waterloo since 1973. He is a Professor of Religion and Culture and has been the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at University of Waterloo. He has authored/edited eighteen volumes in the study of religion including A World Broken by Unshared Bread, God: The Contemporary Discussion, and Religion In A New Key. He has just completed editing a volume on Muslim Christian Dialogue: Problems and Promise. For the past twenty years he has been deeply involved in interfaith dialogue and the dialogue of religions. He has spent two sabbaticals in India, together with his family, exploring the many religious communities of India.
Ever since his childhood on the plains of Dakota near a Native American reservation, Darrol had been keen to know more about his own Christian faith and the faiths of others. That passion has continued and deepened through his studies and through many opportunities to meet people of different faiths in their own settings — e.g., in ashrams, temples, masjids and gurdwaras in India, in Buddhist monasteries in Korea, Sri Lanka and Japan, and in masjids in Egypt and Turkey. His hope is that SHEN can become a resource and a place of dialogue about the wisdom essential to a life of spiritual depth.
BIO: Dr. Cunningham is a leading speaker, author, and educator in the field of Mind-Body Medicine and Health Psychology. She is the President of Positive Health Solutions and is the Founder and Director of the renowned training program Cardiac Medical Yoga. Dr. Cunningham is also a Counseling Psychologist in private practice in Charlottesville, Va. and has been a business consultant for over 20 years. Dr. Cunningham has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally and is a widely recognized authority in health and business psychology, sleep enhancement, stress management, and medical yoga. She is also certified in Auricular Acupuncture and is a certified yoga teacher from two traditions. She has taught and practiced in these areas for over 25 years.
BIO: Elizabeth Dabney Hochman, MM, is the Founding Editor of KidSpirit Online and KidSpirit Magazine, a nonprofit web community and magazine that empowers teens to explore life’s big questions in a spirit of openness. Elizabeth has published a number of articles on spiritual development in youth, including “The Internet — A Spiritual Haven for Youth?”, The Interfaith Observer; “KidSpirit: Where Youth and the Spirit of Pluralism Converge,” newsletter and blog of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions; “KidSpirit Magazine: Youth in dialogue about life’s big questions,” New Directions for Youth Development, Jossey-Bass; and “Six Steps to Nurturing the Spirit in Adolescents, Good Things to Do: Expert Suggestions for Fostering Goodness in Kids,” Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education. KidSpirit Magazine and its website have garnered numerous awards, including a Wilbur Award for Youth Books from the Religion Communicators Council; several awards from the Parents’ Choice Foundation; three Distinguished Achievement Award (DAA) finalist nominations and a Golden Lamp finalist nomination from AEP (the Association of Educational Publishers); a Mom’s Choice Gold Award; and a NAPPA Gold Award. Elizabeth is a graduate of Princeton University, with a Masters in Music from the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She also expresses her spirit through music and worked for over fifteen years as an opera singer. Elizabeth lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
BIO: Deborah has been inspiring individuals and organizations for over 20 years. She is an expert in creating spirit-filled workplaces and in infusing audiences with the energy necessary to achieve their personal best. Her mission is to help people connect their hearts, minds and spirits to a purpose greater than the self and she believes in the sacredness of service.
Deborah began her speaking career inspiring culinary and hospitality professionals to integrate the technical, behavioral and emotional aspects of their work. With a foundation based on experiential, reflective and academic excellence, she has created and conducted workshops and keynotes that uplift audiences at every level from front line employees, directors and CEOs. Her inclusive style, targeted learning points and belief in fun are captivating. Her mantra is “the more serious the message, the more fun the presentation.”
Deborah holds a Masters in Organizational and Spiritual Psychology as well as a Doctor of Divinity and blends her expertise in leadership development, organizational dynamics, corporate culture change and spiritual growth to the benefit of customers, co-workers and corporations. Her work has enabled organizations to create and sustain environments where people are valued as much as profit and where business results and achievements are celebrated.
With over 15 years in the challenging healthcare market, Deborah has a proven track record of increasing employee retention, enhancing engagement and elevating customer satisfaction by utilizing interactive workshops, launching initiatives with inspirational keynotes and offering detailed follow-up coaching sessions. Her work has been published in corporate newsletters, healthcare journals and she is a much requested speaker in the healthcare, hospitality and spiritual networks.
As a spiritual life coach, Deborah has supported the personal journeys of diverse individuals and groups as they pursued their path of spiritual fulfillment. Believing in inquiry rather than advocacy, her coaching sessions proffer thoughtful questions with depth and breadth that compel critical thinking and personal discernment.
BIO: Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick is Australia’s leading author in the area of personal and spiritual development. Her work is distinguished by its originality, compassion and accessibility. She has had the rare distinction of writing five No.1 bestselling books. They include Intimacy and Solitude, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, The Universal Heart and Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials.
She is also the author of Everyday Kindness, and of In the Company of Rilke, the only spiritual study of the work of the European poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Her newest book is Heaven on Earth: Timeless Prayers of Wisdom and Love, which is in many ways a companion volume to Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another. Seeking the Sacred was called by Claire Scobie in the Sydney Morning Herald a “chalice of wisdom”. Heaven on Earth has been highly praised, including by Dr Mark Burrows who called it “a book to cherish” and Dr Marj Britt who wrote, “Stephanie Dowrick emerges as a mystical poet with a radiance of her own in the company of those whose words she has chosen.” Her books have been translated into many languages.
Stephanie Dowrick was born in New Zealand and lived in Europe for many years. She was founder and first Managing Director of the prestigious independent London publishing house, The Women’s Press, which published some of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. She has lived in Sydney with her family since 1983. She is also a trained psychotherapist and for many years had a small private practice, until the demands of ministry and public speaking more generally made that impossible to continue. She was for some years wellbeing presenter for Breast Cancer Network Australia, and was an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney (where she graduated with a PhD degree).
Stephanie was the very popular “Inner Life” columnist for Good Weekend Magazine from 2001-2010 (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age), and for many years was a frequent guest on ABC Radio.
BIO: Amy Edelstein, cofounder of Emergence Education is a gifted spiritual teacher, educator, and author committed to individual transformation and the evolution of our shared values. A Cornell University College Scholar, Amy has a background in Judaic philosophy as well as in Eastern thought. She studied with a number of preeminent Vedantic and Buddhist teachers in the early 1980s then began practicing evolutionary enlightenment with Andrew Cohen in 1986. Passionate about human development and the unfolding of our mystical stirrings within, Amy teaches a variety of transformational programs in the US and abroad. She is author of Love, Marriage & Evolution and loves taking long walks with her husband by their home in historic Philadelphia exploring life, liberty, and the pursuit of true happiness.
BIO: Rev. Philip Goldberg is a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister. The author or coauthor of 19 books, he lectures and leads workshops throughout the country. A novelist and screenwriter as well, he lives in Los Angeles, where he founded Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates (SWAHA). He is Director of Outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net. and blogs regularly on the Huffington Post and Intent.com. His column, “Spiritual Wellness” appears regularly on Healthworld Online and is archived at www.healthy.net. He blogs on www.Intent.com and on his own website, www.PhilipGoldberg.com.
TITLE: Host of the art show and poetry reading
BIO: Rev. Kathy S. Gracenin, OUnI, is the administrator of OUnI’s ministry for artists, the Chalice of the Heart.
BIO: Rev. Debra Hansen, M.A. lives in northern Michigan where she works as a life and leadership coach and interfaith minister. Her passions include personal growth and development and bringing people together in new ways. She has a growing interest in social justice, eco-theology, and new paradigms for sustainable living. She spent a month working at Damanhur, the world’s largest eco-village. Deb completed an internship and residency at the Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace Hospital in a challenging and rewarding inner city environment. She offers labyrinth walks and retreats and was founder and chair of the Labyrinth Project of Northern Michigan. She volunteers in a variety of community service organizations and enjoys kayaking, hiking, and making pottery. Several years ago, she walked the 500-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. She had a 20-year career with IBM in marketing and communications. She has lived and worked in Europe and thrives in multicultural environments, speaking fluent French and some German. Deb received a B.A. from Aquinas College and an M.A. from Marquette University. She studied coaching at New York University and Coach U. She was ordained in October 2007.
BIO: Rev. Dr. Kurt Johnson CMH has worked in science and spirituality for over 40 years. In spirituality Kurt is co-author of the recently published book THE COMING INTERSPIRITUAL AGE with David Robert Ord. As a New Release the book has been in Amazon’s Top Ten in Spirituality. In science Kurt is the co-author of the best-selling NABOKOV’s BLUES, with Steve Coates of The New York Times, which was a Top Ten Book in science in 2000. Kurt founded, with Br. Wayne Teasdale and others, the InterSpiritual Dialogue (www.isdna.org) association for discussion of contemplative experience across traditions. Ordained in three spiritual traditions, he works also with The Contemplative Alliance (www.gpiw.org) and the Community of The Mystic Heart. In science Kurt’s PhD is in evolution, ecology, systematics and comparative biology. Associated with the American Museum of Natural History (30 yrs.) he published 200+ articles on evolution and ecology. He is a board member of OUnI.
BIO: Swami Shraddhananda aka Rev. Dr. Sonya Jones, OUnI is Professor of World Religions and Adviser to the Master of Theological Studies degree program at The New Seminary in New York City. She also teaches Comparative World Religions in the Honors Program at The University of Kentucky. She serves as Spiritual Director of Slate Branch Ashram, home of Adishraddha or Sacred Feet Yoga, an Interfaith/Interspiritual/Intra-Tantric system of spiritual studies. Her book-length text entitled Jesus Was a Shaktipat Guru is scheduled for release from The SACRED FEET Publishing Imprint later this year and as a three-part class for Wholistika, LLC, a new Internet company in northern California Sometimes called “a female Huston Smith,” Swami Shraddhananda has lectured on six continents.
BIO: Ken Kitatani was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and grew up New York City, while attending the United Nations International School. He currently is the Executive Director of Forum 21 Institute, a multidisciplinary association for catalyzing positive, integrative solutions and actions for human and environmental upliftment (www.forum-21.org) .
In 1995 Ken was ordained as a minister for Sukyo Mahikari Centers for Spiritual Development (www.centersforspiritualdevelopment.org) and currently serves as the Assistant Director of the San Francisco Center and also as the representative to the United Nations for Sukyo Mahikari .
Since 2007, Ken has been the USA representative of Women In Need International, an NGO that advocates for gender equality and sustainability. He is also on the Board of “What Shape is Green?” a program of peace sculptures for the environment and is an advisor to the Happiness Initiative (www.happycounts.org).
Ken graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies.
In the 80’s Ken studied Vipassana meditation extensively in Myanmar (Burma) under the guidance of U Tagaya and U Janaka. In 2003 he received his certification as an instructor of Vini Yoga from Larry Payne, author of Yoga for Dummies.
BIO: Rev. Mac Legerton, is a community and eco-minister who is co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Community Action – CCA – (www.centerforca.org) in rural, Robeson County, N.C. CCA is one of the oldest, multicultural nonprofit organizations in the rural South. He is a member and leader in the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, a national training and lifelong learning program in spiritual guidance, mysticism, depth/transpersonal psychology, and evolutionary cosmology. He is also a leader, former Board Member, and Resident of the national, Windcall Institute. For his three-decades of successful, multi-cultural practice in social and environmental justice and sustainability, he received the 2007 Distinguished Service to Rural Life Award of the national Rural Sociological Society. He is founder of River Way Outdoor Adventure and Education Center (www.riverwayadventures.org) and co-founder of Feast DownEast (www.feastdowneasts.org), the regional, local food system initiative in Southeastern, N.C. He is a frequent speaker, trainer, retreat leader, and writer in the fields of contemplative spirituality, sustainability, and social justice. He is presently writing a book on contemplative and eco-spirituality entitled: “Spirit Sense: Awakening and Living in the Fullness of God.” He is an ordained minister in the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. He has the following degrees: BA in Religion and Philosophy, St. Andrews University, Laurinburg, NC, MAETS, Union Theological Seminary, NY, NY, ABD-EdD, Columbia University, Teachers College, NY, NY
BIO: Rev. Jean A. Leone OUnI RN MS , is the OUnI Secretary Emeritus. She has held a multitude of Senior Level Positions in the Healthcare Arena, and is licensed as a CALA by the Department of Health and Senior Services. She is a Disaster Chaplain and part of the response team for Disaster Chaplaincy Services in NY and NJ. She presently is the lead consultant for Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, and has joined Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences as faculty in the Nursing Program. Her passion is for the implementation of a unified model of “interfaith-interspiritual pastoral care” training.
Rev. Leone has been a Registered Nurse for 31 years, her clinical clinical specialties include: oncology, pallative, hospice, and pain control. She has been a Hospice Chaplain since 2005and is presently full time faculty in the Nursing Program at Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences in NYC. Rev. Leone holds a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership, End-of -Life Certification, will complete her second Masters Degree next month, an MSN-Ed, is presently completing her Doctorate in Holistic Theology at AIHT, and is enrolled in the DNP program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is the president and founder of YATRA Inc. and a co-founder of OUnI, and CIC-USA.
BIO: Rev. Dr. Thomas (Tom) D. Lynch is President of the International Academy for Interfaith Studies (Academy) and before that he retired from a 34 year career as a Professor in 2008. In that career, he served on the faculty of Syracuse University, Mississippi State University, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and Louisiana State University. He is Professor Emeritus from LSU. His research and teaching area was public administration. In that capacity he wrote or edited approximately 100 articles and book chapters as well as 16 books. His service included being national President of the American Society for Public Administration in 1992/1993 as well as editor of the Public Manager (1972 to 1982) and Global Virtue Ethics Review (1998 to 2003).
In 2003, Dr. Lynch was ordained an Interfaith Minister. He has presented several sermons and talks in Orlando, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; McAllen, Texas; and San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico. Some of them are posted here under Talks and Sermons. He wrote a column for Interfaith Today focusing on theology. Those columns and his other Interfaith published work are posted here under Academy Publications. He and his wife, Rev. Dr. Cynthia E. Lynch, have written two books: The Word of the Light and the Christian Enigma: Back to the Future. The latter book will shortly be published and the former is available on Amazon.Com.
In 2010, he started the Academy as an institution focusing on training individuals to be Interfaith Ministers but also providing training in counseling and nonprofit management. The Academy is a recognized nonprofit corporation by the State of Texas and the nation of Mexico.
BIO: From early days as a Catholic singing nun, through years as a teacher, then editor of a midwestern newspaper, Barbara Mayer has followed a lifelong spiritual path. Dedicated to finding Truth beyond teachings of patriarchal hierarchies, she promotes personal encounter with the God Source within today’s rising consciousness. Mayer is a spiritual facilitator, speaker, author, meditation guide and poet who resides and writes in Sedona, Arizona. Interspiritual Minister with the Order of Universal Interfaith.
BIO: David Robert Ord is a former Presbyterian (USA) minister and Graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary. Coauthor with Dr Robert B. Coote of The Bible’s First History—From Eden to the Court of David with the Yahwist, In the Beginning—Creation and the Priestly History, and Is the Bible True? Understanding the Bible Today, he is also author of the Namaste Publishing book Your Forgotten Self: Mirrored in Jesus the Christ. He is currently Editorial Director for Namaste Publishing.
BIO: Rev. Felicia Helen Parazaider attended the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry, and was ordained in March 2012. She holds degrees from University of California Berkeley in both Religious Studies and Peace & Conflict Studies. She has completed training programs in Spiritual Psychology as well as Tree of Life Teachings. Rev. Felicia is certified as a Reiki Level II pracitioner and is certified by Pace e Bene Nonviolent Service in nonviolent training. She has ministered extensively to drug addicts and alcoholics, both on the streets of Los Angeles in Skid Row, and as a Hospitals & Institutions (H&I) chairperson of panels going into USC County Hospital. Rev. Felicia also worked at Kaiser Hospital Oakland and Walnut Creek as a chaplain during her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training.
She is a self described radical sacred activist, traveling to India and the Middle East on peace delegations, walking over 200 miles through the Nevada desert against nuclear proliferation and for peace, as well as being arrested several times for participating in nonviolent civil resistance against drone warfare. Rev. Felicia is the founder of Revolution Of Love (ROL), an interfaith ministry which focuses on inner work of the self and outer work in the world, through the vehicles of agape love and nonviolence. The ministry meets bimonthly in the San Francisco Bay Area, for diverse, multi-faith, progressive services, as well as for “Off Wednesday” roundtable gatherings. She is the creator of “The Prayer Rope” and “The Love Challenge,” both branches of the “Revolution” that are specific ways to begin to transform oneself and this world with compassion, love, and hope. The Revolution Of Love ministry is creating an interfaith peace movement, transforming the world through the power of unconditional love and peace.
TITLE: A Tribute to Swami Satchidananda on the 100th Anniversary of His Birth
BIO: Swami Ramananda is the President of the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco and a greatly respected senior teacher in the Integral Yoga tradition, who has been practicing Yoga for 40 years. Ramananda offers practical methods of integrating the timeless teachings and practices of yoga into daily life, and transforming the painful aspects of human experience into steps toward realizing our full potential.
He leads beginner, intermediate and advanced level yoga teacher training programs in San Francisco, and offers a variety of programs in many locations in the U. S., Europe and South America. Ramananda trains Yoga teachers to bring Yoga into corporate, hospital and medical settings and has taught mind/body wellness programs in many locations. He is a founding board member of the Yoga Alliance, a national registry that supports and promotes yoga teachers as professionals. His warmth, wisdom and sense of humor have endeared him to many.
BIO: Theodore Richards is a poet, writer, and religious philosopher. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies, but has learned just as much from practicing the martial art of Bagua; from traveling, working or studying all over the world; and from the youth he has worked with on the South Side of Chicago, Harlem, the South Bronx, and Oakland. He is the author of Handprints on the Womb, a collection of poetry; Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism, and the Birth of a New Myth, recipient of the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal in religion and the Nautilus Book Awards Gold Medal; the novel The Crucifixion, recipient of the Independent Publisher Awards bronze medal and the USA Book Award; and Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto, finalist for the USA Book Award. Theodore Richards is the founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project and teaches world religions at The New Seminary. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters.
Read Rev. Salt’s 2014 Big I presentation HERE.
BIO: Rev. Bob Salt, Ph.D., is the Department Chair for Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He holds a doctorate degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University. He is a 1999 graduate of The New Seminary in New York City and is ordained by The Interfaith Temple of NYC. He has led an interfaith spiritual community for over ten years in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Rev. Salt was the founding Chairperson of the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States.
BIO: Rabbi Rami is an award winning poet and essayist, whose liturgical writings are used in prayer services throughout North America. He has written over a dozen works of translation, biblical commentary, and nonfiction. Rabbi Rami is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion and hold a doctoral degree in Judaic studies from Union Graduate School. A congregational rabbi for 20 years, Rami is currently Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, and directs One River (www.oneriver.org), a not-for-profit educational foundation devoted to building community through contemplative conversation. His most recent books are The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness, The Divine Feminine, and Ethics of the Sages. He is a board member of OUnI.
BIO: Jay Speights is an award winning author, chaplain, spiritual coach, and Director of The New Seminary, the oldest Interfaith Seminary in the world. His multi-faith approach has lead him to continuously search for common universal truths about God, creation, and existence. Jay believes we must always strive to be attuned to our Higher Self, which is reflected in his discipline of prayer, meditation, daily spiritual practice and writing. For many years he was a contributor to The Washington Times Online Edition and religionandspirituality.com, where he provided social, spiritual, and political commentary focused on getting people to interact and relate on a higher level, and to celebrate diversity as an enriching gift. A November 2009 Post from his Washington Times Blog , motivated the City Council of Washington, DC, to pass a resolution declaring March 20, 2010, “Polite Day”. The resolution was the result of his post asking the DC Government to appeal to DC residents, political leaders and commuters to be more polite and civil as they move about their neighborhoods and business in the city. In November 2007 he received the Humanitarian Award from The Punjabi Literary Society for Distinguished Commentary at Lincoln Center in New York for his commentary about the how Sikhs are subjected to harsh treatment because of their faith and cultural traditions. Jay is a graduate of Howard University, where he earned a BA in Political Science and MA in Public Affairs. In 2005, he graduated from The New Seminary For Interfaith Studies in New York, was ordained by The Interfaith Temple also in New York, and is enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary for postgraduate work in Ecumenism.
BIO: Author of critically acclaimed new translations of the mystics, and reflections on the unifying teachings at the heart of all spiritual paths. Mirabai Starr uses fresh, lyrical language to help make timeless wisdom accessible to a contemporary circle of seekers. Mirabai has been an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos since 1993. Her emphasis is on making connections between the perennial teachings found at the heart of all the world’s spiritual paths, in an effort to promote peace and justice. Mirabai speaks and teaches nationally and internationally on the teachings of the mystics and contemplative practice, and is a certified bereavement counselor.
BIO: Rev. Lauren Van Ham, M.A., was ordained with the very first cohort of ChI ordinands in 1999, and completed the Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Course in 2006. Before joining the ChI staff in 2010, Lauren served for eight years, as a staff chaplain at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco. From there, she moved to a corporate environment, where she custom-designed employee programs for multi-national companies committed to sustainability and culture change. As part of her evolving call and commitment to “eco-chaplaincy”, Lauren served as Executive Director for Green Sangha (a non-profit dedicated to spiritually-engaged environmental activism) from 2004-2006 and currently chairs Fair Trade Berkeley, a group whose dedication helped make Berkeley the 19th Fair Trade Town in the U.S. Lauren holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, and Naropa University.
Lauren is deeply dedicated to living sustainably on Earth, our only home. She was born and raised beneath the big sky of the Midwest, and holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Naropa University, and The Chaplaincy Institute. After completing a B.F.A. in music theatre, Lauren pursued her childhood dream of living in New York City and worked off-Broadway. She moved to the Bay Area in 1998 for graduate studies in psychology, creation spirituality, and interfaith worldviews. Following her ordination in 1999, and until 2007, Lauren worked as an interfaith hospital chaplain, serving St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, where she specialized in adolescent psychiatry, palliative care and bereavement support. Between 2005 and 2006, she was the Executive Director of Green Sangha, a nonprofit organization practicing spiritually-engaged environmental activism. She is featured in Renewal, an award-winning documentary, celebrating the efforts of religious environmental activists in Green Sangha and seven other groups from diverse faith traditions across America.
In 2007, recognizing that caring for the earth had become her deep love, Lauren, with necessary naiveté and determination, entered corporate America and went to work at Saatchi & Saatchi S, a sustainability consultancy in San Francisco. There she became the Director of Consulting Services. She was a member of the founding team that designed and facilitated over 200 day-long sustainability workshops for the 1.2 million associates of Walmart Stores, Inc. She has worked with a range of Fortune 1000 clients, combining her passion and skills to custom-design curriculum and facilitate trainings to increase awareness, encourage behavior change and build new bridges between the inner/outer ecology of individuals and organizations, one person at a time. Integrating her professional work with her commitment to interfaith spirituality and eco-justice, Lauren sought endorsement from her seminary, renewed her ordination vows and, in the summer of 2007, professed herself an Eco-Chaplain. Currently, Lauren tends her private spiritual direction and consulting practice, and serves as Dean for her alma mater, The Chaplaincy Institute, in Berkeley, CA.