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Speakers - World Day of Prayer and Action

Speakers

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Alice Wairimu Nderitu

of Kenya is the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Ms. Nderitu is a recognized voice in the field of peacebuilding and violence prevention, having led as mediator and senior adviser in reconciliation processes among communities in Kenya, as well as in other African settings.  She served as Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya, as well as Founding Member and co-Chair of the Uwiano Platform for Peace, a prevention agency linking early warning to early response.  She is also the founder of Community Voices for Peace and Pluralism, a network of African women professionals preventing, transforming and solving violent, ethnic, racial and religious conflicts worldwide.

Ms. Nderitu’s national experience includes her tenure as Director of the Education for Social Justice programme at Fahamu, and as Head of the Human Rights Education and Capacity-Building Programme for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and its predecessor, the Standing Committee on Human Rights.  Previously, she was Researcher and Administrator of the Kenya Prisons Service within the Ministry of Home Affairs.  She is a member of the Kenya National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination, as well as the African Union Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (Fem-Wise), and the Women Waging Peace Network.

Ms. Nderitu holds a master’s degree in armed conflict and peace studies and a Bachelor of Arts, Literature and Philosophy from the University of Nairobi.  She is a Transitional Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa.  Widely published, she is the recipient of awards recognizing her commitment to peaceful conflict resolution throughout Africa and her innovative approach to mediation.

Anja Rados

23 is currently in Sombor, Serbia, where she was born. She has finished undergraduate academic studies in Social Work and through her studies, she found the motivation to work with groups and the community. Also, Anja is in the master’s study of Culturology. Anja is part of a volunteer team at the Educational Center Sombor. Educational Center Sombor 2009 has a project which is called School of Good Will. The School of Good Will is a service designed to provide intensive support in learning for elementary school students (ages 7-14) from disadvantaged families. In 2019, Education Centar Sombor included children from the migrants registered in Reception Center Sombor. Throughout that activities, Anja took part in holding workshops, educational activities, and in general in improving and maintaining intercultural communication between the local community and children and youth from a different culture.

Anja is currently employed at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as an Outreach Worker. She is at the Reception Center in Sombor every day, where she provides continuous support to children and families. Her vocation is to provide the best possible living conditions in an extremely difficult situations and bring creativity into everyday activities. She is aimed at holding workshops and creative activities in cooperation with other organizations.

Felix Anthony Machado

Archbishop of Vasai, and Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI)

School Education in Vasai; Seminary Training in Mumbai; Further studies in Lyon, France, and Doctorate from Fordham University, New York, USA. Author of Numerous articles in Marathi, English, French and Italian. Guest lecturer in several Colleges and Universities.

Archbishop of Nashik (2008-2009) and Archbishop of Vasai (2010-present).

Member of Advisory Board, Arigatou and KAICIID.

Chiara Servili, MD MPH PhD

Technical officer, Child and adolescent Mental and Brain Health,

Department of Mental Health and Substance Use,

World Health Organization, Geneva

Chiara is technical officer in WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, acting as focal point for child and adolescent mental and brain health. She is WHO technical lead for the UNICEF WHO Joint Programme on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and development of children and adolescents (2020-2030).  Chiara is a child neuropsychiatrist by training. Before joining WHO Headquarters she contributed to WHO’s work in the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

Dr. Amanda Melville

Senior Advisor for Child Protection and Youth in UNHCR Headquarters, Geneva.  Dr. Melville has over 20 years of experience in International Organizations, including UNCEF, WHO, UNHCR, Search for Common Ground and Save the Children.

Her extensive experience includes technical support, policy advocacy, strategic planning, programme design and management in the field of child protection and psychosocial support. Dr. Melville has worked with UNHCR as Regional Child Protection Specialist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with UNICEF at global level in NY, at regional with the MENA regional office as well as with a number of country offices, including UNICEF South Africa, Indonesia, Palestine, Iran and Haiti. 

Dr. Melville holds a Bachelor of Science with honours and Ph.D. in conflict resolution from the University of Melbourne.

Dr. Antonia Carla Testa

Dr.Testa, serves as Associate Professor of the Institute of Obstetric and Gynaecological Clinics at the Catholic University. She is the Scientific Director of the Center for Ultrasound in Gynecological Oncology “Class Ultrasound” of the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital Foundation. This is one of the oldest and most reputed hospitals of Rome.

She also leads as the Director of the Simple Departmental Operational Unit “Ambulatory Gynaecology” within the of the Department of Health Sciences of Women, Children and Public Health, of Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS. She serves as Director of the simple operational unit of Outpatient Gynecology, at A. Gemelli Hospital IRCCS.

And as Director of the School of Ultrasound “Class Ultrasound” at Policlinico A. Gemelli, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome she serves on the International working group on Gynaecological Cancers.

In addition to her global scientific responsibilities, as a consecrated member on one of the worlds largest Catholic movement, the Focolare movement she has conceptualized and led many service initiatives.

Under the guidance and inspiration of Pope Francis she has been convening the very successful ‘Earth Day’ observance in Rome for the past 5 years.

She also led the International Marathon for Solidarity during the COVID 19 Pandemic convening different sections of society to raise funds for vulnerable women and children during the COVID 19 Pandemic. Pope Francis recognized this effort as a Papal outreach initiative and contributed to the significant COVID 19 relief fund.

Antoniacarla.testa@unicatt.it antoniacarla.testa@policlinicogemelli.it

Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur

Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and member of the Pontifical

Commission on the Protection of Minors (appointed by the Holy Father Pope Francis)

Benyam Dawit Mezmur is Professor of Child Rights Law, and Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance, and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa. Since early 2018 he also serves as Deputy Dean for Research and Post-Graduate Studies of the Faculty. He is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and served as its Chairperson from 2015-2017. At the regional level, he served twice on the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), a treaty body of the African Union, and was its Chairperson from 2012-2014. In 2018 Pope Francis appointed him to serve on the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors.

Ms. Gelly Aroni

Head of the Unit for Integration and Support in the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, Ministry of Migration and Asylum – Greece

Dr. Gelly Aroni is the Head of the Unit for Integration and Support of Unaccompanied Minors in the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors in the Ministry of Migration & Asylum in Greece. She was actively involved in the establishment and has been the Head of the Department for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Refugee Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (2016-2020). She has extensive experience as a Physical Education teacher in Intercultural Schools where she used cooperative games to promote, through active participation and collaborative learning, the principles, content, and values of ethics education.

She has been working as an expert and a trainer in the Council of Europe and European Wergeland Center’s programs on Human Rights Education and Education for Democratic Citizenship. Since March 2013 she is the Coordinator for Greece and an expert on the projects “Living Democracy” and “CORE” (Children of Refugees in Education). She is a trainer for Arigatou International on Intercultural and Interfaith Programmes for Ethics Education in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

She has authored “Learning to Play Together”, a Good Practices booklet of Arigatou International’s Learning to Live Together program. The booklet explores the application of intercultural and interfaith programs for ethics education in physical education.

Dr. Ilham Nasser

Director, Human Development Program, Senior Researcher, Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS)

Organization:  International Institute for Islamic Thought

Dr. Nasser is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, in Human Development and Child Studies. She has conducted teacher training and research studies on ways to promote education and development in social and political contexts.

Dr. Nasser served as an Assistant/Associate Professor in the College of  Education and Human Development at George Mason University in Virginia for 12 years. Currently, she is leading a study on well-being in Muslim-majority societies.

Dr. Nasser has published articles and books on education and developed curricula for young children and youth in the Middle East.

Dr. Jennifer Wortham

Serves as a research associate with the Human Flourishing Program, at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Her current research focus includes the impact of religion, spirituality ,and health outcomes, with a focus on the impact of moral injury and adverse childhood experiences on mental health.  I addition she researches and consults on the application of High-reliability organizational concept for safeguarding children within institutions. She is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, and execution, and the development of population health programs for leading healthcare organizations and public health agencies in the US and abroad. She has received several prestigious awards including the American Hospital Association, Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development Circle of Distinction Award (2000), and the World Childhood Foundation, Visionary Award (2022).

Jennifer is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black-belt with extensive experience in the development and deployment of Lean operating systems within hospitals, medical groups, health plans and managed care organizations/ACO’s.  She served as the Chief Strategy Officer for Ventura County Health Care Agency, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer for Riverside University Health System/Loma Linda University Medical Center’s ACO, Vice President for the Institute for Performance Excellence/HASC, and as the National Director for PMO Capability Development for Kaiser Permanente.

Jennifer earned her doctorate in public health, health care administration at the UCLA, Fielding School of Public Health. She currently teaches graduate-level courses in quality and process improvement methods at UCLA and has lectured extensively on Lean leadership, just cultures, and quality and performance improvement systems.

In 2019, Jennifer authored a memoir on clergy sexual abuse titled A Letter to the Pope, The Keeper of the Nest, published by New Insights Press. She serves as the founder, and Secretariat of the Global Collaborative to establish an UN World Day of Observance for the Prevention and Healing of Child Dignity. She serves as an advisor to the Survivor Advisory Panel, of Working Group I of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults. She serves as a research partner for the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care, at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Dr. Kezevino Aram

Serves as the President of Shanti Ashram, an institution founded in 1986 on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Sarvodaya (progress for all). Shanti Ashram is an international center for learning, development and collaboration. It accompanies communities in their efforts to move out of poverty, address inequalities, build creative leaders and ensure sustained development. Dr. Aram is deeply committed to the Gandhian spirit and convenes many initiatives that focus on community cohesion and active peace building. Today, Shanti Ashram serves over [250,000] people in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, including 70,000 vulnerable children across 100 villages in Tamil Nadu.

A medical doctor and public health practitioner, Dr. Aram received her Master of Public Health degree from the School of Public Health, Harvard University, with a double major in child health and international health. She received her Medical degree from the PSG Institute of Medical Sciences & Research and completed her special training in Paediatrics at the Masonic Medical Centre for Children in Coimbatore, India.

On the 30th anniversary of Shanti Ashram in 2017, Dr. Aram founded the ICPH, an innovative model of integrating primary care with public health, where the best of global knowledge steers comprehensive interventions for children. In addition to contributing to the public health discourse and policy at the national level, ICPH directly impacts the health outcomes of 20,000 vulnerable children.

Dr. Aram served on the ‘Experts Committee’ of the Government of Tamil Nadu in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic with the mandate to advise on child health and child protection issues. In realizing this responsibility, she worked with the Ministry of Health, the Health Secretary, the Director of Health Services, and Public Health experts at WHO. Dr. Aram’s assessment of the impact of the pandemic on children shaped policy responses that subsequently led to the resuming of the Early Childhood Services and opening of over 54,000 Anganwadis (early childhood centres) in Tamil Nadu.

Over the last two decades, Dr. Aram has also collaborated with the Government of India in making several notable contributions to India’s Public Health landscape.

Internationally, Dr. Aram has continued to leverage her global leadership positions for the common good. She was invited to serve on the World Economic Forum’s Advisory Committee on the Social Determinants of Health Platform. Dr. Aram also serves as Co-Moderator and Executive Committee Member of Religions for Peace-International where she works closely with faith-based organizations in 90 countries to advance peace building efforts.  Dr. Aram is a Board Member of KAICIID, and during the pandemic, was elected as Chairperson of this prestigious Inter-Governmental Organization for Interfaith Dialogue. In addition, Dr. Aram serves as the Vice Chair of the Advisory Board of Arigatou International where she has furthered interfaith collaboration to ensure wellbeing and progress of children worldwide. Dr. Aram is also a Trustee at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.

Dr. Aram was awarded the 2021 Leadership Award in Public Health Practice by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – making her the first Indian to receive the award. She has been awarded distinctions by each of her alma maters: the Albert Schweitzer Award for Commitment to Public Health Practice and the Dr. Fan Chin Memorial Award for Innovation in Child Health from Harvard University, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the PSG Group of Institutions, and the Best Junior Medical Officer award from the Masonic Medical Centre. Dr. Aram has also received the Dharma Chakra Award for contributions to Child Health and the Outstanding Young Indian Award.

Widely travelled, she speaks 8 Indian languages and loves music, reading, family time and interacting with children.

Dr. Mustafa Ali

Secretary General GNRC

Dr. Mustafa Yusuf Ali is the Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and Director of Arigatou International – Nairobi. He previously worked as Africa Representative for Religions for Peace Africa, and as Secretary General of the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL). He has been involved in sustainable conflict resolution, prevention of violent extremism and interfaith dialogue. He holds a Ph.D in Sociology and International Relations from the University of Portsmouth, UK.

Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid 

Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children

On 30 May 2019, the Secretary-General appointed Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid (Morocco) as his Special Rep- resentative on Violence against Children. Dr. Maalla M’jid took her position on 1st July 2019, ten years after Marta Santos Pais (Portugal) was appointed as first Special Representative on Violence against Children.

Dr. M’jid, a medical doctor in paediatrics, has over the last three decades devoted her life to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. She was Head of the Paediatric Department and Director of the Hay Hassani Mother-Child hospital in Casablanca.

Dr. M’jid was a member of the Moroccan Nation- al Council on Human Rights and founder of the non-governmental organisation Bayti, the first pro- gramme addressing the situation of children living and working in the streets of Morocco.

From 2008 to 2014, she served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Dr. M’jid also worked as an Expert-Consultant for national and international projects, strategies and policies relating to child rights’ promotion and protection. She has vast experience in the development of national pol- icies on the protection of the child, and has worked with several governments, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations.

She also worked as a lecturer in Moroccan and international universities on child rights’ protection, promotion, programming and monitoring, as well as social and development policies. A member of several regional and international non-governmental organisations and networks working for children’s rights, Dr. M’jid was also involved in the training of social workers, law enforcement, teachers, judges, and medical staff.

Dr. M’jid holds a Doctorate in general medicine from the University of Rabat, a specialization in paediatrics and neonatology from the University of Bordeaux II and a Master of Human Rights from the Human Rights Institute, Geneva. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for her strong commitment to protecting the rights of the child.

Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar

Research Schloar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding, University of Notre Dame – Kroc Institute for Peace Studies (USA) and Imam of the Claremont Main Road Masjid, Cape Town, South Africa.

Dr. A. Rashied Omar is a Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, USA, and Imam of the Claremont Main Road Masjid in Cape Town, South Africa. His research and teaching focus on the roots of religious violence and the potential of religion for constructive social engagement and interreligious peacebuilding. He is co-author of “Religion in Public Education: Options for a New South Africa” (University of Cape Town, 1994), and serves as a trustee of the Healing of Memories Institute in South Africa.

Dr. Rima Salah

Chair, Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC); Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale Child Study Centre; Former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations

Early Childhood Peace Consortium

Dr. Rima Salah serves as Chair of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium and as Voluntary Faculty at the Yale Child Study Center. Her former positions at the United Nations include Member of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations; Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Assistant Secretary-General of the UN; and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UN Mission-Central African Republic and Chad.

Her recent awards of distinction include the 2019 Recognition and Gratitude in Advocating for Children’s Rights Around the World Award (Palestine), and the 2021 Peacemaker Award (Brigham Young University). She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology.

Dr. Vinya S. Ariyaratne

President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement – Sri Lanka

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne is the President of Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya is Sri Lanka’s largest non-governmental grass roots development organization.

Dr. Ariyaratne is a Medical Doctor and a Specialist in Community Medicine. Dr. Ariyaratne also serves at the Director General of the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL). He has extensive experience in community health, development, disaster management and peace building. Working both at the grassroots level and at policy level, Dr. Ariyaratne has promoted child wellbeing and protection.

Dr.Ariyaratne obtained Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Degree from the De La Salle University in the Philippines, and Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree from the Johns Hopkins University U.S.A., Master of Science M.Sc. and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in Community Medicine from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, U.K. and a Chevening Fellow at the Nuffield Institute of the Faculty of Medicine and Health of the University of Leeds.

In 2014, Dr. Ariyaratne received the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum.

Dr. Xiaoan Li

Senior Program Office

Fetzer Institute

Xiaoan Li, Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organisational Change, is currently a Senior Program Officer at the Fetzer Institute, a private foundation in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Since 2011, Xiaoan has actively participated in the exploration of building the spiritual foundation for a loving world, being responsible for the development of new project initiatives and the management of the full life cycle of the project process within the areas of k-12 and higher education.

For Xiaoan, the purpose of education is to develop the whole person, and the primary role of parents, educators, and society is to create an environment and conditions for young people to develop and explore spiritual awareness, personal character, and social and emotional skills. Besides that, Xiaoan has also grown his interest and expertise in global consciousness and the shared sacred movement.

Fr. Abdo RAAD

Vocation: priest, social actor, theology and language teacher, spiritual companion.

Formation

Primary studies at French Holy Family school in Kfarnabrakh 1971-1975

Further studies at the public school in Kfarnabrakh. 1975-1977

Further and secondary studies at Saint Sauveur School, Joun, Chouf. 1977

1982. Novitiate at Notre Dame Convent (St Sauveur). Chouf.

Terminal, philosophical and theological studies at the University of the Holy Spirit in Kaslik. 1983 – 1984

Philosophical and theological studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. 1984 – 1988. (Licentiate)

1988: diaconal and priestly ordination. 16-7-1988

Studies in Eastern ecclesiastical sciences at PIO (Pontifical Oriental Institute) in Rome. 1988 – 1990 (magisterium).

Studies in canon law. PIO.

Doctorate in Theology and Philosophy of Religions in 2018-2019, from ICOU (The International Civilization Open University).

A large number of professional trainings in training, education, sociology, psychology, theology, dialogue, rights, etc.

Participation in hundreds of social, spiritual, religious, educational, human rights conferences (home, family, children, minorities, …) and courses, congresses, seminars, synods … all over the world (Lebanon, France, Italy, Jordan, Syria, Japan, Germany, Egypt, Switzerland, Panama, the United States, …)

Stays in: Lebanon, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, USA 

Professional experience:

1990: assistant director at St. Basil’s Major Seminary in Rome.

1991: assistant director at Providence House, pastor and in charge of pastoral and youth activities in the diocese of Saïda and Deir el Kamar.

1992-1995: pastor of St. Cyril Parish in Damascus, secretary of the presbyteral council of the patriarchal diocese of Damascus, judge of the patriarchal court, in charge of the pastoral center of Kassaa and pastoral activities.

1995-1996 Rector of St. Basil’s College, Salvatorian Basilian in Rome. (And participation in synod for Lebanon).

1996 Director and president of the Foyer de l’Amitié, Salvatorian Social Center in Zahlé and Forzol (vocational technical school, shelter home, St. Joseph School, St. Joseph Parish…)

2007 Rector of the Saint Sauveur school, Joun, Chouf, and general director of the Saint Sauveur center (school, orphanage, reception center). Pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Joun, Chouf.

2016 Head of St. Basil’s College in Rome.

2020 pastor of S. Maria Assunta in Monacilioni, Italy.

2021 pastor of S. Maria della Croce in Cercemaggiore, Italy.

Accomplishments.

Pastor and/or assistant pastor in several parishes, bi-ritual (Latin, Byzantine).

Monitor, educator and founder of several youth groups.

Teacher of philosophy, theology and languages… Theological institutes in Zahle and Saida.

Active member in several NGOs

Vicar General of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, 2 times (counselor, and vicar).

Volunteer in several associations.

Project manager, relations with official entities, NGOs, etc.

Human and financial resources assistant.

Organization of conferences, seminars, summer camps, day camps, trainings.

Founder of the child care program for children under the age of 5, in Zahlé.

Founder of the program for taking in refugees, people in social difficulties, battered women, delinquents … in Zahlé.

Founder of the “Apostles of Today” fraternity, and the “Pastoral Activation” group in Damascus.

Founder of the meeting house, Zahle.

Founder of the friendship pool, Zahle.

Founder of Vocational Technical Institute and Hotel School, Forsol.

Writer in numerous newspapers, magazines and Web sites. Writer of three books.

Hundreds of interviews on local and international TV and radio.

Founder of Sada Al Sadaka magazine, editor of Al-Nahla magazine.

Founding member of “Rayon d ‘espoir” for the disabled.

Founder and president of the association: Annas Linnas in 2009.

Member of BICE (Bureau international catholique de l’enfance), France.

member of Shabaka (union of Arab NGOs).

member of Cesvi, Bologna, Italy.

member of Mameli 7 and Spaziottagoni, Rome, Italy.

Member of GNRC, Arigatou, Japan.

Founding member of Likaa Rouhi (spiritual meeting), Lebanon.

Judge at the Melkite Ecclesiastical Court in Damascus for 3 years.

Guide to tourist and spiritual visits.

President of the National Council of Social Services in Lebanon (nsscl) 2010 (3 years). Vice president of the National Council of Social Services in Lebanon (nsscl) and again president in 2016.

Vicar General of the Basilian Salvatorian Order in 2013 (3 years).

Pastor of Notre Dame parish, Joun, Chouf in 2010-2016.

Rector of St. Basil’s College of Rome in 2016-2019.

Transition to the diocese of Saida, South Lebanon in February 2019. Project manager.

pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Monacilioni, since November 2020, and now pastor of Cercemaggiore.

Skills:

Languages: Arabic (native speaker), Italian, French, English, German.

Notions of ancient languages: Greek, Latin, Hebrew.

Computer skills: proficiency in current word processing software, layout, photography, tables, etc. (word, Excel, Photoshop, power point …). Web site management.

Pedagogy: educational work with children, adolescents, youth, the elderly and families. Experience with people with disabilities.

Italian, Lebanese and international driving license.

Coordination of pastoral, social and human work.

Fr. Hans  Zollner

Hans Zollner, SJ, is Director and Professor of the Institute of Anthropology. Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC, https://iadc.unigre.it/), both at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has been a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since its inception in 2014.

Hassan Chilewu Honore (DRC)

is 23 years old and has been living in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi with his family since he was born. Despite being born and bred at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Hassan never stops aiming higher and hoping for a better future. 

Hassan lived and grew up in an overly complicated settlement of violence and abuse where women and girls are exploited and harassed by men every time. Upon seeing this, Hassan decided to join the Child Parliament so that he could be advocating for the rights of children in the Dzaleka. When he turned 18, he was promoted to the Child Protection Committee where he was defending, identifying, and handling cases of children. Later, he joined Malawi Youth Advisory Panel for Plan International where he is now advocating for change and influencing decision making. He is now the National Coordinator, and recently selected as the GYAC member for the Malawi operation.

His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon

His Eminence, Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of Chalcedon was born in Agios Nikolaos, Crete (Greece) on December 19, 1958, where he received his first education.

He studied at the Pedagogical Academy of Heraklion, Crete and completed his studies at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Paris in parallel with his theological studies at the Theological Institute of Saint Sergius in Paris. In 1984 he received a Master’s degree from the Ecumenical Institute of the Catholic University of Paris, and the following year a bachelor’s degree from the Sorbonne University (Paris IV) in History of Religions.

He was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood in 1985. In 1987 he received a Master’s degree from Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston and assumed the duties of Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Belgium, serving as Hierarch and Parish Priest of the Parish of St Archangels Michael and Gabriel in Brussels. For twenty years (1994-2014) he headed the Office of the Orthodox Church at the European Union. On September 5, 1996, he was unanimously elected Bishop of the once glorious Diocese of Reghion by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as Assistant Bishop of the Metropolitan of Belgium.

On January 20, 2003, he was unanimously elected Metropolitan of France by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while at the same time he was appointed to represent the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Theological Dialogue between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Academic Meetings with Islam and Judaism. On February 16, 2021, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate unanimously elected him Metropolitan Elder of Chalcedon.

He is currently a board member of the KAICIID Dialogue Center in Portugal, Co-moderator of Religions for Peace International, member of the executive committee of the World Council of Churches, on the board of the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities and former President of the Conference of European Churches (KEK). He participated in many ecumenical and scientific conferences and recently received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens.

Katherine Valdez

18 years old, lives in Los Angeles, Soyapango, San Salvador, El Salvador. Katherine is a medical student. She dreams about helping vulnerable people in her community through her education. She is also an example to other young people to keep their studies and remain away from the path of violence and crime. Living apart from her parents, Katherine has taken on responsibilities from a very young age and believes that by building a network of support and empowerment for youth, many can find solutions to build their own dreams.

Kirsten Laursen Muth

CEO of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), assuming the position in June 2020.  Kirsten’s previous positions include Special Advisor for Leadership and Senior Director for International Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development; Deputy Director of Programs at Church World Service; and Deputy Director of Training and Communication Education at Helen Keller International. She has collaborated with multiple UN agencies and has worked with government, non-profit, education, and faith organizations in more than 40 countries, especially in areas of women’s leadership, ending gender-based violence, and social and behavior change approaches. Kirsten holds a Bachelor of Science, Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also a textile designer.

Luciano Cadoni

Program Officer for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, at the Regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean of Church World Service.

After working 8 years in Sport for Development projects in Africa and Asia Luciano joined CWS in 2011. Since then, he has led and accompanied all the actions that the Plataforma NNAPEs (The Latin America and the Caribbean regional coalition of organizations who focus on advocating for and protecting the rights of these children and their families) has implemented to make visible the situation of these children and their families at national, regional and international level.

As part of these duties, Luciano has represented CWS and the Plataforma NNAPEs in several

congresses and conferences in Latin America, the United States and in Europe.

Luciano has also authored, participated, lead and coordinated several research projects on the issue.

He currently represents CWS and the Plataforma NNAPES at the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children with Incarcerated Parents and is a board member of the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents.

Luciano is currently supervising the implementation of the pilot phase of PREVENIR, the Alliance for the Prevention of Violence against children´s project in Honduras, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.

Maechee Jutipa Tapasuthi

Founder Dhamanurak Foundation for Children and Youth

Maechee Jutipa’s education and life’s work have been dedicated to the development of children and youth. Her educational background as a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Counseling Psychology, combined with her years of experience in family and child law contributed to her becoming a strong child and family advocate.

Maechee Jutipa is the founder and administrator of the Dhamanurak Foundation for Children and Youth located in Kanchanaburi, Thailand which has an orphanage and a school.

Mercy Niwe

Global Stakeholder Engagement Lead, External and Corporate Relations
World Bank

Mercy Niwe currently serves as the World Bank Group’s Lead for Stakeholder Engagement including Civil Society, Parliamentarian and Faith-based engagements. In this role, she leads the institution’s engagement with key stakeholders and is focused on fostering strategic collaboration and partnerships based on shared values and priorities.

Mercy has diverse experience in international development with proven skills in developing complex strategic plans with a successful implementation that aligns with addressing the root causes of poverty. Mercy’s expertise includes policy design and advocacy; managing diverse partnerships; finance and program management, and integrating behavioral change approaches into market systems.

A native Ugandan and now naturalized American, Mercy holds a Master’s degree in Economic Policy and Management from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and has recently received an Executive MA in Global Affairs and Policy at the Thunderbird Management School.

Ms. Andrea Kaufmann

Director of Faith and External Engagement, World Vision International

Ms. Andrea Kaufmann is World Vision’s Director of Faith and External Engagement. She has worked in international development, humanitarian and advocacy work for almost two decades—serving in programme management, technical leadership, communications and movement building roles.

She is passionate about the role of faith and faith actors in development and humanitarian work and works to build cross-sector relationships to drive positive impact for children.

Caroline Arnold

Education and Early Childhood Consultant 
Independent Advisor

Caroline has 40 years of global experience. She was the Director of Education at the Aga Khan Foundation for 12 years, overseeing the education and early childhood portfolio across 17 countries in South and Central Asia, Eastern and West Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Before this, she spent many years living and working in the Asia-Pacific and East Africa. She has been a staff member of UNICEF, International NGOs (including Save the Children and Action Aid), and Universities in London and the Pacific.

She contributes to multiple policy fora and is the author of publications in the area of early childhood development, transitions, children’s learning, the meaning of learning, inclusion and exclusion, community-based rehabilitation, and state/non-state partnerships. 

Chrysa Papadaki

She has been working with HIAS in Refugee Protection in various capacities, including

Mental health and psychosocial support, Gender based violence prevention and general protection.

She has been previously deployed in Greece, Qatar, Ukraine and currently works in Poland as

Programs Coordinator of HIAS Poland. With a background in pre-school education, she has been

involved with children’s activities for more than ten years, most of them involving the protection of

unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups in Greece responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Dana Humaid


Chief Executive
Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities

A career law enforcement professional, Dana works with the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, where she is responsible for driving the Ministry’s international collaboration agenda.

She plays an active role in ensuring the safety of children in the UAE by overseeing the Ministry’s Child Protection Centre.

She has led multiple initiatives to combat online child sexual abuse, both within the UAE and at the international level.

Dana is a passionate advocate for ensuring the safety and security of vulnerable sections of our communities.

Through her interactions with different stakeholders from civil society, she realized the untapped potential of faith leaders, given their relevance and reach in their communities.

This led her to establish the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities with other like-minded civil society members.

Headquartered in Switzerland, the Interfaith Alliance aims to mobilize faith and spiritual leaders to play a more active role to ensure the safety of their communities.

She leads a number of initiatives to combat threats faced by communities such as child sexual abuse, hate crimes and hate speech.

She also serves as a Board Member on the WEPROTECT Global Alliance, an international coalition that works to eliminate online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

She is also the co-chair of AI for Safer Children (AI4SC), a joint initiative between UNICRI and the UAE Ministry of Interior to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Ms. Frederique Seidel

Programme Executive on Child Rights & Manager of WCC-UNICEF Partnership

World Council of Churches

Ms Seidel specializes in peacebuilding through child rights implementation. She initiated the development of “Churches’ Commitments to Children” and manages the global partnership between the World Council and UNICEF. Ms Seidel holds a Master’s degree of Sociology and Educational Science from the Sorbonne and Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, and Freie Universität in Berlin.

Ms Seidel worked for UNICEF for 13 years, serving as Head of Sub-Office in Kosovo, Communications Officer, Child Rights Education Programme Manager, and UNICEF Deputy Representative in Algeria. She also served as Manager for Income Monitoring & Development at the WCC, as a spokesperson for the UN and the OSCE in post-war Balkans (1996- 2001) and was a journalist for Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Her research focuses on climate solutions as the most urgent child protection measures of today, and on support to children affected by violence. Frederique Seidel advocates for climate-responsible finance as a vital measure to meet the short window of time described by the IPCC, to avoid irreversibility of climate destruction.

Biography of Ms. Gillian Triggs

UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection

Gillian Triggs is Assistant High Commissioner for Protection with UNHCR, taking up her appointment in September 2019. She is a public international lawyer who has held a number of appointments in service to human rights and the refugee cause, including as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Gillian oversees UNHCR’s protection work in support of millions of refugees, asylum-seekers, those who have been forcibly displaced within their own country and stateless. 

A dual national of Britain and Australia, Gillian has held a number of leadership roles, including as Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London, President of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal, Chair of the UN Independent Expert Panel of Inquiry into Abuse of Office and Harassment in UNAIDS, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor (Emerita) of International Law at the University of Sydney, and Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne.

Gillian has supported many not-for-profit groups, including most recently as Chair of Justice Connect, which connects 10,000 lawyers to provide pro bono advice to asylum-seekers and others needing legal support. She is also the author of many books and papers on international law, including ‘International Law: Contemporary Principles and Practice, (2nd ed. 2011) and Speaking Up (2018).

In July 2021 Gillian was awarded a Ruth Bader Ginsberg Inaugural Medal of Honour in recognition of her fight for the rule of law and gender equality.

Ismeta (Ibrahim) Salihspahić – BIO

Born on December 10, 1967. year in Veliko Čajno, Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Graduated from the Gazi Husrevbeg madrasa, the Faculty of Islamic Sciences in Sarajevo and the Faculty of Pedagogy.

Master’s degree in the joint study program of three theological faculties (Orthodox, Catholic and Islamic) in the program of interreligious studies Peacebuilding and obtained the title of master.

Employed at Elementary School “Musa Ćazim Ćatić” V. Čajno as a teaching assistant, pedagogue.

President of the Women’s Association for Interreligious Dialogue in the Family and Society “Mozaik” Visoko, GNRC Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Activist in the community and promoting children’s rights, building peace and interreligious dialogue, reducing violence and poverty against children.

Selflessly provides support to women victims of domestic violence.

 participant, organizer and panelist of many conferences, seminars and workshops in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Panama, Belgium, Switzerland.

Laura Molnar

I’m psychotherapist and the president of Education for Change Association, an NGO promoting child rights and quality education by offering educational programs for teachers, children and their parents.

My cooperation with Arigatou International began in 2010 when I became GNRC Romania coordinator and  LTLT trainer, facilitating workshops for teachers, youth – future religious leaders and specialist which were working with children, in Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania, Portugal and Bhutan. I was also part of the trainer’s team in workshops organized by Religions for Peace in 2015 and 2017, for youth form Europe -future religious leaders and peacebuilders.

In the last 8 years I focused on these goals, implementing LTLT and other educational programs and projects in Romanian schools, with very good results in decreasing discrimination and violence among and towards children, developing students’ ability to relate positively with people coming from different cultural and religious backgrounds and strengthening their capacity to become active agents of the positive changes they want to see in their schools or in their communities. More than 3500 teachers and over 11000 students were involved in our programs and projects.

Becoming a Gather Fellow Alumni (Goldin Institute Chicago) in 2018, it helped me to learn how to involve and strengthen our community of practice, increasing and extending the impact of our programs.

Maria Lucia Uribe

Executive Director Arigatou International – Geneva

Maria Lucia heads the strategic direction of the Ethics Education for Children initiative and oversees its operations, partnerships, and budget. She is responsible for strategy, positioning and resource mobilization to grow the organization’s impact, influence and reach.

Maria Lucia is also in charge of Arigatou International’s engagement in child rights initiatives with UN agencies and mechanisms, and child rights-focused NGOs in Geneva.

Prior to her appointment, Maria Lucia was the Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator for Education and Fragility for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and served as Program Officer for Arigatou International Geneva.

She convenes the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence, and the Working Group on Children and Violence of Child Rights Connect. Maria Lucia is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Child Rights Connect.

Maria Lucia holds a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation, a specialization in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Finance.

Muzoon Almellehan

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Muzoon Almellehan, 24, is a Syrian refugee and education activist. Muzoon has been campaigning for children’s education in emergencies since she was forced to flee Syria in 2013 with her family. Muzoon started her campaign in Jordan, where she was living as a refugee in camps for three years, including 18 months in Za’atari. As part of a UNICEF-supported back-to-school campaign, she first advocated for more girls to go to school in August 2013 and went from tent to tent speaking with parents of children who were at risk of child marriage or early labor. Over the next two and a half years she became synonymous with standing-up for the rights of children, particularly girls, to stay in or go back to school. She accompanied Malala on two visits to the camp.

Muzoon is currently in Newcastle, United Kingdom, where she has been resettled with her family. She is the first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who is a refugee and offers a powerful, credible, authentic voice on education in emergencies. In August 2022, she travelled to Jordan with UNICEF to raise awareness of the impact of the learning crisis on children and youth. During her visit, Muzoon returned to Za’atari refugee camp for the first time and met with students at the start of their academic year receiving support to accelerate and recover their education, having endured almost two years of COVID-19 school closures.

Muzoon has received the following awards and honors: Dresden Peace Prize 2020, Cle de Peau Power of Radiance award 2019, BBC’s list of 100 influential and inspirational women in 2017, TIME’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017, Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 Class of 2017 and a 2017 Glamour Women of the Year Award. In 2019 Muzoon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Natalia Seriakova

Natalia Seriakova is the founder of Jugend, Bildung und Kultur NGO (JuBuK) in Germany which has been creating opportunities for migrant inclusion since 2008 in Germany and all over Europe. Natalia is an expert in non-formal learning, inclusion of young refugees and migrants, minorities, international youth work, EU programmes and educational curricula for NGOs and schools. Together with her team and partners all over the world she has created and implemented more than hundreds of programmes for young people, youth workers, leaders and teachers aimed at improvement of the overall wellbeing of young people and creation of learning and exchange opportunities.

Neelam Fida

Head of Programme Quality, International Programmes

Islamic Relief Worldwide

Neelam has over 17 years of experience working in the humanitarian field. In her current capacity, she is strategically driving innovative approaches and systems to generate new evidence which supports and influences Islamic Relief Worldwide’s (IRW) global operations.

Her department is responsible for developing the technical capacity of country office program teams to implement, measure and ensure ongoing improved quality of programs.  She has also been responsible for implementing faith-inspired projects and programs for child protection to better understand and contextualize IRW’s work. In addition, she has responsibility for developing and taking forward IRW’s safeguarding framework and strategy. 

Neelam has a background in psychology, research, mentoring, Islamic counseling, social behaviors network therapy, organizational development, strategic planning, change management, and PSEA investigation.

Rebeca Rios-Kohn

has over 30 years of experience working for the United Nations in the areas of human rights, women’s and children’s rights and held senior level positions.

Since 2015 she serves as Director of Arigatou International New York Office, a not-for-profit organization working for children with headquarters in Japan and leads the global initiative Prayer and Action for Children.

Ms. Rios-Kohn was one of the lead writers of Faith and Children’s Rights: A Multi-religious Study on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, developed by Arigatou International with diverse faith leaders, theologians, and human rights experts.

This unique study was published in 2019 and is available at: www.arigatouinternational.org After receiving a Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond, Virginia, Ms. Rios-Kohn practiced law in the states of Virginia and New York.

Thereafter, she held senior level positions with UNICEF and United Nations Development Programme where she advocated for human rights reaching out to policymakers, government officials, parliamentarians, judges, and religious leaders. She has worked in over 30 countries leading advocacy, communication and research initiatives focused on vulnerable communities, women and children.

Over the years, Ms. Rios-Kohn authored a number of articles and academic papers for law journals, developed studies and training materials on a wide range of subjects, and co-authored Protecting the World’s Children, a UNICEF publication (2007).

She is a citizen of Uruguay and France and resides in the United States.

Ms. Stella Ayo-Odongo

Director, Pathfinding, Global Partnership to End Violence against Children

Ms. Stella Ayo-Odongo is the Director for Pathfinding Countries, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Her areas of expertise are Child Rights, Child Protection, Social Policy expert and an advocate for social justice. Stella is a motivated leader and development practitioner with over 20 years of progressive experience in strategic leadership, development management and programme operations. She has extensive knowledge and experience advocating for vulnerable groups such as children, youth and the elderly.

Ms. Ayo-Odongois a visionary pan African leader as demonstrated in the founding of national and regional level movements for social justice such as the African Wide Movement for the children, Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) and the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children (UPFC), the Uganda Child helpline all of which have made significant contributions to voicing issues of the affected.

Stella Ndugire Mbugua

TA – Nurturing Care for ECD, Ministry of Health, Kenya & Africa Early Childhood Network

Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN)

Stella is a Child Development Specialist with 19 years of experience in policy advocacy, high-level strategic communications and partnerships management. She offers technical support to the Division of Neonatal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health in Kenya.

Stella supported the establishment of the African Union Commission’s CESA ECED Cluster (2018), coordinated by AfECN; co-founded ECD Network for Kenya and is co-published on parenting, childcare and child development themes.

She has managed program design and quality across 20 African countries in East and Southern Africa; previously worked at Aga Khan Foundation-East Africa, Parenting in Africa Network, ICS Africa, and Global Press Institute. She graduated with an MA in Child Development (Integrated Studies) from Daystar University and a double BA from The University of Nairobi.

Vera Leal

Head of Programs Arigatou International Geneva

Vera Leal is in charge of the programs department of Arigatou International Geneva, which includes ethics education and child engagement programs and activities. She is supporting the programmatic management decisions and strategic management processes in close collaboration with the Executive Director.

She has over fifteen years of international experience and expertise in education and child participation.

Prior to her engagement with Arigatou International, Vera was Secretary-General of the International Catholic Movement for Children and worked with various organizations in training in citizenship education and positive parenting.

Vera is moved by the passion to create better, safer and empowering experiences and spaces for and with children, where they can thrive and reach their fullest potential. She is a strong advocate for quality education. 

Vera holds a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources with a Specialization in Training Management.

Zvonimira Jakić

Young Leader GNRC – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Zvonimira is a youth leader from Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is the youth advisor of the Presidency BiH, director of Paneuropean Union BiH and Project Officer of the Foreign Policy Initiative on a project of public reform in the Balkans. She is the Coordinator of Croatian elections in BiH in front of the Croatian embassy. Also, she is a youth representative of the Catholic Archdiocese and one of the coordinators of the Synod of the Archbishopric of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zvonimira is the Youth Coordinator of GNRC-Bosnia and Herzegovina and a trainer of Arigatou’s Learning to Live Together program. She worked as the Main Assistant of the Former President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Muhamed Begić

Born on April 11th , 2005. year

Student of the third grade of the electrotechnical school in Visoko.

He has been participating in the activities of GNRC Arigatou International since the 4th grade of primary school.

He is a participant in many online activities organized by GNRC BiH and UZ “Mozaik”.

He was a member of the Children’s Council for the End Child Violence initiative

He is a member of the GNRC board for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he represents the children’s voice from the Community.

Nelson Arns Neumann

International Coordinator Pastoral da Crianca, Brazil

Nelson is a physician with a Master’s degree in epidemiology, and a doctor in public health. He worked as a lay missionary in Maranhão (1988-89), the poorest region of Brazil. He is currently the International Coordinator of Pastoral da Criança (Child’s Pastoral).

Pastoral da Criança has activities in Latin America (Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Venezuela), Africa (Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and Benin) and Asia (Philippines).

Ambrogio Bongiovanni

Married and father of three sons, is professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Director of the Gregorian Centre for Interreligious Studies and editor of the series Interreligious and Intercultural Investigations. In 2020 Pope Francis appointed him Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He is also serving as President of MAGIS Foundation, a work for international cooperation of the Jesuit EUM Province, visiting professor at San Luigi Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy (Naples) and co–editor of “Missio Dei” series of Aracne publishing house (Rome). He has been internationally involved in interreligious relations and studies for many years at academic, pastoral and civil level. He lived in India where together with his wife he set up a rehabilitation center for vulnerable girls. His publications are in the field of interreligious dialogue and religions and society.

https://www.unigre.it/it/docenti/scheda/?id=170

Prof. Anantanand Rambachan

Professor of Religion at St. Olaf University, and Visitor Professor at Academy for the Study of World Religions, University of Hamburg.

Professor Rambachan is a prolific writer and author of several books including Accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Source of Valid Knowledge in Shankara; The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda’s Reinterpretation of the Authority of the Vedas; The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity; and A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two Is Not One and Pathways to Hindu-Christian Dialogue. The British Broadcasting Corporation aired a series of 25 of his lectures.

As a Hindu participant and analyst, Prof. Rambachan has been involved in interreligious relations and dialogue for over 40 years. In 2008, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he delivered the distinguished Lambeth Interfaith Lecture in London.

Prof. Rambachan led the first two White House Celebration of the Hindu Festival of Diwali in 2003 and 2004. He currently participates as a Hindu theologian in the dialogue programs of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He serves as a co-president for Religions for Peace.

Prof. Dr. Azza Karam

Serves as the Secretary General of Religions for Peace – the largest multi-religious leadership platform with 92 national and 6 regional Interreligious Councils. She also holds a Professorship of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands – of which she is a citizen.

She served as a Senior Advisor on Culture, at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and
as Coordinator/Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and
Development (UN IATF-R&D); and founder of the Multi Faith Advisory Council of the UN IATFR&D. In those capacities, she coordinated engagement with members of a Global Interfaith
Network for Population and Development with over 600 faith-based organizations from all regions
of the world, representing all religions and interreligious affiliations. She was the Lead Facilitator for
the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy,
building on a legacy of serving as a trainer cum facilitator of inter- cultural leadership and
management in the Arab region as well as Europe and Central Asia.

Professor Karam has served in different positions in the United Nations since 2004, as well as other
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations since the early 1990s, such as International.

IDEA,OSCE, and Religions for Peace. Simultaneously, she lectured in various academic institutions in
Europe, in North America (including the United States Military Academy/West Point), Africa and
the Middle East.

Her Ph.D. in 1996, focused on Political Islam, and became her first book in Arabic (her mother
tongue) and in English. She has since published widely, and in several languages, on international
political dynamics, including democratization, human rights, peace and security, gender, religious
engagement and sustainable development. She was born in Egypt, and now lives in the United States.

Rev. Keishi Miyamoto

Leader of Myochikai, President, Arigatou International, Convener, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC)

Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, the convenor of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), is a strong advocate of interfaith cooperation for the well-being of children worldwide.

He directs the work of Arigatou International, an international NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Inheriting the spiritual lineage of his father, the late Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto.

He serves as Leader of Myochikai, a Buddhist organization in Japan which established Arigatou International to build a better world for children.

Rev. Miyamoto also serves as International Trustee of Religions for Peace and as Board Member of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. He served as the 5th Secretary General of WCRP Japan, and is currently Executive Board Member of the Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan (Shinshuren), Council Member of the Japanese Association of Religious Organizations (Nishuren) and Advisor of Religions for Peace Japan.

Most Rev. Mitsuo Miyake

Chief Minister and President, Konko Church of Izuo, Japan

Most Rev. Miyake was ordained as a minister of Konko Church (Shintoism) in 1979, and has been its Chief Minister and President of the Konko Church of Izuo.

He has been involved extensively in interreligious dialogue and cooperation. He serves as Councilor, Religions for Peace Japan; Vice Chairman, World Federalist Movement; President, Asian Youth Centre; President, Prosperity for Humankind; and Chairman, International Religious Fellowship. He served as President of International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF).

Sahib Monhinder Singh

Spiritual Leader and Chairman

Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha

Bhai Sahib is the third in line of spiritual leaders serving the transnational Sikh faith-based organization, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ). Inspired by the legacy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (the founder of the Sikh faith) it strives to serve humanity based on the principle of being nishkam (altruistic or selfless).

Bhai Sahib also heads the Nishkam Group of Organisations where he is actively engaged in visionary work in the fields of interfaith, education and healthcare, with the aim of making significant contributions to community regeneration, heritage conservation and infrastructure development.

He is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations through mobilizing values and virtues.

Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome Asmani

is an expert in Islamic law, administrator, and community mobilizer. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law and Shari’ah specializing in Muslim Personal Law from International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan; and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Profession from the Kenya School of Law-Nairobi. He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Shari’ah from International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the Punjab University – Lahore Pakistan.

Sheikh Lethome, consulted for Population Council (2006-2009) in the debate around Islam and harmful cultural practices and co-authored a tool kit for anti-FGM/C campaigners in the Horn of Africa entitled “Delinking FGM from Islam” (2008). As a lead consultant, he guided UNFPA Kenya into developing a Shariah compliant guide on Islam and child-spacing.

He is the chairman of both the Shariah advisory Committee of KCB, and that of the County Pension Fund (CPF) on interest free banking and Shariah compliant financial transactions.

He consulted for USAID in developing a programme for youth in Nairobi and Mombasa to prevent radicalization.

Sheikh Lethome is a lawyer specializing in Muslim personal law matters and in this capacity handles many GBV cases in the Muslim community in Kenya. Uses the Mosques and religious function to address some of the underlying root causes of GBV in the community.

  He previously worked as a Commissioner in both the People’s Commission (Ufungamano Initiative) and the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) and was part of the team that drafted the Bill of Rights in the “Bomas draft”, the precursor to the 2010 Constitution.

He is a member of both the Jamia Mosque Committee and Supreme Council of Muslims and advises both institutions on legal and Islamic Religious matters.

Currently Sheikh Lethome is the Secretary General of Centre for Sustainable Conflict Resolution (CSCR) whose flagship project is known as BRAVE, and one of the leading Consultants on how religion can be used to address Violent Extremism, specifically training religious leaders, community P/CVE champions, youth and other stakeholders in this regard.

His main area of interest includes how to use religion to:

-Promote peaceful co-existence, (intra/interfaith, and intra/inter ethnic,)

-Look at the rights of the Child,

-Look and the dignity of the child in the digital world,

-Islam and interfaith relations.

He has severally been invited by AU and IGAD to present papers on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in various Countries in Africa.

Also a member of the advisory committee of Arigatou International.

Sister Pauline Acayo

SCORE ECD Project, Catholic Relief Services

Sister Pauline Acayo works with Catholic Relief Services as the Regional Project Coordinator and supports the implementation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation-funded project for Strengthening the Capacity of Women Religious in Early Childhood Development (SCORE ECD) with 32 congregations and five Associations (partners) in four countries; Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Zambia.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education and Psychology from Pontifical University Rome, A Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation from Gulu University and a Degree in Early Childhood Development. She is very passionate about ensuring that caregivers are equipped to provide spirituality, health and nutrition services, responsive caregiving and opportunities for early learning given to all children from conception. 

She works to ensure that Sisters Congregations have policies in place, linked to potential stakeholders, and have adequate knowledge and skills for the sustainability of their organizations.

Grace Marie Horan

Franciscan Sister

Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

Sr. Grace Marie Horan, FSE is a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist and an official of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue. Originally from the United States of America, she taught high school theology and religion there and completed her doctorate in ministry at the Catholic University of America.

Tudor

I am 16 years old, and I am part of GNRC Romania Youth Committee.

I consider myself a friendly and funny person, interested in traveling and meeting people of different cultures and faiths.

My hobby is playing basketball and in my free time, I like going out with my friends or reading books. I am passionate about history because you can learn from past mistakes, and history offers you examples of great leaders.     

When I was 9 years old, I attended the LTLT ethic education programme. Since then, I become more responsible of my words and my behaviour towards others and more interested to know more about other cultures and faiths. I also felt motivated to help disadvantaged people, especially children, because I believe that everyone should have equal chances in life.

In 2021 – 2022 I had the opportunity to be selected in the GNRC Children’s Committee and this was a great experience for me. I was happy to know and to work with youth from other cultural and religious backgrounds and to deeper understand issues connected with the child rights.

Every year I get involved in different charitable actions for helping children affected by poverty. This year I focused more on helping children in the move, being very impressed by the grave consequences of the war from our neighbour country. In March and in October 2022 I got involved in the donation campaign for Ukrainian children in the move organized by GNRC Romania and AIDROM. Every time when I have the chance, I encourage my friends and colleagues to get involved and to be open and friendly with the Ukrainian children who learn now in the Romanian schools.

My dream is to become a person able to make positive changes in the world. I see myself graduating from a Social Science University and being an influencer with very developed leadership and communication skills.

Judge Abdelsalam

 

Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders

Member of Al-Azahar Center for interreligious Dialogue and Graduate of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif University

Co President, religions for peace organization

Served as an advisor to His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azahar Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb for over eight years

Assisted in drafting the Historic document on Human Fraternity, signed by his Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Grand Imam Al-Azahar Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb, in Abud Dhabi on February 4, 2019

Awarded papal knighthood – “Knight commander with the star of the Order of Pius IX”- By His Holiness Pope Francis for his service towards spreading tolerance and interfaith dialogue. He is the first Arab and Muslim to be awarded this accolade from the head of the Catholic Church.

Presented the “Community Service Medal” by the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates for his commitment and positive impact towards strengthening security in communities.

Represented Al-Azahar Al-Sharif in the constitutional assembly charged with drafting a new constitution for Egypt between 2012-2013 and participated in drafting Al-Azhar documents during  the period from 2011-2018

Awarded the Medal of the Constitutional Court by the Supreme Court of Egypt in recognition of his distinguished representation of the Egyptian judiciary during his time at Al-Azhar and the constitutional Assembly.

Mr. Hironari Miyamoto

Secretary General, Myochikai

Representative, Arigatou International

Mr. Miyamoto has been appointed as Secretary General of Myochikai since 2020. He often represents at international conferences on behalf of Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, Leader of Myochikai and President of Arigatou International.

Mr. Miyamoto also serves as Chairman of Youth Committee of Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan (Shinshuren) and Board Member of Religions for Peace Japan.

As a young leader of the Shinshuren Youth Committee, Mr. Miyamoto organizes Memorial Ceremony for the War Victims and Prayer for Peace on August 14 (8.14 Ceremony), which is held every year, and leads interfaith prayer for peace, renewing a pledge never again to go to war.