Global Faith Engagement Lead, World Bank
Mercy Niwe leads the World Bank Group’s engagement and outreach with faith actors. She previously served at World Vision as a Senior Program Manager in economic development and a Regional Coordinator for Africa focused on monitoring and evaluation for health and HIV/AIDS programs.
President and CEO, International Center for Religion & Diplomacy
James Patton assumed the leadership of ICRD in 2017, upon the retirement of its founder, Dr. Douglas Johnston. He has conducted international development, conflict transformation and social reconciliation for over two decades in more than a dozen countries, building collaborative networks and programs with the entire range of social and political actors in complex conflict environments. Prior to 2011, when he joined ICRD as Executive Vice President, he had worked in the governmental and non-governmental sectors. In his role as ICRD’s President, Mr. Patton has served as a member of a number of collaborative efforts to advance the field of peacemaking, including: the U.S. Department of State’s Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy; the Council on Foreign Relations’ Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, and; the public-private partnership advancing national dialogue on reconciliation in Colombia, Reconcilación Colombia. Mr. Patton is a Senior Visiting Fellow at Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institution and the co-author, with Rev. David Steele, of the forthcoming (2018) U.S. Institute of Peace publication, Religion and Conflict Guides: Religion and Reconciliation. Mr. Patton holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy degree from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School.
Head of Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding & Responsive Institutions, UNDP Crisis Bureau
Samuel Rizk is the Head of Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding & Responsive Institutions (CPPRI) at the UNDP Crisis Bureau in New York. Prior to this position Mr. Rizk has served as the Manager of the UNDP/RBAS Sub-Regional Response Facility (SRF) based in Amman, Jordan, supporting the organization’s regional response to the Syria crisis, in close collaboration with UNHCR. From July 2015 to October 2017, Mr. Rizk was the UNDP Country Director in Syria, and prior to that, from 2012 to 2015 he served as Senior Programme Advisor with the RBAS in New York. Mr. Rizk also served as Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) in Sudan (2010-2012) and as Conflict Prevention Advisor in Yemen (2009-2010). Mr. Rizk holds a BA in Political Science from Hanover College (Indiana, USA), an MA in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo (AUC), and a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University (2012).
Humanitarian Response Director, Global Rapid Response Team, World Vision
Khalil Sleiman, a Humanitarian Response Director with World Vision’s Global Rapid Response Team, has over 16 years of humanitarian experience. He served four years on the Syria response, as well as in Mauritania, Tanzania, Lebanon, and with the Middle East and Eastern Europe regional team. Mr. Sleiman has led responses in Uganda, Jordan, the DRC and CAR. He is a certified trainer for Do No Harm and Peace Resolutions. Mr. Sleiman brings in-depth knowledge of the Middle East, including his own experience of displacement during the Lebanese Civil War. He holds a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Engineering from Lebanese University in Beirut.
Director, Jammu and Kashmir Policy Institute (JKPI) and Acting India Chapter President, Euphrates Institute
Sohini Jana is the Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Policy Institute (JKPI), and acting Chapter President for the India chapter of the Euphrates Institute, a US-based non-profit organization. A post-graduate in English Literature, her interest in interreligious dialogue stems from books, as she took to listening to the "other" as if she was reading a novel. Ms. Jana identifies herself as a bridge-builder and spearheaded a successful effort to bring Americans (mostly Christians) in conversation with South Asian Islamic studies scholars from the Centre of Peace and Spirituality in order to combat Islamophobia and promote Islam as an ideology of peace for the post-scientific era. Presently, as the Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Policy Institute, Sohini seeks to contribute to the focus areas of inter-community and intra-cultural peace processes in Kashmir through education, mainstreaming of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue tools. Moreover, Ms. Jana is leading the development of a strategy to engage women in community spaces for peace processes while empowering them to achieve gender equality goals in the development narrative. Ms. Jana is also contributing to bringing about a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the role and scope of identity dynamics as they play out in grassroots democratic processes. Ms. Jana is a URI Cooperation Circle member and alumna of the KAICIID Fellows Program.
Senior Advisor for Religion and Inclusive Societies, United States Institute of Peace
Susan Hayward is a senior advisor for religion and inclusive societies at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Ms. Hayward leads the Institute’s efforts to understand religious dimensions of conflict and advance efforts engaging religious actors and organizations in peacebuilding. Since joining the Institute in 2007, her field work has focused on Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Colombia and Iraq. From 2010-2012 she coordinated an initiative exploring the intersection of women, religion, conflict and peacebuilding in partnership with the Berkley Center at Georgetown University and the World Faiths Development Dialogue. She co-edited a book on the topic entitled "Women, Religion and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen." Her research interests include interfaith engagement in the midst of political violence, political Buddhism, and the role of religion in hampering and propelling women’s work for peace and justice. Ms. Hayward holds a bachelor's degree in comparative religions from Tufts University and master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard Divinity School. Ms. Hayward is currently pursuing her doctorate in theology and religious studies at Georgetown University, focusing on Buddhist and Christian responses to authoritarianism and conflict in Myanmar.