CORE GROUP INVITEES                                                                                     Click Here to Meet the Conveners

Awakened World 2012 will revolve around a Core Group, featuring key members of the International Interreligious Peace Council and their peers from the world’s religious and spiritual communities in 20 countries. Additional invitees will draw upon the expertise of secular institutions, including in addition to religion: government, commerce, education, the arts, science, intergovernmental agencies, and civil society. Attention to diversity of religion, culture, gender, and nationality has been a primary driver in the invitational process.


Click on a country to view guests:

South Africa





Rabbi Moshe Garelik

Activist for entrepreneurship and international relations in the European Union.
Rabbinical studies in the USA (1987-1988 / 1993), France (1989-1992) and Israel (1994) and was ordained Rabbi in Australia (1995). He taught and successfully ran several projects in South Africa, Asia and Central and South America (1996-1999). He is the founder of several non-profit organisations in the educational, cultural, humanitarian, social and religious sectors. Currently, he is facilitating UniOne way of life through networking of relevant foundations and individuals.


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Chungliang Al Huang

Tai Ji master, East-West culture, World Academy of Art and Science, Republic of China's Gold Medal of Education
An internationally respected Tai Ji master and authority of East-West cultural synthesis, he is the author of numerous books on Tai Ji, and Taoism as it relates to business, performance and daily life, including the best-selling classic, Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji. He is a research fellow at the Academia Sinica, a member of the World Academy of Art and Science, and recipient of the Republic of China's Gold Medal of Education.

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Bro. Ishmael Tetteh
Etherean Mission, Ghana

Brother Ishmael Tetteh is an African mystic and spiritual master from Accra, Ghana. He is the founder and spiritual director of Etherean Mission, a trans-denominational metaphysical organization dedicated to self-awareness and study of the natural sciences.


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HH Pujya Swami Chidananda Saraswati

President and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India, one of India's largest spiritual institutions
H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, (also known as Pujya Swamiji or Pujya Muniji), is the president and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India, one of India's largest spiritual institutions.[1][2] He is also the founder and spiritual head of the Hindu Jain Temple in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also founder and chairman ofthe [India Heritage Research Foundation (IHRF)], an international, non-profit, humanitarian foundation.


Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati

President of Divine Shakti Foundation

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati is an American graduate of Stanford University. While completing her Ph.D. she traveled to India where she found her life’s calling. She was initiated into the order of sanyas by H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. She is the president of Divine Shakti Foundation and oversees a variety of humanitarian and charitable programs. She teaches meditation, gives lectures and question-answer sessions, and counsels individuals and families.



Vandana Shiva
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy

Environmental thinker, activist, physicist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer and science policy advocate. Director of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. Founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources. Advisor to the International Forum on Globalisation, Third World Network, Asia Pacific People's Environment Network, and Women's Environment & Development Organization. Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

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Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB

Co-Chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
"A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, USA, she served as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of the leaders/superiors of the over 67,000 Catholic religious women in the US. Joan Chittister is an internationally known writer and lecturer and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality. She currently serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. Joan Chittister has written more than 40 books and received numerous awards for her work on behalf of peace and women in church and in society. She is an original member of the International Interreligious Peace Council. "

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Levi Weiman-Kelman

Congregation Kehilat Kol Haneshama. Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism; Rabbis for Human Rights; model for interreligious understanding, and healing in Jerusalem.
Rabbi of a Reform Jewish congregation in Jerusalem called Kehilat Kol Haneshama. A leader of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism and of Rabbis for Human Rights, his congregation is a model for inter-religious understanding, dialog, and healing in Jerusalem.

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Dr. Dimitri Bregant
Director of Communications and Media, Focolare Movement Rome Headquarters
Born in Slovenia. R.C. Priest, Medical Doctor. Since 1960 full time member of the Focolare Movement . 1964-1998 Director Focolare Movement in Chicago, USA. 1998-2008 Director Focolare Movement in the U.K. Director of the Ecumenical Center of the Focolare Movement in Rome, Italy (1998-2002). Since 2008 Member of the Board of Directors of the Focolare Movement in the Rome H.Q



Dr. Roberto Catalano
Expert and lecturer in interfaith dialogue, writer and journalist.
He lived for three decades in India, where he has worked especially in the field of interfaith dialogue, organising events at the academic level and for youth formation to interculturality and peace building. Since 2008 he lives in Rome, from where he continues to organise and to animate initiatives of dialogue in several parts of the world. He teaches in different institutions subjects related to spirituality and interreligious dialogue and the role of religions in today’s world. He authored two books and many articles.


Silvio Daneo

Awakened World Logistics Coordinator, Italian Liason

Vice President of Religions for Peace, Italy

Member of Focolare Movement since 1959; Co-founder of Focolare Movement in the USA (1962) and Asia (1966) and former Co-Director of the Movment in Philippines, China, India and Thailand (between 1966 and 1995). Involved in Inter-religious dialogue since 1973; helped in the organization of major Inter-religious events throughout the world, also at the Vatican. Since 1980 works in the field of International Cooperation (Projects in Third World Countries). Active in social work, respect and promotion of Human Rights in national and international levels


Lisa Palmieri-Billig

President, Religions for Peace Italy

Lisa Palmieri-Billig has been covering the relationship between the Vatican and Israel for the Jerusalem Post, and for other international publications in English, Italian and German, since the Second Vatican Council. She is also the American Jewish Committee’s representative in Italy and Liaison to the Holy See. In this capacity, she is a member of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee. This author is the vice president of the Religions for Peace organization in Italy, having held that same post for the European branch for 25 years. She has written extensively on the papacies of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In 1993 she interviewed then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for Studi Cattolici and Midstreamon, discussing the issue "Jews and Judaism in The Universal Catechism".



Prof. Alberto Tesi
Rector, University of Florence




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Yuka Saionji
Deputy Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai, a spiritual organization dedicated to world peace founded in Japan over fifty years ago.

Yuka’s grandfather, Masahisa Goi, advocated the universal peace prayer, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Byakko teaches the divinity of all humanity, and hosts interfaith events such as the “Symphony of Peace Prayers,” in which more than 10,000 people pray together led by representatives of each world religion. Yuka also works with the sister organization of Byakko, the Goi Peace Foundation, and participatesin the World Spirit Youth Council. She has a degree in law from Gakushuin University in Japan.

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Dr. Hizkias Assefa

Founder, African Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Network (Nairobi, Kenya)

Founder and Head, African Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Network (Nairobi, Kenya). Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University (Fairfax, VA, USA). Professor, Institute of Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA, USA). He has two decades of experience leading mediation and peacebuilding efforts in more than 25 African and Asian nations, and for the United Nations.




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Prof. Hyun-kyung Chung

Ecumenics and World Christianity, Union Theological School
Professor of Ecumenics and World Christianity at Union Theological Seminary, New York, she is active in Christian women's movements in Asia. Formerly Professor of Systematic Theology at EWHA Women's University, Seoul, Korea. Author of Struggle to be the Sun Again and other books.



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Rev. Gonzalo Ituarte Verduzco

Dominican Prior Provincial for Mexico
Dominican friar and priest and Prior Provincial for Mexico. Formerly in charge of the Dominican Mission to Ocosingo (Chiapas, Mexico). Formerly Vicario Episcopal de Justicia y Paz, Diocesis de San Cristóbal de las Casas. Formerly Secretary to CONAI, the National Commision for Mediation.



Lic. Miguel Alvarez-Gandara
Founder, Director, and Coordinator, SERAPAZ (Servicios y Asesoria para la Paz) (Mexico)

Member, Latin-American Secretariat, SICSAL (the Oscar Romero Secretariat for Latin American Solidarity). Administrator and Editor, Center for Theological Reflection: Revista Christus. Founding member and Mexican national Councilor, Citizens' Movement for Democracy. Consultant to the Board of Directors, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolome de las Casas (Chiapas, Mexico). Formerly Executive Secretary, National Commission for Mediation (CONAI).

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Dr. Saleha Abedin

Director, Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
Director, Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (London). Editor, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (Oxford). Professor of Sociology, Director of General Education and Founder, Dar Al-Hekma College (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). Chairperson, International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child (Amman, Jordan).

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Ela Gandhi

Former Parliamentarian, Republic of South Africa
Former member of Parliament aligned with the ANC party, Republic of South Africa. Granddaughter of the Mahatma Gandhi and close friend of President Nelson Mandela, she fought 30 years for nonviolence education and human rights for women and children. A tireless proponent of responsible media, anti-poverty, and youth, and publisher of “Satyagraha,” newspaper.


Rev. Gordon Oliver

Chair, Cape Town Interfaith Initiative. South African Director, 1999 Parliament of the World's Religions
Minister Emeritus, Cape Town Unitarian Church; Chair, Cape Town Interfaith Initiative. Gordon is a former mayor of Cape Town, South Africa. He was the South African Director of the 1999 Parliament of the World's Religions.


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Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne

Founder, Sarvodaya Movement Sri Lanka
Founder and President of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, a spiritually-based people’s development movement in 15.000 villages based on Buddhist and Gandhian principles.



Dr. Samya Charika Marasinghe
Freelance Human Rights and Child Rights Consultant and Honourary Founder
Director, Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement,
Trustee, Vishva Niketan International Peace and Meditation Centre

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Venerable Yifa
Founder of the Woodenfish Project, former provost of University of the West in Los Angeles.
Yifa has received a law degree from the National Taiwan University and a doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale University. She was honored the Juliet Hollister Award in Religious Education and Peace. Co-author of Benedict’s Dharma and the contributor for The Gethsemani Encounter.


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Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche

Former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile
Tibetan monk and scholar. Former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Formerly Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies. Director of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Banaras, India


Tenzin Tethong
The Dalai Lama Foundation, Committee of 100 for Tibet, Stanford University, tenure as Kalon Tripa Tibetan Admin.

A Tibetan exile who has worked for over 30 years with the Tibetan refugee community in the Indian sub-continent and in the West. Served in the Tibetan Government in exile as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the U.S. and as a Minister in the exile administration, including a tenure as Kalon Tripa, Chair of the Cabinet of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He continues his work for Tibet and the Tibetan people through his association with The Dalai Lama Foundation, the Committee of 100 for Tibet, and Stanford University.


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Rev. Marcus Braybrooke

President, World Congress of Faiths
President of the World Congress of Faiths. A retired Anglican parish priest, living near Oxford, England, Dr. Braybrooke has been involved in interfaith work for over forty years, especially through the World Congress of Faiths. He was Executive Director of the Council of Christians and Jews from 1984-8. He is a Co-Founder of the Three Faiths Forum, Patron of the International Interfaith Centre at Oxford and a Peace Councillor. In September 2004, he was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘in recognition of his contribution to the development of inter-religious co-operation and understanding throughout the world.' He is author of over forty books on world religions and Christianity.



Dr. Kamran Mofid

Founder and Director, Globalization for the Common Good
"Founder and Director, Globalization for the Common Good. Born in Tehran, Iran in 1952, received his BA and MA in economics from the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1980 and 1982 respectively. In 1986 he was awarded his doctorate in economics from the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2001 he received a Certificate in Education in Pastoral Studies at Plater College, Oxford. From 1980 onwards he has been teaching and supervising undergraduate and graduate students in development economics, business studies, international business and the political economy of the Middle East. He has also acted as external examiner for undergraduate and PhD research thesis at different universities. In recent years Dr. Mofid has developed short courses, seminars and workshops on economics and theology, the economics of the common good, religions & globalisation, altruism &service: Islam and Christianity in dialogue, business ethics& corporate social responsibility, spiritual economics and non-violent conflict resolution and an inter-faith perspective on globalisation. "


Rev. Canon Alan Race

Editor-in-Chief, "Interreligious Insight"
Editor-in-Chief, "Interreligious Insight"; Trustee, World Congress of Faiths; Dean, St. Philip's Centre,one of two Church of England centres for interfaith dialogue and understanding; author, "Interfaith Encounter."



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Joan Borysenko
Medical Scientist; Clinical Psychologist; Co-founder, Mind/Body Clinic, Harvard Medical School; President, Mind/Body Health Sciences

Author of 14 books, as well as numerous audio and video programs, Joan is trained as a cancer cell biologist, psychologist, and spiritual director. Her doctorate is from the Harvard Medical School where she served as instructor in medicine before founding Mind-Body Health Sciences LLC in Boulder, CO. Co-founder and director of the Claritas Institute for Interspiritual Inquiry, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and co-host (with her husband Gordon Dveirin) of the Hay House radio network show The Spirit of the Future: Voices of Vision and Hope.


Rinaldo Brutoco
President and CEO, World Business Academy

Founding president of, the World Business Academy, co-author of, Freedom From Mid-East Oil, and others. He serves on the board of The Men’s Wearhouse, Omega Point Institute, Peace Partnership International, the Ojai Film Festival. Former board member of,The Gorbachev Foundation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, State of the World Forum, The Peace Alliance and The Center for Earth Concerns. Founder of The ShangriLa Group which addresses a wide variety of business applications at both the micro and macro level, internationally and domestically.


Jack Canfield
Author, trainer, motivational speaker

Speaker, author and trainer, conducting personal and professional development seminars for more than 1 million people in 32 countries around the world for which he was recently inducted into the National Speakers Association’s Speakers Hall of Fame. Founder of The Transformational Leadership Council, a group of 125 owners of transformational training, coaching and media companies. Well known co-author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which currently has more than 200 titles and 115 million copies in print in 47 languages.


Harold Kasimow
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Grinnell College, Iowa.

Student of Abraham Joshua Heschel; longtime proponent of the interreligious movement and co-editor of several books in this area, including John Paul II and Interreligious Dialogue. Author of many articles, including "To Build a Civilization of Love: Pope Benedict XVI on Islam in a Global Age" and "A Blessing to One Another: John Paul II and Benedict XVI on Judaism and Other Religions," the latter published in The Catholic Church in Dialogue with Islam and Judaism (The Dialogue Series 7), Antwerp: Saint Ignatius University.


Azim Khamisa
Founder of Tariq Khamisa Foundation, the CANEI Program. Author, international speaker, and passionate peace activist.

Chairman, CEO and Founder of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) and Sovereign Capital Markets, Inc. He is a successful international investment banker, advisor and consultant with over 30 years of experience. He has conducted business ventures in Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas. He is an award- winning author of the book: Azim’s Bardo - From Murder To Forgiveness – A Father’s Journey. Recipient of the “Search for Common Ground” international award for “Building Peaceful Communities” along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Ted Koppel.


Dean Lawrence Carter
Dean of Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel

The Reverend Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. is the first dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, college archivist and curator, and professor of religion at Morehouse College. He holds the Ph.D. degree from Boston University. He was 1994 Fulbright Scholar in Brazil and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in 1993 and 1996. He is the author of Walking Integrity: Benjamin Elijah Mays as Mentor to Martin Luther King Jr.



Gordon Dveirin, Ed.D
Co-founder and associate director of The Claritas Institute's Interspiritual Mentor Training Program; founding board member of the Passageworks Institute to benefit the inner lives of students in our K-12 systems.

Organization and human development consultant, spiritual educator, and co-author of two books: Saying Yes to Change and Your Soul’s Compass: What is Spiritual Guidance. Co-founder and co-director of The Claritas Institute for Interspiritual Inquiry, he is a founding and active board member of the Passageworks Institute dedicated to the social, emotional, and spiritual learning of children and youth in our schools. He is also co-host of the Hay House radio network’s show The Spirit of the Future: Voices of Vision and Hope.


Prof. Jennie Joe

University of Arizona; Navajo Community Health
(Navajo). Professor in Department of Family and Community Medicine in the College of Medicine (DFCM); also on the faculty in the American Indian Studies. Director of the Native American Research and Training Center (NARTC). In addition to a number of research reports, articles, and book reviews, Professor Joe also has over 20 chapters published in edited books. She serves on a number of national and international committees and/or boards. As a researcher, she has and continues to be involved in a number of health-related studies that are conducted in cooperation with tribal groups throughout the country.

Barbara Marx Hubbard
President, Foundation for Conscious Evolution, pioneer of conscious evolution, author, speaker, social innovator.

A world-renowned visionary futurist, evolutionary educator and inspiring speaker, Barbara is the author of seven acclaimed books that communicate the new worldview of conscious evolution. She is the co-founder and chair of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, and additionally co-founded many progressive organizations, including The Association for Global New Thought, as well as The World Future Society. In 1984 her name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency of the United States on the Democratic ticket with the campaign theme “To Fulfill the Dream, a Campaign for a Positive Future.” She is currently co-producing with The Shift Network a global multi-media event entitled, “Birth 2012: Co-Creating a Planetary Shift in Time” on Dec. 22, 2012 which aims to unify 100 million people worldwide in heart coherence and social synergy to birth a new “evolved” era and a “universal humanity.”


Rev. Patrick McCollum
Nature-Based Religion Spiritual Leader, Global Peace Facilitator, and Development Director for Children of the Earth, United Nations NGO

Recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Pluralism in 2010. Serves as Director of the Patrick McCollum Foundation, an organization dedicated toward securing world peace and social justice; International Interfaith Ambassador for Circle Sanctuary; Chaplaincy Liaison for the American Academy of Religion; Council member of the National Correctional Chaplains Association and Minority Faith Issues Chair, overseeing religious accommodation in the US prison systems; International Advisor for the Peace Service Center, Nepal and USA; Advisory Council Member, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State; Religion Advisor for the United States Commission on Civil Rights.


Prof. Donald W. Mitchell
Purdue University, Buddhist-Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue

Donald W. Mitchell is professor of comparative philosophy at Purdue University, and editor of Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture. He is a founding member of the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies, and was director of the International Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter. His work in interreligious dialogue includes: advisor for the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, and the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers.



James Quilligan

Director, Center for Global Negotiations
Director, Center for Global Negotiations. An analyst and administrator in the field of international development since 1975, Quilligan has served as policy advisor and writer for many international politicians and leaders, including Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterrand, Edward Heath, Julius Nyerere, Lopez Portillo, Olaf Palme, Willy Brandt, and Jimmy Carter. He has been an economic consultant for government agencies in 26 countries, including the United States. He has also served as an advisor for several United Nations programs and international development organizations.


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