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About the Institute for Emerging Leaders

As 21st Century communities get more and more diverse, social challenges such as polarization, racism, extremism, etc grow along with them. American communities are no different, which calls for increasing pluralistic, change-making, and conflict resolution skills among people country-wide, especially youth.

The Drew University Institute for Emerging Leaders (DUIEL), therefore, seeks to respond to the widening divisiveness in today’s society by preparing young leaders to foster peaceful and pluralistic relations in their communities, using religion as a positive force.

The Institute, formerly known as the New Jersey Institute for Emerging Leaders (NJIEL), is built on CRCC’s international Institute on Religion and Conflict Transformation and attracts renowned scholars, practitioners, and national thought leaders as faculty. The Institute is interested in developing in young people skillset which straddles the following:

  • civil dialogue
  • conflict resolution
  • diversity, equity inclusion (DEI)
  • inter-faith/inter-cultural leadership, and,
  • community organizing and change-making

Students and young leaders from all backgrounds are welcome to inquire about the Institute. Should you like to be considered for the 2025 DUIEL, you may complete the Institute Inquiry Form.

Curious to know how past editions went?

Refer below for faculty bios, itineraries, photos, and other relevant details from 2024 and 2023.

2024 DUIEL ITINERARY & RELIGIOUS PLURALISM FIELD TRIP

The 2024 Drew Institute for Emerging Leaders (DUIEL) featured nearly two dozen young leaders from diverse backgrounds and tertiary institutions. It held from May 29-Jun 9, 2024. Our carefully selected faculty sharpened participants’ capacities in a plethora of areas, including inter-faith and inter-cultural leadership, civil dialogue, and community organizing.

The program featured the following:

  • Workshops
  • Breakout Sessions
  • Interfaith/Intercultural Engagement
  • Institute Dinner Celebration
  • Culture Night Celebration
  • Field Trip (see below for potential sites)

ITINERARY

Center on Religion, Culture, Conflict (CRCC), Drew University

New Jersey Institute for Emerging Leaders (DUIEL) – May 29 – Jun 9, 2024

Date/Time
Activity
Presenter/Facilitator
Wed., May 29
Early arrivals
All participants
Thurs., May 30
Morning Arrivals
9-10:30am
Check-in
11:00am-12:30pm
Introductory Session
Prof. Jonathan Golden
12:30-1:30pm
Welcome Lunch
1:30-2:45pm
Campus as Incubator
J. Golden
2:45-3:00pm
Break
3:00-4:30pm
Workshop 1
J. Golden
4:30-6pm
Break
6:00pm
Dinner
Fri., May 31
9-10:30 am
Building Community Partnerships
Rev. Sammy Arroyo
10:30-11am
Break
11am-12:30pm
Mediation/Facilitation
David Thaler, Esq.
12:30-1:30pm
Lunch/Jumma
130-3:00pm
Mediation
Thaler
3:00-3:30pm
Break
3:30-4:30pm
Cohort Work
Working groups
4:30-6:30pm
Break
Evening
6:30pm
Dinner Program
Sat., Jun 1
11:30-1pm
Lunch
1-5:30pm
Pastime
5:30-8:30pm
Variety/Talent Show
Sun. June 2
10am-5pm
Free time/Pastime
5-6:15pm
Dinner
Mon., June 3
9-10:15am
Managing Trauma on Campus
Rev. Tanya Bennett, PhD
10-11:30 am
Civically engaged Leadership
Mecca Madyun, Sean Hewitt
11:30-12pm
Break
12-1:15pm
Parents Circle Family Forum
1:15-2:30pm
Lunch
2:30-4pm
Workshop 1 (cont’d.)/Conflict Analysis Worksheet
J. Golden
4-6pm
Break
6:00-8:00pm
Leading in Times of Conflict
Prof. Atiya Aftab,
Roberta Ellis, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
Tues., June 4
Field trip
Wed., June 5
10:00-11:00am
Cultivating Belonging on Campus
Monica Madera
11:00-11:15
Break
11:15am-12:30pm
Exploring Culture, and Empathy as Leadership & Peacebuilding Imperatives
Donald Proby
12:30-1:30pm
Lunch
1:30-3pm
Exploring Culture and Empathy (cont’d.)
Donald Proby
3-3:30pm
Break
3:30-4:30pm
Cohort Work
Working groups
4:30-6pm
Break
6pm
Spoken Word Creative Writing Workshop
Jay Avery
Thurs., June 6
9:15-10:15am
Constructive Conversations Workshop
Working Groups
10:15-10:30am
Break
10:30-12:00am
The Gift of Wounds
Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Kaleka,
Serve2Unite
10:30-12:00pm
Concurrent Session 2.0 Community Circle: Building Connection Across Cultural Difference & Divisiveness
Donald Proby
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
1:00-2:30pm
The Gift of Our Wounds
Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Kaleka,
2:30-4:30pm
Break
4:30-6:00pm
Feature Talk: A Lifetime Commitment
Joyce Trainor
6:00pm
Celebration Reception and Dinner Program
Fri., June 7
 
10:30am-12pm
Dismantling Anti-Semitism
Arno Michaelis and Tamara Meyer
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
1:00-2:30pm
Dismantling Anti-Semitism (cont’d.)
Arno Michaelis and Tamara Meyer
2:30-3:45pm
Mindfulness Walk
Zuck Arboretum, Drew
3:45-6:30pm
Break/Leisure/Games
6:30pm
Shabbat Celebration
Sat. Jun. 8
10am
Madison Black History Pilgrimage (optional)
Evening
Closing Dinner/Culture Night
Sun., June 9
10:00-11:30am
Christian Worship/Church
(Open to all participants)
Jonathan Golden
11:30-11:45am
Break
11:45am-1pm
Closing Circle
1:00pm
Lunch and Farewell

RELIGIOUS PLURALISM FIELD TRIP

The 2024 DUIEL day trip visited houses of worship and monuments in NJ and New York. It was aimed at deepening participants’ religious tolerance capacity and interfaith skills and fostering their passion for social justice processes. DUIEL participants visited the following sites:

  1. The Bowne House Historical Society   (i.e. John Bowne from Flushing Remonstrance)
  2. Hindu Temple Society of North America (Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam)
  3. Temple Gates of Prayer (Synagogue)
  4. Islamic Society of Basking Ridge
2024 DUIEL FACULTY

Pardeep Singh Kaleka

Pardeep Singh Kaleka is an Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-Director of Not in Our Town, an anti-hate project of The Working Group, an Oakland-based non-profit organization. Since January 2024, he has been Director of Behavioral Health Response (BHR), a program that assists people going through mental health crisis, at Carroll University.

A former officer of the Milwaukee Police Department, Pardeep has practiced as a counselor, psychotherapist, and de-radicalization specialist. He is co-founder of Serve2Unite, an organization that works with children, families, and communities in peacemaking. Between 2019 and late 2022, he was the Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

Pardeep is also the co-author of The Gifts of Our Wounds and an award-winning columnist with the Milwaukee Independent.

Image courtesy: The Milwaukee Independent

Arno Michaelis

Arno Michaelis is a filmmaker with over 12 years worth of experience, a writer (author of My Life after Hate and co-author of The Gift of Our Wounds), and a public speaker. A former white supremacist, his keynotes and workshops seek to leverage the noble qualities of compassion, curiosity, and kindness in engaging all humans and build foundations for diversity appreciation and cultural agility.

Arno is the co-founder of Serve2Unite, an organization that works with children, families, and communities in peacemaking. Through this organization, he has developed and run student education and outreach programs for over 50 public and private schools since 2012.

Arno is an information technology consultant/professional trained by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).

Image courtesy: PennState Independent

Donald Proby

Donald Proby is a conflict transformation facilitator and leadership consultant of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) at Proby & Partners LLC, a firm specialized in peace-building, conflict transformation, team building, and relationship repair. He was a mediation lead trainer and an executive consultant with Community Boards, San Francisco and with Courageous Leadership LLC respectively for many years.

Donald is a doctoral scholar in educational leadership with a focus on cross cultural conflict transformation. He was a Russell Berrie Visiting Professor at Drew between 2021 and 2022 and served as faculty of leadership development at the Coro Northern California in the past.

Donald has been a mediator, educator, and restorative justice practitioner since 1980 and has contributed to arenas including government, social services, non-profit leadership, and health.

Tamara Meyer, NMT

Tamara Meyer, Author, Therapist, Lecturer, and Media Consultant, is a child of German Jewish Holocaust survivors. For the past two decades she has been exploring her family legacy. She showcases the stories of survivors, organizing conferences and monthly dinners for second generation survivors, and using that legacy as a vehicle for change. As a participant in dialogue groups in Berlin that include former Nazis, Holocaust survivors and their descendants, Tamara has experienced first-hand both the extraordinary challenge and reward of engaging with those who at another time would have been her most dangerous enemies.

Image courtesy: https://www.tamarameyer.com/

David Thaler

David Thaler is the Chief International Affairs Officer at Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) where he has mediated disputes in the areas of collective bargaining, grievances based on violations of collective bargaining agreements, and equal employment opportunity from 2005 through 2018. His roles have also included training labor management partners in mediation and conflict management and designing, administering, and delivering US technical assistance programs for developing countries. He was the recipient of the FMCS Director’s Award in 2021.

David is also an Adjunct Professor of Mediation and Conflict Management at Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. He was awarded the 2018 Thomas H. Kean Graduate Teaching/Mentoring Award at the Drew.

Rev. Dr. Tanya Linn Bennett

Rev. Dr. Tanya Linn Bennett is an Associate Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Vocation and the Associate Dean for Vocation and Formation at Drew Theological School. Rev. Bennett has served as University Chaplain at Drew for more than a decade.

An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church (UMC), Rev. Bennett is active in worship design and leadership nationally. Rev. Bennett’s research interests include emerging adults and religion, urban community organizing and advocacy, liturgy for non-traditional worshipping communities and feminist approaches to public theology.

Rev. Bennett is an alumna of Drew Theological School and Allegheny College.

Ali Chaudry, PhD

Dr. M. Ali Chaudry is an Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Raritan Valley Community College, having also taught at both Seton Hall and Rutgers Universities.  For over 16 years, Dr Chaudry has taught a course on Islam and Muslims at Rutgers University and is co-author of Islam & Muslims with Dr. Robert D. Crane.  Dr. Chaudry, who is co-founder of the NJ Interfaith Coalition, co-founder of the Islamic Societies of Central Jersey, Jam e-Masjid Islamic Center Boonton and Basking Ridge, member of the NJ OHSP Interfaith Advisory Council, is one of the most visible interfaith leaders in the State of New Jersey.

Dr. Chaudry, who grew up in Pakistan, has served as Mayor and Town Council Member for Bernards Township, NJ and is the President of the Branchburg Rotary Foundation.  Dr. Chaudry holds a Ph.D in Economics from Tufts University and a Master’s in the same discipline from the London School of Economics. Dr. Chaudry previously worked in corporate America (with AT&T) for three decades in various capacities including as Chief Economist, Strategic Planning and Finance

Image courtesy: The Berket Fund

Monica Madera

Monica Madera is the Coordinator of Diversity Programming at Drew’s Student Engagement Office. Passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), higher education administration, and equitable education for students from all backgrounds, Monica has worked to advance these areas at Drew for almost three years. Prior to Drew, she was in service delivery, mainly in the food and beverage industry.

Monica’s undergraduate and graduate degrees come from Rutgers University and William Paterson University of New Jersey respectively. At Rutgers, she was an AmeriCorps Member and played various roles including teaching assistant, student recruiter, and youth mentor.

Atiya Aftab, Esq.

Atiya Aftab is the co-founder and chair emeritus of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an international women’s interfaith organization. She has been a member of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey’s (ISCJ) Board of Trustees and Overseers for 20 years and was the first woman chair of the board.  She co-founded the New Jersey Muslim Lawyer’s Association and has been its Vice-President and Treasurer.  She was an active member and chair of the Islamic Society of North America’s Masjid Development Committee and is also a co-founder of the Shia Sunni Alliance of NJ. She is a Fellow with the Arianne de Rothschild Fellowship and completed a certificate program with KARAMAH, Muslim women’s human rights organization.

Atiya currently maintains her own practice providing representation to non-profit corporations.  She is also an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University, Department of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies Program and teaches “Islamic Law and Jurisprudence.”  She is also the Chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, convener of the first full-time Muslim Chaplaincy on campus. She is a member of the Rutgers University Board of Overseers that governs the Rutgers University Foundation.

Atiya received her Bachelor of Arts Degree, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1988, majoring in Political Science (Pi Sigma Alpha) from Rutgers College.  She went on to Rutgers Law School in Newark and graduated with her Juris Doctorate Degree in 1991.

Atiya has spoken at numerous forums on topics related to Islam including academic institutions, conferences, police training centers, places of worship, universities, hospital, community forums conventions and newsprint, social media and television and radio addresses.

Roberta Elliott

Roberta Elliott is an activist, writer and photographer. Since retiring from a lifetime of work as a communications professional in the Jewish community, she has devoted herself to volunteer work, primarily with refugees both in the US and abroad. Her article, “In Vienna with Syrian Refugees,” published in the Winter 2015-16 issue of Lilith Magazine, was awarded First Prize for Excellence in Social Justice Writing by the Rockower Competition for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. When not working with refugees, she is passionate about shared society in Israel and serves on the boards of several organizations that promote that vision. To improve her skills in board service, she recently completed a certificate program in board management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In her spare time, she is working toward becoming a life master in bridge and improving her sailing skills. She is the founder of the Tucson chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

Mecca Madyun

Mecca Madyun is Faculty Director of Civically Engaged Teaching & Learning at the Center for Civic Engagement and Assistant Professor of Civic Engagement at Drew University.

With over two decades of experience, Madyun’s expertise spans a broad spectrum. Mecca received a BA from University of Pennsylvania in Fine Arts (Graphic Design) and a BFA from University of Colorado Boulder in Dance and Somatics (Body Mind Centering Certificate). From dance education administration, design, and instruction with Brooklyn Academy of Music (2019-2023) to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Access (EDIA) facilitation and consulting, Mecca has procured a diverse list of clients such ranging from government agencies to cultural institutions to community-based organizations and communities, supporting holistic cultural shifts.

Through her work in EDIA consulting, arts administration, dance education, and creative and professional development, she endeavors to nurture the discovery of one’s authentic self. At Drew, she eagerly anticipates building, expanding, and deepening community, partnerships, curriculum, the Drew Action Scholars Program, and her research, framing the interdependence of EDIA and Civic Engagement work as foundational to holistic collective changemaking.

Sean Hewitt

Sean Hewitt is currently the Director of Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). In this role, he supports the Drew Action Scholars and Civic Scholars Programs. He also oversees the rollout of CCE events, immersive experiences, student civic projects, and community partnerships.

Sean is an experienced nonprofit director, mentor, and community advocate.  In addition to over fifteen (15) years of nonprofit management experience, he has led workshops on youth leadership, ethics, cultural competency, wellness, and community engagement in both university and industry settings. His advocacy work extends to collaborating with public and private sector agencies as well as healthcare providers to support underrepresented youth and families.

Sean holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Master’s in Public Administration. Currently, he is completing a Master of Social Work degree.

Rev. Samuel Arroyo, PhD

Samuel Arroyo is an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church (UMC). He is the Assistant Director of Global Services and Latinx Programs at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). Prior to his PTS appointment, he worked as Director of Resourcing in Greater New Jersey (NJ) Conference of the UMC. He formerly served as Pastor at UMC Crosswicks and Ellisdale, NJ and as Public Education and Outreach Coordinator with the Salvation and Social Justice, NJ. Rev. Arroyo has taught as Adjunct Professor in several universities, including Drew.

Outside church, Rev. Arroyo spends time in activism and community engagement. He has actively advocated especially for racial justice in New Jersey communities and high schools in recent years.

Rev. Arroyo is a product of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Princeton Theological School, and the Universidad of Puerto Rico.

Jonathan Golden, PhD

Jonathan Golden is Director of the Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict (CRCC) at Drew University. CRCC is an interdisciplinary center focused on global peacebuilding and interfaith leadership.

An Associate Professor of Teaching, Jonathan has been teaching at Drew since 2000.  Honored with the Thomas Kean Scholar/Mentor Award, Jonathan specializes in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, Comparative Religion, Anthropology, Middle East, and Forced Migration. Jonathan convenes Drew’s program in Conflict Resolution and Leadership and is a leader in Drew Action Scholars, an innovative program focused on immersive learning.  He also runs the Drew Institute on Religion and Conflict Transformation, which brings together young, emerging leaders of different faiths from around the world for seminars on leadership, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution.

Jonathan has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Brandeis University.  Jonathan is author of two books, the co-author of the 2023 book, Religion in the Classroom, and numerous scholarly articles.  He is currently writing Turning Point, a book based on interviews with ex-combatants and victims of conflict that become peace activists. Among others, Jonathan serves on the board of the Peace Islands Institute and sits on the Interfaith Advisory Council for the NJ Dept of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

2023 INSTITUTE FOR EMERGING LEADERS – ATTENDANCE & ITINERARY

The maiden edition featured 25 young leaders from diverse backgrounds and held June 5-11, 2023 on Drew campus. Participants’ capacities were built in a myriad of areas, but mainly in inter-faith/inter-cultural leadership, conflict resolution, and community organizing and changemaking.

Our 25-member cohort was from 14 nationalities from North America, Asia, and Africa. Below is a digital map capturing the national distribution of 2023’s participants:

Over 90% of the participants came NJ institutions of learning (tertiary and high school), with few coming from outside the NJ area.


ITINERARY

2023 NEW JESRSEY INSTITUTE FOR EMERGING LEADERS (NJIEL)

 

DATE/TIME
ACTIVITY
PRESENTER/FACILITATOR
 
Monday, June 5
Morning Arrival
9:00-11:00am
Check-in
11:00am-12:30pm
Introductory Session
Dr. Jonathan Golden
12:30-1:30pm
Welcome Lunch
1:30-2:45pm
Campus as Incubator
J. Golden
2:45-3:00pm
Break
3:00-4:30pm
Workshop 1
J. Golden
4:30-6pm
Break
6:00pm
Dinner
Tuesday, June 6
Field Trip
8:00am
Depart for Flushing
(see Field Trip section below for details)
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
 Evening
Dinner/Cohort Meeting
Wed., June 7
9:00-11:15am
 
Workshop – Navigating Diversity and Inclusion on Campus /Constructive Conversations
Donald Proby
11:15-11:30am
Break
11:30am-12:30pm
DEI Breakout
Donald Proby
12:30-:30pm
Lunch
1:30-2:30pm
Religion and Politics on Campus
 Aminta Kilawan-Narine, Esq.
2:30-2:45pm
Break
2:45-3:30pm
Religion/Politics Breakout
Aminta Kilawan-Narine, Esq.
Jonathan Golden
3:30-4:30pm
Feature Talk: A Lifetime Commitment
Joyce Trainor
6:00-9:00pm
Celebration Reception and Dinner Program
Thursday, June 8
9:00-10:15am
 
Planning for Campus and Community Action
 Avi Smolan, Interfaith America
10:15-10:30am
Break
10:30am-12:00pm
Combatting Hatred
  Arno Michaelis
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
1:00-2:30pm
Building Bonds through Community Action
Arno Michaelis and
Pardeep Kaleka
 2:30-2:45pm
Break
3:00-4:00pm
Building Community Partnerships
 Rev. Sammy Arroyo, PhD
4:00-4:45pm
Cohort Work Group – Action Plan
5:30-7:00pm
Free time/Rest
7:00pm
Dinner and Culture Night
Friday, June 9
9:00am-12:00pm
 
Dismantling Anti-Semitism
 
Arno Michaelis and Tamara Meyer
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
1:00-2:00pm
Jumma
2:00-3:00pm
Managing Tragedy and Trauma on Campus
Rev. Dr. Tanya Bennett
3:00-3:15pm
Break
3:15-4:15pm
Engaging Campus Admin/Leadership
J. Golden Monica Madera
4:15-5:15pm
Group Cohort Work
5:15-7pm
Free Time
7:00pm
Interfaith Shabbat
Saturday, June 10
9:00am-12:00pm
 
Free Time
12:00-1:00pm
Lunch
1:30-3:00pm
“Navigating Difficult Conversations”
David Thaler
3:00-5:30pm
Cohort Work Group
Variable (TBD by groups)
5:30-6:45pm
Mindfulness and Conflict Transformation
Jonathan Golden
Evening
Closing Dinner/ Culture Night
Sunday, June 11
10am-11am
Worship Service
11:00-11:15am
Coffee
11:15am-11:45am
Cohort Wrap-up Meeting
11:45am-12:45pm
Cohort Presentations
       J. Golden
12:45-1:30pm
Closing Circle
1:30-2:15pm
Lunch & Farewell
2:15-4pm
Departure

RELIGIOUS PLURALISM FIELD TRIP

The Institute’s day trip to key houses of worship and monuments in NJ and New York (NY) was targeted at deepening participants’ religious tolerance skills and pluralistic skills and fostering their passion for social justice processes. The said trip took the cohort to the following sites:

  1. The Bowne House Historical Society   (i.e. John Bowne from Flushing Remonstrance)
  2. Hindu Temple Society of North America (Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam)
  3. Temple Gates of Prayer (Synagogue)
  4. Islamic Society of Basking Ridge
Our 2023 NJIEL FACULTY

The 2023 edition of NJIEL was privileged to feature as faculty such renowned academics, national thought leaders, and practitioners as the following:

Plenary Faculty 

M. Ali Chaudry, PhD

Dr. M. Ali Chaudry is an Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Raritan Valley Community College, having also taught at both Seton Hall and Rutgers Universities.  For over 16 years, Dr Chaudry has taught a course on Islam and Muslims at Rutgers University, and is co-author of Islam & Muslims with Dr. Robert D. Crane.  Dr. Chaudry, who is co-founder of the NJ Interfaith Coalition, co-founder of the Islamic Societies of Central Jersey, Jam e-Masjid Islamic Center Boonton and Basking Ridge, member of the NJ OHSP Interfaith Advisory Council, is one of the most visible interfaith leaders in the State of New Jersey. 

 

Dr. Chaudry, who grew up in Pakistan, has served as Mayor and Town Council Member for Bernards Township, NJ and is the President of the Branchburg Rotary Foundation.  Dr. Chaudry holds a Ph.D in Economics from Tufts University and a Master’s in the same discipline from the London School of Economics. Dr. Chaudry previously worked in corporate America (with AT&T) for three decades in various capacities including as Chief Economist, Strategic Planning and Finance 

Image courtesy: The Berket Fund

Pardeep Singh Kaleka

Pardeep Singh Kaleka is an Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-Director of Not in Our Town, an anti-hate project of The Working Group, an Oakland-based non-profit organization. 

 

A former officer of the Milwaukee Police Department, Pardeep has practiced as a counselor, psychotherapist, and de-radicalization specialist. He is co-founder of Serve2Unite, an organization that works with children, families, and communities in peacemaking. Between 2019 and late 2022, he was the Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.     

 

Pardeep is also the co-author of The Gifts of Our Wounds and an award-winning columnist with the Milwaukee Independent.

Image courtesy: The Milwaukee Independent

Arno Michaelis

Arno Michaelis is a filmmaker with over 12 years worth of experience, a writer (author of My Life after Hate and co-author of The Gift of Our Wounds), and a public speaker. A former white supremacist, his keynotes and workshops seek to leverage the noble qualities of compassion, curiosity, and kindness in engaging all humans and build foundations for diversity appreciation and cultural agility.   

Arno is the co-founder of Serve2Unite, an organization that works with children, families, and communities in peacemaking. Through this organization, he has developed and run student education and outreach programs for over 50 public and private schools since 2012. 

 

Arno is an information technology consultant/professional trained by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).  

Image courtesy: PennState Independent

Aminta Kilawan-Narine, Esq.

Aminta Kilawan-Narine is a Senior Legislative Counsel for the New York City legislature where she has drafted and negotiated legislation on areas including women’s rights, poverty, housing, homelessness, and child welfare since 2014.   

 

Aminta holds a Juris Doctor from the Fordham Law School and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Fordham College. She is co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, a non-profit committed to promoting social justice through the central values of the Hindu faith. A prominent voice in New York interfaith activism, Aminta has both led workshops on feminism and faith and organized rights fora for immigrants.  

 

She is passionate about civic engagement and political awareness and has written about these topics in the West Indian, a local newspaper, in the past. A contributor to the Brown Girl Magazine, she and her work have also featured in many media outlets including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the New York Law Journal and CBS. 

Rev. Dr. Tanya Linn Bennett

Rev. Dr. Tanya Linn Bennett is an Associate Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Vocation and the Associate Dean for Vocation and Formation at Drew Theological School. Rev. Bennett has served as University Chaplain at Drew for more than a decade.

An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church (UMC), Rev. Bennett is active in worship design and leadership nationally. Rev. Bennett’s research interests include emerging adults and religion, urban community organizing and advocacy, liturgy for non-traditional worshipping communities and feminist approaches to public theology.

Rev. Bennett is an alumna of Drew Theological School and Allegheny College.

Monica Madera

Monica Madera is the Coordinator of Diversity Programming at Drew’s Student Engagement Office. Passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), higher education administration, and equitable education for students from all backgrounds, Monica has worked for nearly two years at Drew. Prior to Drew, she was in service delivery, mainly in the food and beverage industry. 

 

Monica’s undergraduate and graduate degrees come from Rutgers University and William Paterson University of New Jersey respectively. At Rutgers, she was an Americorps Member and played various roles including teaching assistant, student recruiter, and youth mentor.  

Donald Proby

Donald Proby is a leadership consultant of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) at Proby & Partners LLC, a firm specialized in peace-building and consolidation in homes, businesses, and communities using DEI&B approaches. He was a mediation lead trainer and an executive consultant with Community Boards, San Francisco and with Courageous Leadership LLC respectively for many years. 

 

Donald is a doctoral scholar in educational leadership with a focus on cross cultural conflict transformation. He was a Russell Berrie Visiting Professor at Drew between 2021 and 2022 and served as faculty of DEI&B at the Coro Northern California in the past.    

 

Donald has been a mediator, educator, and restorative justice practitioner since 1980 and contributed to arenas including government, social services, non-profit leadership, and health.  

David Thaler

David Thaler is the Chief International Affairs Officer at Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) where he has mediated disputes in the areas of collective bargaining, grievances based on violations of collective bargaining agreements, and equal employment opportunity from 2005 through 2018. His roles have also included training labor management partners in mediation and conflict management and designing, administering, and delivering US technical assistance programs for developing countries. He was the recipient of the FMCS Director’s Award in 2021.

 

David is also an Adjunct Professor of Mediation and Conflict Management at Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. He was awarded the 2018 Thomas H. Kean Graduate Teaching/Mentoring Award at the Drew. 

Tamara Meyer, NMT

Tamara Meyer, Author, Therapist, Lecturer, and Media Consultant, is a child of German Jewish Holocaust survivors. For the past two decades she has been exploring her family legacy. She showcases the stories of survivors, organizing conferences and monthly dinners for second generation survivors, and using that legacy as a vehicle for change. As a participant in dialogue groups in Berlin that include former Nazis, Holocaust survivors and their descendants, Tamara has experienced first-hand both the extraordinary challenge and reward of engaging with those who at another time would have been her most dangerous enemies.

Image courtesy: https://www.tamarameyer.com/

Avi Smolen

Avi Smolen is an experienced project manager at the intersection of human rights and philanthropy. Avi works at the Open Society Foundations as a Project Officer leading the implementation of a suite of workforce initiatives to improve the employee experience and better advance organizational goals. He previously supported the Foundation’s grantmaking initiatives expanding access to health interventions for marginalized groups. Earlier, he worked as Communications Manager for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, a domestic social justice organization.

Avi’s Jewish commitment to social justice and love of community inspires him in both his professional life and in his interfaith involvement. He is a longtime member of IA’s Emerging Leaders Speakers Bureau and has also served as lead facilitator of the New York Interfaith Public Health Roundtable.

Avi has an MPA in International Policy and Development from the NYU Wagner School and graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a BA in Political Science.

He lives in Maplewood, NJ with his partner and their two young children.

Rev. Samuel Arroyo, PhD

Rev. Samuel Arroyo, PhD is an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church (UMC). Since the fall of 2022, he has worked as Director of Resourcing in Greater New Jersey (NJ) Conference of the UMC. He formerly served as Pastor at UMC Crosswicks and Ellisdale, NJ and as Public Education and Outreach Coordinator with the Salvation and Social Justice, NJ. Rev. Arroyo has taught as Adjunct Professor in several universities, including Drew.

Outside church, Rev. Arroyo spends time in activism and community engagement. He has actively advocated especially for racial justice in New Jersey communities and high schools in recent years.

Rev. Arroyo is a product of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Princeton Theological School, and the Universidad of Puerto Rico.

Jonathan Golden, PhD

Jonathan Golden is Director of the Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict (CRCC) at Drew University. CRCC is an interdisciplinary center focused on global peacebuilding and interfaith leadership. 

Jonathan has been teaching at Drew since 2000.  Honored with the Thomas Kean Scholar/Mentor Award, Jonathan specializes in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, Comparative Religion, Anthropology, Middle East, and Forced Migration. Jonathan convenes Drew’s program in Conflict Resolution and Leadership and is a leader in Drew Action Scholars, an innovative program focused on immersive learning.  He also runs the Drew Institute on Religion and Conflict Transformation, which brings together young, emerging leaders of different faiths from around the world for seminars on leadership, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution.

Jonathan has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Brandeis University.  Jonathan is author of two books and numerous scholarly articles, and is co-author of the forthcoming Religion in the Classroom.  He is currently writing Turning Point, a book based on interviews with ex-combatants and victims of conflict that become peace activists. Among others, Jonathan serves on the board of the Peace Islands Institute and sits on the Interfaith Advisory Council for the NJ Dept of Homeland Security and Preparedness.  

Through discussions with speakers, peers, and spiritual leaders, we [participants] were allowed to question how we want to impact the world as individuals and as a team. I had the opportunity to talk and listen to some brilliant people … I am so fortunate to have had a comfortable space to share my thoughts and concerns about leadership with a room full of ingenious people.”

Jennifer Ibuzo, C’24

2023 NJIEL Participant

The participants created a welcoming ambience where all felt free to share. The breakout activities were very impactful as well. I really loved the field trip. Thanks to the organizing team. ”

Anonymous Participant

2023 NJIEL Participant

I am so grateful for all the connections, memories, and lessons that I experienced and learned from the New Jersey Institute of Emerging Leaders (NJIEL) … This conference was not only a transformational experience; I also came out a different person. I learned a lot about myself and the discussions helped me learn more about other options I can explore in my future career … ”

Kareena Salvi, C'23

2023 NJIEL Participant

Participants’ Feedback

Below is a snapshot of how participants perceive themselves before and after the NJIEL (according to 20/25 of the cohort):

Jeremy Pesner Speaks at Drew

Jeremy Pesner, an NJIEL alumnus, will be speaking on Drew campus on October 3, 2023 on the topic, “Why Spirituality is Not Religion: How to Harness It for Individual and Group Healing and Connection.” Jeremy is a researcher, policy analyst, and consultant.

What’s the Talk About?
Spirituality is often used as a synonym for organized religion, which usually relegates it to the same discussions and debates of religious dialogue. But the truth is that while there can be significant overlap, spirituality and religion are two separate concepts, and one may be present without the other. Regardless of your cultural background or particular beliefs, you can harness your own personal spirituality to better understand both yourself and others, leading to improved emotional intelligence, clear authentic relating and the clearing of past trauma. In this talk, spiritual consultant and researcher Jeremy Pesner will outline some of the many ways you can develop your own personal spirituality, and how you can use it to navigate personal and group challenges.