In this, the first ever Coexist Prize Awards ceremony, the Coexist Foundation wants to celebrate the positive role religion plays in the lives of so many people in the world and honour the work of our six distinguished finalists, telling their stories so that they can be an inspiration and example for others.
Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali is currently the Secretary General of the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL - Religions for Peace) and the Africa Representative of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP). Before joining ACRLâ€”RfP and WCRP, Dr. Ali worked as the Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC Africa). Dr. Ali has also worked at the Islamic Foundation's Children's Relief Fund. During his stint at the Islamic Foundation Kenya, he also served as a member, representing the Islamic Foundation on various boards such as the African Network of Protection and Prevention against Children Neglect (ANPPCAN) and the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children Rights (KAACR). Dr. Ali also held positions in various capacities in various national organizations in Kenya. He served as the Director of Information of The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) and as Assistant Secretary General at the Islamic Foundation, Kenya.
Dr. Ali has been a journalist, writer, researcher and a commentator on politics, religions, conflicts, international relations of the African states, and generally about the media and globalization. Dr. Ali received his primary, secondary and university education in Kenya and the United Kingdom. He studied for an undergraduate as an Information Scientist and Masters in Diplomacy and International Relations at the Moi and Nairobi Universities in Kenya. He earned an interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy, specializing in International Relations, media and globalization from the United Kingdom's University of Portsmouth.
A journalist by profession, Dr. Ali worked with the National TV - Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as a news anchor, where he also doubled as a news presenter on the national radio. He has written extensively for various papers, magazines and journals on various subjects especially on child soldiers, conflict in Africa, terrorism, media and globalization. Dr. Ali's interests lie in conflict peace-building, media globalization, conflict resolution and transformation - transformation to a just and a peaceful Africa and the world.
Tarek Elgawhary is a communications specialist focusing on strategic, intelligence-led communication projects that operate in multiple language, cultural, and commercial settings. He advises several clients who operate between the Middle East North Africa region and the Western world. Tarek is also currently the Director for the Coexist Foundation, USA. Since 2006, Coexist has been working to promote better understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims, and between these communities and others, through education, dialogue and research.
Professor David Ford
David is the Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme. He is an Anglican theologian and Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught since 1991. He is a Fellow of Selwyn College. Previously David taught for 15 years at the University of Birmingham. His work in the area of Christian theology has been inspired by post-liberal and narrative theology. David is one of the founders of Scriptural Reasoning and has been extensively involved in generating new modes of engagement for inter-faith relations in the post-9/11 world. He is the author of (among others) Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love (2007) and co-editor of The Promise of Scriptural Reasoning (2006), and Fields of Faith: Theology and Religious Studies for the Twenty-First Century (2005).
Lian Gogali is the director of the MOSINTUWU Institute, an organization created to make a grassroots movement of women to bring justice, gender rights, and religious reconciliation to Poso. Gogali is the author of the book The Poso Conflict: The Voice of Women and Children in Reconciling Their Memory. Her life and work are the topic of the upcoming documentary "The Peace Agency."
HE Sheikh Ali Gomaa
Ali Goma'a is the Grand Mufti of Egypt through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah succeeding Ahmad El-Tayeb. He is one of the internationally most respected Islamic jurists according to U.S. News & World Report and The National and "a highly promoted champion of moderate Islam," gender equality, and an "object of hatred among Islamists" according to The New Yorker. He specializes in the foundations of Islamic Law, viz. Usul al-fiqh. He follows the Shafi`i school of Islamic jurisprudence.
Bishop Mark S. Hanson
Mark S. Hanson is the third and current Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Before being elected presiding bishop, he served as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod. Prior to being elected synod bishop, he served as pastor of three Minnesota congregations: Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; Edina Community Lutheran Church; and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. In addition to serving as Presiding Bishop, Hanson was the 11th President of the Lutheran World Federation.
Dishani Jayaweera was born in 1968 in Gampaha, Sri Lanka. She has been actively involved in the peace & non-violent conflict transformation field since 1997 when she gave up her career as a lawyer. She is a co-founder and Director at the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (home for diversity) where she invests her time and energy as a programme designer, trainer and facilitator.
She previously worked as Programme Officer and Coordinator at the National Integration Programme Unit and has worked alongside other NGOs to design and deliver programs on peacebuilding and reconciliation. She is a graduate of the Masters in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies and has participated in additional training on conflict resolution, mediation and reconciliation in various international settings.
Ms. Jayaweera is currently pursuing research on the relationship between state power and role of "Buddhism" within the ethnic majoritarian system.
Oliver McTernan is the director and co-founder of Forward Thinking, a UK-based organization that works to prevent and resolve conflict at a national and global level and to promote understanding between cultures.
Prior to taking up his present job in 2004 he was senior advisor to the Club of Madrid, a group of former Heads of State and Government who are committed to supporting governments in transition to democracy.
Visiting Fellow of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2000-2003 where he studied the failure of peace processes and the relationship between religion and conflict.
He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the UK Defense Academy and in 2002 he initiated the first post conflict discussions between the Government in Belgrade and NATO. In January 2004, he organized and directed the NATO sponsored research workshop on the Roots of Terrorism which was held in Prague.
For 25 years he was a member of the Executive Committee of Pax Christi International and was responsible for the movements East-West Dialogue program.
For 30 years he worked as a Parish Priest in Islington and Nothing Hill in Central London. In 1998 he was awarded the International Gold Medallion for his "outstanding contribution to inter-faith understanding." He resigned from being a Catholic priest in 2000 to focus on his work in conflict resolution.
In 1985 he founded Partners in Hope, a UK based charity which works to support the development of the social welfare in Russia and the former Soviet States.
His latest book, Violence in God's Name, was published in August 2003. It explores the roots of violence within each of the major faith traditions.
He broadcasts regularly on the BBC, Al Jazeera and is a freelance contributor to The Guardian.
Rabbi David Saperstein
David Saperstein is a rabbi, lawyer, and Jewish community leader. He has served as the director and chief legal counsel at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center for more than 30 years. Saperstein succeeded Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch as leader of the Washington D.C.-based political lobbying arm of the North American Reform movement. There, he advocates on a broad range of social justice issues. He directs a staff who provide extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues, federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils nationwide, coordinating social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.
Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches advanced seminars in both First Amendment church-state law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and serves on the boards of the NAACP, LCCHR and People For the American Way. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Joshua Stanton is a Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow at Hebrew Union College. He is also a founding co-Director of Lessons of a Lifetime, a nursing home-based project designed to improve intergenerational relations. A graduate of Amherst College, he is the recipient of numerous leadership awards, including the Bridge-Builders Leadership Award from the Interfaith Youth Core.
Nick Stuart is the president and CEO of Odyssey Networks, the largest interfaith multiplatform media organization in the U.S. dedicated to media production, distribution and promotion. Based in New York City, Stuart is responsible for developing short-term and long-term strategies, implementing policies and procedures, as well as directing the work of all the employees within Odyssey Networks.
An award-winning independent television producer and journalist, he was formerly CEO of the UK-based, nonprofit independent production company, CTVC. He is credited with re-inventing that organization by expanding distribution of its faith-oriented programming into prime time and into the mainstream media, establishing an educational department, and introducing TrueTube, a teen-oriented Web site where real-life stories and documentaries are featured on a YouTube-style online platform. TrueTube, often referred to as "You Tube with a conscience," won major awards in the UK in its first year of operation, including the Jerusalem Award for best on-demand Internet TV network and the Education Resource Award for innovation.
William L. Ury co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation and is currently a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He is the author of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No & Still Get to Yes (2007) and co-author (with Roger Fisher) of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, an eight-million-copy bestseller translated into over thirty languages. "No other book in the field comes close to its impact on the way practitioners, teachers, researchers, and the public approach negotiation," comments the National Institute on Dispute Resolution. Ury is also author of the award-winning Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People and Getting To Peace (released in paperback under the title The Third Side).
Over the last 30 years, Ury has served as a negotiation adviser and mediator in conflicts ranging from corporate mergers to wildcat strikes in a Kentucky coal mine to ethnic wars in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. With former president Jimmy Carter, he co- founded the International Negotiation Network, a non-governmental body seeking to end civil wars around the world. During the 1980s, he helped the US and Soviet governments create nuclear crisis centers designed to avert an accidental nuclear war. In that capacity, he served as a consultant to the Crisis Management Center at the White House. More recently, Ury has served as a third party in helping to end a civil war in Aceh, Indonesia, and helping to prevent one in Venezuela.
Ury has taught negotiation to tens of thousands of corporate executives, labor leaders, diplomats and military officers around the world. He helps organizations try to reach mutually profitable agreements with customers, suppliers, unions, and joint-venture partners.
Ury is also co-founder of the e-Parliament, which offers the 25,000 members of congress and parliament around the world an Internet-based forum in which they can learn from one another other about legislative solutions that work and together tackle global problems such as climate change, energy efficiency, and terrorism. His most recent project is the Abraham Path Initiative, which seeks to connect the human family step by step by creating a permanent route of cross-cultural tourism and pilgrimage in the Middle East that retraces the footsteps of Abraham, the unifying figure of many faiths and peoples.
Ury is the recipient of the Whitney North Seymour Award from the American Arbitration Association and the Distinguished Service Medal from the Russian Parliament. His work has been widely featured in the media from The New York Times to the Financial Times and from ABC to the BBC.
Trained as a social anthropologist, with a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard, Ury has carried out his research on negotiation not only in the boardroom and at the bargaining table but also among the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the clan warriors of New Guinea.
Religious leader H.E. Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, discuss the threats that challenge interfaith reconciliation and cooperation.
Relation of human beings to God or the gods or to whatever they consider sacred or, in some cases, merely supernatural. Archaeological evidence suggests that religious beliefs have existed since the first human communities. They are generally shared by a community, and they express the communal culture and values through myth, doctrine, and ritual. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions also constitute elements of the religious life. Religions attempt to answer basic questions intrinsic to the human condition (Why do we suffer? Why is there evil in the world? What happens to us when we die?) through the relationship to the sacred or supernatural or (e.g., in the case of Buddhism) through perception of the true nature of reality. Broadly speaking, some religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are outwardly focused, and others (e.g., Jainism, Buddhism) are inwardly focused.